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The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 12

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2012

The November 1954 issue of ONE.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami’s Anti-Gay Mayor Writes To Gay Magazine: 1954. Miami’s witch hunt against gay people wasn’t just the subject of headlines in South Florida (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14Aug 26Aug 31Sep 1Sep 2Sep 7Sep 15Sep 19, Oct 6 and Oct 20). ONE magazine, the pioneering Los Angeles-based gay magazine was paying close attention and relaying events to its national audience. In its November 1954 cover story, Jim Kepner (writing as Lyn Pederson) brought ONE’s readers up to date with a complete chronology beginning with the murder of a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, William T. Simpson and the police’s discovery of a gay community  with a “nominal head of the colony — a queen” (see Aug 3). Kepner mocked the investigation: “Pulling two and twaddle together, detectives guessed if Simpson hadn’t been the queen, perhaps he’d been a sort of royal pretender, killed by his rival.” But after recounting all of the events that followed, Kepner warned that what was happening in Miami was no laughing matter:

The Miami story illustrates what trumped up hysteria can do in a few weeks to any city in the United States. Corrupt politicians and opportunistic demagogues can endanger any community that permits itself to be herded into pogrom. …And one begins to realize that by all the requirements, the fantastically large minority of homosexuals is perhaps the top candidate for any new and large scale witch hunt In America.

Now that homosexuality has become mentionable in polite society, the social balance can be seen quickly shiftin” as society tries to decide what new attitude it must take to the problem. It seems certain to this author that the shift will be fast, and the new attitude drastic, and that it will determine in large part the extent to which this nation remains a free and open society.

If Miami had caught the attention of ONE, it can also be said that ONE also caught Miami’s attention as well. The Miami News published a front-page article in August on “how Los Angeles handles its 150,000 perverts.”: “In California the homosexuals have… established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a ‘normal’ group.” On November 4, ONE wrote a letter to Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, who was leading the anti-gay witch hunt. We don’t know what that letter said, but Aronovitz replied on November 12. Based on the Mayor’s reply, it appears that at least one of ONE’s objectives was to take Aronovitz to task for his proposal to try to shut down the city’s gay bars (see Sep 15Sep 19Oct 6 and Oct 20). Whatever other objections ONE may have raised, Aronovitz’s reply remained limited to just that one item. That reply was printed in ONE’s January 1955 issue:

Mayor Aronovitz’s letter and ONE’s response (ONE, January 1955, page 36).

November 12, 1954.

One, Inc .
232 South Hill Street
Los Angeles 12 , California

Attn: Mr. Marvin Cutler , Secretary
Bureau of Public Information

Gentlemen:

In reply to your letter of November 9th, this is to advise that I have never advocated harassing homosexuals or other deviates. I have always insisted that the lowest form of human being is the individual who while operating a public business violates many laws and caters to homosexuals for the purpose of taking advantage of other human beings.

Miami is not required to provide a haven for the homosexuals and deviates of the nation and therefore, if you will keep informing the nation of this fact, I will be much obliged.

Yours very truly,
(signed)
Abe Aronowitz,
Mayor

ONE recounted several statements that Aroniwitz had uttered over the past several months and concluded, “The editors of ONE feel that the above statement by the Mayor of Miami is slightly at odds with statements attributed to him by the MIAMI DAILY NEWS.” As for providing a haven for the homosexuals of the nation, ONE curtly observed: “Editorially, we might also point out to the Mayor of Miami that it is quite possible that some of the homosexuals in Miami might have been born there.”

[Sources: Lyn Pedersen. “Miami Hurricane.” ONE 2, no. 11 (November 1954): 4-8.

Unsigned. Letter from Mayor Abe Aronowitz. ONE 3, no. 1 (January 1955): 36.]

Gay Liberation Front Protests Time Magazine: 1969. The cover story of Time magazine two weeks earlier (see Oct 31)) continued to weigh heavily on the minds of New York’s gay activists. The article said a few nice things about gays — it included a few comments from New York Mattachine member Dick Leitsch and Washington Mattachine founder Frank Kameny to represent gay people. But it also included quotes by Dr. Charles Socarides and a man he claimed to have cured. (Socarides would go on to co-found NARTH in 1993.) Those views and the article might have been acceptable if it had appeared just a year earlier, but in November of 1969, just four months after the Stonewall Rebellion, members of the Gay Liberation Front saw no need to sit by while so-called “experts” cast judgments on their mental health and moral beliefs. Many in GLF were particularly angry because they had cooperated with the writer, only to find the article emphasizing the old tired stereotypes, particularly of gay men.

On November 12, members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Daughters of Bilitis picketed the Time-Life building and handed out leaflets to passers-by. They read, “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, Time has attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its own narrow, out-dated, warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.” But due partly to the cold and snowy weather, the protest didn’t attract much attention, save for some jeers from construction workers across the street and a very brief mention during the eleven o’clock news on the ABC affiliate.

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 97-98.]

“A martini, honey, and don’t waste any space with those olives!”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Megan Mullally: 1958. “What’s this? What’s going on here? What’s happening?” Oh sure, some might have thought the sitcom Will & Grace was about the two title characters. But if that were true, it would have just been a gay man and his fag hag. Yawn. So if you ask me (and I’m acutely aware that you didn’t), Megan Mullally’s portrayal of booze-guzzling, pill-popping, boob-flashing, gold-digging, maid-abusing Karen Walker (alias, “Anastasia Beaverhausen”) is what really made the series an essential part of NBC’s Must See TV. To say that Karen was narcissistic was, well, as Karen would say, “That’s like saying Prada’s are just shoes or vodka is just a morning beverage.”

Mullally started out in Chicago theater before moving to Los Angeles in 1985. She made minor guest appearances in a long, long list of sitcoms, including Seinfeld, Frasier, Wings, and Mad About You. Then came her eight year run on Will & Grace where she was tapped for seven consecutive Emmy Award nominations for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”; she won in 2000 and 2006. After Will & Grace, she had her own short-lived talk show and has stayed busy with several guest appearances. She also returned to the stage, starring in Mel Brook’s Broadway musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein, and in a production of Adam Bart’s The Receptionist in Los Angeles.

The most feared Man on Capital Hill

Mike Rogers: 1963. “The Most Feared Man On Capital Hill” is known for his ability to snoop out closeted anti-gay politicians and expose them long before the mainstream media catches on. Rogers’s targets have included Virginia Congressman Edward Schrock, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman. Some have criticized him for it, but he says what others call “outing” he calls “reporting.” In 2009, Rogers appeared on a local Washington, D.C. news program with host Doug McKelway, who criticized Rogers and said that he would like to “take you (Rogers) outside and punch you across the face.” Rogers demanded an apology, but never got one. Ask him what his favorite movie was, and he will tell you it is Outrage, the 2009 documentary by Kirby Dick which discusses the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who work against the gay community.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

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