The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 5
February 5th, 2013
Fundraising Campaign for Jamaica Anti-Gay Violence Documentary: Kickstarter. Micah Fink is a documentary filmmaker whose credits include PBS, National Geographic, CNN, and HBO, among others. For the past four years, he’s been working on a documentary, titled, An Abominable Crime: Anti-Gay Violence in Jamaica, which centers on two gay Jamaicans who were forced by homophobic violence to flee their homeland:
- Simone Edwards is a brave lesbian mother, who barely survives a murderous attack — and then is forced to choose between a life in hiding in Jamaica with her young daughter — or a life alone as an asylum seeker abroad.
- Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaica’s leading human rights activist and an active member of the MCC Church, is also forced to flee his homeland when he is publicly outed by a Jamaican newspaper — shortly after filing a legal challenge to Jamaica’s destructive anti-gay laws. The filmmakers follow him as he decides to risk his life by returning home to continue his work.
Since filming started in 2009, five characters in have fled Jamaica after dealing with gunfire, mob violence, and death threats. The film is being partly supported by the Pulitzer Center of Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization which will support the film’s distribution and screenings on college campuses. To complete the film itself, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise another $35,000 by March 2. For more information and to contribute, please click here.
British Parliament to Debate Same-Sex Marriage Bill: London, UK. British MPs will take up debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Commons today when the Bill comes up for its Second Reading. The text of the Bill as it stands today is here. This bill would apply to England and Wales Only. The Scottish Parliament is working on a separate bill, but there is no movement on marriage quality in Northern Ireland. The debate, which is scheduled to last for up to seven hours, starts today sometime after 12:30 UTC (7:30 a.m. EST). It will be carried live on BBC Parliament as well as on a television feed from the Parliament’s own web site.
Once the Second Reading is complete, the Bill goes to committee stage, where each clause and any amendments to the Bill may be debated. Once the committee stage is completed, the bill will return to the House floor for final debate and Third Reading. From then it goes to the House of Lords for its three Readings before being granted Royal Assent from the Queen.
Illinois Marriage Bill May Be Brought Up In Senate Committee: Springfield, IL. Reports are circulating that a bill granting marriage equality to Illinois same-sex couples is expected to go before a state Senate Executive Committee meeting today when it meets at 1:00 p.m. The bill, SB 110, could see a floor vote on Valentine’s Day.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Rep. Jon Hinson Arrested on Sodomy Charge: 1981. The closet can be a crazy place. When Rep. Jon Hinson (R-MS) was running for re-election to a second term in 1980, he admitted that in 1976, while he was working as a Congressional aide, he had been arrested for exposing himself to an undercover policeman at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. At that same news conference, Hinson also revealed that he was one of the survivors of a 1977 fire that broke out at Cinema Follies, a gay club in Washington’s seedy Southeast. That fire killed nine people. “I must be totally frank and tell you that both of these incidents were in areas frequented by some of Washington’s homosexual community,” he told stunned reporters. But he vowed to stay with his wife and denied that he was gay, blaming those incidents on heavy drinking, which he said that he had now gotten under control. Mississippi’s Republican party rallied around the Congressman and he was elected to a second term.
But just barely a month into that second term, Hinson was in trouble again. Hinson was arrested, along with another man, for having sex in a public men’s room in the Longworth House Office building. Hinson and the other man were arrested on charges of sodomy, a felony which carried a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The charge was reduced to attempted sodomy, a misdemeanor — then a standard practice in D.C. — to which Hinson entered a plea of not guilty and promptly checked himself into a hospital for “mental and physical fatigue.” He finally yielded to calls for his resignation in April and later changed his plea to no contest, for which he was given a 30-day suspended sentence and one year’s probation.
Soon after, Hinson finally came out as gay. He helped organize Virginians for Justice — by then he decided to remain in Fairfax, Virginia rather than return to Mississippi — and became something of a local gay rights activist as a founding member of the Fairfax Lesbian and Gay Citizens Association. Hinson died in 1995 from complications of AIDS.
William S. Burroughs: 1914. A canonical figure of the Beat Generation, the novelist, poet, and spoken word performer’s best known work is his third novel, Naked Lunch. Published in 1959, it was immediately controversial for its obscene language, unabashed portrayal of Burroughs’s heroin addiction and frank descriptions of sex, including his own homosexuality. Naked Lunch was banned in Los Angeles and Boston, where it became last the work of literature to be prosecuted for being obscene in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court lifted the ban in 1966, following a series of trials that included testimony by Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer in support of Burroughs.
If there was a secret to Burroughs’s art, it was this: He simply put his chaotic life to paper. A longtime heroin addict, he and his wife fled to Mexico in 1950 after Louisiana police discovered letters between himself and Allen Ginsberg discussing a drug delivery. While there, he shot and killed his wife while playing “William Tell” at a party. He was eventually able to avoid imprisonment after witnesses testified that the gun went off accidentally. For the several decades, he was in and out of drug rehab and financially destitute much of the time before finally kicking the habit, temporarily, in the mid-1970s. It was at about that time when friends hit on the idea of booking him to read from his works in bookstores and other small performance spaces. His career as a performance artist was launched, which also revived his literary career. He went on to collaborate with Laurie Anderson, Throbbing Gristle, Kurt Cobain, Ministry, and Sonic Youth. He also appeared in Gus Van Sant’s 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. He died in 1997 following a heart attack.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?