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Posts for April, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, April 9

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Women’s Fest 2014, Camp Rehoboth, DE; Virgin London Marathon, London UK; Miami Beach Pride, Miami Beach, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Rose (a Southern California gay bar guide), September 9, 1980, page 29.

 
West Coast Production Company opened on Veteran’s Day of 1977, in an old building a few blocks from San Diego’s first disco, the Ball Express. The DJs at WCPC quickly outclassed the competition, with WCPC gaining a reputation for breaking much of the disco music in the late 1970s. WCPC weathered the changing tastes in music through the 1980s, but by 1996 the club had run its course.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Freud’s Letter to a Concerned Mother: 1935. At the turn of the twentieth century, the most common opinion about homosexuality among psychiatrists was that it was the result of natural degeneracy, which was a kind of a theory of evolution in reverse. (for more detailed descriptions of Degeneracy Theory, see Sep 3, Dec 27 or Feb 7). But Sigmund Freud challenged that prevailing theory early in his career. In his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Freud argued that if degeneracy theory were a valid explanation, it would mean that gay people who have to exhibit not many different behaviors from the norm, but their “efficient functioning” would have to be limited as well. Freud however found gay men and women who exhibited no other behavioral problems, and rather than exhibit unimpaired functioning but many were “indeed distinguished by specially high intellectual development and ethical culture.” If gay people were truly the product of degeneracy, none of his observations would make sense.

In 1935, Freud outlined some of these beliefs again in a letter which is often described as being to “an American mother” The letter has been so described perhaps because it was sent anonymously to the American sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey from “a grateful mother.” We don’t actually know who that mother was. Kinsey, in turn, shared it with the American Journal of Psychiatry, where it appeared in the April 1951 edition. The handwritten letter reads as follows:

April 9th, 1935.

Dear Mrs. ——

I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you, why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime and cruelty too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.

By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way, we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies which are present in every homosexual, in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.

What analysis can do for your son runs in a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up your mind he should have analysis with me — I don’t expect you will –, he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, don’t neglect to give me your answer.

Sincerely yours with kind wishes,
Freud.

P. S. I did not find it difficult to read your handwriting. Hope you will not find my writing and my English a harder task.

It would take another four decades before the American Psychiatric Association would finally catch up with Freud’s finding that homosexuality “cannot be classified as an illness.”

[Sources: Sigmund Freud. Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality. Translated and edited by James Strachey. (New York: Basic Books, 2000): 4-5.

Sigmund Freud. "Letter (to an American mother, 1935)" American Journal of Psychiatry 107, no. 10 (April 1951): 786-787.]

55 YEARS AGO: Daily Express Calls for Homosexual Purge from London’s Theaters: 1959. Under the ownership of Canadian-born Max Aitken (who, in 1917, became the first Lord Beaverbrook when he was granted a peerage), London’s Daily Express had long enjoyed a reputation for both forming and reflecting the prejudices and outrages of its conservative and working class readers. Following World War II, the Express newspapers enjoyed the world’s largest circulation and Beaverbrook was known as “the first Baron of Fleet Street.” In 1959, author and historian John Deane Potter took to the pages of the Daily Express to warn its readers about a terrible menace in London’s theater district:

I read with dismay the news yesterday that a 31-year-old South African called John Cranko was fined £10 at Marlborough-street police court.

It was not the fine. It was the man and the offence. Because he pleaded guilty to a crime which has become known as the West Side vice.

Cranko is the latest on the list of famous stage names who have been found guilty of this squalid behaviour. He is a talented man of the theatre. He was the co-author of the spectacularly successful review “Cranks.”

The private lives of people, whether they are a brilliant ballet designer and author like Cranko, or an ordinary office worker on the 6.15, should, according to the Wolfenden Report, be their own business. But this question is public business.

It has become a sour commonplace in the West End theatre that unless you are a member of an unpleasant freemasonry your chances of success are often lessened.

For the theatre is far too full of people belonging to a secret brotherhood.

Most of them are not tortured misfits. They do not want psychiatric treatment or cures.

They live complacently in their own remote world, with its shrill enthusiasms.

But they are evil. For two reasons.

One is their PERSONAL POWER.

Corruption is an outmoded word that used to be thundered with hellfire vigour from Victorian pulpits. Now this West End weakness is the subject of sophisticated wit.

Their chi-chi world may seem remote from the normal theatregoer. Except for this.

If your son wants to go on the stage — what will his future be? It is a shivering thought.

So many talented young men have said to me: “It is no good in the theatre unless you are camp. You must be queer to get on.”

Those are just two expressions from the cryptic slang they use to describe the social disease from which they suffer.

The boy, whatever his talents, may become bitter and frustrated.

Or worse. He does not have to travel far along the corridors of the West End back-stage to meet the smooth, unspoken. proposition. He may, through ambition, try to play along with it. And, make no mistake, many of these men take pleasure in corrupting the young.

Danger number two is their PROFESSIONAL POWER.

Some of the stuff they produce is beautiful, witty, and clever. But too often they try to foist upon the public a false set of values.

What is often received with trills of praise by the closed West End set remains puzzling to the formal mind of the average theatregoer who is unaware of the lace-like intricacies of the decor or the obscure oddities of the plot.

And the theatre has an expensive flop on its hands.

No one likes to indulge in a Jehovah-like loftiness about other people’s lives.

But I repeat: these are evil men. They have spun their web through the West End today until it is a simmering scandal.

I say they should be driven from their positions of theatrical power.

[Source: John Deane Potter. "Isn't It About Time Someone Said This... Plainly and Frankly"  The (London) Daily Express (April 9, 1959). As reprinted in The Mattachine Review 5, no. 6 (June 1959): 21.]

40 YEARS AGO: APA Membership Affirms Decision To Remove Homosexuality From DSM-II: 1974. When the American Psychiatric Association’s board of trustees ratified the Nomenclature Committee’s recommendation to remove homosexuality from the second edition of the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM-II, the APA’s official list of mental disorders — see Dec 15), the faction within the APA opposing the move, led by Charles Socarides, vowed to overturn the board’s decision and return the nation’s gays and lesbians to the ranks of the mentally ill. Socarides’s Ad Hock Committee Against the Deletion of Homosexuality from DSM-II moved quickly to put the board’s decision to a vote of the membership. This demand was most remarkable: having lost the scientific argument, the dissident committee turned to the organization’s by-laws — which were intended to democratize the APA’s policy decisions — and turn it into a referendum on a scientific finding. In other words, they wanted to put facts up for a vote.

The APA board was appalled at the thought of asking the membership to vote on a scientific finding, but the wording of the bylaws left them no choice. The day after board’s decision to delete homosexuality from the DSM they set a date for the referendum. Ballots were mailed out to the membership, and the controversy was hotly debated in the APA’s publication Psychiatry News. On April 9, 1974, the APA released the results:

Result
Favoring the board’s decision 5,854 58%
Opposing the board’s decision 3,810 37%
Abstaining 367 3%
Invalid votes 9 <1%
Not voting on this issue 51 <1%
TOTAL 10,091

Socarides and others were never able to reconcile themselves to the APA’s decision. In 1992, Socarides joined Benjamin Kaufman and Joseph Nicolosi in founding the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which continues to argue that homosexuality is pathological and can be cured, against all scientific evidence to the contrary.

[Source: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987): 138-150.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Cynthia Nixon: 1966. Daughter of actress Anne Knoll and radio journalist Walter E. Nixon, Cynthia Nixon already was in two simultaneous hit Broadway plays while also a freshman at Barnard College in 1984. Her roles were short and the two theaters were just two blocks from each other, close enough that she could run from one to the other in time to get dressed and deliver her performances. She had minor roles in a number of films and made-for-TV movies before landing her first major supporting part in 1986′s The Manhattan Project. But of course, her best-known role was that of Miranda Hobbes in HBO’s Sex and the City, which ran from 1998 to 2004 and spawned two moves, one okay and one awful. In 2006, she won a Tony for Best Actress in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Rabbit Hole and she won a 2008 Emmy for a guest appearance in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2009, she shared a Grammy, with Beau Bridges and Blair Underwood for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio CD of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

But perhaps her most important prize came in May of 2012 when she married her partner, Christine Marinoni after a three year engagement. When she came out in 2007, Nixon, who had been previously married to photographer Danny Mozes, said “I don’t really feel I’ve changed. I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”

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?

Simpson becomes face of Wyoming marriage movement

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2014

You may not have thought of Alan Simpson in years. You may not even recognize the name. But if you live in Wyoming, there’s a good chance that you’ve voted for Simpson or one of his relatives.

Simpson’s father, Milward Simpson, was Montana Governor from 1955 to 1959 and US Senator from the state from 1962 to 1967. Peter Simpson, Alan’s brother, served in the state House of Representatives from 1981 to 1984 and ran for Governor in 1986. And his son, Colin Simpson, served in the state House of Representatives from 1999 to 2010 (two years of which he was Speaker) and ran for Governor in 2010.

