The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 10

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2014

Kidnapped for Christ

Television Premiere of “Kidnapped for Christ”: Showtime. This documentary reveals the shocking truth behind Escuela Caribe, a controversial Christian behavior modification program in the Dominican Republic for “troubled” American teens. When filmmaker Kate Logan first heard about the school as a young missionary, she decided to go and document what she thought would be a positive experience for the students. Instead, she found that students — or inmates, as the case may be — were subjected to intense forced labor, physical beatings and emotional abuse:

She meets Beth, a 15-year-old from Michigan who suffers panic attacks so debilitating that she had trouble staying in school all day. Instead of professional treatment, Beth is subjected to inappropriate and often painful punishments, including spankings and being confined to an isolation room. Tai, a 16-year-old Haitian-American girl from Boston, was sent to Escuela Caribe after acting out and experimenting with drugs to cope with childhood traumas, including rape. Tai opens up to Kate, telling her that what the school is doing is wrong and encourages her to expose the truth to the world.

DavidKate begins to realize that she has stumbled upon a much scarier story than she originally thought. This is solidified when she meets David, who was sent to the program shortly after coming out to his parents. David has been unable to communicate with anyone in the outside world since he was forcibly taken in the middle of the night by people his parents hired to transport him to the school. With Kate, he feels safe enough to reveal not only why he was sent there, but also how he has been plotting to escape. David begs Kate to find a way to tell his friends back home in Colorado what happened to him. Unbeknownst to the staff, he slips her a letter intended for his best friend Angie. The letter reveals the harsh realities this once promising honor student has been unwillingly subjected to as a direct result of his sexual orientation.

Kidnapped for Christ follows David as he plots his escape from Escuela Caribe. It premieres tonight on Showtime at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT, with a dozen more airings through August 13. Click here for more information and showtimes.

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:

From ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

From ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

Google Translate says Coup de Frein means “slowdown.” This web site, when run through Google Translate, says the Montmartre district of Paris’s 18th arrondissement, where the Coup de Frein was located, had been a gay neighborhood with several clubs and cabarets since at least the interwar period. The Coup de Frein was a bar and restaurant which catered to a gay clientele. An advertisement in the French gay magazine Futur promised “privacy” and “mirth,” and promised that Coup de Frein was “the only place in Paris where one is really ‘us’.” The location today — assuming the numbering hasn’t changed — appears to be private residences across the street from the Hotel Le Relais.

The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1766.

A Discovery of a Very Extraordinary Nature: 1766. The following story was reported in the July 1766 issue of London’s Gentleman’s Magazine for July 10:

A discovery of a very extraordinary nature was made at Poplar, where two women had lived together for six and thirty years, as man and wife, and kept a public house, without ever being suspected; but the wife happening to fall sick, and die, a few years before she expired, revealed the secret to her relations, made her will, and left legacies to the amount of half what she thought they were worth. On application to the pretended, she at first endeavoured to support her assumed character, but being closely pressed, she at length owed the fact, accommodated all matters amicably, put off the male, and put on the female character, in which she appeared to be a sensible well-bred woman, though in her male character she had always affected the plain plodding alehouse-keeper. It is said they had acquired in business money to the amount of £3000. Both had been crossed in love when young, and had chosen this method to avoid further importunities.

[Source: “Historical Chronicle: July 10.” The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1766): 339. Available online via Google Books here.]

Randol Mill Park

Texas Editorial: “We’ll Take Gays Over the KKK”: 1985. It all began in 1984, when the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington was having a problem at Randol Mill Park. It seems that the popular park had become a well-known venue for men (often heterosexually married men) to solicit sex with other men. After a year’s worth of stepped up patrolling and enforcement by Arlington police, the Mid-Cities Daily News reported, “We have not heard nearly as much about the problem as last year.” But for whatever reason, the Klan was still excited over queers in the park. The Klan’s “exalted cyclops” of the Ft. Worth kalvern, Bill Walton, announced that his group would be holding a picnic at the park to send a message that gays weren’t welcome. The Daily News responded, “Given the choice between sharing a park with homosexuals or a bunch of white-sheeted, racist, hate-peddling losers, we think we would prefer the homosexuals.”

