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Posts for November, 2014

The Swaggart Legacy: “If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died.”

Rob Tisinai

November 19th, 2014

I’ve long suspected much of the paranoia coming from our opponents is projection: they worry if we gain popular support we’ll start treating them the way they treated us for years decades centuries millennia.  How bad can this paranoia get? Here’s Donnie Swaggart speaking on a Christian channel:

All of this is to shut the Bible up. They want the Bible gone. And I’m going to make a statement: These people that are trying to do this in Houston, the only difference between them and ISIS, those thugs in Iraq, is those here cannot chop our heads off. That’s the only difference. The heart is the same. The heart is the same. If they could silence us that way to intimidate others, that’s exactly what they would do.

To complete the circle, let’s visit with the man who raised Donnie, his father, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, speaking to his congregation almost exactly 10 years earlier:

I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m going to be blunt and plain — if one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died.

Cue applause.

Watch the video. It’s chilling. Swaggart did apologize later…kinda.

It’s a humorous statement that doesn’t mean anything. You can’t lie to God — it’s ridiculous. If it’s an insult, I certainly didn’t think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology.

You have to wonder what does count as an insult in the privacy of Jimmy Swaggart’s home, the home where Donnie grew up.

Of course, for this to be true projection, Donnie would have to feel about us the way he’s accusing us of feeling about him. I haven’t found any direct indication that he does. But saying gays want to murder Christians is a good way of getting his followers to that point.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From Where It’s At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Bar Shooting Spree Kills 2, Injures 6: 1980. Ronald Crumpley, 38,  a former Transit Authority policeman and son of a minister, spent the evening cruising the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in his father’s stolen blue Cadillac. Dressed in a dark wool topcoat, printed shirt, a vest and a black fedora sporting a red feather, he fired three shots from an automatic handgun at Sim’s Deli shortly before 11:00 p.m., wounding at least three people and shattering the front plate glass window. Minutes later, he drove to Christopher Street and stopped in front of two gay bars, Sneakers and Ramrod, which were next door to each other. Dan Hedges, 30, was in Sneakers and watched as the horror unfolded. “The man in the Cadillac waited about two or three minutes, drove around the block, returned, stepped out of the car calmly, walked up to the curb and shot a man standing on the curb waiting for a cab. The man fell to the ground, then he shot another guy who ran around the corner. He started spraying both bars through the plate-glass windows. Then he got back into the car and drove off.” Hedges scribbled the car’s license plate number on a dollar bill and gave it to police.

John Ganrecki, 27, was one of six who were injured. “I heard a noise up front. … It sounded like a string if firecrackers. People were falling on the floor screaming and yelling. My friend, Fred, said ‘Hit the floor! Hit the floor!’ … I was already on the floor, looking at my hand, and it was bleeding. It was like something in Al Capone; there was a row of bullet holes across the glass behind the bar.” Ronald Greenberg, 52, also survived the shooting. “It was a massacre, a bloodbath.”

After Crumpley drove off, he stopped again at 10th and Greenwich and fired eight more shots at another group of men. This time his shots missed, and as police cars approached he sped away. As many as 15 police cruisers chased Crumpley to Broadway and West 10th Street, where Crumpley abandoned the Cadillac. Officers found him trying to pull himself up underneath a parked van’s undercarriage.

All told, two were killed. Vernon Koenig, an organist at Greenwich Village’s St. Joseph’s church, died on the operating table at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Jorg Wenz, Ramrod’s 21-year-old doorman, died soon after surgery. Rene Malute, 23, was in intensive care, and five others were admitted in stable condition.

Crumpley was charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of illegal weapons. Police found four weapons: a .357 Magnu, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, a 9mm automatic pistol, and an Uzi. Crumpley told police that he attacked the bars and the deli because he hated homosexuals. “I want to kill them all,” he said. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” Lt. John Yuknes said, “He had a dislike for homosexuals, a rather intense one I would say, under the circumstances.”

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The next day, about a thousand people joined a solemn candlelight procession to mourn those killed in the shooting. Arthur Bennett, one of those marching, told reporters, “Everybody’s been almost waiting for something like this. It’s not because we wanted it to happen but because we feared it. There have been a lot of people down here getting beat up.”

During Crumpley’s trail, the prosecution presented 35 witnesses, and the defense five. At issue was Crumpley’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors contended the shootings were “deliberate and conscious.” Crumpley’s psychiatrist testified that Creumpley suffered from paranoia. Crumpley himself took the stand and said gay people were “agents of the devil” who were following him continuously for three years and were trying to convert him. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. In 2001, a judge turned down Crumpleys’s request to be moved to a less restrictive psychiatric facility.

ACCC

25 YEARS AGO: American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. They had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops overwhelmingly decided to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll.

J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable consensus” across liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

Morris Kight

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
95 YEARS AGO: Morris Kight: 1919-2003. To some, he was a leading figure in the gay rights movement in Southern California: He founded the Gay Community Services Center (which later became the Los Angeles LGBT Center), and he was a principle organizer of Christopher Street West, Los Angeles’ gay pride parade, in 1970. To others, he was out of control egotistical gadfly, an unabashed radical who alienated many of those who would (and sometimes did, begrudgingly) work with him. His passion for gay rights — and human rights generally — was absolutely undeniable, and it was a passion that roughly matched his drive to occupy the center stage in everything he did.

Kight was born in conservative Comanche County, Texas, and grew up on the family farm. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1941 with a degree in personnel and public administration. He moved to New Mexico, where he became active in the local gay community. He also married, in 1950. The six-year union resulted in two daughters. In later years when Kight was an activist, he avoided mentioning his marriage, perhaps fearing that it would diminish his credibility as a gay rights leader. In 1958, Kight moved to Los Angeles, where he found a much more vibrant gay community. But his activism was first directed toward anti-war protests as the war in Vietnam escalated.

It wasn’t until the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 that Kight became active in gay rights, when he became one of the founders of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front. One of the GLF’s first activities was a protest against Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, which displayed a sign reading “Fagots [sic] Stay Out.” Kight and Troy Perry (see Jul 27) led a protest outside and a series of sit-ins inside. The Sheriff’s office refused to evict the protesters, and after three months, the owner symbolically relented and handed the signs over to Kight and other protesters. Bit once the media attention evaporated, the owner replaced the signs and even had the slogan printed on matchbook covers. (The sign didn’t come down for good until 1984, after the City of West Hollywood passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.)

That “victory,” such as it was, only whetted Kight’s appetite for more media attention. A few months later, a GLF member proposed that some two hundred gays and lesbians quietly move to tiny Alpine County, California, register to vote, and take control of local government. Quiet wasn’t in Kight’s vocabulary. He saw a huge opportunity to garner massive publicity for the GLF while punking the media by playing off the prevailing homophobia. He quickly called a press conference to publicly announce that Alpine would become the new “gay Mecca” (see Oct 19), much to the consternation of Alpine residents as well as other gay rights leaders. (The GLF of Berkeley denounced the plan as “sexist,” “racist,” and “impractical,” something that GLFs generally had not been known to be worried about before.) The stunt quickly fizzled, and the publicity left a bad taste in the mouths of many other gay activists. But actually taking over Alpine County was hardly Kight’s point. As he explained to another gay activist at the time:

Alpine County takeover has really caused a ruckus. Why? GLF has done a lot of crazy things which deserved news before and received the silent treatment from the Establishment media. I believe the reason is that we have threatened straight America. We are taking over! We could take all the gay bars in town, and nothing would be said; but take a county with 300 people and straight America goes outa mind! If GLF wants news it has the tool. Anything which looks like a threat to straight society will get news. P.S. Alpine County is very cold in the winter. There may be places in Nevada or elsewhere with even fewer people and a nicer climate.

The following summer, Kight was a key organizer of Christopher Street West, the West Coast’s first gay pride parade, in 1970. The Los Angeles Police Commission denied the group a parade permit unless the group posted an exorbitant $1.5 million bond. Kight and Perry got the ACLU involved. Just before the parade was scheduled to begin on June 28, the California Supreme Court held that the GLF had a “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression” and ordered the commission to issue a parade permit constitutional. That parade was a huge success, as were the ones in 1971 and 1972. But by 1973, Kight, who was always a lightning rod for controversy, grew tired of the infighting and, in the words of Jim Kepner (see Feb 14) Kight “sabotaged it (the parade) in its third year,” and the parade was cancelled for 1973.

A personal turning point for Kight appears to have been the devastating Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans that killed 32 people (see Jun 24). With the Christopher Street West parade cancelled for 1973, Kight was in New York to participate in that city’s festivities when he received word of the fire. True to his instincts, Kight launched himself into publicity mode: “I notified the press that I was coming. When I got to Atlanta, the press was at the airport and I said it was a national day of mourning and they interviewed me, and so on. And then I went on to New Orleans and Troy [Perry] was there, along with some other people.” But what awaited him and other activists in New Orleans chilled everyone. The local police were callous about the victims, dismissing them as “thieves and queers.” Churches refused to hold funerals for the dead. It was up to Kight, Perry, and other activists to counsel families, arrange for funerals, and to denounce the police and fire officials to the press. Kight’s media chops paid off: “The Fire Marshall of New Orleans Parish called me and said, ‘We saw your press conference, and you’re absolutely right. We did say terrible things. We will meet with you anywhere you want. You set the location, and we will meet with you to adjust our differences.’ [And we said,] ‘Fine, let’s meet.’ And we adjusted it.” As for the whole experience, Kight later recalled, “It was a shattering experience. We were unbelievably inspired. We were unbelievably brave. We were pushed beyond ourselves.”

Kight soon began to work both as an insider in addition to his more customary role as an outsider. He founded the Stonewall Democratic Club in 1975. In 1976, the reconstituted Christopher Street West welcomed him back as the official ringmaster for the event’s circus tent, and honored him as the first official grand marshal for the 1977 parade. Yet he still managed to piss off other gay activists if he felt he wasn’t getting his due. As Kepner remembered:

…[Kight] became very jealous of these newcomers who were daring to come in and join the movement without kissing the Pope’s toes. And some of these people began doing effective things, which he tried to sabotage. He still had a creative streak to him, but it became more destructive than creative, increasingly. And the movement has drawn in waves between being primarily a radical thrust and primarily a sort of establishment or P.R., or image-conscious thrust. And Morris has not been strong on the latter, although at times he has given in to it a bit. He tried his damnedest to sabotage and stop the first March on Washington in ’79, and at the last minute, when he saw it was actually going to happen, he began moving heaven and earth to become …one of the featured speakers. …And the L.A. Committee, about 90 strong, at one of the weekly meetings, voted unanimously—I had arrived late, and the issue was already on the floor, so I didn’t get into it—to threaten a boycott of the March if Morris were a keynoter.

In the early 1980s, Kight was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. He served for two decades, inaugurating the Crossroads Employment Agency specifically to help gay men and lesbians find work. He resigned in 2002 due to deteriorating health, including cancer, heart trouble and a series of strokes. He died on January 19, 2003 at a hospice of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which had donated its services in recognition of Kight’s activism. Kight was survived by his partner of twenty-five years, Roy Zucheran.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 18

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From  Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

Sporter’s was a friendly leather/levi/dive bar in Boston’s Beacon Hill. It’s not clear when Sporter’s opened, but I did find a reference in 1972 describing the establishment as a gay bar “of long standing.” The building now houses a restaurant/pub.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Marriage Equality: 2003. It’s over a decade since the Bay State became the first in the nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the sky still hasn’t fallen. Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and school children are still not being subjected to live gay sex demonstrations as part of their state-mandated curriculum. But gay couples can marry, and that was due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in 2003.

In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the court ruled 4-3 that the state could not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” The court gave the state legislature 180 days to “take any such action as it may deem appropriate” to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel tried to get the Federal Courts involved, but those efforts failed when the judge denied their request, the First Circuit Court of Appeals backed him up, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. After a long drawn-out battle in which the Massachusetts high court ruled in response to a question from the state Senate that civil unions would not satisfy the court’s ruling, the legislature ended up taking no action, neither blocking nor implementing the Goodridge decision. The state began marrying same-sex couples on May 17, 2004.

Since then, marriage equality has spread to thirty-three states, the District of Columbia, St. Louis Missouri (and in a few other locations in the Show-Me State), and ten Indian tribes. Two more states — Montana and South Carolina — are subject to binding Federal Appeals Court rulings, and they are likely to join the marriage equality bandwagon any day now. Judges have also struck down marriage equality bans in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan and Texas. Those cases are now on appeal. Today, nearly 64% of all Americans live in marriage equality jurisdictions.

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, November 17

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, October 7, 1977, page 8.

From Arizona Gay News, October 7, 1977, page 8.

We’re back home in Tucson. We got back yesterday afternoon, got our dog back from the kennel, had another nice dinner out, and Chris and I slept soundly in our own bed again. Mom and Gus are catching a flight back to Ohio this morning, and I’m heading back to work where I sure about a week’s worth of tasks have been piling up awaiting my return.

