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San Francisco Catholics call for Cordileone’s ouster

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2015

ArchbishopCordileoneSalvatore Cordileone is a bit of a superstar in the anti-gay community. He is considered to be the father of California’s Proposition 8, the man who shepherded its drafting, organized the funding for signature gathering, and championed it within the Catholic Church. He is also a on the board of the ex-gay Catholic group, Courage, and chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

Cordileone’s anti-gay activism served him well under former Pope Benedict the Malevolent. He quickly rose from auxiliary bishop of San Diego (2002) to Bishop of Oakland (2009) and then, in a deliberate slap to gay Catholics, to Archbishop of San Francisco (2012).

In his new exalted position, Cordileone has been quick to display his contempt to those who are more welcoming in their theological approach. Among his first acts was to snub the gay-friendly Episcopal bishop of Northern California at his installation. He quickly followed by demanding that teachers at the area’s Catholic schools be held to the strictest “morality” clauses, recruited a priest who then banned girls from serving at the altar, and spent more than a little time advocating for his anti-equality obsession.

But this has not sat well with some San Francisco’s Catholic community. They don’t like the Archbishop’s heavy-handed ideology and don’t find it to be an approach that appeals to local Catholics or which promises appeal among the younger faithful. The students and parents of some Catholic schools have held protests against the Archbishop and his policies were mocked at a local Irish Catholic event where he gave benediction.

And the Church’s image has suffered. Under Cordileone’s guidance, they have consistently taken steps that put the diocese in unfavorable light. The archdiocese was embarrassed when Cordileone was arrested for drunk driving and the constant friction between the leadership and the lay people tarnished the institution’s image. The latest shame was the media disclosure of the Church’s installation of pipes that would spray water on any homeless people who sought shelter from the night in the cathedral’s doorways.

Now some prominent observant Catholics in the City by the Bay have had enough. They are asking Pope Francis to replace Cordileone with someone more suited to San Francisco’s culture and values.

They first sought to appeal to the structure of the church. But the internal workings of the Church can be excruciatingly slow and the Church’s structure tends to always protect its own. So when that went nowhere, these Catholics chose to appeal to the Pope in a very public fashion. (SFgate.com)
replaceSal

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”

Cordileone is choosing arrogance as his response. Rather than hear the concern that these Catholic worshipers have for the Church, he is denouncing their voice as a misrepresentation.

A statement by the archdiocese provided to us Wednesday called the ad “a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop. The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for ‘the Catholic Community of San Francisco.’

“They do not.”

I suspect that they speak for more of the city’s Catholics than Cordileone would like to admit.

It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis responds to the concerns. While Cordileone is consistent with the style of former Pope Benedict the Malevolent, the new Holy Father tends towards a more compassionate message, designed for inclusion and humility. This may be the decision which defines his image as truly reformative, or illustrates the Church to be irreparably hidebound and corrupt.

[NOTE: revised to correct who did the banning of girls from a parish’s altar]

Civil Unions bill signed in Chile

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2015

2011-02-02_1026360   Subscriber-false   Marketing-false   Newsletter-false   RegYSNewsletter-false  MicroTransactions-false
From the Washington Blade

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday signed a bill into law that will allow gays and lesbians in the South American country to enter into civil unions. “The civil union law is a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights,” said Bachelet during the signing ceremony that took place at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, the Chilean capital.

The bill passed the Chilean Congress in January and then went for review before the nation’s Constitutional Court.

Currently there are lawsuits for full marriage equality before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Bachelet’s administration is not opposing the lawsuits.

More former ex-gay leader support ban on reparative therapy for minors

Timothy Kincaid

April 10th, 2015

So it appears that there is something called Former Ex-Gay Leaders Alliance (FELA) which is comprised of (not surprisingly) former ex-gay leaders. FELA has issued a statement in support of the Obama Administration’s opposition to reparative therapy for minors.

Banning reparative therapy for minors from licensed clinical mental health professionals assures young people can find solace and solidarity in the scientific community, while holding mental health workers accountable. It does not limit them, or their parents, from seeking spiritual advice from clergy. It does however, send a clear message that the practice of sexual orientation change efforts does not work, and should alert and alarm guardians of its potentially dangerous, or even deadly, effects.

As one would never send a patient to a doctor to perform unethical, unnecessary, and outdated medicine, it is time to hold mental health practitioners to similar standards. We welcome President Obama’s statement and stand with him in opposition to reparative therapy for minors, and call on everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to stand with us and put an end, once and for all, to this practice.

Signatories incuded

Brad Allen – Exodus International
Darlene Bogle – Paraklete Ministries
Michael Bussee – Exodus International
Catherine Chapman – Portland Fellowship
Jeremy Marks – Courage UK, Exodus Europe
John Paulk – Love Won Out, Exodus International
Bill Prickett – Coming Back
Tim Rymel – Love in Action
Yvette Cantu Schneider – Exodus International, Family Research Council
John J. Smid – Love In Action, Exodus International
Randy Thomas – Exodus International
Michael D. Watt – Love in Action
Kevin White – Exodus Books

Yesterday Alan Chambers, former President of Exodus International, gave his support to the Administration’s position.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 21

Jim Burroway

April 21st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), February 2, 1976, page 65.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), February 2, 1976, page 65.

It appears that there were two Danny’s (Danny’ses?) near Sheridan Square. The one on 7th Avenue was known as “Dancing Danny’s,” and “Regular Danny’s” was at 141 Christopher Street.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Three Homosexuals Order A Drink: 1966. Gay bars were made illegal in New York, due to a State Liquor Authority regulation against serving customers who were “disorderly,” a term that was invariably used against anyone who was gay. Inspectors routinely revoked bars’ licenses which allowed gay people to congregate, citing New York City’s statutes against “indecent behavior.” As a result, the better bars routinely refused to serve anyone suspected of being gay.

Furthermore, New York Police routinely launched entrapment campaigns in which they would place good-looking undercover officers in bars who would hit on suspected gay people, propose a sexual encounter, and arrest them and shut down the bar. Vice officers were under a monthly quota, which resulted in a lot men being arrested on flimsy evidence. All of this together drove the gay bar trade to the less reputable bars, often owned or operated by the Mafia who paid off police officers for protection.

From The New York Times.

To highlight the problem, members of the Mattachine Society — President Dick Leitsch and members Craig Rodwell and John Timmons — contacted reporters at The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The New York Post to say that they planned to stage a “sip in” at a bar in the Village. The idea behind the sip-in was to go into a bar, announce that they were homosexual and order a drink. If they were served, the reporters would report on it, and the bar would either serve them and risk their liquor license, or refuse to serve them and they would then sue to bar. As Leitsch later recalled:

Well, first of all, we were going to go to this bar on 8th Street (the Ukrainian-American Village Restaurant). They had a sign in their window saying, if you’re gay, go away. And we thought that would be very dramatic and we’d go there and ask for service and see what happened. We notified the press and being gay, we got there late. And the New York Times had already gotten there and said, what about this gay demonstration? And the manager said, what? So he closed the place for the day.

When we got there, there’s a sign on the door saying, closed today. And so then we decided we had to go Julius’ because Julius’ had been raided like 10 days before. The bar would have a sign in the window saying, this is a raided premises, and very often they’d put a uniformed cop on the stool inside the door, and he sat there until the trial came up.

So we knew that Julius’ would not serve us because they have this thing pending. And so when we walked in, the bartender put glasses in front of us, and we told him that we were gay and we intended to remain orderly, we just wanted service. And he said, hey, you’re gay, I can’t serve you, and he put his hands over the top of the glass, which made wonderful photographs. The whole thing ended up in court, and the court decided well, yes, the Constitution says that people have the right to peacefully assemble and the state can’t take that right away from you. And so the Liquor Authority can’t prevent gay people from congregating in bars.

The May 5 edition of the Voice carried the headline, “Three Homosexuals In Search of a Drink,” and featured a photo of the three Mattachine members seated at the bar with the bartender’s hand covering their drinks. After stories appeared in the Times and the Post, the Liquor Authority was forced to abandon its anti-gay operations. But NYPD raids would continue for at least three more years, culminating in that fateful raid at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

Julius’ bar, which dates back to 1864, is still in business, billing itself as Greenwich Village’s oldest bar and New York’s oldest gay bar.

 Wall Street Journal Coverage of the Ex-Gay Movement: 1993. The article opens with a description of an ex-gay meeting at the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in Hayward, California, near San Francisco, where a 31-year-old former missionary talked about his despair over the difficulties of trying to change:

He confesses: “It’s not working, and I don’t know why.” The others, regulars at this Friday-night support group, are sympathetic; they know the temptations of the flesh and the damnation they figure awaits those who succumb. “It’s a matter of will,” says one. “You have to make the choice.” Maybe, suggests another, it is demonic possession.

The erstwhile missionary’s eyes grow watery. He has begged God to free him, has surrounded himself with Christians and spent a month in an in-patient treatment program. But nothing has worked, and thinking about it just makes it worse — especially at these meetings. “I’m having sex, I’m having fun, and I don’t feel bad about it,” he confesses. “Not getting AIDS is all I care about.”

Having sex, having fun and not feeling bad about it are not options here. Another of those interviewed was John Evans, who, with Ken Philpot and Frank Worthen, founded Love In Action (which would later move to Memphis). Evans had already left the ex-gay movement when his best friend, Jack McIntyre, killed himself over his failure to change. McIntyre had spent four years in Love In Action before winding up in the psychiatric ward at Marin General Hospital:

There, in 1977 at age 46, he recorded his thoughts in a letter: “No matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed. . . . I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple. . . . To continually go before God and ask for forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.”

In room 104, he gave himself Communion, swallowed a lethal nightcap of Valium and Dalmane — tranquilizers and sleeping pills — and lay down on a couch to a quiet death.

By 1993, Exodus International claimed 65 affiliated ministries, but Evans said, “They’re destroying people’s lives. If you don’t do their thing, you’re not of God, you’ll go to hell. They’re living in a fantasy world.” Among those in that fantasy world was John Paulk, who was also interviewed for the Journal:

Mr. Paulk had been a prostitute, a female impersonator named Candi and an alcoholic who tried to kill himself before he decided to become straight and marry an ex-lesbian he met in church last year. “I had no sexual interest in women at all,” he says. “But when you begin a relationship with a woman that you believe God has led you to, then you develop attraction to that person. To say that we’ve arrived at this place of total heterosexuality — that we’re totally healed — is misleading.”

