The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 20
February 20th, 2014
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball), Vienna, Austria.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
The Barefoot Boy Disco was immensely popular from about 1974 to about 1978 or 1979 (near as I can tell) that launched the careers of quite a number of major DJs of the era. Disco queen and former porn star Andrea True, whose “More, More, More” in 1976 became part of the disco canon, name-checked the Barefoot Boy in her 1977 single “New York, You Got Me Dancing” (“Dancing the night away / Oh what a joy at the Barefoot Boy”). The club late became Zeus (or Barefoot Boy at Club Zeus). It then became Stix in the early 1980s. A residential tower now stands where they once danced the night away.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Marcus Welby, M.D. Episode “The Other Martin Loring” Airs: 1973. Marcus Welby was America’s favorite doctor, and Marcus Welby, M.D. was the first program to hit number one in the Nielsen ratings for the perpetually struggling ABC. But America’s favorite doctor made a bad call in its fourth season when it aired an episode titled “The Other Martin Loring.” The episode centers around Loring, who consults Dr. Welby for being an alcoholic, overweight, depressed and diabetic. Relax, take it easy, don’t work too hard, Welby tells Loring. That night, Loring who goes home to his wife, who demand a divorce and custody of their son. When he threatens to countersue, Mrs. Loring says she won’t “hold anything back.” He later collapses under the strain and under Welby’s care again. One thing led to another, including a drunk-driving car accident. Eventually, Welby figures out that Loring is gay. Welby’s advice: Loring had a “serious illness” and he should suppress his desires and see a psychiatrist because his “tendencies” were “degrading and loathsome.”
Shortly before the episode’s scheduled air date, a script was leaked to the Gay Activist Alliance, which organized a protest of two dozen demonstrators at ABC’s New York headquarters. Another group of thirty activists entered the building, guided by a detailed map provided by someone within the network, and took over the thirty-ninth floor offices of the network’s top executives. “It was one of the first big actions we took,” Ron Gold, GAA’s media director, later recalled. “It was also one of the biggest mistakes we made. ABC offered to set up a meeting for two of us with their standards and practices person and the president of the network if the rest of us would go away. But we were afraid that we were going to get screwed over so we said no. That was very foolish because we didn’t get to talk to anybody. They thought we were crazy — and to a certain extent we were. But we were also justifiably paranoid.”
Other protests broke out in Los Angeles when the episode aired, and gay activists tried to launch a nationwide advertiser boycott. But the boycott fizzled, largely because the fractious gay activist community didn’t have the means to communicate with each other effectively, let alone to the general public. In a sense, LGBT-advocacy was still in its infancy, learning the ways of effective demonstration and publicity. But they were quick learners. More than a year later, when Marcus Welby, M.D. would air another homophobic episode (see Oct 8), gay activists were better prepared, and their actions would lead to seventeen ABC affiliates dropping that episode, and at least seven major sponsors pulling out.
William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp: 1872-1938. He succeeded his father as Earl at the age of eighteen when his father died of a heart attack during dinner in 1891. That was the start of a very prodigious political career. He became mayor of Worcester in 1895, and was given the post as Governor of New South Wales, Australia in 1899, while still only twenty-seven. But here, his inexperience showed. He was unpopular due to a series of gaffes, including the time he referred to Australia’s “birthstain” as a penal colony. Bored with the assignment, Beauchamp returned to Britain in 1900. In 1902, he joined the Liberal Party and married Lady Lettice Grosvenor. The couple would go on to have three sons and four daughters. When the Liberals came to power in 1905, Beauchamp took on a series of posts in the government, and he served as Liberal Leader in the House of Lords from 1924 to 1931.
Stories had circulated since the 1920s about parties Beauchamp threw at Walmer Castle. But it would be a return trip to Australia in 1930 that would be his undoing, as he was accompanied during the two month trip by young Liberal MP, Robert Bernays, who was also Beauchamp’s lover. Hugh Grosvenor, the Tory Duke of Westminster, was a staunch foe of the Liberals and, more to the point, developed a deep and abiding hatred for his brother-in-law. He summoned his sister and laid the evidence of Beauchamp’s homosexuality before her and urged her to divorce her husband. She never did file for divorce, but she left him immediately. The Duke also demanded that Beauchamp’s children testify against him, but they refused. Finally, the Duke took his information to King George V, who was shocked at the allegation. “I thought men like that shot themselves,” he muttered.