“The 41 Maricones …. Here are the maricones, so pretty and flirtatious.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
The Arrest of “The 41″ in Mexico City: 1901. Getting to the bottom of what actually happened is tricky business. The only accounts of the raid conducted by Mexico City’s police on a private party come from a decidedly unapproving and often sensational press. We know virtually nothing of those who were arrested; we barely know some of the names. Their story was never told: they were never interviewed, and as far as I can tell there is not a single quote which can be reliably attributed to any of them. Whatever we may know of the scandal was clouded further by fictional accounts — the 41, as they were simply known, became the subject of a popular novel in 1906. But one thing is certain: the “Ball of the 41″ became the scandal of the year, inspiring more than a month of headlines, sermons, editorials, and even a few corridos.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

Only a few details are solid. On Sunday, November 17, 1901, police raided a private party and arrested forty-one men, nineteen of them were dressed as women. Those in drag were publicly humiliated by being forced to sweep the streets — “women’s work.” The 41 were taken to an army barracks and inducted into the Mexican army. At least some of them were then put on a train to Veracruz, sent by ship to the Yucatán, and made to serve in the army as it was putting down a Mayan insurgency.

Those appear to be the bare facts, which, of course, weren’t enough to satisfy the nation’s newspapers. Here is how El Popular reported the story on November 20:

Last Sunday night, the police of the Eighth Precinct were informed that in the house located at number 4 La Paaz Street, a ball was being held without the corresponding permit. They immediately moved in to surprise the culprits, and after having encountered numerous difficulties in trying to get the partygoers to open up, the police broke into the house’s patio where they found 42 individuals who were dancing to the excessively loud music of a local street band.

When they noted the presence of the police, some of those who were dressed in women’s clothing attempted to flee in order to change out of the clothes of the opposite six; but as the police understood the gravity of the situation, they did not allow anyone to leave, and all 42 including those still dressed as women were taken to the station from which they were then sent to Belem Prison, charged with attacks on morality, and put at the disposition of the District Governor.

As a complement to the previous report, we will say that among those individuals dressed as women, several were recognized as dandies who are seen daily on Plateros Street.

These men wore elegant ladies’ gowns, wigs, false breasts, earrings, embroidered shoes, and a great deal of eye makeup and rouge on their faces.

Once the news hit the boulevards, all kinds of commentaries were made, and the conduct of those individuals was censured.

We will not provide our readers with further details because they are summarily disgusting.

It was said that many of those arrested came from highly respected families with ties to the government of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Some of the earliest newspaper reports, like this one, had it that 42 were arrested. That number later dropped to 41, which generated even more rumors. One had it that the elderly lady who owned the house was one of those arrested, and she was later released. Other, more sinister rumors had it that one of those arrested was one of Díaz’s nephews.

El Popular may have been reluctant to provide details, but in subsequent days it was happy to imagine the scene for its readers:

If only we had seen them in their resplendent hairdos, their fake cleavage, with their shiny sparkling earrings, with their falsies like the ones worn by anemic bimbos, with their corseted waists, their dancing-girl skirts like inverted tulips, their butterfly tights, their shoes fringed with crimped gold thread and colored glass beads, and all of them bedaubed in white powder and rouge, prancing about in the fandango with their perfumed and curly mustaches.

"The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán."

“The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán.”

On November 23, El País published this account of one group of prisoners being transferred to the train bound for Veracruz:

The men-only ball that was raided by the police continues provoking talk in all social circles, by virtue of the fact that many of those detained are perfectly well known, since among them are men who stroll day after day down the boulevards showing off their stylish and perfectly tailored suits and wearing sumptuous jewels.

As we stated in yesterday’s issue, 12 of those captured in the house on the fourth block of La Paz were sent to Veracruz along with seven thieves who were also conscripted into the armed services.

At 5:30 in the morning, the hour at which attendance is taken in the 24th Battalion (that is being remitted to the port of Veracruz), those called on first were the 12 individuals who had been at the famed ball, and after number 13, who was a pelado [a term for a rough, lower-class urban Mexican] was called, he replied on hearing his name, “Present, my Captain,but let me go on record as saying that I am being conscripted as a thief; but I’m not one of them,” and he pointed to the group of dancers.

This provoked the laughter of those present, because not even a thief was willing to be confused with the perfumed boys, as they are called by the soldiers from the barracks

A very amusing scene developed in the the barracks of the 24th Battalion when the repugnant ones arrived wearing their magnificent overcoats, along with hats and fine patent-leather shoes. The captain of the recruits made them all strip without delay, and then handed out the rough but honorable articles of clothing that are given to recruits.

With tears in their eyes, they stripped off all their clothes, some of them begging that they be allowed at least to keep their fine silk undergarments, a request that the captain denied, since, he told them, there they were just the same as everyone else. He didn’t even allow them to keep their socks, and they all began to cry as they put on the shoes that would replace their lovely patent leather ladies’ shoes.

The government paper, El Imparcial, took plains to deny that the army was foolish enough to send any girly-men to the front lines:

All of the prisoners have been sent to Yucatán, but not — as it has been said — to join the ranks of the valiant soldiers taking part in the campaign; they will be employed instead on such tasks as digging trenches, opening breaches, and raising temporary fortifications.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, it was the men in drag who occupied the attention of the press; through their manner of dress, they particularly transgressed the limits of what was tolerable in Mexican society. This brings up the two ways in which homosexuality has traditionally been viewed in Mexico: There are homosexuals, and then there are homosexuals. There are men who are attracted to other men (we understand this homosexuality as a sexual orientation), and there are men who, while identifying as men, are effeminate and, more specifically, adopted the “passive” role (a further transgression of the male gender role.) The second group, it might be said, are the real homosexuals according to traditional society; it was possible (and still is in some rural areas) for one man to have sex with another man and still be regarded as straight, as long as he is the one who retains his claim to masculinity by being the chingón (the one who does the deed) and not the chingado (the one to whom the deed is done), who has effectively surrendered his claims to masculinity.

As long as there was at least some measure of deniability that one had surrendered their masculinity, then that masculinity (and hence, heterosexuality) remained intact in many peoples’ eyes. But deniability was crucial. A few newspapers tried to argue that the twenty-one how weren’t in drag were had been “tricked,” leaving readers to try to imagine who those “tricked” men couldn’t have known who they were dancing with. Other accounts, of course, found that impossible to believe. And it appears that it was that lack of deniability which ultimately doomed everyone to the same fate. While those who were in drag were the most remarked-upon players in the scandal, the whole affair today is known as the “the 41,” not just the nineteen.

Today, the number 41 has become slang for homosexuality or, more specifically, “faggot” or maricón. As the former revolutionary general and National Defense Secretary Francisco L. Urquizo explained in 1965, “The influence of this tradition is so strong that even officialdom ignores the number 41. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41; if this cannot be avoided, 40 bis is used. No hotel or hospital has a room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.” Some of the early LGBT advocacy groups in Mexico incorporated the number into their names, just as many similar groups in the U.S. have leveraged “Stonewall” as a shorthand for the struggle for gay rights.

[Sources: Robert McKee Irwin. “The Famous 41: The scandalous birth of modern Mexican homosexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6, no. 3 (2000): 353-376.

Robert McKee Irwin, Edward J. McCaughan, Michelle Rocio Nasser. The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Rock Hudson: 1925-1985. In 1960, The Saturday Evening Post’s Pete Martin interviewed him in 1960 and asked the question that far more people were asking that we might realize:

“…Somewhere during this interview I have to write at least one paragraph in which I say that you were married and that you are not married any more. I’ll tell you this before you begin: I’ve read that your marriage was ‘made,’ not by you but by the same agent who is reported to have made a star of you.”

“I’m sure you did read that,” he said. “I read it too, and it made me feel like an idiot. She was my agent’s secretary. I met her in a supermarket. She introduced herself. Naturally I had talked to her many times on the phone. For a while we had a lot of trouble getting together. Either I had a date or she had one. We went together for a year and were married. But it didn’t work out. We stayed married only a couple of years. Last summer our divorce was final. Now I’m single again.”

…I said, “I’m interested in your present reaction to dames. You do date, don’t you?”

“Certainly,” he said. Only my dates don’t get into print. To get a date into print you have to appear in a public place like a night club. I don’t like night clubs.”

“What’s your idea of a date?”

“To take a girl for a sail or meet her at my house or somebody else’s house. What am I supposed to prove? There are times when I almost wish I made the scandal sheets.”

Even in 1960, the interest in Hudson’s love life went a bit beyond that experienced by other male sex symbols. What other subtext could possibly explain the question about whether his marriage to Phyllis Gates was “made” or not? Martin’s question came exceptionally close to exposing the secret that just about everyone in Hollywood knew, that Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson (see Jul 31), had prevailed on Hudson to marry Willson’s secretary after Hudson narrowly escaped having his secret exposed in Confidential magazine in 1955. The couple divorced in 1958, and Hudson never married again. His secret remained well-protected outside of Hollywood, even if gays in L.A. didn’t always respect it. Los Angeles-based ONE magazine, in a laudatory review of a book acknowledging Michelangelo’s homosexuality, suggested the book would make a great movie starring Rock Hudson. “That would be casting with a twist. Or two,” ONE commented with characteristic snark.

Hudson was just one product from Willson’s “Adonis factory,” so named for Willson’s uncanny ability to find (and often, bed) some of Hollywood’s hotest male stars. Willson took a not-so-smart Roy Fitzgerald out of the truck he was driving, fixed his teeth and his bad grammar, taught him to lower his voice and lose his sibilant lisp, along with how to move, shake hands, sit, dance, sing, ride horses, and even act. It took Hudson thirty eight takes before he could successfully deliver his only line in Warner Brother’s Fighter Squadron in 1948.

He got better from there. He received good reviews for his role in 1954’s Magnificant Obsession opposite Jane Wyman, and his popularity went through the roof with the 1956 release of Giant, which also featured Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. In the 1960s, he turned to romantic comedies, including three with Dorris Day: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers. As the sixties wore on, film offers declined and Hudson began transitioning to television. From 1971 to 1977, he played police commissioner Stewart McMillan in McMillan & Wife (“wife” was played by Susan Saint James).

In November 1981, Hudson suffered a serious heart attack, followed by quintuple bypass surgery. That didn’t surprise anyone because of his heavy drinking and smoking, but his unusually long recovery did. He remained in ill health while filming The Ambassador in 1983-1984, and health problems followed while filming the made-for-TV movie The Vegas Strip Wars in 1984. When he began appearing in a recurring role in the primetime soap Dynasty with his gaunt appearance, deteriorating speech and failing memory — he could no longer memorize his lines — rumors began to fly. First it was cancer, this publicists said, but others were whispering AIDS.

In July 1985, Hudson appearance on Doris Day’s talk show became instant news, thanks to his shocking appearance and incoherant speech. The following week, Hudson flew to Paris and checked into the hospital at the Pasteur Institute. The official version, at first, was that Hudson was “tired” and that a diagnosis wasn’t yet available. But reporters didn’t fail to notice that the Pasteur Institute was one of the world’s leading research institutions on AIDS and the destination for hundreds of American AIDS patients seeking treatments that were unavailable in the U.S, as you can see in this report:

Hudson’s publicists soon acknowledged most of what everyone else suspected: that Hudson was in Paris for experimental treatment for AIDS, which he attributed to multiple blood transfusions when he underwent bypass surgery. But even that story didn’t hold for long. People magazine published a story about Hudson’s disease, and featured comments from Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack, Joan Rivers, and Mamie van Doren, who said they knew about his homosexuality and supported him. His death on October 2, 1985, galvanized Hollywood, especially his life-long friend Elizabeth Taylor, who made AIDS fundraising not just a fashionable cause, but an urgent one for a nation that was still very uncomfortable about discussing the disease.

[Sources: Robert Hofler. The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson (New York: Carroll & Graff, 2005).

Peter Martin. “I call on Rock Hudson.” The Saturday Evening Post 233, no. 4 (July 23, 1960): 16ff.

Sal McIntire. “Tangents: Gutsy Scholar with a Shovel.” ONE 10, no. 11 (November 1962): 15-16.]

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 16

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO;  Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 15.

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 15.

Can you believe it? It took nearly three hours this morning to travel the 40 miles from San Juan Capistrano to Encinitas, all because we thought it would be cool to pop down to San Diego for the morning and afternoon before heading home. Swear to god, all of Southern California from the San Gabriels to Tijuana is unfit for human or animal habitation thanks to the interminable traffic jams at every turn. Life is too short to be spending so much time on these freeways.

So, much of the Sandy Eggo itinerary got axed, although we managed to squeeze in a few hours of rest and relaxation at the beautiful and historic Hotel del Coronado. Thankfully, getting out of San Diego on I-8 proved to be much less of a hassle — we were in the Laguna Mountains by nightfall and in the Yuma Holiday Inn Express by 9:00 (with the time change at the Arizona border). As I write this, we’re watching what looks like a high school-produced newscast on the local NBC affiliate. Both anchors looked like they’d rather be at the Yuma Medjool Date Festival. I love watching small-town news!

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Paula Vogel: 1951. “I only write about things that directly impact my life.” Vogel says. “If people get upset, it’s because the play is working.” It certainly worked for How I Learned to Drive, which explores control and manipulation through the issues of misogyny, pedophilia and incest through the relatively simple metaphor of driving. She won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for it.

Her first major play, The Baltimore Waltz was a comedy about AIDS, in 1990, when AIDS still couldn’t be joked about much. Hot’N Throbbing (1994) looks at the intersection of porn and domestic violence, while The Mineola Twins (1999) portrays women’s experience over the previous thirty years through the eyes of identical twins. The plays are deadly serious, though many of them are also comedies or at least incorporate comedy in them. They are also, as theater theorist Jill Dolan wrote, “at once creative, highly imaginative, and brutally honest.”

