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Posts for August, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, August 15

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fargo, ND/Moorehead MN; Galway, Ireland; Kelowna, BC; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); New Westminster, BC; Pittston, PA; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; Salem, OR; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Denver CO; North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 12.

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 12.

Dr. Charles L Dana

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Sexual Perversions “As Rare As They Are Disgusting”: 1891. The August 15th edition of the Medical and Surgical Reporter included the text of a clinical lecture given by Dr. Charles L. Dana, M.D., who taught at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School. Dana’s talk, “On Certain Sexual Neuroses,” focused mostly on the dangers of masturbation — which was thought to cause various physical health problems and mental disturbances —  and his treatments to “cure” his patients from the “vicious habit.” But he touched on a number of other sexual “perversions” as well, which he categorized this way:

The Sexual Psychoses are Divided into,

A — The Vicious Habits, such as masturbation, &c.
B — The Sexual Perversions, these are classified as

  1. Masturbation, sexual murder and anthropophagy.
  2. Flagellation.
  3. Exhibitionism
  4. Stercophily
  5. Contrary Sexual Instincts of which Pæderasty and Bestiality are examples.

C — Excessive Sexuality: —

  1. Sexual precocity
  2. Senile sexuality
  3. Satyriasis
  4. Nymphomania.

Of the sexual perversions I shall say nothing except that they are happily as rare as they are disgusting, and are usually an evidence of mental deterioration. They are sometimes, however, acquired vices being the result of a continual search for new sexual stimuli on the part of voluptuaries.

In 1891, the term “contrary sexual instinct” was commonly deployed to described homosexuality — the term homosexuality itself had not yet entered the English language (see May 6). Its conflation with bestiality and pederasty goes back centuries, as laws against sodomy typically made no distinction between the three.

But as I said, Dana’s article dealt chiefly with masturbation and another condition that was seen as equally injurious, nocturnal emissions (which carried the diagnosis of spermatorrhea). Both, which represented the expenditure of seed and energies for purely recreational purposes (or, in the case of nocturnal emissions, no purpose at all), were believed to be debilitating, particularly for young men and women. For one sixteen year old patient who masturbated “weekly and sometimes daily,” Dr. Dana prescribed quite a number of treatments:

He was placed on bromides, taken from school, and kept at work out doors. But his emissions continued. I saw him a month ago, and prescribed atropia and bromides, twice a day, noon and night, with a drachm of flud extract of salix nigra at night. Beside this, cold steel sounds were introduced into the urethra for ten minutes, three times weekly. He was made to take cold sponge baths daily, and was given an impressive lecture on the necessity of stopping his bad habits. He is very much better now, and on the high road to recovery.

[Source: Charles L. Dana. “On certain sexual neuroses.” Medical and Surgical Reporter. 65, no. 7 (August 15, 1891): 241-245. Available online at Google Books here.]

MiamiNews1954.08.15

 “How Los Angeles Handles Its 150,000 Perverts”: 1954. “Is Greater Miami in danger of becoming a favorite gathering spot for homosexuals and sexual psychopaths? It happened in Los Angeels and it could happen here.” That was The Miami Daily News’ opening line in the second of three articles that appeared on the front page on Sunday, August 15, 1954 as part of the News’ and Miami Herald’s ongoing campaign to whip up anti-gay hysteria in South Florida. The first article had appeared two days earlier (see Aug 13) featuring a local psychiatrist who characterized homosexuality as “worse than drug addiction or alcoholism” because “there is little hope for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable pattern.” Now the News with another “educational” installment to describe what would happen if Miami became overrun with homosexuals the way Los Angeles did. ONE Magazine, the first nationally-distributed pro-gay magazine in the United States, managed to catch the News: attention:

In California the homosexuals have organized to resist interference by police. They have established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a “normal” group, a so-called “third sex.” They number 150,000 in Los Angeles, their leaders say. They claim kinship by nature with some of the leading literary and business figures in the nation.

…Thad F. Brown, deputy chief of detectives for the City of Los Angeles, told The Miami Daily News that homosexuals and sexual psychopaths “are a tremendous problem in this city.” Chief Brown said a special detail works out of the vice squad to control homosexuals gathering in public places. … “This thing is like cancer, said Chief Brown. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. We process about 150 homosexuals a month who are caught in the act.”

… The police in Los Angeles have a policy of harassment. “We keep a constant check on bars and restaurants where they hang out,” Brown said. “We try to get the licenses of the places catering to them.”

The News described the January 1954 edition of ONE, which had criticized Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard for a series of raids at the 22nd Street beach in 1953. “Last Thursday Chief Shepard pulled another raid at 22nd Street,” said the News (see Aug 13), “and will probably get another roasting from the magazine published in Los Angeles.” The News then warned that Miami may well end up like Los Angeles, maybe worse:

Miami and Los Angeles have much in common. Both have mild climates; both are vacation centers, ar in the midst of rapid growth and are cosmopolitan in attitude. In other words, Miami could follow a pattern to that of Los Angeles in regard to deviates. Florida’s laws for the punishment of the sexual psychopath are not nearly as harsh as California law. Punishment for homosexuals caught in the act is light.

Lee Mortimer

New York Mirror Columnist Blasts Mattachine Society: 1961. Lee Mortimer, a columnist for the New York Mirror, had an unusual beat: he began his career as a crime reporter before becoming a Broadway and Harlem nightclub gossip columnist. He traded in sensation with a popular series of gossipy books about crime in the U.S., with titles like New York Confidential, Chicago Confidential, Washington Confidential, and U.S. Confidential, the latter of which drew libel lawsuits from two members of Congress. Those salacious books, which purported to describe the seedy underside of urban life, often included derisive descriptions of limp-wristed, sashaying and lisping homosexuals. On August 15, 1961, Mortimer decided that New Yorkers needed to know about the local chapter of the Mattachine Society which had been in existence since 1956, and wrote the following for his column in the Mirror:

DEPT. OF STIFLED YAWNS: There’s an international group known as the Mattachine Society, Inc. with headquarters at 1133 Broadway; which acts as a sort of defense agency for homosexuals. It talks loudly and stridently about their “civil rights” and lobbies to secure legislation making such disgusting practices legal. That has been done in many continental countries. The campaign is well on the way to reaching its objective in England, a country in which homosexualism has always had a head start… In a letter signed “Albert J. de Dion, chairman” the statement is made that the society was in back of my “campaign” to rid the town of hoodlums who preyed on these “unfortunates,” but now it seems to be having second thoughts. “Fighting to keep criminal elements from our city is very commendable and deserves our support. But to attack a defenseless minority such as homosexuals is not in the best of American traditions.” I now ask whether it is in the best of American traditions to encourage the degenerates who roam our streets at night. I say these so-called “unfortunates” are no defenseless minority but a huge, well-organized, wealthy, defiant, politically powerful, intelligent community, spreading across national borders, with loyalty to no country, no law or no code, except their fellow deviates.

Ohio Secretary of State Ted W. Brown

Ohio Refuses to Incorporate Gay Organization: 1972. Secretary of State Ted W. Brown (R) refused to accept the articles of incorporation for the Greater Cincinnati Gay Society. The organization’s proposed articles of incorporation said the group was formed “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality as a valid life style whenever and wherever possible by legal, political or other means.” Brown refused to approve, file and record the articles of incorporation because “homosexuality as a valid life style has been and is currently defined by statute as a criminal act.” In a radical interpretation of Ohio law, Brown held that just talking about it, apparently, was also against the law under Ohio’s anti-sodomy and solicitation statutes.

The three men who filed the articles — Powell Grant, Jack Busse, and Robert Dugan — appealed Brown’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking the court to order Brown to accept the incorporation request. While the case was pending, the Ohio Legislature undertook a massive revision to the Ohio Criminal Code (now routinely referred to as the Ohio Revised Code), and in the process eliminated the anti-sodomy and anti-solicitation laws. But the majority of the court appeared not to have gotten that memo. On July 10, 1974, four of the seven justices sided with Secretary Brown. They acknowledged that homosexuality was no longer illegal, but held instead that “promotion of homosexuality as a valid life style is contrary to the public policy of the state.” The minority pointed out that because Ohio had decriminalized all private sexual activity between consenting adults, there was nothing even remotely illegal about the Society.

In 1976, Brown apparently had a change of heart when he approved the filing of articles of incorporation for the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. In 1978, he lost his seat to his Democratic challenger in a very close race.

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 Friday, August 14

Jim Burroway

August 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fargo, ND/Moorehead MN; Galway, Ireland; Kelowna, BC; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); New Westminster, BC; Pittston, PA; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; Salem, OR; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Denver CO; North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), August 13, 1982, page 18

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), August 13, 1982, page 18.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” Published: 1953. The first half of what is collectively and colloquially known as “The Kinsey Report” appeared in 1948 with the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (see Jan 5). That volume revealed that the human male in America was having a hell of a lot of sex: pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, self sex, oral sex, masochistic sex, sadistic sex, and, most shockingly, gay sex. The book was controversial, but somewhat less so than you might imagine. After all, boys will be boys, even in 1948, and sexual experiences were more or less seen as coming with the territory. Sure, there were criticisms: it wasn’t statistically rigorous, the sample wasn’t representative, he relied too much on questionnaires distributed among prison populations. And while the “how many” and “how often” is what was talked about most, the fact that there was any kind of data on an activity that everyone did but nobody talked about, helps to explain the first volume’s success. Now, all of the sudden everyone was talking about it — as science, not smut, which made all the difference in the world.

The reception for the second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953 was very different. Kinsey anticipated some of its criticisms based on methodological complaints about the first volume. He purged the inmate and other atypical populations, and he listened more carefully to what statisticians were telling him. But he couldn’t correct all of his shortcomings. Clyde Klucknohn, a Harvard University anthropology professor, in a review for The New York Times, called the book “a brilliant and arguable contribution for which we are all in their debt.” He thought however that it was “not a definitive treatise…. The honest title would have been: ‘Some Aspects of Sexual Behavior in American Females (Primarily Educated, Protestant, Regionally Localized, Adolescent through Middle-Aged).'”

Time, August 24, 1953.

But other criticisms of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female went way beyond the statistical, largely because this time, we’re not talking about boys being boys, but the fairer sex and the flowering of female desires. Finding out that more than 90% of women had indulged in sexual petting, 66% dreamed about sex, 62% masturbated, about half had given blow jobs, half had had sex before marriage, a quarter had cheated on their husbands, and a sixth had had sex with another woman at least once in their lives (also: “Homosexual contacts are highly effective in bringing the female to orgasm.”) — all of that was seen as an attack on American Motherhood and her apple pie.

Kinsey was branded an enemy of religious propriety and American values. Rep. B. Carroll Reece (R-TN) chaired a House committee to investigate alleged ties between Kinsey and the Communist Party. The Rockefeller Foundation, which had provided funding for Kinsey’s studies, cut him off. Kinsey spent the next two years trying to find another benefactor, and the stress took its toll. He died in 1956 at 62 following years of declining health. The fallout from the two volumes would have a chilling effect on large scale statistical studies of human sexuality for the next 40 years. When AIDS appeared on the landscape in 1981, the Kinsey reports, flawed as they were, were still the only significant source of information on human sexual behavior on which to base a response.

Reactions to Sexual Behavior in the Human Female weren’t universally negative. A few found the volume’s titillation entertaining, and it certainly cut a wide swath through popular culture. But most importantly, many women found comfort in discovering that they weren’t sexual freaks, that many other women also enjoyed sex in all of its various forms. And despite their many methodological shortcomings, the Kinsey reports opened an entire field of study that was ripe for exploration. Pioneers often get things wrong; Columbus died believing he found a western route to the East Indies. But pioneers do one thing very well: they point the way for other explorers to carry on the work of discovery.

Nineteen Arrested in Miami Bar Raids: 1954. Miami’s media-driven anti-gay hysteria showed no signs of letting up (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12). Just the day before (see Aug 13), Florida’s acting governor threatened to replace Dade County Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling and ”failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” It’s unknown what actions Sheriff Kelly took to curb gambling, but it only took him a day to put together a raid on several of the city’s gay bars. Nineteen were arrested, and a photo of one of the drag queens (sans wig) was splashed onto the front page of The Miami News:

Front page news.

Raiders Seize 19 in Pervert Roundup.

Nineteen suspected perverts were arrested early today in Miami and Miami Beach by raiding deputy sheriffs. The men were booked on vagrancy charges and held for a venereal disease check. One suspect was released in custody of his attorney. Deputies did not name the suspects.

Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly said his deputies had been watching bars where perverts had been seen and had made floor plans of each place to be visited.

Deputy Gerald Butler said Dr. M.J. Takos, Dade County Venereal Disease Control director, checked each person brought in by deputies. Dr. Takos decided which men were to be held.

Places on the list included the Good Hotel, Stockade Bar, Echo Club, El Morocco Bar, Sambo Bar, Circus Bar, Charles Hotel Bar, DeMarco Bar, Alibi Bar, Shanticleer [sic] Bar, Leon and Eddies, the Little Club, and Singapore Lounge, Butler reported.

Deputies taking part in the raids included Earl Venno, Bill McCrory, Bob Thomas, Paul Huizenga, Dick Shelton, Al Hickland, Frank Cilencion, and Joe Gorman.

Butler said the deputies were warned against “unnecessary rough stuff.”

Sheriff Kelly said “we don’t want perverts to set up housekeeping in this county. We want them to know that they’re not welcome.”

Kelly said he had been told by the health unit that five cases of primary syphilis have been reported in male homosexuals this months and the figure was considered “alarming.”

San Francisco Police Raid Tay-Bush Inn: 1961. San Francisco Mayor George Christopher faced a serious challenge to his re-election in 1959 from city Assessor Russ Wolden, Jr., who planted a story under a banner headline, “Sex Deviates Make San Francisco Headquarters,” in the weekly San Francisco Progress (see Oct 7). Wolden charged that Christopher allowed “this unsavory wicked situation … to fester and spread like a cancerous growth on the body of San Francisco.” If Wolden hoped he would bring the entire city up on arms, he was successful beyond his dreams — but not in the way he planned. Over the next three weeks, San Francisco’s three dailies investigated the story and backed the incumbent, condemning Wolden for acting “beyond the pale of decent politics.” The concern wasn’t that Wolden had attacked a persecuted minority, but that he had “stigmatized the city” and “degraded the good name of San Francisco.”

Christopher won re-election by a landslide, but he was determined that he would never again be susceptible to the charge of being soft on vice. One way of demonstrating his commitment was to launch a series of highly publicized gay bar raids, with the San Francisco Police Department coordinating their attacks with the California Alcohol and Beverage Control Board. The ensuing series of raids through the summer culminated in the largest vice raid in the city’s history, when 89 men and 14 women were arrested at the Tay-Bush Inn just a few bocks northwest of Union Square. Witnesses reported that police first allowed “respectable looking” and politically connected customers to leave quietly before beginning the round-up. Hal Call (see Sep 20), the San Francisco gay rights activist who headed the Mattachine Society, recalled, “Ethel Merman just missed getting busted on that night by about fifteen minutes. She was starring in Gypsy, and she’d gone up to the Tay-Bush with some gay friends after the show.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that three paddy wagons made seven trips between the after-hours bar and the city jail. It was, the Chronicle said, “vaguely reminiscent of leading sheep from a packed corral.” Despite 103 arrests, authorities complained that another 139 intended detainees managed to slip away. Those arrested included actors, actresses, dancers, a state hospital psychologist, a bank manager, an artist and an Air Force purchasing agent, and the San Francisco Examiner listed every one of their names, addresses, occupations and employers.

They were all charged with frequenting a disorderly house. The evidence, according to prosecutors: “The majority of the males affected swishy-hipped walks, limp-wristed gestures, high-pitched voices and wore tight pants…. The women were mannish.” About one in five or six were given an additional charge of lewd conduct, because they were seen to be dancing together or kissing. and because five or six couples were dancing, the Tay-Bush Inn was fined $400. The Mattachine Society paid for lawyers, and the charges for visiting a disorderly house were eventually dropped for all but two. Mayor Christopher responded, “We found as always that some arrests are very difficult of prosecution because Courts demand total, complete, and unequivocal evidence, but we think we’re on the right track.”

But Christopher’s train soon derailed. The Chronicle’s reporting on the administration’s campaign against gay bars had been becoming increasingly critical against the police. Before the Tay-Bush raid, one columnist questioned where gay people would go if police succeeded in closing down all the gay bars. One possibility was unpalatable to readers: they might end up going to straight bars. When the Tay-Bush was raided, the Chronicle portrayed the patrons sympathetically, as ordinary middle-class, otherwise respectable citizens. It also described Bob Johnson, the Tay-Bush’s twenty-seven year old owner, as something of a martyr, who “seemed more concerned about his patrons than himself.” Responding to growing media criticism, Christopher pressured police chief Thomas Cahill to tone down the publicity and abandon the department’s massive, centrally-coordinated raids.

[Sources: Christopher Lowen Agee. The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014): 98-101.

Edward Allwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 39.

Hal Call. “Calling Shots.” Mattachine Review 7, no. 9 (September 1961): 12-14.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 39.