In 1993, Paulk was a cautious “success story” for the  ex-gay movement. He would later run Focus On the Family’s Gender and Homosexuality division, and he was elected to two terms as chairman of Exodus International. In 1998, he helped to found Love Won Out, a traveling ex-gay roadshow and infomercial conducted jointly by Focus and Exodus. Love Won Out staged a half a dozen conferences per year in cities across North American for the next thirteen years. That same year, he and his ex-lesbian wife, Anne, became the face of the ex-gay movement in a massive publicity campaign that culminated in their landing on the cover of Newsweek. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C. (see Sep 19). After a brief hiatus, Paulk returned to ex-gay ministry, and continued working at Focus On the Family and speaking at Love Won Out conferences for the next three years.

In 2003, the Paulks left Focus and moved to Oregon, where John started a catering business while Anne continued writing books and speaking on the ex-gay circuit. But in 2013, John recanted his ex-gay beliefs and issued a formal apology to the “countless people (who) were harmed by things I said and did in the past.” Later that year, he and Anne divorced. Anne helped to form a break-away group of former Exodus ministries following Exodus president Alan Chambers’s acknowledgment that change in sexual orientation was not possible. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network.

Meanwhile, Exodus International shut its doors in 2013 after Chambers apologized to the gay community for “promot(ing) sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents” and for “communicat(ing) that you and your families are less than me and mine.” California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia now prohibit licensed professionals from offering conversion therapy to minors, and President Barack Obama has called for a similar ban nationwide.

[Source: Michael J. Ybarra. “Going Straight: Christian groups press gay people to take a heterosexual path.” Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition (April 21, 1993): A1.]

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?

The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 20

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Nuntius (Houston, TX), September 1970, page 4. (Source.)

From Nuntius (Houston, TX), September 1970, page 4. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 China Removes Homosexuality From List of Mental Disorders: 2001. After consulting with mental health organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Chinese Psychiatric Association published the third edition of the Chinese Standards for Classification and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, which formally removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The move came as Chinese psychiatry was coming under international scrutiny for the growing use of mental institutions to detain dissidents and members of the banned Falun Gong sect. The delisting of homosexual was controversial: the Beijing Youth Daily gave prominent space to a senior psychiatrist who called gay people “abnormal.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 George Takei: 1937. It’s hard to tell, but the actor best known for his role as Mr. Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek franchise turns seventy-eight today. Oh, my! Born in Los Angeles to two native-born Californians of Japanese descent, Takei nevertheless ended up spending his formative years at a Japanese in internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, and then in the Tule Lake camp in California. His first roles in the 1950s was doing voiceover work, dubbing Japanese monster movies. Later, he was able to score a gig with CBS’s award winning Playhouse 90, an episode of The Twilight Zone, and film roles in Hell to Eternity (1960), A Majority of One (1961), and Walk, Don’t Run (1966). When the Star Trek pilot came along in 1965, Takei was cast as helmsman for the USS Enterprise, but he was only able to take part in half of the first season due to a commitment he already had as a South Vietnamese officer in the John Wayne film, The Green Berets. When Takei returned for Star Trek’s second season, he found that he had to share a dressing room, script, and a ship’s helm panel, side-by-side, with Walter Koenig as the starship’s navigator, Ensign Pavel Chekhov.

Star Trek only lasted three seasons on NBC. It struggled to find an audience during its first season, and rumors flew that NBC was going to cancel it it at the end of the second season. A letter-writing campaign saved the program for another year, only to see NBC placing it at the dead-end 10:00 time slot on Friday night and slashing its production budget. After 79 episodes, NBC canceled the series, in a move which TV Guide in 2011 ranked as number four of its “biggest TV blunders.” Thanks to syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it ever had on NBC. Takei has since reprised his role as Leutenant, then Commander Sulu in the first five Star Trek movies before he was promoted to Captain with his own starship, the USS Excelsior in a Star Trek: Voyager episode, a role he reprised for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

In 2005, Takei came out as gay in an issue of Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine. “It’s not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through,” he said. “It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen.” That corridor included longtime active memberships in various LGBT organizations and a then-eighteen year partnership with Brad Altman. In 2008, Takei and Altman turned that partnership into an honest-to-god marriage just before Prop 8 was approved by California voters, and they were the first same-sex couple to appear in the Game Show Network’s revived celebrity edition of The Newlywed Game. Takei is one of the more entertaining stars of Facebook and the Twitterverse (You can send your birthday greetings to @GeorgeTakei), and he also has Asteroid 7307 named in his honor. His 2012 Internet-themed memoir, Oh Myyy!: There Goes The Internet, is available in paperback and Kindle.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 19

Jim Burroway

April 19th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebration This Weekend: Åre, Sweden (Winter Pride); Mobile, AL; Phuket, Thailand; Potsdam, Germany.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Columbia Daily Spectator, May 9, 1967, page 3.

From the Columbia Daily Spectator, May 9, 1967, page 3.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 First Gay Student Group Registered at Columbia University: 1967. Stephen Donaldson, a member of the Mattachine Society of New York, enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1965 as an openly bisexual student. After his suitemates in his dorm complained about living with a bisexual, school officials forced him to move out of the dorm. That experience led him and other gay students to form a campus Mattachine-type group, which he envisioned as “the first chapter of a spreading confederation of student homophile groups.”

But getting that first chapter off the ground was no easy thing. Donaldson and another student were willing to lead the Student Homophile League under pseudonyms, but none of the other students were willing to officially join the organization unless they could do so anonymously. Columbia however wouldn’t recognize any student group without a membership list. Donaldson finally got around that problem by recruiting some of the university’s more prominent social-justice student leaders as pro-forma members. With that, Columbia granted the very first charter for a student gay rights group in the country.

The following May, The New York Times published a front-page story about the SHL being granted a charter. Time magazine followed suit a week later with a small article that gave the still-secretive group national exposure:

While declining to identify himself or other members by name (“We would be losing jobs for the rest of our lives”), the league’s chairman insists the group is educational, not social, and “plans no mixers with Harvard.” So far, Columbia students seem little interested in joining. Shrugged Sophomore Elliot Stern: “As long as they don’t bother the rest of us, it’s O.K.” The league’s biggest problem will probably be its self-imposed secrecy. As some students asked: How do you treat them equally when you don’t know who they are?

The exposure provoked widespread controversy, and criticisms followed in the pages of the Columbia Daily Spectator and in letters to the administration. Dr. Anthony Philip, director of the counseling service, warned in a letter to the Spectator that having such an open group would pose a danger to those “who perhaps more so than others their age are troubled by questions of masculinity, sexuality and more generally with their sense of personal identity. If there is one thing such students certainly can do without, it is the mythology that they really are homosexuals whose “latent homosexuality” needs only to be “brought out” by the sympathetic, tutorial attention of the Student Homophile League.” He also told reporter for the Spectator that even though the SHL’s goal was to have speakers and seminars to address anti-gay bigotry on campus, he worried that the SHLs members were “angry and militant,” and were bent on “proselytizing” students.

In the end, Columbia officials decided against revoking the group’s charter. But they also decided to forbid the group from serving in any social functions for fear that it would run afoul of the state’s sodomy laws. But the exposure, on balance, was far more beneficial to the group. By the end of the year, more than 20 people had joined the SHL at Columbia, and students at Stanford, the University of Pittsburgh, and Cornell expressed interest in starting chapters on their respective campuses.

[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.

“Students: Equality for your fellow man.” Time (May 12, 1967). Available online with subscription here.

“Homophile Group is Viewed as Danger to Some Students.” Columbia Daily Spectator (May 9, 1967): 3.

Anthony F. PHilip. Letter to the editor: “The Homophile League.” Columbia Daily Spectator (May 9, 1967): 4.

Daniel M. Taubnam. “Breaking the Ice: New Student League Backs Homosexuals.” Cornell Daily Sun (November 11, 1967): 8.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 85 YEARS AGO: Dick Sargent: 1930-1994. His best known role was that of the second Darrin in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, after having taken over that role in 1969 when Dick York was forced to leave due to ongoing health problems. It was a fortuitous second chance for Sargent: he was the producers’ first choice for the role in 1964 but was forced to turn it down because he was under contract with Universal Studios to appear in the short-lived sitcom Broadside, a WWII comedy about four girls on an island with 4,000 sailors. (Hilarity allegedly ensued, but only for one season.) Before he got his second chance at Bewitched, Sargent appeared in several films and television programs which helped pad his resume with a growing list of solid if not particularly memorable roles.

He never really made it onto the A-list, but he did have a solid run opposite Elizabeth Montgomery as America’s favorite put-upon mortal. And what a strange, gay time he must have had on the set, with openly-flamboyant Paul Lynde as practical-joker Uncle Arthur and the closeted and conflicted Agnes Moorhead as Endora (a character whose style and sarcasm deserves unceasing genuflections from drag queens everywhere). The series ended in 1972 and immediately went into syndication for whole new generations to enjoy. Meanwhile, Sargent kept working in minor roles and voiceovers for commercials and cartoons.

In 1974, Sargent appeared with lesbian Fannie Flagg (see Sept 21) in the game show Tattletales, in which Hollywood couples would try to guess each others’ answers to embarrassing questions about marriage, sex, or other coupley topics. They were, ostensibly, “dating” for the game show’s purposes. Sargent finally came out on National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1991, over concerns about high suicide rates among gay teens. He revealed that when he was a student at Stanford he twice tried to kill himself when he realized he was gay. The following summer, he was Grand Marshall of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade alongside his former Bewitched co-star and forever friend, Elizabeth Montgomery. He became involved with the AIDS Project Los Angeles and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Sargent died in 1994 of prostate cancer.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 18

Jim Burroway

April 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebration This Weekend: Åre, Sweden (Winter Pride); Mobile, AL; Phuket, Thailand; Potsdam, Germany; Tallahassee, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Belmont, NC; Columbus, OH; Dayton, OH; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 5.

Rounds was, euphemistically a “cruise bar.” Not so euphemistically speaking, it was a hustler bar, located in the Loop around East 53d Street and Second Avenue where hustlers and their johns hung out. It opened in 1979 with three partners, one of whom, Seymour Seiden, was allegedly mob connected.  (Seiden had previously been a part owner of another gay bar, The Sanctuary, until 1972, when his partner was murdered the night before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury.) Rounds’ opening night was a star-studded event, according to Charles Scaglione’s memoir (a non-mob partner, for what that’s worth, and the only straight one of the three), with David Geffen, Calvin Klein and Studio 54 owner Steve Rubel supposedly in attendance. Scaglione also said that over the years, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol and Vladimir Horowitz showed up from time to time. Rounds was finally forced to close in 1994 following a police raid in response to complaints about prostitution.

RNC Chairman Guy Gabrielson

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 65 YEARS AGO: GOP Chairman Warns of “Perverts Who Have Infiltrated Our Government”: 1950. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) Lavender Scare got another boost after nearly two months of outrage over the discovery that 91 state department employees had been fired for being gay (see Feb 28, Mar 21, Mar 23, Mar 24, and Apr 14) when Guy Gabrielson, Republican National Chairman, issued a letter addressed to about 7,000 party workers, under the title “This is the News from Washington,” in which he wrote:

Perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists are the sexual perverts who have infiltrated our Government in recent years. The State Department has confessed that it has had to fire ninety-one of these. It is the talk of Washington and of the Washington correspondents corps.