Alan himself served in the Wyoming House from 1965 to 1977 before going on to represent the state in the US Senate from 1979 to 1997 and was on the short list for 1988 Veep consideration. Most recently he served, at President Obama’s request, with Erskine Bowles as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Today he became the face of the marriage equality movement in the state. The following ad is playing on stations in Wyoming.

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Simpson has long been a supporter of our community. In 2001 he helped create Republican Unity Coalition, an organization designed to make the GOP more inclusive and to counter hostile voices in the party. At his request, President Gerald Ford joined the group, becoming the only US President – to date – to join a gay advocacy group.

No doubt other Republicans will try and counter this message. But Simpson’s advocacy stands a strong chance of swaying opinion.

U.S. Suspends Ugandan HIV Research Project

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2014
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Last week, we briefly mentioned reports coming out of Uganda that police had raided the Makerere University Walter Reed Project, a U.S.-funded joint project with the university and the U.S. military’s HIV research program. NTVUganda reports more on the raid above, which comes as a direct consequence of the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. One of the provisions of the act criminalizes “promotion” of homosexuality and another provision criminalizes “aiding and abetting” homosexuality. The U.S. State Department has responded by suspending the program:

We are deeply concerned that a U.S.-funded health clinic and medical research facility, the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP), was raided by Ugandan authorities on April 3, leading to the arrest of one of the facility’s employees, allegedly for conducting “unethical research” and “recruiting homosexuals.” While that individual was subsequently released, this incident significantly heightens our concerns about respect for civil society and the rule of law in Uganda, and for the safety of LGBT individuals.

The MUWRP is engaged in efforts to improve public health and save lives. The Ugandan government is responsible for protecting all of its people, and attacks and intimidation of health care workers are unacceptable. The safety of health workers must be respected. We have temporarily suspended the operations of MUWRP to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries, and the integrity of the program.

This suspension comes just three weeks after the Obama Administration announced an increase in military advisers, special forces and aircraft to Uganda to aid in its battle against the insurgency led by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Liberation Army.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 8

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Just Us, 1975, page 36.

 
Lost and Found got off to a rough start when it opened in 1971: its unannounced admissions policy appeared to have excluded African-Americans, women, and people in drag. After several months of picketing and negotiations with a group calling themselves the Committee for Open Gay Bars, the owners relented and Lost and Found would become legendary for its spectacular drag shows. Lost and Found lasted for the next 27 years, with a two year period beginning in 1991 when it temporarily adopted the name Quorum. Lost and Found closed in 1998. Since then, the entire block has been razed and redeveloped into condos.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Michael Bennett: 1943-1987. He was something of a dancing prodigy, dropping out of high school at age sixteen to join a touring company of West Side Story. His Broadway debut was in Subways Are for Sleeping (1961). But by the mid-1960s, he decided to focus more on choreography than dancing. The first two shows he choreographed were commercial failures: A Joyful Noise (1966), and Henry, Sweet Henry (1967). His first success as choreographer came with the Bacharach and David musical Promises, Promises (1968), which he followed with Coco (1969), and Sondheim and Prince’s Company (1970) and Follies (1971), which won him two Tonys. In 1973, he took over the troubled musical Seesaw, but only after demanding complete directorial and choreographic control. The producers agreed, and he replaced both the show’s director and choreographer and claimed a writing credit as well. Seesaw won him a Tony for best choreographer.

Bennett’s next project would be his most ambitious. He decided to do a show about the lives of dancers. But instead of commissioning a script, he spent the next hear conducting hundreds of hours of taped interviews with Broadway dancers. A Chorus Line debuted off-Broadway in May 1975, and moved to Broadway’s Shubert Theater on July 25, and stayed there for the next fifteen years. The musical won nine Tonys, all eight Drama Desk Awards for which it was nominated, and a Pulitzer. Bennett would come to regard A Chorus Line as something of a mixed blessing, as the many international companies demanded so much of his time.

While Bennett would go on to have several more critical and commercial successes, but A Chorus Line would always be the high water mark. His next musical, Ballroom (1978), was a commercial failure despite earning eight Tony nominations. Bennett won for Best Choreography, the only Tony that Ballroom won. He had another hit with Dreamgirls (1981, and another Tony for Bennett’s choreography).

Bennett was bisexual, with numerous affairs with both men and women throughout his life. He had a long and stormy relationship with dancer/singer/actress Donna McKechnie, for whom he created the lead role in A Chorus Line. They married in 1976, divorced four months later, and remained close friends until his death. He had an affair with Sabine Cassel, who was then the wife of French actor Jean-Pierre Cassel, but that relationship soured. He was also linked with choreographer Larry Fuller, dancer Scott Pearson, and Gene Pruitt, who lived with Bennett for the last eight months of his life in Tucson, Arizona, where he went for treatment for AIDS and where he died on July 2, 1987 at the age of forty-four.

Sean Kennedy: 1987-2007. He would have been twenty-seven today if he hadn’t been killed on May 16, 2007 at about 3:45 a.m. as he left a local bar in Greenville, South Carolina. According to local news reports, Stephen Andrew Moller got out his his car, walked up to Sean, called him a faggot, and punched him hard enough to break several facial bones. When Sean fell, his head hit the pavement so hard that his brain separated from his brain stem. Fifteen minutes later, one of Sean’s friends received a voice mail from Moller:

Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the fuck out. (laughter). The fucking faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-fucking nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The motherfucker. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my goddamn hand on his teeth that fucking bitch.

Greenville County sheriff’s office arrested Moller as part of a homicide investigation; his arrest warrant described the act as “a result of the defendant not liking the sexual identity of the victim.” But by the time the case reached the grand jury in October, the indictment was reduced to involuntary manslaughter, for which South Carolina law set the maximum penalty at five years. Moller’s attorney argued that Moller “had no idea (Sean) was gay until after the fact. It’s just a freak incident that should never have happened.”

As part of a plea deal, Moller was sentenced to three years, minus seven months for time served. After getting his GED, Moller’s sentenced was reduced again and he was released after just 13 months, his goddamn hand having healed quite nicely in the meantime.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 7

Jim Burroway

April 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, March 1973, page 18.

 
Here’s another one that’s gone without a trace. The address today is nothing more than a small, narrow parking lot next to a Dollar Store in Chicago’s Little India.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Pearl M. Hart: 1890-1975. She was born as Pearly Minne Harchovsky in Traverse City, Michigan, the youngest of five children of Orthodox Jewish émigrés from Russia, and the only child in the family born in the U.S. The family moved to Chicago’s near west side when her rabbi father took a job as a kosher inspector for Jewish butchers. Her passion for social justice began when she left school at fourteen to work in a garment factory to help support the family, and quickly became a leader in the adult/male dominated union. A few years later she began attending classes at the John Marshall Law School, changed her name to Hart, and in 1914, was admitted to the Illinois Bar.

In 1915, she became among the first women adult probation officers in Chicago. Her early interest was in the needs of children, and she set about drafting legislation, serving on committees and speaking to audiences to reform the juvenile court system. Her attention to children led her to notice the problems of women who were passing through the legal system, many of them charged with prostitution. In 1933, she volunteered to serve as the first public defender in the morals court. Before then, women defendants typically couldn’t afford lawyers, and the court’s conviction rate was about ninety percent. Hart reversed that trend after only four months when the conviction rate plummeted to ten percent.

In the 1950s McCarthy era, Hart turned her attention to those who were being accused of subversion against the U.S. government, mostly in defending foreign-born clients who were facing deportation for allegedly working for so-called subversive organizations. One client, George Witkovich, who had received a deportation order, appeared at an immigration hearing and, on Hart’s advice, refused to answer questions about activities and affiliations on the grounds that they were irrelevant to whether he should be deported. The U.S. government sued, she counter-sued, and the court cases led eventually to a 1957 U.S. Supreme Court victory in U.S. v. Witkovich, which held that even non-citizens were protected by the constitutional rights of free association and free speech.

Hart also defended another class of so-called subversive — the sexual kind. Her clients included hundreds of gay men who were arrested for soliciting, or who were entrapped or rounded up in bar raids. Many of the arrests were little more than shakedown operations conducted by the notoriously corrupt Chicago police, and it was common knowledge that bribes paid to the right person would result in the charges being dropped. Hart steadfastly refused to get involved in bribery, and instead demanded jury trials, which also tended to have the same effect. That earned her the nickname of the “Guardian Angel of Chicago’s Gay Community.”

In 1965, she co-founded Mattachine Midwest, a Chicago-based gay rights group, and served as its legal counsel. Most of Mattachine Midwest’s job, according to president Jim Bradford, was “making the police behave.” In a May 1969 speech to the Mattachine membership she urged a “more aggressive” public posture on gay rights, two months before Stonewall.