Del Martin. “Editorial: Fire Hoses Next? The Ladder 5, no. 12 (September 1961): 14-15.]

30 YEARS AGO: Los Angeles Enacts AIDS Non-Discrimination Ordinance: 1985. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance protecting people with AIDS from discrimination in employment, housing and health care, making L.A. the first major city in the U.S. to pass such a measure. Before the vote, Councilman Joel Wachs, who introduced the measure, told the council, “We have an opportunity to set an example for the whole nation, to protect those people who suffer from AIDS against insidious discrimination.”

Wachs said that discrimination was a pressing problem. “There are a large number to cases of discrimination out there, where people are being fired, evicted and can’t get into an apartment because they have AIDS,” he said. Wachs also noted that half of the people with AIDS who file complaints die before their complaints are investigated. The city council opted for civil penalties instead of criminal penalties because civil proceedings are much faster. The ordinance provided for compensation for actual damages, costs, and attorney fees, and also provided for punitive damages. Councilman Ernani Barnardi hoped that the ordinance would have the effect of educating the public and calming the hysteria.

Wachs served on L.A.’s city council from 1971 to 2001. He came out in 1999 as he was preparing a 2001 run for the Mayor’s office.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
175 YEARS AGO: Richard von Krafft-Ebing: 1840-1902. The Austro-German psychiatrist’s principal work, Psychopathia Sexualis was more than just the Kinsey Report of 1886; it single-handedly established sexology as a serious field of study. The last edition, his twelfth, included 238 case histories of human sexual behavior, and popularized such terms as sadism, masochism, fetishism, and the newly-coined word, homosexuality (see May 6). It was written specifically for psychiatrists, physicians, and judges in a dense academic style in order to discourage its purchase by lay readers. The most sordid parts, he wrote in Latin to further discourage casual reading.

A native of Baden, Germany, Krafft-Ebing studied medicine and psychiatry at the University of Heidelberg. He taught at the Universities of Strasbourg, and then at Graz, where he also served as superintendent of the Feldhof mental asylum. When he arrived at the asylum, he found that it was operated more as a dungeon than a treatment facility, and he fought for its reform, a fight which was ultimately unsuccessful. But it led him to publish the Text-Book of Insanity in 1879 to promote therapy rather than imprisonment for the mentally ill.

In Krafft-Ebing’s study of insanity, he often encountered sexual practices which were routinely characterized as causes of insanity or dismissed as vile criminal practices, but which were otherwise little studied. This deficiency in the scientific literature led to what would turn out to be his life’s work. Psychopathia Sexualis catalogued a wide range of sexual practices, from masturbation, impotence, fetishisms, necrophilia, lust-murder — you name it. The practices were carefully categorized as paradoxia (sexual desire at the wrong time of life), hyperaesthesia (excessive sexual desire), anaesthesia (absence of sexual desire) and, the largest, paraesthesia (which he called the perversion of the sexual instinct).

Krafft-Ebing’s notable achievement with Psychopathia Sexualis is that it allowed psychiatry to claim authority over sexual knowledge, where previously it was seen as a religious or criminal problem. Before Psychopathia Sexualis, sexual behavior that was not directed toward procreation — especially promiscuity and masturbation — was believed to cause insanity. Psychopathia Sexualis flipped that understanding around, and argued that “deviant” sexual behaviors were the result of a more fundamental mental disorder. For homosexuals in particular, he concluded that gay people were suffering from a kind of a biologically-based anomaly, one which occurred sometime during gestation, which resulted in a “sexual inversion” of the brain.

Despite Krafft-Ebing’s efforts at objectivity, he was never able to escape the nineteenth-century assumptions that regarded recreational sex as a perversion of the sex drive. But in his later years, Krafft-Ebing’s opinions became more lenient toward gay people. He was among the first to sign Magnus Hireschfield’s petition for the repeal of Germany’s Paragraph 175, which criminalized sexual behavior between men. In his last article on homosexuality, published in Hirschfeld’s Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Types, Krafft-Ebing described his earlier views of homosexuality as pathological as being one-sided, and advocated instead that gay people should be treated with sympathy and compassion. However condescending that viewpoint was, it was also, at least, an improvement. But in the end Krafft-Ebing’s work had the practical effect of extending Victorian morality for most of the next century by merely replacing religious moralism with a scientific gloss. It would take nearly nine decades after Psychopathia Sexualis’s publication before the American Psychiatric Association would finally cut through that gloss once and for all and remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders (see Dec 15).

The 1894 English translation of Psychopathia Sexualis, which is credited with introducing the word “homosexuality” into the English language, is available for free at Google Books here

Sibilla Aleramo: 1876-1960. Reared outside of Milan where her father managed a glass factory, young Rina Faccio was unable to continue her education beyond the elementary level. At fifteen, she began seeing a man ten years her senior, who raped her at her father’s factory. Rina didn’t tell her parents what happened, and instead wound up marrying him. A year and a half later, she had a son, and eight years later she left her husband and moved to Rome. Her new lover, the journalist Giovanni Cena, convinced her to turn her story into a fictionalized memoir, Una Donna (A Woman), which she published in 1906 under the pen name of Sibilla Aleramo.

Aleramo became active in politics and the arts, which is how she came to meet the Italian feminist Lina Poletti at the First National Congress of Women in Rome. The two women entered what is described as a volatile relationship, even as Aleramo remained with Cena. In her letters to Poletti, she wrote that she didn’t feel at all guilty about being in love with both of them at the same time; Poletti answered that the dual relationships threatened Aleramo’s sanity. Aleramo’s relationship with Poletti ended after a year. Aleramo went on to become one of Italy’s leading feminists, and Una Donna is now considered an Italian classic as the first outspokenly feminist Italian novel. She remained active in feminist politics until her death in 1960.

Horst B. Horst: 1906-1999. The German-American fashion photographer was born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in Weißenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany. He studied at Hamburg’s Kunstgewerbeschule before going to Paris to study under Le Corbusier. That’s where he met Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene and became his photographic assistant and lover. In 1931, Horst began working with Vogue directly, and in 1932 he had his first exhibition in Paris. It was a sensational success, and in the next two years he would photograph Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Daisy Fellows, and a whole passel of European royalty and near-royalty.

In 1937, Horst made a move to New York, where he met Coco Chanel. He would photograph her fashions for the next three decades. The following year, he met the British diplomat Valentine Lawford, and they would build a life together as a couple until Lawford’s death in 1991. Horst also adopted a son.

The Mainbocher Corset (1939)

Horst’s 1939 photo of the exceptionally controversial Mainbocher Corset is perhaps his most famous photo. The Corset itself created a furor in pre-war Paris, where it marked an abrupt break from the past due to its radical silhouette and its reintroduction of an article of clothing that is more associated with the Victorian era. Horts’s photo of the Corset however was anything but Victorian.

In 1941, Horst applied for U.S. citizenship, and in 1943 he joined the U.S. Army as a photographer, three months before he took the oath of citizenship when he officially became Horst P. Horst, partly, it is said, because his surname sounded too much like top Nazi official Martin Bormann’s. After the war, Horst’s photos illustrated international high society for Vogue. Subjects included every First Lady beginning with Bess Truman, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Oscar de la Renta, Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Doris Duke, Cy Twombly, and just about every European royalty still in existence. Madonna’s 1990 music video for her song “Vogue” recreated many of Horst’s photos, including the Mainbocher Corset, much to the displeasure of Horst who was displeased that she didn’t seek permission to use his photos nor acknowledge his work. His last photograph for British Vogue was in 1991 with Princess Michael of Kent. He died in 1999 at the age of 93.

Mark Pocan: 1964. Pocan became active in local politics in Madison soon after graduating and opening his own print shop, when he was gay-bashed by two men with baseball bats as he was leaving a gay bar. He worked in the local LGBT community before winning a seat on Dane County’s Board of Supervisors from 1991 to 1996. In 1998, he succeeded Tammy Baldwin when she gave up her seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly to run for U.S. House of Representatives. In 2013, Pocan against succeeded Baldwin when she vacated her seat in the House of Representatives and was sworn in as Senator. As a result, Pocan made history by becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative. This also made Wisconsin the first state to send openly gay representatives to both Houses of Congress. In 2006, Pocan married his partner in Toronto, even though their marriage is not recognized in Wisconsin. That may change soon, thanks to a June ruling by a Federal District Judge declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional,

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 Thursday, August 13

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fargo, ND/Moorehead MN; Galway, Ireland; Kelowna, BC; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); New Westminster, BC; Pittston, PA; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; Salem, OR; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Denver CO; North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 7

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 7

The Bay Area Reporter published this brief review in 1971: “Drop in on TOTIE’S sometime for fun and relaxation. They have a game there where Totie or Al will get on the phone to Joe Roland of THE GANGWAY and play Boss Dice for rounds for both places. One can get awfully tittly while observing this.” Totie’s was on Larkin Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, just a block off of Polk Street when that was San Francisco’s Castro before the Castro became the Castro. Tottie’s appears to have opened sometime in 1971. I don’t know how long it lasted, but Totie’s was still listed in this 1977 city directory. More recently, the address was another bar called Olive, but that business has closed.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Thirty-Five Arrested in Miami Beach Raid as Governor Threatens to Replace Sheriff: 1954. The wave of anti-gay hysteria in Miami continued apace (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12), with Florida’s acting governor, Charley E. Johns, getting in on the act. Johns became acting governor when Gov. Dan McCarty died in 1953. He would later return to the State Senate and head the infamous Johns Committee which revived a statewide Red and Lavender Scare,  with investigations of alleged communists, homosexuals, and civil rights advocates among the students and faculty of Florida’s schools and university system. The Miami News reported that Johns was looking for an excuse to replace Dade County sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling and for “failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” The News continued: “Public indignation over two recent sex murders and police revelations that Miami is host to a colony of some 5,000 homosexuals might be used to accuse the sheriff of lax law enforcement.”

In a separate report that same day, The Miami News reported that Miami Beach Police had raided a section of the beach the day before:

Two of six suspected homosexuals arrested by Miami Beach police in a raid on the 22nd Street bathing area were convicted of disorderly conduct today and ordered to pay $10 fines.

Beach police arrested 35 men yesterday afternoon in a raid planned by Police Chief Shepard. All but six were released after questioning at headquarters. The six kept in custody were charged with disorderly conduct by reason of failure to give a good account of their actions.

City Judge Lawrence Hoffman dismissed cases against four of the six today but warned them to stay away from the 22nd Street bathing area.

“Chief Shepard intends to make good his plan to make Miami Beach undesirable to homosexuals,” Judge Hoffman told the suspects.

ONE magazine, quoting from an article in The Miami Herald, paraphrased the Miami Beach action this way:

Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard personally led a”flying squad of raiders” who fearlessly “swooped down on the public bathing area at 22nd street and the ocean and herded 35 males to headquarters for questioning.” Two headed for the deep sea but were pulled in by lifeguards … “The raid was executed with all the advance planning and secrecy of an amphibious landing”; … Romeo explained there’d been “numerous complaints” of “males who ‘act mighty like girls.'” Six were booked for disorderly conduct for failing to give a good account of themselves. (What does that mean? A cash transaction, perhaps? — L.P.) The rest released after questioning. Charges later dropped against all but two, who were fined $10 each. Some had worn bathing suits “that caused snickers from police” — bikinis and such, “shocking pink, daring cerise and leopard skin pattern.”

[Additional sources: Lyn Pedersen (pseudonym of Jim Kepner). “Miami Hurricane.” ONE 2, no. 9 (November 1954): 4-8.

Fred Fejes. “Murder, Perversion and MoralPanic: The 1954 Media Campaign against Miami’s Homosexuals and the Discourse of Civic Betterment.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, no. 3 (July 2000): 305-347.]

Dr. Paul Kells

Dr. Paul Kells

A Disease Worse than Alcohol: 1954. On the same day that The Miami News printed the front-page article about the nineteen queers who had been arrested in Miami Beach, the paper still wasn’t finished with its anti-gay crusade. Across the bottom of the front page was the first of a series of three articles purporting to inform the general public about the “condition” of homosexuality. Titled “Psychiatrist Looks At Deviates: A Disease ‘Worse Than Alcohol’,” the article featured Dr. Paul Kells, a “noted Miami psychiatrist, whom The Miami Daily News asked to supply answers to questions regarding sexual deviates.” The News introduces the subject this way:

In the past few days Miamians have learned that this community has become infected by a large colony of sexual deviates. The word “infected” is used advisedly, since homosexuality is a social disease. It can be worse than drug addiction or alcoholism. There is little hope for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable pattern.

Most of the article follows a Q&A format, with the first question appearing to draw some sort of a line between homosexuals and “sexual psychopaths.” What line exactly is drawn however is anybody’s guess:

Q Are all homosexuals potential child molesters, sadists (those who enjoy causing others pain) and masochists (those who enjoy pain and humiliation for themselves?)

A. No. The sexual psychopath, of which homosexuality is only one form, is the extreme sex deviate classification from which emerges the child molester and sadist. The sexual psychopath has no feeling of social responsibility, much in the manner of the hardened criminal who has no understanding or regard for the law, the psychiatrist explained.

The sexual psychopath preys on both sexes. He or she might consort with homosexuals as a means of getting money or any other objective. The psychopathic personality frequently has a feeling of great superiority over others, disregarding at all times the need of conforming to social laws.

As for whether homosexuals were born that way:

No. …”It is usually a matter of experience which makes a person a homosexual,” the doctor stated. “It’s ‘possible’ for anyone to become a homosexual, but people are not born to be such.”

It is in this statement that Miamians can clearly see their problem. In a community where there are only a few homosexuals, the chance for exposure to such practices are negligible.

Not all homosexuals want to gain converts, but those who do can be extremely aggressive, the doctor explained. The most aggressive is the psychopathic personality, who also lacks understanding of social responsibility.

“The shy homosexual has a sense of social responsibility and will go to great extremes to conceal his plight,” said the psychiatrist. “This type lives in constant fear of being exposed and will marry and have families to conceal its sexual behavior.”

… Dr. Kells pointed out that “normal” homosexuals are acceptable to society when their sex behavior is not known. “The sexual psychopath is never acceptable,” he said. “And there is the important question involved in creating laws. The ‘normal’ homosexual should be separated from the sexual psychopath.”

Q. Do perverts tend to congregate in the same area or town?

A. Yes, but only certain types.

“No Obits”: 1996. For the first time in more than seventeen years, the San Fransisco weekly Bay Area Reporter made the news because of a lack of news: there were no obituaries of AIDS victims in the August 13, 1996 edition. The rate of obituaries had been declining for the previous two years following the introduction of the so-called AIDS cocktail, which surprised scientists and AIDS advocates alike for its effectiveness in halting and even reversing the health declines of those on medications. According to an AP article at the time, “The few days leading up to Monday’s deadline for submitting obits were tense at the newspaper. In the previous two weeks, none had been delivered until the last minute. ‘It was like watching a no-hitter in baseball unfolding,’ (news editor Mike) Salinas said. ‘We didn’t really want to discuss it until it became obvious that it was going to happen. We held our breath waiting.'” But the obit never came by the time the deadline arrived, and the paper celebrated with a front-page headline proclaiming “No Obits.”

Australia Amends Marriage Law To Ban Same-Sex Marriage: 2004. The opposition Labor party joined the governing right-of-center Liberal Party under Prime Minister John Howard to pass an amendment to Australia’s marriage law to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment specified:

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

The bill had been introduced by Liberal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock just two months after the UK’s Civil Partnership Act had been proposed. Labor shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced that same day that Labor would not oppose the amendment. Labor’s support wasn’t universal. Anthony Albanese, Labor MP for Grayndler, said the bill was the “result of 30 bigoted backbenchers who want to press buttons in the community.” The bill’s critics challenged the government’s priorities, asking why there was a such a rush to ban same-sex marriage when the proposed anti-terrorism law hadn’t been voted on yet. Government and Labor responded by switching the schedule for the two bills and passed the anti-terrorism law first before approving the amendment in June. In the SEnate, both parties joined to cut off debate, a move that Democrat leader Sen. Andrew Bartlett roundly condemned: “This is just an absolute disgrace … (you are saying) we have to do it now, otherwise society will crumble and the world will end. You are saying, ‘It is urgent that we take away as many freedoms and rights from people as possible and do it really quickly before they notice and get a chance to be upset about it’.” But that is exactly what they did, and on August 13, the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 38-6.

Bills to provide marriage equality have been introduced in Australia’s Parliament in 2006 and 2009, but they have gone nowhere. In May 2013, then-former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who had previously opposed marriage equality, announced that he had changed his position and now supports it. Rudd then ousted Prime Minster Julia Gillard, who had been a staunch opponent of marriage equality, as head of the Labor Party on June 27. Rudd’s Labor was ahead in the polls in the run-up to the September 7 federal election, but it ended up losing 17 seats in the House of Representatives, and with it, the goverment, to the Liberal/National coalition headed by Tony Abbott. Abbot is an outspoken foe of marriage equality, despite having a lesbian sister, and has just this week refused to allow a free vote on a marriage equality proposal among ruling coalition members.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
120 YEARS AGO: Gluck: 1895-1978. The British painter was born Hannah Gluckstein, but she insisted on being known only as Gluck” — “No prefix, suffix, or quotes.” She resigned as vice president of an art society when her name appeared on the letterhead as “Miss Gluck.” And just as she kept her identification simple, her style of painting was also not part of any particular artistic school. Gluck established herself as a painter of floral arrangements which became popular among interior decorators, including floral designer Constance Spry, who would be Gluck’s lover from 1932 to 1936.