Vogel says that her family, especially her brother who died of AIDS in 1988, play a very important role in her plays. “In every play, there are a couple of places where I send a message to my late brother Carl. Just a little something in the atmosphere of every play to try and change the homophobia in our world.” She is also a teacher, having led the graduate playwriting program at Brown University. In 2004, she married Brown University professor and researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling in Massachusetts. In 2008, she left Brown to chair the playwriting department at Yale. She stepped down from that position in 2012.

Glenn Burke: 1952-1995. He was known as “the guy who invented the high five,” when in a game in 1977, Burke was standing on deck as fellow Dodger Dusty Baker was rounding third and headed for home after hitting a home run. As Baker crossed home plate, Burke raised his had. Baker responded by raising his also, and when the two slapped hands, history was made. Believe it or not. And to make the scene complete, Burke then stepped up to the plate and hit a home run of his own.

Burke made another kind of history, after a fashion: he is believed to be the first gay ballplayer who was out to his team mates. According to his 1995 autobiography, Out at Home, Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis offered to pay for his honeymoon if Burke agreed to find a girlfriend and get married. Burke said no. He also angered manager Tommy Lasorda by hanging out with Lasorda’s estranged gay son. The Dodgers soon traded him to the Oakland A’s, where manager Billy Martin called him a faggot in front of his teammates. Burke retired in 1979.

In 1982, Burke became the first former professional league player to come out as gay. He was a hero in his adopted community in San Francisco’s Castro, but without baseball his life soon spiraled downhill. He struggled with drug addiction, and for a while became homeless. He spent several months in prison for grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. His final months were spent with his sister before succumbing to AIDS in 1995 at the age of 42.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 15

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 13.

Greetings from (almost) Laguna Beach! That’s right. We’re not in Needles, Barstow or Kingman like I thought we might be. We made a last-minute decision to head to San Diego when Mom expressed a desire to go there. But thanks to L.A. traffic and a massive wreck that completely shut down the San Joaquin toll road, we threw in the towel and ended up in a reasonably-priced Best Western in Dana Point. So tomorrow we’ll mess around San Diego before heading west back to Tucson. It’s been a fun trip, but it’ll also be good to be back home.

Frank Kameny (center) marching with members of the Washington Mattachine Society in 1970.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First Official Meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society: 1961. On this date in history, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny (see May 21)  and a handful of others held the first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society. The Washington Mattachines, unlike other Mattachine Societies elsewhere in the country, brought a new, aggressive approach to the fight for gay rights. Frank Kameny later reflected on the society’s founding in an essay he contributed to Eric Marcus’s Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History:

Meanwhile, other things were going on with Mattachine. The national structure of Mattachine collapsed in March of that year. The San Francisco Mattachine had cut loose all the other affiliates and wished them well, urging them to change their names and to keep on working. The Denver group became The Neighbors and disappeared. The New York group retained its name and incorporated as a nose-thumbing gesture to San Francisco. It be came the Mattachine Society, Incorporated, of New York versus the Mattachine Society in San Francisco. It was all very petty.

…That following November, on November 15, 1961, we had our first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine. I was the organizer and founder. We did all the things that an organization does when it gets going. We took out a back account, got a post-office box, wrote our constitution, elected our officers, set up our meeting structure, and chose a name. I opted against using the Mattachine name, but I was outvoted. I wanted something that was more explicit and expressive, but wouldn’t have used the word gay then. While it was an in-group word, it hadn’t yet gone public.

Kameny, then 36, was joined by 23-year-old Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and at least three others in the apartment of Earl Aiken, on Harvard Street, N.W. Three months earlier, Kameny had held a preliminary meeting at the Hay Adams Hotel, where he recognized Louis Fouchette, the head of the Perversion Section of the D.C. Police Department’s Morals Division, who thought he had infiltrated the meeting undetected.  Kameny called Fouchette out.

His cover blown, Fouchette left the meeting, but his presence there was just one indication how much work the nascent group had ahead of it. One of the first provisions the new group adopted in its bylaws was one requiring everyone to go by a pseudonym whenever they were being identified publicly. This requirement was adopted in order to protect members’ privacy, many of whom worked for the Federal Government which had a longstanding policy of firing anyone suspected of being gay. Only Kameny used his real name, mainly because he was already well known among federal officials and he knew he would never again work for the U.S. government.

Now the movement of those days was very unassertive, apologetic, and defensive. I don’t say this critically, and not necessarily derogatorily, but it was a different era. First of all, up to this time, homosexuality had never been publicly discussed. Let me give you an illustration of that. As you’re aware, the question of queers int he government was very much part of the grist of the mill for McCarthy in his hearings in the early 1950s. When McCarthy was riding high, I was still in graduate school at Harvard. I read the Boston Herald every day. I read the New York Times every Sunday. I listened to the radio all the time. I read Time magazine weekly. Yet I did not learn until somewhere around 1958 or 1959 that homosexuality had been a theme of those hearings because it was not widely reported.: the word homosexual was not fit to print or discuss or be heard. Virtually from one end of the decade to the other, outside the medical books, there was nothing anywhere on the subject. It was blanked out, blacked out. It wasn’t there!

Because there was no publicity, there was no way of getting to people. The people in the small movement at that time were only talking to themselves. There was absolutely nothing whatsoever that anybody heard at that time, anywhere that was other than negative! Nothing! We were sick; we were sinners; we were perverts. And so the movement, predictably, in retrospect, did not take strong positions. It gave a hearing to everybody, saying, “As long as it deals with homosexuality, all views must be heard, even those that are the most harshly and viciously condemnatory to homosexuals. We have to defer to the experts.” My answer to that was, “Drivel! We are the experts on ourselves, and we will tell the experts they have nothing to tell us!” Giving all views a fair hearing didn’t suit my personality. And the Mattachine Society of Washington was formed around my personality.

So we at the Washington Mattachine characterized ourselves within the movement as an activist militant organization. Those were very dirty words in those days in the movement, such as it was. You weren’t supposed to be militant. And we were, both in our actions and our goals. Our statement of purposes set out our goals, which were generally to achieve equality for homosexuals and homosexuality against heterosexuals and heterosexuality. Equality was the primary issue.

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, November 14

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page 27.

IMG_0625.JPGWe had a wonderful day in Monterey, with most of it spent at the Aquarium on Cannery Row. I could have spent hours staring at the jellyfish displays. They were all beautiful works of art. Here’s a still photo of one of the displays, but still photos really don’t do them justice. I took lots of video, but getting the video edited and uploaded will just have to wait until we get home.

We also spent some time touring the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo in Camel and the Mission of San Juan Bautista. I wanted to take Mom and her husband to see the mission in Soledad, but we ran out of time and daylight. So we settled in for the night at San Luis Obispo. Today, we begin a meandering journey home, through Bakersfield, to Needles, Blythe, Phoenix, then Tucson. Here’s an approximate route. Or we may hit Kingman and Wickenburg instead of Blythe. Either way, the true magic of road trips occur when we toss the maps aside and decide to go down a different road.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
140 YEARS AGO: Adolf Brand: 1874-1945. The German editor, photographer, poet, anarchist and activist was born not quite a century before his time. Beginning in 1896, he published Der Eigene (There is no good English equivalent; Der Eigene is often translated as The Unique, The Special One, or The Self-Owned), the world’s first gay journal. The first issue declared, “This journal is dedicated to eigen people, such people as are proud of their Eigenheit and wish to maintain it at any price.” The phrase “Eigen people” may have meant anarchists, at least at first; Brand’s journal was more of an anarchist journal than a pro-gay one, reflecting Brand’s own anarchist views at the time. But Der Eigene became explicitly homosexual in 1898, and remained so until 1932.

Brand’s brand of gay activism was revolutionary. In contrast to the better known activism of Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14), Brand angrily rejected the medical model and scientific approach of Germany’s sexologists, saying that their research “took away all beauty from eroticism.” Brand established the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of Eigens) in 1903 as a counterweight to Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. It also served a secondary purpose. With Der Eigene under constant threat of prosecution for obscenity — Brand successfully fought off charges in court that same year — Gemeinschaft der Eigenen became a kind of a closed readers’ circle, with Der Eigene becoming a private in-house publication. In 1905, when Der Eigene was officially recognized as an “artistic journal,” it became somewhat less vulnerable to censors and could be circulated more freely.

Brand’s militancy led him to conduct what was perhaps the world’s first “outing” campaign. In 1907, just as the massive Harden-Eulenburg affair was scandalizing the German political establishment (see Feb 12), Brand published a pamphlet accusing German Chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bülow of having a homosexual relationship with Privy Councilor Max Scheefer, which therefore morally obligated the Chancellor to oppose Germany’s Paragraph 175 outlawing homosexual relatinships between men. According to Brand, Bülow and Scheefer were seen kissing at all-male parties hosted by Phillip, Prince of Eulenburg. Bülow sued Brand for criminal libel, and Brand was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.

Brand served two years in the German army during World War I, during which he married Elise Behrendt, a nurse who apparently loved him despite his homosexuality. After the war, Der Eigene was overshadowed by other gay publications during the relatively gay-friendly atmosphere of the Weimar era. In many ways, Brand’s brand of activism was out of step with 1920s Germany. Brand’s embrace of pederasty, extramarital bisexuality, and the supposed superiority of “friend-love” as the pinacle of masculinity were rejected in favor of Hirschfeld’s view that homosexuality was an inborn analogue to heterosexuality.

Brand’s elevation of manly friendship and the glorification of the nude body has led to accusations that Brand was himself a proto-faschist. Certainly, it’s easy to see parallels between Brand’s promotion of male bonding with the Nazis’ ideals of national manliness, but Brand himself, ever the anarchist, saw the dangers that Nazism posed. He wrote in 1931 that the Nazis “already had the hangman’s rope in their pockets.”

Der Eigene was shut down in 1932 just as the Nazis were coming into power. The police raided his home several times, seizing his books, journals, and photographs. He was never arrested, but he was financially ruined. “I have been plundered of everything,” he wrote to the Sexological Society in London. “I have nothing left to sell and am financially ruined. I no longer know from what I and mine can continue to live. For my whole life’s work is now destroyed. And most of my followers don’t have even the courage to write me a letter, not to mention support my work with any kind of payment.” Brand was forced to sell his home, and he and his wife moved to a one room flat where they were both killed during alllied bombing on February 2, 1945.

[Source: Hubert Kennedy. “Adolf Brand.” GLBTQ.com (undated).]

Aaron Copland: 1900-1990. Born in Brooklyn to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Copland composed some of the most quintessentially American classical music. Appalachian Spring celebrated American pioneers; Billy the Kid set the open prairie to music;  Rodeo sells beef on television (“It’s what’s for dinner”); and Fanfare for the Common Man was, briefly, the theme music for Rick Perry’s ill-fated presidential run, which was ironic that a rabidly anti-gay politician would turn to such patriotic music that was composed by a relatively openly gay man.

Copland’s childhood was a rather typical one for an immigrant family in New York City. His father, who had no musical interest, owned a small department store. It was his mother, brothers and sisters — he was the youngest of five — who were musically inclined. His oldest brother played violin, and a sister gave him his first piano lessons and exposed him to opera. From the age of thirteen, he began formal music lessons. By age fifteen, he decided to become a composer. From 1921 to 1924, Copland went to Paris for further study at the Fontainebleau School of Music. In 1925, he returned to the U.S., and with two Guggenheim Fellowships in 1925 and 1926, he was able to rent a studio apartment where he lived for the next thirty years. He met Alfreid Stieglitz, who introduced him to many of the leading artists of the day: Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe, and Walker Evans, whose photos inspired Copland’s opera The Tender Land.

Stieglitz’s determination that American artists should reflect “the ideas of American Democracy” had a profound effect on Copland. It also represent a severe challenge. American classical music composers looked to Europe as a model for music composition. All that American had was popular music, folk music and jazz. The challenge for Copland was to show how these so-called “lower” forms of music could be in integral part of classical music. He joined five other like-minded composers to form what was called the “commando unit,” who collaborated in joint concerts to promote their new approach.

Once the depression hit, Copland expanded his horizons again through travels to Europe, Africa and Mexico. When Hitler and Mussolini attacked Spain in 1936, Copland, along with many other artists, were sympathetic to the Spanish Republicans, and many of them had joined the Communist Party. Copland himself didn’t join — he was committed to his refusal to join any party — but he did sympathize with leftist political movements, including his support for the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election, and for Henry A. Wallace’s presidential bid on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948.

This period of political turmoil coincided with some of Copland’s most famous work. In 1939, he completed his first two Hollywood film scores, for Of Mice and Men and Our Town. That same year, he debuted his highly successful ballet Billy the Kid. He followed that with two more acclaimed ballets, Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944), which featured the melody of an old Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” A Lincoln Portrait and Fanfare for the Common Man, both debuted in 1942 as American was entering World War II, have become American patriotic standards.

But the McCarthy era of the 1950s proved difficult. A Lincoln Portrait had been on the program for Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural concert, but it was withdrawn over controversy over Copland’s earlier sympathies with leftist politics. That same year, he was called to testify before Congress, where he insisted that he had never joined the Communist Party. Ignored during the controversy was Copland’s deeply patriotic music, a neglect which outraged many American musicians.

