The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, March 31

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, special San Francisco travel section  page 24.

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, special San Francisco travel section page 24.

 Off-Duty SF Police Officers Assault Lesbian Bar: 1979. A group of burly young men, most of them drunk, had gotten off a streetcar at 11th Avenue and Gear in San Francisco’s Richmond neighborhood. They were loud and obnoxious, some of them were carrying open beer containers — itself an illegal act. Alene Levine, who was working the door at Peg’s Place, saw that they were already drunk and carrying open containers, and blocked their way into the bar. As them men milled about outside talking about about “getting the dykes,” Levine noticed that two women were at the  door and were trying to get in. Fearing for their safety, Levine let them in, and the men pushed their way in. Other bar employees and patrons met them at the door and an argument broke out, which quickly escalating in shouting and pushing. When one of the women threatened to call the cops, the guy doing the pushing responded, “We’re the cops, and we’ll do as we damn please.”

In fact, the men, who were out celebrating a bachelor party for their friend, included San Francisco off-duty officers. A general melee broke out as patrons rushed to defend the door, armed with pool cues. One officer beat bar owner Erlinda Symaco so badly she was hospitalized for ten days due to severe head injuries. A police lieutenant arrived, and promptly began investigating — the bar, carefully checking all of the bar’s licenses and permits, and accusing the bartender of being drunk.

The lieutenant refused to believe that his officers could be at fault, and he refused to take any statements from witnesses in the bar. But in fact, the officers’ actions were part of a much larger trend. Police had been hassling, and sometimes beating and/or arresting customers as they tried to enter gay bars. In January, police officers assaulted and arrested two women as they left a lesbian bar in the Mission. To make matters worse, they were strip searched at the jail. Mary L. Spencer, president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Organization of Women, called the Peg’s Place incident part of “a repetitious pattern of abuse, brutalitv and harassment by the San Francisco Police Department of women and of the racial and ethnic minorities of this City.”

The Peg’s Place assaults quickly became a major story in the local press, and gay leaders pressed Mayor Dianne Feinstein to address the growing problems. Their frustration grew as Feinstein waited two full weeks before issuing a statement calling for the prosecution of the policemen involved. One of the officers was eventually charged, tried, and convicted of battery. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $1,000. But the problems continued to fester. Resentments in the gay community grew as police harassment continued without letup. Anger finally boiled over less than two months later, when former city Supervisor Dan White was sentenced to a paltry seven years for shooting San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT advocate Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Gays rioted at City Hall and police rioted in the Castro, in what became known as the “White Night Riots” (see May 21).

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King: “Homophobia Is Like Racism and Anti-Semitism”: 1998. Lambda Legal was celebrating its 25th anniversary at a gathering in Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton. Coretta Scott-King, widow of civil rights icon the Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., was there to help celebrate Lambda Legal’s achievements. Speaking just four days before the thirtieth anniversary of her husband’s assassination, noted that the civil rights movement “thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion,” and said that her husband’s struggles were similar to hose of the gay rights movement:

For many years now, I have been an outspoken supporter of civil and human rights for gay and lesbian people. … I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people, and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.

Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence, that spreads all too easily to victimize the next minority group.

Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the civil rights movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions.

 Sergei Diaghilev: 1872-1929. The Russian-born art patron and connoisseur forever changed the world of modern ballet when he founded the revolutionary Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909. Three years earlier, Diaghilev had mounted a major exhibition of Russian art in Paris, which he followed with a series of concerts of Russian music and a production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Paris Opéra. When he returned to Paris again in 1909 with a troupe of dancers led by his lover, Vaslav Nijinsky, they performed all new works with innovative set designs and choreography. His four-week run was a smashing success.

In subsequent years, Ballets Russes became known for breaking all of the rules. The violently sexual Scheherazade, based on a symphonic poem by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, so outraged the composer’s widow that she protested in open letters which Diaghilev published. His debut of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913, with its insistent rhythms and dissonant score and the highly unconventional choreography set off a riot in the theater on opening night. Diaghilev was delighted at the controversy, telling Stravinsky that it was “exactly what I wanted.”

Ballets Russes collaborated with wide-ranging artists as composers Claude Debussy, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss and Erik Satie, and artists Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Georges Rouault, and Max Ernst as designers. It also launched the careers of George Balanchine, Ninette de Valois, and Serge Lifar.

