The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 6

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2012

“You Can’t Print It!” ONE magazine, October 1954.

“Letters to ONE: From Fringe to Forefront”; ONE Magazine’s 60th Anniversary: Los Angeles, CA.  In 1952, several members of the Mattachine Society who were disappointed with the growing conservative, non-activist stance of some of the newer members, decided to get together to start a separate organization for the purpose of publishing a national magazine for the “homophile” movement. ONE, Inc. was founded in the fall of 1952 and ONE Magazine — its name came from a quote by Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle: “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one” — made its debut the following January. Despite the fact that the magazine carried no racy photos and its fiction didn’t come anywhere close to being explicit or “pornographic,” its unabashed defense of gay people made it a target of postal authorities, who confiscated the October 1954 issue (ironically, the one with “You Can’t Print That!” on the cover) ONE sued, and the case ended up going all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court cited a different case involving free speech and the delivery of publication in the mails and refused to take the ONE case. But by refusing to take the case and explaining why, ONE Inc. v. Olesen became the first pro-gay ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958.

While ONE made legal history, its most important contribution to the country’s LGBR people was simply in the monthly reminders which appeared in their mailboxes that they weren’t alone. Billy Gover, who worked at ONE from 1959 until the organization’s acrimonious split in 1965, recalls that there were two popular sections of ONE which everyone read. One was a monthly column called “Tangents” which rounded up LGBT-related news from around the country (and which has been an invaluable resource for many of the history posts you read in the Daily Agenda), and the letters to the editor section, which included letters like these:

Sirs: The reason that I’m interested in subscribing to ONE is that I believe I am homosexually inclined. I feel that your magazine will give me guidance and enlightenment that I need. Just knowing that I am now writing to youlets me know that I am not alone with my problem. You are to be commended very highly for the step you are taking. I know that many others are grateful just as I am.


Gentlemen: The June issue just recently received is one of the best since your beginning.While one may not agree with all the philosophical conclusions reached by the various writers in this issue, you are certainly to be commended for presenting these views, thus giving us the incentive to re-think our patterns. We are on the march against ignorance, prejudice and all the other black sins that curse the “realm of Christianity”-so-called. ONE can be proud that they have lead the way.


Dear Sirs;You’re doing, basically, a good job — though I’d like a little more fiction and a little less esoteric hogwash. My wife and I enjoy reading ONE, and we’re only sorry we can’t leave the magazine out in plain sight in the apartment.


The most poignant letters letters were often not letters that were written to the editor, but letters that readers wrote to each other through the Letters to the Editor section:

Dear Mr. E.

I read your letter in ONE. The Society we  are in is a most lonely one. A homosexual has  a most difficult time, as you, I and others  know and have experienced. Loneliness is  found in all walks of life. I’m in my early  twenties and often find life depressing and lonely. I understand how hard it is to accept this, but who knows what will happen in the future? There is always a future. I do hope this note will be of some small comfort. You aren’t alone when it comes to feeling loneliness. There are hundreds of us in the same predicament. Keeping busy is a help.

Mr. B.

Hartford, Conn.

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of ONE’s founding, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives will hold a reading tonight of “Letters to ONE: From Fringe to Forefront,” featuring “star studded dramatic readings of heartfelt, poignant, and deeply personal letters sent to the editors of ONE Magazine.” The evening will also mark the opening of the exhibition “Meeting in the Margins: 60 Years of Queer Organizations” in the Archive, which will include an examination of the history of LGBTQ organizations in Los Angeles “through an extensive range of materials – documents, photographs, publications, video, T-shirts, banners, signs, ephemera and artworks – all from the collections at ONE Archives.” It all begins this evening, with a reception from 5:00 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the performance from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. tonight at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives,  909 West Adams Boulevard, in Los Angeles. Check out the web page for tickets and more information.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Asheville, NCBaltimore, MD (Black Pride); Bangor, Wales, UK; Belgrade, Serbia (Cancelled!); Dallas, TX (Black Pride)Ft. Worth, TXJohannesburg, South AfricaMemphis, TNMiami Beach, FL (Hispanic Pride)Orlando, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Columbus, OHDallas, TX.

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Days, Anaheim, CA; Alaska Pride Conference, Anchorage, AK; Floatilla, Hong Kong, China; Key West Bear Fest, Key West, FL; Black and Blue Festival, Montreal, QC; OctoBEARfest, New York, NY; Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, Paris, France; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ.