During the 1950s, Copland’s pace in composition fell off as new avant garde musical trends became fashionable in the music world. But he continued to influence other American composers, most principally his friend and student, protégé Leonard Bernstein. By the 1960s, Copland had more or less given up composing and took up conducting. He wasn’t crazy about the idea, but, as he said, “It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet.” This career change saw him conducting some of American’s great orchestras recording a major part of his canon for posterity. His health deteriorated through the 1980s and he died in 1990 from Alzheimer’s and resipitory failure.

Albrecht Becker, abt 1930.

Albrecht Becker: 1906-2002. Albrecht Becker was an actor and production designer who lived with his parter of ten yeas in Würzburg in Bavaria. In 1935, he came under the notice of the Gestapo when they were investigating another Würzburg resident, Dr. Leopold Obermayer, a Swiss national who was both Jewish and gay. During the course of the Gestapo’s investigation, they found several photos of young men, including Albert Becker, in Obermeyer’s possession. Obermeyer was sent to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he ultimately perished. Becker was also tried under Germany’s notorious Paragraph 175 and sentenced to a three year term in Nürnburg Prison. In 1940, he joined the German army and sent directly to the Eastern front where soldiers weren’t expected to survive.

But survive he did, and he was able to return to Germany and work in the film industry after the war. He became an internationally recognized photographer, production designer and actor for German television. His story is one of six personal histories recounted in the 2000 documentary, Paragraph 175, about the Nazi persecution of gay men. He died in 2002 in Hamburg at the age of 95.

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 Thursday, November 13

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From California Scene, Fall 1973, page 33.

From California Scene, Fall 1973, page 33.

We finally made it to Monterey, after a wonderful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Luis Obispo through Big Sur. Besides dinner in Big Sur and several stops at scenic pull-outs along the highway, we made a detour to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and another detour at the New Camaldoni Hermitage high up in the Lucia mountains.

IMG_0604.JPGI’ve wanted to see the Hearst Castle ever since I saw it mercilessly mocked in Citizen Kane (one of my all-time favorite movies), and it was as wonderful and tacky as I thought it would be. Mind you, I don’t think tacky is necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the frame of mind that comes with it. There’s Dolly Parton tacky and then there’s Donald Trump tacky. Hearst’s brand of tackiness is somewhat closer to the former than the latter, which is also quite a bit closer to my own. (Our house is painted 12 colors, and that’s just on the exterior.) My partner is a trained architect. When I met him, he prided himself on being a minimalist, which is quite the opposite of my own more exuberant style. He’s come around somewhat, but he still gave a visible shudder when I told him that our visit to the Hearst heap has given me a number of decorating ideas when we get home.

For one, I think we could do with a bit of statuary.

Anyway, whatever materialistic yearnings I picked up in San Simeon were washed away during our brief visit at the Hermitage. Wednesday is silence day for the monks, but there’s no point in telling my mom’s husband that. We had to rescue the poor Novice working the book shop after the rest of us were back in the car but Gus failed to emerge from the store.

IMG_0623.JPG

I think today is going to be a much quieter day, taking in the sights of Monterey and its aquarium, and a stop at the mission in Carmel. To be honest, I have no idea where we’ll be tonight, but I’ll keep you posted tomorrow.

Meanwhile, go get married in Kansas and, I think maybe in South Carolina? It’s kinda nice not knowing a whole lot of what’s going on in the world.

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THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Marriages Between Women: 1902. The November 1902 issue of the journal Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was a nineteenth century term for psychiatrist) included this brief notice:

MARRIAGES BETWEEN WOMEN.– Two recent cases of marriages between women have been disclosed by the death of the alleged “husband”. (“George” Greene, a well- known citizen of Ettrick, Va.,) who died at the age of 75. The wife called in assistance to prepare the body, when deceased was discovered to be a woman. “He” had been born in England, but came to the United States when a child. “He” early exhibited proclivities for male attire to which the family soon became accustomed. “He” worked for several years as a man and married (at the age of 40) a widow. The couple maintained their relationship without discovery until Greene’s death, at the age of 75.

“William” C. Howard died in Canandaigua, New York, at the age of 50. The refusal of the “widow” and “children” to permit an undertaker to prepare the body for burial led to a coroner’s inquest, which disclosed the fact that “William” was a woman. “William” had early manifested male proclivities. “His” family had been unable to induce “him” to adopt female attire. When a girl on “his” father’s farm “he” donned male attire and took up masculine occupation, taking care of horses and cattle and doing chores. The family ceased to remonstrate with her, at length growing accustomed to her male attire and often joking about the attentions she paid her own sex. She escorted girls to parties and spent money on them freely. Finally she “married” a woman named Dwyer and later adopted two children. The couple took a farm near Canandaigua and settled down quietly.

There was nothing especially feminine in either Greene or Howard; while Howard’s ancestral family knew the real condition of things, they do not seem to have looked upon the relationship as at all abnormal. This would appear to indicate that the relatives of inverts have a certain tolerance for homosexuality. The influence of training at the indifferent periods in the development of homosexuality is suggested by the Howard case. The donning of male attire for convenient purposes may have stimulated a potential inversion previously latent.

[Source: Charles H. Hughes. “Marriages between women.” Alienist and Neurologist 23, no. 4 (November 1902): 498-500.]

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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Kansas marriages begin

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark purple – marriages now may occur
Light Purple – states are in circuits which have found for marriage equality
Red – the Sixth Circuit has upheld the bans on equality in these states

The state of Kansas has run out of measures by which to prevent the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court just chose to deny stay in their latest appeal. Only two justices, Scalia and Thomas indicated a desire to have the judicial ruling overturning Kansas’ anti-gay marriage ban put on hold until heard by the highest court.

There are many ways to read this decision. Perhaps the likeliest is that seven justices agree that the court is unlikely to rule with the Sixth Circuit that states may prohibit gay citizens from sharing the same access to civil proceedings as heterosexual citizens. Also, that only two justices are so vehemently anti-gay as to spitefully wish to force gay Kansans to wait for their day of equality.

Personally, I think it also suggests that this may not be a 5-4 decision when it is finally decided.

Meanwhile, also today a federal judge ruled that South Carolina’s anti-gay ban violates the constitution. He has placed a temporary stay until the 20th for that state to request a more permanent stay from either the Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court. Based on the Kansas decision, it is safe to assume that such a stay will not be granted.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 12

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 30.

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 30.

 

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

According to Yelp, the Pub is has recently closed. Chris and I were in Santa Barbara yesterday, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out. Instead, we were playing tour guide for my mother and her husband, who had flown down to Tucson from Ohio for the next week. On Monday we made the drive from Tucson to Santa Barbara — complete with a rush-hour traffic tour through L.A.

Yesterday, we had a much more relaxing day, visiting the old mission at Santa Barbara, followed by a stop at La Purisma in Lompoc before stoping again for the night last night in San Luis Obispo. This morning, we’ll take a quick gander at the old mission in SLO before heading up California 1 to Big Sur. I hope to get in some tacky time at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. If all goes well, we may make it to Carmel or Monterey tonight.

La Purissima, Lompoc, CA

La Purissima, Lompoc, CA

And the Purisma Longhorn

And the Purisma Longhorn

 

The November 1954 issue of ONE.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Miami’s Anti-Gay Mayor Writes To Gay Magazine: 1954. Miami’s witch hunt against gay people wasn’t just the subject of headlines in South Florida (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6 and Oct 20). ONE magazine, the pioneering Los Angeles-based gay magazine was paying close attention and relaying events to its national audience. In its November 1954 cover story, Jim Kepner (writing as Lyn Pederson) brought ONE’s readers up to date with a complete chronology beginning with the murder of a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, William T. Simpson and the police’s discovery of a gay community  with a “nominal head of the colony — a queen” (see Aug 3). Kepner mocked the investigation: “Pulling two and twaddle together, detectives guessed if Simpson hadn’t been the queen, perhaps he’d been a sort of royal pretender, killed by his rival.” But after recounting all of the events that followed, Kepner warned that what was happening in Miami was no laughing matter:

The Miami story illustrates what trumped up hysteria can do in a few weeks to any city in the United States. Corrupt politicians and opportunistic demagogues can endanger any community that permits itself to be herded into pogrom. …And one begins to realize that by all the requirements, the fantastically large minority of homosexuals is perhaps the top candidate for any new and large scale witch hunt In America.

Now that homosexuality has become mentionable in polite society, the social balance can be seen quickly shifting as society tries to decide what new attitude it must take to the problem. It seems certain to this author that the shift will be fast, and the new attitude drastic, and that it will determine in large part the extent to which this nation remains a free and open society.

If Miami had caught the attention of ONE, it can also be said that ONE also caught Miami’s attention as well. The Miami News published a front-page article in August on “how Los Angeles handles its 150,000 perverts.”: “In California the homosexuals have… established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a ‘normal’ group.” On November 4, ONE wrote a letter to Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, who was leading the anti-gay witch hunt. We don’t know what that letter said, but Aronovitz replied on November 12. Based on the Mayor’s reply, it appears that at least one of ONE’s objectives was to take Aronovitz to task for his proposal to try to shut down the city’s gay bars (see Sep 15Sep 19Oct 6 and Oct 20). Whatever other objections ONE may have raised, Aronovitz’s reply remained limited to just that one item. That reply was printed in ONE’s January 1955 issue:

Mayor Aronovitz’s letter and ONE’s response (ONE, January 1955, page 36).

November 12, 1954.

One, Inc .
232 South Hill Street
Los Angeles 12 , California

Attn: Mr. Marvin Cutler , Secretary
Bureau of Public Information

Gentlemen:

In reply to your letter of November 9th, this is to advise that I have never advocated harassing homosexuals or other deviates. I have always insisted that the lowest form of human being is the individual who while operating a public business violates many laws and caters to homosexuals for the purpose of taking advantage of other human beings.

Miami is not required to provide a haven for the homosexuals and deviates of the nation and therefore, if you will keep informing the nation of this fact, I will be much obliged.

Yours very truly,
(signed)
Abe Aronowitz,
Mayor

ONE recounted several statements that Aroniwitz had uttered over the past several months and concluded, “The editors of ONE feel that the above statement by the Mayor of Miami is slightly at odds with statements attributed to him by the MIAMI DAILY NEWS.” As for providing a haven for the homosexuals of the nation, ONE curtly observed: “Editorially, we might also point out to the Mayor of Miami that it is quite possible that some of the homosexuals in Miami might have been born there.”

[Sources: Lyn Pedersen. “Miami Hurricane.” ONE 2, no. 11 (November 1954): 4-8.

Unsigned. Letter from Mayor Abe Aronowitz. ONE 3, no. 1 (January 1955): 36.]

45 YEARS AGO: Gay Liberation Front Protests Time Magazine: 1969. The cover story of Time magazine two weeks earlier (see Oct 31) continued to weigh heavily on the minds of New York’s gay activists. The article said a few nice things about gays — it included a few comments from New York Mattachine member Dick Leitsch and Washington Mattachine founder Frank Kameny to represent gay people. But it also included quotes by Dr. Charles Socarides and a man he claimed to have cured. (Socarides would go on to co-found NARTH in 1993.) Those views and the article might have been acceptable if it had appeared just a year earlier, but in November of 1969, just four months after the Stonewall Rebellion, members of the Gay Liberation Front saw no need to sit by while so-called “experts” cast judgments on their mental health and moral beliefs. Many in GLF were particularly angry because they had cooperated with the writer, only to find the article emphasizing the old tired stereotypes, particularly of gay men.

On November 12, members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Daughters of Bilitis picketed the Time-Life building and handed out leaflets to passers-by. They read, “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, Time has attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its own narrow, out-dated, warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.” But due partly to the cold and snowy weather, the protest didn’t attract much attention, save for some jeers from construction workers across the street and a very brief mention during the eleven o’clock news on the ABC affiliate.

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 97-98.]

The most feared Man on Capitol Hill.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mike Rogers: 1963. “The Most Feared Man On Capitol Hill” is known for his ability to snoop out closeted anti-gay politicians and expose them long before the mainstream media catches on. Rogers’s targets have included Virginia Congressman Edward Schrock, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman. Some have criticized him for it, but he says what others call “outing” he calls “reporting.” In 2009, Rogers appeared on a local Washington, D.C. news program with host Doug McKelway, who criticized Rogers and said that he would like to “take you (Rogers) outside and punch you across the face.” Rogers demanded an apology, but never got one. Ask him his favorite movie, and he will answer Outrage, the 2009 documentary by Kirby Dick which discusses the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who work against the gay community.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2014

World War I Navy recruitment poster attributed to P.N. Leyendecker (Click to enlarge.)

Today is Veterans Day, the day set aside to honor all armed forces veterans — all of them, including LGBT veterans. The chosen date, November 11, marks the date and time of the armistice which ended the Great War, 11/11 at 11:00 a.m. The date was originally known as Armistice Day in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

An advertisement for Cannon Towels during World War II. (Click to enlarge.)

In 1938, Congress made Armistice day a permanent annual holiday as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” After the end of the Second World War, Armistice day was expanded to honor all veterans, not just those of World War I. Congress officially changed the name of Armistice day in 1954 to Veterans Day.