Well sure, given the choice.

When the Klan held their picnic three days later — sans white sheets — Scott Patrick, the exalted cyclops of the Garland klavern, sounded disappointed with what he found — or didn’t find. “I expected the situation to be a little more blatant. I’m sure all the publicity kept it out.” With none of those dreaded homosexuals in sight, Walton was left with no option but to complain about other groups. “Would you believe I actually had a Jew ask if a Jew could come to one of our meetings,” he told a reporter. “I said ‘no.’ A Jew would have about as much chance of attending as a nigger. You’ve got to admit they aren’t as intelligent as we are.”

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust: 1871-1922. He is best known for just one work, the monumental seven-volume novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, known in English as In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past. But that alone has secured his reputation as one of the greatest authors of all time.

Proust’s father was a prominent surgeon and his mother was the well-read daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from Alsace. He was born in Paris just two months after the Franco-Prussian War and during the bloody suppression of the French Commune. Food and fuel shortages during the uprising contributed to widespread hunger and worry, both of which greatly affected Proust’s mother when he was born. He was described as a sickly child, and wasn’t expected to survive infancy. He had his first serious asthma attack at the age of nine, and continuing illnesses often interrupted his education. Nevertheless, he excelled in literature and was awarded with numerous honors in school. He was published in several literary magazines in 1890 and 1891, and he co-founded a literary review in 1892. His asthma rendered him something of a solitary figure, and he was eternally devoted to and, in many ways, dependent on his mother. He lived in the family apartment with his parents until 1905, when his mother died and left him bereft. (His father had died two years earlier.)


Marcel Proust (seated), with Robert de Flers and and Lucien Daudet, 1892.

Proust’s pursuit of male companionship began rather early in life. At Lycée Condorcet, Proust made friends with Jacques Bizet, the son of the famous composer, and Daniel Halévy, the composer’s nephew. At age seventeen, Proust fell in love with Bizet, but his mother, suspecting that the two had become lovers, forbade her son from seeing him. In 1891, Proust met Oscar Wilde and invited the famous British writer to dine with him and his parents. In a possibly apocryphal story, Wilde’s sensitivities were offended by the Proust’s heavy, dark Victorian furniture and left, saying “How ugly is everything here.” Whether the story is true or not, Proust would later, unsympathetically, allude to Wilde’s fall in Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. In 1892, Proust sat for a photo with the playwright Robert de Flers and Lucien Daudet, whose reputation was that of “a handsome young man, curled, well-dressed, pomaded, painted and powdered.” Proust’s mother was scandalized by the photo, his right arm resting on Proust’s shoulder, and forbade Proust from circulating copies of it. That, too, would appear in Jean Santeuil, a novel which wouldn’t see the light of day until it was published posthumously in 1952.

Proust pursued a number of relationships with other men, although he was eager to avoid the tag of “homosexual” himself. In a letter to the André Gide, the gay author who had published his groundbreaking defense of homosexuality in 1911, Proust said that he could write very extensively about homosexuality, as long as he didn’t ascribe it to himself. In fact, homosexuality appears as a recurring theme throughout À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, especially in the later volumes, where Proust shows himself unusually knowledgeable about the difficulties of being a closeted gay man.

After his mother died in 1905, Proust was bereft, mourning her for the rest of his life. He moved from his parents’ apartment, taking much of the heavy furnishings with him, and moved to another apartment where he lined his bedroom with cork to shut out the noise, and hung heavy curtains that were never opened. And that’s when he set about writing the epic novel that would define his entire career. By 1912, his manuscript ran 1,200 pages and he began looking for a publisher.

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann's Way), 1913

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), 1912

After being turned down by three publishing houses, Proust resorted to self-publishing the first volume, Swann’s Way, in 1913. At the time, it was advertised as the first installment of a three-volume novel. The second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, was ready for 1914, but it was delayed five years because of the war. That gave Proust plenty of time to revise and expand the entire series. When In the Shadow was finally published, it was awarded the Prix Goncourt that year. The third volume, The Guertmantes Way (1920/1921) came out in two installments, as did the fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah (1921).

