The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 10

Jim Burroway

September 10th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens, GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Chula Vista, CA; Humboldt/Eureka, CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Oakland, CA; Roanoke, VA; Savannah, GA; Spartanburg, SC; Torquay, UK; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin, TX; Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray, AB; Gay Day at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ; Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Days, Las Vegas, NV; Best Buck In the Bay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 49.

From David, May 1972, page 49.

The Sweet Gum Head opened in November 1971 and became one of Atlanta’s most popular bars and dance clubs. It’s legendary drag shows and contests helped to make Atlanta one of the leading cities for drag performers in America. In its later years, the Sweet Gum Head’s reputation for having some of the country’s best drag acts made it a popular stop for straight tourists as well. It’s also where puppeteer/ventriloquist Wayland Flowers got his start. As far as I can tell, the Sweet Gum Head lasted about ten years or so before closing down. Until very recently, the location was home to Bliss, a strip club tucked behind a Precision Tune.

Atlanta Eagle

 Atlanta Police Raid The Eagle: 2009. More than forty years after Stonewall, and a few police departments still hadn’t gotten the word that raiding gay bars with impunity was so last century. Only three months after Ft. Worth police raided the Rainbow Lounge (see Jun 28), at least nine undercover Atlanta police officers entered the Atlanta Eagle posing as customers, allegedly for the purpose of conducting a criminal investigation. It was underwear night at the Eagle, and four dancers and some of the patrons were there wearing garments that covered about as much of their bodies as would be seen on most beaches and city pools. At around 11:00 p.m., the undercover officers signaled for a full raid to begin. At least twelve officers burst in for a SWAT-style raid with guns drawn and ordered everyone down on the floor. For the next two hours, patrons were forced to lay face down amid spilled beer and broken glass as police checked everyone’s ID — without a warrant — entered everyone’s name into a police computer, and hurled general insults to everyone in the bar: “You people make me sick.” “I hate fags.” “This is fun; we should do this every week.” Questions were answered with “Shut the fuck up!”

Eight employees were arrested and jailed for “providing adult entertainment without a city permit.” Dancing in underwear was the “adult entertainment.” They were detailed well until the following afternoon when two Atlanta City Council candidates intervened. Police claimed that they were acting on complaints of “illicit sex” at the Eagle, although no one was charged for that crime. Police at other times claimed that drugs were being sold, although no drugs were found on anyone there. Meanwhile, the APD’s LGBT Liaison Officer was kept completely out of the loop. She didn’t know the raid was taking place until she was contacted by the media, and nearly twenty-four hours later she still didn’t have access to basic information such as how many officers were on the scene or who was arrested on what charges.

The following month, the Atlanta Eagle and several patrons filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, the Chief of Police, and forty-eight officers of the Atlanta Police Department. Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal, who filed the lawsuit on the Eagle’s behalf, said, “If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then the APD should change its procedures.” The following March, the staff and dancers who had been arrested were found not guilty, in proceedings that only added to the pressure against the city and police department.

In response to growing public outrage over the raid, the Atlanta City Council commissioned a special outside investigation. In June of 2010, the 343-page report found widespread perjury by police officers in sworn testimony and in affidavits about what happened that night. Ten individual officers were identified by name for lying. Other violations found included destruction of evidence, unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment, intentional violation of constitutional rights, and anti-gay discrimination.

One officer justified the police’s strong-armed tactics by claiming that gay people were unusually violent. “In the past I have as a patrol officer handled calls where there are gay couples living in residence where one is mad at the other, and they slash clothes, furniture, anything they can do. They’re very violent.” When asked if he thought that the gay community was more violent than other groups, that officer responded, “My experience, yes.” Another officer voiced similar sentiments: “Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify that as very violent.” The city of Atlanta paid $1,025,000 to settle the lawsuit, re-vamped their policies, fired six officers and disciplined nine others. Two of the fired officers quickly found new jobs as Deputies with the suburban Clayton County Sheriff’s office. “The upside is that the citizens of Clayton County get some of the finest-trained, most experienced officers,” Sheriff Kem Kimbrough told a reporter.

Karl Lagerfeld: 1933. Opinions. The outspoken fashion designer in the black glasses and high starched collar has a million of them, which he dispenses for free without asking. In 2009, he defended his use of animal fur in his designs this way: “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish.” He also has a thing about skinniness, criticizing supermodel Heidi Klum as “too heavy and has too big a bust” to be a runway model. He also called the singer Adele “a little too fat” in 2012, a remark for which he had to apologize. Adele, for her part, responded that she never wanted to look like a model. “I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that,” she said. A year later, Lagerfeld was at it again, saying that he never called Adele fat, but just a “little roundish. “But for such a beautiful girl, after that she lost eight kilos [17.6 pounds] so I think the message was not that bad.”

