The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 18
February 18th, 2014
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
If you’ve been enduring weeks of repeated snowstorms and much-below-normal temperatures, now might be a good time to book a trip to Key West for some fun-in-the-sun relief. Key West has long been known as a very gay friendly location, with a good number of resorts and guest houses catering the the gay and lesbian markets, with many of the resorts for gay men being clothing optional. In 1983, the Lighthouse Court advertised itself as “an exquisitely relaxed compound.” The Lighthouse Court is still in business, but it has changed a bit since then. In 2005, it was mentioned in a New York Times article asking “Is Key West Going Straight?“: “You can feel the change at the Lighthouse Court, a popular – some would say notorious – gay-only Whitehead Street guesthouse that recently went ‘all welcome,’ the local euphemism for accepting heterosexual guests as well as gays.”
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Marquess of Queensbury Accuses Oscar Wilde of Being a “Somdomite”: 1895. British playwright Oscar Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “To Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between Wilde and his son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. Queensbury had ferocious arguments with his son, trying to get him to stop seeing Wilde, but Bosie refused. Queensbury even threatened to go public with what he knew, but Bosie refused to back down. So on February 18, 1895, Queensbury followed through on his threat.
This action led to a long string of events which eventually led to Wilde’s disgrace, imprisonment, exile in France, and early death. Perhaps all that could have been avoided if Wilde had decided not to sue Queensbury for libel. His friends advised him against it, but he may have felt he had little choice. Having been called out publicly like that, declining to sue might be taken as an admission of guilt. Unfortunately, Wilde’s libel case collapsed when Queensbury’s lawyer asked whether he had ever kissed Walter Grainger in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.”
Queensbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admission that attraction was the reason he didn’t kiss him. In short order, Wilde lost the case, and was charged with gross indecency. Wilde’s first criminal trial ended in a hung jury but the second one resulted in Wilde’s conviction and sentence to two years at hard labor.
British Quakers Publish “Toward a Quaker View of Sex”: 1963. A report published by an influential group of eleven Quaker scholars challenged what it considered a hidebound view of sexuality among Christians. The groundbreaking report insisted on the basic similarity of homosexual and heterosexual emotional experience and placed the two on an equal moral footing, insisting that the morality be judged by the same standard.
“Surely it is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters,” the authors wrote. “One must not judge by its outward appearance but by its inner worth … We see no reason why the physical nature of a sexual act should be the criterion by which the question whether or not it is moral should be decided. An act which expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual.”
The report asserted that “sexuality, looked at dispassionately, is neither good nor evil — it is a fact of nature.” it also explored the meaning of morality itself. “It seems to us,” the report continued,” that morals, like the Sabbath, were made for man, not man for morals, and that as society changes and modes of conduct with it, we must always be searching below the surface of human behavior, to discover what is in fact happening to people, what they are seeking to express, what motives and intentions they are satisfying, what fruits good or bad, they are harvesting.”
Towards a Quaker View of Sex was not an official Quaker statement on sexuality. But because it was published by the Literature Committee of the Friends Home Service Committee, it would prove to be a profoundly influential document among Quakers for the next several decades. You can read the full report here (PDF: 117KB/7 pages).
North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) Forms: 1966. Following the success of the East Coast Homophile Organizations’ (ECHO) efforts to organize several gay rights groups for coordinated actions (see Oct 10), forty activists from the East and West Coasts, the Midwest and Texas met in Kansas City for a planning conference for what would become the first attempt at a national coalition of gay rights groups. Fifteen organizations were represented at the Kansas City meeting which was moderated by the Rev. Clarence A Culwell, a straight UCC minister who headed the San Francisco-based Council of Religion and the Homosexual (see Jan 1). The conference agreed to sponsor public meetings in several cities for Armed Forces Day, May 21, to discuss gays and the draft. It also agreed for a follow-up meeting in San Francisco in August to solidify the organization and plan further actions.
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?