The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 15
August 15th, 2013
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Brooklyn (Bedford Stuyvesant), NY; Columbia, MO; Kelowna, BC; Madison, WI; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Ottawa, ON; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Sligo, Ireland; Taos, NM.
AIDS Walk This Weekend: Reno, NV.
Other Events This Weekend: Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; London to Paris Cycle for Terrence Higgins Trust, London/Paris; Schwules Straßenfest, Munich, Germany; Camp Camp, Portland ME; Provincetown Carnival, Provincetown, MA; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Sexual Perversions “As Rare As They Are Disgusting”: 1891. The August 15th edition of the Medical and Surgical Reporter included the text of a clinical lecture given by Dr. Charles L. Dana, M.D., who taught at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School. Dana’s talk, “On Certain Sexual Neuroses,” focused mostly on the dangers of masturbation — which was thought to cause various physical health problems and mental disturbances — and his treatments to “cure” his patients from the “vicious habit.” But he touched on a number of other sexual “perversions” as well, which he categorized this way:
The Sexual Psychoses are Divided into,
A — The Vicious Habits, such as masturbation, &c.
B — The Sexual Perversions, these are classified as
- Masturbation, sexual murder and antrhopophagy.
- Contrary Sexual Instincts of which Pæderasty and Bestiality are examples.
C — Excessive Sexuality: —
- Sexual precocity
- Senile sexuality
Of the sexual perversions I shall say nothing except that they are happily as rare as they are disgusting, and are usually an evidence of mental deterioration. They are sometimes, however, acquired vices being the result of a continual search for new sexual stimuli on the part of voluptuaries.
In 1891, the term “contrary sexual instinct” was commonly deployed to described homosexuality — the term homosexuality itself had not yet entered the English language (see May 6). Its conflation with bestiality and pederasty goes back centuries, as laws against sodomy typically made no distinction between the three.
But as I said, Dana’s article dealt chiefly with masturbation and another condition that was seen as equally injurious, nocternal emissions. Both, which represented the expendature of seed and energies for purely recreational purposes (or, in the case of nocturnal emissions, no purpose at all), were believed to be debilitating, particularly for young men and women. For one sixteen year old patient who masturbated “weekly and sometimes daily,” Dr. Dana prescribed quite a number of treatments:
He was placed on bromides, taken from school, and kept at work out doors. But his emisisons continued. I saw him a month ago, and prescribed atropia and bromides, twice a day, noon and night, with a drachm of flud extract of salix nigra at night. Beside this, cold steel sounds were introduced into the urethra for ten minutes, three times weekly. He was made to take cold sponge baths daily, and was given an impressive lecture on the necessity of stopping his bad habits. He is verymuch better now, and on the high road to recovery.
[Source: Charles L. Dana. “On certain sexual neuroses.” Medical and Surgical Reporter. 65, no. 7 (August 15, 1891): 241-245. Available online at Google Books here.]
New York Mirror Column Blasts Mattachine Society: 1961. Lee Mortimer, a columnist for the New York Mirror, had an unusual beat: he began his career as a crime reporter before becoming a Broadway and Harlem nightclub gossip collumnist. He traded in sensation with a popular series of gossipy books about crime in the U.S., with titles like New York Confidential, Chicago Confidential, Washington Confidential, and U.S. Confidential, the latter of which drew libel lawsuits from two members of Congress. Those salatious books, which purported to describe the seedy underside of urban life, often included derisive descriptions of limp-wristed, sashaying and lisping homosexuals. On August 15, 1961, Mortimer decided that New Yorkers needed to know about the local chapter of the Mattachine Society which had been in existence since 1956, and wrote the following for his column in the Mirror:
DEPT. OF STIFLED YAWNS: There’s an international group known as the Mattachine Society, Inc. with headquarters at 1133 Broadway; which acts as a sort of defense agency for homosexuals. It talks loudly and stridently about their “civil rights” and lobbies to secure legislation making such disgusting practices legal. That has been done in many continental countries. The campaign is well on the way to reaching its objective in England, a country in which homosexualism has always had a head start… In a letter signed “Albert J. de Dion, chairman” the statement is made that the society was in back of my “campaign” to rid the town of hoodlums who preyed on these “unfortunates,” but now it seems to be having second thoughts. “Fighting to keep criminal elements from our cityis very commendable and deserves our support. But to attack a defenseless minority such as homosexuals is not in the best of American traditions.” I now ask whether it is in the best of American traditions to encourage the degenerates who roam our streets at night. I say these so-called “unfortunates” are no defenseless minority but a huge, well-organized, wealthy, defiant, politically powerful, intelligent community, spreading across national borders, with loyalty to no country, no law or no code, except their fellow deviates.
Ohio Refuses to Incorporate Gay Organization: 1972. Secretary of State Ted W. Brown (R) refused to accept the articles of incorporation for the Greater Cincinnati Gay Society. The organization’s proposed articles of incorporation said the group was formed “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality as a valid life style whenever and wherever possible by legal, political or other means.” Brown refused to approve, file and record the articles of incorporation because “homosexuality as a valid life style has been and is currently defined by statute as a criminal act.” In a radical interpretation of Ohio law, Brown held that just talking about it, apparently, was also against the law under Ohio’s anti-sodomy and solicitation statutes.
The three men who filed the articles — Powell Grant, Jack Busse, and Robert Dugan — appealed Brown’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking the court to order Brown to accept the incorporation request. While the case was pending, the Ohio Legislature undertook a massive revision to the Ohio Criminal Code (now routinely referred to as the Ohio Revised Code), and in the process eliminated the anti-sodomy and anti-solicitation laws. But the majority of the court appeared not to have gotten that memo. On July 10, 1974, four of the seven justices sided with Secretary Brown. They acknowledged that homosexuality was no longer illegal, but held instead that “promotion of homosexuality as a valid life style is contrary to the public policy of the state.” The minority pointed out that because Ohio had decriminalized all private sexual activity between consenting adults, there was nothing even remotely illegal about the Society.
In 1976, Brown apparently had a change of heart when he approved the filing of articles of incorporation for the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. In 1978, he lost his seat to his Democratic challenger in a very close race.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?