Throughout her life, Hart remained very circumspect about her private life. She never publicly identified as a lesbian, although she had two long-term relationships. The first was with actress and singer J. Blossom Churan. They met at around 1920 and moved in together a few years later after Hart’s parents died. Churan was Hart’s first great love, but by the 1940s, Churan was bored and began an affair with a physician, Bertha Isaacs. Rather than lose Churan to Isaacs, Hart invited Isaacs to move in with the two of them, and all three lived together until Churan’s death in 1973.

Hart’s second major relationship was with pulp fiction writer and poet Valerie Taylor (see Sep 7). They met in 1961, and became close in 1963. Taylor took an apartment around the corner from Hart’s home and, as she put it, accepted the “neurotic situation” at the Hart residence. Taylor was devoted to Hart for the rest of Hart’s life. But as Hart lay dying of pancreatic cancer in 1975, Taylor was denied entrance to Hart’s hospital room thanks to the hospital’s families-only policy. By the time a friend intervened, Hart was already in a coma.

In 1981, the Midwest Gay and Lesbian Archive and Library changed its name to the Henry Gerber-Pearl M. Hart Library. Hart was inducted in the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992 and her home was marked with a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction in 2001.

Before she died, Hart had expressed her one regret in life: that she had no sons or grandsons to say kaddish for her. The Mattachine Midwest president reminded her that grateful members of that organization were her sons and grandsons, and they would gladly say kaddish. In 1991, Taylor published her last poem dedicated to the love of her life:

Kaddish

March 22
I light yahrzeit candles,
dust your photograph
that watches over my bed
and remember your touch.

You are an institution now,
a library,
a scholarship for women lawyers.

As long as I breath
you are a living woman
moving through my mind.

[Sources: Karen C. Sendziak. "Pearl M. Hart (1890-1975)." In Vern L. Bullough's Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 56-62.

Marie J. Kuda. "Legal Pioneer: Pearl M. Hart, 1890-1975." In Tracy Baim's Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community (Evanston, IL: Agate Surry, 2008): 26-27.]

Harry Hay: 1912-2002. Hay was more than just a co-founder of the Mattachine Foundation (see Nov 11; renamed Mattachine Society two years later) which became the first successful organization of gay men (and, to a much lesser extent, lesbians). It wasn’t the first such organization designed to bring gay people together. That distinction went to the short-lived Chicago Society for Human Rights, which didn’t last a year (See Dec 10). But Hay was a curious and tenuous link between the Chicago group and the Mattachines when, in 1930, at the age of 17:

I enticed an “older” gentleman (he must have been at least 33 ) to “bring me out” by finagling his picking me up in Los Angeles’s notorious Pershing Square. Poor guy–he was appalled to discover, subsequently, that I was both a virgin and jailbait. Champ Simmons didn’t really turn me on, but he was a very decent human being; he was gentle and kind and taught me a great deal.

…Champ, the guy I seduced into picking me up and bringing me out into the gay world, had himself been brought out by a guy who was a member of that Chicago group. So I first heard about that group only a few years after its sad end. My impression was that the society was primarily a social thing. But just the idea of gay people getting together at all, in more than a daisy chain, was an eye-opener of an idea. Champ passed it on to me as if it were too dangerous; the failure of the Chicago group should be a direct warning to anybody trying to do anything like that again.

Hay wasn’t put off by dangerous ideas, a propensity which would always mark him as a controversial figure throughout his life. He joined the Communist Party in 1934, and remained a member until the early 1950s. He also became active in theater, where he briefly became the lover of actor Will Greer. In 1938, he married at the urging of his therapist and party members. He and his wife adopted two daughters, but the couple divorced in 1951.

In 1948, Hay went to a party at USC with several other gay men who supported the presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace. It was at that party that Hay conceived of organizing a gay activist group. His first efforts to found the “Bachelors for Wallace” failed, but Hay stuck with the idea of creating an organization specifically for gay people. Finally, on November 11, 1950, Hay and several others met at Hay’s home for the first meeting of “The Society of Fools”, which later became the Mattachine Foundation, named after the Medieval French secret societies of masked men whose anonymity allowed them to criticize the ruling monarchs. As the Mattachines got off the ground, Hay left the Communist Party, which didn’t allow gays to be members.

By 1953, Mattachine grew to over 2,000 members in Southern California. And also by 1953, Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s red and pink scares were in full swing. With homosexuality being equated with subversion and treason, many Mattachine members became concerned about the communist connections of some of Mattachine’s founders, principally, Hay. They were also concerned that the Mattachine Foundation was being too public and too “radical” in advocating for gay people. When Hal Call and other Mattachine members from San Francisco sought to amend the Mattachine’s constitution to oppose “subversive elements” and to affirm that members were loyal to the U.S., Hay resigned, he said later, to save the organization from investigations related to the Red Scare. (In 1955, Hay would, in fact, be called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.) The Foundation then re-organized itself into the Mattachine Society, elected publicly named directors for the first time, disavowed its prior links with Hay, and reassured the public that the organization had no interest in changing the nation’s sodomy laws.

In the 1960s, Hay and his partner, John Burnside, became involved again with gay activism, helping to found the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front, and, in 1979, a gay spirituality movement called the Radical Fairies. It was during this time when his opposition to assimilationist attitudes within the gay community really began to stand out:

“We pulled ugly green frog skin of heterosexual conformity over us, and that’s how we got through school with a full set of teeth,” Hay once explained. “We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you’re going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you.”

Harry Hay (left), with John Burnside

Hay’s concept of homosexuality, it could be said, was more of a nineteenth century conception than a twentieth century one. He was enamored with the concepts of androgyny, with some of his ideas being similar to the nineteenth-century formulation of homosexuality being a “third sex.” He was influenced by Edward Carpenter, who wrote of gay people as a distinct, well-defined group with its own unique ideals that set if apart from society. Carpenter also wrote of “Greek love” and its pederastic ideals. This perhaps explains how Hay’s radical and anti-assimilationist politics could reach its most controversial limits when, in the early 1980s, he protested NAMBLA’s exclusion from LGBT organizations and activities. He was forcibly removed from the Los Angeles pride parade in 1986 when he showed up with a sign reading “NAMBLA walks with me.” Even some of Hay’s most dedicated supporters and closest friends couldn’t abide this stance. The majority of the gay community had grown, matured, and move in directions that Hays couldn’t accept.

This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of Hay’s legacy that we are left to grapple with. And yet, without Hay’s extremely radical idea — radical for 1950 — that gay people should come together from out of the shadows and begin to ask for simple things like the freedom to gather in bars or not to be arrested or not to have their newsletters and magazines confiscated by the post office, it’s hard to know how long the fruition of a far more radical idea would have been delayed — the extremely radical, impossible-to-fathom-in-1950 idea that gays and lesbians could assimilate, that they could become police officers, run businesses, publish newspapers, serve in the military, run for office, marry, raise children, join PTAs and churches and car pools and homeowners associations and march openly in parades down the middle of public streets in June, and do all of those things without hiding or retreating back into the closet. If Hay saw himself as the sworn enemy of assimilation, his pioneering efforts in 1950 were ultimately what made that assimilation possible. And for that, I think that perhaps the late Paul Varnell put it best:

Hay may have been wrong about almost everything. But in the end we do not insist that founders have the right answers, not even ask the right questions. We can honor them as founders and leave it at that.

Janis Ian: 1951. She was only thirteen when she wrote her first hit single, “Society’s Child.” The song’s subject, about a young girl’s interracial romance, was way too controversial for radio stations to touch when it was first released in 1964. Re-released again, and then again, the third time proved to be the charm in 1967 when “Society’s Child finally made it to number fourteen on Billboard’s Hot 100. She was on the verge of being a one-hit wonder when “At Seventeen” was released in 1975. It hit number one on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary charts, dragged her album, Between the Lines to the number one spot on Billboard’s Album chart, and earned her a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal. She performed “At Seventeen” as the very first musical guest for Saturday Night Live’s debut that year. Thanks to the lyric, “To those of us who knew the pain / of valentines that never came,” she reportedly received over four hundred Valentine cards on Valentine’s Day 1977.

Ian’s career since then has been considerably more low-keyed, although she has never stopped recording and touring. In 1993, her album Breaking Silence broke several silences, including the silence of her closet. She married Patricia Snyder in 2003. In 2008, Ian published her autobiography, Society’s Child, to critical acclaim. Her audio CD of Society’s Child earned a Grammy in 2013 for Best Spoken Word Recording.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 6

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Brighton Marathon, Brighton, UK; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Spring Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Springs, CA; Phoenix Pride, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 2.