American sensibilities were quite delicate in 1950, particularly on a subject as contentious as homosexuality. In many respects, it was still the “love that dares not speak its name.” Newspaper editors were reluctant to actually use the word “homosexual,” preferring instead to dance around the subject wherever possible. The use of the word “pervert,” on the other hand, was totally acceptable and routine. Gabrielson expressed his frustration over editors’ concerns over their readers delicate sensibilities:

The country would be more aroused over this tragic angle of the situation if it were not for the difficulties of the newspapers and radio commentators in adequately presenting the facts, while respecting the decency of their American audiences.

Dick Leitsch and Craig Rodwell (photo: Randolphe Wicker).

 50 YEARS AGO: First Gay Rights Picket at the United Nations: 1965. Two years earlier, independent Mattachine Chapters in New York, Washington, and Miami, along with Daughters of Bilitis chapters in New York and Philadelphia, with other activists and small groups, had come together to form the East Coast Homophile Organization. ECHO was intended to be not so much a separate organization but a forum in which members of the activists groups could get together and plan strategy and share valuable lessons. At a meeting during the fall of 1964, they decided that the old ways of doing things — engaging in polite “education” programs with the hope of increasing “understanding — just wasn’t yielding any results. “It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discrimination against the homosexual citizen in our society,” The Ladder reported, which quoted one attendee: “A few years ago, ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”

The group decided it was time to engage in more direct action. And so when Cuban President Fidel Castro announced a new round governmental policy of rounding up its gay citizenry and and throwing them into internment camps, New York and Washington, D.C. activists felt that this provided a good “hook” on which to hang a couple of protests. Activists in the D.C. area took the opportunity to mount the first ever picket at the White House (see yesterday), while New York advocates decided to protest in front of the Cuban Mission. They soon discovered that police rules prohibited picketing with a fifth of a mile of the Cuban Mission, so they chose to picket at Hammarksjold Plaza at the United Nations. Twenty-nine picketers showed up for the first gay rights protest at the United Nations, and only the second gay rights protest in New York City (see Sep 19).

[Sources: Warren D. Adkins and Kay Tobin (pseudonyms for Jack Nichols and Kay Lahusen) “ECHO Report ’64. Part one: Sidelights of ECHO.” The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 4.

“Cross Currents.” The Ladder 9, no. 8 (May 1965): 22.]

 New York Times: “Certain Words Can Trip Up AIDS Grants.”: 2003. A New York Times investigation revealed that AIDS researchers were having trouble getting their research proposals funded by the National Institutes of Health because certain sensitive terms were included in their grant applications. Scientists, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Times that they were warned by federal health officials that their research would come under closer scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services or by members of Congress if their proposals included certain key words, including “sex workers,” “men who sleep with men,” “anal sex,” and “needle exchange.” A spokesman for HHS denied that such screening was taking place, but another unnamed official at NIH confirmed that:

…project officers at the agency, the people who deal with grant applicants and recipients, were telling researchers at meetings and in telephone conversations to avoid so-called sensitive language. But the official added, “You won’t find any paper or anything that advises people to do this.”

The official said researchers had long been advised to avoid phrases that might mark their work as controversial. But the degree of scrutiny under the Bush administration was “much worse and more intense,” the official said.

Dr. Alfred Sommer, the dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said a researcher at his institution had been advised by a project officer at N.I.H. to change the term “sex worker” to something more euphemistic in a grant proposal for a study of H.I.V. prevention among prostitutes. He said the idea that grants might be subject to political surveillance was creating a “pernicious sense of insecurity” among researchers.

…In another example of the scrutiny the scientists described, a researcher at the University of California said he had been advised by an N.I.H. project officer that the abstract of a grant application he was submitting “should be ‘cleansed’ and should not contain any contentious wording like ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ or ‘transgender.'” The researcher said the project officer told him that grants that included those words were “being screened out and targeted for more intense scrutiny.”

He said he was now struggling with how to write the grant proposal, which dealt with a study of gay men and H.I.V. testing. When the subjects were gay men, he said, “It’s hard not to mention them in your abstract.”

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, April 17

Jim Burroway

April 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebration This Weekend: Åre, Sweden (Winter Pride); Mobile, AL; Phuket, Thailand; Potsdam, Germany; Tallahassee, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Belmont, NC; Columbus, OH; Dayton, OH; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine (Published by the Mattachine Society of New York), June 1965, page 26.

The Golden Calf operated from 1963 to 1970, and was a popular meeting place for members of the the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The entire 14th Street corridor has been redeveloped over the past few decades, with the entire block now taken up with high-rise apartment buildings, condos and offices.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 50 YEARS AGO: First White House Picket for Gay Rights: 1965. In 2010, former Cuban president Fidel Castro apologized for for his government’s persecution of gay people in the mid-1960s. That persecution included rounding up gay people and throwing them into camps. That apology reminded Washington, D.C.’s veteran gay rights advocate Frank Kameny (see May 21) of Castro’s action in 1965 led directly to the first time a group of gay activists picketed the White House that spring:

While, Castro had no notion, of course, of what he was doing in this context at that time, in my view and in my interpretation of the dynamics of the 1960s Gay Movement, he triggered Stonewall and all that has followed.

News of Castro’s incarceration of gays in detention camps in Cuba came out early in 1965 — probably in March or very early April. At that time “the 60s” hadn’t yet erupted in their full force, but the precursors were very well advanced. Picketing was considered the mode of expression of dissent, par excellence.

Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) approached me to suggest that we (“we”= The Mattachine Society of Washington, of which I was President) picket the White House to protest Cuba’s action. I felt that it was rather pointless to picket the American President to protest what a Cuban dictator was doing. So I suggested that we broaden and Americanize the effort. One or more of our signs said (in gross paraphrase, here, from memory) “Cuba persecutes Gays; is America much better?”, and others specifically addressed governmental and private anti-gay discrimination here, and other gay-related problems of the day.

Those MSW picketers, seven men and three women, arrived promptly at 2:00 in the afternoon of Palm Sunday at Lafayette Park. They went across the Pennsylvania Avenue and formed an orderly oval in front of the White House and marched, carrying signs reading, “U.S. Claims No Second-Class Citizens. What About Homosexual Citizens?”, “Cuba’s Government Persecutes Homosexuals. U.S. Government Beat Them To It,” and “Gov. Wallace Met With Negroes. Our Gov’t Won’t Meet With Us.” They dressed conservatively, the men in suits and ties, the women in skirts and heals. Kameny insisted on it. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he said, “look employable!” The group had decided not to publicize the protest in advance because they didn’t want to give authorities time to invent a reason to block their protest. But that also meant that there were no reporters or news cameras at that first protest, although the local Afro-American did include a small news bulletin about the demonstration.

They marched for one hour, then packed up and left, elated over how easy it all was. That protest would lead to many more that year: at the Pentagon, the Civil Service Commission, the United Nations, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and two more pickets at the White House. Those pickets marked a new beginning for the gay rights movement, and they all happened in 1965, four years before Stonewall. Kamany later reflected on that auspicious year:

Ever since, it has been my view, and remains so, that those demonstrations created the protest-oriented mindset which made Stonewall possible, and that without it Stonewall just wouldn’t have happened. Therefore, several steps removed, and obviously utterly unbeknownst to him, by his 1965 detentions of Cuban gays, Fidel Castro precipitated and triggered Stonewall and all that we have gained from it since. So, if you enter into a same-sex marriage, or are helped by a gay-protective anti-discrimination law, or run for elective office an an open gay, thank Fidel.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Thornton Wilder: 1897. The Pulitzer Award-winning playwright and author is best known for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, as well his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. His works touched on very broad, universal themes: the qualities of good and evil, and finding meaning in the lives of ordinary people. Our Town was particularly inventive: it’s sparse stage setting was quite “modern” in 1938, but not as avant-garde as the character of the “stage manager,” who breaks the fourth wall and converses with the audience, even going so far as taking questions.

Details of Wilder’s private life are very hard to come by. The lifelong bachelor was exceptionally circumspect about his private life, although he is known to have enjoyed a wide circle of friends. He was romantically linked with the writer Sam Steward, to whom he was introduced by Gertrude Stein. They were reportedly together while Wilder wrote the third act of Our Town — in which we learn that the town’s choir director and church organist Simon Stimson commits suicide. Sadly, in 1938 it would not have been at all difficult to read that as code.

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Today’s Agenda for Thursday, April 16 (Corrected)

Jim Burroway

April 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebration This Weekend: Åre, Sweden (Winter Pride); Mobile, AL; Phuket, Thailand; Potsdam, Germany; Tallahassee, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Belmont, NC; Columbus, OH; Dayton, OH; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, April 3, 1980, page 39.

The original location, in a light industrial area of Miami underneath the flight path for Miami International, is gone, replaced with a parking lot for an auto paint shop. The Ft. Lauderdale location is now a strip mall.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 U.S. Morals Lowest in History: 1952. The National Association of Evangelicals were holding their tenth annual convention in Chicago when the group’s president, Dr. Frederick C. Fowler, told the gathering that American was at its lowest moral level in its history. Despite church membership being an all-time high, Fowler blamed “the moral collapse everywhere evident” on materialistic education:

“What is the reason for immorality in the State Department, where homosexuals were dismissed not for their sin but for security reasons?” he asked. “What is the reason for the corruption in the Internal Revenue and other departments of government, for the admitted cheating in college examinations, and in other forms of immorality in the American scene?”

“It goes back to those so-called ‘brilliant’ educators, centered in John Dewey at Columbia, who questioned and then denied the very existence of God, and ruled out any final authority except their own ridiculous and assumed knowledge.”

Fowler’s prescription for America’s abysmal 1950s values was simple: “Yo cannot disregard God and ignore his moral laws and not expect to reap a mptrvest of rottenness.” He called on government to act as “a minister and trustee, not a Lord; that it is responsible not to itself but to God and the people.” He also asserted that “Christianity can exist without democracy, but democracy could not exist without Christianity.

 Human Events Warns of “Homosexual International”: 1952. Before Countess Waldeck became Countess Waldeck, she was Rosa (or Rosie) Goldschmidt, the daughter of a prominent German Jewish banker, who had quite a knack for reinvention. She later became Catholic, and then became a countess when she married, perhaps, her third husband (who’s really counting?) the Hungarian Count Armin Graf von Waldeck. Time described it as “a marriage in which friendship and German passport considerations were deftly blended.” But that’s getting ahead of a few things. Her first marriage, in 1921, was a brief one to the gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, for whom the “G-Spot” is named. They divorced four years later “by mutual agreement. In 1929, the 31-year old married the 63-year-old widowed Franz Ullstein, scion of Berlin’s Ullstein Verlag publishing house, which was caught up in a sensational spy scandal. That marriage ended, but she got a lot out of it. When she published her 1934 autobiography “Prelude to the Past,” she candidly described the Ullstein affair along with some affairs of her own.

