The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 22
September 22nd, 2012
TODAY’S AGENDA (Ours):
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Burlington, VT; Derbyshire, UK; Enid, OK; Holyoke, MA; Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa; St. Cloud, MN; Spartanburg, SC; Sunderland, UK.
AIDS Walks This Weekend: Amherst, NS; Bay City, MI; Brampton, ON; Calgary, AB; Catham, ON; Corner Brook, NL; Dryden, ON; East Lansing, MI; Edmonton, AB; Flint, MI; Ft. McMurray, AB; Fredericton, NB; Grande Prairie, AB; Halifax, NS; Happy Valley/Goose Bay, NL; Kamloops, BC; Kingston, ON; Moncton, NB; Namaimo, BC; New Glasgow, NS; New Hope, CA; Oshawa, ON; Niagara, ON; Oklahoma City, OK; Portland, OR; Prince George, BC; Red Deer, AB; Regina, SA; St. Catharines, ON; St. John, NB; St. Johns, NL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Smithers, BC; Sydney, NSW; Thunder Bay, ON; Toronto, ON; Traverse City, MI; Truro, NS; Vancouver, BC; Windsor, ON; Winnipeg, MB.
Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; Gay Day at LA County Fair, Los Angeles,CA; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Queer Fest 2012, St. Petersburg, Russia; Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, CA; Out In the Park Six Flags, Springfield, MA.
TODAY’S AGENDA (Theirs):
Restored Hope Network Conference: Fair Oaks, CA. Exodus International, the main network of Evangelical-aligned ex-gay ministries, has been undergoing tremendous changes over the past year. Those changes began last January when Exodus president Alan Chambers acknowledged that, “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” That acknowledgment along had a host of ex-gay leaders howling. Their howls rose to shrieks when Chambers suggested that he might run into a few gay Christians in heaven. And so for the past several months, there has been a steady exodus from Exodus of some of the more hard-line members of the Exodus network, and many of them have formed a rival group they’re calling the Restored Hope Network. Sadly for them, all of the good easy-to-remember domain names based on “restored hope” have all been taken, so all this new baby network has is a Facebook page. Fortunately, you don’t have to “like” them to find out that they are in quite a rush to sign up every ministry they can dig out of the woodpile to become part of their network. They plan on showing off their network at their first conference this weekend in the Sacramento area, at Sunrise Community Church in Fair Oaks. It began last night, but the main portion takes place through the day today from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m..
Exodus International’s Love Won Out Conference: Harrisburg, PA. While Restored Hope is holding their little coming-out party — so to speak — Exodus International is holding its one-day Love Won Out conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This conference is more of a traveling roadshow, a kind of an ex-gay 101 introductory session into what Exodus has to offer rather than a conference geared toward people who are already in the ex-gay movement. If past is any indication, most of those attending the conference are likely to be parents and family members of gay people, rather than gay people themselves. Exodus has been retooling its message since last fall, and the agenda for this conference seems to reflect that retooling. It also seems to have been scaled back in scope compared to previous Love Won Out conferences. In the past, Exodus typically puts on about a half a dozen conferences this year, but if I’m not mistaken, this is the only Love Won Out to be scheduled for this year after an Albuquerque event was cancelled last spring. Love Won Out will take place today at Westshore Church in Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, just outside of Harrisburg.
Evergreen International Regional Conference: Salt Lake City, UT. Not to be outdone by all of this ex-gay activity, Evergreen International, the Mormon ex-gay organization, is also holding a conference today. Evergreen appears to be either scaling back its activities or making itself much less visible — Transparency has never been its strong suit, so it’s hard to tell the difference. This time last year, they held an annual conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Salt Lake City with a featured talk by LDS elder Jay Jensen, of the First Quorum of the Seventy. But this year, things appear to be much lower key. Evergreen appears to have abandoned its old website and started afresh at thessavoice.com (The SSA Voice, with “SSA” a pseudo-clinical sounding acronym for “same-sex attraction.) And instead of holding an annual conference, this year Evergreen is holding four regional conferences, with the Salt Lake Area conference taking place today followed by a devotional tomorrow. Today’s conference consists of just three all-day workshops: “Becoming a whole man,” “The gift of growth” and “The dance of marriage.” Make of that what you will.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Senator Lashes Out at “Wreckers and Destroyers”: 1954. In the past decade, we’ve seen each successive election year bring with it worse examples of character assassination, blatant bold-faced lies, and other examples of negative campaign tactics than ever before. Each time, it just seems to get worse, and we often wish we could turn back the clock to a more innocent and civil time when Americans could always find a way to get along regardless of their differences. You know, like in the 1950s.
Yeah, like in the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) was labeling his political enemies radical communists and “sexual perverts.” And when Sen. Everett M. Dirksen (R-IL), who was then serving as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the upcoming 1954 mid-term elections, declared during a meeting of 1,100 Republican women that “never were the destroyers and traitors in government so busy” as during the 20 years of Democratic rule from 1933 to 1953. He told the women that since then, Republicans like himself and McCarthy (who was Dirksen’s political ally during the previous four years) were left to root out “the wreckers and destroyers, the security risks and homosexuals, the blabbermouths and drunks, the traitors and saboteurs.” It’s 2012, and another election is upon us. And sadly, some things never change.
It is important to note though that ten years later, Sen. Dirksen, who by then was Senate Minority Leader, played a crucial role in delivering enough Republican votes to break an 83-day filibuster by southern Democrats and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The press hailed Dirksen’s selfless bipartisanship for making possible one of the Johnson Administration’s signature pieces of legislation. Some things never change, but other things do.