Gluck’s Medallion, 1937

Gluck’s reputation was grounded in her portraits, beginning with her own 1925 self portrait, wearing a shirt, tie, suspenders, beret and smoking a cigarette. Her best known painting, Medallion, is a dual portrait of Gluck and Nesta Obermer, who became Gluck’s partner after her relationship with Spry ended. She painted it in 1936 to commemorate what she called her marriage to Obermer on May 25. Gluck called it her “YouWe” painting, and it was later used as the cover of the Virago Press edition of The Well of Loneliness.

In 1944, Obermer decided to end her relationship with Gluck, complaining that Gluck had become too demanding and possessive. Gluck then entered a tumultuous thirty-year relationship with Edith Shakelton Heald, the first female reporter in Britain’s House of Lords. Gluck’s emotional health deteriorated as she descended into depression, and her painting suffered because of it. But she managed to revive herself in the 1950s when she became alarmed at the declining quality of paints and canvases. With the backing of two important museums and the Arts Council of Great Britain, she embarked on a decade-long campaign to convince the Standards Institution to establish new standards for cold-pressed linseed oil, canvases, and the naming and defining of pigments.

With that success behind her, Gluck returned to the easel using special handmade paints supplied by a manufacturer who agreed to meet her exacting standards. She painted several more paintings, including one of a decomposing fish head on the beach titled, Rage, Rage against the Dying of Light. She mounted a successful solo show in 1973, her first since 1937. It would be her last. She died in 1978.

Herb Ritts, self portrait.

Herb Ritts: 1952-2002. The fashion and celebrity photographer is probably known more for who he photographed than for his photos themselves, which is a shame considering the quality of his work. His trademark was in his highly geometric, classic style, often evoking Greek classism. But his access to superstars came naturally, having grown up in Brentwood where many of them were either neighbors or friends of neighbors. His subjects ended up including just about everyone in Hollywood, beginning with photos of his friend, Richard Gere, taken before either of them were famous. When Gere used those photos for publicity, Ritt’s reputation was set. He photographed Brooke Shields for the cover of Elle in 1981, and he shot the cover photo for Olivia Newton-John’s album Physical that same year.

Ricard Gere, 1977

In addition to shooting every star and starlet in Hollywood, Ritts photographed the Dalai Lama, Michael Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Hawking. His fashion photography included books for Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Calvin Klein (including Marky Mark’s famous underwear shoot), Donna Karen, Valentino, and many more. He also directed music videos for Madonna, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Chris Issak, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez.

In 1989, Ritts published MEN/WOMEN, a two-volume box set which explored the classic beauty of the male and female bodies. 1991’s Duo extended that exploration to nude gay couples. Notorious, published in 1992, saw Ritts return to celebrity portraiture. In 1994, he broke completely from his typical subjects with the publication of Africa, a study of the stark African l andscape, its wildlife and the Maasai people who make their home there.

In the 1980s and 1990s he also threw himself into fundraising for HIV/AIDS groups like anfAR, and he did so long before Elizabeth Taylor made it fashionable. Always open about his own HIV-positive status, Ritts died in 2002 of pneumonia.

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 Wednesday, August 12

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fargo, ND/Moorehead MN; Galway, Ireland; Kelowna, BC; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); New Westminster, BC; Pittston, PA; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; Salem, OR; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Denver CO; North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

The Arizona Gay News provided more details about the big weekend:

This city is putting the welcome mat out for all of its Gay brothers and sisters from Tucson. Plans for a Gay weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 12, 13 and 14, have just been completed. Spearheaded by the Ramrod’s congenial owner, Marty, all the Phoenix Gay Community have joined in a united effort to show their hospitality.

Plans have been made through the girls bike club, Riders of the Sun, to host their sisters from Tucson, and the Sons of Apollo [a gay male motorcycle club — JB] will host their gay brothers. If you do not have any accommodations, bring a long a sleeping bag and your hosts will make the necessary arrangements.

Riders of the Sun were to sponsor a buffet at the Unlimited on Friday, and the Sons of Apollo planned on hosting another buffet on Saturday at the Ramrod. Brunch was planned for Sunday at the Nu-Towne Saloon. The Nu-Towne is still in business today, and is known for two things: it is Phoenix’s oldest continually-operating gay bar, and it’s Sunday grill and beer bust is still hugely popular.

Click to view the full broadsheet.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
  Captain Nichols Hanged for “Buggery”: 1833. Yes, that was the actual British legal term for homosexual activity, and it was a capital offense until 1861, when the laws were finally relaxed to allow for life imprisonment. But that change came almost thirty years too late for Captain Henry Nichols. In 1833, the London Courier printed the following account:

Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, who was one of the unnatural gang to which the late Captain Beauclerk belonged, (and which latter gentleman put an end to his existence), was convicted on the clearest evidence at Croydon, on Saturday last, of the capital offence of Sodomy; the prisoner was perfectly calm and unmoved throughout the trial, and even when sentence of death was passed upon him. In performing the duty of passing sentence of death upon the prisoner, Mr. Justice Park told him that it would be inconsistent with that duty if he held out the slightest hope that the law would not be allowed to take its severest course. At 9 o’clock in the morning the sentence was carried into effect. The culprit, who was fifty years of age, was a fine looking man, and had served in the Peninsular war. He was connected with a highly respectable family; but, since his apprehension not a single member of it visited him.

You can also read a different account from another popular broadsheet by clicking the above image.

[via ExecutedToday.com, which goes to show that there really is a blog for everything.]

 Miami News Reports On Trial of Gay Informant: 1954. That summer, greater Miami was swept up by an unprecedented wave of media-driven anti-gay hysteria, triggered, in part, by the murder of a male Eastern Airlines flight attendant earlier in August (see Aug 3, Aug 11). Meanwhile, bars and beaches were being raided and gay men were  being convicted under Florida’s sodomy law. The Miami News on August 12 reported on one such case involving a gay man and a reputed police informant who was apparently himself gay. Because The News’s report leaves open far more questions than it answers, I will just repeat it in full.

Informant Escapes Jail Term in Pervert ‘Turnabout’ Trial.

By Larry Birger
Miami Daily News Staff Writer

A self-styled police informer escaped trial on sex charges today when a convicted homosexual refused to press a complaint which he had filed at the suggestion of City Judge Cecil C. Curry.

Odom’s photo from the Miami News

The case against truck driver Leonard M. Odom, 24, of 3523 SW 14th Ter., was dispatched so quickly that the name of the complainant’s attorney escaped reporters.

The convicted homosexual, Walter G. Quester, changed his mind and dropped charges against Odom of committing lewd and lascivious acts.

Judge Curry asked the unidentified attorney for Quester: “Why did you drop the charges?”

“I don’t know,” the lawyer replied. “I wasn’t here yesterday.”

The attorney was referring to the unusual court session at which the judge had turned on the chief witness against the defendant at Quester’s hearing on charges of lewd and lascivious acts.

On the basis of Odom’s testimony, concerning a “date” he claimed he’d had with Quester to get information for the police, Quester was convicted and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Then Curry told Odom, “It looks to me as if you’re just as guilty as the defendant.” He suggested to Quester that he file counter-charges against Odom, which was done.

Before today’s hearing Odom’s lawyer, Morey A. Rayman, said he would move that Curry disqualify himself as presiding judge on grounds he had prejudged the defendant.

This report raises all sorts of questions. Was Odom really working as a police informant? Or did he decide to try to claim that’s what he was doing in order to try to get out of being charged himself? What — or who — led Quester to drop the charges against Odom?  And with Odom’s name, address, and photo published in the paper, what happened to him after the trial was over?

It really is quite possible that there were two victims in the sordid mess, each one trying to make the best of a very bad, no-win situation. These are the kinds of stories that appear briefly in newspapers across the country and then, just as quickly, disappear. These are also the kinds of stories I would love to be able to track down. In searching Ancestry.com, there was a Walter G. Quester who died in 1987 in Broward County, Florida, and a Leonard M. Odom who died in Madison, Florida in 1997. Were these the guys mentioned in this article?

 “Gay Is Good” Adopted As National Homophile Slogan: 1968. The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), an umbrella group with representatives from twenty-six local and national gay rights organizations, was formed two years earlier, and from the very beginning they were hampered squabbles between the member groups. At the core, they were hampered by a lack of a unifying vision of where the gay community needed to concentrate its meager resources and energies. When they finally met in Chicago just a few weeks before the contentious Democratic National Convention, a whole host of fault lines had emerged: along generational lines with younger members being influenced by civil rights and anti-war protests, along gender lines as lesbians became increasingly impatient and distrustful as the dominant male leadership gave short shrift to their concerns, and along geographic lines between the more “militant” East Coast and the less confrontational West Coast factions.

Although the delegates failed to form a unified national organization, they did manage to accomplish two things. First, they passed “Homosexual Bill of Rights”, which was proposed by the Resolutions Committee chaired by Daughters of Bilitis president Shirley Willer (see Sep 26). The Homosexual Bill of Rights consisted of these five points:

  1. Private consensual sex between persons over the age of consent shall not be an offense.
  2. Solicitation for any sexual acts shall not be an offense except upon the filing of a complaint by the aggrieved party, not a police officer or agent.
  3. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not be a factor in the granting or renewing of federal security clearances or visas, or in the granting of citizenship.
  4. Service in and discharge from the Armed Forces and eligibility for veteran’s benefits shall be without reference to homosexuality.
  5. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not affect his eligibility for employment with federal, state, or local governments, or private employers.

Their second accomplishment would prove to be more enduring, when the convention formally adopted Frank Kameny’s “Gay is Good” slogan as the official slogan of the movement. The full resolution read:

BECAUSE many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups suffer from diminished self-esteem, doubts and uncertainties as to their personal worth, and from a pervasive false and unwarranted sense of an inferiority and undesirability of their homosexual condition, and from a negative approach to that condition; and

BECAUSE, therefore, many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups, are in need of psychological sustenance to bolster and to support a positive and affirmative attitude toward themselves and their homosexuality and to hae instilled into them a confident sense of the positive good and value of themselves and of their condition; and

BECAUSE it would seem to be very much a function of the North American Homophile Conference to attempt to replace a wishy-washy negativism toward homosexuality with a firm no-nonsense positivism, to attempt to establish in the homosexual community and its members feelings of pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, in being the homosexuals that they are and have a moral right to be (these feelings being essential to true human dignity), and to attempt to bring to bear a countervailing influence against negative attitudes toward homosexuality prevalent in the heterosexual community; and

BECAUSE the Negro community has approached similar problems and goals with some success by  the adoption of the motto or slogan: Black is Beautiful

RESOLVED: that it is hereby adopted as a slogan or motto for NACHO that

GAY IS GOOD

The vote was unanimous, perhaps the only point of unanimity in the convention. Kameny saw his slogan’s adoption as being a critical step toward changing the internal self-perceptions that many in the gay community had of themselves. Just a few years earlier, he persuaded his own group, the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., to pass a resolution declaring that homosexuality was not a mental illness (see Mar 4), a vote that was very controversial locally and nationally. This showed Kameny that if the gay community wanted psychiatry to stop regarding gay people as mentally ill, then gays and lesbians themselves would have to change how they saw themselves:

In order that we might hear something good to offset all this negativity, I came up with the slogan “Gay is good” in 1968, in parallel with the slogan “Black is beautiful” coined around the same time for similar psychological reasons. Upon careful analysis, it quickly became clear that as long as we were classified by organized psychiatry as being mentally ill or emotionally disturbed, we were never going to be granted any kind of remedy for the cultural ills besetting us. Society was not going to offer protection to a bunch of “loonies,” which is what psychiatry of that day made of us…

Psychiatry would eventually change its mind about five years later. For countless millions of gay people, it would take longer. But Kameny didn’t just fight to change how the laws pr psychiatry treated gay people. He fought so that gay people to see themselves as fully equal to everyone else as people. In 2007 when his papers and artifacts were accepted by the Smithsonian Institution, Frank reflected in an email to me:

I’ve said, for a long time, that if I’m remembered for only one thing, I would like it to be for having coined “Gay is Good.” But never did I expect that that would make its way to the Smithsonian. I feel deeply contented.

[Sources: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987):89-91.

Frank Kameny. “How It All Started.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health 13, no. 2 (2009): 76-81.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 135 YEARS AGO: Radclyffe Hall: 1880-1943. Influenced by the writings of Havelock Ellis, Radclyffe Hall described herself as a “congenital invert,” typically dressing in masculine clothing and living her lesbian on her sleeve. Her nickname, “John,” was bestowed on her by her first partner, the German singer Mabel Batten. When Batten died in 1916, Hall had already fallen in love with Batten’s cousin, the sculptor Una Troubridge, and the two of them would remain together for the rest of Hall’s life. Hall’s first novel, the long and dreary The Unlit Lamp, didn’t sell well. But her next books — a comedy titled The Forge, a more serious volume titled Unlit Lamp, and another comic novel A Saturday Life, established Hall as a novelist of serious talent.

Her lasting fame however would come with her 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness, the only one of her eight novels with an overt lesbian theme, although the subject had come up in some of her short stories. There was nothing sexually explicit about he novel, yet it became the subject of a sensational obscenity trial in Britain which resulted in all copies of the novel being ordered destroyed. Its publication in the U.S. came about only after a long court battle. After the fireworks were over, the New York Court of Special Sessions cleared the book for publication in 1929, and it has been continuously available in the U.S. ever since then.

Radclyffe Hall (right) with Una Troubridge

Hall and Troubridge were important figures in lesbian circles in London, Paris and elsewhere in Europe, where Hall would be easily recognized by her tailored jackets, ties, socks and close-cropped hair. Her appearance wasn’t particularly shocking in the 1920s, where androgynous appearance among women was considered tres chic. But as the decades wore on, it became her most consistent visual identity in keeping with her self-identification as a member of “the third sex.” Britain’s sensational press was only too happy to play up that image. During the height of the furor over the British obscenity trials, newspapers routinely published photos of her which depicted her in the most masculine way possible, often cropping the photo above her waist on the many occasions when she wore a skirt with a man’s jacket.

The Well of Loneliness would be the only source of information about lesbianism for many women right on through the 1960s. Hall herself said that she had received more than 10,000 letters about her novel, many of them thanking her from grateful lesbians. When she died in 1943 of colon cancer, The Well of Loneliness had been translated into fourteen languages and was selling more then 100,000 copies per year. Nineteen-fifties editions of The Ladder, the newsletter for the Daughters of Bilitis, often wrote of The Well of Loneliness in reverential tones, and many anonymous letters to the editor from across America citing the book as a lifeline for many women coming to terms with their own sexuality.

 Gladys Bentley: 1907-1960. The Harlem Renaissance blues singer was known as “Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs.” Her “sophisticated songs” were obscene parodies of famous blues standards and popular songs, which she sang in the speakeasies of Harlem, often while brazenly flirting with the women in the audience. She was famous for her powerful voice, her girlfriends, and her manner of dress, in  her signature tuxedo and top hat. In the 1930s, she headlined at Harlem’s Ubangi Club, an “exotic” (read: gay) club where she performed with a chorus line of drag queens as backup. She was successful enough to acquire a Park Avenue apartment, a fancy car, servants, and, she claimed at one time, a white wife in New Jersey.

But by 1937, the popularity of Harlem began to wane, so she moved to Los Angeles to be with her mother. She continued to carve out a place for herself there in the underground gay scene, performing at such popular lesbian bars as Joquins’ El Rancho in Los Angeles and Mona’s in San Francisco.

But when the straight-laced fifties came around, Bentley abandoned her trademark tuxedo, began wearing dresses, and, in a 1950 article for Ebony, claimed to have cured her lesbianism through hormone treatments. She also claimed that she married J. T. Gibson, a newspaper columnist, who later denied that they had ever met. She did marry a man who was sixteen years her junior, although they eventually divorced. In 1960, she was on the verge of being ordained a minister for the Temple of Love in Christ when she died of pneumonia at age 52.

Sometime in the 1950s, she appeared on Grocho Marx’s You Bet Your Life, in a dress.

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?

Abbott thwarts marriage vote

Timothy Kincaid

August 11th, 2015

“There will be no same-sex marriage while I’m in charge,” seems to be the unspoken position of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Although polls show that a large majority of Australians support marriage equality (a quarter of the population considers it a ‘high priority’), Abbott has dug in his heels and is refusing to budge.

But the problem with ‘not while I’m in charge’ mentality is that there is an obvious solution. And Abbott appears to be blind to the consequences of strong arm tactics.

The matter comes down to this: in parliamentary block-voting politics, Party members all cast the same vote. In that way the party’s positions are upheld by the members. The exception is when a party leader allows a ‘free vote’, or one in which members can vote their own conscience rather than the party position, and that is what some members of Abbott’s Liberal Party have asked for.