It appeared Beauchamp’s arrest and trail by the House of Lords was imminent. But there was one problem: during the depths of the Great Depression, the House of Lords was increasingly looked upon as a place of idleness and privilege, prompting calls for its abolition. A scandal like this would only worsen the its reputation. Also, Beauchamp was personally close to the King — he had carried the Sword of State at William’s coronation and served as Steward of the Household. Also, the King’s son, George, was seeing one of Beauchamp’s daughters, although that relationship soon ended. The King intervened, and sent three envoys to persuade Beauchamp to resign from all of his official posts and leave England by midnight.
Beauchamp fled England that night, taking a boat to the continent and traveling to the German spa town of Wiesbaden. His plan, which he had disclosed to two of his daughters before leaving, was to commit suicide by overdose. His children took turns traveling weeks at a time to Wiesbaden to remain with him at all times, watching over him. It was finally Hugh, his second son (and who was also gay) who finally persuaded his father from taking his life.
After recovering his wits at Wiesbaden, Beauchamp moved to Paris, Venice, Sydney and San Francisco, constantly moving between the four cities. The closest city to a home to him was perhaps Sydney, where he spent most of his time and was tempted to buy a house. But after Hugh’s death in 1936, Beauchamp was allowed to return to England to bury his son at the ancestral home of Madresfield Court, staying only a few days for fear of arrest. But the following year, shortly after George V’s death and George VI’s coronation, the charges were finally dropped and Beauchamp was allowed to go home for good. He died in 1938 of cancer while traveling to New York. His children remained loyal to him to the very end.
The Earl of Beauchamp is generally believed to have been model for Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Brideshead Revisited.
Roy Cohn: 1927-1986. Could there be a more despicable character in all of gay history? The Columbia Law grad showed signs of legal brilliance early, having been admitted to the bar at twenty-one, becoming an Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and playing a prominent role in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951. In 1952, Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) appointed him as chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the recommendation of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, where Cohn became known for his aggressive questioning of suspected Communists. Cohn brought in his good friend, David Schine as consultant to McCarthy’s staff. But when the young and handsome Schine was drafted into the army in 1953, Cohn embarked on a private campaign to ensure special treatment for Schine — light duties, extra leave, an exemption from overseas assignment — and threatened to “wreck the Army” if they didn’t accede to his demands. The bitter irony of all this is that while Cohn was pursuing special treatment for his special friend, McCarthy’s witch hunt extended beyond communists to also include gay people (See, for example, Mar 14, Jul 2, Sep 7).
By 1954, McCarthy’s anti-communist and anti-gay witch hunt extended to the Army, which decided to fight back. During one exchange during a committee hearing, the Army’s head counsel, Joseph Welch, asked a McCarthy staffer about the origin of a photo of Schine and Army Secretary Robert Stevens, which had been doctored to omit the presence of Air Force Colonel Jack Bradley. Welch asked the staffer sarcastically, “Did you think it came from a pixie?” McCarthy interjected, “Will counsel (Welch) for my benefit define– I think he might be an expert on that– what a pixie is?” Welch responded, “Yes. I should say, Mr. Senator, that a pixie is a close relative of a fairy.” Others in the chamber who were in on the rumors, broke into laughter. Cohn later called the remark, “malicious,” “wicked,” and “indecent.”
Cohn later forced to resign from McCarthy’s staff due to growing outrage over his tactics. He returned to New York and entered private practice, where his clients included mafia figures, the New York Yankees, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and Studio 54 owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. He was friends with Barbara Walters (she served as his “beard” for a while), columnist Walter Wenchell, and North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms. While publicly closeted and working actively against gay rights, he partied at the best gay bars and threw lavish parties in New York and Provincetown. In 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS. He used his connections to jump to the head of the line for treatment with the then-scarce and experimental AZT. By the time he died in 1986, he maintained his public denial both of his homosexuality and his disease — he said it was “cancer.” In Tony Kushner’s Angels In America, Cohn is portrayed as a power hungry, self-loathing hypocrite who is dying of AIDS while haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. Cohn’s name is also on a panel of the AIDS memorial quilt. It reads, “Roy Cohn: Bully, Coward, Victim.” A fitting eulogy if there ever was one.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?