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The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 20

Jim Burroway

September 20th, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bratislava, Slovakia; Brisbane, QLD; Enid, OK; Peterborough, ON; St. Cloud, MN.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Bay City, MI; Calgary, AB; Charlottetown, PE; Cranbrook, BC; Corner Brook, NL; Detroit, MI (Tonight); Dryden, ON; Edmonton, AB; Flint, MI; Fredericton, NB; Grand Prairie, AB; Guelph, ON; Halifax, NS; Happy Valley/Goose Bay, NL; Hazelton, BC (Today); 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;  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.

Triangulator In Chief

TODAY IN HISTORY:
President Clinton Announces Signing of DOMA Into Law: 1996. President Clinton announced his signing of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which outlawed federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and which still allows states to ignore the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S Constitution and refuse to recognized valid marriages from other states. Clinton said that he signed DOMA to head off a federal constitutional amendment, but LGBT advocates grumbled that the act was less a defense of marriage and more a defense of his 1996 reelection campaign. Those suspicions were confirmed when the Clinton campaign released a radio ad bragging about his signing of DOMA and ran it on Christian radio stations across the country. In response to loud protests from LGBT advocates, the Clinton campaign pulled that ad two days later. Section 3 of DOMA, the portion of the law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was finally declared unconstitutional on June 26 of this year.

State Department Asks, Gay Applicants Tell: 1966. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State G. Marvin Gentile testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee that thirty employees identified as “security risks” had left the State Department in 1965. Some resigned, others were dismissed following investigations. Twenty-eight of the thirty left “for homosexual reasons” and the other two for other reasons “such as excessive drinking, bad debts, and excessive use of leave.” Deputy Undersecretary for Administration William J. Crockett told the Committee that the State Department would pay closer attention to “preventive security,” which he described as simply asking applicants directly if they were homosexual. “We personally interview the applicant,” he said, “and it is surprising how many admissions we get to direct questions that we would never find out without the direct questioning.”

Serving, defending.

DADT Repeal Goes Into Effect: 2011. It was an joyous celebration for the nation’s LGBT military service personnel when at the stroke of midnight, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally tossed into the dustbin of history where it rightfully belongs. One servicemember stationed in Germany came out to his father  — and to his unit — via YouTube. Another Navy officer married his partner at precisely one minute after midnight, and the co-founder of OutServe, “J.D. Smith” came out and revealed that he was actually Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried. Naturally, not everyone welcomed the breath of fresh air. The Family “Research” Council predicted that the demise of the ban on gays serving openly would lead to a rash of “new victims of sexual harassment or assault, the soldiers exposed to HIV-tainted blood, the thousands of servicemembers who choose not to reenlist rather than forfeit their freedom of speech and religion, and the untold number of citizens who choose never to join the military.” We’re still waiting for word on any of that happening.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Harold “Hal” Call: 1917-2000. Born and raised in Missouri, Call knew that he was gay from the age of twelve. But when he was inducted into the Army during World War II, he knew that sex would be out of the question. “If people were caught engaging in homosexual acts, some of them were shipped back to the states with less-than-honorable discharges. I thought it was a waste.” He went through Officer Candidate School and was promoted to Lieutenant before being shipped to the Pacific Theater. As an officer, if he had encountered people who were gay, he would have been required to have them dismissed from the service. But his approach was of a don’t-ask-don’t-tell variety. “Who was harmed? Nobody,” he recalled later. “That’s the way the armed forces should look at it. The armed forces could not operate without homosexuals. Never could. Never has. Never will.” He was promoted to regimental battalion commander, was wounded and received the Purple Heart, and left the Army as a captain in 1945.

He returned to Missouri and worked at several newspapers including the Kansas City Star. In August of 1952, he went to Chicago, where he and three friends were arrested for “lewd conduct.” After paying an $800 bribe, the charges were dismissed, but he was fired from the Star when his supervisor found out. So he and his boyfriend at the time packed up the car and moved to San Francisco, where Call quickly became involved with the Mattachine Foundation. He began attending meetings in February, and quickly rocketed to the top leadership.