 
Steve Suss bought Portland, Oregon’s Focal Point in 1971. Before then, it had been the Fiddler’s Three, Roman’s Tavern, and Somebody’s Place. Suss also owned the adjoining Embers, which backed up to Focal Point. His disco, Castaway’s Lounge, was just two blocks away to the south. The Focal Point/Embers block has been razed and redeveloped, and Castaways is now a seafood restaurant.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Study of 100 Homosexuals: 1957. There had been a string of high profile arrests of very prominent and well-known men in Britain in the early 1950s, including Lord Montagu (see Oct 20), his cousin, Maj. Michael Pitt-Rivers, and journalist Peter Wildeblood (see May 19), all of whom had been charged and convicted of homosexual offenses. Their arrests opened the debate over whether homosexual acts between consenting adults should remain criminalized. In 1954, the Home Secretary, David Maxwell-Fyfe, convened a committee to study the issue under the leadership of Lord John Wolfenden, and they would study the question for the next three years. The multi-disciplined committee, which included theologians, psychiatrists, educators, judges, lawyers, and several other leading figures, was tasked with reviewing the medical, legal, and moral aspects of homosexuality (along with prostitution, as laws forbidding it were also open for discussion.)

One of the psychiatrists on that committee was Dr. Desmond Curran of the Department of Psychiatry at St. George’s Hospital in London. Curran and fellow researcher Dr. Denis Parr, took on the task of preparing a study of 100 gay men, which appeared in the April 6, 1957 edition of the British Medical Journal titled “Homosexuality: An Analysis of 100 Male Cases Seen in Private Practice.”

The men described in this paper were referred to the authors for evaluation and treatment for the following reasons:

  • Criminal charge or executive consequences thereof: 30
  • Worry over homosexual propensities (for example, “Can I change?”) as the presenting complaint: 25
  • Various psychological problems (for example, depression, excessive drinking) rather than direct worry over homosexuality as the presenting complaint: 22
  • Pressure from friends or relatives: 12
  • Marital difficulties, including impotence: 5
  • Homosexual jealousy or deprivation reactions: 2
  • Executive problems: 2
  • Fear of scandal arising from homosexual acts: 2

The authors noted that homosexuality was a criminal offense in Britain in three very distinct ways. The crime of “buggery,” which was generally interpreted as penetrative anal intercourse, carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The crimes of “indecent assault” and “gross indecency” provided maximum penalties of ten years and two years respectively. “Indecent assault” generally was used for sexual behavior with minors under the age of 16, while “gross indecency” was any contact or exposure of genitalia for sexual excitement.

One problem with the published research on gay men was that virtually all of it was based on clinical or criminal populations, which Curran and Parr acknowledged would not necessarily be representative of the general population of gay men. In their report, they acknowledged that their sample would likely exhibit higher rates of psychiatric problems or criminal recidivism. But when they looked into the files of these 100 men who had been referred to their practice, the authors observed:

…[I]n spite of the probability that any group of homosexuals referred to a psychiatrist might be expected to be heavily weighted in the direction of psychiatric abnormality, no fewer than 51 % were considered to be free from gross personality disorder, neurosis, or psychosis during their adult lives. Only one was certifiably defective and none certifiably insane. They included a number of important and talented individuals of high integrity, successful, efficient, and respected members of the community. Only two had been on any criminal charge other than homosexuality. Very few showed the traditional “pansy” picture of homosexuals; indeed, only 21 were noted to have at all obvious homosexual personality traits, only one of these being a paedophiliac.

As for the treatment programs the men underwent:

The objects of treatment can be arbitrarily divided under four main headings : (1) change in direction of the sex urge, (2) greater continence, (3) greater discretion, and (4) better adaptation to the sexual problem and to life in general.

The authors don’t go into much detail of what kind of treatment the men underwent, saying simply that “treatment consists in a mixture of physical, psychological, social, and environmental measures, in varying proportions according to the case.” In general, it appears to have been confined to psychotherapy or simple counseling, although in some cases the “prescription of medications or environmental adjustments” were noted. As for the attempts at changing sexual orientation, the results weren’t very encouraging:

Of the 59 patients about whom sufficient information was available, 9 (or roughly 1 in 6) reported less intense homosexual feelings, or increased capacity for heterosexual arousal, 3 became more homosexual in preference than when first seen, and no change, even of a minor order, was found in the sexual orientations of the other 47. When a change was found it often amounted only to a slight alteration in the balance of masturbatory fantasies.

Eight of the nine who claimed a “slight alteration” toward heterosexuality were classified as bisexual or “predominately” homosexual (as distinct from “100% homosexual”). What isn’t stated in the article is how many of those who claimed to have experience a “slight alteration” were among the thirty men who faced criminal charges. This would be important; the authors noted elsewhere in their paper that those who were criminally charged had “come in the hope of establishing medical reasons for mitigating the rigours of the law.”

Since the prospect of “slight alteration” of homosexuality was minimal, the only other question remaining was whether there was anything intrinsically wrong with being gay. Curran and Parr found little evidence for it:

Only half the patients showed significant psychiatric abnormality other than their sexual deviation, and such associated abnormalities were often slight. Moreover, many of these abnormalities were explicable as a reaction to the difficulties of being homosexual. Symptomatic homosexuality was rare. If homosexuality is a disease (as has often been suggested), it is in a vast number of cases monosymptomatic, non-progressive, and compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency. In our series, both practising and non-practising homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society, quite unlike the popular conception of such persons as vicious, criminal, effete, or depraved. Only one-fifth were at all obviously ” pansy,” and we found no reason to regard most of the patients as physically, intellectually, or emotionally immature (unless the basic criterion for ” immaturity” is that of being homosexual-a circular argument).

This study, among others, would find its way into the Wolfenden Report later that year, which recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence” (see Sep 4). It would take Parliament another ten years to act on that recommendation.

[Source: Desmond Curran and Denis Parr. "Homosexuality: An analysis of 100 male cases seen in private practice." British Medical Journal 1, no. 5022 (April 6, 1957): 797-801. Available online for free at PubMed Central.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Rob Epstein: 1955. He was nineteen years old when he answered an ad in a San Francisco alt-weekly for “a non-sexist person to work on a documentary film on gay life.” That led to his becoming the youngest filmmaker in the six-member collective, the Mariposa Film Group, which The collective produced the landmark 1977 documentary Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives. The film featured interviews with 26 gay men and women, ranging in age from eighteen to seventy-seven, and was the first feature-length documentary by and about gays and lesbians. For the first time, man thousands of gay people saw themselves on the screen, and they flooded the Mariposa Film Group’s mailbox with expressions of gratitude, with many of the crediting the film with saving their lives. Word Is Out premiered at the Castro Theater in 1977, and aired on several local PBS stations the next year.

After the success of Word Is Out, Epstein started off on his own solo filmmaking career. He began working on a documentary about Proposition 6, also known as the Brigg’s Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in California’s public schools (see Nov 7). Epstein planned to center his documentary on San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk’s efforts to defeat the measure. But when Milk was assassinated just three weeks later (see Nov 27), Epstein decided to make the documentary about Milk himself. With narration by actor Harvey Firestein, The Times of Harvey Milk won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1985.

AIDS was the focal point for his next two projects: The AIDS Show: Artists Involved with Death and Survival (1986) for PBS, and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989), with Jeffrey Friedman, about the NAMES Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt. Common Threads won his second Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, and it won a George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Television when it aired on HBO.

In 1995, he and Friedman wrote and directed The Celluloid Closet, based on Vito Russo’s 1981 book by the same name, and explored how Hollywood portrayed LGBT characters throughout history. After it aired on HBO, it won four Emmys and a Peabody. In 2000, Epstein and Friedman released Paragraph 175, which featured first-person accounts of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during the Third Reich. In 2010, they entered the world of scripted, narrative filmmaking with Howl, which portrays the early life of Allen Ginsberg (played by James Franco). Epstein and Friedman are currently working on Lovelace, a biopic about porn star Linda Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role, with Peter Sarsgaard and James Franco.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 5

Jim Burroway

April 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Belmont, NC; Brighton Marathon, Brighton, UK; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Spring Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Springs, CA; Phoenix Pride, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Voice (Southern California edition), January 15, 1981, page 28.

 
For four decades since the 1960s, 3175 India Street in San Diego has seen four gay bars come and go. San Diego’s Gay and Lesbian Times gave this rundown when the last bar closed in 2006:

Throughout it final days, the bar touted banners that read: “Six Degrees… proud to be part of 40 years of gay history at 3175 India St,” and on Aug. 30, the last drink was served, the final dance was danced and the last goodbye was said. The bar Six Degrees has closed it doors forever.

According to Darla Marcus, Six Degrees manager and bartender of seven years, four different gay or lesbian bars have called this location home. The bar originally opened as The Swing and then became A Different Drum after a change in ownership. Both of these venues were predominately patronized by gay males. Changing hands again, the bar became the well-known Club Bombay, which is when it became a lesbian hangout. Five years ago, the club was sold one more time to two of the bartenders and a regular customer and was given its final name, Six Degrees.

The Mission Hills location has been renovated into the very chic Starlight restaurant and bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oscar Wilde Loses Criminal Libel Case: 1895. It had already been a bad year for the acclaimed author, and the year was barely a quarter of the way through. In February, Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “For Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between his son Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas and Wilde.  Bosie refused to end it despite Queensbury’s arguments and threats, including the threat to publicly expose Wilde, which he accomplished with that calling card. Friends urged Wilde to ignore it, but Wilde felt that such an insult required a vigorous response, namely a lawsuit against Queensbury for criminal libel. No response, he reasoned, it would be tantamount to admitting the truth, something that Wilde knew would be disastrous not only to his reputation and career, but also to his very freedom. Homosexuality was a criminal offense.

