The Daily Agenda for Saturday, March 22

Jim Burroway

March 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: European Gay Ski Week, Alpe d’Huez, France; Amsterdam Bear Pride, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Los Angeles Leather Pride, Los Angeles, CA; Black Party, New York, NY; Gay Snow Happening, Sölden, Austria; European Snow Pride, Tignes, France.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the H.E.L.P. Newsletter, July 1971, page 6.

 
Located in Sliver Lake where Santa Monica Blvd turns to become Sunset Blvd, what used to be a gay leather/biker bar is now the straight/hipster 4100 Bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Suspensions Announced of Allegedly Gay Teachers in Florida: 1961. Pinellas County School Superintendent Floyd T. Christian confirmed at a school board meeting that five St. Petersburg-area teachers had been suspended for “alleged homosexual practices.” The action came after the state’s Legislative Investigative Committee lodged allegations against the teachers. The Legislative Investigative Committee, known as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, state Sen. Charley Johns, was created in 1956 to root out communists from government but switched its focus to look for gays teachers and university professors. Superintendent Christian said that following the accusations from the state, the teachers were suspended last October “with the full knowledge and approval of the board.”

The matter was referred to the state’s Cabinet Board of Education in Tallahassee, which revoked the certificates of three of the teachers. That decision was overturned by the State Supreme Court in 1962, saying the state board didn’t follow proper procedures. The three teachers’ certificates were finally restored in 1963.

Superintendent Christian would go on to become the Florida Commissioner of Education from 1965 to 1973, which became an elected position with Florida’s new constitution in 1968. Superintendent Christian would go on to become the Florida Commissioner of Education from 1965 to 1973. After resisting desegregation as Pinellas County School Superintendent, Christian would shift his position as state Commissioner and become a strong defender of desegregation efforts in the state. Christian’s political career ended in scandal, and he spent several months in federal prison in 1975 for income tax evasion.

Christan’s career ended in scandal, and he spent several months in federal prison following a conviction for income tax evasion.

Montana Senate Requires Convicted Gays To Register With Police: 1995. In a 41-8 vote, the Montana Senate gave its approval to a bill that would require offenders of the state’s anti-homosexuality law (which prohibited “deviate sexual conduct”) to register for life with local law enforcement officials. The provision was a last minute amendment to a bill requiring registration for those convicted of murder, rape, aggravated assault, incest, sexual assault, and indecent exposure. During the debate, Sen. Al Bishop (R-Billings) said that homosexual acts, even consensual acts between adults, were “even worse than a violent sexual act,” a statement that drew outrage among women’s rape crisis advocates. Gay rights advocates quickly organized rallies in Helena, Billings and Missoula, and the entire state became the target of national scorn. By noon the next day, red-faced lawmakers were in full retreat mode, repealing the provision specifying “deviate sexual conduct” from the bill that they had just passed the day before, in a unanimous voice vote with no debate.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Stephen Sondheim: 1930. Born to a well-to-do Jewish family in New York’s Upper West Side, Sondheim describes his childhood as an exceedingly lonely one. ” it’s luxurious, you’re in an environment that supplies you with everything but human contact. No brothers and sisters, no parents, and yet plenty to eat, and friends to play with and a warm bed, you know?” His parents divorce when he was ten; his father abandoned the family for another woman, and his mothre was, according to Sondheim, psychologically abusive.

But at around the time of his parents’ divorce, Sondheim became friends with Jimmy Hamerstein, son of the Broadway legend, Oscar Hammerstein II, who became a kind of a surrogate father and mentor. While attending the prestegious George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, Sondheim wrote a musical, By George, which proved popular with his classmate. Proud of his efforts, he took it to Hammerstein and asked him to evaluated it. Hammerstein said it was the worst thing he ever saw. “But if you want to know why it’s terrible, I’ll tell you.” Sondheim then received and education that afternoon which, as he later said, taught him ” more about songwriting and the musical theater than most people learn in a lifetime.”

After studying musical thater at Williams College and graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1950, when through “a few painful years of struggle” trying to break into the business. But his persistence was rewared when, in 1955, he was hired to write the lyrics for Leornard Bernstein’s West Side Story. In 1959, he wrote the lyrics for Gypsy, which ran for 702 performances. Then he got the chance to write music and lyrics for the musical farce, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which opened in 1962, ran for 964 performances, and earned him his first Tony. But then followed a dry spell, until 1970, when he began his fruitful collaboration with director Hal Prince. That partnership produced a string of innovative hits: Company (1970, which won him three Tonys), Follies (1971, and another Tony), and A Little Night Music (1973), which won him two Tonys and yielded his only Top 40 hit with Judy Collins’s recording of “Send In the Clowns.”

Stephen Sondheim with James Lapine.

The collaboration with Prince continued with Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeny Todd (1979, which won him another Tony), and Merrily We Roll Along (1984, which flopped badly). The tone of the reviews for Merrily were such that he felt that critics and the public were rooting for his failure. (Merrily would later go on to see several successful revivals.), and it almost convinced Sondheim to quit musical theater altogether. Instead, he went off Broadway and discoverd a play by director James Lapine, whose unorthodic presentation rekindled Sondheim’s creative interests. Their first collaboration, Sunday in the Park with George opened off Broadway in 1983, despite the first act still being in development. The act was finished and the second act was developed before the run of 25 performances were over. The production then moved to Broadway in 1984, with the show completed only a few days before its opening.  It opened to mixed reviews, and ran for 604 performances. It lost money, but Sondheim and Lapine won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and Sunday has seen several rivivals since then. Sondheim’s collaborations with Levine continued with Into the Woods (1987, which won Sondheim another Tony), and Passion (1994, and two more Tonys).

When Sondhein turned 80 in 2010, he was feted with several benefits and concerts in New York and London, and the former Henry Miller’s Theater was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theater. He is still working, and lives with his partner Jeff Romley.

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).

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