The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 15

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bakersfield, CA; Nashville, TN (Black Pride); Sarasota, FL; Tucson, AZ; Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Philadelphia, PA; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix AZ; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Cornell Daily Sun, Ithaca, NY, October 14, 2014.

From the Cornell Daily Sun, Ithaca, NY, March 19, 1970, page 7.

Morris Angell had no intention of opening a gay bar. But it became one anyway when members of Cornell’s Gay Liberation Front discovered Morrie’s, conveniently located just a block or so from the campus, and adopted it as their own. It quickly became one of their favorite watering holes, mainly because, unlike other bars in town, Angell more or less left them alone. Angell didn’t want his bar to gain a reputation as a gay bar, so as long as they didn’t show affection or dance together, everything was fine. Then one day in October of 1970, a rather nasty letter to the editor of the campus newspaper said that Morrie’s was the place to go for those who appreciate “fag aesthetics.” That very night, Angell refused to serve drinks to his gay patrons and ordered them to leave. That act became a galvanizing moment for Cornell’s GLF (see below).

The address is now home to Dunbar’s, a straight bar with free popcorn and scary bathrooms.

The first issue of ONE, January 1953.

ONE Magazine Founded: 1952. The idea of publishing America’s first nationally-distributed magazine dedicated to issues confronting gay people took root when bored Mattachine members in Los Angeles were questioning whether the Society would ever amount to much. Martin Block (see Jul 27), who was one of the earliest society members, recalled “We had these meetings and we’d kick some ideas around and sometimes they would be very stimulating but very often they wouldn’t be.”

Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) was similarly bored and “didn’t have the patience to sit there night after night and hear everybody whine over and over again how tough it was to be homosexual.” Not that it wasn’t tough: Jennings had just come off of a rare victory when he was acquitted by a jury after being falsely entrapped by police on a morals charge (see Jun 23). Another member, Dorr Legg (a.k.a Bill Lambert, whose  home they were meeting insee Dec 15) agreed. “We were just in a fury and everybody began sputtering: ‘We’ve got to tell them!’ Up speaks this little pipsqueak: ‘Well, you need a magazine.’ It was just like a match to gasoline.”

Here is how ONE later picked up the story:

The following Wednesday an ardent handful of vaguely enthusiastic people assembled just a stone’s throw from Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. They decided that a mimeographed newsletter with exposes of local police methods, general articles and some news Items might be tried. There was much desultory talk about Art, Oppression and The Partisan Review.

The following day the host for the evening, whose chance remark it was that had set off the whole chain reaction, resigned. He found, on reflection, that the whole Idea was unintelligent, philosophically untenable and useless! This is just a little sidelight on the history of ONE, illustrating a type of the problems encountered.

Quite undaunted, the remaining few met with an attorney a few nights later. They asked some floundering questions that now look rather absurd but then seemed Important. And during the rest of 1952 they continued meeting every few days, right on through the holidays as well. Supporters resigned, or just plain “fell by the wayside”. New faces appeared, and then were seen no more. Time was wasted on trivia, even frivolity. Yet, through it all their leitmotif, “There MUST be a magazine,” somehow persisted.

What would be its name? This was a tedious, wearying hassle, over endless cups of coffee. The “dignified and ambiguous” school argued against the “Iet’s-be-frank” group, The thesaurus and the Oxord Dictionary became the constant companions of everyone in the group.

You will laugh at some of the proposals. We did. Such as “Raport” — (too much like a Bronx family name, someone quipped). “The Bridge” — (is it an engineering journal?) There were many others, and even more preposterous. It was finally voted, in sheer desperation — for it had to be admitted that it hardly seemed sensible to debate endlessly over the name for a publication that did not yet exist — that the unborn infant would be christened, “The Wedge.” But try as best we might there was little enthusiasm about the decision.

The next assignment had been to discover a masthead-slogan. So the researches began again. Guy Rousseau, a hard-working young negro member of the group came up with one from Thomas Carlyle. It ran, “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.”

The masthead for ONE’s inaugural issue, January 1953. The Thomas Carlyle quote would be featured in every issue throughout ONE’s existence. (Click to enlarge.)

As a flash of inspiration it hit everyone at once. That was it! For there was the rapport. There was the wedge. And the bridge. “Makes all men one.” The name would be … ONE, for that is what everyone had wanted all along, a means for bringing about oneness, a coming together with understanding. The bitterness and hatreds, the persecution and injustices and discrimination would be stopped by dispelling ignorance , by showing THE OTHERS that all of us are humans alike, all of us living together on the same earth, under the same skies.

Surely there was “a mystic bond of brotherhood,” and ONE would tell them about it, at last all should see that men are brothers indeed, slde-by-side, all of them reaching toward the very same stars in the heavens. ONE would do this!

