The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 19
September 19th, 2013
International Queer Festival: St. Petersburg, Russia. Given recent events in Russia following the passage of its so-called “anti-Propaganda” law prohibiting public advocacy or positive portrayals of gay people, ostensibly “for the protection of minors,” I wanted to pass along the following press release in its entirety:
On September 19-28, St. Petersburg will host its 5h annual international queer pride and culture festival: Queer Fest 2013 (http://queerfest.ru). The festival celebrates its 5-year anniversary in the context of increased repressions of LGBT by the government and the growing hostility and violence towards LGBT in society. It will be the first queer festival to take place after the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” law, aimed to ban open expressions of homosexuality, was adopted by the Federal Duma.
Queer Fest is one of the largest LGBT rights events in Russia. 10 days of seminars, discussions, photo exhibitions, and concerts against homophobia attract 1000-1500 visitors every year. This year, Russian audiences will meet with LGBT police officers and proud parents of LGBT from Sweden, participate in discussions about women’s place in the Russian LGBT movement, learn about history of pride events, and much more. Queer Fest’s special guests will be the Swedish rock band GRAVITONAS with its lead singer Alexander Bard, well-known in Russia for his projects Army of Lovers and Vacuum.
“Mister Putin, I will be straight forward with you: we will never back down. The struggle for the human right to love cannot be stopped,” said Alexander Bard at the opening of Stockholm Pride this August.
“Some hold to the opinion that the only path for Russian LGBT people today is out of the country. While that may be so for the specifically targeted groups and individuals, such as same-sex families, LGBT rights defenders under risk, there are LGBT people who intend to live in this country and try and improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones. That is why it is all the more important now to continue organizing Queer Fest, a space where LGBT community can share in a sense of pride, and the city can learn more about LGBT culture, lives, and rights,” says Polina Andrianova, LGBT activist with Queer Festival. “We call to well-known artists, musicians, public figures to come and join us in bringing the message of tolerance directly to the Russian LGBT communities and the Russian public.”
Detailed program can be found here: http://queerfest.ru/
Queer Fest 2012 video: http://queerfest.ru/vazhno.php
Follow festival’s events online: http://queerfest.ru/en/on-
AIDS Walks This Weekend: Bay City, MI; Calgary, AB; Charlottetown, PE; Cranbrook, BC; Corner Brook, NL; Detroit, MI (Friday Evening); Dryden, ON; Edmonton, AB; Flint, MI; Fredericton, NB; Grand Prairie, AB; Guelph, ON; Halifax, NS; Happy Valley/Goose Bay, NL; Hazelton, BC (Friday); Kingston, ON; Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Miramichi, NB; Mississauga, ON; Nanaimo, BC; Nelson, BC; New Glasgow, NS; Oklahoma City, OK; Oshawa, ON; Peace River, AB; Portland, OR; Red Deer, AB; St Catharines, ON; St. John, NB; St. Johns, NL; Saskatoon, SK; Smithers, BC (Today); Thunder Bay, ON (Today); Toronto, ON; Truro, NS; Vancouver, BC; Victoria, BC; Windsor, ON; Winnipeg, MB.
Other Events This Weekend: Best Buck in the Bay Rodeo, La Honda, CA; Queer Lisboa 17 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Out on the Mountain at Six Flags (Friday only), Oakland, CA; International Queer Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Mayor Dismisses Constitutional Concerns Over Anti-Gay Drive: 1954. Miami’s ongoing hysteria over discovering the presence of gay people in their midsts (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7 and Sep 15) received further attention on the editorial page of The Miami News when staff writer Jane Woods highlighted the many battles between the combative mayor Abe Aronovitz and others on the City Commission and the local community:
Homosexuals brought the next trouble. In the pre-Kefauver days, says the Mayor, there were numerous bars in downtown Miami with gambling rooms upstairs or in the back. After open gambling was closed down, some of these bar operators turned these upstairs rooms into parlors, where homosexuals congregated, met each other, made love.
After Miami had a series of shocking crimes this summer, it was brought to the Mayor’s attention that many homosexuals took an intense pleasure in starting innocent young people off into an abnormal life. Many teen-age boys, to make money, had learned to feign abnormality to milk older homosexual men for all the money they could. Bar operators calculatingly making money from this traffic in human misery in the heart of downtown appalled him (Aronovitz), he says.
“The only effective step I knew to take was to bring the most intense public pressure to bear on Chief Headley (see Aug 26, Aug 31 and Sep 1.) I have affection, and respect for Walter Headley and his ability. But I hoped that the men in the district, under him, directly able to do something about these bars, might be spurred into action if they felt the chief’s job as at stake. I knew they could, if they would, use technicalities of the law to force these places out of existence.
“What response do I get from my fellow commissioners? Mr. Hearn tells me that I am doing millions of dollars worth of harm by bad publicity, making it appear we are a houseful of perverts in Miami. Chief Quigg suggests that the intense police drive I advocate might violate constitutional rights of some men.”