Unfortunately, Wilde’s libel case collapsed on the second day of the sensational trial, when Wilde took the stand and Queensbury’s lawyer asked whether he had ever kissed a young man named Walter Grainger. Wilde replied, “Oh, dear no. He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was, unfortunately, extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.” Queesnbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s reason for not kissing Grainger: it wasn’t that Wilde didn’t like kissing men, but that he didn’t want to kiss this particular “ugly” man. That was on April 4. The next day, Queensbury’s lawyer announced that he planned to call several male prostitutes to testify against Wilde. Wilde’s lawyer, after conferring with Wilde, asked the court to drop the charges and return a verdict of “not guilty” against Queensbury. But if Queensbury was not guilty of libel when he accused Wilde of “posing as a sodomite,” then that meant under English law that Queensbury’s statement, as the judge announced, “is true in fact and substance, and that the publication is for the public benefit.”

With that verdict as evidence, Wilde was arrested and charged with gross indecency the very next day, April 6. The first trial ended in a hung jury, but the second resulted in a guilty verdict and a sentence of two years at hard labor, the maximum sentence allowed by law.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
85 YEARS AGO: Nigel Hawthorne: 1929-2001. British audiences (and fans of British sitcoms) will known him best as Sir Humphrey Appleby, a permanent secretary in Yes, Minister (1980-1984) and a cabinet secretary in the follow-up Yes, Prime, Minister (1986-1988), for which he won four BAFTAs. That acclaim was long in coming. He spent much of the previous three decades playing various roles as a character actor on stage, film and television. But after his successful run on the two sitcoms, Hawthorne’s career truly came onto its own, with a 1991 Tony for Best Actor for the Broadway production of Shadowlands, and his portrayal of the king in Alan Bennett’s stage play The Madness of George III. Three years later, he appeared in the title role again for the film version (which was renamed The Madness of King George), for which he won another BAFTA and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Amid the publicity surrounding his Academy Award nomination, Hawthorne granted an interview with The Advocate, in which he discussed, among quite a lot of things, his private life and his relationship with his longtime partner since 1979, Trevor Bentham. Hawthorne later said that he asked The Advocate to respect his privacy, and was surprised and upset to find The Advocate describe him as “the first openly gay actor to be nominated for a Best Actor Award.” Hawthorne described the outing as traumatic, but he nevertheless attended the Oscar ceremony with his partner and began speaking about being gay in interviews from then on. He also portrayed a gay character in 1998′s The Object of My Affection, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999. After battling pancreatic cancer for two years, he died of a heart attack in 2001.

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Eich Resigned. That’s Not Good.

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2014

What is the statute of limitations for donating to support Prop 8 before that individual can no longer be fired from his job? I’m asking because this might be important information for those who employ some 101,894 people who did just that. We now know that the offense is still prosecutable after six years. Should we not be allowed to fire them after eight years? Twelve? Twenty?

Also, there were 1,120,801 people who signed the petition to put Prop 8 on the ballot. Can we fire them? Or should we let that slide? It’s too bad the ballot was secret. There were 7,001,084 people we could fire in California alone. That doesn’t even begin to take into account the thirty-three other states where many millions more contributors, petition signers and voters tried, often successfully, to prevent their gay and lesbian neighbors from marrying.

We’ve had a banner two years. Isn’t it time we were more magnanimous? I guess not. Mozilla’s former CEO, Brendan Eich got what was coming to him this week when it was revealed that he had exercised his First Amendment right to support Prop 8 to the tune of $1,000 six years ago. Firefox users and Mozilla employees began criticizing Eich’s elevation to CEO from chief technical officer, and dating site OKCupid put up a special landing page for Firefox users urging them to dump their browser.

Boycotts, I can understand, at least on a personal level. While I can’t think of a single boycott that was decisive in changing a company’s behavior, we all make personal decisions based on a variety of factors about where we spend our money and the products we use every day. I avoid Walmart, Exxon/Mobil and Chick-fil-A, and we’ve rediscovered the simple, childlike joy of graham crackers in our house.

But at a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act so that companies can’t just up and fire LGBT employees because they don’t agree with them — as they can now in about two-thirds of our states — we need to think very long and hard about whether we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election.

We say that LGBT people shouldn’t be fired for something that has nothing to do with their job performance. I think that principle is good enough to apply to everyone, including Eich. And there is no evidence that I can find that his donation affected his ability to do the job he was hired to do. Eich made his donation out of his own pocket. He didn’t do it on behalf of Mozilla, he didn’t do it with Mozilla funds or through a foundation sponsored by Mozilla. And he certainly didn’t own Mozilla, which is a non-profit organization. It was his own dime on his own time.

As for Mozilla, it has inclusive policies that provide protections for LGBT employees and collaborators and offers health benefits to same-sex couples. Eich pledged to work “with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming,” and reiterated his support for the company’s policies “and the spirit that underlies all of these. …I can only ask for your support to have the time to ‘show, not tell’; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

Mozilla describes itself as “an open source project governed as a meritocracy.” Eich had been with Mozilla since the very beginning and developed the ubiquitous Javascript that powers much of the web today. If meritocracy means anything at any company, it should certainly mean something to the company’s most visible job at the very top. But Eich was caught in an impossible quagmire that had nothing to do with merit. In the name of tolerance, he learned that we don’t have to tolerate his opinions, opinions which he kept private and away from the workplace.

Which means that everyone who has had to endure corporate diversity training now has the same lesson lodged in their heads. Until now, they had been told that they can do whatever they want and believe whatever they want outside the workplace, but when they crossed the company’s threshold, they had to treat their fellow workers with dignity and respect, and to respect and encourage diversity in the workforce. They’ve now learned that it was all a lie. We do care about what they do outside of work and we can demand their ouster if we don’t like it. Eich learned that lesson the hard way and resigned yesterday. I can’t think of a better way to encourage even more cynicism toward company diversity programs than that.

And on a more personal note, I’ll be avoiding the word “tolerance” along with Walmart and Exxon/Mobil from now on. When a word has no meaning, there’s no reason to use it.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, April 4

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Belmont, NC; Brighton Marathon, Brighton, UK; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Spring Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Springs, CA; Phoenix Pride, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Christopher Street, June 1977, page 42.

 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Anita Bryant Suggests Sending Gays To Prison For 20 Years: 1978. Newspapers across the country got a bit of a tease from Playboy, which released a couple of tantalizing tidbits from an interview with anti-gay activist Anita Bryant that would appear in its May issue. A small preview released to the wire services quoted Bryant as suggesting that sending gay people to prison for 20 years “might make them think twice, especially the young ones. Any time you water down the law, it just makes it easier for immorality to be tolerated.”

She went on: “Why make it easier for them? I think it only helps to condone it and make it easier for kids who wouldn’t be so concerned if it was a misdemeanor, whereas a felony might make them think twice, especially the younger ones.” When asked whether prison life might not be conducive to homosexuality, she answered, “They’ll have plenty of time to think. Just because prisons are corrupt and not doing the right thing in rehabilitation because they don’t have enough emphasis on spiritual emphasis doesn’t mean there should not be a strong punishment for that.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Anthony Perkins: 1932-1992. Best known for his role as the sexually-conflicted Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho, Perkins’s own sexuality was the subject of rumors throughout his career. He shared a long-term relationship with fellow 1950s teen idol Tab Hunter (See Jul 11. Hunter discussed their time together in his 2005 memoir Tab Hunter Confidential) and another six-year relationship with dancer/choreographer Grover Dale. In 1973, Perkins and Dale broke up when both of them married other women. Perkins’s marriage to Berry Berenson, in what has been described as a bid to keep his name out of the scandal sheets, puzzled his friends. But Perkins seemed to have made the best of it, and by all accounts he was devoted to Berenson and their two children. But it remains doubtful that his devotion extended to sexual exclusivity. He died on September 12, 1992 from complications of AIDS, with Berry by his side, two years after the National Enquirer outed him both as gay and as a person with AIDS. His public acknowledgment of his illness came posthumously in a statement dictated to his sons and released to the public. His private acknowledgement of his sexuality, he took with him to his grave. In a tragic coda, his widow died on September 11, 2001, on American Airlines flight 11 when it was hijacked and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Graham Norton: 1963. The Irish comic’s 1992 stand up comedy performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa caught the attention of Scottish Television, which, bizzarely, mistook him for the real Mother Teresa. Soon he was appearing on BBC radio, then as a stand-in late night talk show host for Channel 5, before eventually taking his openly-camp act to Channel 4 for his own weekly talk show, So Graham Norton, then V Graham Norton. In 2004, he tried to take his show to America, with The Graham Norton Effect on Comedy Central, but the controversy over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl that year soured Norton on bringing his raunchy, innuendo-laden comedy to the U.S. He returned to Britain in 2005, and landed several gigs on the Beeb. He has also regularly hosted the British Academy Television Awards, several British reality/game shows as well as the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2007, he returned to weekly late-night talk with The Graham Norton Show on BBC 2, which moved to BBC 1 in 2009. Series 15 begins tonight at 10:35 on BBC 1, with Russell Crowe, Cameron Diaz, Richard Ayoade, and Kylie Minogue. It will air on BBC America next Saturday, April 12, at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. It airs on BBC Canada on Wednesdays at 11:00 Eastern, and on Network Ten in Australia Sunday nights at 9:30.