Many other countries continue to observe this date as either Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, where observances combine the recognition of living veterans with commemorations of those who died (more akin to our observance of Memorial Day in late May). In many British Commonwealth countries, Remembrance Day is also known as Poppies Day, after the red poppies in the poem “In Flanders Fields” which bloomed on some of the worst battlefields of Flanders. The poppies’  brilliant red color is symbolic of the blood that was spilled.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a bank clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At her death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

What became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

Two days later, another story appeared in local papers:

Woman Laid to Rest in Attire of Man

Trinidad, Colo., Nov 13 — In compliance with a request made a few days before her death, the remains of Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years wore male attire without her sex being discovered, were laid to rest yesterday in the Catholic cemetery garbed in male attire. Two sisters of charity and two strange women were the only attendants at the simple services held i the chapel of the undertaking company.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.]

An exceptionally rare photo of early members of the Mattachine Foundation. Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left, Apr 7), then (l-r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings (Oct 21), Rudi Gernreich (Aug 8), Stan Witt, Bob Hull (May 31), Chuck Rowland (in glasses, Aug 24), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber (Aug 21). (Click to enlarge.)

First Meeting of the “Society of Fools” (Mattachine Foundation): 1950. Harry Hay (see Apr 7) had been kicking around the idea for several years. In 1948, he attended a party near the University of Southern California attended by gay men who supported the presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace. Sometime during the evening, a discussion ensued of Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which had been published earlier that year (see Jan 5). Someone brought up the Kinsey statistic that said that 37% had experienced at least one homosexual encounter and that 10% were more or less gay. To Harry, who had cut his teeth as a Communist and labor organizer, this seemed like an extraordinarily large number of people just waiting to be organized. That night, he he began drafting a five-page proposal, “The Call,” which envisioned an organization for the “androgynes of the world.” His first effort, Bachelors for Wallace, didn’t get anywhere. His second attempt, to form a Kinsey discussion group, also fizzled.

But the third time was the charm. Hay continued revising “The Call,” which by 1950 envisioned an International Bachelors Fraternal orders for Peace and Social Dignity:

We, the androgynes of the world, have formed this responsible corporate body to demonstrate by our efforts that our psychology and psychological handicaps need be no deterrent in integrating 10 percent of the world’s population toward the constructive social progress of mankind.

In July, 1950, Hay met Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), a professional dancer and soon-to-be famous fashion designer from Austria. Gernreich read “The Call” and told Hay, “It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen and I’m with you one hundred percent.” They took another stab at organizing a homosexual organization by distributing sixty copies of “The Call” at a gay beach below the Palisades. That, too, ended in failure. Gernreich then encouraged Hay to approach Bob Hull (see May 31), a student in Gernreich’s music class, and Hull’s friend and former lover, Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24).  Hull then shared the idea with his then-current boyfriend, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21).

On November 11, the five met at Hay’s home on Red Hill in Silver Lake and formed the “Society of Fools,” with lofty ambitions. Hay’s forward-thinking contribution was to envision the group as a means of unifying “an oppressed cultural minority.” To Hay, being gay was more than just having sex. It was a way of life, with unique cultural aspects akin to an ethnic minority. Not everyone saw things that way. Jennings, for example, opposed the idea, contending that gay people were just exactly like everyone else except for who they wanted to have sex with. There was nothing special about being gay itself, and the issue wasn’t cultural liberation for gay people. For him, the real issue was sexual freedom for everyone regardless of whether they were gay or straight. This controversy would carry on for much of the next two decades. But the real underlying importance of the new group, as Rowland later explained, went much deeper.

“To me, the gay culture idea was the cornerstone of the Mattachine. …we wanted to change the laws, and that was and is a worthy objective. But changing laws  laws is almost meaningless unless one changes the hearts of men, both homosexual and heterosexual, and the heart change is, to me, what the Mattachine was all about.”

The new society, initially, was in danger of going the way of the earlier attempts at organizing as they struggled to find new members. People would show up for a meeting but fail to return. April of 1951 would bring a turnabout in the young group’s fortunes when Konrad Stevens and James Gruber (see Aug 21) joined and brought with them a new sense of urgency. Gruber also suggested the group rename itself the Mattachine Foundation, in honor of the medieval masque troops known as “matachines” (originally spelled with one “t”), whose role it was to stand up and speak truth to power without regard to direct consequences. Hay loved the idea, Jennings scoffed and thought it was silly, but the group decided to accept Gruber’s suggestion, and for the next three years, they were the Mattachine Foundation.

[Sources: James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 113-120.

C. Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009): 16-19.]

Six Year Old Child Has An Odd Trait: 1960. That headline was given for a column titled “Child Care” by Dr. Milton I. Levine and Jean H. Seligmann, in which a mother writes in about her cross-dressing son. Naturally, it’s the parents’ fault:

(Q) “My son is 6 year old and has a peculiar trait which has me very worried. He likes to dress up on girls’ or women’s clothing. I have two older daughters aged 9½ and 11 and he loves to wear their clothes whenever he gets the chance. He says theirs are much nicer than his. One day I found him in one of my dresses walking around in my high-heeled shoes. I am terribly frightened that he may be abnormal when he is older. What can I do? He seems normal otherwise and plays equally well with both boys and girls. He sees his father a little in the evenings and his father is home every weekend.”

Mrs. T.R.D.

(A) The desire to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex is fairly common in young children, but is a tendency which should not be encouraged. Sometimes this activity continues on into adult life when it becomes more and more difficult to change.

Although a child or adult prefers the clothes of the opposite sex, this does not necessarily mean that the person is a homosexual. As a mater of fact, in the vast majority of cases studied these children grew up with normal sex desires. But undoubtedly there are some who do become homosexual.

We do not know enough about your home environment or the manner in which your son has been brought up to say just why he likes to dress in female attire, but there are a number of possible causes. Sometimes boys feel their parents really wanted a girl and they try to act or look like one. Boys who live in a home atmosphere which is largely feminine may want to dress like women. (We know of instances where boys have been allowed to dress like girls without any objection from their parents.) If a boy is too close to his mother, or if he hasn’t enough contact with his father, he may want to dress like a woman to be like his mother.

Be sure your son feels the importance of being a boy. He should know that both you and his father wanted a son and are happy he is a boy. He should be discouraged from wearing girls’ clothes but not teased or laughed at. He should get a great deal more attention from his father who should encourage him in male interests. He should look more and more to his father as his model.

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, November 10

Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2014

IMG_0518.JPGTucson held its annual All Souls Procession through the streets of downtown last night. The procession began in the 1990s as a participatory performance art event inspired by the traditional Dia de los Muertos observances held throughout Mexico on All Souls Day (Nov 2). But over the past three decades, it has mushroomed into a gigantic grass-roots celebration with an estimated 100,000 participants. The parade itself is barely organized — it’s mostly just people deciding to dress up, maybe build a few props, decorate some art bicycles, and join in. The procession ends with a performance at the old Mercado, with arial acrobats, musicians and the traditional burning of a giant urn filled with small scraps of paper containing prayers and remembrances. The entire experience is a mixture of solemnity, whimsy, irreverence and creativity, and it can only be found in Tucson.

My mother and her husband flew down from Ohio to spend about a week and a half with us last week. (Between that and long hours of work, it’s why I’ve been AWOL on this blog.) Chris and I brought them to the Procession last night, and this morning we’re taking off for a road trip to Big Sur in California. Which means I’ll continue to be more or less out-of-pocket for another week. I may post a few photos through the week.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

Before Grindr and Scruff, before the rainbow spinning wheel and the waiting hourglass, before the blue screen of death, computers held the promise of solving all of our problems with mathematical precision down to the umpteenth decimal point. Things didn’t quite work out that way, but I did manage to meet my partner of 11 years online back in the gay.com days.

Sir Francis Galton

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Homosexuality and the Social Hygiene Movement: 1917. The theories behind the Eugenics movement were formulated by Sir Francis Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin. Drawing on Darwin’s theories of evolution, Galton sought to create a practical application of those theories in his 1883 book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, in which he suggested that, through carefully considered interventions, the human condition could be improved. He coined a word for these theories, Eugenics, from the Greek words for “good” and “born,” and he emphasized the inheritability of positive and negative traits, both through genetics and through environmental factors. In addition to Eugenics, which took a more narrow genetic human-husbandry approach to improving the population, his ideas also launched a broader “social hygiene” movement which had many positive influences: the regulation and eventual abolition of child labor, mandatory and free primary and (eventually) secondary education, workplace health and safety rules, anti-tenement ordinances, pre-natal care, food safety regulations, immunizations, sanitation, and birth control — although the latter, in some of its manifestations, also had its negative qualities as well, particularly where forced sterilization of “undesired” population groups were concerned.

Eugenics was the dark side of the social hygiene movement, as was its “racial hygiene” component which simply provided a weak scientific gloss over longstanding prejudices and racial policies against “race-mixing.” While not everyone involved in social hygiene programs were eugenicists, there were a great degree of crossed influences between the two areas, and the boundaries between them weren’t very clear. Indeed, few at the time thought that the boundaries needed to be clear; Eugenics didn’t become a toxic topic until the Nazis took those ideas to their more extreme yet logical conclusions.

Dr. William Alanson White

An interesting example of less toxic forms of social hygiene theories can be found in a textbook published in November 1917 by William Alanson White, a professor of nervous and mental diseases at Georgetown University and superintendent at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane. In The Principles of Mental Hygiene, he touched on a large number of topics, including homosexuality. That passage is particularly striking because of the way White described homosexuality according to its impact on “the herd.”

THE HOMOSEXUAL

This social group, like the others, is a complex and heterogeneous one and one, too, that we have only recently come to study scientifically. Perhaps no group of individuals have suffered from less understanding, have been treated with greater lack of consideration, than this group. The antipathic emotions have held almost complete sway and so have made the scientific approach to the problem practically impossible. The history of society’s attitude towards the homosexual is much the same as the history of its attitude towards the prostitute except that it has, if possible, been more completely dominated by the antipathic emotions.

Homosexuality has come of late to have a much broader meaning than that usually connoted by the popular speech. It means that degree of attraction for the same sex which turns the individual aside on the path towards a heterosexual goal and therefore away from those activities which naturally lead to procreation and are therefore race-preservative. The term by no means necessarily connotes actual concrete acts of sexual perversion. In this large sense it is readily seen why it should be tabooed by the herd. Its tendency is destructive to the interests of the herd as a biological unit and therefore the reaction against it. The reaction of hate and its congeners is the instinctive way of self-protection and must necessarily precede any judicial, intelligent attitude based upon scientific knowledge which can only come in the course of development when instinct shall have been controlled and directed by reason.

As already intimated, the homosexual group is a large and complex one and we are only beginning to be able to approach its problems with a clear scientific vision, but as we are able to do this we come more and more to an appreciation of how widely this particular type of inefficiency is distributed. Again, therefore, we come to appreciate the emphasis which I have all along put upon the necessity for studying the individual in order that he may be dealt with for what he is rather than perfunctorily classified with this or that social group just because, and for no other reason, the accident of circumstance has found him momentarily identified with it. Distinct homosexual types are found among the insane, the criminal, the feeble-minded, the epileptic, the vagrant, etc., etc., so that we must come to realize that it is a type of reaction, not a label to distinguish a given individual from all others, and try in our investigations to evaluate the part it has played in the social inadequacy of the particular individual under consideration.

Viewed in this way it becomes a problem like all the others and the objects of treatment come out clearly instead of being befogged by a haze of emotion.

The homosexual reaction should be corrected if possible. Psychotherapy is the most hopeful way of approach. Failing this the individual should be taught to use his energies as best he can based upon an understanding of himself. The ideal, next to cure, would be a direction of the energies into socially useful channels, which direction would at the same time afford an adequate fulfilment (sic) of the individual.

Homosexuality, in the broad sense here used, is found as a type of reaction in a great many conditions which constitute or lead to social inadequacy. It, therefore, offers a natural barrier to procreation of the socially inadequate classes the immense value of which, to the herd, has not been appreciated. It is, so to speak, a natural means of sterilization.

[Source: William A. White. The Principles of Mental Hygiene (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917): 208-211. The book is available in PDF and EPUB versions for free via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
90 YEARS AGO: Phyllis Lyon: 1924. The Oklahoma native earned a degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1946 and worked as a reporter for a California paper before moving to Seattle to work at a trade magazine in 1950. That’s where she met the love of her life, Del Martin (see May 5). They became a couple in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together. “We really only had problems our first year together,” she later told The Washington Post. “Del would leave her shoes in the middle of the room, and I’d throw them out the window.” Del responded “You’d have an argument with me and try to storm out the door. I had to teach you to fight back.”

Their life together was all about fighting back. In 1955 Phyllis and Del, along with six other women, formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the U.S. (see Oct 19). Phyllis was the first editor of the DOB’s groundbreaking newsletter, The Ladder from 1956 to 1960, when Del took over. Pseudonyms were common then, and Phillis edited The Ladder as “Ann Ferguson” for the first few months, but she killed her alter ego in an editorial encouraging readers not to hide (see Jan 20). By October 1957, they had 400 subscribers across the country. In 1964, Phyllis and Del helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, bringing together national religious leaders and gay and lesbian activists for a national discussion of gay rights. Phyllis became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of the National Organization for Women in 1973. Phyllis and Del were also active in San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club.