First Known Gay Rights Picket In America: 1964. For such a momentous occasion, one would think there’d be more written about it. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a whole lot. The picket took place in the middle of Manhattan, at the U.S. Army’s Whitehall Induction Center, in protest over the army’s failure to keep gay men’s draft records confidential. New York activist Randolphe Wicker organized it along with Craig Rodwell, who would go on to open the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, the first LGBT bookstore in the U.S. Another picketer was Renai Cafiero,who would go on to become one of the first openly gay delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Several members of Wicker’s Homosexual League of New York and the New York League for Sexual Freedom (which included non-gay members) were on hand with picket signs reading, “Homosexuals died for U.S., Too,” “Love and Let Love,” and “Army Invades Sexual Privacy.” You can see Wicker’s original photos from that event here. If anyone knows a good source for more information on this, please let me know via email or in the comments below.
An Ex-Gay Leader Walked Into A Bar: 2000. In 1998, the supposedly “ex-gay” John Paulk and his “ex-lesbian” wife Anne were the centerpieces of a massive publicity push by Focus On the Family to promote the pray-away-the-gay therapy offered by Exodus International. Paulk was the manager of Focus’s Homosexuality and Gender division, and he had also served as Board Chairman for Exodus since 1995. As part of their publicity campaign, the Paulks appeared on 60 Minutes and Oprah, as well as in full-page newspaper ads and on a 1998 cover of Newsweek. Their 1999 book, Love Won Out, became the title for a series of promotional ex-gay conferences put on jointly by Focus and Exodus.
On September 19, 2000, John Paulk traveled to Washington, D.C. on Focus business when he walked into a gay bar known as Mr. P’s in the heart of D.C.’s Dupont Circle gayborhood. A few of the patrons there, employees at the Human Rights Campaign, recognized him immediately and watched as Paulk ordered a drink and struck up conversations with other bar patrons. One of the HRC staffers called Wayne Besen, who was also working at the HRC at the time and who had already written about the ex-gay movement. When Besen arrived twenty minutes later, he found Paulk on a barstool chatting with patrons. Besen confronted Paulk and tried to photograph him, but the bar’s bouncer, citing house rules prohibiting photography, stepped in and asked Besen to leave. Besen waited outside the bar, and when Paulk finally came out the front door, Besen snapped another photo as Paulk was leaving.
Besen immediately called several reporters. The first to express an interest was Southern Voice’s Joel Lawson, who broke the story two days later. In Paulk’s first public statement, he claimed that he only went to Mr. P’s to use the restroom. Besen countered, “I didn’t know that using the bathroom involved 40 minutes of socializing in a bar and offering drinks to strangers.” Paulk was called back to Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs where he was placed on probation and removed as Board Chair at Exodus International (although he remained a member of the board on probationary status). But he somehow managed to weather the controversy. Paulk remained in his position at Focus, and he continued to be the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.
In 2003, he finally decided to step down from Focus. He and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, where he started a catering business. While Anne continued to write books and speak at ex-gay conferences, John dropped out from the movement altogether. Over the past year, the two have gone their separate ways altogether. In April, John renounced his prior association with the ex-gay movement, saying “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated.” He followed that a week later with a formal apology: “I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past. Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused. From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.”
John and Anne’s divorce was finalized in June. Anne Paulk remains active in the ex-gay movement, after having helped to a break-away group of former Exodus ministries following Exodus president Alan Chambers’s acknowledgment that change in sexual orientation was not possible. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network.
Brian Epstein: 1934-1967. He was already well on the way to becoming a successful businessman as manager of the record departments at his father’s chain of radio and hi-fi stores in Liverpool, when he began to hear the buzz surrounding a local band. He decided to attend a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club and was blown away by what he heard. “I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humor on stage — and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.” The band called themselves the Beatles. Epstein signed on as their manager, and within five months he had paid Decca records out of his own pocket to record a studio demo. He shopped it around, but none of the major labels were interested until George Martin at EMI’s tiny Parlophone label heard them. He liked what he heard and signed the band. The rest, as they say, is history.
Epstein’s sexuality wasn’t generally known until several years after his death in 1967. The band, of course, figured it out right away, probably owing to Epstein’s interest in the band’s appearance on stage. Epstein is credited for creating the early Beatles’ look — the collarless suits and ties, the mod haircuts, the synchronized bow at the end of their performances. John Lennon was known to make a few sarcastic comments about Epstein’s sexuality, but the band mostly accepted him as one of their own. Rumors later swirled that Lennon and Epstein had an affair while vacationing in Barcelona in 1963, but Lennon denied it in a Playboy interview in 1980. “It was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship,” he said. Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, (Eptstein had been John’s best man when they married in 1962) have always maintained that the relationship was platonic.
After Epstein died in 1967 from an overdose of the barbiturate Carbitral, the band began its downward spiral. Much of that downfall was attributed to tensions between McCartney and Lennon, who argued over who should take over the band’s management. They were never able to come to an agreement, and the relationship between the two men continued to deteriorate.
Eighteen years after the Beatles broke up, they were among the earliest entrants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney credits Epstein for making the Beatles one of the most successful bands in the world. “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian,” he told a BBC documentary in 1997. But to this day, Epstein is still not included in the Hall’s Non-Performer’s Section.
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?