It was a rather dramatic moment. The little handful sat looking at each other in startled discovery. Something tremendous loomed up and around and among them, a challenge, electric with power and momentum. They well realized that there were obstacles before them, obstacles of almost terrifying proportions. There was no one who felt very confident. But a new concept had been born, a concept that thenceforth took possession of their loyalties and irresistibly carried them along.

Don Slater, W. Dorr Legg, and Jim Kepner. Circa 1957-1958. (via ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives)

Legg became ONE’s business manager. Three others present were Martin Block (he became ONE’s president), Dale Jennings (vice president) and Don Slater (secretary, see Aug 21)), who together made up ONE’s Editorial Board. Guy Rousseau (real name: Bailey Whitaker) became circulation manager. Jean Corbin (as “Eve Ellore”) joined the group as the magazine’s primary artist. Other important contributors included Jim Kepner (see Feb 14), Fred Frisbie (as “George Mortenson”), Irma “Corky” Wolf (as “Ann Carll Reid”), and Stella Rush (as “Sten Russell”). As you can tell, pseudonyms were common, though not always for reasons you might think. While some authors consistently wrote under one pseudonym, Jennings, Block, Legg, Kempner and others often wrote under multiple personas, and sometimes in addition to their real names, in order to give readers the impression that ONE’s staff was larger than it actually was.

ONE debuted in January of 1953 with an article by Dale Jennings describing his 1952 arrest by Los Angeles police. In 1958, ONE made history when it won an important Supreme Court victory when the Court decided that the U.S. Post Office could not refuse to distribute ONE because homosexual content, per se, was not pornographic (see Jan 13). ONE, Inc. also established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies, which sponsored a series of seminars and graduate studies programs. ONE ceased publication in 1968.

[Sources: James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 166-167.

“How ONE began.” ONE 3, no. 2 (February 1955): 8-15.]

(Leilani Hu, Cornell Daily Sun.)

(Leilani Hu, Cornell Daily Sun.)

Cornell University’s Gay Liberation Front Launches a Boycott and Sit-In at Morrie’s Bar: 1970. Morris Angell most certainly didn’t set out to run a gay bar when he opened Morrie’s just across the street from Cornell University in the spring of 1969. In fact, that was probably the last thing on his mind. But members of Cornell’s Gay Liberation Front had other ideas. Noticing the lack of social options, the decided to pick a public place and make it gay by just showing up. Janis Kelly later remembered how the GLF went about picking Morrie’s:

We were sitting around moaning about why we didn’t have a gay bar, and there was this notice that what had been the Eddygate restaurant was going to be reopening as Morrie’s bar. So Bob [Roth] said, “That would be the perfect place for a gay bar; it’s too bad it’s not a gay bar.” … And somehow Bob just had this inspiration, “Well, shouldn’t it be a gay bar? What does it take to make a gay bar? A bar full of gay people. This is not difficult. So then why can’t gay people just go to this bar? Why can’t we make it a gay bar? Well, because nobody ever did it before. And people will go in and it will be full of straight people.” So then he said, “Well, we’ll just call everybody we know of and tell ’em a gay bar is opening.” … So we all went home and spent the whole afternoon on the phone calling everybody we knew with a perfectly straight face and saying “Hey, I hear there is a gay bar opening. You want to go to the bar? We’re all going to go at 11:00 on Saturday.” And sure enough, when the bar opened, it was packed to the gills with queers. It was great.

So that’s how Morrie’s became a gay bar. Angell was willing to tolerate his customers, but that tolerance only went so far since he didn’t want his business to become publicly identified as a gay bar. He prohibited same-sex dancing, kissing, or other obviously-gay carrying-on, rules which the gay students more or less were willing to accept.  They were even careful to keep Morrie’s out of their newsletters and other written material, lest the bar gain a reputation that would be uncomfortable for their host.

That quiet arrangement held for more than a year until October 14, 1970, when the campus paper, the Cornell Daily Sun, published a wildly homophobic letter to the editor by Doron Schwartz, a student member of the Sun’s student board. Addressed to a Sun’s journalist who accused him of being anti-gay, he then proceeded to prove her point. “I have nothing against fags or dykes,” he wrote. “Some of my best friends know some. One such friend, Luigi, even takes his wife to Morrie’s to watch your type. They both appreciate fag aesthetics.” That very night, Angell ordered Robert Roth, the GLF’s unofficial leader (although the press often identified him as the group’s president), and several friends to “get out and don’t come back,” saying he didn’t want “their kind” in his bar.


Morris Angel (left) watches as Capt. Raymond Price talks to protesters. (David Krathwohl, Cornell Daily Sun.)

