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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 31

Jim Burroway

October 31st, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Hawaii House Committees To Hold Hearings On Marriage Equality Bill: Honolulu, HI. Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate overwhelmingly approvedmarriage equality bill and sent it on to the lower house for its consideration. Today, the House Judiciary Judiciary and Finance Committees will hold a joint hearing where some four hundred people are expected to provide testimony, both for and against the bill. The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. this morning, and is tentatively scheduled to continue until midnight, with another session possible for tomorrow if they don’t make it through everyone today. All of this is expected to set up a final vote in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Events This Weekend: Gay Day Disney, Hong Kong, China, AIDS Walk, San Luis Obiso, CA; Pride, Palm Springs, CA.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
165 YEARS AGO: That Most Detestable, Horrid, and Abominable Crime Called Buggery: 1848. The following court record was entered in London:

The indictment against the prisoners was as follows: —

“Central Criminal Court, to wit the jurors for our Lady the Queen upon their oath present that Edwin Gatehouse, late of the parish of Lambeth, in the county of Surrey, and within the jurisdiction of the court, labourer, and William Dowley, late of the same place, labourer, being persons of depraved and unnatural dispositions,in the 12th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, by the grace of God of the united kingdom of England and Ireland, Queen, defender of the faith, with force of arms, at the parish aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of the said court, in a certain room there unlawfully and wickedly did meet, and were then together for the purpose of committing with each other that most detestable horrid, and abominable crime called buggery; and did then and there unlawfully and wickedly lay their hands upon each other with intent then and there feloniously, wickedly, diabolically, and against the order of nature to commit and perpetrate with each other the detestable, horrid, and abominable crime aforesaid. To the great displeasure of Almighty God, to the evil example of all others in the like case offending, and against the pace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do further present that the said Edwin Gatehouse and William Dowley, being such evil disposed persons as aforesaid, afterwards (to wit) on the day and year aforesaid, with force and arms at the parish aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of the said court, unlawfully and wickedly did meet, and then and there were together in a certain room for the purpose and with the intent of committing and perpetrating with each other these divers nasty, wicked, filthy, beastly, and unnatural acts and practices; and that the said Edwin Gatehouse and William Dowly, in pursuance of such purpose and intent, unlawfully, wickedly, and indecently did then and there expose their naked private parts to each other, and did also then and there place their hands upon and take hold of and feel the naked private parts of each other, with intent then and there to excite and stir up in the minds of each other divers filthy, beastly, and unnatural lusts and desires, to the great scandal and subversion of religion, morality, decency, and good order, and against hte peace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity.”

At the close of the case for the prosecution, Ballantine, for the prisoner, Gatehouse, objected that neither of these counts disclosed any offense. The second count was clearly bad within the principle of the cases recently decided. It did not allege that the place where the exposure took place was public; and even if it was public, the exposure was only to one person, which was not sufficient. Indecency, to be criminal, must be in a public place, and in the sight of divers of her majesty’s subjects. The first count also was bad. It did not aver an attempt to commit buggery, but a mere intention accompanied by an act indicative of that intention. Such intention was not criminal. To constitute an offence, some act in pursuance of such intention, and as a commencement to the actual crime of buggery, must be shown.

The Common Sergeant. — The judges have not yet expressly decided that the second count is bad, but in accordance with the cases which have been decided, I think they would hold it to be bad. I shall therefore tell the jury that, as to that count, they must against acquit the prisoner. An intent to commit sodomy, must, I think, be charged and proved. But this is, in my opinion, done in the first count; and at present, I see no reason for holding that that count is bad. But before judgment is given, I will consult some of the judges; and if necessary, reserve the point for consideration of all judges.

The Jury found the prisoners Guilty on the first count.

Judgement was respited.

[Source: Chris White’s Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality: A Sourcebook (London: Routledge, 1999): 42-43. In a footnote, White writes, “I have been unable to determine the fates of Gatehouse and Dowley.”]

