The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 26

Jim Burroway

April 26th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Philadelphia, PA (Black Pride); Phuket, Thailand; Port St. Lucie, FL; Potsdam, Germany; Tokyo, Japan.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL.

Other Events This Weekend: Hill Country Ride for AIDS, Austin, TX; GayCharlotte Film Festival, Charlotte, NC; Rodeo In the Rock, Little Rock, AR; White Party; Palm Springs, CA; Splash, South Padre Island, TX.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Dallas/Fort Worth Gay News, April 20, 1984, page 9.

From Dallas/Fort Worth Gay News, April 20, 1984, page 9.

Deputy Undersecretary of State Carlisle H. Humelsine (left) with fellow Marylander, Gov. William Preston Lane (D)

Deputy Undersecretary of State Carlisle H. Humelsine (left) with fellow Marylander, Gov. William Preston Lane (D)

65 years ago: State Department Escalates Gay Purge: 1950. Two months earlier, Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy revealed in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee that the State Department had gotten rid of 91 employees accused of being homosexual (see Feb 28). At first, his comments almost slipped by unnoticed, but the revelation became more prominent in the growing public feud between Peurifoy and Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), who was just beginning to stake his career on what would become the Red and Lavender Scares. Pretty soon, national conservative pundits picked up on Peurifoy’s mention of the 91 homosexuals, and it seems that just about everyone had already forgotten about all of those Communists who were allegedly floating around in government (see Mar 21Mar 23, Mar 24, Apr 14). Meanwhile, Peurifoy was appointed ambassador to Greece and Carlisle H. Humelsine took over his post at the State Department. In testimony made public on April 26, Humelsine told the House Appropriations Committee that the State Department’s purge was continuing, with the number forced out rising to 148 since 1947 with eleven more under investigation.

“There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind and there is no doubt as far as the State Department is concerned, that a homosexual is a security risk,” Humelsine told the panel. “We treat homosexuals as security risks. We are not attempting to run a campaign of going after people because of the fact that they have an illness. I think homosexuality is a type of illness. A homosexual, in my opinion, is just as sick as a person who has a cancer or some other disease. But it is absolutely apparent to us that these people are also security risks and we want them off our rolls. And we are going to get them off our rolls.”

65 YEARS AGO: Australian Judge in Adelaide Sentences Nine for Homosexual Offenses: 1950b. And The Advertiser was there to record all of the details, including the names and addresses of the eight men who pleaded guilty to various charges of “homosexual offences.” Two were sentenced to twelve months for “unnatural offence with each other,” another got eight months for “unnatural office with another man,” and five got four months for “gross indecency with another man.” A ninth man was ordered to pay a ” two year bond of £25 with two £25 sureties, not to associate with homosexuals or persons of bad character.”

The Advertiser, which was little more than a scandal sheet, didn’t provide much information about how the men had been arrested. In fact, The Advertiser didn’t even bother to name the judge, although the defendants were identified in detail. But this 2012 paper by Dino Hodge provides considerable more context. After World War II,  the city experienced what Hodge describes as ” a flowering of Adelaide’s homosexual world” which ran headlong against the growing cold war worries over such “subversives” as unionists, peace activists and gay men. South Australian Police Commissioner William Johns established the Subversive Section which investigated allegedly subversive activity and maintained detailed secret records on thousands of people through the 1978, when a judicial inquiry finally ordered the files destroyed.

In 1948, police began what local gay men would later remember as “the blitz,” a four year campaign of harassment, intimidation, beatings and arrests of gay people and anyone suspected of being gay. Adelaide’s gay life centered mostly on private parties held in peoples’ homes. Bert Hines, who lived above his lampshade shop in central Adelaide, was one such host. He had been hosting parties since at least 1933, and had seen his parties raided by police several times. Before the war, those raids were mostly relaxed, with good natured-bantering between the police and Hines. But a 1950 raid was considerably different. One of those arrested later recalled:

“This is the first time this had ever happened … And of course, each one dobbed the other in. … It snowballed and snowballed. … But it wasn’t anything to do [with] the connection with Bertha, they were just individual charges, but the police linked it to the shop. … There was hundreds questioned, but they … were older people who had a bit more brains than the kids that they charged.”

On passing sentence, the judge who Hodge identified as Justice George Ligertwood, remarked, “It must have come as a shock to the citizens of Adelaide to learn that there were centres of homosexuality in this city. Such practices have always been regarded as abhorrent to public decency and have been treated in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act as serious crimes. Whatever psychology may say about this class of offender, my duty is to carry out the law and to impose sentences which will act as a deterrent to others, who are minded to commit homosexual crimes. …In the majority of the cases,  the sentences will be light. They will not however be taken as precedents for the future. If, after the warning of the present sentences, the offences are found to recur much heavier penalties will ensue.”

As I said, eight of the nine were sentenced to jail, and their names, ages and addresses were published in the papers. One of those jailed later committed suicide. As for Bery Hines, locals later said that he was among many others who “simply fled town for Melbourne or Sydney, some never to return.” Hodge added: “The lampshade shop scandal was the first of three court cases within a few years which were highly-publicised and considered by some to be held up as a warning for the culture to reduce its profile and activities.”

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?

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