The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 7
August 7th, 2014
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
How’s that for a Throwback Thursday?
TODAY IN HISTORY:
► Philadelphia’s Homophile Action League Founded: 1968. Five months had passed since Philadelphia police raided Rusty’s, a bar that was popular with local Lesbians (see Mar 8). The Daughters of Bilites had organized a chapter in the City of Brotherly Love the year before, and chapter members were furious at their treatment during the raid. They were eager to directly confront the city’s political establishment, but the national organization’s rules dictated that the national board had to approve of all activities deemed “political,” especially if they involved protests. Ada Bello recalled, “It was difficult to get authorization from the administration of DOB. We couldn’t find the president — remember, it was before cell phones and email — and we felt that it was hampering our ability to react… And so we thought, ‘Why not start another organization — one whose middle name is Action!’” On August 7, 1968, the Philadelphia DOB chapter voted to dissolve itself and re-form as the Homophile Action League, or HAL. Bello and Carole Friedman announced the organization’s purpose in the first HAL newsletter:
This newly formed group, open to both men and women, has adopted the name “Homophile Action League,” and has as its main purpose “to strive to change society’s legal, social and scientific attitudes toward the homosexual in order to achieve justified recognition of the homosexual as a first class citizen and a first class human being. … “We are not a social group. We do not intend to concentrate our energies on “uplifting” the homosexual community, for such efforts would be sadly misplaced. It is our firm conviction that it is the heterosexual community which is badly in need of uplifting.
Pioneering gay rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who later joined HAL, recalled that “there hadn’t been any really concerted effort on the political scene until HAL was organized and began to attract some men.” HAL would become the main representative of the gay community to the city’s power brokers until the early 1970s, when it would, in turn, be displaced by the more aggressive Gay Liberation Front.
► James Randi: 1928. Known as “The Amazing Randi,” the Canadian-born magician turned debunker took up magic while spending thirteen months in a body cast following a bicycle accident. He dropped out of school at 17 to join the carnival circuit and performed as a psychic in Toronto nightclubs. But when he recognized that some of the tricks of the trade were being presented as supernatural, he decided to blow the lid off of the scams.
Among his earlier revelations was in the late 1960s, when he “wrote” a successful astrological column by cutting up other astrological columns and randomly assigning those predictions to astrological signs and dates. In 1972, Randi seized the skeptics’ spotlight by publicly challenging the claims of Uri Geller, a popular performer of the television talk show circuit, famous for supposedly bending spoons telepathically. Randi claimed Geller used standard magic tricks to perform his paranormal feats and demonstrated how Geller performed his stunts. Geller sued Randi for $15 million for defamation, and lost.
Randi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, later renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Over the years, he has tackled psychics, UFOs, faith healers, psychic surgeons, and other charlatans. In one bizarre episode, a believer in psychic phenomenon refused to be persuaded and tried to turn the tables on Randi. When Randi was demonstrating Geller’s spoon-bending tricks, an audience member shouted, “You’re a fraud because you’re pretending to do these things through trickery, but you’re actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it.” An atheist, Randi has a special empathy for victims of religious scams and faith healers, and was instrumental in exposing W.V. Grant, Earnest Angley, and Peter Popoff, who Randi exposed live on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show in 1986.
Randi became a U.S. citizen in 1987. Since then, he’s recovered from two major bouts with cancer, and in 2010 he came out as gay after seeing the 2008 biopic Milk. During an appearance at an annual skeptics’ convention in 2013, Randi announced that he and his partner of 27 years had just gotten married in Washington D.C.
► Christian Chávez: 1983. Fans of Mexican telenovelas will recognize him as Giovanni Méndez López in the 2004-2006 series Rebelde. The plot centered around a group of high school students at a private boarding school in Mexico City who formed a pop band. Several cast members including Chávez went on to form a real two-time Latin Grammy nominated band known as RBD.
In March 2007, a magazine published photos of Chávez getting married to his Canadian boyfriend. He promptly acknowledged his homosexuality, asking his fans for their understanding and acceptance. But in true pop music fashion, Chávez and his husband divorced in 2009 after an apparently stormy two years, complete with rumors of domestic violence.
In 2013, Los Angeles Real Estate Agent Ben Kruger, who had been dating Chávez for at least a year, called 911 and obtained a restraining order after reporting that Chávez had tried to kill him with a knife during a domestic altercation. The ensuing publicity led to Univision’s decision to scuttle a planned talk show that Chávez was to host. Later that year, Chávez tweeted photos and posted on YouTube in which he said that he had attempted suicide. Soon after, Kruger released details about their relationship which included drug abuse, violence, suicide attempts and financial problems.
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?