The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 13
August 13th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Thirty-Five Arrested in Miami Beach Raid as Governor Threatens to Replace Sheriff: 1954. The wave of anti-gay hysteria in Miami continued apace (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12), with Florida’s acting governor, Charley E. Johns, getting in on the act. The Miami News reported that Johns was looking for an excuse to replace Dade County sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling and for “failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” The News continued: “Public indignation over two recent sex murders and police revelations that Miami is host to a colony of some 5,000 homosexuals might be used to accuse the sheriff of lax law enforcement.”
(Johns became acting governor when Gov. Dan McCarty died in 1953. He would later return to the State Senate, where he headed the infamous Johns Committee which revived a statewide Red Scare and Lavender scare with its investigations of alleged communists, homosexuals, and civil rights advocates among the students and faculty of Florida’s schools and university system.)
Meanwhile, The Miami News that same day also reported that Miami Beach Police conducted a raid on a section of the beach the day before:
Two of six suspected homosexuals arrested by Miami Beach police in a raid on the 22nd Street bathing area were convicted of disorderly conduct today and ordered to pay $10 fines.
Beach police arrested 35 men yesterday afternoon in a raid planned by Police Chief Shepard. All but six were released after questioning at headquarters. The six kept in custody were charged with disorderly conduct by reason of failure to give a good account of their actions.
City Judge Lawrence Hoffman dismissed cases against four of the six today but warned them to stay away from the 22nd Street bathing area.
“Chief Shepard intends to make good his plan to make Miami Beach undesirable to homosexuals,” Judge Hoffman told the suspects.
ONE magazine, quoting an unnamed news source (perhaps The Miami Herald), paraphrased the Miami Beach action this way:
Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard personally led a “flying squad of raiders” who fearlessly “swooped down on the public bathing area at 22nd street and the ocean and herded 35 males to headquarters for questioning.” Two headed for the deep sea but were pulled in by lifeguards … “The raid was executed with all the advance planning and secrecy of an amphibious landing”; … Romeo explained there’d been “numerous complaints” of “males who ‘act mighty like girls.'” Six were booked for disorderly conduct for failing to give a good account of themselves. (What does that mean? A cash transaction, perhaps? — L.P.) The rest released after questioning. Charges later dropped against all but two, who were fined $10 each. Some had worn bathing suits “that caused snickers from police” — bikinis and such, “shocking pink, daring cerise and leopard skin pattern.”
A Disease Worse than Alcohol: 1954. On the same day that The Miami News printed the front-page article about acting Gov. Charley Johns’s threat to remove the Dade County sheriff because he let too many queers settle in Miami, and the same day that the same newspaper reported on the nineteen such queers who had been arrested in Miami Beach, The Miami News still wasn’t finished. Across the bottom of the front page was the third of a series of three articles purporting to inform the general public about the “condition” of homosexuality. Titled “Psychiatrist Looks At Deviates: A Disease ‘Worse Than Alcohol’,” the article featured Dr. Paul Kells, a “noted Miami psychiatrist, whom The Miami Daily News asked to supply answers to questions regarding sexual deviates.” The News introduces the subject this way:
In the past few days Miamians have learned that this community has become infected by a large colony of sexual deviates. The word “infected” is used advisedly, since homosexuality is a social disease. It can be worse than drug addiction or alcoholism. There is little hope for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable pattern.
Most of the article follows a Q&A format, with the first question appearing to draw some sort of a line between homosexuals and “sexual psychopaths.” What line exactly is drawn however is anybody’s guess:
Q Are all homosexuals potential child molesters, sadists (those who enjoy causing others pain) and masochists (those who enjoy pain and humiliation for themselves?)
A. No. The sexual psychopath, of which homosexuality is only one form, is the extreme sex deviate classification from which emerges the child molester and sadist. The sexual psychopath has no feeling of social responsibility, much in the manner of the hardened criminal who has no understanding or regard for the law, the psychiatrist explained.
The sexual psychopath preys on both sexes. He or she might consort with homosexuals as a means of getting money or any other objective. The psychopathic personality frequently has a feeling of great superiority over others, disregarding at all times the need of conforming to social laws.
As for whether homosexuals were born that way:
No. …”It is usually a matter of experience which makes a person a homosexual,” the doctor stated. “It’s ‘possible’ for anyone to become a homosexual, but people are not born to be such.”
It is in this statement that Miamians can clearly see their problem. In a community where there are only a few homosexuals, the chance for exposure to such practices are negligible.
Not all homosexuals want to gain converts, but those who do can be extremely aggressive, the doctor explained. The most aggressive is the psychopathic personality, who also lacks understanding of social responsibility.