On February 12, 2004, Phyllis and Del married for the first time when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples. That marriage lasted until August 12, but not because the couple split up. That was when the California Supreme Court voided several thousand marriage licenses given to same-sex couples. Del and Phyllis were deeply dissapointed. “Del is 83 years old and I am 79,” Phyllis said at the time. “After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.”

Phyllis Lyon (right) and Del Martin (left) married in San Francisco in 2008, just a few months before voters approved Proposition 8.

But they had the luxury of just enough time. They were married again on June 16, 2008 after the California Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage was against the state constitution. Del and Phyllis were given the honor of being the first same-sex couple to be married, and they wore the same outfits in which they were first married in 2004. Del passed away two months later, on August 27, 2008.

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, November 9

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

Dr. Paul Blocq

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
120 YEARS AGO: “They Cannot Whistle”: A European Overview of Sexual Inversion: 1894. Most original thought on homosexuality in the nineteenth century was being published in Germany and France, where obscenity laws declined to interfere with what was billed as “scientific” material. The same was not necessarily true in Britain or the U.S., where authorities were more strict about what could be published. But if a publication first appeared abroad in a foreign language, its translation into English and publication in journals and books sold exclusively to the medical professions was typically allowed. This had the effect of stifling the study of sexuality in Britain and the U.S. and giving the new science of sexology on the continent a multi-decade head start. Consequently, late nineteenth century American and British medical professionals were still dependent on French, German and Italian sources for information on sexuality. And so the November 1894 edition of the American journal Physician and Surgeon included this lecture by Dr. Paul Blocq from Paris on the topic of “sexual inversion”:

It is important, first of all, to explain what we mean by sexual inversion, and show how it differs from the other perversions of the genital instinct. We may arrange these aberrations in three classes: (1) Where the instinct is abolished, impotence and agenisis. (2) When it is exaggerated, satyriasis and nymphomania. (3) Perversions. This last class includes onanism, fetichism, masochism, and sadism. Then comes inversion, which may be defined as a sexual attraction between individuals of the same sex — homo-sexuality. In man we may, according to [Albert] MOLL, give it the name of uranism, keeping the expression, pederast (sodomist) for the group of persons who practice coitus in ano. In woman it is called tribadism, saphism or lesbism [sic], according to the method they may employ to produce the sexual orgasm. [All parentheticals and italics in the original, bracketed info added.]

Acknowledging that “the medical study of this state is quite modern,” homosexuality itself has existed in Biblical times “and in the ancient history of different nations.” He reviewed the European literature on homosexuality (Richard von Kraftt-Ebing (see Aug 14), Heinrich Kaan, Albert Moll, Julien Chevalier, Carl Westphal (see Mar 23), among others), and concluded — not by science but solely by way of analogy — that homosexuality was a pathological condition:

Take hunger, for instance: it recalls to the normal organism the want of food, but of course we know plenty of states where this instinct is wanting and yet the stomach is in a normal condition. It is probably the same in a man whose sexual organs are in a normal state and yet his instinct is perverted. That is to say, it is easy to understand that the genital instinct can present the same abnormalities that the other functions do. Nevertheless, the objection will be made that a person in good health is pushed by nature to perpetuate his species, and one cannot qualify as morbid the absence of sexual desire when its reproduction is possible, for it is known that some uranists have had wives and had children by them. But take up the comparison again. We can see also that there is no sufficient reason for denying the pathological nature of inversion in these facts, for no one, for instance, will deny that the absence of appetite is pathological whether the  organism receives the usual quantity of food or not, and the default of sexual propensity is likewise a pathological fact whether coition is possible or not.  The comparison is possible also with those persons who have a taste for indigestible substances, such as chalk, lead, et cetera. These are pathological tastes and yet the normal one for nutritive substances may and often does exist with this state.

That is what passed for science in the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. His descriptions  of gay men is equally based on impressions rather than rigorous scientific study:

The first thing noticed in such patients, as a rule, is effeminacy. This modifies the physiognomy, voice, attitude and walk. It must not be supposed, though, that all persons who act and walk like women are of this class, n0r that there are not any uranists who preserve the normal appearance of man. It is only to be remarked that many of them take the woman type, or at least they imitate it and make efforts to reproduce it artificially by shaving off the beard or moustache, some going so far as to have it pulled out (epilation). If they have not naturally a soprano or alto voice they will try to cultivate one. [Karl] ULRICHS states that they cannot whistle but this sign is not proven. …

They will adopt ladies’ silk stockings, high heeled boots and even wear corsets. The furniture of their rooms will show the same tendency, with a profusion of fans, toys, and perfumes. Some of them will even work at crochet and women’s needlework. GYURKOWECHSKY [?] says that they resemble women more than men by their caprices, changeableness, and facility for telling lies (not gallant) while they have an excessive prudery.

Their intellectual state is not, however, as a rule bad, as they have been known to direct large business enterprises with some ability. They possess a real aversion to women and never approach them if possible. …

As to their sexual feelings, they make ‘psysical manifestations of inversion by making the actual love they seem to feel to the person they have chosen and express their passion just as normal men do for the women of their choice. They seem to feel the same passion as men do for women and express it strongly in letters of which many hundreds are extant. … According to their own confessions they know one another by an oblique look of the eyes, but this sign is certainly very indefinite.

What caused this condition?

A large number of theories have been proposed to account for the genesis of this state. [Paulo] MANTEGAZZA thinks that it is anatomical in its origin. For instance, in passive sodomists, the nervous filaments which should be distributed to the genital organs are given off to the rectal mucous membrane, but there is no demonstration given of this idea. As the normal excitation of these nerves comes from the brain and cord it is more likely that [Valentin] MAGNAN and [Eugene] GLEY are in the right in thinking that it is a corticle trouble. KRAFT-EBING [sic] is also of this opinion, and while we have no confirmation of it by post-mortems, still, it is a possible explanation of the state. Personally, we share the ideas of [Albert] MOLL, who thinks that there is an abnormal genital instinct in these cases simply because this instinct in degenerated subjects is their locus minoris resistentiæ.

Once a diagnosis is made, what should the physician do then?

About treatment:– Two indications present themselves. In some of these subjects there is a sort of hyperesthesia of the genital organs and this must be met by proper medication. Warm douches, bromides, and camphor combined with lupulin are useful drugs, and in the other cases one can insist on their returning to the normal as regards sexual life. Sometimes this is best carried out by suggestion without hypnotism. Surgical intervention by castration has been suggested.

[Source: Paul Blocq. “Sexual Inversion.” Physician and Surgeon 16, no. 11 (November 1894): 549-553. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Kate Clinton: 1947. The Syracuse native was raised in a large Catholic family, got her degrees from a hometown Jesuit college and Colgate University in Hamilton, and worked as a high school teacher for eight years. She came out of her closet and began her standup comedy career in 1981, using all of that background, plus her lesbianism and liberal politics, as fodder. (She described her closet has having “a foyer, a turnstile and a few locks.”) It wasn’t easy at first finding mainstream clubs willing to hire a lesbian comedian, but she nevertheless was able to find a receptive audience in the LGBT community through her recordings, including Making Light! (1982), Making Waves! (1984), Live at the Great American Music Hall (1985), Babes in Joyland (1990), Comedy You Can Dance To (1998), Read These Lips (2001), The Marrying Kind (2004), and Climate Change (2008). She has also authored three books — Don’t Get Me Started, (2000), What the L (2005), and I Told You So (2010)– and she’s appeared on Broadway for The Rocky Horror Pictures Show (2001) and The Vaginal Monolagues (2002). She and her partner Urvashi Vaid have been together since 1988, and they currently live in New York City and Provincetown.

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, November 8

Jim Burroway

November 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 1982, classified section, page 15.

From The Advocate, May 1982, classified section, page 15.

I’ve acquired quite a collection of vintage Advocates, among other newspapers and magazines from across the U.S. and a few from Europe. Each issue inevitably tells at least one interesting story about the times, either through its articles or the ads. And then there are the pages like this one, which tell us a little something about a previous reader of that particular paper, not so much by what’s in it but by what’s not.

Gladys and Mame (the “bitch and the butch”), two lesbians from the TV episode “Flowers of Evil”.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
40 YEARS AGO: Police Woman “Flowers of Evil” Episode Airs: 1974. When NBC’s hour-long action drama Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson began airing in 1974, it was so popular that even its reruns in the spring and summer of 1975 ranked number one in the Nielsen ratings. It was first successful police drama to feature a woman in the starring role. Dickinson’s unabashed sex appeal, undoubtedly, played a far greater role in its success than the plot lines themselves. One particularly odious episode, “Flowers of Evil,” had Dickinson’s character, Sgt. Pepper Anderson, investigating a trio of lesbians who run a retirement home where they murdered and robbed their elderly residents.

To add insult to injury, the Police Woman episode aired one month to the day after a similarly negative plot line appeared on ABC’s Marcus Welby, M.D., in which a child molester was portrayed as gay (see Oct 8). Police Woman’s “Flowers of Evil” was originally scheduled to air on October 25, but after the National Gay Rights Task Force organized national protests and advertisers began canceling, NBC pulled the episode for re-editing. But with the filming wrapped up, the edits were mostly cosmetic. After the episode aired on November 8, TV Guide called it “the single most homophobic show to date.” A week later, a group known as Lesbian Feminist Liberation occupied NBC’s Standards and Practices office overnight, unfurled a banner from an office window reading “Lesbians Protest NBC.” Advocates continued to negotiate with NBC for several more months, and NBC finally agreed in 1975 to not rebroadcast the episode during re-runs and to withhold it from syndication. The “Flowers of Evil” episode did re-appear again, but only after thirty years had passed, in the Season 1 DVD box set where in today’s context it can be safely viewed as a historic and cultural artifact.

Harvey Milk taking the oath of office.

Harvey Milk Elected to San Francisco Board of Supervisors: 1977. Newspapers across American carried this two-paragraph news item a few days after election day:

Homosexual Elected to Supervisors’ Board

San Francisco (AP) — Harvey Milk Tuesday became the first avowed homosexual to be elected to the city’s board of supervisors, some 25 years after he was discharged by the navy when it learned he was gay. Mr. Milk, 47, a camera store owner, said Wednesday, “I’m a symbol of hope for gays and all minorities. My election, against all the odds, shows that the system can work and that there is hope.”

Mr. Milk defeated a field of 17 candidates which included several other gays and former San Francisco 49ers football player Bob St. Clair.

This was Milk’s third run for Supervisor. He lost in 1973 and 1975 when all six Supervisor seats were elected in city-wide at-large elections where the top six vote getters joined the board. He also ran for the State Assembly in 1976, but lost in a close race. In 1977, San Francisco switched to single-member districts, and Milk won a seat on the Board of Supervisors on his third try.

Networks Reject PFLAG Ads as Offensive: 1995. Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays created at least three television ads to address the effect of anti-gay rhetoric on bullying and suicide. (According to Commercial Closet, the ads were this, this, and this — but only the last one matches the descriptions provided in news reports.) One of those ads, “Guns,” featured a teenage girl rummaging through her parents’ bedroom looking for a gun. Another ad featured a young man being beaten by bullies (that ad does not appear to be online.) Those images were disturbing enough. But what made the ads particularly controversial was that intercut between those images were video clips of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). The “Guns” ad, for example, went like this:

(Young woman enters her parents’ bedroom)
Jerry Falwell: Homosexuality is moral perversion and is always wrong. God hates homosexuality.

(Young woman frantically searchers dresser drawers and linen closet)
Pat Robertson: Homosexuality is an abomination. The practices of these people is appalling. It is a pathology. It is a sickness.

(Young woman finds a gun in a cedar chest)
Jesse Helms: A lot of us are sick and tired of all of the pretenses of injured innocence. They are not innocent.

(Young woman holds gun and cries.)
Announcer: It is estimated that thirty percent of teenage suicide victims are gay or lesbian.

(PFLAG logo appears)

The ad drew a direct threat from Bruce Hausknecht, associate general counsel for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network. “The spots contain defamatory material and cast Pat Robertson and CBN in a false light by implying that Pat advocates/promotes heinous crimes against gays or directly caused the suicide of one or more homosexual persons. This is outrageously false and severely damaging to the reputation of Dr. Robertson and this ministry.” Hauskenecht warned that if the ads were aired, CBN would “immediately seek judicial redress against your station,” including injunctions and monetary damages. As a result, the ads were rejected by eight stations in Washington, D.C., Tulsa, Houston and Atlanta, and by CNN, which had tentatively accepted them for Larry King Live. Some of those stations did accept the companion ad depicting the young man being beaten.

PFLAG criticized stations for not airing the ad. Pointing out that talk radio was filled with anti-gay statements on a regular basis, PFLAG’s board president Mitzi Henderson said, “These people (Falwell, Robertson and Helms) are particularly accessible and public. We think they’re representative of a variety of sources. … We wanted to say, ‘Wake up and join us in opposing hate speech.'”

PFLAG executive director Sandra Gillis said that Tulsa, Atlanta and Houston were chosen “because they’re heartland America. Mainstream, middle Americans are not an intolerant lot. They don’t realize the level of abuse and violence against gays and lesbians.” She said the campaign’s message was “watch your words. They can create a climate in which violent people think their violent action is okay.”

Charles Demuth, Self Portrait, 1907.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Charles Demuth: 1883-1938. An important modernist watercolorist and oil painter, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania native studied at Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts before moving on to Académie Colarossi and Académie Julian in Paris. While in Paris beginning in 1907, Demuth became part of the avant-garde scene as one of the first American painters to embrace modernism.