It turns out that 1953 was a pivotal year for the group, which had been founded as something of a secret society, particularly where the organization’s leadership was concerned.  Part of the secrecy was an outgrowth of some of the Foundation original founders, some of whom (Harry Hay, in particular, see Apr 7), had been members of the Communist Party. Because the Foundation was founded in the midst of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red and Lavender Scares, the organization was set up so that nobody knew the names of the Mattachine leadership. But it was that very secrecy — and those early political connections among some of the leaders — which opened a wedge between the founders and many of the newcomers. “They all had communist backgrounds, every damn one of them!”, Call recalled. Those newcomers feared where the founders might take the organization. As Call later explained:

“Public protests were not part of our program. Not at all. we wanted to see changes come about by holding conferences and discussions and becoming subjects for research and telling our story. We wanted to assist people in the academic and behavioral-science world in getting the truth out to people who had an influence on law and law enforcement, the courts, justice, and so on.”

Everything came to a head in the spring of 1953 (see Apr 11) during a contentions convention when the old guard resigned, the Mattachine Foundation was disbanded and promptly reconstituted as the Mattachine Society, with Call as president. As he wrote two years later:

 It became apparent … that the original founders of the movement had built better than they knew. For there emerged from the convention a Society designed to carry out all functions of the Foundation, which agreed to disband. Gone were the “secret” orders, the questions of who was behind it all and the possibility of alternate motives. Established was an association of persons who knew and trusted the others within the group, and shared the zealous desire to alleviate a pressing social problem.

It may seem ironic, then, that the “conservative takeover” of the Society would lead to its leader being among the most publicly visible homosexuals in the country. In 1954, Call created and edited the Mattachine Review, and he founded Pan-Graphic Press, a publishing and book service company that became the Mattachine Review’s printer. In 1961, when San Francisco police raided the Tay-Bush Inn and arrested 103 patrons (see Aug 13), Call swung into action and deployed the Mattachine’s meager resources to provide bail money and legal representation. A month later, Call appeared on a documentary program produced by San Francisco’s Public Television station KQED called “The Rejected” (see Sep 11).  And in 1964 when Life magazine wanted to do a groundbreaking photo essay on the gay community in the San Francisco area (see Jun 26), Call made the arrangements with local bar owners for the photo shoots.

Hall Call, in the upstairs office of the Circle J Cinema. (1999)

Mattachine business wasn’t Call’s only interest. In the 1960s, Call’s Pan-Graphic Press printed a bar directory that had been compiled by a local bar owner by the name of Bob Damron, and anyone who knows anything about Damron’s Address Book knows the rest of that story. Call also became involved in local porn production (both in print and in 16mm film) and became the owner of a few private sex clubs in the Bay area.

Those interests soon surpassed his work in the Mattachine Society. It had already ceased to exist as a national organization in 1961, although several independent groups in several cities continued to use the Mattachine name well up into the 1970s. One of those surviving Societies was Call’s outfit, which continued in name only into the 1990s, when Call described it as “in limbo.”  “It has a board of directors, and I’m the head queen, but we don’t have the strength of a powder puff,” he said. Call’s energies, by then, was devoted to running the Circle J Cinema in San Francisco’s tenderloin district, a theater which was exactly what you would imagine a theater with that name to be. Over his lifetime, Call amassed over 5,000 gay men’s sex videos and films, and he was an outspoken advocate for sexual freedom. He died in San Francisco in 2000. His papers are part of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles.

[Sources: Hall Call. "A brief history of the Mattachine Society" The Mattachine Review 1, no. 2 (March-April 1955), : 39.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights. An Oral History. (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 59-69.]

Rocking the Paradise

65 YEARS AGO: Chuck Panozzo: 1948. Do you remember the band Styx? I’m not sure how much play they get on classic rock radio these days, but they were huge from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. They were my favorite band in high school; I thought 1977′s The Grand Illusion was, you know, so deep. Anyway, basist Chuck Panozzo co-founded the band with his fraternal twin brother, John Panozzo. In 2001, Chuck came out as gay and as a person living with HIV, and since then he has been involved with AIDS awareness campaigns. His autobiography, The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life with Styx, chronicles the rise of Styx and the his own struggles to come to terms with himself.

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?

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