“The shy homosexual has a sense of social responsibility and will go to great extremes to conceal his plight,” said the psychiatrist. “This type lives in constant fear of being exposed and will marry and have families to conceal its sexual behavior.”
… Dr. Kells pointed out that “normal” homosexuals are acceptable to society when their sex behavior is not known. “The sexual psychopath is never acceptable,” he said. “And there is the important question involved in creating laws. The ‘normal’ homosexual should be separated from the sexual psychopath.”
Q. Do perverts tend to congregate in the same area or town?
A. Yes, but only certain types.
San Francisco Police Arrest 103 In Tay-Bush Inn Raid: 1961. San Francisco Mayor George Christopher faced a serious challenge to his re-election in 1959 from city Assessor Russ Wolden, Jr., who planted a story under a banner headline, “Sex Deviates Make San Francisco Headquarters,” in the October 7, 1959 edition of the weekly San Francisco Progress. That story charged that “the number of sex deviates in this city has soared by the thousands… while other communities in this area have virtually eliminated them.” Wolden charged that Christopher allowed “this unsavory wicked situation … to fester and spread like a cancerous growth on the body of San Francisco.” If Wolden hoped he would bring the entire city up on arms, he was successful beyond his dreams– but not in the way he planned. Over the next three weeks, San Francisco’s three dailies investigated the story and backed the incumbent, condemning Wolden for acting “beyond the pale of decent politics.” The concern wasn’t that Wolden had attacked a persecuted minority, but that he had “stigmatized the city” and “degraded the good name of San Francisco.”
Christopher won re-election by a landslide, but he was determined that he would never again be susceptible to the charge of being soft on vice. The city’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Board stepped up their persecutions of gay bars during his second term. This culminated in what has been called the largest vice raid in the city’s history when 89 men and 14 women were arrested at the Tay-Bush Inn just a few bocks northwest of Union Square. Witnesses reported that police first allowed “respectable looking” and politically connected customers to leave quietly before beginning the round-up. Hal Call, the San Francisco gay rights activist who headed the Mattachine Society, recalled, “Ethel Merman just missed getting busted on that night by about fifteen minutes. She was staring in Gypsy, and she’d gone up to the Tay-Bush with some gay friends after the show.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, three paddy wagons made seven trips between the after-hours bar and the city jail. It was, the Chronicle said, “vaguely reminiscent of leading sheep from a packed corral.” Police arrested 89 men and 14 women, but authorities complained that another 139 intended detainees managed to slip away. Those arrested included actors, actresses, dancers, a state hospital psychologist, a bank manager, an artist and an Air Force purchasing agent. The San Francisco Examiner listed the names, addresses, occupations and employers of those arrested.
Prosecutors later told the court, “The majority of the mails affected swishy-hipped walks, limp-wristed gestures, high-pitched voices and wore tight pants…. The women were mannish.” All of those arrested were charged with frequenting a disorderly house. About one out of every five or six were given an additional charge of lewd conduct, because they were seen to be dancing together or kissing. Because five or six couples were dancing, the Tay-Bush Inn was fined $400. The Mattachine Society raided its own purse to hire lawyers for those arrested. In the end, charges for visiting a “disorderly house” were eventually dropped for all but two. Mayor Christopher responded, “We found as always that some arrests are very difficult of prosecution because Courts demand total, complete, and unequivocal evidence, but we think we’re on the right track.”
[Sources: Hal Call. “Calling Shots.” Mattachine Review 7, no. 9 (September 1961): 12-14.
Del Martin. “Editorial: Fire Hoses Next? The Ladder 5, no. 12 (September 1961): 14-15.
Edward Allwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 39.
Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 39.]
“No Obits”: 1996. For the first time in more than seventeen years, the San Fransisco weekly Bay Area Reporter made the news because of a lack of news: there were no obituaries of AIDS victims in the August 13, 1996 edition. The rate of obituaries had been declining for the previous two years following the introduction of the so-called “AIDS cocktail,” which surprised scientists and AIDS advocates alike for its effectiveness in halting and even reversing the health declines of those on medications. According to an AP article at the time, “The few days leading up to Monday’s deadline for submitting obits were tense at the newspaper. In the previous two weeks, none had been delivered until the last minute. ‘It was like watching a no-hitter in baseball unfolding,’ (news editor Mike) Salinas said. “We didn’t really want to discuss it until it became obvious that it was going to happen. We held our breath waiting.'” But the obit never came by the time the deadline arrived, and the paper celebrated with a front-page headline proclaiming “No Obits.”
Australia Amends Marriage Law To Ban Same-Sex Marriage: 2004. The opposition Labor party joined the governing right-of-center Liberal Party to pass an amendment to Australia’s marriage law to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment specified:
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.
