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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, January 30

Jim Burroway

January 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Doncaster Winter Pride, Doncaster, UK; Lahti Pride, Lahti, Finland; Midsumma, Melbourne, VIC; BeefDip, Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Rainbow Reykjavik Winter Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland; Bay Area American Indian Two Spirit (BAAITS) Powwow, San Francisco, CA; GayWhistler Winter Pride, Whistler, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 5.

 
Thanks to ongoing bar raids, entrapment operations and general police harassment, the risk of arrest was an ever-present worry in the gay community, making ads for bail bond agencies a not altogether uncommon feature in gay publications of the 1960s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Man Falsely Arrested for “Sex Crime”: 1957. In 1955, a horrific crime took place, with the “sex slaying” of three teenage brothers in Chicago. The bodies of the three brothers were found in a forest preserve, nude and strangled, on October 18, 1955, two days after leaving their homes for a Sunday movie matinee. Fifteen months later, Chicago police had their suspect, a “good-looking, mild-mannered” thirty-nine year old engineer, William Rexroad Brooke, who was working in Iran with an oil company.

On January 30, a bewildered Brooke was arrested by eighteen police and detectives, with a swarm of reporters looking on, as he walked off a KLM airliner from Amsterdam. Brooke asked detective why he was being arrested. Told that he was wanted by Chicago police, reporters heard him say, “I don’t know what for.” He then asked reporters, “What is this all about?”

Newspapers blared the story the next day under huge headlines, along with details on the Chicago Police Department’s suspicions: Brooke had worked at a metal products firm near where the boys were found, his storage shed contained newspapers which included stories about the well-publicized murder, and his apartment was in “the general area” where they boys disappeared. More to the point, they found evidence that Brooke was gay, and that was enough to clinch the deal, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever connecting him to the crime. Brooke was indicted in absentia by a Cook County grand jury and a warrant was issued for his arrest. When Brooke made his trip back from Iran, his name showed up on the passenger list and police were notified. And soon, everyone around the country knew about Brooke’s story, thanks to front page headlines that were impossible to miss.

Easier to miss was a tiny, one-paragraph Associated Press report that appeared four days later buried in the inside pages of the few papers that cared to carry it:

Suspect Cleared in Boy Killings

CHICAGO, Feb 3 (AP) — Lie detector tests have cleared a 39-year-old efficiency expert of any connection in the 1955 sex slaying of an Evanston, Ill., Boy Scout, police say William Rexroad Brooke was absolved for the killing of Peter Gorham, 12, who was found shot to death Aug 14, 1955 near Muskegon, Mich., and he also has been cleared in the strangling of three boys found Oct 18, 1955, in Robinson Woods, northwest of Chicago.

[Source: “Seized on Plane from Europe in ’55 Deaths of 3 Chicago Boys.” Mattachine Review 3, no. 3 (March 1957): 12-13.]

Oregon Doctors Claim Gay Cure Breakthrough: 1958. The San Francisco Examiner provided the following report:

Doctors Claim Cure for Sex Criminals

CARMEL, JAN 30. — A medical team claimed here today that homosexuals and sex fiends can be tamed down into useful, law-abiding citizens by daily doses of simple synthetic hormones. The report came from Drs. William M. Laidlaw, Donald J. Moore and Carl G. Heller of the University of Oregon Medical School.

Doctor Heller told the annual meeting of the Western Section of the American Federation for Clinical Research that he and his colleagues experimented with 55 volunteer convicts serving terms in Oregon State Penitentiary for sex crimes.

After six to nine weeks of daily treatment with progesterone, a female sex hormone, or synthetic versions of it, every convict in the group was infertile, impotent and lost all sexual desire. They stayed that way as long as they got their daily hormone pills.

Doctor Heller said the convicts were happy about the results. He reported the Oregon State parole board is deeply interested in the experiment.

The suggestion has been made that many sexual deviants and sexual psychopaths could be released from prisons if continuing daily doses of the hormones were made a condition of parole.

Of course, the article itself clamed no such cure, only that “homosexuals and sex fiends” could be “tamed down.” They were simply “de-sexed,” as one critic of the procedure put it in a letter to the Mattachine Review. But a de-sexed homosexual was good enough as far as these doctors were concerned, given that they apparently couldn’t imagine a homosexual who was already a useful, law-abiding citizen rather than a “sex fiend.” As to whether the prisoners undergoing the experiment were truly happy with the result, their happiness was likely tied to their prospects for parole.

[Source: “Doctors Claim Cure for Sex Criminals.” San Francisco Examiner (January 31, 1958). As reprinted in the Mattachine Review, 4, no. 3 (March 1958): 13-14.]

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

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FYoung
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

“After six to nine weeks of daily treatment with progesterone, a female sex hormone, or synthetic versions of it, every convict in the group was infertile, impotent and lost all sexual desire.”

Hmmm, how exactly was this a breakthrough? It had already been proven effective in other cases, notably Alan Turing in 1954. /s

jpeckjr
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

Jim, was there ever a conviction in the Chicago killing. If so, who was convicted and when?

tristram
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

re the Oregon cure – I know some colleges are grim places, but “55 volunteer convicts serving terms in Oregon State University for sex crimes”?

Jim Burroway
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

Yikes! I’ve fixed the University reference.

As for the Chicago killing, I haven’t found any information about the crime itself or whether anyone was convicted.

FYoung, Turing was injected with stilboestrol, a different kind of synthetic hormone. In the US, stilboestrol was known as Diethylstilbestrol, or DES, which was found to be a known carcinogen and caused birth defects in children, particularly in the reprodictive tracts of daughters.

Lord_Byron
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

Jim a quick google search brought up some more information on the murders. Just thought that I would share. Both are from the Chicago Tribune.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-09-13/news/9509130367_1_peterson-home-schuessler-robert-peterson

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-06-27/news/0706260936_1_chicago-outfit-operation-family-secrets-killings

Jim Burroway
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

Thanks for the updates. I was rooting around in the newspaper archives and didn’t think to expand my search beyond the 1960s.

FYoung
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

Thanks for the specifics, Jim.

Lord_Byron
January 30th, 2014 | LINK

No problem, Jim.

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