Between 1919 and 1922, Proust worked incessantly on the remaining volumes, rarely leaving his cork-lined bedroom. He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess in 1922, just after the second installment of Sodom and Gomorrah was published. That would be the last volume that Proust would oversee publication. His brother would oversee the publication of the rest of Proust’s great opus over the next five years. The fifth volume, The Prisoner, came out in 1923. Proust had written it during the publication hiatus during the war, along with the sixth volume, The Fugitive, which came out in 1925. From an editorial standpoint, The Fugitive proved to be the most troublesome, appearing as it did without Proust’s final revisions and corrections. Three later editions, one in 1954 and two others in 1987, incorporated corrections later found in the  Bibliothèque Nationale and in papers found by a relative. The final volume, Finding Time Again, which Proust had mostly written when he was writing the first volume, was published in 1927.

À la Recherche du Temps Perdu saw its first English translations between 1922 and 1930,  by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, who gave the work the English title Remembrance of Things Past, a phrase taken from one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. When the Modern Library released an updated translation 1992, it gave the title as In Search of Lost Time, which more closely captures the original French. Penguin Classics is in the process of producing a new, revised translation, with the final volume expected to be released in 2018. Two recent biographies had rounded out our understanding of Proust: Edmund White’s Marcel Proust: A Life (2009) and William C. Carter’s identically titled Marcel Proust: A Life which was released by Yale University Press in 2013.

Jerry Herman: 1931. The American composer and lyricists is best known for his scores for the Broadway hits Hello Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966) and La Cage aux Folles (1983). The latter earned Herman a Tony for best musical. His most famous song, “Hello Dolly!”, knocked the Beatles from #1 in 1964 when Louis Armstrong recorded it. “When they passed out talent,” Carol Channing said, “Jerry stood in line twice.”A 2008 PBS documentary about him reported that Herman was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985 when that diagnosis was an automatic death sentence. He was lucky, and is among of the fortunate few to live to see the lifesaving “cocktail” become available in 1995. The AIDS epidemic wiped out half the original La Cage aux Folles chorus before the show’s final run, but the show’s signature anthem “I Am What I Am” can still bring audiences to their feet with its call for dignity and integrity in the face of bigotry and fear.

60 YEARS AGO: Neil Tennant: 1954. With bandmate Chris Lowe, he was one half of the electronic dance duo Pet Shop Boys. Their first single, “West End Girls,” was actually recorded twice. The first version was released in 1984 and became a club hit in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. (Go figure.) After the duo signed with EMI, they re-recorded the song, and it became a 1986 number one hit in the U.S. and the U.K. Tennant was coy about rumors over his sexuality throughout the 1980s, but he finally came out in a 1994 interview with a UK gay magazine. Pet Shop Boys are still going strong. On March 14, 2011, they released a double CD of the complete three-act ballet score for The Most Incredible Thing with the WrocÅ‚aw Score Orchestra. Their latest studio album, Electric, which features the single “Axis,” came out in 2013.

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?


July 10th, 2014

Thanks for finding Hexagone Gay, which is great site for 19th and 20th century French gay and lesbian history.

By the way, the byline in the Coup de Frein ad could also be translated as Coziness — Gaiety.

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2014

I felt sorry for the fella, kinda like you’d feel for a rattler half-smushed in the road…

You sound like you have a little bit of Molly Ivens in you.


July 10th, 2014

“It all began in 1984, when the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington was having a problem at Randol Mill Park….” Along with the dean of Dallas/Fort Worth journalism, Bob Ray Sanders, I interviewed Mr. Walton on KERA-TV’s weekly “News Addition” program, in the summer of 1985. It was a hoot (and yes, I have the tape)–especially since Bob Ray is African-American and I was just a big old Texas lesbian (albeit in TV makeup and heels). Poor Bill’s Nightcrawler–er, Nighthawk (Klan bodyguard) didn’t show, so he was totally at our tender mercy. I felt sorry for the fella, kinda like you’d feel for a rattler half-smushed in the road…


July 10th, 2014

Whenever you pass a place like Randol Mill Park or a notorious rest stop, notice how many of the empty cars have baby seats in the back.

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