They left, but the GLF did what it always does: they held a meeting and decided to return the following night for a sit-in. About fifty supporters crowded into the bar that night and refused to order drinks, while several hundred supporters outside chanting their support. Angell ordered  everyone out and the doors locked, orders that everyone ignored. Angell then called the police. Captain Raymond Price arrived, talked with GLF members, and then informed Angell, “You can’t insult these people. You can’t just refuse to serve them.” Angell agreed to back down, reluctantly. “I don’t say you’re welcome,” he told the crowd, “but I’ll have to serve you.”  Janis Kelly responded, “We’re going to be back her tomorrow. If he refuses to serve us, he’s going to have to close the bar.” But for the time being, the crisis was over with Cornell’s GLF scoring a major victory.

[Sources: Brett Beemyn. “The Silence Is Broken: A History of the First Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Student Groups.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 12, no. 2 (April 2003): 205-223.

Doron Schwartz. Letter to the Editor. Cornell Daily Sun (October 14,1970): 4. (All issues of the Cornell Daily Sun are available online here.)

Philip Dixon. “GLF Holds Sit-In at Eddy St. Bar.” Cornell Daily Sun (October 16, 1970): 1, 10.]

Press conference announcing the formation of the National Gay Task Force. Front row L-R: Ron Gold, Howard Brown, Bruce Voeller, Nathalie Rockhill. Seated behind L-R: Martin Duberman, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny. (Click to enlarge.)

Press Conference Announcing Formation of National Gay Task Force: 1973. Dr. Howard Brown made the front page of The New York Times two weeks earlier when the former Health Administrator for New York Mayor John Lindsay’s administration came out of the closet. Brown had resigned in 1967 when he learned than an investigative reporter planned to expose homosexuals in City Hall.  His secret was not revealed, which meant the reasons for his resignation remained a mystery until he came out 1973. The response, he said, was overwhelmingly favorable, so much so that he decided to establish a new gay advocacy group. This new group, the National Gay Task Force (later to become the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, or NGLTF) would be the first such organization with a truly national scope. According to an article in The Village Voice:

The Gay Task Force will work nationally on gay civil rights legislation and discrimination against gay parents in custody and visitation cases, and will coordinate information from all parts of the country about the progress toward gay civil rights. According to a spokesman for the group, a major coming out of the closet of other well-known people is expected in the near future.

Dr. Bruce Voeller served as its first Executive Director. Other leaders of the new organization included historian Martin Duberman, pioneering activist Barbara Gittings, and Ronald Gold who had already played a pivotal role in the APA’s pending delisting of homosexuality as a mental illness later that year.

“No I don’t have it. Do you?” White House Spokesman Larry Speakes plays the comedian over AIDS.

AIDS a Laughing Matter at the White House: 1982. The very first public mention of AIDS at the White House was not an auspicious one. It was the subject of jokes and laughter between the press and White House Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speaks:

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement ­ the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?


Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Q: No, I don’t.

SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.

Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President ­

SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)

Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.

Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any ­

Q: Nobody knows?

SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.

Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping ­

SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no (laughter) ­no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.

Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?

SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.

Q: Didn’t say that?

SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)

Q: Because I love you Larry, that’s why (Laughter.)

SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)

Q: Oh, I retract that.

SPEAKES: I hope so.

Q: It’s too late.

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?

Mark F.

October 15th, 2015

The story of the early gay rights movement could make a great movie. However, with “Stonewall” being a major flop, I’m not sure who would want to touch the topic.

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2015

The early gay history is so heavily loaded with myth that sometimes it seems that the only politically acceptable story is one in which all the characters are trans people of color.

I recently read the recollections of a lesbian who was at the Stonewall riots. She said that it really was mostly white gay men.

Yes there were trans people (though that term was not known). There were drag queens. There were women. There were people of color. But most of the people on the streets in both her recollections and in the pictures (google them) were white men.

If one were to make a movie in which a fictional character was created to represent the amalgamation of young activists at Stonewall, it would be a white gay man (though I wouldn’t have him throw the first brick). But that perspective is unacceptable at present so Stonewall (the movie) was panned as being inaccurate and unrepresentative.


October 15th, 2015

At the time the Stonewall riots took place, I was living on Jane St. in the W.Village and going to the bars a lot. Whether a week night or weekend, the gay population was nearly all white male. That was also the way it continued as long as I was in the area, i.e., until 1978.

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2015


Were you familiar with the Stonewall Inn? Were you a witness to the riots?

I’d love to hear your recollections and perspectives.


October 15th, 2015

Actually I think Stonewall the movie was panned for being poorly made and trite. That’s a far worse problem than the representation of any group. Why directors feel the need to create new characters when the real stories are already compelling confounds me (and yes, I mean Jim Cameron’s Titanic).

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