The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 27
August 27th, 2014
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, GA (Black Pride); Calgary, AB; Copenhagen, Denmark; Duluth, MN; Grimsby, UK; Leicester, UK; Limerick, Ireland; Münster, Germany; Québec City, QC; Oakland, CA; Reading, UK; Watford, UK.
Other Events This Weekend: Splash Days, Austin, TX; Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV; AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray AB; Show-Me State Rodeo, Kansas City, MO; Southern Decadence, New Orleans, LA; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, New Zealand; Mr. Gay World, Rome, Italy; Out in the Park at Six Flags New England, Springfield, MA.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
Polyester disco shirts, leisure suits, flared-bottom pants — what was in your closet?
TODAY IN HISTORY:
► NARTH Official Advocates Peer Shaming for Gender-Variant Elementary School Children: 2006. Once upon a time, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality thought it would be cool to jump on the cutting edge of social media in the pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter age: they started a blog, where they could remind everyone how odious their ideas were on a daily basis.
On August 27, NARTH’s resident blogger posted a brief synopsis of a story that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle about a private elementary school in Oakland that had gained a reputation for its ability to work with very young children. “They now let boys play girls and girls play boys in skits,” the Chronicle reported. “And there’s a unisex bathroom.” It went on:
Park Day’s gender-neutral metamorphosis happened over the past few years, as applications trickled in for kindergartners who didn’t fit on either side of the gender line. One girl enrolled as a boy, and there were other children who didn’t dress or act in gender-typical ways. Last year the school hired a consultant to help the staff accommodate these new students.
“We had to ask ourselves, what is gender for young children?” Hodes said. “It’s coming up more and more.”
The NARTH blogger, known only by the handle “jjohnson,” posted a link to the article, copied the first two paragraphs, and left it at that. The blog’s first comment was left by Dr. Joseph Berger, a Toronto-based psychiatrist and a member of NARTH’s Scientific Advisory Committee. It went like this:
Dr. Berger reacted to the San Francisco Chronicle article by observing:
I think that a lot of this is nonsense and is being pushed by people who have an agenda to disrupt society in order to further some perverted goals such as the acceptance of pedophilia, and, of course, the attempted “normalization” of homosexuality.
From a medical/scientific perspective, the notion of a child of five being “transgendered” is absolute garbage. This is a child wanting attention and wanting to play “dress-up,” with an added layer of unhappiness.
That essentially is the issue for most of these children. They are unhappy. They don’t have a “biological” based “gender identity disorder.” They are unhappy; they have an envy of certain aspects of the opposite sex role – and wish to pursuit it for as long as they can.
Tolerant parents, tolerant schools, tolerant societies, might let them get away with it. No one should be surprised that avant-garde California or sun-drenched Florida should be places where the tolerance is highest.
Here in cold Canada, I often talk with mothers of small children who routinely complain about how difficult it is to get their children dressed in the winter in the multiple layers of clothing they need to go off to school. I suggest to them that they make it clear to their children that they will leave home – or that the school bus will come – at such-and-such time, and they will go whether they are ready or not. I suggest that going just one day in their pajamas or underwear will be enough to “cure” them of their procrastination.
I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.
On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.
Berger closed his post with a parting shot directed toward the parents of gender-variant children: “I am sure that if we looked carefully, we could find some significant personal issues and aberrations in the parents of these children.” Berger’s comments soon attracted the attention of mental health professionals and gay rights groups. Jack Drescher, former chair of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, responded:
NARTH has a long tradition of encouraging antigay social disapproval as a form of prevention, it should come as no surprise that in addition to supporting the criminalization of homosexuality and denying gay adults full civil rights, NARTH would support teasing by other children as a way to promote gender conformity. NARTH, have you no sense of decency?”
Daniel Gonzales, a writer at Ex-Gay Watch (and later for BTB), also weighed in: “Regardless if a child’s gender dysphoria persists into adulthood, allowing any child with a psychological condition to be harassed because of that condition is shameful. I’m most shocked and dismayed this position is being advocated from within a professional mental health association.”
Focus On the Family and Exodus International, who jointly staged a series of ex-gay conferences around the country called “Love Won Out,” expressed their support for NARTH and its president and co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi. But Exodus president Alan Chamber, who recalled being teased for being effeminate when he was a child, later told the Los Angeles Times that Berger’s advice that children should be ridiculed “wouldn’t be something we would tolerate from someone who was part of our board. We have to be very careful about what we say and how we say it. Peoples’ emotions, hearts and even lives are at stake.”
Nicolosi finally responded to the growing controversy with a short note on August 31: “Narth disagrees with Dr. Berger’s advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting can only create greater harm. Too many of our clients experienced the often life long, harmful effects of peer shaming. We cannot encourage this.” The following day, NARTH quietly and without explanation edited Berger’s comments by deleting the three offending paragraphs. That did little to quiet the controversy. NARTH finally removed Berger’s comment, along with the entire blog thread with no further explanation. Berger remained on NARTH’s advisory committee.
► Sen. Larry Craig’s Arrest for Lewd Conduct Revealed: 2007. Just after noon on June 11, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested for trying to pick up an undercover police officer at a men’s restroom in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. According to the police report by the arresting officer (PDF: 794KB/7 pages):
IAt 1213 hours, I could see an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall. He was standing about three feet away and had a roller b with him. The male was later identified by Idaho driver’s license as Larry Edwin Craig… I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look own at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes. I was able to see Craig’s blue eyes as he looked into my stall.