All of which is to say that Waldeck not only had a knack for reinvention, but also one for international intrigue which she parlayed into a career in journalism for Newsweek and another gossipy and wildly popular book in 1942 about international spies at a grand hotel, the Athene Palace in Bucharest.

But a decade later, her popularity faded as America’s attention turned inward during the McCarthy era. The new enemies now were American Communists and subversive homosexuals in the cojoined Red- and Lavender Scares. Waldeck made another stab at international conspiracy with a story she published in a small newsletter, Human Events, which despite its circulation — perhaps 40,000 in 1960 — claimed among its conservative readers many top Republican Party leaders and an actor in California who would soon become governor and future President. In 1952, Human Events published Waldeck’s essay, “Homosexual International,” in which she praised the ongoing investigations and firings of homosexuals from the State Department, but warned that political leaders and the general public failed to grasp that those investigations barely uncovered the tip of an international iceberg.

In reality the main reason why, at this juncture of history, the elimination of the homosexuals from all Government agencies and especially from the State Department is of vital urgency is that by the very nature of their vice they belong to a sinister, mysterious and efficient International.

Welded together by the identity of their forbidden desires, of their strange, sad needs, habits, dangers, not to mention their outrageously fatuous vocabulary, members of this International constitute a world-wide conspiracy against society. This conspiracy has spread all over the globe; has penetrated all classes; operates in armies and in prisons; has infiltrated into the press, the movies and the cabinets; and it all but dominates the arts, literature, theater, music and TV.

And here is why homosexual officials are a peril to us in the present struggle between West and East: members of one conspiracy are prone to join another conspiracy. This is one reason why so many homosexuals from being enemies of society in general, become enemies of capitalism in particular. Without being necessarily Marxist they serve the ends of the Communist International in the name of their rebellion against the prejudices, standards, ideals of the “bourgeois” world. Another reason for the homosexual-Communist alliance is the instability and passion for intrigue for intrigue’s sake, which is inherent in the homosexual personality. A third reason is the social promiscuity within the homosexual minority and the fusion it effects between upperclass and proletarian corruption.

There was at that time an underlying belief in some quarters that there was something about homosexuality that wasn’t quite American. It wasn’t so much that homosexuality was a foreign import, but there was an undercurrent of thought that somehow tied homosexuality in America to other subversive “foreign” influences. The McCarthy witch hunts only encouraged the notion that homosexuals and communists were interchangeably charged with being national security risks. There was even a new word for the homosexual side of this international conspiracy: hominterm, a play on “Comintern,” short for the Moscow-based Communist International. This “Homosexual International” was allegedly an international conspiracy to control the world and break down society. Waldeck described its supposed history this way:

Actually, the Homosexual International began to gnaw at the sinews of the state in the 1930’s. Until then it just nibbled. I have before me notes I took years ago about that nibbling stage. Still very new to politics, I was amazed to discover that, the “Cherchez l’homme” pointed to a much more powerful factor in international affairs than the “Cherchez la femme.” With fascination I watched the little Sodoms functioning within the Embassies and foreign offices. Somehow homosexuals always seemed to come by the dozen, not because they were cheaper that way but rather because a homosexual ambassador or charge d’affaires or Undersecretary of State liked to staff his “team” with his own people.

Waldeck claimed that “the scope of this article does not permit naming names and place,” which was rather convenient because it allowed her to spend the rest of her 3,500-plus word article to indulge her vivid imagination without actually having to produce anything which might constitute verifiable facts:

…Why had a certain capitalist country such an amazing influence on the politics of a certain revolutionary country? Because the aristocratic ambassador of the capitalist country was a homosexual and so was the foreign minister of the revolutionary country, and the perfect understanding between them cut across ideologies. Why did a certain bilateral trade conference, which seemed hopelessly bogged down, suddenly come to life again? Because the homosexual head of one mission, in order to please the homosexual aide of another mission, decided to sacrifice some vested interests at home for the sake of better understanding abroad. There were many instances of this kind; they didn’t then add up to a menace. But in politics it is always smart to fear a power not because it is dangerous but because it could become dangerous.

That the Homosexual International could become dangerous should have been evident to anyone who had an opportunity to observe the mysterious manner in which homosexuals recognize each other — by a glance, a gesture, an indefinable pitch of voice — and the astonishing understanding which this recognition creates between men who seem to be socially or politically at opposite poles. True, other Internationals are better organized and more articulate. But what is the unifying force of race, of faith, of ideology as compared to the unifying force of a vice which intimately links the press tycoon to the beggar, the jailbird to the Ambassador, the General to the pullman porter?

Waldeck then returns to the two great themes of the McCarthy witch hunts in claiming that “the Homosexual International has become a sort of auxiliary of the Communist International”:

…the Homosexual International works into the hands of the Comintern without any special organizing effort. This does not mean that every homosexual diplomat or official is a Communist or even a fellow-traveller. Still, this dangerous mixture of anti-social hostility and social promiscuity inherent in the vice inclines them towards Communist causes. That’s why agencies in which homosexuals are numerous excel in the sort of intrigue and doubletalk which, apparently objective, somehow always coincides with the party line. One could probably trace some of our more preposterous foreign policy decisions during the last 25 years to the little Sodom inside the State Department. Then too, a study of the the OWI (the U.S. Office of War Information) — veritable home from home for the Homosexual International during the war — would yield a few fascinating cues.

There is another even more sinister aspect of homosexuality in high places. It is that homosexuals make natural secret agents and natural traitors. This conclusion is to be drawn from a theory developed by Professor Theodor Reik in his “Psychology of Sex Relations.” Briefly, this theory is that the phantasy of sex metamorphosis operating in most homosexual affairs which causes him to play the role of the other sex causes him also to enjoy any job which gives him the chance of playing a double role.

The classical example is the famous espionage case of the homosexual Colonel Alfred Redl of the Austro-Hungarian Military Intelligence who, during the decade preceding World War I, delivered Austrian military secrets to the Russians and denounced his own agents to them. He got an immense kick out of playing the role of both the traitor and of the one whose lifework it is to apprehend and punish traitors.

Wardeck advised that the chief weapon against Homintern’s spread was education, in language that is still familiar today:

At best the elimination of homosexuals from Government agencies is only one phase of combatting the homosexual invasion of American public life. Another phase, more important in the long run, is the matter of public educations. …However, the chief educational task would be to combat the “love-and-let-love” line which, peddled by the pseudo-liberal fringe, claims that sexual preversion (sic) does not prevent a man from functioning normally in all other contexts and that it was just like Senator McCarthy to “persecute” the poor dears in the State Department. This line is fatal in that it lulls society into a false sense of security. It fools homosexuals themselves.

It fools them by instilling in them the notion that there is nothing wrong with the satisfaction of their abnormal desires and that it is, indeed, the solution of the homosexual problem. That this is by no means the case is demonstrated by the unhappiness under which most homosexuals (even the most successful among them) labor. In fact, if proof were needed of the high price paid by those who violate the Divine Laws, that dark melancholy unhappiness which is so characteristic of the homosexuals would be it. Actually, license acerbates the homosexual problem both for society and for the individual. Its solution lies just in the opposite direction — namely, in the practice of the admirable art of self-control and resignation.

Two weeks later, Rep. Katherine St. George (R-NY) read the article into the Congressional Record while warning that “the dangers to our own country and our whole political structure from this kind of international ring is dangerous in the extreme and not to be dismissed lightly.” Waldeck’s “Homosexual International” was so influential that Human Events reprinted it again in 1960.

[Source: R.G. Waldeck “Homosexual International.” Human Events (April 16, 1952): 1.]

 Miami Gay Bar Raided: 1960. Residents of greater Miami woke up on Easter morning to the news that Metro police overnight had raided the “E Club,” located at the corner of Tamiami Trail and SW 37th Avenue “at the request of a citizen. Twenty-three men, including the manager, were arrested at the “deviates’ den” and were charged with “disorderly conduct by being in a known homosexual hangout.” The manager was charged with allowing minors in the bar as well as “operating a known homosexual hangout.” Among those charged was an instructor at Miami Military Academy. When reporters informed the academy’s superintendent, he vowed, “We will drop him immediately, without question. We just can’t have a thing like that. We have enough headaches as it is. I will get in touch with him tomorrow and find out if he was arrested.” Another man from Coral Gables told police he was a teacher, but he later told the Miami News that he was a former teacher who hadn’t taught since 1956.

The names, addresses, and occupations of all twenty-two men arrested were printed in the accompanying article.  According to The Miami News:

Habitues of the place were reported to embrace each other, wear tight-fitting women’s pants and bleach their hair, (Metro Capt. Patrick) Gallagher said. When Gallagher and six other officers descended on the place Friday night, they found the dim-lit bar full of men, some of them paired off in “couples” he said. The only woman in the place told police she just dropped by for a drink, and she was not detained. Officers took all the men in the place to headquarters. Several were released after a screening and 22 were booked.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Dusty Springfield: 1939-1999. Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien got the nickname “Dusty” because she was fond of playing football with the boys on the streets of Ealing in West London. In 1960, Dusty, her brother Tom and Tim field formed a reasonably successful folk trio, The Springfields. When Dusty launched her solo career in 1964, she kept the Springfield name, and switched to to a kind of an R&B Phil Spectoresque “Wall of Sound” that completed her transition to the singer we know today.

Her first album, A Girl Called Dusty, reached number 6 on the British charts powered by her single “I Only Want to Be With You,” which also broke into the U.S. top 20 more than a full year before the Beatles invasion. Other hits followed: “Wishin’ and Hopin'” (1964), “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” (1966), “The Look of Love” (1967), and “Son of a Preacher Man (1968). She also had a knack for exposing other acts to new audiences. She hosted a series of television programs that introduced the Temptations, the Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder to British audiences, and while recording an album in Memphis for Atlantic records, she convinced one of the label’s heads to sign Led Zeppelin. Those Memphis sessions resulted in the album, Dusty in Memphis, which won rave reviews but was met with poor sales. (It nevertheless won a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2001.)

