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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 21

Jim Burroway

April 21st, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Binghamton, NY; Philadelphia Black Pride; Philadelphia, PA; Christopher Street Day, Potsdam, Germany; Tallahassee Pride, Tallahassee, FL.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Three Gay Men Order A Drink: 1966. Gay bars were made illegal in New York, due to a State Liquor Authority regulation against serving customers who were “disorderly,” a term that was invariably used against anyone who was gay. Inspectors routinely revoked bars’ licenses which allowed gay people to congregate, citing New York City’s statutes against “indecent behavior.” As a result, the better bars routinely refused to serve anyone suspected of being gay.

Furthermore, New York Police routinely launched entrapment campaigns in which they would place good-looking undercover officers in bars who would hit on suspected gay people, propose a sexual encounter, and arrest them and shut down the bar. Vice officers were under a monthly quota, which resulted in a lot men being arrested on flimsy evidence. All of this together drove the gay bar trade to the less reputable bars, often owned or operated by the Mafia who paid off police officers for protection.

To highlight the problem, members of the Mattachine Society — President Dick Leitsch and members Craig Rodwell and John Timmons — contacted reporters at The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The New York Post to say that they planned to stage a “sip in” at a bar in the Village. The idea behind the sip-in was to go into a bar, announce that they were homosexual and order a drink. If they were served, the reporters would report on it, and the bar would either serve them and risk their liquor license, or refuse to serve them and they would then sue to bar. As Leitsch later recalled:

Well, first of all, we were going to go to this bar on 8th Street (the Ukrainian-American Village Restaurant). They had a sign in their window saying, if you’re gay, go away. And we thought that would be very dramatic and we’d go there and ask for service and see what happened. We notified the press and being gay, we got there late. And the New York Times had already gotten there and said, what about this gay demonstration? And the manager said, what? So he closed the place for the day.

When we got there, there’s a sign on the door saying, closed today. And so then we decided we had to go Julius’ because Julius’ had been raided like 10 days before. The bar would have a sign in the window saying, this is a raided premises, and very often they’d put a uniformed cop on the stool inside the door, and he sat there until the trial came up.

So we knew that Julius’ would not serve us because they have this thing pending. And so when we walked in, the bartender put glasses in front of us, and we told him that we were gay and we intended to remain orderly, we just wanted service. And he said, hey, you’re gay, I can’t serve you, and he put his hands over the top of the glass, which made wonderful photographs. The whole thing ended up in court, and the court decided well, yes, the Constitution says that people have the right to peacefully assemble and the state can’t take that right away from you. And so the Liquor Authority can’t prevent gay people from congregating in bars.

The May 5 edition of the Voice carried the headline, “Three Homosexuals In Search of a Drink,” and featured a photo of the three Mattachine members seated at the bar with the bartender’s hand covering their drinks. After stories appeared in the Times and the Post, the Liquor Authority was forced to abandon its anti-gay operations. But NYPD raids would continue for at least three more years, culminating in that fateful raid at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

Julius’ bar, which dates back to 1864, is still in business, billing itself as Greenwhich Village’s oldest bar and New York’s oldest gay bar.

John Paulk In Wall Street Journal Coverage of  the Ex-Gay Movement: 1993. The article opens with a description of an ex-gay meeting at the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in Hayward, California, near San Francisco, where a 31-year-old former missionary talked about his dispair over the difficulties of trying to change:

He confesses: “It’s not working, and I don’t know why.” The others, regulars at this Friday-night support group, are sympathetic; they know the temptations of the flesh and the damnation they figure awaits those who succumb. “It’s a matter of will,” says one. “You have to make the choice.” Maybe, suggests another, it is demonic possession.

The erstwhile missionary’s eyes grow watery. He has begged God to free him, has surrounded himself with Christians and spent a month in an in-patient treatment program. But nothing has worked, and thinking about it just makes it worse — especially at these meetings. “I’m having sex, I’m having fun, and I don’t feel bad about it,” he confesses. “Not getting AIDS is all I care about.”

Having sex, having fun and not feeling bad about it are not options here. Another of those interviewed was John Evans, who, with Ken Philpot and Frank Worthen, founded Love In Action (which would later move to Memphis), and who had already left the ex-gay movement when his best friend, Jack McIntyre, killed himself over his failure to change. McIntyre had spent four years in Love In Action before winding up in the psychiatric ward at Marin General Hospital:

There, in 1977 at age 46, he recorded his thoughts in a letter: “No matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed. . . . I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple. . . . To continually go before God and ask for forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.”

In room 104, he gave himself Communion, swallowed a lethal nightcap of Valium and Dalmane — tranquilizers and sleeping pills — and lay down on a couch to a quiet death.

By 1993, Exodus International claimed 65 affiliated ministries, but Evans said, “They’re destroying people’s lives. If you don’t do their thing, you’re not of God, you’ll go to hell. They’re living in a fantasy world.” Among those in that fantasy world was John Paulk, who was also interviewed for the Journal:

Mr. Paulk had been a prostitute, a female impersonator named Candi and an alcoholic who tried to kill himself before he decided to become straight and marry an ex-lesbian he met in church last year. “I had no sexual interest in women at all,” he says. “But when you begin a relationship with a woman that you believe God has led you to, then you develop attraction to that person. To say that we’ve arrived at this place of total heterosexuality — that we’re totally healed — is misleading.”

In 1993, Paulk was a cautious “success story” for the  ex-gay movement. He would later become much more confident in his “success” while at Focus On the Family, where he was put in charge of the organization’s Gender and Homosexuality division and was elected to two terms as chairman of Exodus International. In 1998, he helped to found Love Won Out, a traveling ex-gay roadshow and informercial conducted jointly with Exodus International. Love Won Out staged a half a dozen conferences per year in cities across North American for the next thirteen years. That same year, he and his ex-lesbian wife, Anne, became the face of the ex-gay movement in a massive publicity campaign that culminated in their landing on the cover of Newsweek. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C. After a brief hiatus, Paulk returned to ex-gay ministry, and continued working at Focus On the Family and speaking at Love Won Out conferences for the next four years.

The Paulks eventually left Focus On the Family and moved to Oregon, where John started a catering business, while Anne continued writing books and speaking on the ex-gay circuit. But just last Thursday, John recanted his ex-gay beliefs and issued what may have been a half-hearted non-apology kind of apology. Sort of. Meanwhile, Anne helped to form a break-away group of former Exodus ministries following Exodus president Alan Chambers’s acknowledgment that change in sexual orientation was not possible. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network.

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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