At 1215 hours, the male in the stall to the left of me flushed the toilet and exited the stall. Craig entered the stall and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door. My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall. From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me. He was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes. At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area.
At 1217 hours, I saw Craig swipe his hand under the stall divider for a few seconds. The swipe went in the direction from the front (door side) of the stall back towards the back wall. His palm was facing towards the ceiling as he guided it all the stall divider. I was only able to see the tips of his fingers on my side of the stall divider. Craig swiped his hand again for a few seconds in the same motion to where I could see more of his fingers. Craig then swiped his hand in the same motion a third time for a few seconds. I could see that it was Craig’s left hand due to the position of his thumb. I could also see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.
The officer displayed his police identification under the stall divider and pointed his finger to the restroom exit. Craig said “no,” but eventually complied. At the airport police station, Craig tried to bluff his way out of trouble by handing over his business card identifying him as a U.S. Senator. “What do you think about that?” The officer wasn’t impressed, and the interview continued. According to the arrest report, “Craig stated … He has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine.” When asked if he had done anything with his feet, Craig replied that he “positioned them, I don’t know. I don’t know at the time. I’m a fairly wide guy.” Craig wound up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on August 1. He paid the $575 fine, and for the next month, it looked like the whole thing would end quietly without anyone from the press finding out.
The press found out. On August 27, Roll Call broke the story about the arrest and guilty plea. Craig’s spokesman downplayed the whole thing as a “he said/he said misunderstanding.” Craig had often positioned himself as a “values” politician. In 1989, he led a failed effort to censure and expel Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) over his roommate’s prostitution scandal. He voted against bills that would have extended the federal definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and he supported an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
This wasn’t Craig’s first “misunderstanding” about his sexual interests. Nine months earlier, Mike Rogers had outed Craig on his web site at blogactive.com. “I have done extensive research into this case, including trips to the Pacific Northwest to meet with men who have say they have physical relations with the Senator,” Rogers wrote. “I have also met with a man here in Washington, D.C., who says the same — and that these incidents occurred in the bathrooms of Union Station. None of these men know each other, or knew that I was talking to others. They all reported similar personal characteristics about the Senator, which lead me to believe, beyond any doubt, that their stories are valid.” In 1982, Craig, while a congressman, pre-emptively denied involvement with a Congressional male page sex and drug scandal, a puzzling act given that his name hadn’t yet been publicly associated with the scandal.
And so it would only be natural for the press to have a field day with the latest news. On August 28, the Idaho Statesman published a story that included three allegations of Craig’s homosexuality going back to 1967. One man said that Craig had cruised him at an REI store in Boise. Another reported to have had oral sex with Craig at a men’s room in Washington’s Union Station, just north of the Capital building. That same day that the Statesman article came out, Craig held a press conference in Boise, Idaho, with his wife by his side, to try to quell the growing calls for his resignation:
I am not gay. I never have been gay…. In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away…. Please let me apologize to my family, friends and staff and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I did nothing wrong, and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my wife, on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans.
Those denials didn’t go far. Mitt Romney dropped Craig as a Senate liaison for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, and several GOP Senators called on Craig to resign. On September 1, Craig announced that he would resign his Senate seat at the end of the month. He then fought to withdraw his guilty plea. That request was denied. Meanwhile, Craig reversed his decision to resign his Senate seat, although he didn’t seek re-election in 2008. He finally left office when the next Congress was sworn in in 2009.
►Tom Ford: 1961. He definitely has a flair for making his own way. After studying architecture at Parsons The New School for Design, he got his first fashion design job in 1986 with American Designer Cathy Hardwick — through knowing what to say as well as what not to say. He told her that he attended The New School’s Parson division, but he didn’t bother to mention that he wasn’t an alumnus of its prestigious fashion design program. And he knew the right answer when she asked what designers he admired: Armani and Chanel. Hardwick recalled, “Months later I asked him why he said that, and he said, ‘Because you were wearing something Armani.’ Is it any wonder he got the job?”
Two years later, he moved to Perry Ellis, but he still wanted to get away from American design firms. Meanwhile, his partner, journalist Richard Buckley, had recently recovered from cancer, and the two were looking for for a drastic change of scenery. As luck would have it, Gucci was struggling and needed to overhaul its women’s ready-to-wear lines, but no major designer would come near the nearly-bankrupt firm. Ford and Buckley moved to Milan and Ford took over the women’s ready-to-wear line, and was quickly placed in charge of menswear and shoes. By 1992, he was also responsible for fragrances, image, advertising and store design, and the following year he was overseeing eleven product lines. Between 1995 and 1996, sales at Gucci nearly doubled and the company went public. When Gucci bought Yves Saint Laurent in 2000, Ford became its creative directer as well.
By 2004, Gucci was valued at $10 billion, but Ford and Gucci’s management fell into disagreements over artistic control of the group. That’s often the reason given for Ford to cash in his chips to leave Gucci. But it also marks a significant departure in Ford’s creative life as well. In March of 2005, he announced that he was opening his own film production company, and he made his directorial debut with 2009’s A Single Man, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. That same year, Ford re-entered the fashion world with the establishment of the TOM FORD brand, which opened his flagship store in New York City two years later. There are now dozens of TOM FORD stores around the world, and many of his products are available online. Ford and Buckley welcomed the arrival of their son, Alexander John Buckley Ford, in 2012. They currently split their time between homes in Los Angeles, London and Santa Fe.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?