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?

EU Downplays Ugandan Sanctions Over Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2014

LGBT advocates in Uganda are split over the question of foreign aid cuts in response to the country’s adoption of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act. Many have argued that any actions taken against Uganda should be aimed at addressing the much larger human rights problems in what is increasingly becoming a one-party kleptocracy. Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha and others have cautioned against aid cuts:

“We can’t afford to create new victims,” (Mugisha) said on Twitter this week. “We should go after the crazy politicians! Not innocent Ugandans.”

…Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, said in a Gay Star News comment piece: ‘Aid in various forms helps all ordinary Ugandans, including LGBTI people who we are campaigning for. “Therefore the consequences of not being able to access those services financed by foreign aid will directly impact gay, lesbian, trans and bi Ugandans wellbeing. Our parents, sisters, brothers, friends and other relatives will also become victims. By contrast, most proponents of homophobia in Uganda can afford luxurious lives without depending on some foreign aid funded projects.”

He added: Politicians and the anti-gay vigilantes are using this threat from developed countries as a way of convincing people the west is using foreign aid and its influence to spread homosexuality to Uganda. We need to change this argument such people can understand the role of the western countries has is fighting homophobia, not making people gay. Western leaders need to assess the risks of their strategies before LGBTI people pay the consequences.”

Meanwhile, Ugandan critics question why the West is ignoring the protracted government-sponsored violence against opposition leaders and their supporters and focusing all of their attention on the LGBT population.  This is the best way to understand the situation on the ground that the European Union Ambassador to Uganda Kristian Schmidt is trying to address in this interview with NTV Uganda yesterday.

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Europe is not here to exchange money for African values. This is not the nature of our partnership. Our partnership is one of equal partners where what we do in the area of development cooperation is discussed and agreed with our Ugandan partners.

The discussion that we have on human rights are not conditional, and that’s why it’s important to note that we are not threatening. We didn’t threaten with aid cuts during the process of legislative adoption of the bill. This is not how Europe operates.

J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed has more on the assurances Ambassador Schmidt says that he is seeking from the Uganda Government:

During an interview in his office in the Ugandan capital on Wednesday, Schmidt would not specify what assurances the E.U. sought from the five cabinet officials he met with behind closed doors last week. But, he said, he was “very” satisfied with the conversation and expected to resume the discussion after Ugandan officials returned from a summit between E.U. leaders and African leaders being held this week in Brussels.

“I am satisfied with the fact that … there were five ministers [in the meeting] … ready to give us assurances, that the law wouldn’t mean violations of privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, [and] the way medical care will be extended in facilities that are already caring for men who have sex with men,” Schmidt said. And while the E.U. believes the “law is discriminatory from A to Z and it has to be repealed,” he said, “there are ways to limit the damage. I want to keep working on that [through dialogue].”

…“We do not try to buy African acceptance for European or universal values through our development cooperation,” he said. “Because what happens when you try to do that, you get the [backlash] that we’re seeing.… It’s not productive to present it as a trade off.”

It’s hard to see what meaningful assurances government could offer when arrests like these are continuing across Uganda and suspects are being paraded before TV cameras:

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Two men suspected of engaging in homosexuality acts have been arrested in Oyam. Oyam District Police Commander, Najibu Waiswa says 22-year-old Maurice Okello and his alleged partner, 18-year-old Anthony Oluku were caught red handed. Police claims the two admitted to having been involved in acts of homosexuality.

Meanwhile, Frank Mugisha is tweeting this morning that police have raided an NGO at Makarere University which receives PEPFAR funds from the US over services it provides to LGBT people:

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, April 3

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Belmont, NC; Brighton Marathon, Brighton, UK; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Spring Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Springs, CA; Phoenix Pride, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee), June 1978, page 20.

 

The two-story industrial brick building that housed the Warehouse in 1978 had begun life in 1887 as the American Manufacturing Co., a maker of wood gunstocks and other handcrafted wood products. But more recently, the property was owned by the Knutson Metal Co. which operated a salvage yard on its grounds. City officials considered the property, located between a proposed city amphitheater and a park along the Cedar River, a “blight to the neighborhood and a drag on development,” while the Historic Preservationist Commission listed the building itself as one of eleven most endangered buildings in the city. In 2012, the city agreed to buy the property for $1.5 million. At last report, the city was putting the building up for sale in hopes that a private developer would preserve and renovate the historic building, possibly for residential use.

The justices of the Iowa Supreme Court who made history in the Midwest

TODAY IN HISTORY:
5 YEARS GO: Iowa Supreme Court Declares Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional: 2009. In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling which held that the state’s marriage statute was unconstitutional. The Court concluded that:

We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy issued a joint statement welcoming the court’s decision. Citing Iowa’s long tradition in being a leader in civil rights, they congratulated “the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws.” Iowa’s same-sex couples began marrying on April 27.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Anne Lister: 1791-1840. Her father was a veteran British soldier who fought with the Redcoats at the Battles of Lexington and Concord  during the American War for Independence. (He later wrote a book about it). After the war, he married and became a wealthy country gentleman in Yorkshire. His eldest daughter, Anne, was brought up with all of the advantages of education and erudition, the latter resulting in an intense interest in classical literature. In 1826, she inherited the family estate, Shibden Hall, and with it a steady income from the estate’s tenants. That modest wealth was enough to afford her a measure of independence and deference from those who might otherwise criticize her “masculine appearance.” She was sometimes referred to as “Gentleman Jack,” for her business (she was a major player in the very male-dominated coal mining business) and recreational affairs (she was the first woman to climb Mont Perdy in the Pyrenees in 1830). These interests were certainly not considered normal for a woman of her standing.

What’s more, her private life wasn’t considered normal for a woman of any standing. Lister had a long term relationship with Marianna Belcombe, which lasted lasting several years including a period of time when Belcombe was married. In 1832, Lister met and fell in love with a wealthy landowner Ann Walker, and the two of them would remain together for the rest of Lister’s short life. Their relationship was as close to a marriage as was possible, given the times. Lister died in 1840, at the age of 49, while traveling with Walker in Eastern Europe.

Lister left behind a 26-volume diary covering the years 1806 to 1840. Most of the diary covered various mundane topics — the weather, social events, business concerns, her travels — but about a sixth of the diary was encrypted in a simple code. Those coded sections describe her lesbian nature and affairs. When a relative, John Lister, who was the last to inhabit Shibden Hall, decoded the diaries and discovered the contents, he was advised to burn them. He didn’t, but he did hide them.

A century later, Helena Whitbread published portions of the diaries in two volumes in 1988 and 1992, and issued a re-release of selected excerpts as The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister in 2012. As Shibden Gall curator Claire Shelby observed, the diaries reveal a complicated woman who was very frank about her sexuality. “She talks about her tactics for wooing women. She talks about how she likes a particular woman, how she is interested and how she has spoken to tem. It’s almost like you can see relationships developing as they go along. And, though she doesn’t refer to it in the sort of language we use today, it is clear to see a sexual element in her relationships. … She approached an awful lot of women, including married women, and it doesn’t sound like she was rejected very often. She could be very charming when she wanted to be.” In 2010, BBC Two aired a dramatization and a documentary of Lister’s life. Between the books and the television programs, Lister’s reputation as “the first modern lesbian” has been firmly cemented.

George Copeland: 1882-1971. The Massachusetts-born concert pianist is best known for his devotion to the work of notoriously heterosexual Claude Debussy. Their meeting in 1911 in Paris marked a huge turning point for Copeland, who had already performed the American debut of Debussy’s Deux Arabesques in Boston seven years earlier. Copeland spent four months studying with Debussey, discussing and playing each of Debussy’s piano works. Copeland later said that at the end of those four months, Debussy told him, “I never dreamed that I would hear my music played like that in my lifetime.”

Whether Debussy really said that or not, it’s hard to say. Nevertheless, Copeland became the leading expert on Debussey’s piano works. He gave several U.S. premieres as well as several world premiers, including La Boîte à joujoux in 1914 and numbers X and XI of the Etudes in 1916. From 1904 until his final performance in 1964, Copeland played at least one Debussy work in each of his recitals. Copeland also had a fondness for Spanish music from the likes of Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, and Manuel de Falla. In 1909, he performed the American debuts of three of Albéniz works. At the start of his career, Copeland was known as part of the avant-garde, often performing new works by contemporary composers, although he became considerably less adventurous as time went on.