Gay Man Saves President Ford’s Life: 1975. President Gerald Ford was in San Francisco to deliver a luncheon speech to a foreign affairs group at the St. Francis Hotel. Outside, Oliver Sipple, an ex-Marine Vietnam veteran, was in a crowd of about 3,000 people waiting for Ford to exit the building. Standing next to Sipple was Sara Jane Moore, although they didn’t know each other. Moore, ironically, was also working as an FBI informant, where she provided information on illegal firearms purchases. Earlier that day, she called federal authorities threatening to “test” Ford’s security, but she was ignored. The day before, San Francisco police picked her up on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, but they released her after federal authorities stepped in and said they would handle the matter. The Secret Service interviewed her that night, but let her go.
So there she was, and as Ford left the hotel, Moore pulled a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from her purse, pointed it at the President, and fired a shot. As she fired, Sipple reached out and grabbed her arm. Her shot missed Ford by just five feet. It was the second assassination attempt in a month — nearly thee weeks earlier, a follower of mass murderer Charles Manson had tried to take a shot at him in Sacramento. That time, the gun didn’t fire. This time it did, and Sipple was a hero. “All I did was react,” he said. “I’m glad I was there. If it’s true I saved the President’s life, then I’m damn happy about it. But I honestly feel that if I hadn’t reached out for that arm, somebody else would have.”
Sipple had been a fixture in San Francisco’s gay community for several years. He was friends with Harvey Milk, and worked on Milk’s first unsuccessful attempt at winning a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors. He was out to his friends, but closeted to his family in Detroit. Milk and other gay writers in San Francisco saw Sipple’s heroism as a perfect moment to gain some positive visibility for the gay community, but Sipple asked the press to keep his sexuality off the record. Nevertheless, The San Francisco Chronicle’s Herb Caen broke the story and it was soon picked up by wire services. Sipple’s Baptist mother publicly disowned him, and he soon found himself besieged by reporters. Sipple sued The Chronicle, Caen, and several other newspapers for invasion of privacy, but lost. The courts ruled that he had become a public figure on the day of the assassination attempt, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.
Sipple, who was on psychological disability because of wounds suffered in Vietnam, declined in the years following the assassination attempt. He drank heavily, became obese, and expressed regret for grabbing Moore’s gun. He died, alone, of pneumonia in his Tenderloin District apartment in 1989.
Hans Scholl: 1918. Like all German children, he joined the Hitler Youth in 1933, where he quickly became a squad leader in charge of 150 boys. He also formed a special elite squad to train other future leaders in the movement. Reflecting, perhaps, his own growing apprehensions about the Nazi movement, his training squad became quite unorthodox. Based on a soon-to-be outlawed Deutsche Jungenschaft, Scholl’s squad took a decidedly irreverent stance. A favorite joke within the group was to ask, “What is an Aryan?” The answer was, “Blond like Hitler, tall like Goebbels, and slim like Goering.” After the Nazis launched a crackdown on dissent, Scholl’s squad was disbanded and several members were arrested. It was during those interrogations that authorities learned that Scholl was gay. He was brought up on charges of violating paragraph 175, Germany’s longstanding law prohibiting homosexuality between men. This time, Scholl was lucky: the judged dismissed Scholl’s relationship with another squad member as “a youthful failing” and acquitted him of all charges.
Scholl and his younger sister, Sophie, both became committed anti-Nazis. As war broke out, Hans was studying medicine in Munich, and Sophie joined him there to study biology and philosophy in 1941. Her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, was an officer in the Wehrmacht fighting on the eastern front. Through extensive letter exchanges between Fritz and Sophie, historians have been able to piece together Sophie’s growing pacifism and Fritz’s alarm over the participation of German soldiers in mass killings of Jews and other atrocities. Meanwhile, Hans and two other students began a pacifist resistance movement called the White Rose, where they co-authored six anti-Nazi leaflets. When Sophie learned of her brother’s activities, she joined the group, which would grow to about a dozen members. As a woman, she was much less likely to be stopped by police while carrying stacks of leaflets to be distributed in several cities and through the mails.
In the summer of 1942, Hans and some of the other members of the White Rose was deployed to the Eastern Front to act as medics during the university’s summer break. When they returned, the group resumed its leafleting campaign, producing between 6,000 and 9,000 copies of their fifth leaflet, written by Hans and titled “Appeal to All Germans!”, using a hand-cranked duplicating machine. The leaflet warned that Hitler was leading Germany to ruin and urged the people to join the struggle for “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states.” The sixth leaflet was written by Christoph Probst after the German defeat at Stalingrad, and announced that the day of reckoning was about to come for “the most contemptible tyrant our people has ever endured.” It was while the group was dumping thousands of those leaflets around the University of Munich that a custodian spotted Hans and Sophie. They were arrested and interrogated, along with several other members of the group. On February 22, 1943, Hans, Sophie and Probst were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.
The sentence was carried out that very same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison. Sophie was first to be executed. Before the blade fell, she shouted, “The sun is still shining!” Hans’s last words were “Es lebe die Freiheit!” — Long live freedom! Over the next few weeks, other White Rose members were rounded up and were either executed or sent to prison camps. But the last word would be left for the White Rose itself. Copies of that last leaflet were smuggled out of Germany and handed to the Allies, who then air-dropped millions of copies all over Germany, ensuring that the White Rose would remain an unforgettable part of German history.
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?