The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 9
July 9th, 2014
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Green Bay, WI; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.
Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
► A Day at the Beach: 1958. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Tucson, we just entered our rainy monsoon season. This is the time of the year when we don’t get to brag that it’s a “dry heat,” not when you have plenty of humidity to go along with your 100+ degree temperatures. It sounds to me like a good time to go to the beach:
I hadn’t gone near a gay beach for years when Marty and I drove out last summer to one of California’s most famous. It was a long pleasant drive out the Boulevard and it seemed that quite a few others were going our way — a red convertible with two sun-baked blonds; two sporty lesbians in an MG; a carload of screaming queens …
…Marty, who idealized homosexuals en masse much as intellectuals used to get dewy-eyed about the toiling masses, was awestruck at the sight, though it was familiar to him. “Look at that!” he said with a sweep of his bronzed arm. “Doesn’t the sight of that crowd thrill you? Right out in the open, hundreds of our people, peacefully enjoying themselves in public, no closed doors, no dim lights, no pretense.
“I often lie awake nights wondering how long it’ll take our group to become aware of itself — its strength and its rights. But I hardly ever appreciate just how many of us there really are except when I come here. Except for a few minutes on the Boulevard after the bars close, this is the only place where we ever ‘form a crowd,’ and there’s something exciting about seeing homosexuals as a crowd. I can’t explain how it stirs me, but I think beaches like this are a part of our liberation.”
Jim Kepner (see Feb 14), writing as “Frank Golovitz,” described the beach as one of the few public areas where gay people felt safe enough to let their guard down. Joe and Jim were there, “a look-alike, dress-alike couple… Happily married (seven years)” and “devout Mormons.” They never went to gay bars, and saw the beach as the one of the few “respectable places to meet other nice homosexuals.” Paul and Terry, two young engineers, were “busily directing the construction of the most elaborate sand castle I’d ever seen.” Jo Anne and Virginia were there with Jo Anne’s two kids they were raising together. Kepner later ran into Barry, Jo Ann’s ex-husband “of convenience,” who was “also a mine of assorted gossip.” He also met Ronnie Chase, “an angel-faced willowy young bank clerk” who defended their place in the sun when a straight couple showed up complaining about “damned queers taking over the place.”
“Well, go somewhere else if you don’t want to be contaminated,” he howled. “You’ve got fifty miles of beach around here and this is all we’ve got. So disappear!”
His antagonist managed one parting shot, unprintably suggesting that all homosexuals should be locked up and castrated.
Ronnie boiled all afternoon. “Did we hurt them? We don’t say anything about the way they behave on the beach. But just let one queen raise the pitch of her voice and it’s a public scandal!”
I suggested that he’d offended them — hardly good public relations.
“I offended them? They offended us. Why always put the blame on this side? They started it. We weren’t doing anything to spoil their day, except existing. Let them go somewhere else. This is our beach. It’s small and crowded, but it’s ours.”
Kepner didn’t say where the beach was located, except to say that it was “a long pleasant drive out the Boulevard.” That Boulevard was probably either Santa Monica Blvd, which ends at the Pacific Coast Highway just north of the Santa Monica Pier, or Olympic Blvd, which at the time veered northward at the pier to become the PCH. The area just
south north of the pier along the PCH was known in the 1950s as “Queer Alley.” In 1955, public demands that police shut down Queer Alley resulted in three council members and the mayor of Santa Monica being voted out of office, only to have their replacements discover that they can’t exactly shut down a beach. A number of gay bars and a bath house were located along that stretch of the beach. Kepner ended his story by stopping in at one of those bars — “really a sort of extension of the beach” — before “wander[ing] down for a look at biceps-bumpers that were exhibiting their rippling muscles farther down the beach” — most likely a reference to Venice’s famed Muscle Beach, just a couple of miles away.
[Sources: Frank Golovitz (Jim Kepner). “Gay Beach.” ONE 6, no. 7 (July 1958): 5-10. Kepner joined ONE magazine in 1952 and wrote under a half-dozen pseudonyms in addition to his own name in order to lend the appearance that ONE’s staff was larger than it actually was.
Dal McIntire (pseud.) “Tangents: News and Views” ONE 3, no. 9 (September 1955): 8-11, describing the Queer Alley controversy in the Santa Monica municipal elections.]
► David Hockney: 1937. The British artist was born with synesthesia — his brain “sees” colors whenever he hears music. Those colors guide him when he designs stage sets for operatic and ballet productions. In addition to set design, he is a renowned painter, print maker and photographer. While still a student at the Royal College of Art, Hockney’s exhibition Young Contemporaries in 1961, marked British Pop Art’s arrival. Later that year, he sold two of his prints to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. That same year, he also read the poems of Walt Whitman, which inspired Hockney to paint several paintings on the themes of love and homosexuality, including We Two Boys Together Clinging, where the title and some of the text in the painting are lines from the Whitman’s poem of the same name. By the mid 1960s, Hockney moved to Los Angeles, where he made an entire series of paintings of swimming pools rendered in vibrant colors.
In more recent years, Hockney has been exploring the limits of scale. His “A Bigger Grand Canyon” (1998) is actually a series of 60 paintings which, when combined together, produce one enormous painting of 6 3/4 feet by 24 feet. That painting was bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $4.6 million. In 2007, he produced Bigger Trees Near Warter, a series of fifty separate canvases which combine to form a 15 feet by forty feet painting. He donated those canvases to the Tate Gallery in London. “I thought if I’m going to give something to the Tate, I want to give them something really good. It’s going to be here for a while.” He described it as a duty of successful artists to donate some of their work. He had turned down several requests to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, explaining politely that he was too busy painting her country. But he relented in 2012 while watching the Thames River pageant for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on television. He created a digital painting on his iPad and donated a printed copy to the Royal Collection.
► Kelly McGillis: 1957. When the other gay star of Top Gun came out of the closet in 2009, she said that coming to terms with her sexual orientation had been a long, ongoing process since she was twelve, when she was convinced that God was punishing her. She now says that it’s much easier to become spiritual now that she knows that “God is okay with you being gay.” She graduated from Julliard’s Drama School in 1983 and began landing acting roles right away. Her breakout role was as an Amish mother in 1985’s Witness with Harrison Ford, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. In 1986, she was the flight instructor, Charlie, in Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. She continued acting in films and television throughout the 1990s before taking a break in 2001. She resumed acting in 2004, and in 2008 she guest starred on Showtime’s The L Word, where she played a closeted Army colonel. In 2010, McGilllis entered into a civil union with her partner, but they separated a year later.
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?