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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 31

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2012

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Is Homosexuality Normal or Not?: 1971. That was the burning question for Life magazine, and they tackled it pretty much the way everyone did back then: by talking to a lot of straight people about gay people, but without quoting from a single gay person. Featured in the article was noted anti-gay therapists Edmund Bergler (despite being dead for nearly ten years), Lawrence Hatterer (who conducted electric shock aversion therapy), Irving Bieber, and Charles Socarides — who would later go on to co-found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The article tried to present a rundown on what makes gay men gay (there was virtually no mention of lesbians in the article), and then, without quoting from a single “homosexual militant”, asserted that these militants opposed all research on homosexuality. All of this led to the article’s final two paragraphs:

Whether liberationists choose introspection, militancy, or violence as a course of action, the basic stumbling block remains the same: heterosexual antipathy to homosexuality. Will this ever change? Dr. Hatterer has observed that society’s tolerance of homosexuality is increasing but he doubts that we will ever accept it as a desirable “alternative lifestyle.” Nonetheless he and virtually all other psychiatrists advocate repealing the laws that violate this minority’s civil rights.

On the question of “normality,” much remains to be learned. In opposing all inquiry, the militants expose fears of what science might find out about them. Dr. (Evelyn) Hooker’s task force on homosexuality makes the sensible recommendation that the National Institute of Mental Health fund a center for the study of all sexual behavior. “It is essential,” says the report, “that a study of homosexuality be placed within the context of the study of the broad range of sexuality, normal and deviant.”

You can read the article here.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Jennifer Higdon: 1962. Who says playing flute in a Tennessee high school band is a dead end? It certainly wasn’t for Jennifer Higdon, who majored in the instrument at Bowling Green State University where she also began composing. After graduation, she served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Gren Bay Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. Her one-movement tone poem blue cathedral, inspired by her brother’s death from cancer, has become among the most performed modern orchestral works by a living American composer. Her Violin Concerto, which premiered in 2009 in Indianapolis, was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. That same year, her Percussion Concerto won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Higdon lives with her high school sweetheart, Cheryl Lawson, in Philadelphia, where Higdon teaches composition at the Curtis Institute.

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?

Comments

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Hunter
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

For the time, the Life article was surprisingly even-handed, although it’s instructive that the author(s) didn’t manage to include any actual statements from “militants” or any other gays — only attributed attitudes. It’s hard to believe that no one would speak for attribution at that point. There’s also the fact that relying on psychotherapists to any degree was questionable: they were, after all, basing their findings on patient populations, so there’s built-in bias in what passed for their study populations, and they were markedly resistant to any broader research. Interesting take on the attitudes at the time, though.

Hunter
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

PS — Happy New Year to you all.

Steve
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

Those “therapists” weren’t interested in objective research. After all they made money from “curing” people, so saying that being gay is an illness was in their best interest. They would either have structured their “studies” to produce a desired outcome (like Regnerus) or suppressed any inconvenient data.

Bose in St. Peter MN
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

The full 11-page spread in that Time magazine is intriguing: Homosexuals in Revolt: The year one liberation movement turned militant. Keeping with the militant theme, only a couple of the gay people in photos is smiling out of the dozens shown. Troy Perry even looks somber and angry in the two shots of him.

Fun, too, to see that Jack Baker’s successful run for U of MN Student Association included posters of him wearing high heels.

In contrast to more recent coverage, it’s interesting that the reporter didn’t go to the Catholic Church or any other religious voices, so there were no scary quotes about gay people being an abomination or ruining the country. Of course, those sorts of condemnations weren’t needed from religious leaders with a sub-head like “A direct assault on laws and customs.”

And yet, in the segment about the MCC and Perry, the reporter tips his hit in an unexpected direction: “[Perry's] Sunday sermons, flavored by the Bible Belt, are laced with a wit that easily demolishes the traditional view of homosexuality as evil.”

Easily demolished? Wow.

Donny D.
January 1st, 2013 | LINK

Bose in St. Peter MN wrote,

In contrast to more recent coverage, it’s interesting that the reporter didn’t go to the Catholic Church or any other religious voices, so there were no scary quotes about gay people being an abomination or ruining the country.

No, there generally wouldn’t have been back then, because the big mission of the straight, oh, excuse me, MAINSTREAM print media was to convince every one of their readers that gay people are “sick”, so the quotes were all from psychologists and psychiatrists, tending heavily toward the latter. And there might or might not be a quote from a cop. Always against us, of course.

WildwoodGuy
January 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Jim,
Thank you for introducing me to Jennifer Higdon. I had never heard of her… and then suddenly, after you introduced us to her, I discover that my local classical radio station is hosting her *LIVE* this coming Saturday evening 1/5/13 at 8P PST on a show by local host Robert McBride. You can hear the program live at http://www.allclassical.org/
at 8p PST or, if you can’t catch it live, listen to it on demand by going to the website and hitting the ‘Audio Archive’ option, select Club Mod. They archive 2 weeks worth of shows for each of the locally created content.

As always Jim, you help to introduce us all to new artists and people I’ve never heard of before, and I want to thank you for that! (I never heard of Michael Tippett… and then realized his big work A Child of our Time had aired on Club Mod on Saturday, June 30. Yes… I listened… but didn’t realize the significance at the time.

Thank you Jim, for everything you do and for all the new things to which you introduce this old fossil.

G.I. Joe
January 5th, 2013 | LINK

To be fair, the article actually quotes two homosexual by name (although anonymously, so it could be made up). I actually find it quite positive for 1971.

Compared to the 1966 TIME magazine article Bose mentions, it’s light speed ahead in terms of positivism and optimism.

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