May 29th, 2015
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; Bradford, UK; Ferndale, MI; Geneva, NY; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Malta; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Söderhamn, Sweden.
Other Events This Weekend: Film Out, San Diego, CA; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
“Is DC becoming the gay capital of America?” That’s what The Washingtonian magazine asked in 1980. The evidence was there for anyone with eyes to see: gays were a major voting block for Mayor Marion Barry (when Barry was a pro-gay politician), police harassment had largely died down, and gay visibility was increasing with businesses catering to the pink dollar — including four gay bars near DuPont Circle alone! Rascals was one of the four named, along with Mr. P’s, the Fraternity House, and Friends. “The waiting line outside Rascals is all male,” the sharp-eyed Washingtonian observed. Rascals was a popular show and dance club for about a decade. The building also included Shooters, a male strip club, upstairs.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
► Second White House Protest: 1965. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s there, does it make a sound? That’s the kind of question that may have been on the minds of members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. following the first ever protest in front of the White House for gay rights the month before (see Apr 17). The group decided not to publicize that hour-long protest in advance because they didn’t want to give the police time to invent a reason to block their demonstration. But that also meant that there were no reporters or news cameras there either. As far as everyone outside the little group knew, it simply didn’t happen. But as Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Washington chapter recalled, the protest “went so well that we immediately decided to do a repeat, with advance publicity.” This time, they decided on a three-prong approach to get the word out: they sent a news release to major news outlets, handed out a mimeographed leaflet to passersby during the demonstration, and sent a follow-up release to news media after the protest ended.
Thirteen people showed up with picket signs, and this time there was considerable press coverage, including brief mentions in The New York Times, The Washington Star, the Associated Press, United Press International, and ABC television, whose East Coast viewers saw a line of respectable men (in jackets and ties) and ladies (in heels and skirts), protesting according to the dictates handed down by Kameny (“If you’re asking for equal employment rights, look employable!”). This protest would establish a pattern for future gay rights protests for the next four years.
► “Polyester” Premieres: 1981. The John Waters film Polyester made its debut on the silver screen. Divine (see Oct 19) once again starred, this time as Francine Fishpaw, a suburban housewife whose world is thrown into chaos when her pornographer husband declares he’s been unfaithful, her daughter becomes pregnant, and her son is accused of breaking local women’s feet as part of his fetish. Nineteen-fifties heartthrob Tab Hunter (see Jul 11) appeared near the end as lounge-suit-wearing Todd Tomorrow who swept Francine off her sweep and proposed marriage — only to plot with Francine’s mother to embezzle her divorce settlement and drive her insane.
The film was notable for a unique technological breakthrough: it was presented in “Odorama,” in which theatergoers were handed scratch-and-sniff cards so they could smell along with the action. One of those odors was feces, leaving Waters delighted with the thought that his audiences actually “pay to smell shit.” Despite the film’s positive reception — it even got a positive review at The New York Times — it remains a scandal that Polyester has yet to earn any major cinematic awards.
► Barney Frank Comes Out: 1987. Barney Frank became only the second member of Congress to confirm that he was gay, and the first to do so wholly voluntarily, when he told a Boston Globe reporter:
“If you ask the direct question: ‘Are you gay?’ the answer is yes. So what? I’ve said all along that if I was asked by a reporter and I didn’t respond it would look like I had something to hide and I don’t think I have anything to hide.”
Rep. Frank said that the disintegration of Gary Hart’s presidential campaign earlier that month over reports of his extra-marital relationship with a young model, and the recent revelation that Rep. Stewart B. McKinney of Connecticut had died of AIDS, had prompted his decision to come out. Of McKinney, Frank said 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.” On May 31, the Globe reported that most of his constituents were unperturbed by his announcement, and many were unsurprised.
► 1o YEARS AGO: “Current Mood: Depressed”: 2005. Remember MySpace, the first large-scale social media site? Remember how posts began with the writer’s current mood? It was typically located right under the post’s title. In this case, the title was, “The World Coming To An Abrupt Stop,” and it was written by sixteen-year-old Zach, who had plenty of reasons to feel depressed. He wrote:
Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay. This didn’t go over very well, and it ended with my dad crying, my mom tearing, and me not knowing what I’d done – or what to do. It kind of.. went away for about a week or two I think. They claim it’s because they didn’t want to interfere with my last week or two of school.
Yesterday they told me that I couldn’t go anywhere until I got a job. Out of the blue. Because I’m the most irresponsible child my dad knows – as he told me – mainly because I forget to unload the dishwasher sometimes… it doesn’t matter that I have to clean up after my sisters and myself everyday. It just doesn’t.
Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long “talk” in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they “raised me wrong.” I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs – and I can’t help it.
I wish I had never told them. I wish I just fought the urge two more years… I had done it for three before then, right? If I could take it all back.. I would, to where I never told my parents things and they always were mad at me– It’s better than them crying and depressed cause they will have no granchildren from me. It’s better than them telling me that there’s something wrong with me. It’s better than them explaining to me that they “raised me wrong.”
