The Daily Agenda for Saturday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Pride, Cape Town, South Africa; National Student Pride, London, UK; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From In Step, (Milwaukee, WI), February 23, 1984, page 11.

From In Step, (Milwaukee, WI), February 23, 1984, page 11.

The Finale opened in June 1975 as a friendly neighborhood bar that wound up drawing from across the city. It was known for its costume parties, which helped keep customers in the bar until closing time rather than bar-hopping around town. The Finale’s finale occurred in January 1986 after a fire gutted the bar. The building is still there, considerably spiffied up and housing a chic cafe.

In Step published these photos of that 1984 Hawaiian Shirt party:

Source. Click to enlarge.

Source. Click to enlarge.

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

65 YEARS AGO: State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals: 1950. That revelation didn’t cause much of a stir that day since Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy’s testimony came right before Secretary of State Acheson Dean Acheson’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee where he was pelted with questions about Alger Hiss. One month earlier, Hiss had been convicted of perjury when answering questions under oath about allegations that he had passed along secret government papers to a Soviet courier. The charges and Hiss’s conviction were highly controversial, and Acheson had told reporters,”I do not intend to turn my back on Alger Hiss.” Hiss’s conviction that year sealed Richard Nixon’s reputation as an anti-Communist fighter — Nixon as Congressman had chaired the House committee that brought the allegations against Hiss to light — and Sen. Joseph McCarthy gave his famous speech in Wheeling two weeks later that launched his own career as a red scare warrior.

But Peurifoy’s little-notice testimony would plant the seeds for what would later become known as the Lavender scare, although what he was trying to do was counter McCarthy’s charge in Wheeling that he had a list of 57 names “that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party.” (Some sources put that number at 205; no audio recording or transcription of the Wheeling speech survives.) Peurifoy told the Senate committee said that the State Department had already gotten rid of 202 employees since 1947 who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go “for moral weakness … Most of them were homosexual. In fact, I would say all of them were.”

Until the end of February, the nascent scare was still mostly red. Peurifoy’s testimony was almost a footnote in the papers, occupying little more than a couple of paragraphs in the larger story about Acheson’s testimony. But in the days and weeks that followed, Peurifoy’s 91 homosexuals would catch the attention of newspaper editors and columnists, and McCarthy and his supporters would quickly incorporate lavender into the budding red scare.

Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824-1882. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

Pedro Zamora: 1972 (Feb 29) -1994. When MTV debuted The Real World in 1992, it gave us so-called reality television as we know it today — so-called because it’s hard to see how putting eight attractive young people in a hip loft-like apartment with television crews, hidden cameras, and make-work jobs could be considered “reality.” But in 1994, things really did start getting real when Pedro Zamora, the Cuban-American gay man revealed that he was HIV positive to his housemates by showing them his scrapbook of his four years as an AIDS educator and advocate. In fact, it was this vocation which inspired him to audition for The Real World’s third season. As the season progressed, housemates (and viewers) became more aware of the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, attended some of Pedro’s AIDS education lectures, celebrated with him as he and his partner exchanged vows during a commitment ceremony, and watched as he dealt with his own deteriorating health as the season progressed.

Taping ended in June 19, 1994 and the first episodes aired a week later. As the season aired, Pedro’s declining health prevented him from participating in any publicity appearances. In August, he checked into St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. There he was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, one of the many opportunistic infections that many people with AIDS suffered, which causes fatigue, headaches and confusion. After three weeks, he was flown home to Miami to be with his family. He died on November 11, 1994, a day after the final episode of The Real World aired. President Bill Clinton praised Pedro, saying that because of his example, “no one in America can say they’ve never known someone who is living with AIDS.”

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?

Eric M

February 28th, 2015

However ridiculous The Real World was as a concept, to me as a pre-teen and young teenager it was endlessly fascinating as a form of both entertainment through contrived drama and an example of the behavioral norms of young adults.

The year Pedro was on was the last year I really watched it (I was 13) and it was my first exposure to an actual gay man living openly among his ‘peers’. It was also the first time I saw how consistent bullying over being openly gay could manifest itself. Though it was tame in comparison to much of what took place in the real real world, it was still shocking and upsetting to watch.

For all of its faults, that season of the show was quite an eye opener. I doubt I’m alone among my generation in finding it meaningful in that way.

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