The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 23

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2013

Boy Scouts To Vote On Gay Ban: Grapevine, TX. Boy Scout leaders from across the nation are gathering at a resort in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine this week, where today they have schedule a vote on a proposal to lift the ban on gay scout members. According to the proposal, the ban on gay scout leaders would remain in place, which means that gay scouts, as soon as they turn eighteen, will suddenly become pariahs in their own troops rather than respected young adult leaders. It also means that kids with gay parents will also continue to see their families denied full inclusion in their activities. And yet, prospects for even that deeply flawed, ill-considered non-compromise are uncertain. BSA is expected to announce the result of the vote later this afternoon.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UKCambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eilat, Israel; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Melbourne, FLPensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, MexicoTralee, IrelandWashington, DC (Black Pride).

Harvey Milk Day Events: Various locations and dates.

Other Events This Weekend: International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV; As One In The Park, London, UK; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

Courage Sports Camp: Philadelphia, PA. I admit it: I throw like a girl. Like my four-year-old niece, to be precise. I remember that when I was growing up, sometimes my dad would drag me outside to play catch. After a few hours of his patient tutelage, I’d get pretty good at it, but I just wasn’t interested enough in sports to keep it up. I saw no point in tossing a ball back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, for hours. Or hitting a ball with a bat. Or throwing it through a hoop. Or throwing a misshapen ball anywhere. Or catching it and getting tackled. Who needs that?

Well apparently some Catholic boys who really, really wish they weren’t gay do. Courage, the Roman Catholic ex-gay ministry, is sponsoring its annual Sports Camp, “an exhilarating, experiential weekend for men desiring to learn how to play team sports with encouragement, coaching, and an abundance of Christian fellowship.” Their web site has testimonials about how healing that exhilarating weekend can be. I guess if your notions of manhood were wrapped up in how well you can snap a towel, then I guess it can be a valuable weekend for some people. Of course, Courage encourages men to value manhood — and not gay male manhood, young man! — in just that way. And they have a whole summer camp taking place this weekend, where struggling young men who are gay but really, really don’t want to be gay will enjoy hot, sweaty camaraderie in the bright summer sun, followed by showers afterward. Oh, and also “a daily regimen of prayer, confessions, mass, and the Liturgy of the Hours.” Go team!

Harvard’s Secret Court: 1920. On May 13, 1920, Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard sophomore, committed suicide. He had been struggling with his grades and with his health, and returned home to recover. While at home, he told his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. George apparently reacted very badly to the news, with Cyril’s suicide following shortly after. Soon after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters. One was a gossipy letter from a gay classmate, and another was from a recent graduate. Armed with those letters, George demanded that Harvard’s acting Dean, Chester N Greenough rid the college “of this pernicious scourge.” Greenough consulted with Harvard President Abbot Lowell and formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became knownas the “Secret Court.”

The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. At least one student committed suicide following his expulsion. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed guilty. The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.

In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from newspaper staff, the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced. He called the reports “extremely disturbing” and the court’s actions “abhorrent.” Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan responded to Summers’s statement by saying that “Harvard embraces bathhouse values”:

Harvard’s code is now based on Summers’ values, which hold that the old moral code of Christianity, which teaches that sexual relations between men are unnatural and immoral, is “abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university.” Harvard has not only turned its back on its Christian past, it has just renounced its Christian roots as poisoned and perverted. If Harvard is educating America’s leaders, this country is not Slouching Toward Gomorrah, we are sprinting there.

[More information can be found in William Wright’s Harvard’s Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals]

State Department Announces Tougher Scrutiny for Job Applicants: 1950. By May of 1950, the State Department had withstood blistering attacks from members of Congress over allegations of homosexual employees allegedly posing as security risks (See Feb 28, Mar 14, Mar 23, Apr 18, Apr 26, May 2, and May 19). On May 22, the State Department announced steps in the hiring process to try to address those criticisms. The State Department’s top security officer, R.W. Scott McLeud said that he ordered his aides to be “completely ruthless” on passing on new job applicants who had a hint of security issues. According to news reports, McLeod said that someone who made a single mistake in the past might be able to “cancel it out” with good performance since then, with one exception. He said that a single homosexual act, no matter how long past, would make the employee subject to blackmail and would never be hired.

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?

Timothy Kincaid

May 23rd, 2013

Ah, sports.

In one of the great ironies of life, there is a new trend in WeHo: dodgeball.

I went on Tuesday to cheer on a friend who (I hope he isn’t reading this) also throws like your niece. But he also dodges quite well and several times was among the last standing on his team.

He had so much fun that I think I might join them on Tuesday.

I, of course, do not throw like your niece. But I hope that with a little luck and some practice I’ll soon be able to.

Ben in Oakland

May 23rd, 2013

Yup. Nothing like hanging around with a bunch of hot, sweaty, shirtless, masculine men to get your mind off of hanging around with hot, sweaty, shirtless, masculine men.

There was a sitcom inthe ’80’s called “brothers” in which one of the brothers was gay. The dumber straight one said to him upon learning of it: “couldn’t you do some push-ups or something”?

The idea that homosexuality has anything to do with a lack of masculine gender-specific behaviors is as absurd as any other of the claims of the anti-ex-gay industry. The so.called exgays that promote this nonsense do what they always do, putting the cart well before the horse. In this case,: project their own issues with their own perceived lack of masculinity onto the mass of gay men, and assume they have somehow discovered a universal truth, when all they have done is lock their eyes with laser sharpness and accuracy onto their own navels.

I’ve known I was gay since I was a small child. I was also active in sports for decades, was a coach, a youth worker, and have continued to work out regularly into my 60’s. I have no lack of masculinity in my life.

But then, I also think self hatred and self flagellation for my alleged inadequacies is a major waste of time.


May 23rd, 2013

Let me echo Ben in Oakland and add my own experience to what he says.

I was a jock. By the time I left home for college, I had a wall of sailing, tennis and golf trophies; I had played 1B on a championship Little League team; at 12, I held (briefly) the state swim record for the 50-yard freestyle. There was little physically that I couldn’t do or hadn’t tried.

And of course, I was gay. Not gay later on, but from the start, lifelong: my parents tell me that as early as kindergarten I got crushes on other little boys. They knew that I am gay before I knew it.

And they are right; I recall some of those crushes. More important, I recall the emotional content of those crushes and, much more important, I see that the content matches, in the basics, the very emotion I can feel toward another guy today. Lifelong.

My point, of course, is that to conflate “masculinity” (a stupid concept) with heterosexuality is to create nonsense. My emotional orientation was born with me as, I assume, were my physical potentials. But they are separate threads in my life; one is not a derailment of the other.

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