By The Killers
Release date: By 15 June, 2004
The next day it only got worse:
Monday, May 30, 2005
After The World Stopped, It Gave Me A Lot Of Rules.
Current mood: worried
Yeah, I was upset yesterday.. however I found an email about the rules and regulations of the program. My parents lied to me.. they told me (29th of May) that they didn’t know what the rules were exactly, however, this email wasnt sent on the 26th of May. I see now why they “didn’t know what the rules were.” It’s horrible.. they’re posted below.. and I so worried. It’s like boot camp… but worse. I obviously was not supposed to see this.. Seeing the bottom say “Parental Rules (not to be given to client)”
What is with these people…? Honestly.. how could you support a program like this? If I do come out straight I’ll be so mentally unstable and depressed it wont matter.. I’ll be back in therapy again. This is not good–
By Kelly Clarkson
Release date: By 30 November, 2004
Zach posted the rules, giving the world first look at what the Memphis-based Love In Action residential ex-gay program was all about. The rules were staggering: hair can’t be too long or too short and can’t be colored, no Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein clothing, no contact with anyone outside the program, no cell phones, computers, or internet access. No TV, movies or “secular media.” No more than 15 minutes in the bathroom with the door closed while showering. Bedroom doors must be kept open at all times. The rules went on for several pages and were highly detailed.
As a teenager, Zach wasn’t eligible for the adult residential program. Thank God for small favors. Instead, he was sent to the youth-oriented Refuge program, a two-week day camp that would begin on June 6. Thanks to the pre-Facebook/Twitter power of MySpace, Zach’s cry to the world was quickly answered, first with comments of support and outrage over what was about to happen. Zach posted again to thank those who offered their support:
Friday, June 03, 2005
Thanks.. by the way.
Current mood: numb
Thanks. Thank you for all of the comments and messages, they mean a lot. really. I was shocked to see all of this… of course I haven’t been on a computer, phone, nor have I seen any friends in a week almost– Soon. Soon, this will be all over. My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight… three days. I went numb. That’s the only way I can get through this. I agree, if you’re thinking that these posts might be dramatized.. but the proof of the programs ideas are sitting in the rules. I pray this blows over. I can’t take this… noone can… not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject… I’m not a suicidal person… really I’m not.. I think it’s stupid – really. But.. I can’t help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It’s so horrible. This is what it’s doing to me… I have this horrible feeling all of the time… I wish this on no person… I’m so satisfied–happy’s too strong of a word the state I’m in– that everyone’s taking the time to email and write letters in complaint to these people. I dont know if it will do anything, but if something did happen it would be — awesome.
It’s been a week of torture – anger, and crying.
Current mood: worried
Hi. I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to be on. I ran away for a short while. I came back and they took everything from me, they don’t want me to have outside influences– i dont know how long im going to be on, because if tehy wake up, im screwed. The program starts June 6 and is until either teh 17th or the 20th. I’m sorry I don’t have time to write back o all of the comments and messages. I’m just here to let everyone know I am still alive, I’m sure you’ve left messages on my cellphone, they took that.. and my keys… and the computer.. and I’ve been homebound. -=sigh=- I just need this to be over. Don’t worry. I’ll get through this. They’ve promised me things will get better whether this program does anything or not. Let’s hope they aren’t lying. I’ve been through hell. I’ve been emotionally torn apart for three days… I can’t remember which days they were.. time’s not what it used to be.
Zach entered Love In Action on June 6. His friends, having seen his MySpace posts, organized a rally for him outside the facility as he showed up that morning with signs reading “It’s Okay to Be Gay” and “We Support You.” The next day, they showed up again, and the day after that and the day after that — for the next two weeks, so Zach would know he wasn’t alone. After a few days, national media began notice. Before long, the whole country learned what was happening behind the locked doors of Love In Action.
The national controversy brought a lot of unwanted attention to Love In Action. It was investigated by the state of Tennessee for child abuse and for operating a separate unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment program. Love In Action eventually settled with the state by re-casting themselves as a Christian ministry rather than as a therapeutic program. A year later, they quietly shut down their youth program.
In 2012, Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox released his documentary, This is What Love in Action Looks Like. Zach had remained out of the public eye ever since he left Love In Action, and six years later he still wasn’t giving interviews. But he did agree to appear briefly in the film.
Just as importantly, so did John Smid, Love In Action’s executive director, who by then had established an unlikely friendship with Fox. Smid credits that friendship for being instrumental in his profound change of opinions — about homosexuality, about his role in the ex-gay movement, and about himself personally. Smid resigned from Love In Action in 2008, and had written several letters of apology by 2010. In 2011, Smid wrote that change in orientation was both impossible and unnecessary. Smid and his wife divorced, and he married his current husband in 2014.
