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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 19

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
“Call Me Kuchu” Screening: Toronto, ON. The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival will be the setting for a screening of the documentary Call Me Kuchu, which follows the story of Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato’s struggle for LGBT equality in the face of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The film includes the infamous tabloid campaign which outed “Kuchus” — the Ugandan word for gay people — along with the headline “Hang Them!” The unthinkable happened when Kato was brutally murdered in his home. All of this was captured in Call Me Kuchu, which screens this afternoon at the Tiff Bell Lightbox Cinema 2 at 350 King Street West beginning at 4:45 this afternoon.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Durban, South Africa; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kiev, Ukraine; Long Beach, CANew Hope, PA; Oklahoma City, OK; and Springfield, IL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Buffalo, NY; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; London, UK; Los Angeles, CAMinneapolis, MN; New York, NY; and Orlando, FL.

Other Events This Weekend: California Music Festival & AIDS Walk, Los Angeles, CA; Tijuana Cultural Days Against Homophobia, Tijuana, BC; and Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oscar Wilde Released from Prison: 1897. This date in history ended a two-year ordeal for Oscar Wilde, which began in 1895 when he was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensbury. Wilde, who was involved with the marquess’ son, Alfred Douglass, sued the Marquess for libel but lost the case when evidence supported the marquess’ allegations (see April 5). Because homosexuality was still considered a crime in England, that evidence led to Wilde’s arrest. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but a second jury in 1895 sentenced him to two years of hard labor (see May 25). Wilde was imprisoned in Pentonville and then Wandsworth prisons in London. The regime consisted of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed.” Ill with dysentery and weakened from hunger, Wilde collapsed during Chapel, bursting his right ear drum. He spent two months in the infirmary, and his health never fully recovered.

He was later transferred to Reading prison, where he wrote a 50,000 word letter to Douglass. He wasn’t allowed to send the letter, but he was permitted to take it with him when he was released. The letter, since named De Profundis was published in 1962′s Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. It reads, it part:

When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

DC Police Estimate 3750 “Sex Perverts” in Federal Government: 1950. The following United Press article appeared in newspapers nationwide:

3750 Perverts Listed on Payroll

Senate Republican Leader Kenneth S. Wherry said today that Washington police estimate there are 3750 sex perverts in the Government here.

In a report to a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Wherry said police authorities testified that 300 to 400 State Department employees are “suspected or allegedly homosexual.”

The Nebraskan also said that Washington police reported they have uncovered “what purported to be a plan of Communists to sabotage and damage” Washington in case of war with Russia; that a Red Fifth Column is using sex degenerates for subversive purposes; and that “there are 1000 bad security risks” in Washington.

The report gave no details on the purported plot to sabotage Washington.

The New York Times had a more in-depth account, which revealed that Washington Police Lieutenant Roy Blick testified that his estimate of 300 to 400 gays employees in the State Department was based on “a quick guess”:

This, he said at one point, was a “quick guess,” in the sense that it was based upon his experience that arrested persons not connected with the State Department would sometimes say: “Why don’t you go get so-and-so and so-and-so? They all belong to the same clique.”

“By doing that,” Lieutenant Blick added, “their names were put on the list and they were catalogued as such, as the suspect of being such.”

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

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