Copeland was also rather iconoclastic in his private life. He was open about his homosexuality, telling a Cleveland paper in 1913 that “I don’t care what people think of my morals. I never think anything about other people’s morals. Morals have nothing to do with me.” He also had a passion for wearing exotic jewelry and perfume. His openness reportedly caused problems for composer Aaron Copland (see Nov 14), who was considerably more circumspect. During a tour of Latin America, the composer was received with a frosty reception by local officials. After discreetly asking around, Copland learned that Copeland-with-an-”e” had been there on a concert tour and had gotten into trouble on a “morals charge.” Copland explained the difference, and the concert went on with considerably more cooperation with the locals. Meanwhile, Copeland, in 1936, met a young German, Horst Frolich, in Barcelona, who became Copeland’s “secretary” and partner for more than thirty years.

Copeland’s career suffered an interruption in 1958 when he broke his shoulder in a fall and was unable to play for several years. He thought his career was over, but he made a comeback in 1963 when he re-entered the recording studio and gave several small concerts. He performed what would be his final concert at Yale in 1964. He talked about returning to the concert hall in 1966, but he never followed through. He died of bone cancer on June 16, 1971.

55 YEARS AGO: David Hyde Pierce: 1959. He took up acting in high school, but he went to Yale to study classical piano. He soon grew bored with it, and decided to switch his major to English and Theatre Arts. He moved to New York, where he struggled to find acting jobs. His big break came in 1993 when he was cast as Niles Crane, Frasier Crane’s younger brother for the Cheers spin-off Frasier, which lasted eleven seasons. Pierce earned eleven consecutive Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor, and won in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Pierce has appeared in Jody Foster’s Little Man Tate (1991), Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995), as Meg Ryan’s brother in Sleepless in Seattle (1992) and as Ewan McGregor’s boss and best friend in Down With Love (2003). That’s in addition to voicing several animated features and a couple of episodes of The Simpsons. On stage, he starred in the Kander and Ebb musical Curtains, which won him a Tony for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical Ffor 2007. Pierce, who had formally come out as gay earlier that year, thanked his partner, television writer/director/producer Brian Hargrove, when accepting his Tony “because it’s 24 years of listening to your damn notes — that’s why I’m up here tonight. They married in October, 2008 in California, just days before voters approved Proposition 8.

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?

Why I’m not panicked about the Mississippi bill

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2014

The Mississippi Senate and House have passed a bill (similar to that vetoed by Arizona Governor Brewer) which would formally legalize discrimination in that state, so long as such discrimination is “substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief”.

It is a rather nasty piece of work which was formulated out of animus and is intended as a tool to deny rights to gay people.

But I’m not particularly worried about this bill.

Instances of actual anti-gay discrimination in the provision of services are infrequent. Even in the Deep South, there is little advantage to be had by turning down business from gay customers.

There’s just not much to be gained by alienating customers. Maybe a few moments of internet celebrity and the promise of a few new strident anti-gay sales, but “we don’t sell to those type of people” is not a very effective marketing plan. Most folks would rather stay out of your war – and out of your store – irrespective of their own beliefs.

And the evidence of that can be seen in that despite the anti-gay industry’s ever-vigilant search for fresh martyrs to parade, only a handful of Jesus-lovin’, sin-hatin’, concerned Christians have been found nationwide who have been willing to destroy their livelihood for the cause. Elane Photography, a couple of bakers, and a florist or two. Oh, and some cookie baker and a venue in Texas. Most of whom were not even required by ordinance or law to offer service to gay people.

But even if such discrimination were ubiquitous in Mississippi, this bill changes nothing. There is no corner of the state in which gay people are protected from discrimination. No bakers or florists or bed and breakfast inn masters are limited from turning away gay people at the door. There is not even one city ordinance in the state that requires equal service to gay customers.

As for the anti-gay efforts, this bill gains them nothing. It’s merely a public statement of derision towards a segment of their population.

However, it does have the potential to facilitate some outcomes that hardcore conservative Christians do not predict, and will not like. These bills almost always do.

Those, such as the Mississippi legislators, who seek laws that advantage conservative Christians suffer from too much belief in their own rhetoric. They are part of a worldview that has some misperceptions:

1. They are the only real people of faith.

It baffles me how this perception manages to keep hold when all evidence is to the contrary. But in the minds of these people, if you are a person of faith then you obviously believe the Levitical commands in precisely the same way they do.

They don’t consider that them there liberal sin-compromisin’ feel-goody pseudo-Christians will get the exact same legal rights under these sort of laws as True, Bible-believing, born-again People of God.

2. They are a persecuted people.

It may be hard to take seriously the notion that the state and local officials in Mississippi are in some way out to get the Christians. But when you believe that Satan is using the principalities and powers of the world to attack the Body of Christ, you can hear about some preacher who was arrested in Sweden and fear that Sheriff Billy Bob Honeycutt is about to do the same.

It hasn’t occurred to these legislators that real persecuted people – the religious minorities in Mississippi – may now actually have a tool by which to empower their freedom.

3. God’s hand is in whatever they do

There is a form of circular reinforcement that can result in astonishing stupidity. Much of what you hear from Pat Robertson is based in this thinking. It goes like this:

I am a child of God. I seek God’s will in my life in what I do and say. I believe that God speaks to my heart and inspires me to move in the direction that he knows is best in my life. Therefore, when I strongly believe something, I know that it is inspired by God. And as God never lies or works against that which is good, whatever batpoop idiotic nonsense that I am spouting at any given moment is backed up by the creator of the universe.

Because they all agree that God wants them to stand up against the homosexual agenda, and because the homosexaul lobby opposes this bill, then it must be inspired by God and a wonderful victory for His Kingdom.

And so they’ve passed a phenomenally stupid bill that is likely to bite them in the ass. In fact, it’s likely to have the exact opposite impact of what they expect.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Remember in the 80′s when there was a big ruckus because some Bible Clubs had been restricted at some school or other? Well Congress rushed to fix that with the Equal Access Act, which required that if a school allowed any extra-curricular organizations then it had to allow all such groups.

And for about ten minutes there were Bible Clubs on a handful of campuses (until students realized that the idea of a Bible Club was much sexier than actually trying to read the book). But the largest impact of this law is the opposite of its intention; mostly, this law is what requires schools to allow gay-straight-alliances on campus. In court case after court case, anti-gay school boards have been told that if they want to ban support groups for LGBT kids, they also had to ban the chess club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

It is, of course, far too early to know what kind of repercussions will result from the Mississippi Freedom Restoration Act. But here are a few scenarios that the language of the law would appear to cover:

Should there be a Muslim woman who is a state employee, local concerns or sensibilities will now have no say in her choice of clothing, provided that she has a sincerely held religious belief. Burka, baby!

Rastafarians, Native Americans, and others whose religious beliefs incorporate use of mind altering substances now have a much higher bar by which they are to be denied access to the implements of their worship. Now drug enforcement officers must prove “a government interest of the highest magnitude that cannot otherwise be achieved without burdening the exercise of religion”. I predict a large conversion to such faiths.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are a religious organization. They have lost favor in the nation, even in the South, as social and civil disapproval has taken the forefront. And the federal Civil Rights Laws disallow discrimination against people on the basis of race, so this law will not override that protection. But it would protect the state employee who wants to wear KKK insignia to work. And it will cause all sorts of havoc.

And, most ironically, they were blind to the most obvious scenario, the one jumping up and down in front of them waving its arms:

“Exercise of religion” includes, but is not limited to, the ability to act or the refusal to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

One of the phenomena that we have seen recently is the deeply-held religious conviction on the part of some people of faith that denying gay people equality is an injustice and an immoral attack on a child of God. Some are rather visible, such as Episcopalians or UCC or Lutherans, in which the denomination is on their side. But some, such as a recent spate of Methodists, are willing to defy their church and risk defrocking in order to fulfill their fealty to God.

Even if no denomination states that it is sinful to discriminate against gay people, some clergy have made this case. And surely there is among the 82 counties in Mississippi at least one clerk who compelled by his faith to offer marriage certification to same-sex couples just as he would to opposite-sex couples. And this law says that state action cannot burden his religious act of faith.

Mississippi just opened for themselves a colossal can of worms. Funny how animus, arrogance, and self-righteousness can work that way.

Mississippi Legislature Passes License-To-Discriminate Law

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2014

Both houses of the Mississippi legislature approved S.B. 2681 yesterday. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House in a 78-43 bipartisan vote, and the GOP-controlled Senate by a 38-14 bipartisan vote. The bill states that “State action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability…” It also provides that “A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened or is likely to be burdened (emphasis mine) in violation of this section” can go to court for “injunctive relief, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.”

The same law, designated as the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” also adds the words “In God We Trust” to the state seal. The law now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant (R) for his signature. Bryant said on Monday that he plans to sign the bill into law. Mississippi’s anti-discrimination law currently does not offer any protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which means that even without this bill, discrimination against LGBT people is already perfectly legal in Mississippi.

