The Daily Agenda for Sunday, October 7
October 7th, 2012
AIDS Walks Today: Dallas, TX.
Other Events Today: 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; Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, Paris, France; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
An Organization of Colored Erotopaths: 1893. Charles H. Hughes, a St. Louis physician, former superintendent of Missouri’s State Lunatic Asylum in Fulton, and the respected founder and editor of the journal Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was a ninetheenth century term for psychiatrist), published a lengthy paper in the October 1893 issue titled “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism,” which he had presented to the Pan-American Medical Congress a month earlier. In this paper, he set out to distinguish various forms of sexuality and categorize them according to whether they were products of “the neuroses or the neuro-psychoses” which he described as “resistless” or were instead subject to “the resistible involvement of the will… simple moral vice, uninfluenced or unextenuated by neural disease.” He added: “The sexually insane must be differentiated from such of these perverts as are not damaged in mind to the degree of insanity; a difficult task, yet one now imperatively demanded of psychiatry.”
Some of those “perversions” did not yet have commonly accepted names, and so in the case of homosexuality, he needed to tie together several terms used by several other authors: “Westphal, Moll, Krafft-Ebing and many others have presented instances of sexual perversion under the titles of “Erninger and Conträre Sexualempfindung,” psychopathia-sexualis, homo-sexuality, etc., the anima muliebris in corpore virili inculsa (a female psyche confined in a male body), according to Ulrichs, himself a sexual pervert, and reasserted by Magnan, Kiernan, Gley and Lydston.” The fact that Hughes used the word homo-sexuality, which had been introduced into the English language just a year earlier when Richard Von Crafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis was published in its first English translation, indicates Hughes’s keen interest on the subject. And that Hughes recognized the difficulty of assigning blanket categories gay people as either morally bankrupt or mentally insane — and Hughes appears not to have entertained any other option — reflected the limited parameters of debate then taking place in psychiatry.
And Hughes was, among many things, a lover of debate, and his journal reflected Hughes’s encyclopedic ranges of interests. What makes perusing old copies of Alienist and Neurologist so fascinating is the collection of reprinted letters, anecdotes, speeches, news items, magazine articles, and just about anything else that remotely touched on psychiatry in the nineteenth century. On example was a suicide note from a young gay man in St. Louis (see Feb 25) which Hughes included in “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism.” Another example is these three paragraphs which appeared later in that same October 1893 issue that included Hughes’s talk on “Erotopathia”:
Postscript to Paper on “Erotopathia.” — An Organization 0f Colored Erotopaths. — Apropos of my paper on “Erotopathia,” I am credibly informed that there is, in the city of Washington, D. C., an annual convocation of negro men called the drag dance, which is an orgie of lascivious debauchery beyond pen power of description. I am likewise informed that a similar organization was lately suppressed by the police of New York city.
In this sable performance of sexual perversion all of these men are lasciviously dressed in womanly attire, short sleeves, low· necked dresses and the usual ball-room decorations and ornaments of women, feathered and ribboned head-dresses, garters, frills, flowers, ruffies, etc., and deport themselves as women. Standing or seated on a pedestal, but accessible to all the rest, is the naked queen (a male), whose phallic member, decorated with a ribbon, is subject to the gaze and osculations in turn, of all the members of this lecherous gang of sexual perverts and phallic fornicators.
Among those who annually assemble in this strange libidinous display are cooks, barbers, waiters and other employes of Washington families, some even higher in the social scale — some being employed as subordinates in the Government departments.
[Sources: Charles H. Hughes. “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available online here.
Charles H. Hughes. “An organization of colored erotopaths.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 731-732. Available online here.]
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Liberace’s “Girl” Meets Mom: 1954. Whenever I have a “This Month in History” piece, that’s generally because I don’t have any historical items that corresponds to this particular day in history. And that was true for today as well until at the last minute, while I was browsing through old newspapers posted online — I was totally looking for something else — I happened to come across this:
Liberace’s Girl Meets Mom, But No Wedding, By George!
Hollywood, Calif., Oct 7. — Pianist Liberace says that “there isn’t a word of truth to the report that I am engaged” to marry dancer Joanne Rio.
The report popped up yesterday and Liberace promptly denied it.
He said: “I was misquoted and I am very embarrassed for Joanne, who is a lovely girl and an understanding friend.
“I don’t want to marry anyone for at least two years — until I’ve made the motion picture I am planning for Warner Brothers and have a chance to tour Europe, which I plan to do next year.”
Friends say he dates other girls, but that Joanne is the only one he brings home to mother.
Miss Rio is a pretty brunette. She is the daughter of Eddie Rio, West Coast head of the American Guild of Variety Artists.
Liberace had no sooner announced his engagement to Rio when he quickly backtracked before the day was out. It appears that Joanne Rio was something of an on-again/off-again for Lee. They even appeared together a month later on the cover of TV Guide, where Rio was introduced as Liberace’s “favorite date.” “If it’s God’s will that Liberace and I get married, then we will. I’m leaving everything in God’s hands,” she told the magazine. God’s hands, apparently, were busy elsewhere.
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?