By the mid-1970s, Springfield had mostly abandoned her recording career and hid out in the U.S. and away from the British tabloids. Part of that had to do with her increasing drug and alcohol abuse, but part of it also had to do with her sexuality. In 1970, she told the Evening Standard that she was “as capable as of being swayed by a girl as by a boy.” She had lived with follow singer Norma Tanega from 1966 to the early 1970s, and she had an on-again/off-again relationship with American photojournalist Faye Harris. Meanwhile, her addictions got worse and her mental health deteriorated. She began cutting herself, was hospitalized several times, and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Springfield started recording again in the late 1970s but her later efforts failed to chart. She even tried New Wave music in 1982. But when she accepted an invitation from the Pet Shop Boys to record vocals on their 1987 single “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”, the single reached number 2 in the U.S. and U.K. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 while recording her final album, A Very Fine Love, in Nashville, and died in 1999, just two weeks before she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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).

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, April 15

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2015

IRS Form 1040 for 1958, with check boxes for “Yourself” and “Wife.” (Click to download. PDF: 472KB/4 pages)

TODAY’S AGENDA:
It’s Tax Day in America, a day that has long been a yearly reminder of the ways in which gay couples have paid more taxes that straight couples in exchange for fewer government benefits and, historically, open discrimination. In the 1950s, that discrimination extended to federal bans on gays in government employment and the military, where the policy wasn’t “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but “get out, and here’s your dishonorable discharge.” With DADT gone, major portions of the Defense of Marriage Act gutted, and marriage equality available to same-sex couples in thirty-six states, the playing field between gay and straight families have been leveled considerably. But in 1958, Helen Sandoz (see Nov 2), who had become president of the Daughters of Bilitis the year before, had plenty of reasons to lament the unfairness directed towards gays and lesbians of her day:

All morning I have been working on my income tax and this is a drearier task for the Lesbian than for most people.

We live together, we own homes, we pool our resources and we work for the community, but we cannot enjoy the benefits of a household under the law.

According to statistics that I have seen here and there, there must be quite a lot of “married” homosexuals. This is a great boon to Uncle Sam, because, no matter how much these people make, no matter how much property they own, they will still pay the “single, one deduction” type of income tax. A pair of Lesbians may own a house, join the community league, contribute to all causes, keep the yard up as a credit to the area. They enjoy the taxes imposed by the state and county and city. They pay these taxes. But because the church and state do not sanction their “marriage” they must file as single citizens and pay the premium tax thereon. Property is held jointly, loans are made jointly. The mortgage broker doesn’t question the sex. Property taxes are levied jointly upon the owners. Only when it comes to income tax does the fairness disappear.

I do not cry for a small space on an income tax blank asking for me to check “sex” and leaving room for a variation. I do not ask for a special consideration. I Just think that one person in any household that is bearing its rightful burdens otherwise, should be allowed to claim “head of household” without a lot of claptrap about “relationship”.

Society may choose to condemn homosexuality. But those of us who live together and own property and join in our community’s interests are householders and have a right to consideration under the constitution. Shall we all become cousins?

Source: Helen Sanders (Helen Sandoz). “Me vs. Taxes” The Ladder 2, no. 8 (May 1958): 10.

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebration This Weekend: Åre, Sweden (Winter Pride); Mobile, AL; Phuket, Thailand; Potsdam, Germany; Tallahassee, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Belmont, NC; Columbus, OH; Dayton, OH; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), April 3, 1980, page 24.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), April 3, 1980, page 24.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Founded: 1979. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence founded a “convent” in San Francisco when three men, dressed in full traditional habits, went out in the Castro on Easter Sunday of 1979. Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious PHB), Fred Brungard (Sister Missionary Position) and Baruch Golden, were met with shock and amusement. Over the next several months, the attracted new members: Sister Hysterectoria (Edmund Garron) and Reverend Mother (Bill Graham). They quickly settled on a name for their group and composed a mission statement: “to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.”

Originally a form of camp street theater, the controversial nuns’ mission became deadly serious a few year later as the AIDS crisis gripped San Francisco. The Sisters became among the earliest bay-area AIDS charities at a time when few other established churches and organizations deigned to pitch in. The Sisters helped organize the first AIDS Candlelight Vigil, and have raised more than $1 million in San Francisco alone to benefit such groups as the Breast Cancer Network, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and the Gay Games. The Sisters continue to bring meals to those who can no longer care for themselves, and they fund alternative proms for LGBT youth.

The Sisters have branched out with twenty-four orders and seven missions across North America and sixteen orders internationally. And through it all, they continue to be the favorite targets of many religious-right organizations, many of whom still show scant evidence of performing the charitable work that the Sisters do. Ironic, isn’t it?

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519.
Born in Vinci “at the third hour of the night,” Leonardo was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence at the age of fourteen. Early descriptions indicate that he was tall for his day (at least 5’8″), athletic and extremely handsome. One contemporary described him as “an artist of outstanding physical beauty who displayed infinite grace in everything he did.” At the age of twenty-four, Da Vinci was among four people accused of sodomy, a very serious accusation because it carried the death penalty. Those charges were dismissed on the condition that there were no further accusations. When accusations were made again that same year, charges were dismissed again, perhaps because one of those charged may have been linked with the powerful Medici family.

Undoubtedly, those accusations made Da Vinci very cautious, even in Florence where, despite those charges,  homosexuality was somewhat more tolerated than elsewhere (so much so that in Germany, the word Florenzer became slang for homosexual.) While there’s no further contemporary mention of Da Vinci’s sexuality, it was generally known that the life-long bachelor was particularly fond of and generous with his handsome male pupils, some of whom may have inspired some of Da Vinci’s erotic sketches. Later historians mostly assumed that he was gay, an assumption that gained greater currency in the nineteenth century when German, French and British authors began examining the new understanding of what was to be called inversion, uranism, and, finally, homosexuality. Whenever nineteenth century authors sought examples of inverts in history, Da Vinci’s name nearly always earned a prominent mention.

 Henry James: 1843-1916. His father, Henry James Sr., was a prominent Swedenborgian philosopher and litrary figure who counted Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle among his friends. His brother, William, was a groundbreaking American philosopher, psychologist, and physician. His sister, Alice, who struggled with mental illness and opium use for much of her life, was mainly known after her death for her candid, witty and insightful diaries which made her something of a feminist icon.

His father’s constant search for intellectual stimulation had the family nearly constantly on the move between the United States and Europe. The younger James’ adopted a similarly peripatetic life, traveling often between the U.S. and Europe. (He would eventually become a British citizen in 1915, just a year before his death.) His literary works often focused on the perceptions of Europeans and Americans as they encountered each other, and they nearly always examined the characters’ psychological motives. The Portrait of a Lady(1881), explores some of the conflicts between Old World and New World perceptions of personal freedom, duty, honesty and trust through the story of an American heiress whose fortune attracts the malicious attention of some American expatriates in Italy, one of whom marries her in a loveless and psychologically abusive relationship. Another American heiress figures in The Wings of the Dove (1902). She is stricken with a serious disease while visiting relatives in London, and the novel explorse her effect on those around her.

James was also an important literary critic. In his essay The Art of Fiction (1884), he sought to free authors of the prevailing conventions on what made a proper novel. James argued for the widest freedom in content and methods of storytelling. He wrote an important critical study of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and when he collected his own works for a final edition, he wrote a series of prefaces that subjected his own writings to the same penetrating criticism. James had ambitions to becoming a playwright, but his attempts were poorly received and he soon abandoned the effort.

James was exceptionally circumspect about his personal life. He never married, proclaiming himself simply as “a bachelor.” He was horrified by Oscar Wilde’s flamboyance, yet fascinated by his downfall. In one letter to a friend, James protested that Wilde “was never in the smallest degree interesting to me — but this hideous human history has made him so — in a manner.”

James’ biographers insisted that he was celibate due to a “fear of or scruple against sexual love on his part.” But as other diaries and letters to contemporaries and younger men have come to light over the years, a more complete picture of James’s private life has begun to emerge. His letters to American sculptor Hendrik Christian Andersson were intensely emotional and somewhat erotic. Similar letters to novelists Howard Sturgis and Hugh Walpole have also come to light.

James suffered a stroke in late 1915, and died a few months later in London on February 28, 1916 at the age of 72. His ashes were returned to America and interred in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Back in England, a memorial stone for him was placed in the Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner in 1976.

 Bessie Smith: 1894-1937. “The Empress of the Blues” was born in Chattanooga, the daughter of a laborer and part-time Baptist preacher. He died before she could remember him, and by the time she was nine, she had lost her mother and a brother. Her older brother had joined a Black Vaudeville troupe owned by Moses Stokes, which featured Ma Rainey as blues singer. In 1912, Bessie joined that same troupe, but as a dancer rather than a singer. While it’s believed that Rainey didn’t teach Smith to sing, (Smith had been singing on the streets of Chattanooga from a very young age), Rainey is credited with teaching Smith about stage presence. By 1913, Smith began singing professionally, and her career exploded in 1923 when she began recording for Columbia Records. By then, she was the highest-paid African-American entertainer in her day.

In 1923, she entered a very stormy marriage with Jack Gee, but he was unable to accommodate her show-biz life or her open bisexuality. They separated but never officially divorced. Meanwhile, she recorded hit after hit for Columbia, including “Downhearted Blues,” “St. Louis Blues”, “Empty Bed Blues,” and the tune she is perhaps best known for today, “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer).” By the end of the 1920’s, the arrival of the “talkies” meant the end of vaudeville, while the onset of the Great Depression brought about a collapse of the recording industry. Smith continued touring in clubs, but the going was tough. By 1933, she was recording for Okeh records, where she was paid a non-royalty fee of $37.50 for each side. Those were her last recordings. She as critically injured in a car accident in 1937, her right arm nearly severed in the accident. She died the following morning at the G.T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her funeral in Philadelphia drew 10,000 mourners. Her grave however remained unmarked; her estranged husband kept pocketing the money raised for a tombstone. She finally got her marker in 1970, courtesy of Janis Joplin.

 George Platt Lynes: 1907-1955. He first wanted to start a literary career after meeting Gertrude Stein and her circle in Paris. In 1927, he opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey and took up photography so he could take pictures of his friends, and that is where his creative energies went. By 1932 Lynes opened his photography studio in New York and began exhibiting in the city’s art galleries. He earned commissions from the New York City Ballet, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodmans. After World War II, he moved to Hollywood, where he became chief photographer for Vogue and photographed such luminaries as Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, Igor Stravinsky, and Thomas Mann. His work was an artistic success, but a financial failure. He moved back to New York, but was never able to re-establish the success he once had.

You can see his passion for photography in his photos recalling why he took up photography in the first place: intimate (usually nude) photos of friends, lovers, performers and models. The artist Paul Cadmus (see Dec 17) posed for Lynes and recalled how he “used flattery to make everyone feel so comfortable.” Those male nudes were never published, at least not in Lynes’s lifetime. In the late 1940s, he transferred many of his negatives to Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sexual Research in Bloomington, Indiana, and destroyed much of the rest just before dying of lung cancer in 1955. In 2011, Rizolli published George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes, marking the first time many of his beloved nudes appeared in print.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 14

Jim Burroway

April 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 13, 1983, page 38.

