July 23rd, 2013
Charlotte Saunders Cushman: 1816. The American stage actress began her career as an opera singer at the age of thirteen, following the death of her father. She had learned to sing from a friend of her father, who was also a foreman at a Boston piano factory, and she is said to have possessed a remarkable contralto range. But when her singing voice suddenly failed due to strain, she switched gears and became a noted drama actress, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. She and her sister, Susan Webb Cushman, became famous for playing Romeo and Juliet together, with Charlotte playing the role of Romeo to Susan’s Juliet.
In 1848 while in Europe, Charlotte met journalist and sometime actress Matilda Hays, and they began a ten year affair during which they became known for dressing alike. Charlotte retired from the stage in 1852 and the couple moved to Rome, where they immersed themselves in an expatriate community consisting mainly of lesbian artists. Hays and Cushman split in 1857, and Cushman became involved with the sculptor Emma Stebens. She returned to the U.S. for a tour, and before returning to Italy in 1861 she was offered a farewell performance of the title role of Hamlet in Washington, D.C., the first of at least seven different so-called farewell performances over the next seven years. Her final final performance on the stage wouldn’t be until May of 1875 at Boston’s Globe Theater, nine months before she died at the age of 59 of pneumonia.
155 YEARS AGO: Edward Prime-Stevenson (a.k.a. “Xavier Mayne”): 1858. Trained as a lawyer though he never practiced, Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson was known as a very cosmopolitan man of letters, befitting one who was born into a wealthy and cultured family. A master of nine languages, he wrote poetry, short fiction, magazine serials and travel essays for Harpers and The New York Independent before settling on music criticism. Early in his career, he wrote two books for boys: White Cockades: An Incident of the “Forty-Five” (1887), a historical fiction about a young Prince Pretender, and Left to Themselves: Being the Ordeal of Philip and Gerald (1891).
It was at about that time that he began dividing his time between the U.S. and Europe, and by the time the century turned, he was spending most of his time, never quite settled, in a regular circuit that consisted of stays in London, Paris, Budapest, Florence, and Rome. His beloved mother had died and left him an independently wealthy man, and his great love, Henry Harkness Flager, the son of a railroad magnate, had dumped him to marry a woman. As Stevenson let it be known in a few of his letters, he found America too oppressive for one such as he.
While in Naples in 1906, he published his “little psychological romance,” Imre: A Memorandum, under the pen name of Xavier Mayne. Imre, about a young Hungarian military officer’s relationship with another man, and was notable for two reasons. Not only was it the first American novel to deal openly and sympathetically with homosexuality, but it did so with a story line with a happily-ever-after ending.
Stevenson, again as Xavier Mayne, followed that with another book, The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life, which he published privately in Rome in 1908. (“Intersex” was often used to refer to gay men or women under the idea that they were members of the “intermediate sex”. “Simisexual” was an all-Latin form of the word “homosexual,” which scandalized some scholars for its hybridization, some said “bastardiazation,” of Greek and Latin roots.) This 646-page opus, dedicated to the memory of the German writer Richard von Krafft-Ebing, covered an incredible array of topics: homosexuality in the ancient world and among primitive peoples, animal studies, gay geniuses, literature, ancient and modern legal codes, male prostitution, blackmail, violence, and contemporary anecdotes, gossip and scandals. It is considered the first great defense of homosexuality in the English language, as in this passage (where he uses Krafft-Ebing’s “Uranian” to refer to gay men):
Happiest of all, surely, are those Uranians, ever numerous who have no wish nor need to fly society — or themselves. Knowing what they are, understanding the natural, the moral strength of their position as homosexuals; sure of right on their side, even if it be never accorded to them in the lands where they must live; fortunate in either due self-control or private freedom — day by day, they go on through their lives, self-respecting and respected, in relative peace
From 1913, Stevenson published Her Enemy, some Friends — and Other Personages, a collection of short stories, many of them with overtly gay themes. This time, he published it under his own name. He stayed busy through the 1920s and 1930s, but by then he was writing mostly about music. When World War II broke out, he retreated to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died in 1942.
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?
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.