The Daily Agenda for Friday, May 25
May 25th, 2012
TODAY’S AGENDA (Ours):
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bradford, UK; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo ON; Dresden, Germany; Durban, South Africa; Düsseldorf, Germany; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Hanover, Germany; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Melbourne, FL; Moscow, Russia; Pensacola, FL; Salerno, Italy; and Washington, DC (Black Pride).
TODAY’S AGENDA (Theirs):
Family “Research” Council’s National Pastor’s Briefing: Washington, D.C. The FRC’s Watchmen On the Wall project winds up its National Pastor’s Briefing today at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Today’s speakers include Lt. General Jerry Boykin (retired), Bishop Harry Jackson, and FRC president Tony Perkins. The meeting breaks up at 2:30, leaving plenty of time for everyone to get their disco-naps in before hitting the town for the weekend.
World Congress of Families: Madrid, Spain. The Rockford, Illinois-based Howard Center will kick off its sixth World Congress of Families today in Madrid. Among today’s speakers are the Howard Center’s Allan C. Carlson, Don Feder (who once described himself as making Atilla the Hunn look like a “a limousine liberal”), the Family “Research” Council’s Patrick Fagan, and the National Civic Council’s Peter Westmore (Australia). Tomorrow, American ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen will present a discussion on “solutions to homosexual behavior.”
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oscar Wilde Convicted: 1895. In 1891, author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. He made his mark in literature in The Picture of Dorian Gray (a new annotated edition with some of the more homoerotic themes restored has just been released) and in other essays made him a man of letters, while his popular plays (Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and especially The Importance of Being Earnest) burnished his reputation for sophisticated wit. But the wild success of Earnest which premiered in February 1895, was quickly eclipsed by Wilde’s conviction and sentencing for homosexuality.
In 1891, Wilde 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. 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, along with another friend by the name of Alfred Taylor, to two years of hard labor. Justice Alfred Wills pronounced the sentence in the harshest of terms. From the court record:
Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man pf honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials. That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.
It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried. that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.
I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.
[Cries of "Oh! Oh!" and "Shame!"]
Wilde–And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?
The court adjourned.
Ian McKellen: 1939. His roots are in theater, mainly Shakespeare, where he continues to perform in a number of state productions in Britain. But beginning in 1969, he branched out in film and television, covering a wide range of genres from drama (And the Band Played On, Gods and Monsters), to mystery (Six Degrees of Separation, The Da Vinci Code), to action and fantasy (X-Men, The Lord of the Rings trilogy).
McKellen was among the earliest actors to come out publicly as gay. He came out in 1988 during a BBC interview while discussing the controversial Local Government Bill (section 28), which stated that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” According to a 2003 interview, McKellen said he visited Environment Secretary Michael Howard (who was responsible for local governments) to lobby against the bill. Howard reaffirmed his approval of Section 28, and in a defining moment of chutzpah, asked McKellen to leave an autograph for Howard’s children. He did. It read, “Fuck off, I’m gay.” McKellen remained politically active and co-founded the British gay-rights group Stonewall in 1989. In 2007, he became a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organisation that provides support to homeless and troubled LGBT youth.
McKellen is properly called Sir Ian McKellen. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts. He was also named a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to LGBT equality in 2008. He is currently reprising his role as Gandolf for The Hobbit, which is currently in production as a two part series. An Unexpected Journey is scheduled for release this December, and There and Back Again is slated for December, 2013.
Anne Heche: 1969. She got her start on the NBC soap opera Another World, where she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991. Appropriate, given that so much of her life reads like a soap opera. She was the daughter of a Baptist choir director who disclosed his homosexuality to his family just before dying of AIDS in 1983. That same year, her brother died in a car accident. Four years later, Heche launched her acting career with Another World as soon as she got out of high school. From there she took a series of roles in television and film, including If These Walls Could Talk (1996), Walking and Talking (1996), Wag the Dog (1997), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997).
It was at about that time that Heche began dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres. They had said they would get a civil union if it became legal in Vermont, but they broke up in August, 2000. Just hours after news broke of their relationship ending, she appeared that the rear door of a house in Fresno County wearing nothing by shorts and a bra, asking if she could take a shower. She had curled up on the couch for a nap when sheriff deputies arrived. She told officers that she was “God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship.” She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was released a few hours later.
That episode became the stuff of tabloid headlines and served as a turning point in her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy (which she wrote in only six weeks), where she described the her sexual abuse by her father, and her subsequent emotional problems and drug abuse. Meanwhile, her mother, Nancy Heche capitalized on her daughter’s fame and became an important speaker at ex-gay conferences where she claimed that her prayers “cured” Anne’s lesbianism. Anne, who is bisexual, says that her mother’s campaign is “a way to keep the pain of the truth out.” As of 2009, the two women remained estranged.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?