► Nancy CÃ¡rdenas: 1934-1994. The poet, playwright, journalist, theater director and social activist was born in Parras, Coahuila in Mexico. She became a noted radio announcer at the age of 20 before turning to the stage. Her interest in literature became apparent in the 1950s when she participated in a public reading program, Poetry Out Loud followed in the 1960’s with the publication of her one-act play El CÃ¡ntaro Seco (The Empty Pitcher).
In the 1970s, she became an acclaimed theater and film director. Her 1970 film, El Efecto de los Rayos Gamma Sobre las Caléndulas (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Marigolds), was a critical hit, earning the Theatre Critics Association Award. It was also very controversial for being gay themed. She drew death threats and the film was protested by the brother of then-President Luis EcheverrÃa, which was no small thing: President EcheverrÃa had been the hardline Interior Secretary during the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, when the Mexican government opened fire on protesting students ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics. But such was CÃ¡rdenas’s influence that not only was the film shown in the Mexican capital, but in a theater on Insurgentes no less — Insurgentes being one of the principal boulevards in Mexico city. It was a huge success.
She came out as a lesbian in 1974 during an interview on the public affairs television program 24 Horas. That act made her the first publicly declared lesbian in Mexico. That year she founded El Frente de LiberaciÃ³n Homosexual (FLH, the Gay Liberation Front). In 1975, she co-wrote with Carlons Monsivais the Manifiesto en Defensa de los Homosexuales en México. On October 2, 1978 as part of a commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre, she headed the first Gay Pride march in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. She continued her advocacy throughout the 1980s through her plays, poetry and public statements. She died in 1994 of breast cancer.
► Gene Robinson: 1947. When he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New Hampshire in 2004, he became the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be elevated to the episcopate. His election was so controversial, he wore a bullet-proof vest during his consecration. In a BeliefNet interview the day after he gave a prayer at the opening of President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebrations, he talked about his journey toward coming to terms with his sexuality:
I’ve been the reparative therapy route. I did that. My own experience is it doesn’t work. I think what it does it that it teaches gay and lesbian people to become so self loathing that they are willing to not act in a natural way, and deprive themselves of the kind of love and support that makes life worthwhile, that makes sense of our own lives and being. I can’t be supportive of that. It only underscores the way the church has gotten this wrong. God doesn’t ever get it wrong but the church often does.
Bishop Robinson formally retired in January, 2013.
► Rupert Everett: 1959. His 1981 role as a gay schoolboy in the stage version of Another Country proved to be his break, opening the way for his screen appearance in the 1984 film version with Colin Firth. In 1989, Everett moved to Paris and came out as gay, which he said may have damaged his career. Wags would say that the 1987 flop Hearts of Fire may have been a factor. But his appearance in the 1997 film My Best Friend’s Wedding and 2000’s The Next Best Thing showed that his career wasn’t entirely over — although it did appear that he would forever be typecast as the heroine’s gay best friend. In 2009, he told the British newspaper The Observer:
The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off… Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.
In recent years, Everett has remained active in British television and in the lead role of a London production of The Judas Kiss, about Oscar Wilde’s downfall and 1895 gross indecency conviction. And as a former sex worker himself, he has lately championed the decriminalization of sex workers and their clients. And ever the iconoclast, he criticized those who advocated for marriage equality in Britain, saying, “I find it personally beyond tragic that we want to ape this institution that is so clearly a disaster.”
► Melissa Etheridge: 1961. Her debut album was completed in just four days after her record label rejected her first effort as too polished. That stripped down album, titled simply Melissa Etheridge, not only defined her sound, but it yielded a hit single, “Bring Me Some Water” and a Grammy nomination. In 1992, she won her first Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance on the strength of her third album, Never Enough. Her breakthrough album, 1993’s Yes I Am, was certified Platinum and garnered her a second Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her single “Come to My Window”. Her 2006 song “I Need to Wake Up” was recorded for Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
She came out publicly in 1993 and has been a committed gay rights advocate ever since. She is also a committed advocate on behalf of the environment and breast cancer research, having herself undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2004 and 2005. In an interview with Dateline NBC, she discussed her recovery and her use of medical marijuana while undergoing chemo. In 2011, she announced her separation from her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, after seven years together. They have two children, fraternal twins, who were born in 2006. Etheridge also has two children from her previous long-term relationship with Julie Cypher. In 2013, she announced her engagement to television producer Linda Wallem, although no date has been set.
► David Burtka: 1975. He began as an actor, first on the stage, and then in guest roles on The West Wing, Crossing Jordan and in seven episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Those appearances in Mother led to rumors that Burtka was romantically involved with one of the series’ stars, which finally prompted Neil Patrick Harris to publicly acknowledge in 2006 that he was gay. In 2010, Burtka and Harris, who have been together since 2004, became fathers to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. Birtka had cut back on acting to run a Los Angeles catering company and work as a full time chef, but he has recently returned to the stage on Broadway for a role in It Shoulda Been You.
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?
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.