Gov. Reagan Denies “Homosexual Ring” Among Staffers: 1967. The wire services lit up with reports that California Gov. Ronald Reagan angrily declared that there was “no truth” to a Washington columnist’s report that “a homosexual ring has been operating in his office,” and that two homosexual staffers had been fired. The columnist, Drew Pearson, alleged that Reagan was given evidence that there were homosexuals among his staff but “did not move to clear up his office until last August when certain members of his staff were abruptly dropped.”

Person’s article was published in The New York Post, but most other papers, fearing exposure to libel lawsuits, refused to run it. But that didn’t stop the topic from occupying more than fifteen minutes of Reagan’s televised 25-minute press conference from Sacramento. “He’s lying,” Gov. Reagan told reporters at a Sacramento news conference. “Drew Pearson has been sort of riding my back for years.” Reagan denounced Pearson’s column, saying, “This is about the lowest. This is stooping to destroy human beings.”

Pearson and fellow Washington muckraker Jack Anderson responded on November 4 with a column alleging that Reagan’s denial raised a “credibility gap.” They wrote that reporters were surprised by Reagan’s denials because they had “heard the Reagan aide address himself to the recent firings on several occasions during the Governor’s conference cruise.” The New York Times listed the names of six reporters who heard Lyn Nozfinger, Reagan’s chief political aide and communications director, discuss the firings while aboard a ship in the Virgin Islands. The Boston Globe investigated and reached reached a similar conclusion. “To put it as politely as possible for the readers of a family newspaper, Ronald Reagan is not to be believed,” said the Globe.

Throughout the controversy, no one bothered to ask whether it was appropriate to fire employees simply for being gay. Homosexuality was still a crime in California, punishable with prison terms of a minimum of one year and no maximum, making a life term legally possible. There was also a ban on employing gays and lesbians in the federal government. All of this meant that there would have been no political consequences whatsoever if Reagan had declared publicly that he had, in fact, fired the two staffers. Reporters were baffled by Reagan’s denial. Jack Anderson put the question this way: “The question now buzzing in political circles is — why? It would have been far less damaging for him to admit the facts and point out that he had fired the homosexuals. Why did he try to cover it up?”

Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak called Reagan’s denial his “first serious political error,” but they applauded Reagan’s motives. “Considering that immediate public exposure would have destroyed these men but not harmed Reagan, the decision was made not out of political expediency but from consideration of personal decency,” they wrote. Evans and Novak blamed staffers for the debacle, who “without informing Reagan… put out the story to any reporters who happened to ask why certain Reagan staff members really resigned.” They singled out Nofziger for telling reporters “the sordid facts complete with names — an error in judgment by the usually shrewd Nozfiger.”

The furor refused to die. On November 14, Reagan took questions from reporters and reiterated, “I have never had and do not have any evidence or proof that would warrant an accusation. No accusation or charge has ever been made.” As for the credibility gap that reporters were tagging him with, Reagan responded, “Now if there is a credibility gap and I am responsible, it is because I refuse to participate in trying to destroy human beings with no factual evidence. And I’m not going to do that. And if that means there’s a credibility gap, then so be it, there’s a credibility gap.” By the end of November, word around Sacramento was that Nofziger’s job was now in jeopardy, with Michigan Gov. George Romney’s press secretary being whispered as a possible successor. But the always loyal Reagan refused to dismiss Nofziger. One staffer told reporters, “Lyn is the only one in the administration now with the kind of political savvy Reagan needs.”

[Sources: Julius Duscha. “Reagan Says ‘There is No Truth’ to Report of Homosexual Aides.” The Washington Post (Nov 1, 1967): A1.

Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. “Reagan Denial Raises Credibility Gap.” The Washington Post (November 4, 1967): B11.

Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. “Reagan’s Denial of Staff Problems Seen as First Serious Political Error.” The Washington Post (November 6, 1967): A21.