However, if Liberals are allowed to vote on marriage, there is a good chance enough will vote such that equality would prevail. So Abbott has done his best to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, he stalled on the issue, insisting that it be delayed. Finally, when he could no longer delay debating on a free vote, he stacked the room. Rather than the Liberals meeting to determine whether they could have a free vote, Abbott also invited coalition partners Nationals, who are nearly unanimously opposed to allowing gay citizens the same rights as heterosexual citizens.

This allowed Abbott’s conservative block, along with the Nationals, to block a free vote for Labor. But it pissed off those Labor supporters of equality who felt sandbagged by their leader’s decision and that it was unfair to allow another party to dictate how Labor MPs could vote. They felt that Abbott’s win-at-all-costs tactic did not respect his own members.

This may all smooth over. But the thing about ruthlessness is that no matter how it turns out, it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth of the voters. And when employed against allies, it tends to erode their loyalty.

It remains to be seen when Australia will join most of Europe and the Americas in respecting their gay and lesbian neighbors, friends, and family. It will come, of course, though perhaps not while Tony Abbott is in power.

But Abbott should have considered that his attitude on the issue may be a self-fulfilling prophesy, and sooner than he anticipates.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 11

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

AlleyRoomFireThe Alley Room was part of a three-bar complex in Miami Beach. The main bar in front was the South Wind Lounge, with the Cub Room off to the side and the Alley Room in the back. The bar and a neighboring liquor store were gutted by a fire on June 2, 1975. The fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. and a dozen or so patrons and employees made it safely out as flames engulfed the building and shot through the roof, lighting the night sky throughout the area and attracting a crowd of spectators from nearby hotels and apartment buildings. “Miami Beach Fire Chief Albert Bishop said that the flames apparently were fed by the contents of hundreds of bottles of liquor which burst under the heat,” reported the Miami News. A hardware store and a bingo parlor on the same block sustained smoke damage. The liquor store was able to undergo repairs and get back into business, but the South Wind and Alley Room are now an empty lot.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Miami Police Detective Calls On City to “Face Pervert Problem”: 1954. The murder earlier this month of William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant (see Aug 3) blew open another round of frantic anti-gay hysteria in Miami, particularly after the Miami Daily News wrote that the murder revealed a hitherto-unknown “colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregating mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.”

Not to be outdone, the Miami Herald jumped into the fray with a front-page article by Miami police detective Chester Eldredge titled, “Official urges society to face pervert problem.” He wrote that Miami had been lucky, so far: “We are extremely fortunate that there have been no more violent crimes in Miami involving them. The sex pervert or deviate is an individual who has reached the age of reason, yet knowingly disregards the idea of reproduction. They compromise a group that ranges from relatively harmless homosexuals to the fierce sadist who horribly mutilates and tortures his victims.” He estimated that there were somewhere from five to eight thousand homosexuals in Miami, and urged the state to build more psychiatric hospitals “so they can be removed as a social blight and become useful citizens.”

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): p 3.]

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, August 10

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The MedicalStandard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

From The Medical Standard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

I think it’s awesome that Google has digitized so many medical and mental health journals from the nineteenth century and up to 1920, and put them online. It would be almost impossible for an armchair researcher like myself to dig up some of the historic stories that appear in the Daily Agendas like the one below from 1888. Just a few years ago, it would have required expensive travel to a major university library (favorites include the libraries at UC San Francisco, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and, oddly, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena). But here they are, available with just a few well-placed search terms in Google Books. Other valuable resources include Archive.org and the HathiTrust Digital Library. But not everything is online, and I still have a handy list I keep on my iPhone for whenever I find an opportunity to hit a library that I don’t often get to go to.

Today’s ad comes from The Medical Standard, a medical journal from Chicago,  from the same volume which brought us news of a transman in Iowa. The combination desk and surgical table reminds us how far we’ve come. In the August edition of the journal, Dr. J.A. McGaughy of Chicago reviewed the new piece of furniture, which he had been using for the past year “in various gynecological and general surgical procedures”:

This table presents the following advantages: It is peculiarly simple in construction; the ball-and-socket joint constitutes its chief mechanism; it can be changed with ease; it does not obtrude any suggestion of an operation as it presents the appearance of a neat writing desk when not in use; it is adapted to any operative procedure and is especially commended for the ease with which a Sims’ position can be obtained. The table has passed beyond the experimental stage. A year’s use has demonstrated its value. It is manufactured in Chicago.

The fact that McGaughy’s review appears to quote directly from the ad copy suggests that sponsored content is an old questionable practice that predates Buzzfeed by more than a century.

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Transman Discovered In Iowa Prison Hospital: 1888. A regular column in the nineteenth-century journal The Medical Standard included a roundup of items submitted by doctors from each of the 38 states, several territories and a number of Canadian provinces. Many of the notices amounted to little more than gossip: the practice of a “voodoo doctor” in Georgia, a doctor in Illinois who was charged with criminal assault “by a hysterical female,” a “magnetic healer” in Kentucky “who is is ‘curing’ hypochondriacs and hysterical females in great numbers at Bowling Green.” (Women were commonly diagnosed with “hysteria” in the nineteenth century; its cure was sometimes a hysterectomy.) Among those notices was this case from Iowa:

A case of sexual perversion has been discovered in the Ft. Madison penitentiary. A woman from her early youth had dressed in male attire, was universally regarded as a man, married and lived with a woman as a husband. She was recently arrested for horse-stealing and sent to the penitentiary; in the hospital of which her sex was discovered.

This is all I know about the man in question, although I’ll certainly keep my eyes open. The Ft. Madison penitentiary was established in 1839, seven years before Iowa’s statehood. The old facility, expanded several times over the years, is still in use today as the Iowa State Penitentiary, making it the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi, although that distinction is set to end in a few months when a new facility opens and the 175-year-old facility will finally be retired.

[Source: “State Items. Iowa.” The Medical Standard 4, no. 2 (August 1888): 60. Available online at Google Books here.]

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

50 YEARS AGO: Letter to a Probation Officer: 1965. Throughout much of the twentieth century, the mental health professions were exceptionally slow to come to grips with the distinction between sexual orientation (defined according to the gender one is attracted to) and gender identity (defined according to the gender in which one views oneself). Until relatively recently, it was broadly believed that every man who “wanted” to be a woman was gay, and that every gay man secretly wanted to be a woman. The magnitude of suffering inflicted on gay and transgender people due to this ignorance is incalculable; it is also illustrated by a letter that one psychiatrist, Rodolfo M. Bramanti, of the New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico, wrote to a probation officer. Bramanti published the letter in the August, 1965 edition of the journal Southwestern Medicine to discuss “some of the medical, legal and social problems that homosexuality creates”:

Dear Mr. M …… .

This letter is in reference to Mr. Peter M., a previous patient in this Unit, who was released on ….. , I have been quite concerned ever since in trying to secure the best solution to his problem, and, as I promised you in our telephone conversation, in the following I will try to discuss this case and summarize the conclusions at which I have arrived.

…I think he belongs to the group that modern psychiatry knows as sociopathic personality, sexual deviation (also called sexual perversion), in whom the only manifestations of the disorder are in the sexual sphere. The pervert suffers from an anomaly of the sexual drive and gets satisfaction either in some other activity than that of complete heterosexual intercourse, or, in some deviant activity, acts that are not accepted bv our morals, customs or laws.

Peter, as the generality of homosexuals, has a tendency to be immature in his reactions, is easily depressed and discouraged, frequently frustrated, emotionally unstable, dependent and self-indulgent, and involved in love affairs with other men which end in disappointments, frustrations and suicidal thoughts. These could have the appearance of psychotic symptoms, but, altogether, do not constitute the well-defined picture that characterizes the schizophrenic.

…The problem, as I see it from a practical standpoint, is that we are dealing with a youngster, who at the present time shows all the emotional feelings of a female, even though he has the complete appearance of a male. Due to his abnormal urges he has been indulging in homosexual relations and creating a difficult problem in his community.

Bramenti launched into a long and wide-ranging dissertation on the attitudes of society towards homosexuality, a dissertation that cites the Judeo-Christian tradition, the 19th century Napoleonic code (which dropped all sanctions against homosexuality), and, surprisingly, the rigidity of gender binaries, leading Bramanti to conclude that “our laws and the community attitudes in this respect are not only unscientific but unjust.”

Bramanti then discussed the range of therapeutic options available to Peter, and it is here that it becomes rather obvious to anyone reading it today that Peter’s problem wasn’t so much that he was a gay man in a homophobic society, but that she was a transgender person among professionals who hadn’t the slightest clue about what that distinction meant:

Peter came to this hospital with the idea that an operation could be performed to make him apparently, at least, more female_ In other words, he completely refused the idea to become a male: even more, he was disgusted, disappointed because his physical appearance did not fit with his female mind and he thought that medical science could convert him into what he has been longing to be.

Bramanti briefly describes the case of Christine Jorgensen (who Bramanti insists on calling “Chris Jorgenson”), the first celebrity transgender person to be written about in the popular press (see May 30). Bramanti considered the option of gender reassignment for Peter:

Can we advise such an operation in the case of Peter M … ? There are many factors to be considered. In fact, could we legally sanction such an operation? Should a surgeon agree to perform it? Is it justified from the religious point of view to try to transform what God decided? In the event that the operation is performed, should he be considered as a man or as a woman in spite of the fact that he will be lacking the male sexual characteristics as well as those of a female.

I feel that with all these drawbacks. we can hardly advise such a porcedure and, p;actically, we rule it out as a prospective solution of this problem.

Investigating the option of gender reassignment, in hindsight, appears to be the most logical course of action based on what we know today. Had Peter been under the care of a mental health professional who was knowledgable about gender identity issues, there may well have been a more positive outcome. But just when Bramanti brought up the most logical option, he retreated from a scientifically-valid position to an entirely religious-based one.

Bramanti then considered other therapeutic options for Peter: hormone treatments to “accentuate the masculine characteristics,” electroconvulsive therapy, and psychoanalysis, all of which he rejected because he believed they would fail to provided the hoped-for outcomes. Convinced as Bramanti was that he is dealing with a homosexual problem, he even quoted, in its entirety, Sigmund Freud’s famous letter to an American mother (see Apr 9), the very letter in which Freud said that homosexuality was “nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation.” That, apparently, didn’t phase Bramanti, who then considered an institution in California “that takes care of sexual perverts,” only to discover that they only handled people who were genuinely psychotic. He also considered “Labortherapy,” which, he said, “may also be, as you very well pointed out, good.” Bramanti contacted the head of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department, who told him that Peter “could have good chances for such a program, provided that he wear clothes according to his sex, which, as you know, the patient refuses to do.”

After considering that there is nothing that can be done clinically to “change Peter’s condition,” Bramanti made the following six recommendations, which, given the tortuous journey he took to getting to them, turned out to be somewhat-for-1965 enlightened:

1) Take an understanding attitude toward his sexual behavior by explaining to his family, his relatives and members of the community that Peter M. should be accepted the way that he is.

2) Alleviate his emotional tensions, his frustrations, anxieties and periods of depression. In this sense, psychotherapy, adjusting him to his inversion, is the type of therapy recommended, if financially feasible. Some psychopharmacologic agents could also help him in achieving this end.

3) Punishment is by no means indicated. The best thing one can do is treat him as politely as one would anyone else. He, on his part, of course, should be expected to abide by the ordinary rules of decency such as applied to relationship between men and women, namely, he should not seduce others nor force himself on people who are not interested in his company. He should not flaunt his desires in public by dressing in clothes of the opposite sex or otherwise and he should not embarrass those around him by making love or about it in public.

If he behaves himself and controls himself as discreetly as people with heterosexual desires are expected to do, his private life should be of no more concern to anyone else than should a normal person’s. Putting him in jail or in a hospital results only in providing him and the other inmates or patients with added opportunities for abnormal sexual activity.

4) Due to the tendencies of being immature in his reactions, easily depressed, discouraged and frequently frustrated, he could be a suicidal risk: therefore, close supervision by the Probation Officer is in order.

5) The tentative idea of placing him in Vocational Program for the purpose of training him as a beautician should be encouraged, if he would agree to dress as a man during the training period.

6) It is also felt that a priest could help by providing him with support.

[Source: Rodolfo M. Bramanti. “Letter to a probation officer on a case of homosexuality.” Southwestern Medicine 46, no. 8 (August 1965): 253-257.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Mark DotyMark Doty: 1953. “I’ve always been a poet who wrote about urban life because I love the layers and surprises and the jangly complexities of cities,” he once said. “I feel at home in cities, being a gay man. It’s a place of permission and possibility.” He is the author of several collections of poetry, notably his 1995 award-winning Atlantis, which was inspired by his partner’s death from AIDS the year before. 1997’s Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir also chronicles his partner’s diagnosis, illness and death, as well as Doty’s grief afterwards. Another memoir, Dog Years, is about two dogs that Doty had acquired as companions for his dying partner. The book is not only about the character of his dogs, and also about “everything we cannot talk about,” as one reviewer put it. In the end, the book was less about how Doty took care of his partner and the dogs, but of how the dogs took care of him. It is truly a dog-lover’s love song.

In 2008, he won the National Book Award with Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. His 2010 The Art of Description: World into Word is reflection not just on the art of writing, but also on the art of seeing what one wishes to write about. His latest book of poetry, Deep Lane: Poems, was published last April.

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan: 1963. The British transplant to America is an author, political commentator and a seminal blogger, having begun blogging before blogging was cool, with The Dish being one of the highest trafficked blogs on the net. Sullivan describes his views as politically conservative — he supports a flat tax, privatizing social security, and supports free markets in health care. If you read him with 1995 in mind, you’d pretty much agree: he’s conservative. And he has developed conservative arguments against the use of torture, his opposition to capital punishment, his concerns over the growing influence of “Christianism” (as he distinguishes it from Christianity) in American politics, his grudging support for Obamacare, and his strident advocacy for same-sex marriage.

Because conservatism has changed to such a radical extent in America, those positions have opened him up to accusations of being a raving liberal. He supported George W. Bush in 2000, but went with Kerry, reluctantly, in 2004 over disagreement with Bush’s conduct of the wars and his position on the Federal Marriage Amendment. In 2008, Sullivan enthusiastically supported Obama and developed a fixation on the weirdness that was Sarah Palin. He supported Obama again in 2012, and appears to have all but given up hope for a reformed GOP. In 2013, he took The Dish completely independent, financially and technically, from the Daily Beast. After thirteen years of relentless blogging, Sullivan finally put The Dish down earlier this year.

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, August 9

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, BelgiumKampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, SwedenMoscow, ID;  Reykjavik, IcelandWindsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Dallas Voice, July 27, 1984, page 2. (Source.)

From The Dallas Voice, July 27, 1984, page 2. (Source.)

You know La Wanda Page as the hallelujah-shouting Aunt Esther, sister to Fred Sanford’s dearly-departed wife, Elizabeth, in Sanford and Son, starring Red Foxx in the first title role. Before Foxx convinced Page to appear in Sanford and Son, Page had already made a name for herself as a stand-up comedian and for her raunchy, expletive-laden comedy albums for Laff Records. Billed as the Black Queen of Comedy, her take-no-prisoners style was a natural fit for gay audiences. (The night after she performed at Dallas’s Studio 4, she appeared at another Dallas gay club, the Unicorn.)

She also appeared in RuPaul’s first album, Supermodel of the World, including in the signature track “Supermodel (You Better Work).” She died in 2002 at the age of 81.

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a "Butch gal that had stars in her eyes."

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a “Butch gal that had stars in her eyes.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Provincetown Moves to Get Rid of the Gays: 1952. The following brief AP article appeared in papers nationwide:

Mass. Tourist Resort Acts to Halt Sex Perversion
Provincetown, Mass. — Selectmen of this Cape Cod mecca for summer tourists asked townspeople to support them in an attempt to rid the town of “a large homosexual element.”

The Selectmen’s action came after receipt of a letter from a summer visitor who said her two sons have become victims of a group whose meeting places, she said, are on the sand dunes in the daytime and at bars at night. She said she was leaving after 10 summers’ residence here.

There’s no mention of how the visitor’s sons became “victims” (or what they were doing in the bars at night). But at least now you know why there are no homosexuals in Provincetown anymore.

Kameny

Frank Kameny Becomes First Openly Gay Man to Speak Before a Congressional Committee: 1963. In yesterday’s episode, Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) had introduced legislation that singled out the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. to strip it of its financial solicitation permit that had been granted by city officials the year before under the Charitable Solicitations Act. Mattachine had qualified for the permit as an educational organization advocate for the end of laws against homosexuality and to advocate for laws to protect gay people from discrimination. The House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia had convened to hear testimony for Dowdy’s proposed legislation, but adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor just as Mattachine president Frank Kameny was about to speak.

