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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 21

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
obamaObama To Sign Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors: Washington, DC. President Barack Obama will sign an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by the federal government or its contractors. While the White House hasn’t released the text of the order, Buzzfeed obtained a copy which, as of last week, amends an earlier Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton which, in turn, modified an Johnson-era Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. According to Buzzfeed, Obama’s Executive Order will not contain any additional religious exemptions beyond those already provided by the previous Executive Orders, although an Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush allows a limited exemption for any any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to extend hiring preferences to people of “a particular religion.” According to the HRC, by reaching back to Johnson’s landmark Executive Order,  Obama “plac(es) sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

According to this web site:

This building and the Moulinie Building directly across Gold Street were acquired by a French sea captain during a voyage to California after the Gold Rush. The two buildings were owned by his family for over a century. The building has been home to Four Monks Winery, a cooperage, a truck storage depot, a gay bar named “Gold Street,” and since 1988 the bar and restaurant “Bix.

Gold Street is little more than an alleyway in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, which was the city’s history red-light district just south of North Beach.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: “The Homosexual and the Beat Generation”: 1959. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1957), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) introduced Americans to the “Beat Generation,” a group, and then a movement, which began in New York’s Greenwhich Village and ended up relocating, for the most part, to San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, nurtured by City Lights bookstore, Cafe Trieste, and the Six Gallery. They were dubbed “Beatniks” by San Francisco columnist Herbert Caen who said they were as far out of the mainstream as Sputnik and suggested that these new bohemians, by their rebellion against social norms, possessed Communist sympathies The Beats probably reached their peak awareness among middle-Americans with the archetypal Beatnik character of Maynard G. Krebs (played by future Gilligan, Bob Denver) in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Goatees, berets, black sweaters, bongo drums, roll-your-own cigarettes (often with substances other than tobacco) and a general, overall rebellion against the straight-laced norms of the McCarthy-dominated fifties marked the Beats as both a dangerous and fascinating phenomenon.

Thanks to the Beats’ non-conformist attitudes, a number of gay artists were associated with the subculture. In addition to Ginsberg, there were the poets Robert Duncan (who had a brief affair with abstract impressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr.), Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer, (along with his partner, the abstract-impressionist artist Jess Collins). Naturally, gay people were become fascinated by this movement. In 1959, ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay-themed publication, capitalized with that growing fascination with a cover story on “The homosexual and the Beat Generation.” The author, Wallace de Ortega Maxey, was himself the embodiment of counter-culturalism. He was former priest and Archbishop of the American Old Catholic Church (an independent breakaway church) who seemed to collect consecrations from a bewildering number of pseudo-Catholic churches as well as the Episcopal Church, before abandoning independent Catholicism in 1954 and establishing the Liberal Universalist Church, first in Los Angeles in 1954, and then in Fresno. Maxey’s interests were quite small-c catholic, as an early Mattachine member and author of Man Is A Sexual Being in 1958. By the time Maxey wrote his article for ONE, San Francisco’s Beats found themselves being gawked at by tourists and bedeviled by wannabe weekend Beatniks. Maxey began his article by describing the difference between what he called the “real” Beats and these poseurs:

The Homosexual and the Beat Generation.This gang of “kix” hoodlums consist of heterosexuals in the larger number. They are those who like to “cash-in” on the daring and non-conforming Beats. Having money in their pockets, they think they can out-buy, out-bid and out-sex the Beats. The few homos in this tribe of week-enders are of the timid sort who can’t make it in their own everyday world and in despair hope to find “satisfaction” in the world of the beat generation. …

There is a distinction to be made between the beat-homo and the nonbeat. The beat-homo has no inhibitions. Within his own consciousness he has accepted himself and is completely integrated. He is not fighting himself, much less the rest of the world. This applies to the male as well as the female of the species. He doesn’t give one god damn what the world thinks about him. Like the rest of the beat generation he simply wants to be left alone. He has closed his mental door to the rat-race. He has cut himself off from the shams and shamans of the competitive world. He is usually of the aesthetic type, psychologically, not necessarily so physically.