That exposure proved profoundly influential but Demuth didn’t stay in Paris long, just a little over a year. On returning home, he began a relationship with a longtime friend from Lancaster, decorator-designer Robert Evans Locher, a relationship that would last for the rest of Demuth’s life.

Demuth returned to Paris again in 1912, where he met the painter Marsden Hartley (see Jan 4). The two became lifelong friends. Hartley introduced Demuth to Gertrude Stein (see Feb 3), Ezra Pound, and Leo Stein. Demuth’s esthetic ideas were further sharpened on his return to American in 1914, where he became close associates with the gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz and artists Georgia O’Keefe and Marcel Duchamp. His first solo exhibit was that same year, at the Daniel Gallery in New York. Later, he would exhibit regularly in Steiglitz’s gallery, where his work was purchased by such important collectors as Louise and Walter Arensberg, Ferdinand Howald, and pharmaceutical industrialist Albert C Barnes.

Charles Demuth, Turkish Bath with Self Portrait, 1918

While Demuth traveled frequently to Provincetown, New York, Philadelphia and, occasionally, to Europe, Lancaster would always be his home base. While in New York, he frequented the Lafayette Baths, which likely inspired his 1918 homoerotic Turkish Bath with Self PortraitIn 1919, Demuth began a series of paintings inspired by the architecture and industrial landscape of Lancaster. These larger-scale paintings, which represented a kind of a simplified Cubism established Demuth as an important Precisionist artist which anticipated modern regionalism styles of the 1920s and 1930s.

Demuth returned to Paris in 1921, but ill health forced his return home, where he was treated for diabetes. He become one of the first people in the U.S. to take regular insulin injections, and Barnes often footed the bill for his sanitarium stays. But the debilitating effects of diabetes would plague him for the rest of his life.

Charles Demuth, I Saw the Figure 5 In Gold, 1928.

From the mid- to late 1920s Demeth produced a series of symbolic “poster portraits,” which were intended to depict several of his friends. His most famous painting of this series, I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, was inspired by his friend William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Great Figure.” The Wall Street Journal’s Judith Dobrzynski described its importance:

It’s the best work in a genre Demuth created, the “poster portrait”. It’s a witty homage to his close friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, and a transliteration into paint of his poem, “The Great Figure”. It’s a decidedly American work made at a time when U.S. artists were just moving beyond European influences. It’s a reference to the intertwined relationships among the arts in the 1920s, a moment of cross-pollination that led to American Modernism. And it anticipates pop art.

He created other poster portraits to honor several of his friends: Gertrude Stein, Eugene O’Neil, Georgia O’Keefe, and Marsden Hartley among them.

Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927.

In 1927, Demuth returned to his Lancaster landscapes, producing some of his iconic My Egypt (1927), Buildings, Lancaster (1930), Chimney and Water Tower (1931), and And Home of the Brave (1931).  Those paintings today are regarded as among the most notable achievements in American art. His last painting in the series, After All, was completed in 1933. By then, the ravages of diabetes were taking their toll. Demuth finally succumbed in 1935 at the age of 51. Demuth’s house on King Street in Lancaster was bequeathed to Locher, who lived there until his own death in 1956.  The home is now a museum.

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, November 7 (Updated)

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2014

I have an update on the history of lesbian literature added to the bottom of Lisa Ben’s biography.

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Ladder, August 1960, page 25.

From The Ladder, August 1960, page 25.

“Frankie and Johnnie” was a popular song from 1904, which tells the story of a woman named Frankie who shoots her man, Johnnie, after discovering him in bed with another woman. Based on a true story of a murder in St. Louis in 1899, “Frankie and Johnnie” has been recorded by hundreds of artists, including Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Lena Horne, Elvis Presley (who sang it in the 1966 film Frankie and Johnny), Taj Mahal, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison and Stevie Wonder. Lisa Ben’s rendition however as a parody, with the lyrics changed to tell the story of two gay lovers:

Frankie and Johnnie were lovers
Lordy, but how they could camp.
Swore to stick to one another
Just like two wet postage stamps;
He was his man, but he done him wrong.

Frankie swished down to the gay bar
to sip him some pink lemonade.
He asked, “Has my Johnnie been in here,
Was he caught in last night’s raid?
Ooh, he’s my man, is he a-doing me wrong?”

The bartender said, “Listen Frankie,
I ain’t gonna tell you no lie.
Your John’s got it made with a piece of trade
Who is known as Nellie Bly.
If he’s your man, he’s a-doin’ you wrong.”

Frankie went to the hotel room,
knelt down by the keyhole to spy.
And sure enough, there was his John-boy
Foolin’ ’round this other guy.
He caught his man, he was a-doing him wrong.

Frankie flew down to the gun shop,
Bought a pearl-handled ’44.
Toot-a-toot-toot at his fickle fruit
He shot right through that door,
He shot his man, for a-doin’ him wrong.

Frank was not much of a marksman
And that hotel door was shut.
Those bullets were meant for their cruel, cruel hearts.
And they landed in there — but
He shot his man, for a-doin’ him wrong.

Now this story has quite a moral
as you can plainly see:
There’s plenty more fruit in the orchard
so go out and shake that tree.
Don’t shoot your man for a-doing’ you wrong.
Never, never shoot your man for a-doing’ you wrong!

TODAY IN HISTORY:
José Sarria Runs for San Francisco City Supervisor: 1961. He lost, of course, but he also won by losing. Before throwing his tiara into the ring, José Sarria (see Dec 12) was better known as a drag performer and waiter at San Francisco’s Black Cat bar, where he regaled audiences with campy versions of Italian opera. He fought constantly against police raids against gay men and gay bars — he himself had been arrested in an entrapment case. One tactic was for police to raid gay bars and arrest everyone dressed in drag for violating a city ordinance that barred men from dressing as women with “an intent to deceive.” He printed up buttons for drag queens to wear on their dresses reading, “I am a boy.” That tactic effectively ended the raids on drag queens.

When Sarria decided to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, he became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. The elections that year were for five at-large seats in which the top five vote-getters citywide were seated. Sarria almost won by default until city officials put out a call for more candidates at the last minute when they realized what was up. Thirty-four candidates ended up running for the five slots. Sarria’s platform was a simple one:

My platform when I ran was “Equality Before the Law.” The San Francisco Court House had just been built and that was the slogan on it and I said, “This is what my slogan will be. I’m going to take it and shove it right down their throat.” I saw that there were two interpretations of the laws and that they were trying to make gay people second rate citizens. I’ve never been a second rate citizen.

Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in ninth place. While he didn’t make it onto the Board of Supervisors, his 6,000 votes effectively defined a significant voting block which could not be ignored in future elections. Sarria’s loss marked a change in San Francisco city politics as a result. As Sarria recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Prop 6/Briggs Initiative Defeated: 1978. State Sen. John Briggs had been a part of Anita Bryant’s campaign two years earlier to roll back a gay rights ordinance in Miami, Florida. So when he decided to run for the Republican nomination for California Governorship in 1978, he thought he had hit on the perfect campaign platform: the so-called threat posed by gay teachers in the public schools. He lost the nomination, but managed to get placed on the California ballot Proposition 6, which would have banned gays and lesbians from being teachers. It also would have banned anyone else from teaching, gay or straight, who defended gays and lesbians whether they did so in the schools or outside. And with Prop 6 on the ballot, Briggs saw an opportunity to really make a name for himself. He told the Escondido Times-Advocate, “I could well end up being America’s newest and biggest folk hero, or I could very well end up being the world’s biggest chump.” If the amendment passed, Briggs told the paper that it would put him into position to challenge the U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D) in 1980.

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

Briggs played to society’s fears of gays as predators. He told the San Francisco Examiner, “One-third of San Francisco teachers are homosexuals. I assume most of them are seducing young boys in toilets.” The pro-Prop 6 campaign called themselves “Defend Our Children,” and their campaign was both nasty and personal. One television ad that ran in Los Angeles featured Heraldsburg  school board president Lee Lee, saying that in her school district there was a second-grade teacher who “uses his status as a teacher to promote homosexuality.” The teacher wasn’t specifically named, but the Sonoma County school district was so tiny — there was only one male second-grade teacher in the Heraldsburg district — that Larry Berner was quickly singled out as the one who was teaching “reading, writing and homosexuality,” according to the Prop 6 campaign. The school board was pressured to fire Berner, but the state Supreme Court had already ruled that homosexuality wasn’t valid grounds to dismiss a teacher. Lee instead promised to do everything she could to see Prop 6 pass, and the campaign sought to make Berner their poster child. In the official voters handbook, the Briggs campaign said, “If you don’t think Proposition 6 is necessary, then ask the parents of Heraldsburg.” They probably should have. Heraldsburg parents, outraged over how their teacher was being treated, printed up T-shirts that read, “Ask a Heraldsburg Parent — No on 6.” Berner also got the backing of nineteen out of the district’s twenty-one teachers.

Prop-6-ad-e1336466369414Yet in September, Prop 6 still looked like a sure thing, with 61% supporting the proposal. But several events conspired to lead to the measure’s defeat: with San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (see May 22) setting the example, thousands of gays and lesbians emerged from the closet for the first time to their friends, families and co-workers. For many gay people, it was their first time engaging in a political campaign. Log Cabin Republicans organized to become a rallying point for other conservative Republicans to oppose the measure, and former Gov. Ronald Reagan came out against it — going so far as to write an op-ed against Prop 6 for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. “Whatever else it is, he wrote, “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter also came out against it.

No on 6 poster: “You don’t have to be gay to be fired.” (Click to enlarge.)

But what likely killed the Biggs Initiative was Briggs’s overreach. Briggs started out just wanting to ban gay people from teaching, but he crafted his initiative so broadly that even straight teachers who supported gay rights, publicly or privately, were threatened. Del Martin (see May 5), the San Francisco lesbian-rights activist who had co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, showed how Prop 6 threatened to unleash a witch hunt that would hurt everyone. “All you have to do is point your finger and say, ‘you’re gay,'” she said. “That kind of thing is as damaging to heterosexuals as to homosexuals.” For many straight voters, opposition to Prop 6 wasn’t so much a show of support for gay people as it was a vote for self-protection.

When election day came, Prop 6 went down in defeat, 58-42%. In San Francisco, Prop 6 was lopsidedly defeated in a 75-25% landslide. Berner’s Sonoma County rejected Prop 6 by 62-38% Even Briggs’s own Orange County turned against him by a 53-47% margin. The only urban county to approve Prop 6 was San Bernardino, 57-43%.

With Prop 6’s defeat, California’s teachers were safe from political witch hunts. But more importantly, the victory helped to usher the emergence of a truly national gay rights movement out of what had been a series of relatively isolated, autonomous local communities. For the first time, gays and lesbians across America began to see themselves as part of a larger community, which would take visible form a year later when 75,000 showed up for with the First National March on Washington (see Oct 14).

Anti-Initiative 13 poster (via Gay Seattle History. Click to enlarge.)

Seattle Voters Reject Repeal of Gay Rights Ordinances: 1978. While the nation’s eyes were on California’s Briggs Initiative, voters in Seattle were contending with yet another Anita Bryant-inspired effort at the ballot box to eliminate gay rights ordinances. Since Bryant’s 1977 victory in Miami (see Jun 7), she took her anti-gay show on the road to similar victories in St. Paul, Minnesota (see Apr 25); Wichita, Kansas (see May 9);  and Eugene, Oregon (see May 23). Now the steam roller was headed for Seattle.

Seattle had come to the idea of protecting its gay community relatively early, passing a non-discrimination employment ordinance in 1973, and extending discrimination protections to housing two years later. Those bills generated little controversy at the time, but with Bryant’s national barnstorming attracting widespread attention, Seattle Police officers David Estes and Dennis Falk decided to act. They founded a local group, Save Our Moral Ethics (SOME), and launched a campaign to place Initiative 13 on the ballot and repeal the city’s non-discrimination ordinances.

A counter group, Citizens to Retain Fair Employment, rose up the challenge the initiative, but right away they ran into a stark political reality: how do you get straight people to care about such a tiny and reviled minority? CRFE studied the campaigns in Miami and St. Paul and concluded that trying to argue for the civil rights of gay people was a flop. Either the electorate didn’t care or was overtly hostile to that idea. Repeating that same formula in Seattle, they reasoned, would produce the same result. Sure, fighting for civil rights was important, but it would take years — perhaps decades — of dialogue and conversations before the public could be moved to look at gay people as equal citizens. CRFE only had a few months. Clearly they needed a different approach, which that could bring quick results and which hinged on something everyone cared about now. CRFE found that issue: privacy.

