May 31st, 2013
Last Chance For Marriage Equality: Springfield, IL. Today’s the last day of business before the Illinois legislature adjourns for the end of its spring session, and marriage equality supporters are asking the House Speaker to schedule a vote for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which, if passed, would bring marriage equality to the Land of Lincoln. The Senate approved the measure on Valentine’s Day in a 34-21 vote. The bill’s chief sponsor, Greg Harris, has been holding off calling for a vote until he’s sure he has the votes to pass it, and right now he’s being quiet about exactly how many vote he has. Equality Illinois is calling for a rally today, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Capitol Rotunda in Springfield.
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Aarhus, Denmark; Alkmaar, Netherlands; Angers, France; Bradford, UK; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Davenport, IA; Dayton, OH; Dresden, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Honolulu, HI; Kiel, Germany; Lille, France; Lorraine, France; Los Ranchos, NM; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Regensburg, Germany; Salt Lake City, UT; Santa Cruz, CA; Shanghai, China; Sonoma Co, CA Springfield, MA; Staten Island, NY; Tulsa, OK; Washington, DC; Waterford, Ireland; Winnipeg, MB; York, UK.
Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Rainbow 5K Run/Walk, Indianapolis, IN; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; Gay Days Disney, Orlando, FL; Film Out, San Diego, CA; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA (Sponsor Rob Tisinai here!); Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Scientists Trace AIDS To 1951: 1986. The summer of 1986 looked to be another terrible year in the nearly five-year-old AIDS epidemic. To be precise, that should be the five-year-old known AIDS epidemic. The CDC first noted the new disease in 1981 with the death of five young men, “all active homosexuals” whose immune system had been mysteriously and severely compromised. Out of the 23,000 known cases of people with AIDS between 1981 and the end of 1986, 56% were already dead (PDF: 32KB/5 pages).
While anti-gay activists rushed to declare that the so-called “gay plague” was a divinely inspired “terrible retribution,” scientists sought to figure out where the deadly disease came from. It wasn’t long before doctors in Europe and Africa noticed that the new disease first reported in America was remarkably similar to a mysterious illness striking the Congo River basin of Zaire and was already spreading eastward to Uganda. Swedish doctors remembered an infant born in Zaire who had contracted a similar disease in 1975 and finally died in 1982. Others recalled a Danish surgeon who died in 1977 after working in the Congo River region. Preserved blood and tissue samples tested positive for HIV, and this sent scientists scurrying to identify earlier possible samples which may offer clues to the disease’s origin.
On May 31, 1986, a team of American scientists published a letter in the British journal The Lancet announcing that they were able to determine that a blood sample that had been taken from an unknown patient at a Kinshasa hospital in 1959 tested positive for HIV. Nothing was known of the patient — neither a name nor medical records survive — but we can certainly guess at the suffering he or she must have endured. Nevertheless, this finding was an early clue that the epidemic itself was much older than previously thought. Later genetic analysis of the virus in that blood sample would indicate that the virus had actually entered the human population sometime around 1931. And later analysis still would push that estimate back to around 1908. But as early as 1986, it was already clear that it was only the stigma surrounding the disease, and not the disease itself, that was then approaching its fifth birthday.
Walt Whitman: 1819. Usually I commemorate famous birthdays by providing a brief biographical sketch. But when describing the life of the great American poet, it strikes me as unseemly to describe a man’s life when he has already written all that needs to be said:
When I Heard At The Close Of The Day.
WHEN I heard at the close of
the day how my name
had been receiv’d with
plaudits in the capitol, still it was
not a happy night for me that follow’d,
And else when I carous’d, or when my plans were accomplish’d,
still I was not happy,
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health,
refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in
the morning light,
When I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing bathed,
laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way
coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food
nourish’d me more, and the beautiful day pass’d well,
And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening
came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly
continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to
me whispering to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover
in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined
And his arm lay lightly around my breast and that night I was
This poem was originally part of a sequence of poems titled “Live Oak with Moss,” which tells the story of an unhappy affair with a man. When Whitman published the third edition of Leaves of Grass in 1860, he included them among the forty-five poems of “Calamus,” but re-arranged their order to obliterate the narrative. For the fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, two of the three poems dropped were “Live Oak ” poems, perhaps revealing that Whitman still feared that the poems told more than he could safely reveal. You can see the reconstructed “Live Oak” series at the Whitman Archive.
95 YEARS AGO: Bob Hull: 1918. The future co-founder of the Mattachine Foundation grew up near Minneapolis. While a student at the University of Minnesota, Hull met Chuck Rowland — another future Mattachine co-founder — and they became lovers, briefly. After the war, Rowland became a Communist organizer, and Hull soon followed. In 1948, Rowland left the party and moved to Los Angeles. Hull followed him to L.A., but remained in the party where he met Harry Hay (see Apr 7). When Hay discussed his idea for forming a support organization for gay people with Hull, Hull shared the idea Rowland and Hull’s then-current lover, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21). Together with Hay’s lover, Rudi Gernreich, the five met in November of 1950 and formed what would become the Mattachine Foundation.
Hull’s role in the new organization was rather limited. He was best known for leading discussion groups and writing tracts for the group. As Mattachine grew and attracted new members, many of those new members were skittish over its founders’ Communist ties and the Foundation’s high degree of secrecy. Few knew the names of those in leadership positions, and the founders organized the individual discussion groups so that each one was compartmentalized. That way, if one member was picked up by the FBI — remember, this was at the height of the McCarthy anti-Communist and anti-gay witch hunts — the other members of the organization would be protected.
But by 1953, newer members, mostly conservative members from San Francisco led by Hal Call (see Sep 20), demanded that the secrecy surrounding the leadership be abandoned and the organization cleared of Communists. Hull voiced concerns that some of those northern members might tip off a Senate Committee that Communists had founded the organization and questioned whether the founders could withstand such an investigation. (In fact, two new members from the Bay area were already FBI informants.) After the Foundation’s first constitutional in April broke down in disagreement (see Apr 11), a second meeting was called for May, when Hay, Rowland, and Hull stepped down. The remaining members declared the Mattachine Foundation disbanded and announced the formation of the newly reconstituted Mattachine Society.
When Hull left Mattachine, he also left advocacy behind. He briefly joined up with Rowland’s short-lived gay-affirming Church of One Brotherhood, but Hull’s personal demons soon caught up with him. A lifelong introvert, Hull struggled with depression for which he underwent years of therapy. Just days after his lover left him, Hull killed himself on May 1, 1962.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.