Jack Anderson. “Reagan’s ‘Lie’ Charge Challenged.” The Washington Post (November 9, 1967): G11.

“Credibility Questions Irk Reagan.” The Washington Post (November 15, 1967): A7.

“Gov. Reagan Won’t Fire Top Aide.” The Washington Post (November 29, 1967): A31.]

Time Magazine’s “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood”: 1969. Mainstream news media was slow to wake up to the cathartic effect the Stonewall rebellion had on the gay community in 1969. The New York Times buried the story on page thirty-three, and didn’t bother to mention why the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back. The New York Daily News reported the whole thing, on page thirty, and only from the police’s point of view (“3 Cops Hurt As Bar Raid Riles Crowd”). The Daily News followed on July 6 with the infamous report, “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.” The most extensive reporting on the riot was in a series of articles by the Village Voice. It’s reporting was, by turns, both sympathetic and mocking, with the mocking parts sparking an angry protest by the Gay Liberation Front (see Sep 12).

On October 31, Time magazine noticed the rapidly growing visibility of the post-stonewall gay community with its cover story “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood.” Written by contributing editor Christopher Cory, researched by Madeleine Berry, and reported by Ruth Galvin, the magazine sought to provide a comprehensive view of what was still a very controversial and touchy topic:

Their new militancy makes other citizens edgy, and it can be shrill. Hurling rocks and bottles and wielding a parking meter that had been wrenched out of the sidewalk, homosexuals rioted last summer in New York’s Greenwich Village after police closed one of the city’s 50 all-gay bars and clubs on an alleged liquor-law violation. … Some 50 homophile organizations have announced their existence in cities across the country and on at least eight campuses. … W. Dorr Legg, educational director at Los Angeles’ 17-year-old ONE, Inc., claims, “I won’t be happy until all churches give homosexual dances and parents are sitting in the balcony saying ‘Don’t John and Henry look cute dancing together?'”

The article introduced its readers to two terms they likely hadn’t encountered before: “fag hags” (“the parlor darlings of wealthy ladies”) and “homophobic,” which just might be the first instance in which the newly-coined word appeared in a mainstream publication. (If readers are aware of an earlier use of the word in a mainstream outlet, please let me know either via email or in the comments.) Gay marriage, however, was not what we would think of today: “Marriage in these circles can involve a homosexual and a busy career woman who coolly take the vows for companionship—and so that they can pool their incomes and tax benefits for a glittering round of entertaining.” It also gave an approving nod to those who feared that these “newly visible” and gays were taking over the world:

Is there a homosexual conspiracy afoot to dominate the arts and other fields? Sometimes it seems that way. The presence of talented homosexuals in the field of classical music, among composers, performers, conductors and management, has sometimes led to charges by disappointed outsiders that the music world is a closed circle. The same applies to the theater, the art world, painting, dance, fashion, hairdressing and interior design, where a kind of “homintern” exists: a gay boss will often use his influence to help gay friends. The process is not unlike the ethnic favoritism that prevails in some companies and in big-city political machines; with a special sulky twist, it can be vicious to outsiders. Yet homosexual influence has probably been exaggerated. The homosexual cannot go too far in foisting off on others his own preferences; the public that buys the tickets or the clothes is overwhelmingly heterosexual.

According to Time, it was the straight world that kept the gay one in check. Otherwise “Homosexual taste can fall into a particular kind of self-indulgence as the homosexual revenges himself on a hostile world by writing grotesque exaggerations of straight customs, concentrates on superficial stylistic furbelows or develops a ‘campy’ fetish for old movies.” That was just before the article went on to acknowledge the important literary contributions of Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and others. But then Time effectively dismissed those artists with a quote from The New York Times Drama Critic Clive Barnes: “Creativity might be a sort of psychic disturbance itself, mightn’t it? Artists are not particularly happy people.”