In 1983, Indianapolis’s gay bars got together to take out a full page ad in the Advocate to encourage anyone coming to town for the upcoming Indy 500 to stop in for some fun. Among them was Heads or Tails, which was located in a small strip mall in the northern part of the city on Meridian near 38th Street. As of 2013, the strip mall is empty except for a payday loan office next door to the club’s old location.

Westbrook Pegler

Westbrook Pegler

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 65 YEARS AGO: “Sexual Depravity in the Roosevelt-Truman Bureaucracy”: 1950. The Lavender Scare of 1950 had begun quietly enough when John Peurifoy, Deputy Undersecretary of State in charge of administration testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee that 91 State Department employees were let go “for moral weakness (“Most of them were homosexual. In fact, I would say all of them were.” See Feb 28). That revelation almost didn’t make the papers. When it did, it was buried pretty deeply in much larger coverage of an ongoing political argument over Alger Hiss. Those 91 might have gone unnoticed if it hadn’t been for a rising public feud between Peurifoy and Sen. Joseph McCarthy over the next couple of weeks. McCarthy had spent the previous two months blathering about 57 — or 205 or 81, depending on what day it was — Communists and other “undesirables” in the State Department. Peurifoy blasted McCarthy for refusing to release even one of those names to substantiate his claims. With the public back-and-forth, Peurify’s original testimony was repeated in the papers, and pretty soon it seemed that no one was worrying about Communists in the State Department (although that concern would soon return), but those 91 homosexuals.

The Lavender Scare hit the papers in full force a month later when conservative columnist George Sokolksy wondered why Peurifoy’s testimony “passe[d] with little excitement.” He thought it odd because “A liar advantageously station; a blackmailed creature in a sensitives spot; a frightened soul, caught in the web of conspiracy, can produce such a results as the conquest of China by Soviet Russia by consent. There is the menace” (see Mar 21). Two days later, author and novelist Robert Ruark, whose column was syndicated nationwide by Scripps-Howard, added his weight to the new scare: “Most ‘queers’ eventually acquire a tendency to hysteria, which means they blow their tops in time of stress.” Also,  “…his inclination is to surround himself with his like. Homosexuals travel in packs, as do most divergents from an accepted status.” That’s why, Ruark speculated, there were so many in the State Department: “His appointees surrounded themselves with their appointees, and on down the line. What you have finally is a corroded organization which can be bribed, bulled or blackmailed in the easiest possible fashion” (see Mar 23).

The worst came the next day, when Westbrook Pegler, a nationally-syndicated King Features columnist and future John Birch Society propagandist, jumped on the Lavender Scare bandwagon and drove it straight into his longstanding war with the now-gone Roosevelt Administration but its still-present New Deal, which Pegler didn’t like one bit (see Mar 24). He used that column to all but accuse FDR of homosexuality in print. But of course, he wasn’t finished; propagandists with an axe to grind never are. On April 14, Pergler returned to the subject again to allege that Peurifoy’s testimony about the 91 in the State Department revealed widespread “sexual depravity” in the administration:

The hesitant discussion of sexual depravity in the Roosevelt-Truman bureaucracy, brought to public notice by the dismissal of 91 perverts in the State Department alone, had elicited interesting comments and some references which seem to cast light. Mr. Truman of course, inherited the corruption. It took root and flourished under Roosevelt.

Pegler offered a civil liberties lawyer by the name of Morris L. Ernst as “a witness to set forth and explain the attitude of the New Deal culture toward queers.” Ernst had successfully defended before the U.S. Supreme Court the right of the American Newspaper Guild to represent journalists and other media workers as a a labor union. Pegler didn’t like that, saying Pegler represented the Guild “in the period of its hottest communist infestation.” Ernst was also a member of Truman’s Civil Rights Committee which, Pegler complained, “promoted the proposition that government should compel employers to hire persons obnoxious to them.” You know, like Jews and Blacks. (The commission also called for federal protection from lynching, a proposal that got nowhere for the next two decades thanks to continual threats of filibuster from southern Senators.) What did any of that have to do with queers? Well Pegler had co-written a book with David Loth, titled, American Sexual Behavior and the Kinsey Report, in 1948, which praised Alfred Kinsey’s groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Male published earlier that same year (see Jan 5). Ernst and Loth called for the wholesale revision of America’s laws governing sexual offenses. That didn’t sit well with Pegler:

In this little work, Ernst remarks angrily that only recently a committee on human reproduction was set up to seek answers “to some of the unknown questions as to how babies are born.” Very soon however, he is expertly discussing sexual practices which, far from propagating people, actually frustrate propagation. The western peoples, he says, have sought to impose their “pattern” of sexual morality, which he calls “customs” on the rest of the world.

“As if,” he adds, “only one set of sexual customs was either desirable or natural,” from which I earnestly infer that he regards as “desirable” and “natural” some “customs” which are by religion, morals and law abhorrent to Western peoples. If he so regards those “customs,” then as an authoritative New Dealer, he has at least established a base. In that case, we know what the New Deal morality really is. In that case, we can understand why abnormality flourished in the State Department, to say nothing of other departments, and why those Americans who are aghast at the revelations are in turn reviled as ignorant hypocrites.

… Although this book was published in 1948, long before the disclosure of the condition of the State Department, Mr. Ernst, by the merest accident, no doubt, seems to anticipate that explosion and to enter a plea long in advance. Speaking of the historic scandal in Kaiser Wilhelm’s court, he says there is difficulty in deciding whether public outcry is based primarily on the outrage “said to have been done to public opinion” or on a desire for political advantage.

Pegler does what a lot of ideologues do: he engages in guilt by association — and that’s only if we were to concede the dubious proposition there was anything wrong with what Ernst had written (as quoted by Pergler, at least.)  Furthermore, — and I haven’t read Ernst’s book, but if Pegler managed to paraphrase it accurately — it seems that Ernst’s observations about political advantage may have been a particularly timely warning for the political upheaval which took place a mere two years later when a faction of the Republican Party rallied around Sen. McCarthy’s crusade against the Truman administration.

And Pegler does something else that a lot of anti-gay ideologues did in the 1950s and 1960s: his reference to the “historic scandal” which served as a common trope whenever the topic of  gays in government employment came up. That historic scandal was the famous Eulenburg Affair of 1907, which brought down Prince Philipp zu Eulenburg, a close friend and adviser to Kaiser Wilhelm II (see Feb 12). Pegler continued:

… I now refer to a letter from a noted American reporter who has spent many years in Europe, especially in Germany. He was a friend of Maximilian Harden, the German who exposed the perverts in the Kaiser’s court. Harden’s motive was “political” but in a patriotic sense. “Politics” is the science of government and Harden realized that this condition among the men who manipulated the Kaiser was dangerous to Germany. Had the perverts vanished when they were warned, Harden would have made no scandal.

My correspondent in Germany writes: “You say 91 homosexuals have been dismissed from the State Department in the last three years. What a terrible state of morals in our government. Is it confined to the State Department only? Not likely. Homosexualism is worse than communism. It changes the mentality, blurs morality and the outlook, not only on sex but upon life, ideals, principles and scruples. It is a cancer. That is why I am so troubled that it has made such inroads in our State Department. Blackmail through threats of exposure is a powerful weapon often used to make a victim do a thing he does not want to do.”

But, see, this is the outmoded superstitions of a Victorian bigot. If we consult Mr. Ernst, “such customs” do not “blur morality” and the outlook on sex, life, ideals, principles and scruples. On the contrary, it is the Western “pattern” of sexual morality which blurs morality and the outlook. Abandon that “pattern” and the blur is cured and a beautiful, spiritual, intellectual and sexual existence comes into clear focus.

The state mental hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

60 YEARS AGO: Iowa’s Sexual Psychopath Law Goes Into Effect: 1955. The last time anyone saw eight-year-old Jimmy Bremmer alive was on the night of August 31, 1954, when the Sioux City youth went to a friend’s house two doors down to play after dinner. He left his friend’s house at around 8:00 to go home, but he didn’t make that short distance. On September 29, his decomposed body was found in a pasture north of town. His crushed skull was several feet away from his decapitated body, and both hands were missing. A man was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had confessed after being sent to a mental hospital and injected with Desoxyn and Seconal. (His conviction wouldn’t be overturned until 1972.)

The Red and Lavender Scares, which had dominated the evening news and newspapers for most of the decade, may have been winding down in Washington, but its effects continued to reverberate in cities and towns across the country. With Jimmy’s death, Iowans became convinced that the state was crawling with sexual psychopaths. On January 31, 1955 Iowa legislators introduced a bill in the Iowa House of Representatives “to provide for the confinement of persons who are dangerous criminal sexual psychopaths.” The bill extended to anyone, whether they had been convicted of a crime or not, and its procedures allowed “any reputable person” to charge anyone with such “propensities.” It empowered the court to appoint a psychiatrist for an examination, and allowed the court to commit the accused to  indefinite confinement until “cured,” or until proven to court that release would not be “incompatible with welfare of society.”

The bill passed both houses unanimously with very little discussion and went into effect on April 14, 1955, making Iowa the twenty-fourth state to pass such a law. Michigan was the first, in 1937, and in one eleven year period confined 369 under its law. Twenty-four were confined under the District of Columbia’s law between October 1948 and March 1950 (see Jun 9), and in California, more than fourteen hundred had been confined over a fourteen year period.

On the evening of July 10, 1955, two year old Donna Sue Davis was kidnapped from her crib where she was sleeping. The kidnapper had come in through the open bedroom window, and left the house with Donna Sue through that same window. A neighbor saw the kidnapper flee and gave chase, but the kidnapper got away. The next morning her body was found in a cornfield outside of town. An autopsy revealed that the child had been raped and sodomized. Her left jaw was broken and there were several bruises and cigarette burns on her buttocks. She died of a massive brain hemorrhage from a severe blow to the head. One itinerant farm hand was arrested, but investigators quickly ruled out the possibility that he committed the crime.

Panic gripped Sioux Falls as hardware stores reported running out of padlocks. The Sioux City Journal on July 12 demanded that the city be made “the most feared town in American for the sex deviate.” With no other firm suspects to investigate, the police chief began a roundup of “known sex perverts.” On July 23, Gov. Leo Hoegh announced that a special ward at the state mental hospital in Mount Pleasant had been established to house them. He said, “The guy I want to treat [is the sex deviate] who is now roaming the street but never committed a crime.” Most of those “sex perverts,” it would turn out, were gay men, “diagnosed” with “sociopathic personality disturbance. Sexual deviation (Homosexuality).”