When the subcommittee resumed, Dowdy declared that opposition to the bill that had been expressed the day before left him “shocked and speechless.” He then was joined by other committee members in demanding that Kameny turn over the Mattachine’s list of members, which Kameny refused to do. Dowdy then charged that the Mattachine Society, like the Communist Party, was a secret organization “dedicated to changing laws that were designed for the public good.” Kameny responded the Mattachine Society’s goal was, in fact, to legalize private acts between consenting adults. He also protested that the issue before the subcommittee was not the morality of homosexuality, but the right of the Society to advocate for gay people through “the legal exercise of its freedom of expression.” Dowdy exploded: “What kind of expression are you talking about? Are you taking about sexual expression?” He later added, “Down in my country if you call a man a queer or a fairy, the least you can expect is a black eye.” Kameny replied that even Texas had gay people. Dowdy retorted, “Maybe, but I never heard anyone brag about it.”

Kameny was joined by Monroe Freedman, a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s national policy, adopted six years earlier, placed the organization on record as supporting the constitutionality of sodomy laws, a position that it would maintain until 1967. Freedman emphasized that he didn’t necessarily support the Mattachine Society’s goals. “The issue,” he told the committee, “is not whether we agree with the aims of the Mattachine Society, but whether we are going to interfere with their right of free speech. The National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union is not concerned with the success of failure of the Society in presenting its views. It is concerned solely with its freedom of expression.” The committee then pressed Freedman for details of his own personal life and whether he was acting as the group’s lawyer. Seven times during the hearing he denied being a member or acting on behalf of the Society. Dowdy then asked Freedman whether his superiors at George Washington University knew he was defending the Society’s rights before the committee. “No,” Freedman replied after a long pause, “but I’m sure they will be before very much longer.”

Dowdy’s bill passed the House but died in the Senate. Kameny never turned over the Society’s membership list to Congress or anyone else, but he did relish the free publicity the hearings gave to his group, thanks to two days of coverage in Washington newspapers and a favorable editorial in the Washington Post.  As for Dowdy, he retired from Congress in 1973 following convictions on conspiracy, bribery and perjury charges.

Two posters: One with the "Gay Olympic Games" title intact, and one with the word "Olympic" blacked out.

Two posters: One with the “Gay Olympic Games” title intact, and one with the word “Olympic” blacked out.

USOC Blocks the Gay Olympics from Using the Word “Olympic”: 1982. Dr. Tom Waddell got the idea for the Gay Olympics while running across a gay bowling tournament on television. He envisioned a quadrennial sports festival open to all, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, age, or skill level. He and a few friends formed the United States Gay Olympic Committee in 1980 and began making plans. Their first challenge however would illustrate one of the key problems that would dog the committee for the next two years. They tried to incorporate as the Golden State Olympic Association, but the state of California said they couldn’t use the word “Olympic” in the name. They incorporated instead as San Francisco Arts and Athletics, Inc.

Waddell then sought permission from the United States Olympic Committee in 1981 to use the word “Olympic.” At about the same time, the USOC got wind of the group’s plans and sent a letter demanding that the group stop using the word. Waddell at first agreed to to the USOC’s demands, but changed his mind after attorneys from the ACLU told him the USOC was on shaky legal ground. He resumed calling the event the Gay Olympics, and even got San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein to proclaim August 28 to September 5 the “Gay Olympics Games Week.” The USOC sued, claiming trademark infringement, and on August 9, the judge issued an injunctions prohibiting the San Francisco group from using the word “Olympic.”

Waddell was incredulous. Before a gathering of reporters, he listed the many other Olympics that didn’t raise the USOC’s ire: the Special Olympics, Wheelchair Olympics, Junior Olympics, Police Olympics, Armchair Olympics, Explorer Scout Olympics, Xerox Olympics, Rat Olympics Armenian Olympic, and a Crab Cooking Olympics. “The bottom line is that if I’m a rat, a crab, a copying machine or an Armenian, I can have my own Olympics. If I’m gay, I can’t.” Others were similarly surprised. Sports Illustrated pointed out the irony that “the ancient Olympics, an all-male event in which participants competed in the nude, was staged by a society in which homosexuality flourished. ”

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games' swimming events.

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games’ swimming events.

The games opened officially as the Gay Games, but Congressman Phillip Burton and San Francisco Supervisor Doris Ward defined the court order during the opening ceremony and called the games the Gay Olympics. The games themselves were a success, with 1,300 athletes from 12 countries participating.

Meanwhile the lawsuit made its way through the court system. The Federal District Judge not only found for the USOC, but ordered the SFAA to pay the USOC’s court costs. When the SFAA came up short, the USOC placed a lien on Waddell’s House. The SFAA appealed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, ruling that the USOC’s trademark ownership trumped the Gay Games’ First Amendment rights to the word “Olympic.” The case finally made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on June 25, 1987, upheld the USOC’s trademark in a 7-2 decision, and ruled for the USOC on the SFAA’s Equal Protection claim in a 5-4 decision. Waddell died sixteen days later of AIDS. After he died, the USOC finally lifted its lien against his house.

Eileen Gray, with the Bibendum chair and the E1027 table.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Eileen Gray: 1878-1976. She was born the youngest of five children to an aristocratic family near Enniscorthy in southeastern Ireland. Her father was a painter who encouraged his children’s artistry and independence. Eileen studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, and in 1900 she went to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where she became enthralled with the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. She then moved to Paris to continue her studies and became immersed in lacquer design in particular, and in designing furnishings in general.

One of the many projects she collaborated on was the design of a modern home called E-1027. That 1924 project is where her most famous design, the E1027 table, emerged. It was also during this period when she mixed in lesbian company in Paris, while she herself was bisexual. But her life and her work was interrupted by World War II, and when she returned to Paris at war’s end, she led a mostly reclusive life. Much of her work was forgotten until 1968, when a magazine article revived interest in her work. The E1027 table, along with the Bibendum Chair and several other of her designs, went into production once again and became modern furniture classics. She died in Paris in 1976. In 2009, an armchair she designed between 1917 and 1919 was sold at auction for over $28 million, setting an auction record for 20th century decorative art.

Amanda Bearse: 1958. The director and comedienne is best known for her role as the highly annoying Marcy D’Arcy on Married… with Children, which ran on Fox between 1987 and 1997. She also appeared in a few films, including 1985’s Fright Night and 1995’s Here Come the Munsters. But it was during her time on Married… With Children that she was able to indulge her interest in TV and film directing. She wound up directing more than 30 episodes from 1991 to 1997, and she also directed episodes of more than a dozen other television sit-coms since then.

When she came out publicly in 1993 in an interview for The Advocate for National Coming Out Day, she became the first prime time actress to do so. She described it as a liberating experience. “I know that sounds sort of clichéd, but it really was very liberating. That one thing, that one big secret is out. For a lot of people, it was just a confirmation of what they thought about me. I mean, I look like the girl next door, but I was always kind of off-center.”

Michael Kors: 1959. The American designer of women’s sportswear launched his namesake line at the precocious age of 22 for Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and other top line department stores. In 1997, he became the creative director for the French fashion house Celine, but left six years later to focus on his own line, a move that has paid off handsomely. He dressed a trove of celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Catharine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Garner, Joan Allen, and Alicia Keys. Michelle Obama wore his black sleeveless dress for her official portrait as First Lady. He added menswear to his collection in 2002.

Kors had been a judge for the Bravo reality television series Project Runway, but he decided to leave after ten seasons. Kors married his partner, Lance LePere, in August 2011 in New York.

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, August 8

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page T17

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page T17

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Congress Holds Hearings on Mattachine Society: 1963. “If these people are a charitable organization promoting homosexuality, I’ve grown up in a wrong age,” Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) said as he opened a meeting of the House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia on a bill to strip the Mattachine Society of Washington of its fundraising permit. The permit had been award to the group by D.C. officials in August 1962 when the group demonstrated that it qualified for the permit under the Charitable Solicitations Act. MSW president Frank Kameny (see May 21), who was always on the lookout for chances to engage political leaders and government officials in the quest for equal rights for gay people, sent a statement to members of Congress announcing his group’s existence along with excerpts from the Society’s constitution. Noting that gays were barred from federal employment, military service and security-sensitive positions in the private sector, Kameny blasted federal laws as “archaic, unrealistic, and inconsistent with basic American principles. … Policies of repression, persecution, and exclusion will not prove to be workable ones in the case of this minority, any more than they have, throughout history, in the case of other minorities.”

Kameny’s letter ended with an offer to meet with members of Congress. Dowdy reacted in July by introducing a bill which specifically singled out the Mattachine Society for revocation of its permit. A second section of the bill prohibited future solicitation permits unless the District’s Commissioners determined that the “solicitation which would be authorized by such certificate would benefit or assist in promoting the health, welfare and morals of the District of Columbia.”

As Dowdy chaired the subcommittee’s hearing on August 8, city officials joined the District Republican Committee in opposing the first provision on constitutional grounds. They also opposed the second measure, but only on somewhat more practical grounds. “They worried that the required hearings on all permit applications would impose “a heavy and difficult burden” on the District, although District officials were quick to add that their opposition “is not be construed as approving homosexual practices.”

Dowdy found the objections inconceivable. “You contrast that with permitting the solicitation of funds for perversion and morality. Which is more important to the community?” Noting that Congress had passed laws designed to curb the Communist Party, he continued, “As far as I know, all the security risks that have deserted the United States have been homosexuals. Do you place them on a higher plane than communists?” Rep. Basil Whitener (D-NC) joined the fray, asking if the Commissioners “want to repeal the section of the Criminal Code dealing with sodomy.” Kameny was also there. He was just beginning to read a prepared statement when the hearing was suddenly adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor. His testimony would resume the following day.

a-liebenthal-wojnarowicz

David Wojnarowicz (see Sep 14)

25 YEARS AGO: David Wojnarowicz Successfully Sues the American Family Association: 1990. The University of Illinois art gallery hosted a retrospective of David Wojnarowicz’s collages called Sex Series, in which, interspersed among larger scenes depicting social control and violence, were smaller images of sexual activity. While the series was called, Sex Series, the sexual content was hardly the point. “The images I use are just naked bodies, sometimes engaged in explicit sex acts,” he explained. “I know that they are loaded images but I’m not just putting sex images on a wall, I’m surrounding them with information that reverberates against whatever the image sparks in people.”

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon's flyer. Click to enlarge.

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon’s flyer. Click to enlarge.

A $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts paid for part of the cost of the show’s catalogue. Shortly after the show closed, the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon sent out about 200,000 flyers to Congressional representatives, Christian radio stations, and AFA supporters, titled “Your Tax Dollars Helped Pay For These ‘Works of Art’,” with fourteen images identified as Wojnarowicz’s “works of art.” The “works” were actually small, selected details from the Sex Series, cut from the context of the larger images and the overall work. The flyer also included a small detail of another of Wojnarowicz’s 1979 collage Genet. That detail depicted Christ shooting up with a needle and tourniquet. To add to the mailing’s drama, the flyer was sealed in a separate envelope marked “Caution — Contains Extremely Offensive Material.”

In the process, Wildmon effectively became a collage artist in his own right, appropriating isolated details of images from Wojnarowicz’s works to create a separate work of his own. That was the basis Wojnarowicz’s lawsuit, charging Wildmon with slander and copyright infringement. In his court affidavit, Wojnarowicz charged that “the images represented in the Pamphlet to be my work have been so severely mutilated that I could not consider them my own.” He also told the Washington Post that the AFA had “creat(ed) pieces of their own. They’re not even my pieces, when they’ve gotten through with them.”

CheckIn David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association and Donald E. Wildmon, Federal District Judge William C. Connor ruled in Wojnarowicz’s favor. The Judge ordered the AFA to send a “corrective mailing,” as approved by the Court, to everyone the sent the original pamphlet to, explaining the misleading nature of the original mailing. But because Wojnarowicz was unable to demonstrate any financial repercussions stemming from the AFA’s mailing, the judge only awarded him damages of $1. It would be the first time that an artist successfully sued a right-wing organization. Wojnarowicz insisted on a hand-signed check from Don Wildmon personally, with the idea of using the check in a future collage. Wojnarowicz never found a suitable work for the check, but he never cashed it either. Today, that check is housed in the Special Collections of the Fales Library at New York University.

[Source: Richard Meyer. Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002): 255-261.]

Rudi Gernreich

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Rudi Gernreich: 1922-1985. The in Vienna, the only child of a well-to-do Jewish family, he was already drawn to fashion when, on a 1924 family trip to Italy, as he later remembered, “I trailed around after a lady who was obviously of ill repute. . . . Her attire was outrageous, and I was terribly attracted to her.” Back home, he was already spending a lot of time at his aunt’s dress shop, drawing designs and learning about fabrics. His father committed suicide in 1938, and when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, Rudi and his mother fled to California. At sixteen, he took a job in a mortuary, washing bodies. “I grew up overnight,” he later recalled. “I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy.”

He began studying art at Los Angeles City College and the Los Angeles Art Center School, but soon abandoned art for dance and joined Lester Horton’s dance troupe. He danced and made costumes for the company, while also freelancing as a fabric designer for Hoffman California Woolens. His work with the dance company would also be influential later, as it taught him about how clothing moves on a body.

It was at about this time that Gernreich entered a brief foray into gay rights. In 1950, he began a relationship with Harry Hay (see Apr 7). Gernreich had just been convicted in an entrapment case, and so he was eager to become one of the five founding members of the Mattachine Society later that year (see Nov 11). But Gernreich never came out publicly. In 1952, he met his partner, Oreste Pucciani, who was chairman of UCLA’s French Department (and who was instrumental in popularizing Sarte among American academics), and the two remained partners for the rest of Gernreich’s life. By 1953, Gernreich had dropped out of the Mattachine Society just as his fashion career started to take off.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich's favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich’s favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Gernreich’s approach to fashion can be seen as am unrelenting campaign to free women from the constraints of traditional sex roles as well as the literally constraints clothing placed on women’s bodies. He invented the idea of unisex clothing for men and women. He also designed the first t-shirt dresses, see-through blouses, and thong bathing suits. While most of his designs — their bright colors, their innovative fabrics and patterns, and their easy comfort — were highly influential trendsetters in the 1960s, his more famous designs were those which involved draping women in less rather than more. Writing for the New York Times, Christopher Petkanas remarked, “When Gernreich designed a mini, he meant it.” His 1964 inventions — a topless bathing suit he called a Monokini, and an unpadded see-through bra called the “no bra” — presaged the braless and topless women’s liberation movement almost a decade later. But they also looked downright Victorian when, twenty years later, he invented the Pubikini, with a low-cut “V” to reveal that down there. That came out just four weeks before he died of lung cancer. Pucciani, who survived him, created an endowment in Gernreich’s memory to the American Civil Liberties Union for the advancement of gay rights.

Randy Shilts: 1951-1994. The pioneering gay journalist came out relatively early, while still in college at the age of 20, when he ran for student government with the slogan “Come Out for Shilts.” That was in 1971, when coming out was still something of a novelty. It also meant that when he graduated at the top of his class in 1975, he had trouble finding a job. After working freelance, including several articles he wrote for The Advocate which was then a Los Angeles-based monthly newspaper, Shilts was finally hired in 1981 by the San Francisco Chronicle as perhaps the first openly gay reporter in the American mainstream press. The following year, he published The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, the critically acclaimed biography of the slain San Francisco Supervisor and personal friend, Harvey Milk.

When he went to work for the Chronicle, he was given the gay beat. But this quickly proved to be no ordinary ghetto beat, because that very same year a new disease was stalking the gay community. Shilts would wind up devoting much of his career to covering the disease and its impact on medicine, politics, society and, specifically, the gay community itself. His second book, 1987’s And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic brought him international fame. While Shilts was praised for bringing attention to the AIDS crisis, he was also criticized for popularizing the mythology surrounding “patient zero,” an Air Canada flight attendant by the name of Gaëtan Dugas, who was unfairly portrayed as the central figure in bringing AIDS to America. Shilts’s book didn’t make that allegation directly, but Shilts’s naming Dugas as patient zero turned him into the book’s villain. In 2013, Shilts’s editor admitted that he convinced Shilts to make Dugas the “first AIDS monster” as an attention-getting literary device.

“We lowered ourselves to yellow journalism. My publicist told me, ‘Sex, death, glamour, and, best of all, he is a foreigner, that would be the icing on the cake,’” said Shilts’ editor, Michael Denneny, in an interview. “That was the only way we could get them to pay attention. … Randy hated the idea. It took me almost a week to argue him into it.”

It worked. When the book first came out, the New York Times, Newsweek and other publications said they weren’t interested in reviewing a book that criticized the Reagan administration’s and medical establishment’s response to the AIDS crisis. But when new publicity materials focused on Dugas as  “the Quebecois version of Typhoid Mary,” as Shilts called him, the New York Post jumped all over it with the headline, “The Man Who Gave Us AIDS.” And the Band Played On shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for five weeks, and was nominated for a National Book Award. Despite criticisms of its treatment of Dugas, And the Band Played On proved to be a monumentally important work. Before its release, AIDS activists and researchers struggled to draw attention to the growing epidemic. The book is credited for adding thousands to the growing AIDS activist movement, and it remains one of most essential documents of the early political history of the AIDS epidemic in America.

Shilt’s third book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, was released in 1993, just as the fight over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was heating up. But by then, Shilts was already ill from the disease he covered in And the Band Played On. In fact, he had been tested for HIV while writing And the Band Played On, but he declined to be told the result, concerned that knowing it would interfere with his objectivity. He became ill with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a common opportunistic disease, in 1992, and developed Kaposi’s sarcoma a year later. He dictated the last chapter of Conduct Unbecoming from his hospital bed, but he lived long enough to see that book make it to print and to see And the Band Played On made into an HBO movie. He died in 1994.