Time identified, broadly, six types of homosexuals, starting with “The Blatant Homosexual”:

This is the eunuch-like caricature of” femininity that most people associate with homosexuality. In the 1960s he may be the catty hairdresser or the lisping, limp-wristed interior decorator. His lesbian counterpart is the “butch,” the girl who is aggressively masculine to the point of trying to look like a man. Blatants also include “leather boys,” who advertise their sadomasochism by wearing leather jackets and chains, and certain transvestites, or “Tvs.”

“The Secret Lifer”:

The other 90% of the nation’s committed inverts are hidden from all but their friends, lovers, and occasionally, psychiatrists. Their wrists are rigid, their “s’s” well formed; they prefer subdued clothes and close-cropped hair, and these days may dress more conservatively than flamboyant straights. Many wear wedding rings and have wives, children and employers who never know. … To lead their double lives these full or part-time homosexuals must “pass” as straight, and most are extremely skilled at camouflage. They can cynically tell —- or at least smile at — jokes about “queers”; they fake enjoyment when their boss throws a stag party with nude movies.

“The Desperate”:

Members of this group are likely to haunt public toilets (“tearooms”) or Turkish baths. They may be pathologically driven to sex but emotionally unable to face the slightest strains of sustaining a serious human relationship, or they may be married men who hope to conceal their need by making their contacts as anonymous as possible.

“The Adjusted”:

By contrast, they lead relatively conventional lives. They have a regular circle of friends and hold jobs … Their social lives generally begin at the gay bars or in rounds of private parties. Often they try to settle down with a regular lover, and although these liaisons are generally short-lived among men, some develop into so-called “gay marriages.” …

“The Bisexual”:

Many married homosexuals are merely engaging in “alibi sex,” faking enjoyment of intercourse with their wives. Some researchers, however, have found a number of men and women who have a definite preference for their own sex but engage in occasional activity with the opposite sex and enjoy it.

“The Situational-Experimental”:

He is a man who engages in homosexual acts without any deep homosexual motivation. The two Kinsey reports found that almost 40% of white American males and 13% of females have some overt sexual experience to orgasm with a person of their own sex between adolescence and old age. Yet a careful analysis of the figures shows that most of these experiences are only temporary deviations. In prisons and occasionally in the armed forces, for example, no women are available.

But for all of Time’s attempts to paint a comprehensive overview of this “newly understood” minority, Time betrayed an abysmal lack of actual understanding. “The homosexual subculture, a semi-public world, is, without question, shallow and unstable,” it concluded, before devoting several more paragraphs to conjectures of what causes homosexuality. Virtually of the “experts” that Time consulted on cited early childhood experiences as the cause. It also concludes with the verdict that homosexuality is, at the very best, a “crippling maladjustment”:

A violently argued issue these days is whether the confirmed homosexual is mentally ill. Psychoanalysts insist that homosexuality is a form of sickness; most homosexuals and many experts counter that the medical concept only removes the already fading stigma of sin, and replaces it with the charge —- even more pejorative nowadays —- that homosexuality is pathological. The answers will importantly influence society’s underlying attitude. While homosexuality is a serious and sometimes crippling maladjustment, research has made clear that it is no longer necessary or morally justifiable to treat all inverts as outcasts. The challenge to American society is simultaneously to devise civilized ways of discouraging the condition and to alleviate the anguish of those who cannot be helped, or do not wish to be.

Time’s article is available to subscribers here.