The German-born son of a wealthy businessman grew up privileged during the hardships of World War II. After attending private school, he moved to Paris, got an education in drawing and history, and began designing haute couture collections in the mid-1950s. His first collection was booed by the press, and his short skirts for the 1960 spring season also weren’t well received either. In 1963, he moved to Rome and worked for Tiziani until 1969, where he picked up Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Duke and Principessa Borgheses as customers. He also designed freelance for the French fashion house Chloé, and Italian houses Curiel, Fendi, and the American jeans brand Diesel. He is currently head designer and creative director for Chanel, Fendi, and his own fashion house. He lives in a Paris mansion which he shares with his Siamese cat, Choupette, who he said he would marry if it were legal.

 45 YEARS AGO: Jeff Marx: 1970. The composer and lyricist began life as a lawyer looking for clients in the entertainment industry. The only reason he joined a musical theater workshop was to meet potential clients. “I didn’t tell them I was just there to meet clients and had no designs on being a songwriter,” he later confessed. But to stay in the workshop, he had to do the work. That’s where he met Richard Lopez, and the two of them started writing music for what would become the Broadway Musical Avenue Q, for which they won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Score.

That was it. Marx never went back to practicing law. He and Lopez, with Debra Fordham, wrote four songs for a critically-acclaimed musical episode of the NBC sitcom Scrubs, which aired in 2007. One of their songs, “Everything Comes Down To Poo,” was nominated for an Emmy. Marx has written songs for the Disney Channel and the theme song for Logo TV’s animated series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In All the World. Marx currently lives in Los Angeles where he is also a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

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?


September 10th, 2015

So, the news is that Fayetteville, AK, has passed an equal rights ordinance. This is the same town that, this past December, overturned a similar ordinance adopted by the city council. If you’ll recall, the child-molester-protecting Duggars spurred that rejection vote in the name of protecting children from molesters. It seems that LGBT-rights supporters refused to accept the defeat, so went back to the drawing board, drafted an ordinance that the city Chamber of Commerce would support, and put the new proposal back up for a vote. So far, I haven’t found a clear indication of what the actual differences are between the two proposals, but it is clear that Fayetteville, AK, has adopted some form of city wide protections for LGBT citizens. Of course, AK has denied its local governments the right to adopt such ordinances, and this is one of many grounds on which the new ordinance is being challenged. I think this will be interesting to watch.

Timothy Kincaid

September 10th, 2015

Thanks Nathaniel

The new version has more religious exemptions, as I understand it, but I haven’t read the ordinances yet.


September 10th, 2015

YW, Timothy. I have seen general statements indicating that there are more religious exemptions, but no clear indication of how those compare between the two ordinances. The link I shared earlier indicates that penalties were also reduced to “small fines for an offense not even considered a misdemeanor.” These statements, while pretty general, are the places where such ordinances would really have teeth, making the lack of specifics frustrating with respect to determining if this is really something worth celebrating.

The most specific change I have seen described comes from the following article from the Advocate: “Unlike the previously repealed ordinance, the city attorney will not serve as the administrator of complaints. Instead, a Civil Rights Commission will be formed to review and decide complaints of alleged discrimination.” But, I’m not sure this would really impact the value of the ordinance, except to take the decision-making process out of the hands of one person (who might possibly be an elected official who would let public opinion and imminent elections sway when and how he does his job). But as far as if the ordinance would have any real impact on local discrimination, this part is really neither here nor there, IMHO.

Timothy Kincaid

September 10th, 2015

I suspect that “it’s illegal” is probably more of a motivator for most people than the exact nature of the punishment.

Blatant anti-gay discrimination in services is pretty rare and we tend to hear about it when it happens. And “the law says” solves the problem most of the time.

As for subtle or hidden anti-gay discrimination, that will probably continue irrespective of any ordinance.


September 11th, 2015

Fair enough. But, if “religious” exemptions are too broad, then there are not even the teeth of “it’s illegal” to deter anyone from blatant discrimination. Of course, even if the ordinance really only impacts public services (public restrooms, first responders, etc.) then it will certainly be an important action. I guess I am inclined to be a little negative given the relatively quick turn-around this community has shown towards anti-discrimination ordinances.

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