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, August 7

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907.

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907. (Source.)

From the ad copy: “It gives a long and pounding stroke, medium and side stroke, short and rubbing motion.”

J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

TODAY IN HISTORY:
J. Edgar Hoover Demands His Name Be Removed From Mattachine Mailing List: 1964. Frank Kameny was not one to shy away from directly confronting the powerful in Washington, D.C. (See May 21). He was also not one to shy away from publicity. Just the year before, Kameny became the first gay rights activist to appear before a Congressional committee (See Aug 8, Aug 9), where he refused to comply with a Congressman’s demands that he turn over the membership list of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. (MSW). Kameny took the opportunity to lambast Congressional efforts to strip his organization of its tax-exempt status and, further, to argue forcefully for the full equality for all gay and lesbian Americans.

Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny

One of MSW’s early efforts was to keep its own members informed of issues and events through a typewritten and mimeographed newsletter called The Gazette. The newsletter was also sent out to other interested and uninterested parties, including the Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, the President, the Attorney General and other members of the President’s cabinet, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. In July, an FBI agent wrote an internal member objecting to the Society’s adding Hoover to their mailing list without his consent. “This Society attempts to legalize the activities of homosexuals and carries on an active campaign to have these persons admitted to employment in the United States Government and elsewhere,” he wrote. “This material is disgusting and offensive and it is believed a vigorous objection to the addition of the Director to its mailing list should be made.” He recommended that two FBI agents contact Kameny and impress upon him “that Mr. Hoover objects to receiving this material and his name should immediately be removed from their mailing list.”

Hoover concurred with the recommendation with a handwritten notation at the end of the memo: “Right – H.” On August 6, the FBI contacted Kameny, and he and Gazette editor Robert King met with the agents at FBI headquarters. The agents told them that Hoover’s addition to the mailing list “was considered offensive” and demanded his name be removed. Kameny and King explained that they sent the newsletter to government officials as part of a larger educational effort. Kameny also pointed out that as an organization working for the civil rights of gays and lesbians, they “have a right to communicate with government officials.” But Kameny and King did agree to take the FBI’s request back to the MSW executive board. They also asked the agents to convey to Hoover an invitation to attend a homophile convention that was to be held in Washington later that year (see Oct 10, Oct 11). According to another FBI memo, “This invitation was emphatically and immediately declined.”

When the MSW executive board met and decided to accede to the FBI’s request, but on one condition: if the director personally assured MSW, in writing, that the FBI had destroyed all of its files about the MSW. Their decision was sent in a letter to the FBI on October 1. FBI agent M.A. Jones wrote in an internal memorandum, “This letter is a blatant attempt to open a controversy with the Bureau. Any further contact with them will be exploited to the Bureau’s disadvantage. It is apparent they are attempting to involve government officials in their program for recognition and any further contact by the Bureau will only serve their ulterior motives.” The FBI declined to respond to the letter, and Hoover continued to receive the Gazette.

[Source: Michael G. Long (ed.) Gay is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny (Syracuse, New York; Syracuse University Press: 2014): 75-76.

You can read a copy of the Gazette from the spring of 1964 here.]

Barbara Gittings (left) holds a Homophile Action League banner.

Barbara Gittings (left) holds a Homophile Action League banner.

Philadelphia’s Homophile Action League Founded: 1968. Five months had passed since Philadelphia police raided Rusty’s, a bar that was popular with local lesbians (see Mar 8). The Daughters of Bilites had organized a chapter in the City of Brotherly Love the year before, and chapter members were furious at their treatment during the raid. They were eager to directly confront the city’s political establishment, but the national organization’s rules dictated that the national board had to approve of all activities deemed “political,” especially if they involved protests. Ada Bello recalled, “It was difficult to get authorization from the administration of DOB. We couldn’t find the president — remember, it was before cell phones and email — and we felt that it was hampering our ability to react… And so we thought, ‘Why not start another organization — one whose middle name is Action!'” On August 7, 1968, the Philadelphia DOB chapter voted to dissolve itself and re-form as the Homophile Action League, or HAL. Bello and Carole Friedman announced the organization’s purpose in the first HAL newsletter:

This newly formed group, open to both men and women, has adopted the name “Homophile Action League,” and has as its main purpose “to strive to change society’s legal, social and scientific attitudes toward the homosexual in order to achieve justified recognition of the homosexual as a first class citizen and a first class human being. … “We are not a social group. We do not intend to concentrate our energies on “uplifting” the homosexual community, for such efforts would be sadly misplaced. It is our firm conviction that it is the heterosexual community which is badly in need of uplifting.

Pioneering gay rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who later joined HAL, recalled that “there hadn’t been any really concerted effort on the political scene until HAL was organized and began to attract some men.” HAL would become the main representative of the gay community to the city’s power brokers until the early 1970s, when it was displaced by the more aggressive Gay Liberation Front.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
James Randi: 1928. Known as “The Amazing Randi,” the Canadian-born magician turned debunker took up magic while spending thirteen months in a body cast following a bicycle accident. He dropped out of school at 17 to join the carnival circuit and performed as a psychic in Toronto nightclubs. But when he recognized that some of the tricks of the trade were being presented as supernatural, he decided to blow the lid off of the scams.

Among his earlier revelations was in the late 1960s, when he “wrote” a successful astrological column by cutting up other astrological columns and randomly assigning those predictions to astrological signs and dates. In 1972, Randi seized the skeptics’ spotlight by publicly challenging the claims of Uri Geller, a popular performer of the television talk show circuit, famous for supposedly bending spoons telepathically. Randi claimed Geller used standard magic tricks to perform his paranormal feats and demonstrated how Geller performed his stunts. Geller sued Randi for $15 million for defamation, and lost.

Randi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, later renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Over the years, he has tackled psychics, UFOs, faith healers, psychic surgeons, and other charlatans. In one bizarre episode, a believer in psychic phenomenon refused to be persuaded and tried to turn the tables on Randi. When Randi was demonstrating Geller’s spoon-bending tricks, an audience member shouted, “You’re a fraud because you’re pretending to do these things through trickery, but you’re actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it.” An atheist, Randi has a special empathy for victims of religious scams and faith healers, and was instrumental in exposing W.V. Grant, Earnest Angley, and Peter Popoff, who Randi exposed live on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show in 1986.

Randi became a U.S. citizen in 1987. Since then, he’s recovered from two major bouts with cancer, and in 2010 he came out as gay after seeing the 2008 biopic Milk. During an appearance at an annual skeptics’ convention in 2013, Randi announced that he and his partner of 27 years had just gotten married in Washington D.C.

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 Thursday, August 6

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Plymouth Colony Convicts Two Men Of “Lewd Behavior and Unclean Carriage”: 1637. The crime wasn’t sodomy — that required proof of penetration — but it was shocking nevertheless. From the official record:

John Allexander & Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lewd behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another, which was proved both by witness & their own confession; the said Allexander [was] found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto. The said John Allexander was therefore censured [sentenced] by the Court to be severely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder with a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished [from] the government [territory] of New Plymouth, and if he be at any time found within the same, to be whipped out again by the appointment [order] of the next justice, etc., and so as oft as he shall be found within this government. Which penalty was accordingly inflicted.

Thomas Roberts was censured to be severley whipped, and to return to his master, Mr. Atwood, and serve out his time with him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands within this government, except he manifest better desert.

[Source: William B. Rubenstein. Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Law (New York: New Press, 1993): 47-53.]

Dr. Robert Macnish. Drawing by Daniel Maclise, 1835. (Source.)

Dr. Robert Macnish. Drawing by Daniel Maclise, 1835. (Source.)

A Case Of Adhesiveness “So Excessive, As To Amount To a Disease”: 1836. Today we recognize phrenology as a pseudoscience, but in the late 1700s the attempt to map various human characteristics to different regions of the brain was notable for two things: 1) it reflected a growing realization among scientists that all of those things associated with the mind — thoughts, feelings, and emotions — were actually products of the brain rather than the heart, eyes or gut; and 2) it reflected a growing understanding that the brain wasn’t just a lump of homogenous gelatinous tissue, but was organized in some kind of a structure with specialized functions taking place in different regions of the brain.

In these ways, phrenology set the stage for the later development of neuroscience and psychiatry. But until then, it also became the basis for some strange and sometimes dangerous beliefs, particularly the belief that the shape of a person’s skull could reveal that individual’s intelligence and character. In some cases, these beliefs took on racial and nationalistic tones, as the skulls of South Asians and Africans were compared with various European skulls and found to be deficient in the eyes of many phrenologists.

The theories behind phrenology were first articulated by the German physician Franz Joseph Gall, who described the process of reading the shape of an individual’s skull to ascertain that person’s strengths and weaknesses. Gall’s collaborator, Johann Spurzheim carried Gall’s theories to England and Scotland in a series of lectures. Scottish lawyer George Crombe, whose interest in phrenology was based on the desire to understand what made criminals criminal, brought those lectures to the general public’s attention when he founded the Phrenological Society in 1823. Between the Society’s Phrenological Journal and Crombe’s best-selling books, Elements of Phrenology (1824), and The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects (1828), he drew attention to the emerging science from both professionals as well as in the popular press.

Robert Macnish’s phrenology chart, from his 1837 book, An Introduction to Phrenology. (Click to enlarge.)

Among those drawn to the new “science” was a young Scottish surgeon, Dr. Robert Macnish. In 1837 he published An Introduction to Phrenology, which was both a paean to the “genius of Gall,” and a vigorous defense of Gall’s controversial theories. Macnish would wind up being a minor figure in phrenology, owing to his early death (unmarried) at the age of 38 that same year. But because Macnish provides us with the earliest description of what we would now recognize as homosexuality in a medical journal in 1836 — and we’ll get to that in a moment — his views on phrenology are particularly relevant. Macnish’s book, much like a catechism, is organized as a series of questions and answers. Here, in laying out the foundation of the theories of Phrenology, he explained how the brain was organized:

There is irresistible evidence to demonstrate that the brain is not a single organ, but in reality a congeries of organs, so intimately blended, however, as to appear one. Each of these is the seat of a particular mental faculty; so that, as the whole mind acts through the medium of the whole brain, so does each faculty of the mind act through the medium of a certain portion of the brain. Thus, there is a part appropriated to the faculty of Tune, another to that of Imitation, and so on through the whole series. The brain, in short, as Dr. Spurzheim observes, “is not a simple unit, but a collection of many peculiar instruments.”

These “instruments” were called “organs” or “faculties.” If a particular organ was especially well-developed, then the area of the skull corresponding to that organ would be enlarged, perhaps as a bulge or a lump. A deficiently developed organ would correspond to a smaller area, perhaps an indentation or a recessed area. By conducting a full “reading” in which precise measurements were made for each of the organs (Macnish listed 35 such organs; some phrenologists listed as many as 95), an individual’s entire intellectual, emotional and moral fitness could be determined.

Detail of Macnish’s phrenology chart, showing the locations of Amativeness (1), Philoprogenitiveness (2), and Adhesiveness (4).

Two particular organs hold special interest to those who would look for evidence of homosexuality in history, since that particular word did not yet exist (see May 6). To find the first organ of interest, reach back and place your fingers on your upper neck at the base of your scull. Now move outward toward your ears. Feel those two bumps on either side of your skull? Those constitute the organ of Amativeness, which — and I’ll bet you didn’t know this — is the source of your sex drive. Or as Macnish explained, “the seat of the amative propensity”:

This point is now universally admitted by physiologists, and is supported by so many facts that it can no longer be doubtful. The effects of cerebellar disease in calling the sexual feeling into vehement action, demonstrate conclusively that the latter has its seat in the particular part of brain alluded to. The great purpose served by Amativeness is the continuance of the species.

…(I)t is generally very full in those unfortunate females who walk the streets, and gain a livelihood by prostitution. In what are called “ladies’ men” the organ is small. These individuals feel towards women precisely as they would to one of their own sex. Women intuitively know this, and acquire a kind of easy familiarity with them which they do not attain with men of a warmer complexion.

So already you can see that this is the first organ we would want to pay attention to.

Now, from Amativeness, run your fingers upward and inward toward the back center of your skull, at roughly a 45 degree angle. Feel where your skull sticks out furthest out the back? That is Philoprogenitiveness. Macnish wrote that its function was “(t)o bestow an ardent attachment to offspring, and children in general; and, according to some phrenologists, to weak and tender animals.” Phrenologists believed that Philoprogenitiveness was generally better developed in women than in men, as evidenced by their maternal instinct. Now move your fingers upward and outward. You may notice a pair of smaller bulges forming a kind of a corner of your skull. These two bulges collectively are the organ of Adhesiveness, and this is the second organ that we would want to pay close attention to. Macnish explained Adhesiveness this way:

(It) is that portion of the brain with which the feeling of attachment is connected. No faculty, save Destructiveness, is displayed more early than this: it is exhibited even by the infant in the nurse’s arms. When very strong, it gives ardent strength of attachment and warmth of friendship.

Does this faculty constitute love?

Not strictly speaking; for love, in the legitimate sense of the word, is a compound of Amativeness and Adhesiveness. Such is the love which the lover bears to his mistress, and the husband to his young wife. The attachment of a parent to his child, or of a brother to his sister, is not, in reality, love, but strong Adhesiveness—powerfully aided, in the former case, by Philoprogenitiveness.

Is this faculty more energetic in men or women?

Generally in the latter; although in men there are not wanting instances of the most violent attachments, even towards their own sex. Such is represented to have been the case with Pylades and Orestes, and with Damon and Pythias, whose attachment to each other (the result of excessive Adhesiveness) defied even death itself. What beautiful pictures of friendship between men, have been drawn by Homer, by Virgil, and by the sacred writers, in the instances of Achilles and Patroclus, of Nisus and Euryalus, and of Jonathan and David!

If an individual’s Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness and Adhesiveness were well-developed — and by that I mean if all of those bulges were prominent — then a happy and fulfilling family life was assured. But if, for example, a person’s Amativeness was deficient but his Adhesiveness was prominent, then you might have a situation that Macnish briefly described in the August 6, 1836 edition of the journal The Lancet. As far as I know, this single paragraph is the earliest description of romantic love between two men to appear in a English-language medical journal:

ADHESIVENESS. — I knew two gentlemen whose attachment to each other was so excessive, as to amount to a disease. When the one visited the other, they slept in the same bed, sat constantly alongside of each other at table, spoke in affectionate whispers, and were, in short, miserable when separated. The strength of their attachment was shown, by the uneasiness, amounting to jealousy, with which the one surveyed any thing approaching to tenderness and kindness, which the other might show to a third party. This violent excitement of adhesiveness continued for some years, but gradually exhausted itself, or at least abated to something like a natural or healthy feeling. Such attachments are, however, much more common among females than among the other sex. — Dr. Macnish.

Macnish wasn’t the only one to associate an overdeveloped Adhesiveness, when accompanied by an underdeveloped Amativeness, with what we would today recognize as homosexuality. Phrenology was immensely popular in the United States through much of the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, with Walt Whitman one of its devotes. In Democratic Vistas (1871), Whitman spoke of “adhesive love, at least rivaling the amative love.” In his introduction to his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855, he called phrenologists “the lawgiver of poets,” and he scattered phrenological terms and concepts throughout his poetry, like these lines from “Song of the Open Road”:

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

[Sources: George Crombe. Elements of Phrenology 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

George Crombe. The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects 7th ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

Robert Macnish. An Introduction to Phrenology 2nd ed. (Glasgow: John Symington & Co., 1837). Available online at Archive.org here.]

Bunny Breckenridge

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
John “Bunny” Breckinridge: 1903-1996. Independently wealthy, he was the great grandson of U.S. vice president John Breckinridge and the founder of Wells Fargo Back Lloyd Tevis. He was born in Paris and studied at Eton College and Oxford University. Gravitating toward acting, he performed in Shakespeare in England before moving to San Francisco in the late 1920s. He had all of the advantages that life could offer, but today the one thing he is the most known for would have to be his appearance as “The Ruler” in Ed Wood’s 1956 film Plan 9 From Outer Space. The film featured Los Angeles late-night television movie host Vampira and the narcotics-addled Bela Lugosi, the latter made possible by scenes spliced into the film which had been shot for another abandoned project shortly before Lugosi died. The film was so bad it remained unreleased until 1959 because distributor after distributor refused to take it on. Michael Medved named it “The Worst Film Ever” in his 1981 book, The Golden Turkey Awards. Despite, or perhaps because of, that nomination, Plan 9 has somehow managed to become a camp classic, although copious amounts of alcohol is generally considered a requirement to render the film tolerable.