The bill’s critics challenged the government’s priorities, asking why there was a such a rush to ban same-sex marriage when the proposed anti-terrorism law hadn’t been voted on yet. Government and Labor responded by switching the schedule for the two bills and passed the anti-terrorism law first. Then both parties joined to cut off debate in the Senate. Democrat leader Sen. Andrew Bartlett condemned the move: “This is just an absolute disgrace … (you are saying) we have to do it now, otherwise society will crumble and the world will end. You are saying, ‘It is urgent that we take away as many freedoms and rights from people as possible and do it really quickly before they notice and get a chance to be upset about it’.” But that is exactly what they did, and the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 38-6.
Bills to provide marriage equality have been introduced in Australia’s Parliament in 2006 and 2009, but they have gone nowhere. In May 2013, then-former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who had previously opposed marriage equality, announced that he had changed his position and now supports it. Rudd then ousted Prime Minster Julia Gillard, who had been a staunch opponent of marriage equality, as head of the Labor Party on June 27. Rudd’s Labor is currently leading in the polls in the run-up to the September 7 federal election.
Gluck: 1895. The British painter was born Hannah Gluckstein, but she insisted on being known only as Gluck” — “No prefix, suffix, or quotes.” She resigned as vice president of an art society when her name appeared on the letterhead as “Miss Gluck.” And just as she kept her identification simple, her style of painting was also not part of any particular artistic school. Gluck established herself as a painter of floral arrangements which became popular among interior decorators, including floral designer Constance Spry, who would be Gluck’s lover from 1932 to 1936.
But it was Gluck’s portraits that would establish her reputation, beginning with her own 1925 self portrait, where she depicted herself smoking a cigarette while wearing a shirt, tie, suspenders and beret. Her best known painting, Medallion, is a dual portrait of Gluck and Nesta Obermer, who became Gluck’s partner after her relationship with Spry ended. She painted it in 1936 to commemorate what she called her marriage to Obermer on May 25. Gluck referred to it as the “YouWe” painting, and it was later used as the cover of the Virago Press edition of The Well of Loneliness.
In 1944, Obermer decided to end her relationship with Gluck, complaining that Gluck had become too demanding and possessive. Gluck then entered a tumultuous thirty-year relationship with Edith Shakelton Head, the first female reporter in Britain’s House of Lords. Gluck’s emotional health deteriorated as she descended into depression, and her painting suffered because of it. But she managed to reviver herself in the 1950s when she became alarmed at the declining quality of paints and canvases. With the backing of two important museums and the Arts Council of Great Britain, she embarked on a decade-long campaign to raise the quality of art supplies. She finally won when the British Standards Institution agreed to establish new standards for cold-pressed linseed oil, canvases, and the naming and defining of pigments.
With that success behind her, Gluck returned to the easel using special handmade paints supplied by a manufacturer who agreed to meet her exacting standards. She painted several more paintings, including one of a decomposing fish head on the beach titled, Rage, Rage against the Dying of Light. She mounted a successful solo show in 1973, her first since 1937. It would be her last; she died in 1978.
Herb Ritts: 1952. The fashion and celebrity photographer is probably known more for who he photographed than for his photos themselves, which is a shame considering the quality of his work. His trademark was in his highly geometric, classic style, often evoking Greek classism. But his access to superstars came naturally, having grown up in Brentwood where many of them were either neighbors or friends of neighbors. His subjects ended up including just about everyone in Hollywood, beginning with photos of his friend, Richard Gere, taken before either of them were famous. When Gere used those photos for publicity, Ritt’s reputation was set. He photographed Brooke Shields for the cover of Elle in 1981, and he shot the cover photo for Olivia Newton-John’s album Physical that same year.
In addition to shooting every star and starlet in Hollywood, Ritts photographed the Dalai Lama, Michael Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Hawking. His fashion photography included books for Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Calvin Klein (including Marky Mark’s famous underwear shoot), Donna Karen, Valentino, and many more. He also directed music videos for Madonna, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Chris Issak, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez.
In 1989, Ritts published MEN/WOMEN, a two-volume box set which explored the classic beauty of the male and female bodies. 1991’s Duo extended that exploration to nude gay couples. Notorious, published in 1992, saw Ritts return to celebrity portraiture. In 1994, he broke completely from his typical subjects with the publication of Africa, a study of the stark African l andscape, its wildlife and the Maasai people who make their home there.
In the 1980s and 1990s he also threw himself into fundraising for HIV/AIDS groups like anfAR, and he did so long before Elizabeth Taylor made it fashionable. Always open about his own HIV-positive status, Ritts died in 2002 of pneumonia.
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