By the end of the year, thirty-three men had been committed, all without charge or trial. At least twenty of them from Sioux City. Many of them were arrested at the Warrior Hotel and its bar, the Tom Tom Club. Once they were nabbed, and fearing for their jobs and reputation, they named names which led to more arrests and detentions. A few with connections were set loose, and one man was able to successfully fight back in court. That was a risk; one juror commented, “He admitted in open court that he listened to Liberace on the radio, and a man who does that is liable to do anything.”  But most of the men accepted plea bargains to avoid public trial and arrest. At least one confined man’s diagnosis was “Homosexuality, no overt acts” — he hadn’t even done anything except be a homosexual. Sioux City’s prosecutor boasted, “At least word is out that they’re not welcome in Sioux City any more.”

At Mt. Pleasant, the men underwent group therapy, individual counseling, and so-called “therapeutic” — unpaid — labor. They were spared aversion therapy, but otherwise, hospital staff were at a loss as to what to do. Mount Pleasant superintendent Dr. W.B. Brown said, “there is no specific treatment which brings about improvement or cures of such individuals. … Law requires me to report to the court once a year… What can I say? I can’t say they are cured.” He also complained that due to crowded conditions, the gay men were often put in the same bedrooms together, leading an Iowa State law professor to note that “the curative effect of this may be said to be doubtful. Staff psychologists, pressured by a state government that no longer wanted to foot the bills, eventually released the men despite doubts that they could be “cured.” Most of those confined never spoke of their confinement again.

Donna Sue’s killer was never found. The sexual psychopath law was finally repealed in 1977.

[Sources: “Dal McIntire” (pseudonym). “Tangents: News & Views.” ONE 4, no. 2 (February 1956): 11-12.

Neil Miller. Sex-Crime Panic: A Journey to the Paranoid Heart of the 1950s (Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2002).]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
  John Gielgud: 1904-2000. Acting is quite literally in his blood. His maternal grandmother was the actress Kate Terry, whose two brothers and sister were also actors, and his great-grandmother on his father’s side was a renowned Polish actress, Aniela Aszpergerowa. And for good measure, his brother Val was a popular radio actor, writer and director for the BBC. John began studying acting in 1921, and by the following year he was understudying for Noël Coward. From 1929 to 1931, Gielgud drew attention for his performances in the title roles for Shakespeare’s Richard II and Hamlet at the Old Vic Theater, and through much of his career he was a fixture in London’s West End where he specialized in classical plays with a smattering of comedies here and there, including a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, for which he won a Tony in 1948.

He also took his Shakespearean roles to film, although he didn’t get really serious about film acting until the late 1960s. He won an Academy Award for his supporting role as a sardonic butler in Arthur (1981), a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Providence (1977), and a BAFTA Award for Murder on the Orient Express (1974). He also appeared on television’s Brideshead Revisited (1981) and won an Emmy for Summer’s Lease (1991).

Gielgud’s “coming out” was under less than auspicious circumstances: shortly after receiving his knighthood in 1953, he was arrested and found guilty of “persistently importuning for immoral purposes” at a public toilet in Chelsea. Deeply humiliated, Gielgud avoided traveling to the states as much as he could for the next decade, fearing that he would be denied entrance by U.S. Customs, who routinely barred homosexuals from entering. While Gielgud never denied being gay, he kept his private life private. After he died in 2000, it was revealed that he had made anonymous financial contributions to the British gay rights group Stonewall.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 13

Jim Burroway

April 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From In Step (Milwaukee, WI), March 22, 1984, page 21

From In Step (Milwaukee, WI), March 22, 1984, page 21

1101 West was Appleton, Wisconsin’s most popular gay and lesbian bar. Of course, it was sometimes Appleton’s only gay and lesbian bar. The owners, Andy Lehman and Ed Smith, lived above the bar and sometimes took in out-of-town visitors. It began operation in 1981 and lasted until 1987, when competition finally took its toll. Today, the building appears to still be empty with a for-sale/lease sign hanging on it.

Graphic from ONE, May 1953, page 5.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 State Department Announces It Has Fired 425 People for Alleged Homosexuality: 1953. The Associated Press carried this update to the ongoing quest to rid the State Department of its gay employees:

“Homosexual proclivities” led to the dismissal of 425 State Department employees since 1947, the director of the department’s office of security, John Ford, told the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. He said many cases are still pending.

 First Congressional Hearing on AIDS: 1982. It had been ten months since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first alerted the world about a strange constellation of diseases which had been striking down otherwise healthy gay men (see Jun 5). By the end of 1982, more than 300 would die nationwide out of 800 cases reported to the CDC. Yet the news media remained mostly silent. The New York Times had written only two articles in all of 1981, while Time and Newsweek didn’t get around to writing their first stories until six months after the CDC’s first report.

And as long as the media remained silent, there would be no pressure on the U.S government to fully fund the National Institutes of Health and the CDC to battle the new epidemic. President Ronald Reagan was spending his first year in office implementing massive funding cuts at the NIH and CDC. When adjusted for inflation, the NIH’s budget for 1981 actually declined by 5.6%, and its purchasing power dropped by another 6.1% in 1982.  Reagan’s budget slashed 1,000 research grants from the NIH and reduced the size of the Epidemiological Intelligence Service, whose job it was to track the spread of diseases. Similarly, the administration’s budget for the CDC was also lagging inflation.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), whose Los Angeles Congressional district was heavily impacted by the epidemic, chaired the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. To call attention to the Administration’s woefully inadequate response to this new disease — it still didn’t have a name; it was known as either GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) or by the opportunistic infections that were associated with it (Pneumocystis pneumonia, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, etc.) — Waxman held the first Congressional hearing on the topic, and he chose the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in Hollywood as the hearing’s venue. Waxman began:

I want to be especially blunt about the political aspects of Kaposi’s sarcoma. This horrible disease afflicts members of one of the nation’s most stigmatized and discriminated against minorities, The victims are not typical Main Street Americans. They are gays, mainly from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. There is not doubt in my mind that, if the disease had appeared among Americans of Norwegian descent, or among tennis players, rather than gay males, the responses of both the government and the medical community would have been different. Legionnaire’s disease hit a group of predominantly white, heterosexual middle-aged members of the American Legion. The respectability of the victims brought them a degree of attention and funding for research and treatment far greater than that made available so for to the victims of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

I want to emphasize the contrast, because the more popular Legionnaire’s disease affected fewer people and proved less likely to be fatal. What society judged was not the severity of the disease but the social acceptability of the individuals affected with it. … I intend to fight any effort by anyone at any level to make public health policy regarding Kaposi’s sarcoma or any other disease on the basis of his or her personal prejudices regarding other people’s sexual preferences or life-styles.

Officials from the CDC and National Cancer Institute were called to testify, but as employees of the executive branch of government, they weren’t in much of a position to be candid about the crippling effects of Reagan’s budget cuts. The CDC’s Jim Curran described how they shifted funds around to try to cope with the epidemic, and the National Cancer Institute’s Bruce Chabner testified that he couldn’t provide a figure for how much grant money was available for research and treatment. But he did announced that his Institute would release $1 million for AIDS research. That was a laughably low figure; a single grant for a research center often ran beyond $10 million. Dr. Stan Matek, President of the American Public Health Association, called the official response weak. “We believe the immunoresponse system of this country is weak, that it needs to be strengthened,” he said, “and that only Congress can do it.” He praised the CDC’s efforts thus far in coping with so few resources, but added:

We believe they cannot cope with Kaposi’s sarcoma and its related syndrome. We believe their intervention abilities are so handicapped that the nation’s health is in peril. (The current approach) represents, I fear, only high-level, ‘ad-hocracy’ There is no guarantee of continuity of effort … It is an issue of budget allocation.

Where is that epidemiologically essential money going to come from? It is not going to come from NIH, or at least not in any significant amounts, given the prior commitments and loss in real funding capability. If it comes from within CDC, it will come from robbing Peter to pay Paul. It will come by shifting already committed and needed resources … which is fine if you are Paul, but not so useful if you are Peter.

The goal of the hearing was to get the media’s attention, and with that attention Waxman and health officials could pressure the White House to agree to more funding. But the media ignored the entire event. Television networks and even local Los Angeles TV stations didn’t bother to cover it. The only mention was an article in The Los Angeles Times. It’s headline read, “Epidemic Affecting Gays Now Found In Heterosexuals.”

It would be another full year before $12 million was finally allocated specifically for the AIDS epidemic.

[Source: Randy Shilts. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987): 143-146.]

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).

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 12

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Miami Beach, FL; Phoenix, AZ.

Other Events This Weekend: Boston LGBT Film Festival, Boston, MA; Women’s Fest, Camp Rehoboth, DE; AIDS Walk, New Haven, CT.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 9.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 9.

Waco, Texas, in the 1950s.

Waco, Texas, in the 1950s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Sixty-Three Arrested in Waco: 1953. The United Press reported that:

A well-planned raid early Sunday morning broke up a statewide “homosexual convention” while a mock wedding was in progress, police reported Monday. Detective Capt. Wiley Stem said 63 men, mostly ranging in ages from 24 to 33 were arrested in the raid of a two-room private residence in South Waco.

Fifteen detectives, a Texas Ranger, and a district attorney working with information furnished by undercover agents, closed in on the small house as the “bride” and “groom” were going through the mock ceremony before 60 invited guests. Police said some of the “guests” had come from as far away as New York, Virginia and California.

Other “guests” were registered from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Fort Hood, and Connally Air Force Base just north of Waco. Police said all had received “invitations” to the affair.

The Associated Press put the number arrested at 64. One guest from Ft. Worth was charged with possession of marijuana, and others were charged with vagrancy — they posted $25 bonds (that’s about $220 in today’s money) and were released. All in all, it hardly seems to justify the expense of a reported three-month investigation by fifteen officers and undercover agents. But it apparently was quite spectacular when stacked up against the ordinary goings on in Waco. The AP described “Wigs, women’s dresses, high heeled shoes and corsets were stacked on a table in the detective’s office after the raid… ‘In 30 years of policing I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Police Lt. Bob Van Wie.”

Postscript: One month later on May 11, Waco would be devastated by one of thirty-three confirmed tornados that broke out across the great plans over a three day period. Waco was hit by the deadliest of them all: Of the 144 deaths from all of the storms, 114 died in Waco alone.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Amy Ray: 1964. One-half of the folk duo Indigo Girls, Ray met the other Girl, Emily Sailers (see Jul 22), when they attended the same elementary school together in Decatur, Georgia. They began hanging out together while in high school, where they began performing together and recorded their first demo in 1981. They went their separate ways for college, but they met up again a few years later when they both transferred to Emory University. By 1985, they were performing together again as Indigo Girls. They secured a contract with Epic Records in 1988, and in 1990 won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. (They were also nominated for Best New Artist, but they lost out to Milli Vanilli, who later saw the award revoked when it was revealed that they didn’t actually sing on their debut album and lip-synced their way through concerts.) Ray has also been busy with solo work and running an independent record label, Daemon Records, and she’s an activist for multiple causes, including gay rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights, gun control, environmental protection, and abolishing the death penalty. The Indigo Girls released their latest original album, Beauty Queen Sister, in 2011 and a compilation of The Essential Indigo Girls in 2013. Their next studio album, One Lost Day, is due out in June.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 11

Jim Burroway

April 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Miami Beach, FL; Phoenix, AZ.