Gay Advocates Protest San Francisco Examiner: 1969. This was the year when gay activists across the U.S. were declaring that a new day had come and they would no longer remain silent over outrages against the gay community. In San Francisco, the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner had long been a bitter foe of the gay community. Over several weeks in October, 1969, the paper had run a series of article’s about the city’s so-called “breakfast clubs,” after-hour underground clubs that sold low-grade liquor without a license. Most of those articles targeted straight clubs, but an October 24 installment in the series called attention to “The Dreary Revels of S.F. ‘Gay’ Clubs,” which describe the city’s “deviant establishments”:

The Corral is now, appropriately enough, home to the Holy Cow night club (via Goole Street View)

San Francisco has more than a fare share of “gay” breakfast clubs. The “gay” clubs are gay in name only. Actually, the are sad, dreary after-hours traps here homosexuals and weird “straight” types gather for their sick, sad revels. … Take the Corral at 1535 Folsom Street. … Here the virile, ultra-male is wined and dined and wooed by other semi-males with flexible wrists and hips, and bona fide females have a strictly zero rating. The bar and outlying tables are occupied by types who undulate and wriggle, whose voices are an octave higher or lower than they should be, and whose manual contacts with their associates are lingering and tender.

Folsom street became “Queer street,” and the article was particularly obsessed with drag queens and cross-dressers. They were “drag-darlings,” “the pseudo-fair sex,” “hybrid blossoms,” and “counterfeit femininity.”

One week later, sixty members of the newly-formed Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the long-standing Society for Individual Rights (SIR) began a peaceful picket at the Hearst Building demanding, among other things, that the paper fire reporter Robert Patterson. About an hour into the protest, someone inside the building opened a third floor window and dumped a bag of purple printer’s ink onto the protesters below. In response, the protesters began blotting the windows and sides of the building with purple handprints, and someone smeared the words “Gay Power!” on the white wall, in what then became known as “The Friday of the Purple Hand.” SIR president Larry Littlejohn later recalled:

The old Hearst Building today.

At that point, the tactical squad arrived — not to get the employees who dumped the ink, but to arrest the demonstrators who were the victims. The police could have surrounded the Examiner building and found out who did it but, no, they went after the gays. It was just incredible how stupid the police could be. Somebody could have been hurt if that ink had gotten in their eyes, but the police came racing in with their clubs swinging, knocking people to the ground. It was unbelievable.

The pitched battle quickly became bloody. Two officers threw a lesbian into the asphalt and then arrested her for obstructing traffic. Many others were knocked against the curb and suffered head wounds. Another lost his teeth when he was thrown into the paddy wagon. Twenty-one protesters were arrested; no one from The Examiner was charged. The next day a group of 25 gay activists staged a sit in in Mayor Joseph Alioto’s office in City Hall, demanding that all charges be dropped against those who had been arrested the day before. Three of them were arrested for refusing to leave the office at closing time.

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 92-94.

“Protesting Homosexuals Seize City Hall in S.F.” The Washington Post (November 1, 1969): A2.]

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?

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Jim Hlavac
October 31st, 2013 | LINK

I love reading all these old articles on gay folks — it’s like they could have been written yesterday, or today for that matter. Oh, everyone is so much more polite, of course, but the reality is, the vast majority of heteros still seem to think along the lines of Time magazine 40 years ago. Amazing.

pierre denerome
October 31st, 2013 | LINK

@ Jim Hlavac
My husband and I(newly-wed)live in Marina Del Rey,CA for the past 40+years.The vast majority of heteros do NOT think along the lines of any magazine from 40 years ago.Amazing.You must reside/work in a bidonville,to even think that way.

Jim Hlavac
November 1st, 2013 | LINK

@pierre — the vast majority of heteros might not be as “anti-gay” as they were — but get 10 heteros together in a room and you won’t find agreement on why people are gay, what our “rights” might be, nor much agreement on marriage — or anything else about gay folks. Not our numbers, or what we do or when or where or what —
What do you think the endless discussion in this nation is about? If in many states 60 to 70% of the people are still against gay marriage — if it’s … oh one could go on about heteros outside of Marina Del Rey — perhaps you should try, oh Houston, Chicago, St. Louis, Pennsylvania, Alabama – the list is endless — for if the majority of heteros thought like you there in Marina Del Rey – I dare say, we wouldn’t be having endless discussion about gay existence. :)

Given your French name, I would point also to the riots in France over gay marriage. Happy heteros don’t riot over gay marriage, oui?

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