I have seen some gangling seamen and longshoremen, truck drivers, woodsmen and cement-construction workers, that would surprise all hell out of you when you listen to their conversation. In their particular fields of interest and study they are extraordinarily well informed. There is one chap I am thinking of who has been a seaman all his life, who can keep you spell-bound when telling about the “history of erotica”. Another, a female, could write a book about the world’s historic prostitutes and how they have influenced political thought. Still another homo-beat has been in several mental institutions under observation, but can reel off anything you want to know about the religions of the Orient. Of course, I am speaking of the real Beats, the ones who have severed all ties with the square world, as far as it is humanly possible to do, and still live.

It has been said that Allen Ginsberg is the St. Peter of the beat generation. He has been quoted in the New York Post (3-13-59) as saying: “I sleep, with men and with women. I am neither queer nor not queer, nor am I bi-sexual. My name is Allen Ginsberg and I sleep with whoever I want.” It has been my experience in discussing life in general with a considerable number of Beats, that these words of Allen Ginsberg voice quite accurately the opinions of the majority of the real Beats.

Maxey went on to describe two “Beat-homos” that he had been counseling. The first was “Tom Doe,” who had been kicked out of the Army when they found out he was gay. Saddled with a less-than-honorable discharge, he had trouble finding steady work. He lost his home, turned to alcohol, and “ended up three months later on a pad in Beatnik-land.” After discovering Maxey’s book, Doe underwent counseling with Maxey, with some considerable success:

When finally he was able to stop his self·deception and admit to himself he was what he was, all other matters took their proper place. When this bug-a-boo was disposed of and he could see his “whole self”, not just the phantom side, it was not long before he had re-established himself. However, he still thinks of himself as a Beatnik and has never moved away from Beatnik-land. At present, after much struggling and hardship he owns and operates a “shop” making a moderate living off the “squares” that come to stare at the Beats.

The second example, that of “Jim Doe,” probably is a better portrayal of a true San Francisco “Beat-homo”:

As stated previously he contended homosexuality was not his problem. He freely and frankly admitted to such tendency. When we met he was quite outspoken and wasted no words in getting to the situation that was disturbing him. He lived with a man and a girl in Beatnik-land; was contemplating going to art school and was quite talented in music and painting. He had been successful to the extent of having sold two of his compositions and one oil painting for a quite tidy sum of money. He claimed that his social relations were excellent with the other Beatniks and that generally speaking they liked him. What was his problem? Doubt. Underneath all the social relationships there was ever present a constant fear of someone betraying him. Of misplaced confidence. He never completely trusted anyone. Basically, when he got right down to the subject he was so damn lonesome, at nights after social events he usually went home alone, locked himself in his room and cried.

Doubt was his problem. First, I learned that he really doubted himself. After considerable discussion with Jim, I came to the conclusion his acceptance of his homosexuality was not as he made it appear. From his reading of abnormal phychology he wondered about his sex. As he said to me, “Am I a man or a woman?” “Who really was my father?” (He had never been able to find a birth record.) “Have I ever loved anyone?” “Does anything have any real meaning — or is life just an illusion?” “Dare I really trust anyone, completely?” “Must I go through all my life in doubt?” “The only reason I’m a Beatnik is that none of them try to pry into my personal life … I can get along with the other Beatniks because they don’t ask ‘personal questions’ “.

Naturally it took considerable time and effort to bring about a change in his outlook on life. After exploring the various psychological “excuses” he presented for his condition, we assumed none were satisfactory by way of explanation. He had experienced a rotten home life in his youth. So have thousands of people. Examples were cited of heroic characters who began in pot-sheds. Switching to the existentialist treatment, in a few words I made it clear to him quoting from Jean-Paul Sartre: “Whereas the existentialist says that the coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is always the possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being a hero. What counts is the total commitment, and it is not by a particular case or particular action that you are committed altogether.”