So while SOME were throwing mud and claiming that seventy percent of all child molestations were at the hands of homosexuals, CRFE didn’t bother trying to make Seattleites feel good about gay people. Instead, they countered that Initiative 13 would give employers and landlords carte blanche to look into everyone’s private backgrounds, especially those who were single, had roommates, or were just generally not well-liked or thought of as being a little different. One anti-13 poster showed a keyhole with an eye peering through it, while television ads depicted people living in a fishbowl. And nobody’s comfortable with that kind of scrutiny. On election day, Seattle voters drove that point home by defeating Initiative 13 by a whopping 63-37% margin.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Lisa Ben: 1921. Her job as secretary at RKO Studios didn’t involve a lot of work, even though her boss wanted her to look busy. So she used her side project to fill the time. Using five sheets of carbon paper, she would type out her little newsletter twice over, making a total of twelve copies at the most. She could have used a mimeograph machine, but that would have meant using a machine in a common area where other secretaries might discover what she was up to. Between June 1947 to February 1948, she put out nine issues of Vice Versa, which, as modest as that was, is believed to be the first known lesbian publication in the world. Each issue consisted of a dozen or so pages of book and film reviews, essays, short stories, opinion pieces, and a smattering of poetry. She mailed three issues to friends; the rest she hand-distributed at her favorite lesbian bars in Los Angeles. And she always encouraged her readers to pass their copies on to others when they were done with them.

She was born Edith Edye, an only child who grew up on an apricot farm in Santa Clara County. She developed her first crush on another girl while in High School. Devastated when the other girl broke it off, she wen to to her mother for solace, but her mother reacted so badly that she knew she’d never be able to discuss her personal life with her parents again. In 1945, she left Northern California and moved to Los Angeles, where she met other women in her apartment building who were as little interested in boys as she was:

“I don’t know what brought up the subject, but one of the girls turned to me and said, ‘are you gay?’ And I said, ‘I try to be as happy as I can under the circumstances.’ They all laughed. Then they said, ‘No, no’ and told me what it meant. And I said, ‘Well, yes, I guess I am because I don’t really go out and search for boyfriends. I don’t care for that.’ So they said, ‘You must come with us to a girl’s softball game.’ I went with them, but I didn’t tell them that softball bored the tar out of me. I just don’t care for sports. I know that’s very funny for a lesbian to say. But it’s true, I never have cared for sports. I went along to be with the crowd.”

Meeting other lesbians quickly became a priority for her. “The most common way for us to meet others of the same inclination was to frequent the gay bars,” she remembered.” It was easy to form friendships and be invited to the apartments and dwelling-places of these acquaintances … sometimes someone would have a party and invite quite a few friends, who would bring their friends along. There were no lesbian organizations and, of course, one could never place an ad in a personals column!”

There was also no reading material. That’s where she got the idea for Vice Versa, which had the added benefit of helping her to expand her social circle. “When I turned out my first copy I probably knew about four people. And the next month, they introduced me to some more, and I knew, like, ten people. And so on and so on and so on. So it grew. And eventually it grew to more girls than I had copies and I couldn’t turn out anymore!”

From the first issue of Vice Versa (Source. Click to enlarge.)

That’s when she adopted her public pseudonym of Lisa Ben, an anagram of “lesbian.” Her first issue of Vice Versa explained what she had in mind for her magazine. She noted that on every newsstand, there were magazines specializing on just about every topic imaginable:

Yet, there is one kind of publication which would, I am sure, have a great appeal to a definite group. Such a publication has never appeared on the stands. News stands carrying the crudest kind of magazine or pictorial pamphlets appealing to the vulgar would find themselves severely censured were they to display those other type of publication. Why? Because Society decrees it thus.

Hence the appearance of VICE VERSA, a magazine dedicated, in all seriousness, to those of us who will never quite be able to adapt ourselves to the iron-bound rules of Convention. The circulation of this publication, under the circumstances, must be very limited, going only to those who, it is felt, will genuinely enjoy such a magazine. … If the contents interest you and please you, that is the purpose of the magazine. If the material included herein seems rather monotonous, please keep in mind that the entire publication was originated and compiled by one person.

An ad for Lisa Ben’s record. From ONE, September 1960, page 22.

Ben had to end her run with Vice Versa after the Valentine’s Day issue in 1948. That’s when Howard Hughes bought RKO, and almost everyone was let go. Ben’s next job was much busier, leaving her with no time to work on Vice Versa. But by then Ben was enjoying her expanded social circle so much that, as she later said, “I wanted to live it rather than write about it.”

A tiny pebble thrown in the pond — it may be an overused cliché, but it perfectly describes Vice Versa’s impact. Copies were passed around and copied some more, like the Samizdat dissident newsletters that were the lifeline of Soviet dissidents half a world away. Very few originals survive; what we have today are almost always copies of copies. Over the next several years, those copies attained near-mythical status as hundreds, then thousands, read Vice Versa. When the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing The Ladder, some of Ben’s Vice Versa material appeared again, this time under her pseudonym “Lisa Ben,” an anagram of “lesbian.” (Vice Versa had carried no byline.) She also wrote some original articles as well for The Ladder.

Writing wasn’t her only talent. After her Vice Versa days were over, she indulged her love of music and began writing and performing a variety of gay-themed parodies. Her aim was to entertain, but to do it in a way that wasn’t demeaning. “I was absolutely appalled at the gay (male) entertainers who would, on stage, make derogatory remarks and dirty jokes about themselves to entertain the non-gay people who came there to be entertained and ‘see how the queers lived,'” she said. “No wonder society had such a bad opinion of us.”

From the film  Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, 1984.

From the film Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, 1984.

She often based her parodies on older popular songs: “I’m a Boy Being a Girl,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write My Butch a Letter”, and “The Vice Squad Keeps On Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine.” She didn’t take her singing very seriously. But, again, it helped to expand her social circle. “It was always a lot of fun and I found myself attending more and more parties and meeting more and more gay folks, both men and women.” In 1960, two of her songs, “Cruising Down the Boulevard” and “Frankie and Johnnie,” were recorded on 45 rpm and sold by the Daughters of Bilitis through ads in The Ladder and ONE magazine.

But it was those nine issues of Vice Versa that secured her place in history by providing a model for ONE and The Ladder. In 1972, she was honored by ONE, Inc., as “the father [sic] of the homophile movement,” and she appeared in the 1984 PBS Emmy-winning documentary Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, and she was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2010. All of which fulfilled a wish she shared in the fourth issue of Vice Versa in 1947: “Perhaps even Vice Versa might be the forerunner of better magazines dedicated to the third sex, which in some future time might take their rightful place n the newsstands beside other publications, to be available openly and without restriction to those who wish to read them.”

lisaben98Lisa Ben still lives in California, and even though her real name is easy to find on the Internet, she still prefers to be known publicly by her pseudonym. And why not? Tab Hunter has his.

You can see an interview with Lisa Ben online at the Herstories digital collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives here and here.

[Sources: “Vice Versa, by Lisa Ben.” Queer Music Heritage web site. You can find scans of all nine issues of Vice Versa here.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights: 1945-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 5-15.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007): xxxii-xxxv]

Update: A BTB reader in Austria sent the following:

Hi Jim,

>>
Between June 1947 to February 1948, she put out nine issues of Vice Versa, which, as modest as that was, is believed to be the first known lesbian publication in the world.
<<

Maybe the first lesbian publication in the United States or in the English speaking world.

In Weimar Germany there existed several lesbian publications in the 1920es and early 30es, the best known being “Die Freundin” (= girlfriend). It was published from 1924 to 1933 according to Wikipedia.

Other German Papers authored by and targeted at lesbians were Garçonne (1930–1932), Frauenliebe (1926–1930), BIF – Blätter Idealer Frauenfreundschaft (presumed 1926–1927), Ledige Frauen (1928–1929), Frauen Liebe und Leben (1928) and Liebende Frauen (1926–1931).

Most of these papers were only of local reach (mostly in Berlin) all all of them ceased to be published when the Nazis took over.

“Die Freundin” is even available in some German libraries, I haven’t found any digital version of it though.

The situation was different in Austria, as lesbian sex was illegal according to section 129 of the former criminal code. (In Germany only male gay sex was illegal.) We had numerous women’s magazines and feminist magazines in the second half of the 19th and first decades of 20th centuries, but none of them were explicitely lesbian, as far as I know.

Thank you, Zutta!

John Fryer: 1938-2003. You have John Fryer to thank for that fact that you’re not crazy. For many years, he was known only as Dr. H. Anonymous, the disguised gay psychiatrist whose talk at an American Psychiatric Association panel on homosexuality is credited for paving the way for the organization’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. But friends who knew him knew a complicated man: gregarious and charming, difficult and biting, always intense.

He knew he was gay from the age of fourteen, and did little to hide it through his high school and college years. But when he became a medical intern at Ohio State, he understood that it was in his best interest to keep his sexuality a secret from his superiors. His psychiatric residency at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka only reinforced his closet door. There were only about 100,000 people in Topeka, and if he went to a gay bar there, he was almost certain to run into someone connected with the clinic — either as a patient or an employee. Menninger was a very homophobic place, and Fryer soon became depressed. A supervisor noticed and set him up with free therapy with a psychoanalyst. Fryer went out on the limb and confessed everything to her. “There is only one solution,” she said. “Did you ever think of leaving Topeka?”

Leave he did, to the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. That residency lasted about six months until his supervisor there found out that he was gay. “You can either resign or I’ll fire you.” Fryer accepted six months’ severance and resigned. He ended up working at Norristown State Hospital in northern Philadelphia, where he was given the worst assignment: Building 11 as the only psychiatrist for 400 male patients, and Building 13 which housed the chronically incontinent. Fryer set up a behavioral program in Building 13 which rewarded patients who controlled themselves with trips to the Poconos. By the time he was finished, he had solved the incontinence problem in Building 13. He also found himself surrounded by staff that could accept the fact that he was gay.

By 1970, he became a part of what was loosely called the Gay-PA, an underground network of closeted gay psychiatrists who attended the annual meetings of the APA. They watched in 1970 when “outside agitators” — Frank Kameny (see May 21), Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), among others — picketed the APA meeting in San Francisco in 1970 (see May 14). Fryer later recalled, “We in the Gay-PA commented, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ But we weren’t about to do anything that might expose us.”

But things quickly changed for Fryer. The APA asked Barbara Gittings to be a part of a panel on “Lifestyles of Non-Patient Homosexuals.” Barbara’s partner, Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5), noticed that the panel had gays who weren’t psychiatrists and psychiatrists who weren’t gay. What the panel needed, she said, was a gay psychiatrist. Fryer recalled:

Barbara Gittings called and said, “John, we need you to be on a panel [in May of 1972],” and I said, “Tell me about it.” She said, “It’s going to be a panel about homosexuality, and we need a gay psychiatrist.” I said, “Sooo . . . ?!” She responded, “Well look, you…um…think about it.”

He had a lot to think about. His father had died and he was between jobs. This was not a good time for him to expose himself, either emotionally or professionally. But he had already been thrown out of one residency for being gay and lost another job for the same thing. He knew that his fellow psychiatrists needed to hear about that. So he called Gittings back and said he would do it — on one condition: he couldn’t do it as himself. He would need a disguise. His lover at the time, a drama major, devised one: a formal suit several sizes too big — not an easy task for such a big man to begin with — and a wig and rubber mask that was distorted beyond recognition. He also spoke into a special microphone to disguise his voice.

L-R: Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous”

Speaking as “Dr. H. Anonymous,” Fryer opened with the words, “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist.” He talked about just a few of the different closets he was forced to hide in: as a gay man who had to hide his sexuality among his professional colleagues, and as a gay man who had to hide his profession among other gay people. “There is much negative feeling in the homosexual community towards psychiatrists,” he explained. “And those of us, who are visible, are the easiest targets from which the angry can vent their wrath.”  He also addressed the “more than a hundred [gay] psychiatrists” attending the convention, urging them to find ways to help change the attitudes of their patients, both gay and straight, towards homosexuality. It would be risky, but “We are taking an even bigger risk, however, not accepting fully our own humanity, with all the lessons it has to teach all the other humans around us and ourselves. This is the greatest loss: our honest humanity.”

The panel was a resounding success. That night, Fryer wrote in his diary:

The day has passed — it has come and gone and I am still alive. For the first time, I have identified with a force which is akin to my selfhood. I am not Black. I am not alcoholic. I am not really addicted. I am homosexual, and I am the only American psychiatrist who has stood up on a podium to let real flesh and blood tell this nation it is so.

The next year, Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was in charge of revising the APA’s Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) which defined the official list of mental disorders, met with members of the Gay-PA, and those meetings eventually led to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

But for Fryer, life continued to be difficult. After the 1972 APA meeting, he took a job at another psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia. A medical student learned that Fryer was gay — Fryer later hinted that he may have come on to the student but insisted that it went no further — and went to the Administration. Fryer was called in and told, “If you were gay and not flamboyant we would keep you. If you were flamboyant and not gay we would keep you. But since you are both gay and flamboyant, we cannot keep you.” Ironically, that same administrator had sat in the front row at the APA meeting during Fryer’s talk the year before, and had no idea who he was.

Fryer then took a teaching assignment at Temple University. In 1978, he got his associate professorship and with it came tenure. He could no longer be fired. He was free to be out, and he could also, finally, tell the full story behind Dr. H. Anonymous. Fryer retired from Temple in 2000, and died in 2003 at the age of 64. In 2004, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists endowed an award in his name. The first John E. Fryer Award, sponsored by AGLP and given by the APA, was awarded to Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings in 2006 for their role in that fateful APA panel in 1972.

[Source: David L. Scasta. “John E. Fryer, MD, and the Dr. H. Anonymous Episode.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy 6, No. 4 (2002): 73-84.

Jeanne Lenzer. “John Fryer.” British Medical Journal 326, no 7390 (March 22, 2003): 662. Available online here.]

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