Other Events This Weekend: Boston LGBT Film Festival, Boston, MA; Women’s Fest, Camp Rehoboth, DE; AIDS Walk, New Haven, CT.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), March 28, 1986, page 8.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), March 28, 1986, page 8.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 First Mattachine Constitutional Convention: 1953. The Mattachine Foundation, founded in Los Angeles in 1950, was the brain child of Harry Hay (see Apr 7), Dale Jennings (see Oct 21), Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24), and Bob Hull (see May 31),  all of whom felt that the time was right to push for gay rights. Rowland later commented, “We had just won the war. We had rid the world of fascism, except in Spain. We came back and we were going to save the world.” Idealism came naturally to Rowland, Hay and Hull: they had earlier been members of the Communist Party.

When they formed the Mattachine Foundation, one of their chief concerns was secrecy. The Lavender Scare was just getting underway in American, and the group feared that if one member was picked up by the FBI and interrogated, he might reveal the names of other members of the Foundation. To alleviate those concerns, they decided to borrow a secretive membership structure from American Communists, with Freemasonry providing the inspiration for a series of “orders.” The founding members were anonymous members of the Fifth Order, and members in lower orders were in charge of local chapters (the first orders), and with all of them remaining anonymous through the use of pseudonyms. Once the organization structure was set, they then set about articulating the Foundation’s goals: educating the public about homosexuality, advocating for tolerance, and engaging in “political advocacy,” which presumably meant challenging the anti-sodomy laws which were then in force in all fifty states.

The Mattachine Foundation first became known to general public following Dale Jennings’s 1952 arrest in an LAPD entrapment operation (see Jun 23). Hays and Jennings decided to fight the charges, with Jennings admitting in open court that he was a homosexual — a very daring move — but insisting that he was innocent of the particular charges against him. The jury deadlocked and the charges ended up being dropped.

This court victory was a massive public relations coup for Mattachine. Suddenly new members were joining in droves and creating new discussion groups all across California. By 1953, it was estimated that membership stood at more than 2,000 with as many as 100 joining a single discussion group. This exponential growth diversified the group considerably, attracting more women to the discussion groups and drawing in those from a much broader political spectrum, many of whom didn’t share the radical vision of Mattachine’s founders. Some worried that the group wouldn’t be able to withstand an investigation by a Senate committee if some of the founders’ former Communist ties were made public. Others feared that including an explicit call for gay equality as part of its mission would endanger the security of the group’s members. That concern was amplified in March 1953 when Los Angeles Mirror columnist Paul Coates obtained copies of the Mattachine’s lobbying questionnaires, and published an article questioning the group’s legitimacy and charging that its members were “bad security risks.”

New members from Northern California were among the most vocal about their misgivings over the “radical” aims of the Mattachine Foundation, as well as the secretive nature of its leadership. Hal Call (see Sep 20), who joined the group in Berkeley, was especially concerned. “We wanted to see Mattachine grow and spread, and we didn’t think that this could be done as long as Mattachine was a secret organization.” But before the group went public, it had some housecleaning to do. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have a single person in our midst who could be revealed as a Communist and disgrace us all.” The Mattachine’s founders “had to go. Mattachine had to be free of Communists.”

It all came to a head in April 1953, during the first constitutional convention to re-organize the Mattachine Foundation. Rowland delivered a speech which lifted the veil of secrecy of the group’s leadership. “You will want to know something about the beginnings of the Mattachine Society, how the Fifth Order happened to be. … I think it is reasonable that you should ask this and important that you understand it,” he said. He then introduced five of the founding members to the rank-and-file.

The meeting broke down into an ideological battle between two distinctive camps. The first camp was represented by most of the founding members who had set up the secret society. Hay, Rowland and Hull advocated a view that homosexuals were a unique minority, and, as with other minorities, they were possessed with special qualities and a unique culture. The opposing camp, made up of Call, Kenneth Burns, Don Lucas, David Finn, and others, countered that homosexuals were no different from any other American except for their sexuality. Dale Jennings, while a founding member, would have been sympathetic with this group’s philosophy if he hadn’t already left Mattachine to join the fledgling ONE magazine (see Oct 15). He had long argued that the task for the group wasn’t homosexual emancipation, but sexual freedom for everyone. This second camp also feared an FBI investigation, and for good reason. Finn and Lucas were already acting as informants for the FBI and the police, and they were desperately trying to convince the FBI that Mattachine posed no danger to national security.

With the group unable to come to an agreement, the first attempt at a constitutional convention broke down and a second meeting was called for May. At that meeting, Mattachine’s founders grew tired of the argument and resigned. The remaining members then declared the work of the Mattachine Foundation completed and disbanded the organization, replacing it with a new one to be known as the Mattachine Society. Leadership then passed to a new group led by Call and Burns, who called for another general meeting in November to establish a new constitution which would open up the group to greater transparency, while also setting the group on a much less confrontational path.

[Sources: Douglas M. Charles “From subversion to obscenity: The FBI’s investigations of the early homophile movement in the United States, 1953-1958.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 19, no. 2 (May 2010): 262-287.

Martin Meeker. “Behind the mask of respectability: Reconsidering the Mattachine Society and male homophile practice, 1950s and 1960s.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10, no. 1 (January 2001): 78-116.]

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).

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, April 10

Jim Burroway

April 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Miami Beach, FL; Phoenix, AZ.

Other Events This Weekend: Boston LGBT Film Festival, Boston, MA; Women’s Fest, Camp Rehoboth, DE; AIDS Walk, New Haven, CT.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 3, 1979, page 19

From The Advocate, May 3, 1979, page 19

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 James Ogilvy, 7th Earl of Findlater, 4th Earl of Seafield: 1750-1811. The Scottish peer and landscape architect is known for his lavish British landscape garden designs in mainland Europe, where he spent most of his life. Some say he was exiled to Europe, but others say it was voluntary. In either case, the cause of his exile appears to be related to his homosexuality which, while a capital offense in Britain, was somewhat more tolerated on the mainland as long as things were kept discreet. And besides, they did like his gardens, particularly in Carlsbad, Bohemia, where he became a major patron of the city’s charities and parklands. Findlater trail is still well-used today.

In 1803, Findlater’s private secretary, Johan Georg Fischer purchased Helfenberg Manor near Dresden on Findlater’s behalf. Its lands gave Findlater yet another opportunity to create a garden of considerable renown. Findlater died in 1811, and his will named Fischler his sole heir. Findlater’s family in Scotland contested the will on the grounds that it was made “for a base cause,” suggesting an unspecified immorality between the two. The lawsuit created a huge scandal, but Findlater’s relatives were partly successful, having been awarded Findlater’s lands and estate in Scotland. Fisher remained at the estate in Dresden until his own death in 1860, when he was buried alongside Findlater at the Loschwitz parish church.

 Frances Perkins: 1880-1965. There’s little doubt that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal forever changed America, mostly for the better. But what isn’t well known is that the individual responsible for the lion’s share of the New Deal’s enduring legacy was Frances Perkins, who, as Secretary of Labor, already made history by becoming the first woman cabinet secretary barely thirteen years after the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote. Lesser-known still was the fact that by being a woman, Perkins broke an important code in Washington society, one in which a Cabinet secretary was expected to guests to his home with his wife playing the role of gracious host, which entailed a lot of planning, coordinating, preparations, etc. Perkins, having no wife, could not be expected to perform all of those functions while also still put in a full day’s work as Labor Secretary. Perkins’s husband was of no use; he was permanently sidelined with debilitating mental illness. But her special friend, railroad heiress Mary Harriman Rumsey, came to the rescue, with a finely-appointed Georgetown home which the two shared, and where the consummate power-couple hosted dinner parties said to include Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Margaret Bourke-White, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and unknown Appalachian folk singers.

Perkins became interested in labor issues while in New York, where she personally witnessed the tragic Triangle Shirt Factory Fire of 1911. The fire killed 147 young men and women, mostly seamstresses, who were unable to escape because the owner locked the exists for fear that feared theft from his employees. Perkins joined a commission that investigated the fire and recommended changes to the state’s labor laws. She then served in several labor-related commissions in state government under Gov. Alfred Smith. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected governor in 1929, Perkins served as his first State Commissioner of Labor. It would only be natural, then, that Perkins would follow him to Washington as his Labor Secretary when FDR was elected President.

Frances Perkins on the cover of Time, Aug 14, 1933.

When Perkins arrived in D.C., she was brimming with ideas. She saw hundreds of thousands of productive, employable people who were out of work, and she came up with an unemployment insurance fund which would be paid into during good years and drawn from in bad. She saw the elderly, no longer able to work, being thrown out of their homes after draining their life savings, and thought that there ought to be some kind of a social security that could protect them. She saw companies hiring children instead of adults to cut costs, children who should be in school and not supporting their families, and argued that child labor laws were needed. And with FDR’s backing, she set about putting those ideas into action.

Perkins’s most enduring legacy, Social Security, came about during a particularly trying time. While struggling to meet a Christmas 1934 deadline for her committee to complete its work designing the system, Rumsey died on December 19 from complications from a fall from a horse. Amid the intense political pressure of designing a brand-new federal program, Perkins also was mourning Rumsey’s death, quietly and alone. And so on the very same week Rumsey died, Perkins called the committee members to her home — a home she would soon lose because only Rumsey could afford the rent — sat a bottle of Scotch on the table, and announced that no one would leave that night until the work was done.

As Labor Secretary, Perkins oversaw the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Works Agency. She established the minimum wage and the forty-hour work week through the Fair Labor Standards Act. Perkins remained Labor Secretary for all four terms of FDR’s presidency. In 1945, President Harry Truman asked her to serve in the Civil Service Commission, a post that she held until 1952 when her husband finally died. After her career in government service, she taught at Cornell until her death in 1965 at the age of 85.

Perkins’ parents were Maine natives, and that’s where she was buried. It’s also where an eleven-panel mural celebrating labor throughout history — including colonial shoe cobblers, lumberjacks, “Rosie the Riveter, striking paper mill workers, and Frances Perkins in a conversation with a family — was on display at Maine’s Department of Labor. In 2011, Maine’s tea-party governor, Paul LePage, ordered the mural’s removal. His spokesman claimed that the mural was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” LePage also ordered the re-naming of seven conference rooms, including one originally named for Perkins.

[Source: Kirsten Downey. The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, (New York: Anchor Books, 2010)]

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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