The Daily Agenda for Sunday, August 26
August 26th, 2012
Other Events Today: Big Bear Adventure Weekend, Big Bear Lake, CA; Shout Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Birmingham, AL; Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, NV; Windy City Rodeo, Crete, IL; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Mayor Calls for Anti-Gay Crackdown: 1954. As pressure mounted in the press over the growing anti-gay hysteria that had swept the Miami area following the murder of an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14). Mayor Abe Abronovitz seized the moment when city manager E.A. Evans and police chief Walter Headley were both out of town on vacation to blast them for “coddling homosexuals” in the city. Abronovitz said he would give Evans just one week from the time he returns from vacation to “clean out certain pervert nests in Miami proper.” Criticizing the chief’s policy of allowing gay men to gather in certain bars “so police can watch them,” Abromovitz added, “I firmly believe it is a disgrace to have a place on Biscayne Boulevard whose business caters to the disturbed mind which enjoys seeing a bunch of fairies perform where the sky seems the limit.”
GOP Presidential Candidate Returns Donation from Log Cabin Republicans: 1995. Richard L. Tafel, president of LCR, received a letter from John A. Moran, the finance director for the presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole. The letter read: “Per our discussion, I am attaching a list of upcoming Dole for President fund-raising events. Senator Dole and I would appreciate any assistance you could give us in turning out your members at each event. I am looking forward to working with you. With all good wishes. Cordially, John.” The letter seemed to vindicate Tafel’s hard work in getting LCR recognized as a valuable partner in electing a Republican to unseat President Bill Clinton. With Dole, Tafel thought he had someone he could work with. Campaign officials were soliciting his support, and he prominently wore a Log Cabin lapel button as he discussed AIDS police with Sen. Dole during a fundraiser.
And so Tafel donated $1,000 to the Dole campaign to support his quest for the Republican nomination. But after a devastating showing at the Iowa Straw Poll — Dole was expected to win handily, but ended up tying with his arch-conservative rival Texas Sen. Phil Gramm — Dole’s front-runner status in the Republican field looked to be in jeopardy. And so in August, the Dole campaign decided to tack right, hard. And as part of that direction, they publicly returned LCR’s donation. Tafel was furious, and made Moran’s letter available to the New York Times. Nelson Warfield, Dole’s spokesman, said they the only reason they accepted the money in the first place was because of “a financial screw up.” He also accused the LCR of making the donation for publicity, saying, “They’re struggling for credibility.” Dole himself tried to appear insulated from his own campaign’s actions, telling ABC News, “I don’t agree with (LCR’s) agenda — I assume that’s why it was returned.” Campaign manager Scott Reed put the donation in a broader context: “We need to be seen as a consistent conservative — and we will be that.”
Dole captured the GOP nomination after his hard turn to the right, but this episode exposed the growing fissure between the party’s conservative and moderate wings. Critics asked why Dole’s campaign returned LCR’s donation “for ideological reasons” — the campaign had acknowledged that the action was the first take solely for that reason — but kept other donations from, for example, Hollywood producers who Dole sharply criticized three months earlier. Rep Steve Gunderson, (R-WI), then the only openly gay GOP Congressman, issued a letter to Dole asking, “Are you rejecting support of anyone who happens to be gay? If this is so, do you intend to now reject my support and request those on your staff who happen to be gay to resign?”
As the weeks wore on, the the issue died in the press, the internecine battles threatened to drive moderates from the party. On October 18, just as his campaign staff had hoped the furor was safely behind them, Dole reignited the controversy again when he publicly reversed the decision. One unnamed Republican said to be close to Dole told The New York Times that the campaign had acted without Dole’s knowledge in returning the check. “Dole absolutely opposed giving it back,” he said. “He was angry about it. The campaign did it without checking with him.” But now it was the conservative wing’s turn to be angry. Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, warned, “When a politician takes money from a group, he or she legitimizes that group’s agenda.” His rivals for the GOP nomination said that the reversal showed that Dole “lacked conviction.” Dole ended up winning the GOP nomination, but his support from the conservative win was lackluster during the general election campaign as President Bill Clinton won his bid for a second term.
Christopher Isherwood: 1904. Born in North West England to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, young Christopher moved around a lot as his father was stationed in various towns around England. But after his father was killed in the First World War, Christopher and his mother and brother settled at Wyberslegh. As Christopher grew to adulthood, his life appeared to have taken on some of the wanderings of his father: He studied at Cambridge, but dropped out in 1925. He studied medicine at King’s College London in 1928, but left in 1929 when he followed a friend to Berlin. There, he discovered the thriving gay scene in the Wiemar Republic, and Isherwood thrived there. He had done some writing in England, but in Germany he came into contact with several other writers, including E.M.Forster who became his mentor.
Isherwood wrote several novels throughout the 1930’s, including The Memorial and a collection of shorter novels which were later released as The Berlin Stories. When the Nazis came to power, Isherwood and his German lover moved to Copenhagen. After his lover returned to Germany for a brief visit in 1937 and was arrested as a draft dodger and for committing “reciprocal onanism,” Isherwood and his writing partner, W. H. Auden, traveled to China to collect material for a book they were working on, and stopped in New York on their way back to Britain. That’s when they decided to emigrate to the U.S. Auden remained in New York, while Isherwood took off for Hollywood.
On Valentine’s day at the age of 48, he met nineteen-year-old Don Bachardy, and the two of them began a partnership that lasted until the end of Isherwood’s life. The differences in ages raised quite a few eyebrows among their circle of friends. They had their differences and difficulties, including separations and affairs, but in the end they remained devoted to each other. Their relationship spawned Isherwoods greatest literary triumph, 1964’s A Single Man. Isherwood wrote the novel during one of the couple’s periods of difficulty. Bachardy recalled later, “I was making a lot of trouble and wondering if I shouldn’t be on my own. Chris was going through a very difficult period (as well). So he killed off my character, Jim, in the book and imagined what his life would be without me.” The novel is not just a classic in the cannon of gay literature, but one of the great novels of the 20th century, and it became an award-winning film under the direction of Tom Ford in 2009. Isherwood died in 1986 of prostate cancer. Bachardy still lives in the home they shared in Santa Monica, California. The 2007 documentary Chris & Don. A Love Story recounts their lives together.
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