Diaghilev was always very open about his homosexuality. It’s largely the reason he abandoned pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg for the more permissive climes of Paris. Composer Nicolas Nabokov said, “he was perhaps the first grand homosexual who asserted himself and was accepted as such by society.” He was also a very passionate man in everything he did. Diaghilev’s affair with Nijinsky was perhaps the most famous gay affair in Europe until Nijinsky married in 1913. Diaghilev promptly fired him. Diaghilev then turned to Léonide Massine, who he coached into becoming a great dancer and one of the more important choreographers of the century. They were together until Massine married in 1920. Diaghilev promptly fire him also.

While Ballets Russes was both a critical and artistic success, it was never a financial one. Diaghilev barely kept the company afloat, and it never found a permanent home any time in its two decade existence. When he died in Venice of diabetes in 1929, his friend had to pay the hotel bill. Ballet Russes folded upon Diaghilev’s death.

 Richard Chamberlain: 1934. He first became famous in 1961 as the handsome young intern, Dr. Kildare, in the television series of the same name, a role that lasted until the series ended in 1966. From there, he became involved in repertory theater and film roles which had a more literary bent: The Tree Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Music Lovers, and The Lady Carline Lamb (his 1974 appearance in The Towering Inferno being a notable departure.) He returned to television in the 1970s in several popular miniseries, including Centennial, Shōgun, and The Thorn Birds as Father Ralph de Bricassart. He lived in Hawaii with his partner, Martin Rabbett, from 1976 to 2010; and it was during that time that he was outed by a French women’s magazine in 1989. While that outing didn’t really stick very well with the general public, it didn’t surprise many people when Chamberlain finally and officially came out in 2003 in his autobiography Shattered Love. In 2010, he advised actors who sought leading-man roles to remain in the closet. “Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, its still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”

 75 YEARS AGO: Barney Frank: 1940. He represented Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional district from 1981 until his retirement in 2012, and he did so as an openly gay representative since 1987. When he came out to The Advocate that year, he became the first member of Congress to do so voluntarily. He recalled that when Rep. Stewart McKinney of Connecticut died of complications from AIDS (McKinney’s physician claimed that McKinney became infected from a blood transfusion, but many didn’t believe it.), there was “an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?’ I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.” After coming out, Frank easily won re-election in 1988 and in just about every election since then.

He earned a reputation for being one of the House’s quickest wits, saying, for example, that he was unable to finish reading the Starr Report about President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky because it was “too much reading about heterosexual sex.” In 2006, Rep. John Ostettler (R-IN) accused Frank of pushing a “radical homosexual agenda.” Frank responded to that charge by point out, “I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.” He married his partner, Jim Ready, in July of 2012, making Frank the first gay-married Congressman in history. He retired from politics on January 1, 2013, and released his memoir Frank earlier this month.

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).

This your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Fritz Keppler

March 31st, 2015

The Tree Musketeers? Only in Brooklyn. And Noo Awlins.


March 31st, 2015

An LGBT issue I didn’t even know existed!
I’ll set out my understanding of the Xtra posting.

1. In 1986, federal legislation was enacted to ensure workplace equality for four groups – women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of “visible minorities”.
2. Not included – because not considered – were LGBT people.
3. The legislation applies only to federally-regulated businesses – airlines, telecom, railways – federal agencies, crown corporations, etc. Third parties contracting with the federal government are required to have similar equity programs in place.
4. Recently, workers at York University in Toronto (which is a federal contractor) negotiated the addition of LGBT community to be the fifth group in York’s equity program.

Thirty years later, only one of the existing four groups – visible minorities – is exceeding “Labour Market Availability”. The report covers 772,480 employees or 4.3% of the Canadian workforce.

My first reaction is positive – by counting and reporting “LGBT Market Availability” and “Representation”, we’ll know more about LGBT participation generally.

The second is to wonder at how the data can be collected. The third is to wonder how extensively LGBT recruits and employees are discriminated against in Federal agencies and regulated industries. (See my first reaction!)

Note: Transgender rights continue to be excluded from Federal Human Rights legislation by Conservative party interference. Similarly, don’t expect any movement to add an LGBT class to the federal legislation.

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