The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 17
July 17th, 2014
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.
Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
The Ambassador Lounge was part of the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Built in 1911, the single room occupancy hotel was an AIDS hospice during the 1980s when under the management of Hank Wilson. But by the late 1990s, the Ambassador had sharply deteriorated into a veritable urban slum. Housing activists applied legal pressure against the slumlord, who sold the building to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit that fixes up old buildings in the neighborhood. Repairs were completed in 2003, and the Ambassador now serves as low income housing. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old Ambassador Lounge is now an Indian restaurant.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
► “They resign voluntarily, don’t they? That’s an admission of their guilt.”: 1950. Max Lerner, a columnist for the New York Post, began a series of articles on homosexuality in July, 1950, spurred on by the growing hysteria in government and the press over the presence of gay people in federal employment (see Feb 28, Mar 14, Apr 18, May 15, May 19, and Jun 15). On July 17, Lerner published his interview with Sen. Kenneth Wherry (R-NE), the GOP’s floor leader and whip, and a primary backer of the ongoing Senate investigations into gays and lesbian employees in the federal government. Two months earlier, Sen. Wherry had issued a report estimating 3,750 “perverts” were government employees. The interview revealed just how uninformed those crusaders against gays in the federal government really were:
I asked Senator Wherry whether the problem of homosexuals in the government was primarily a moral or a security issue. He answered that it was both, but security was uppermost in his mind. I asked whether he made a connection between homosexuals and Communists. “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives,” the Senator told me. “Mind you, I don’t say every homosexual is a subversive, and I don’t say every subversive is a homosexual. But a man of low morality is a menace in the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together.”
…I asked whether he would be content to get the homosexuals out of the “sensitive posts,” leaving alone those who have nothing to do with military security. There might be “associations,” he said, between men in the sensitive and the minor posts. “There should be no people of that type working in any position in the government.”
…I asked on what he based his view that homosexuals represent an unusual security risk. I cited a group of American psychiatrists who hold that a heterosexual with promiscuous morals may also be a security risk, that some men might be reckless gamblers or confirmed alcoholics and get themselves entangled or blackmailed. The Senator’s answer was firm: “You can stretch the security risk further if you want to,” he said, “but right now I want to start with the homosexuals. When we get through them, then we’ll see what comes next.”
This brought me to the question of definitions. “You must have a clear idea, Senator,” I said, “of what a homosexual is. It is a problem that has been troubling the psychiatrists and statisticians. Can you tell me what your idea is?”
“Quite simple,” answered the Senator. “A homosexual is a diseased man, an abnormal man.”
I persisted. “Do you mean one who has made a habit of homosexuality? Would you include someone who, perhaps in his teens, had some homosexual relations and had never had them since? Would you include those who are capable of both kinds of relations, some who may even be raising families?”
“You can handle it without requiring a definition,” the Senator answered. “I’m convinced in my own mind that any homosexual is a bad risk.”
“But how about those who get pushed out of their jobs when they are only in a minor post, when no security risk is involved, and when they are forced to resign for something they may have done years ago?”
“They resign voluntarily, don’t they?” asked the Senator. “That’s an admission of their guilt. That’s all I need. My feeling is that there will be very few people hurt.”
[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 95-97.]
► APA Refuses To Meet With Gay Rights Groups: 1963. One of the top goals of the early gay rights movement was to get the mental health professions to remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. As long as homosexuality remained listed, governmental agencies and private companies had all the excuse they needed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker began publishing the results of a series of tests which demonstrated that gays and lesbians who weren’t patients of mental health professionals were indistinguishable from heterosexuals (see Aug 30). Before then, the mental health community thought that gays were mentally deficient because all of the prior research had only studied people who were confined to mental hospitals or were seen in clinical settings.
Despite the strength of this new evidence, it would still take many years for it to sink in. In 1963, the American Psychological Association was preparing to meet in Philadelphia for their annual convention. Leading gay activists, under the banner of the newly-formed East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) also planned to meet in Philadelphia at the same time, and they proposed a meeting with members of the APA. But the APA convention’s organizing committee declined the invitation. In a very brief letter to leading gay rights activist Frank Kameny and the Washington, D.C., Mattachine Society, the APA simply said, “This problem” — yes, the APA saw the meeting as a problem — “has already been considered by the Convention Committee and it was decided that it was not in the best interests of the APA to meet with you, nor to publicize your meetings.”
Another nine years would pass before Kameny and Daughters of Bilitis New York activist Barbara Gittings would appear with Dr. John E. Fryer (as “Dr. H. Anonymous.”) on a panel discussion on homosexuality with the American Psychiatric Association (the other APA, which is the keeper of the list of mental disorders known as the DSM) (see May 2). That appearance nearly a decade later would wind up being a key moment leading to the elimination of homosexuality as a mental illness (see Dec 15).
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