The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 24
July 24th, 2014
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Ft. Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Gay Day at Valley Fair and Soak City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
The Mattachine Society of Buffalo published The Fifth Freedom from 1970 until 1983. On March 10, 1973, Don Michaels wrote about the difficulties gay bars had in staying open:
The Bar Issue by Don Michaels
The gay bar situation in Buffalo has never been good. Whenever a new bar opens, the first question in everyone’s mind is “How long will it stay open?” The Vice Squad and the S.L.A. have closed so many bars in the past several years that it seems like they’re plating a game of musical chairs.
Mattachine has, in the past, taken a “hands off” attitude toward the problems of the bars. However, it is now apparent that due to the backward policies of the Buffalo Police Vice Squad and the State Liquor Authority, an atmosphere has been created at the gay bar level that is clearly oppressive to any gay person that wishes to use the bars to giver expression in to their social needs. Bar closings by Vice Squad/S.L.A. actions and subsequent overreaction by other bar owners to these closings, by instituting policies of “no touch-no slow dancing,” has created an intolerable situation for all of us.
Less than four decades later, the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage took place just a few miles away in Niagara Falls.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
► New Yorkers Begin Marrying: 2011. Shortly after the stroke of midnight, Niagara Falls mayor Paul Dyster pronounced Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd spouses for life as the world-famous falls in the background were lit in rainbow hues.
At about the same time, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings presided over the wedding of Dale Getto and Barb Lavin in the Common Council’s chambers. And with that, New Yorkers began to celebrate the arrival of marriage equality in the Empire State. On this date, New York became the most populous state in the union providing marriage equality for all of its citizens.
When New York City officials announced that they would open their doors on Sunday for the first day of marriage equality, they worried that high demand would overload city clerk’s offices throughout the city. To manage the demand, they had established a lottery for 764 slots. But on Thursday before the big day, officials announced that they would be able to issue licenses for all 823 couples who applied for the slots. New York law provides for a 24-hour waiting period after obtaining a license before they can marry, but judges from around the state volunteered to be available at registrars’ offices to offer that exemption.
► Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury: 1951. In 1984, just one year after being elected as Member of the British Parliament on the Labour ticket, Smith became the first MP to come out as gay at his own choosing. There had been a few other MP’s who had been involuntarily outed, typically as a result of a scandal. But Smith did so voluntarily, during a pro-gay rally in Rugby, Warwickshire, protesting a proposed ban on gay employees by the town council. Smith did came out during his self-introduction at the rally: “”Good afternoon, I’m Chris Smith, I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. I’m gay, and so for that matter are about a hundred other members of the House of Commons, but they won’t tell you openly.”
That revelation did little to impede his political progress. Smith became Labour opposition whip in 1986, shadow Treasury minister in 1987, shadow environment minister in 1992, shadow secretary for National Heritage in 1994, and shadow secretary for Social Security in 1995. When Labour won the general election in 1997, Smith served as Tony Blair’s first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport through 2001, making him the first openly gay Cabinet Minister. He stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2005 general election, and was rewarded for his services with a life peerage in the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury. In 2008, he was appointed chairman of the Environment Agency. He is stepping down as chairman this year, following controversy over the Agency’s handling of the massive flooding that took place in Somerset earlier this year.
► Gus Van Sant: 1952. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Sant’s traveling salesman father moved the family around through much of his childhood. One thing remained constant though, and it was the young Van Sant’s interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. He enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study painting, but he switched to cinema after being introduced to avant-garde films. Since avant-garde films were never much of a money-maker, Van Sant became familiar with some of the more derelict areas along Hollywood Boulevard, and 1985’s Mala Noche, the story of a doomed love affair between a gay store clerk and a Mexican immigrant, was the first of many films touching on the fringes of society. 1989’s Drugstore Cowboy and 1991’s My Own Private Idaho became signature films which established Van Sant as a director to be taken seriously.
His 1993 flop, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, very nearly unraveled his career, but 1995’s To Die For (starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix), his first major studio production for Columbia, set the stage for his move into the mainstream. Good Will Hunting, starring and written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, earned Van Sant a Best Director Oscar nomination. His remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was considerably less successful. His decision to re-create Hitchcock’s film shot-for-shot in color instead of black and white left everyone scratching their heads. Since then, he has returned to art-house films, including Elephant (a fictional film inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting) earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. He returned to the mainstream again in 2008 with his biopic Milk about the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Again, Van Sant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. (He lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.)
► Kirk Andrew Murphy: 1965-2003. For nearly four decades, Kirk was known only as “Kraig,” but under that pseudonym he was well known among behavioral therapists who were trying to prevent homosexuality and transgender identities in very young children. The seeds for “Kraig’s” fame were planted in the summer of 1970, when Kirk’s mother saw a television program featuring famed sexologist Dr. Richard Green describing a new federally-funded treatment program at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She listened to his spiel about the dangers of effeminate boys growing up to become homosexual, and she worried that her own young son was headed for trouble. So a month before his fifth birthday, she him to UCLA where Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. Ten months later, five-year-old Kirk was declared to be rid of his “severe gender identity disturbance,” and Kirk’s case would help Rekers earn his Ph.D. in 1972.
Two years later, Rekers published his case report of “Kyle” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, where he described “Kyle’s” treatment and the astounding “success.” This was the first time anyone had reported curing a young child’s budding homosexuality or transgenderism — no one was ever quite sure what it was they though they saw in Kirk — and that paper became one of the more widely-cited papers in the late 1970s. Kirk’s case launched Rekers’s career, first as an acclaimed or controversial young psychologist (depending on one’s point of view at the time), and later as a significant anti-gay activist when he co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983. Throughout Rekers’s career he would write at least twenty papers describing Kirk’s case as an example of the power of his treatment program to prevent homosexuality and transgender identity in very young children. The most recent publication touting “Kraig’s” supposedly successful cure appeared in a 2009 book promoted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), where Rekers served on its Scientific Advisory Committee. Of course, all of that was before Rekers was discovered returning from a European vacation in the company of a male escort in 2010.
But it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the truth about “Kraig” would finally emerge. Our award winning original BTB investigation revealed that Kirk’s therapy was highly abusive; that contrary to Rekers’s persistent reports, Kirk was not straight; that Kirk struggled all his life with the shame that his treatment at UCLA had been instilled in him; and that his struggle finally ended with his suicide in December of 2003. If Kirk were alive today, he would be 49 years old. His is still deeply missed by his mother, brother, sister and friends.
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?