…The final outcome in Jim Doe’s story is interesting. He met a girl named Dora, a confirmed Lesbian. They got married and now have two children, a boy and a girl. Jim still says he is an homosexual and Dora affirms she is still a Lesbian, and they both live in Beatnik-land.

Maxey observed that there were several general similarities between the Beat Generation and the so-called “Lost Generation,” the group of artists of the inter-war years which included Earnest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But…

I think the Lost Generation placed more emphasis on the social and civil liberties interests than the Beats are doing. I think the beat generation is more nude than the Lost Generation was. There is little to discover among the Beatniks. As a matter of fact, they have a certain amount of juvenile crudeness in their art work and writing, with exceptions of course. They, the Beats, are not forced to starve while many · of the Lost Generation were, during the long siege of the depression.

However, with all their vices and virtues if they can teach the world by example the evils of social conformity, I feel they will go down in history as having made a worthwhile contribution.

[Source: Wallace de Ortega Maxey. "The Homosexual and the Beat Generation" ONE 7, no. 7 (July 1959): 5-9. ]

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?

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Eric Payne
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Hey, all.

I’m back.

I checked myself out of the hospital Friday night, against medical advice, after five days in the ICUS.

Last Friday morning, I apparently had another heart attack, which set off some strange responses in my body that, apparently, the docs just couldn’t understand, or get a handle on. And what I was most afraid of happened: Bill was completely marginalized by all but my cardiologist. At one point, in an incident that angered the hell out of me, an RN called one of my sisters (getting the number from my iPhone while I was unconscious) to talk with her as my “next of kin.”

That brought on a daily check-in from two of my sisters, neither of whom I’ve had contact with since the death of my father in 2010, and before that, since the early 1980s.

So, when they got me stabilized and moved to a room, I checked myself out, called a cab, and came home… and slept for the last 2 days.

It’s been a pretty wild two weeks, and I’m reasonably certain I’ll be persona non-grata tomorrow at my cardiologist’s office, but it’s good to be home.

Stephen
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Welcome home, Eric.

I would have thought that your cardiologist owes you an apology that he didn’t make clear to the hospital about your next-of-kin.

Richard Rush
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Eric, thanks for the update. I’m glad you’re home.

After a patient designates a specific person as decision-maker, it seems mindless, primitive, and arrogant for anyone to insist that someone else must be “next of kin” simply because they share the same mom and/or dad, as if that fact has established a meaningful relationship. No law/rule/policy should be allowed to supersede a patient’s designation of who makes decisions during periods of incapacitation.

Ben in Oakland
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Welcome back, Eric.

It’s herb CAEN, not Cain.

Jim Burroway
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Thanks Ben. I was using a different iMac last night and I think its more aggressive autocorrect setting got the better of me.

Welcome back Eric.

bcarter3
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

Robert Duncan had a relationship w/abstract expressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr., not Robert Downey, Sr.

Robert Downey, Sr. was a film maker who created some edgy, v funny movies, like the hilarious “Chafed Elbows” and “Putney Swope”. (Re: “Putney” Imagine if the Sterling Cooper ad agency had been taken over by black militants.)

Jim Burroway
July 21st, 2014 | LINK

I’ve corrected the error. (Can’t blame that one on spell check). My apologies.

Paul Douglas
July 22nd, 2014 | LINK

Eric,
The hospital you were in should have an ombudsman to cover patient complaints. I hope you utilize that. That is an absolutely egregious violation of your privacy and likely is a HIPPA violation as well. I would point that out to the hospital and contact the Dept of Health and Human Services:

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/psa/complaint/

I am absolutely serious about this. This is a big-time confidentiality violation and hospitals can be fined over this. Staff can be disciplined.
Go for it!

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