Miami Mayor: “Deviates Are Leaving The City”: 1954. Miami’s ongoing hysteria over discovering the presence of gay people in their midsts (see Aug 3, Aug 11Aug 12Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14Aug 26Aug 31Sep 1Sep 2Sep 7,  Sep 15 and Sep 19) appeared to be on the wane, with Mayor Abe Aronovitz telling The Miami News that the city’s highly publicized raids on gay bars and beaches were finally having their effect:

Mayor Claims Deviates Are Leaving City

Miami is the cleanest town in the area so far as homosexuals go, it was claimed by Mayor Abe Aronovitz, who said, “but we are not solving it from a humanitarian standpoint because we are only clearing it up as far as Miami is concerned.”

“There is no solution from a humanitarian standpoint, however, because I have received complaints from both Broward County on the north and Monroe County on the south that the homosexuals are just drifting out of Miami.”

The City Commission later today is expected to pass on second reading an ordinance aimed at controlling homosexuals and also jeopardizing liquor licenses of establishments serving people known to have homosexual tendencies.

It was passed on the first reading two weeks ago.

And that is why there are no homosexuals in Miami any more.

Matthew Shepard Assaulted: 1998. At around 6:30 PM, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bicycle on Snowy Mountain View Road, just outside of Laramie, Wyoming, when he wiped out near the end of a rough buck-and-rail fence. In the fall, he severely damaged his front tire. Aaron got up to try to figure out how to get back into town when he was startled by what he thought was a scarecrow. He took a closer look and discovered that it wasn’t a scarecrow, but a 5-foot-2, 102 pound University of Wyoming student by the name of Matthew Shepard. Aaron was further surprised to see that the bloody figure was still alive, though barely. Matthew was comatose, breathing “as if his lungs are full of blood,” Aaron would later testify. It had been a very cold day that day with a 30-degree freezing wind the night before, and it was now evening again. Matthew had been there for more than 18 hours, laying on his back, head propped against the fence, his legs outstretched. His hands were tied behind him, and the rope was tied to a fence post just four inches off the ground. His shoes were missing.

Aaron, in a state of panic, ran to the nearby home of Charles Dolan. From there, they called 911, and then the both of them returned to Matthew to wait for the sheriff’s deputy to arrive. Deputy Reggie Fluty later testified that the only spots not covered in blood on Matt’s brutally disfigured face were tracks cleansed by his tears. She told the barely breathing victim, “Baby, I’m so sorry this happened.”

Matthew was rushed to Poudre Valley Hospital’s intensive care unit in critical condition. He suffered fractures from the back of his head to the front of his right ear from being pistol-whipped by a 357-Magnum more than twenty times. He had severe brain stem damage which affected his body’s ability to control heart rate, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions. There were lacerations around his head, face and neck. He had welts on his back and arm, and bruised knees and groin. He had also suffered from hypothermia. His injuries were too severe for doctors to operate. They did however insert a drain into Matthew’s skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.

By the end of the day, Matthew Shepard was laying quietly in a soft, warm bed with clean sheets after having spent eighteen hours in the freezing high plains of Wyoming tied to a fence post. He was breathing with the aid of a ventilator.

(You can read the entire series I wrote to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his brutal slaying here.)

Bruno Balz: 1902. He wrote some of Germany’s most famous songs for film despite his career being hampered by official persecution for his homosexuality. When Balz was arrested by Nazi authorities for violating Germany’s Paragraph 175 outlawing male homosexuality, he was released after several months’ imprisonment on the condition that his name not be mentioned in public. When he was arrested again in 1941 and tortured in Gestapo headquarters, his songwriting partner, Michael Jary, appealed to authorities to release him, saying that he could write songs to lift German morale as part of the war effort. He wrote two of his greatest hits just days after his release. And while his songs would be criticized later for aiding  the war effort, gays in Germany were buoyed by what they saw as double meanings in some of his songs. One song in particular, his 1938 classic “Kann denn Liebe Sunde sein?” (“Can Love Be a Sin?”), became something of an anthem for Germany’s underground gay community:

Every little Philistine makes my life miserable, for he’s always

talking about morality. And whatever he may think and do, you can

see that he just doesn’t want anyone to be happy…. Whatever

the world thinks of me, I don’t care, I’ll only be true to love.

Can love be a sin?

Can’t anybody know when you kiss,

When you forget everything out of happiness?

Balz’s troubles continued even after the war and the fall of Nazism. After all Paragraph 175 remained the law of the land until 1994 after Germany’s reunification, which meant that the strictures on him remained in effect preventing him from receiving his due credit for his music. Balz died in 1988. There is now a Bruno Balz theater named for him in Berlin.

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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