Breckenridge lived the sort of life for whom the word “eccentric” was coined. He became a drag queen in Paris in 1927, where he married the daughter of a reputed French countess. The couple had a daugher, then divorced in 1929, and he moved to the U.S. Two decades later, as all of America was riveted over the news of Christine Jorensen’s gender re-assignment surgery (see May 30), Breckenridge decided to give it a whirl. He announced plans in 1954 to go to Denmark for the surgery so he could marry his then-boyfriend, but those plans fell apart when a Judge in San Francisco ordered him to make good on an earlier agreement to financially support his elderly blind mother. He then decided to go to Mexico for a less expensive operation, but a car accident scotched those plans. I’ll let Bill Murray, who played Breckenridge in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic Ed Wood, take it from there:

Shortly after the Plan 9’s release, Breckenridge was arrested for taking two underage boys on a trip to Las Vegas. That landed him in the Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for about a year. After his release, he returned to San Francisco and continued to appear in small local stage productions. He also continued to maintain another home in New Jersey. By the time he became famous again thanks to Burton’s Ed Wood, he was too ill to take part in any publicity events. He died four years later in a Monterey nursing home at the age of 93.

Here’s a clip of the real Bunny Breckenridge from Plan 9:

You can also torture yourself with the full movie here.

Andy Warhol: 1928-1987. He didn’t invent pop art, but it is more his brand than anyone else’s. Andrej Varhola was born to working class Lemko/Ukrainian immigrants in Pittsburgh, and attended an Eastern Rite Byzantine Catholic Church. Maybe it was the religious icons that filled the church which inspired him to make icons of ordinary things and extraordinary people. Brillo pads and soup cans were more than their mere packages after his treatment, electric chairs became sculptures of transcendent mystery, and Marylin Monroe and Jacqui Onassis became the Madonnas and St. Catherines of the modern era. Even the white-haired wig he wore later in life became an icon of his personality. “I love Los Angeles,” he once said. “I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Warhol’s personal life was as scandalous as his films and artwork. In 1968, he was shot by Valerie Solanas, a minor artist working off and on at Wahol’s studio The Factory, and very nearly died. But he would go on to live two more decades, and he remained a devout Catholic, attending Mass nearly daily. When he died after complications from gallbladder surgery, he was buried in Pittsburgh following a traditional Eastern Rite funeral. His will left virtually his entire estate for the establishment of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which is one of the the largest grant-making foundations for visual arts in the U.S. And if you ever visit Pittsburgh without stopping in to the Andy Warhol Museum, then I don’t even want to know you.

Angie Zapata: 1989-2008. She died too young at only eighteen when she was savagely beaten to death by Allen Andrade, first with his fists and then with a fire extinguisher to the head. They had met through a social networking site and spent three days together, including one sexual encounter, before Andrade found out that Angie was transgender. In his murder trial, Andrade’s lawyer posed the trans-panic defense, saying that Andrade beat Angie after she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman”. That, according to Andrade’s lawyer, was a “highly provoking act.” The jury didn’t buy it fortunately, and Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder with hate crime enhancements, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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 Wednesday, August 5

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the National Reno Gay Rodeo program, August 4-7, 1983, page 26.

From the National Reno Gay Rodeo souvenir program, August 4-7, 1983, page 26. (Source.)

The big rodeo in Reno wouldn’t have happened in 1983 if one anti-gay group had gotten its way:

A religious group calling itself the Pro-Family Christian Coalition last week lost its attempt to halt this weekend’s annual Gay Rodeo.

Calling the estimated 50,000 Gay spectators expected for the annual event a health crisis, the Coalition asked the Washoe County Commission to stop the four-day event scheduled August 4-7. But after hearing from the Reno District Attorney that the rodeo would have to be found to present a clear and present danger, the County Commission voted to take no action on the Coalition’s request.

While the Coalition claimed to have garnered 6,000 signatures on a petition published as a full page advertisement in several Reno newspapers, organizers of the rodeo received support from the county health department, the University of Nevada Health Department, the Reno Casino Dealers Association, and at least one daily newspaper.

The annual Gay Rodeo, Reno’s fourth largest event of the year, includes such traditional rodeo events as bull riding, square dancing, and a horse show.

— From The Washington Blade, August 5, 1983, page 9.

Smashing the Stained Glass Closet

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Rev. Gene Robinson Elected Episcopal Bishop: 2003. Overcoming eleventh-hour charges that he had sexually harassed a parishioner — charges which were withdrawn with regrets from the person making them — senior bishops at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention voted 62 to 43 with two abstentions to approve Rev. Gene Robinson’s election as bishop of New Hampshire. The election ended months of emotional debate, threats, and bizarre charges. One charge was that a web site run by a youth advocacy group that he supported had links to porn sites. The Boston Globe investigated and found that, yes, it was possible to find explicit photos if you kept clicking from that web site, but it would take seven clicks outside of it through several other web sites to get there.

At issue was the fact that Robinson was not celibate and had been living with his partner since 1988. During committee hearings leading up to his confirmation, Robinson said that his relationship with his partner was an essential element in his own spiritual life. “What I can tell you is that in my relationship with my partner, I am able to express the deep love that’s in my heart,” he explained. ”And in his unfailing and unquestioning love of me, I experience just a little bit of the kind of never-ending, never-failing love that God has for me. So it’s sacramental.”

When Robinson’s election was finally confirmed, about thirty delegates walked out, and opponents called the election “a step toward moral disintegration in America. Anglican leaders in Asia and Africa immediately denounced the decision and threatened schism. He was pointedly not invited to the 2008 Labemth Conference by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, but that didn’t stop a group of conservative bishops to hold an alternate conference in Jerusalem. Robinson formally retired in 2013.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 4

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 8.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 8.

There’s a Thai restaurant there today.

OpenMindTitle

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York TV Station Airs “Introduction to the Problem of Homosexuality”: 1956. The pioneering WRCA-TV (now WNBC) aired an award-winning weekly panel discussion program called “The Open Mind”. The program, hosted by Richard Heffner, was not only well ahead of its time when it first went on the air in May 1956, it is still an acclaimed syndicated program on American Public Television, which Heffner hosted right up until his death in 2013. On August 4, 1956, Heffner hosted the first televised discussion on the East Coast on homosexuality. And fortunately, the Daughters of Bilitis’s magazine The Ladder featured a review of the program by Sten Russell (real name: Stella Rush). If it weren’t for her review, it might be difficult to reconstruct the discussions that took place that night.

According to Russell, the program featured attorney Florence Kelley, psychologist R.W. Laidlaw, and a clergyman by the name of Dr. August Swift. The program started on a relatively non-condemning note, although it wouldn’t take long for the prevailing prejudices about gay people to take root. When Heffner asked the panel whether homosexuality harmed society and should be punished by law, it was the clergyman who re-cast the question as to whether the law should concern itself with people who were not harming society. Kelley, the attorney, jumped in to counter that the law certainly should apply “when children were involved” — reflecting the common view that gays were child molesters — unless, she added, it was found that “homosexual offenders” could be treated. Laidlaw, the psychologist, said that of course they could be treated, to which Kelly retorted, “Yeah, anything can be treated… but how successfully?” Russell’s account indicated that the program continued along those lines:

The moderator asked if the homosexual could accept himself if society didn’t accept him. The conclusion was that it was very difficult, indeed. The moderator asked if there were cultural factors in the present making for more homosexuality. Miss Kelley asked if homosexuality were [sic] growing or just being more talked about. She cited Kinsey’s books as examples. The moderator said that the matter of national “security” had focused attention on this problem. He mentioned blackmail potential as part of the “security problem”.

Laidlaw said that a homosexual was not necessarily neurotic or psychotic, but that he was more likely to be in certain ways, due mainly to the pressures of public opinion which caused him to have to hide and cover up his actions and desires. Dean Swift was concerned as to the shock children experienced when approached by adult males. Laidlaw said that that depended on the predisposition of the child. Miss Kelley said that she was not worried about the “predisposition of the child,” but that the American Law Institute wished to protect any child from the traumatic shock of any sexual attack.

Despite the obvious prejudices, the program was (for 1956) relatively evenhanded and balanced — as balanced as a program like this could be where people were talking about another group of people who weren’t in the room. But even without the presence of a genuine gay person on the panel, the program proved controversial. New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman threatened to go to the FCC to have NBC affiliate WRCA’s broadcasting license revoked. That did nothing to deter Heffner or WRCA. They scheduled another program on homosexuality the nearly two months later (see Sep 29) followed by another in January.

[Source: Sten Russell (pseudo. of Stella Rush) “The Open Mind: A Review of Three Programs.” The Ladder 2, no. 2 (November 1957): 4-7, 22.]

20 YEARS AGO: Pres. Clinton Forbids Denying Security Clearances Due To Sexual Orientation: 1995. President Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order officially banning discrimination  in granting security clearances based on sexual orientation. For decades, federal agencies routinely denied security clearances to gay people on the assumption that all gay people were subject to blackmail or were mentally ill. A 1953 Executive Order signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower included “sexual perversion” as a basis for firing from the federal workforce (see Apr 27). That ban was lifted in 1975 (see Jul 3), but policies regarded security clearances remained vague. A GAO study found that eight government agencies had already stopped using homosexuality as a reason for denying clearances, including the Defense Department, State Department, the FBI and the Secret Service, but other agencies continued the practice. Clinton’s Order established uniform standards for granting security clearances, and it added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause. This Executive Order came two years after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was passed by Congress.

The Family “Research” Council’s Robert Maginnis denounced the move: “In all healthy societies, homosexuality is recognized as a pathology with very serious implications for a person’s behavior. … Even more importantly for security concerns, this is a behavior that is associated with a lot of anti-security markers such as drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity and violence.” FRC hasn’t changed much since then. Rep. Bob Dornan (R-CA), who was never at a loss for words when it came to outrageous statements, called gay people “promiscuous by definition,” and said that Clinton’s action was “something else he didn’t have to do that’s gotten in our face. I wouldn’t trust them with a $5 loan, let alone the nation’s secrets.”

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

5 YEARS AGO: California’s Prop 8 Declared Unconstitutional in Federal District Court: 2010. It’s hard to believe that only five years have passed since Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision declaring California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. So much has happened since then that it almost seems like a lifetime ago. While Judge Walker found that the ban against marriage equality merited strict scrutiny he held that it didn’t matter because Prop 8 couldn’t withstand any level of scrutiny under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. He also found that animus against a minority was a critical element to Prop 8’s passage:

Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society. … The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children exposed to the concept of same-sex marriages may become gay or lesbian. The reason children need to be protected from same-sex marriage was never articulated in official campaign advertisements. Nevertheless, the advertisements insinuated that learning about same-sex marriage could make a child gay or lesbian and that parents should dread having a gay or lesbian child.

Judge Walker concluded:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The case then went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which narrowed Judge Walker’s ruling considerably, holding that the key thing that made Prop 8 unconstitutional was that it took away a right from just one group of people who were already enjoying that right. According to the three judge Appeals panel, ” Withdrawing from a disfavored group the right to obtain a designation with significant societal consequences is different from declining to extend that designation in the first place, regardless of whether the right was withdrawn after a week, a year, or a decade. The action of changing something suggests a more deliberate purpose than does the inaction of leaving it as it is.”

The decision was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which took the case, heard oral arguments, and then on June 26, 2013, decided that Prop 8’s supporters didn’t have standing to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. That kicked the entire case back down and left Judge Walker’s ruling the final word on Prop 8. Two days later, gays were marrying again, after a nearly five year interruption to marriage equality.

Virgilio Piñera

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Virgilio Piñera: 1912-1979. Born the son of a civil servant father and teacher mother in Cárdenas, western Cuba, Piñera’s childhood was about as normal as anyone else’s, but with one exception: he loved to read. Favorites ranged from Proust and Kafka to Moby Dick and Charles Dickens, which hinted at the future author, playwright and poet’s ability to pair ordinary Cuban street slang with a more rarified Spanish. His family moved to Camagüey while he was in his early teens, and that’s where he began writing. His first published poem El Grito Mudo (The Mute Scream) appeared in a Cuban poetry anthology in 1936, and he wrote his first play Clamor en el Penal (Noise in the Penitentiary) the following year while studying at Havana University.

Piñera’s career was an exercise in provocation and controversy. His 1948 play Electra Garrigó, which blasted the values of Cuba’s upper clsase and elicited angry shouts from the audience, many of whom walked out. It also coincided with his exile to Buenos Aires, where he founded the literary journal Ciclón and collaborated with some of the more innovative and revolutionary writers in Latin America. Piñera returned to Cuba in 1958, just in time to see Batista flee and Castro ride triumphant into Havana. Piñera began working on the newspaper Revolución. His 1962 play, the mostly autobiographical Aire Frío (Cold Air), opened to wide acclaim in Cuba and Latin America.

The good times were short-lived. The Castro regime, influenced by the ideals behind Soviet Realism, started clamping down on artists whose work weren’t transparent and easily accessible, qualities that Piñera’s work clearly did not share. His homosexuality only added to his problems. He was arrested during the government’s campaign against the “three Ps” — prostitutes, pimps and “pájaros,” Cuban slang for faggots. He was released soon after, but for the rest of his life few would touch his work, aside from a brief respite in 1968 when a Cuban literary house honored him theprestigious Casa de las Américas awarded for his play Dos Viejos Pánicos (Two Elderly People in a Panic). He died in Havana in 1979 from a heart attack, largely forgotten and officially ignored. But as the centenary of his birth approached in 2012, the official Cuban newspaper Granma declared the year, “El Año Virgiliano” with an officially-sponsored symposium in Havana and the re-staging of Aire Frío and Dos Viejos Pánicos.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

The Daily Agenda for Monday, August 3

Jim Burroway

August 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of the Dykes to Watch Out For cartoon books, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, described the first time she went to a gay bar:

The first gay bar I ever went to was Satan’s in Akron, Ohio. It was the summer of 1980. I went with a carload of friends from college, and it took us an hour and a half to drive there. No one questioned a three-hour round trip for the chance to be in a place full of gay people. It was a mixed space, half men, half women. I’m pretty sure that, at 19, I was underage, but they let me in. I stuck close to my friends, didn’t dance, just looked around at all these other queer people with amazement. There was something kind of melancholy about it, too—excited as I was to be there, it was pretty chintzy and tacky. Was I going to be spending the rest of my life in places like this?

The scariest part was figuring out how to get a drink. There was a thick throng around the bar itself. I had to let go of my individual self and become part of the mob, like finding myself in the middle of an indigenous ritual that I had to follow along convincingly with or else be killed. Somehow, I managed to order and pay for a Budweiser. I spent the rest of the night peeling the label off it and watching, watching, watching.

That chintzy and tacky bar is now a child care center.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Miami Murder Uncovers a “Colony of Homosexuals”: 1954. It’s funny what it took in 1954 for a major metropolitan area to discover that there were gay people in their midst. I say it’s funny, but it can only be funny today, sixty years later. It was certainly no laughing matter then. In the early morning hours of August 3, a young couple looking for a secluded spot along North Miami’s “lover’s lane” found the body of William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, lying in the middle of the roadway in a pool of blood. He had been shot on his right side, his head had severe lacerations and his right index finger had apparently been pierced by something. About 500 yards away, police found his 1950 cream-colored convertible, with the front seat spattered with blood and a .22 caliber shell on the floor. It appeared that after the assailant fled, Simpson managed to get out of the car and stagger to the road before collapsing and bleeding to death.

Miami News, August 9, 1954

Five days later, police formally charged two young men, Charles W. Lawrence, 19, and Lewis Richard Killen, 20, with first degree murder. The two didn’t just confess to the murder, they bragged about it. They had been rolling gay men in the area for several weeks. Lawrence would hitchhike and allow himself to be “picked up” by an unsuspecting mark, and Killen would follow in a green Chevy. After the mark pulled over to a secluded spot, they’d rob him. Ordinarily, they’d let the victim go, confident that he wouldn’t go to the police. But Lawrence carried a gun, and for some reason this time he pulled the trigger. One former high school buddy recalled that Lawrence “had an intense hatred of homosexuals.”

In the ensuing investigation, police appeared surprised and alarmed that there were so many gay men in the area. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Local papers had been reporting that Miami’s sheriff deputies and Miami Beach’s police department had conducted several bar and beach raids since the previous November, arresting gay men and charging them with “vagrancy.” When a young girl was murdered in July, police responded, illogically, with five nights of gay bar raids to “make things hot for sex perverts in Miami.” On July 18, the Miami Herald published a letter to the editor proposing a final solution to the problem: “Just execute them all.” But on the same day that Lawrence and Killen were charged, the Miami News‘s front page headline looked as though detectives had stumbled upon an entirely new discovery: “Pervert Colony Uncovered In Simpson Slaying Probe”. They obviously had a hard time understanding what local gays were telling them.

A colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregated mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a “queen,” was uncovered in the investigation of the murder of an Eastern Air Lines steward…. Peace Justice Edwin Lee Mason said today, “I certainly learned a lot during this investigation I never knew before.

“I not only was surprised at the number of homosexuals turned up in the murder investigation but I was amazed to find out that there were distinct classes, not only based on age groups, but also on the ages of the persons with whom they liked to consort and groups based on types of perversion.”

…”We learned — among other things — that Simpson was bisexual. We also learned that there was a nominal head of the colony — a queen.”

Investigators, following a line of thought that possibly the murder might have been for succession of the title, and that Simpson may have been the “ruler” of what the investigators then believed to be a quite small group of homosexuals in Miami asked one man, who made no secret of his leanings:

“Was Simpson the ‘queen?’

“No,” came the response. “The queen is –” Here the man named a person quite prominent in the community.

“How many of you are there,” an investigator said he asked. “Twenty –Forty?”

“Oh, more than that.”

“A hundred?”

“Make it closer to five hundred,” came the staggering reply.

Dade County’s population was around 700,000 in 1954. Yet for such a large city, tossing around a figure like five hundred, which was assuredly a significantly low-balled estimate, was nevertheless enough to throw Miami’s newspapers in a tizzy. On August 13, the News began a three-part series on homosexuality, with the first installment calling it “A Disease ‘Worse Than Alcohol’.” The following day, the News reported on “How L.A. Handles Its 150,000 Perverts”. “This thing is like cancer,” Los Angeles police chief Thad F. Brown told the News. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. We process about 150 homosexuals a month who are caught in the act.” The paper suggested a solution: “The police in Los Angeles have a policy of harassment.” As Brown explained, “We keep a constant check on bars and restaurants where they hang out. We try to get the licenses of the places catering to them.”

In the third installment of the series, the News warned about “Great Civilizations Plagued by Deviates” — Greece, Rome, and, naturally, Miami:

Police of several communities have watched with growing concern the gathering spots frequented by perverts and two departments have started all-out war against homosexuals. Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard says he will continue to harass homosexuals in Miami Beach. “I simply want them to get out of town,” said Shepard.

Sheriff Tom Kelly, who staged a big raid on homosexual gathering spots last Saturday, made a similar statement. “I will keep on harassing the homosexuals until they understand they’re not wanted in Dade County,” said Kelly.

The Miami police department has shown a reluctance to bother perverts. “If I ran all of the homosexuals out of town, members of some of the best families would lead the parade,” Police Chief Walter Headley once said.

A local attorney, E.F.P. Brigham, proposed legislation to deal with the problem:

If a sexual deviate is accused of molesting a child or any person for that matter, and manages to beat the charge in court, the state will still have the right to order a mental examination for the offender.

If the person is found to be a sexual psychopath (and that does not necessarily mean insane) the state will then have the right to institute civil action to put that person in an asylum for the rest of his or her life or until such time as a cure can be effected.

Miami was now in a full-blown panic, which would soon reach the statehouse in Tallahassee where it would rage well into the next decade. House speaker Ted David called for stronger criminal penalties for “confirmed sexual deviants… to meet the needs of Florida’s big cities.” Miami’s mayor, Abe Aronovitz, would make anti-gay campaigns a centerpiece of his administration.

And what about Killen and Lawrence, the two men who were charged with first degree murder? After claiming that they killed Simpson because he made sexual advances toward Lawrence, they were convicted of manslaughter in November and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Castro

Residents of San Francisco’s Castro Neighborhood Concerned Over New Arrivals: 1971. The neighborhood surrounding San Francisco’s Castro Theater located on its namesake street wasn’t always known as The Castro. For much of its history, local residents knew the area as Eureka Valley, a working class neighborhood which had been in decline for several years as families began packing up for the suburbs. Rents and real estate prices fell, opening the neighborhood to an influx of new residents, mostly gay people looking for something a little more appealing than the Tenderloin or the Haight. This led to open hostility between the working class descendants of Irish, German and Swedish immigrants and the very openly gay new arrivals.

This hostility figured in a number of conflicts, one of which occurred on August 3, 1971 when Bob Pettingill, a 39-year-old gay restaurateur (he had opened the Sausage Factory in 1968, and it is still in business today) and former SFPD motorcycle patrolman, was elected chairman of the Eureka Valley Police Community Relations Board. He won the position after housewife Benita St. Arnant, who called all the newly established gay bars in the neighborhood “a public outrage,” dropped out of the race. Pettingill promised to try to patch relations between “the community’s two life styles.” But California Highway Patrolman Frank Crotty was pessimistic: “They have their lives to live and we have ours,” adding that he and others in the neighborhood were” fed up with all the hand-holding in the streets. My wife and child can’t go outside without being scandalized.”

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick Arrested: 1982. It all started in July, when Michael Hardwick threw a beer bottle into a trash can outside of the Cove, an Atlanta gay bar where he worked. Atlanta police officer Keith Torick, who had been subject to numerous citizen complaints for his abusive and legally-questionable tactics, cited Hardwick for public drinking. That kicked off a long comedy of errors, beginning with Torick’s writing the wrong date on which Hardwick was to appear in court. When Hardwick failed to appear because of the error, Torick got a warrant for his arrest. Soon after, Hardwick went the courthouse, paid the $50 fine (which should have invalidated the warrant), and thought it was all taken care of. But for some reason, his payment wasn’t recorded correctly, and on August 3, that same Officer Torick showed up at Hardwick’s apartment at the highly unusual hour of 3:00 a.m. Torick entered the apartment (accounts differ on how he got in), and discovered Hardwick and another man engaged in oral sex, an act which Georgia’s sodomy law defined as a felony punishable with “imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.” Torick announced that the two were under arrest. Hardwick shot back, “What are you doing in my bedroom?”

The arrest was humiliating for the two men. Hardwick recalled that when the police officer brought them to the police station, he loudly made sure everyone there knew that he had arrested them for “cocksucking,” and that they should be able to find plenty of what they were looking for in Atlanta’s city jails. Hardwick posted bail within the hour, but was detained for twelve more hours near other criminals who had been told why he was there. Hardwick had never fought for gay rights before, but that moment changed him. “I realized that if there was anything I could do, even if it was just laying the foundation to change this horrendous law, that I would feel pretty bad about myself if I just walked away from it.”

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

After the local district attorney decided not to press charges, Hardwick decided to sue Georgia’s Attorney General Michael J. Bowers in federal court to overturn the state’s sodomy law. The ACLU agreed to take the case on Hardwick’s behalf. The case ultimately made it to the Supreme Court which, in a surprising move, overturned an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision and held Georgia’s sodomy law (see Jun 30). Surprising because the Court had built a solid case history upholding the rights to privacy for heterosexuals to engage in private, non-procreative, non-marital sexual behavior in the privacy of their bedrooms — under exactly the same terms as Hardwick’s case. But for gay people, that same right to privacy simply vanished. It wouldn’t be until 2003, when the Supreme Court would finally admit that Bowers v. Hardwick “was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today,” that sodomy laws were overturned nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas.

In 1998, Bowers resigned as Attorney General and ran for Governor. His race tanked after it emerged that the defender of the state’s morals had engaged in a decade-long affair in violation of Georgia’s similarly archaic adultery law. That same year, the Georgia Supreme Court declared the state’s sodomy law unconstitutional, because it infringed on a heterosexual man’s rights to privacy (see Nov 23).

Bowers later acknowledged only one regret in the case that bears his name: that his name didn’t appear second “because then it wouldn’t look like I’m the homosexual.” Hardwick died in 1991 in Gainesville, Florida, reportedly from complications from AIDS.

[Additional sources: William Eskridge, Jr. Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (New York: Viking, 2008): 231-233.

Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price. Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court (New York: Basic Books, 2001). 277-309.]

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, August 2

Jim Burroway

August 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Kingston, JamaicaLeeds, UK; Santa Ana, CA; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

Shelly's LegIn 1970, Shelly Bauman went to a Bastille Day Parade in Seattle’s Pioneer Square when an antique cannon was fired into the crowed. She lost part of her pelvis, a kidney, some of her intestines, and her left leg, which put an end to her exotic dancing career. She was in a coma for nearly a year, and in the hospital for another year. She sued, and used the settlement money to open Seattle’s first disco on November 13, 1973. Shelly’s Leg was also the city’s first unabashedly gay bar, with a giant sign greeting patrons as soon as they walked in announcing “Shelly’s Leg is a GAY BAR proved for Seattle’s gay community and their guests.” Seattle’s gay clubs until then had been quiet, dark affairs, trying their best to stay under the radar. The brashness of Shelly’s Leg ushered in a whole new era for Seattle’s gay community.

Seattle_alaskanWayViaduct_fireHeadlineDecember1975In December 1975, an oil tanker on the Alaskan Way Viaduct above the bar collided with the guardrail and exploded, pouring flaming gasoline onto a passing freight train and thirty cars parked in front of Shelly’s Leg below. The club’s windows were blown out and the DJ’s booth destroyed. No one was hurt, but business fell off. Shelly’s Leg closed a little more than a year later. Bauman, whose entire life consisted of one tragedy after another, died in 2010 at the age of 63.

Doubted prostate massages would cure homosexuality.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
(How) Should Homosexuals Be Treated?: 1913. Columbia University’s Abraham A. Brill, as the English translator of Sigmund Freud’s writings, had singlehandedly introduced Americans to Freud’s teachings and became known as the father of American psychoanalysis. The August 2, 1913 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association published a talk that Brill gave at the AMA’s annual convention in Minneapolis in June, exploring the question of how homosexuals can be “treated” to ameliorate their condition. He began his talk by discussing how his encounters with homosexuals shaped his understanding of them:

Of the abnormal sexual manifestations that one encounters none, perhaps, is so enigmatical and to the average person so abhorrent as homosexuality. I have discussed this subject with many broad-minded, intelligent professional men and laymen and have been surprised to hear how utterly disgusted they become at the very mention of the name and how little they understand the whole problem. Yet I must confess that only a few years ago I entertained similar feelings and opinions regarding this subject. I can well recall my first scientific encounter with the problem. Ten years ago, when I met a homosexual who was a patient in the Central Islip State Hospital. Since then I have devoted a great deal of time to the study of this complicated phenomenon, and it is therefore no wonder that my ideas have undergone a marked change. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, I have met and studied a large number of homosexuals and have been convinced that a great injustice is done to a large class of human beings, most of whom are far from being the degenerates they are commonly believed to be.

After laying out what was then considered to be the most advanced medical and psychiatric knowledge about homosexuality, he then described physicians who were offering quack advice on how to treat homosexuality:

…I can never comprehend why physicians invariably resort to bladder washing and rectal massage when they are consulted by homosexuals, unless it be to kill the homosexual cells in the prostateso that their place may be taken by heterosexual cells, as one physician expressed himself when one of my patients asked him how massage of the prostate would cure his inversion. It is an unfortunate fact that such ridiculous ideas are often heard in the discussion of psychosexual disturbances. Only a few months ago a patient told me that he was told by two physicians that his hope for a cure lay in castration.

Castration may cure homosexuality — and all other sexuality with it — but quite a number of gay men will tell you that prostate massages would have little curative effect. Brill added, “Investigators agree that homosexuality is no sign of mental or physical degeneration.” And he agreed with those views, but he described three cases in which he claimed to have “cured” homosexuals anyway, after only six to ten months of psychoanalysis, which isn’t surprising given Brill’s admiration for Freud’s theories. But in the discussion that followed, Dr. D’Orsay Hecht of Chicago noted the incongruity:

Dr. D’Orsay Hecht: Why fix what’s not broken?

I was also impressed with the effort of Dr. Brill to correct homosexuality by decrying it. But if in the eye of the specialist homosexuality is but a contravention, socially speaking, and if it has just as much right to a hearing from the point of view of a sexual act as has heterosexuality, I really cannot see why the homosexual should care to be delivered from his homosexuality, except that he feels disgraced by it. Then again, a large number of homosexuals are in no way abhorrent of themselves in respect to their natures; they seem to be perfectly happy and perfectly well adjusted, probably in a restricted sense, and these patients probably are not worth while treating as Dr. Brill treats them. If we accept homosexuality as a condition which has as much right to exist as heterosexuality, why should we address ourselves to the duty of treating it?

Brill chose not to answer the question, electing instead to focus his rebuttal comments to other questions raised during the session.

[Source: A.A. Brill. “The conception of homosexuality.” Journal of the American Medical Association 61, no. 5 (August 2, 1913): 335-340.]

 

Reagan Bans AIDS Discrimination: 1988. Acting on a recommendation from a 13-member President’s Commission On the HIV Epidemic, President Ronald Reagan ordered a ban on discrimination against federal workers with AIDS. His actions, however drew sharp criticism from AIDS activists for not acting on many of the other recommendations from his commission, which also urged federal legislation to protect HIV-positive workers outside of the federal government. The President instead urged a voluntary approach and asked “businesses, unions and schools to examine and consider adopting” similar policies. Acting on a few other recommendations, Reagan also ordered the FDA to notify those who received blood transfusions to advise them to take an HIV test, promised to help accelerate the development of AIDS medications, and ordered another round of studies on the Commission’s 500 other recommendations. Meanwhile, Vice President George Bush, who was running for President, had already endorsed the commission’s recommendations which included a spending increase of $3.1 billion to combat the disease.

Dr. Frank Lilly, the commission’s only openly gay member, criticized Reagan’s limited action on just a tiny handful of the commission’s recommendations. “We’ve got a blueprint for a national policy on AIDS,” he said. “It’s a piece of whole cloth. You can’t pick and choose your own menu from it.” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who had led the charge in Congress to increase the federal government’s response to the epidemic, accused Reagan of stalling: “This administration has done its best to avoid making even a single helpful AIDS decision in the eight years of the Reagan presidency,” he said. “They handpick a commission, and then don`t even have the courage to accept its recommendations… What we need is leadership, and while Dr. (Surgeon General C. Everett) Koop and (HIV Commission chairman) Adm. (James) Watkins have given that, once again the President is hiding.”

Saturated in Urningthum.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
170 YEARS AGO: Lord Ronald Gower: 1845-1916. Professionally, he was a sculptor and politician, creator of the statue of Shakespeare and four of his characters which stands in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Liberal member of Parliament from 1867-1874. Personally, well, he never married, for reasons that were obvious to everyone who knew him. His friend, Oscar Wilde, used Gower as the model for the hedonistic esthete, Lord Henry Wotton, in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Gower shared Wotton’s (and Wilde’s) enthusiasm for the Esthetic movement, whose rallying cry was “art for art’s sake,” reflecting the belief that beauty itself was the only worthwhile guiding principle. Everything about Gower reflected those beliefs: his friends, his decorative tastes, his sculptural projects and his clothing, although his reputation as a dandy did little to impress Henry James who deemed him “not so handsome as his name.” John Addington Symonds said Gower “saturates one’s spirit in Urningthum (homosexuality) of the rankest most diabolical kind.” Gower’s most significant lover was the handsome young journalist Frank Hird, whom Gower adopted as his son, leading Wilde to quip, “Gower may be seen, but not Hird.” The happy couple remained together until Gower died in 1916 at the age of 70.

More fully American in Paris.

James Baldwin: 1924-1987. He was born to poverty in Harlem, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a mother with, as he put it, “the exasperating and mysterious habit of having babies.” As he grew older, his father groomed him for the family business of saving souls, but when Baldwin turned seventeen, he left the business and his home and journeyed to an entirely different world in the Village. He began writing book reviews for the New York Times, focusing on books about “the Negro problem, which the color of my skin made me automatically an expert.” Some of his essays led to a few fellowships which allowed him to leave New York for France, where he stayed for the next six years and would spend the better part of his life.

While in Europe, Baldwin learned two surprising things: 1) that he was never before more thoroughly an American as he was the moment he landed on French soil, and 2) “I was forced to admit something I had always hidden from myself, which the American Negro has had to hide from himself as the price of his public progress; that I hated and feared white people.” And from working through those two issues, he came to a profound realization: “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.” He also worked through his ambivalence of what it was to be an American. “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Baldwin’s first novel, 1953’s semi-autobiographical Go Tell It on the Mountain, written during his first sojourn to France, became an instant American classic. His first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son came out two years later. Despite his success, his publisher turned down his third novel, Giovanni’s Room. The problem wasthat Baldwin, this time, had tried to break two barriers. The first was that Baldwin’s characters were all white, but  Baldwin was an established Negro writer, or so his publisher argued. This book, they feared, would alienate his audience and ruin his career. “They would not, in short, publish it, as a favor to me. I conveyed my gratitude, perhaps a shade too sharply, borrowed money from a friend, and myself and my lover took the boat to France.”

Of course, Giovanni’s Room broke a second barrier; the two main protagonists were gay lovers. And yet the themes were similar to those confronted in Baldwin’s two earlier works. Just as Baldwin had to escape New York so he could work out the alienation he felt for the land that he loved, the American “David” in Giovanni’s Room had also found himself in Paris, torn between the expectations of marriage to his fiancé and the love that he felt for his Italian lover. Other novels — 1962’s Another Country and 1968’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone — also dealt unflinchingly with gay and bisexual themes. In an essay that was included in the 1961 collection Nobody Knows My Name, he tackled the argument that homosexuality was somehow unnatural:

…To ask whether or not homosexuality is natural is really like asking whether or not it was natural for Socrates to swallow hemlock, whether or not it was natural for St. Paul to suffer for the Gospel, whether or not it was natural for the Germans to send upwards of six million people to an extremely twentieth-century death. It does not seem to me that nature helps us very much when we need illumination in human affairs. I am certainly convinced that it is one of the greatest impulses of mankind to arrive at something higher than a natural state. How to be natural does not seem to me to be a problem — quite the contrary. The greatest problem is how to be — in the best sense of that kaleidoscopic word — a man.

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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

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