Like the Arizona bill which was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), the Mississippi bill doesn’t single out sexual orientation or gender identity as allowed grounds for discrimination, which leaves it open to employers and individuals claiming rights to discriminate on any basis — race, religion, gender, perceived national origin, etc., — as long as they can claim a religious reason for doing so. As with the Arizona legislation, atheists and agnostics will have no such specific license to discriminate. Similar bills are before the legislatures in Oklahoma and Missouri, and a bill is expected to be introduced in North Carolina when its legislative session begins in May. Similar bills in Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and Ohio have been rejected.

In February, the Mississippi House amended the bill to remove the license-to-discriminate language, leaving only the sections modifying the state seal. The Senate, however, rejected that move and restored a version of the original language, which moved the bill to a conference committee which hammered out the final version.

Click here to read the full text of the Mississippi bill.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, April 2

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: AIDS Walk, Belmont, NC; Brighton Marathon, Brighton, UK; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Spring Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Springs, CA; Phoenix Pride, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From TWN (The Weekly News, Miami), October 21,1987, page 44.

 

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: ONE Magazine Educates Readers on Legal Definition of Entrapment: 1954. Police entrapment was a very real concern for LGBT people everywhere, with many police departments being particularly aggressive in their pursuit of gay people. But the difficulty of proving entrapment made it an extremely rare defense, as an article from the April 1954 issue of ONE illustrates. The unsigned article,written by “ONE’s legal counsel” (possibly Eric Jubler, who would later successfully defend ONE in a landmark censorship case; see Jan 13) begins with a brief overview of the relevant law, and then provides three specific examples to illustrate what does and does not constitute entrapment:

1 — The first situation is that where an officer offers to buy a prohibited article, and the defendant is willing to sell. This can arise in narcotics cases, liquor cases, or in prostitution. In these cases, it is no defense that the officer disguised his identity. Where the de-fendant is motivated by a desire for money, there is no entrapment by an officer who offers money.

2 — The second type of case involves more active activity on the part of the officer. He may secure the confidence of a thief and loan him a gun with which to commit a robbery; he may pretend to be an accomplice; he may take narcotics into a city and there-by attract narcotic peddlers anxious to buy. In these situations, the officer creates situations which make it easier for a criminal to commit an offense which he seeks an opportunity to commit. The idea for the offense has, however, originated with the defendant.

3 — In the third situation, the officer suggests the commission of the crime. He overcomes the defendant’s unwillingness by threats or appeals to sympathy, pity or friendship. In this situation, entrapment exists. (For example, in a famous case, a prostitute induced a man to live with her outside of wedlock. She had been hired to do so by police, who arrested the man for violation of a morals law. It was held the man had been entrapped.) But in this situation, the proof of the defendant’s reluctance must be clear and overwhelming. CASES ARE EXTREMELY RARE IN WHICH A CLAIM OF ENTRAPMENT IS SUCCESSFUL AS A DEFENSE.

In situations of homosexual life, we can apply the law as obtained from the above situations and lay down the following general rules, dependent in each case, of course, upon the particular facts:

It is obvious that, for instance, a homosexual who makes the acquaintance of a strange man, perhaps in a public place, and proposes to him the commission of an illegal act, cannot urge the defense of entrapment, even though the stranger was a vice-squadder “staked out” as a decoy to attract such defendants.

If, in the same situation, it was the vice-squadder who proposed the illegal act the same would be true. A MERE SOLICITATION BY A VICE SQUAD OFFICER DOES NOT CREATE ENTRAPMENT. These cases are similar to situation (2) above: the officer has merely created a situation in which a defendant can commit an act with more ease.

Only in the third situation can en-trapment truly be claimed: If the officer “picks up” the defendant, gains his acquaintance, proposes the act, and proceeds to overcome the defendant’s genuine reluctance and unwillingness by appeals to sympathy, pity. friendship, etc., entrapment exists, but IF, AND ONLY IF the defendant was in fact unwilling, and the officer’s appeals were such as to leave no doubt that he was the procuring party. To prove such a state of fact requires a strong degree of proof; obviously, the defendant is forced to take the stand in his own defense, and his version of the facts must be so strong and believable as to convince a judge or jury of its truth and validity.

This discussion by ONE was not only in the immediate interest of many of its readers, but it also came about as the result of direct experience of least one member of ONE’s founding staff members. Dale Jennings recounted in ONE’s very first issue on 1953 of his own narrow escape after having been arrested in a clear case of entrapment by the Los Angeles Police (see Jun 23). Jennings surprised everyone by publicly proclaiming his homosexuality in court while refusing to plead guilty to the charges. His case was finally dismissed, not because he was exonerated, but because the jury couldn’t agree on whether to believe his claims of entrapment.

[Source: Unsigned. "The law: A discussion of entrapment." ONE 2, no. 4 (April 1954): 7-8.]

Ugandans Celebrate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2014
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Uganda’s Inter-Religious Council, a coalition of religious denominations, organized a ceremony of prayer and thanksgiving yesterday at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the nationally-revered site where Uganda’s independence was declared in 1962. Religious and political leaders gathered to honor President Yoweri Museveni for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law despite widespread international condemnation. Buzzfeed’s J. Lester Feder was there and described the carnival atmosphere at Kololo:

Fire jugglers, acrobats, and schoolchildren performed at a five-hour ceremony in the Ugandan capital on Monday called to celebrate the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Speakers paid tribute to President Yoweri Museveni, the official guest of honor, and linked Uganda’s fight against homosexuality with shedding its colonial past in an event that had the feeling of a campaign rally.

“Today, we come here again [to celebrate] sovereignty and freedom … [and] to take charge of our destiny,” said David Bahati, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, noting that the event was taking place at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the parade grounds where Ugandan independence was granted in 1962. “The citizens of Uganda are with you, Mr. President. The religious and cultural leaders are with you, Mr. President. The members of parliament and the nation is behind you.”

Sheik Shaban Mubajje, Mufti of Uganda, spoke on behalf of the Inter-Religious Council in offering prayers of thanksgiving for the Anti-Homosexuality Act, while complaining that foreign donors have cut US$3.5 million in aid to the group that had been earmarked its HIV/AIDS programs. HIV/AIDS providers and legal experts have warned that the overly broad wording of the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s “aiding and abetting” clause would, at best, have a chilling effect on the delivery HIV/AIDS services to LGBT people, and, at worst, could be interpreted as criminalizing it. Other religious leaders offering thanksgiving prayers included Roman Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, and evangelical pastor Simon Peter Emiau. Ahead of the celebration, Pastor Martin Ssempa, of “eat-da-poo-poo” fame and staunch supporter of the new law, led a march of supporters from Makarere University to Kololo.

Museveni charged that Western countries were “attacking our culture, which is the bedrock of our survival,” and promised to support a domestic fund to replace lost foreign dollars for HIV/AIDS.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 1

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Escape, May 7, 1982, page 48.

 
My World opened in Green Bay in the spring of 1979 as a Leather/Levi Country/Country Rock bar. At around 1982 and 1983, the building housed a second bar out back, the Silver Saddle, which was a lesbian bar. My World appears to have changed ownership around 1985 and became Brandy’s, although it still remained a Leather/Levi bar. Brandy’s stayed there until 1989, when it moved to another location and became Brandy’s II, which closed for good in 2007. The building at the original location is gone now, replaced with a parking lot.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Canada Reduces Criminal Penalty for Sodomy: 1955. Canada enacted the first of a long series of consolidations of its federal statues, with a new amended Criminal Code going into effect on April 1, 1955, which replaced the Section 202 of the old Code:

“Everyone is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any living creature.”

with Section 147, which reduced the penalty from life imprisonment to fourteen years:

“Everyone who commits buggery or bestiality is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

The Criminal Code would undergo another round of consolidation and modernization with the Criminal Amendment Act of 1968, which, when it was finally passed in 1969, resulted in the full decriminalization of homosexuality (see May 14).

Dr. Samuel B. Hadden

Gay Rights Activists Challenge “Gay Cure” Doctor: 1965. Just a few weeks earlier, Frank Kameny convinced the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C. to endorse a resolution declaring that “the absence of valid evidence to the contrary, homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance, or other pathology in any sense, but is merely a preference, orientation, or propensity on par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality” (see Mar 4). It was a bold statement, challenging the collective verdict to the contrary as delivered by the mental health professions, but it was the first step in the long march by Kameny, Barbara Gittings and others to convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973.

But in 1965, that resolution was considered a radical and controversial move in the gay community and among gay rights activists. Indicative of the kind of deference that many in the gay community were willing to accord mental health professionals, the Philadelphia-based gay rights group known as the Janus Society hosted a lecture by Dr. Samuel B. Hadden, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and a well-known practitioner of group therapy to try to cure male homosexuals. Hadden gave his usual spiel to the gathering: that gay people were suffering from a treatable neurotic disorder, one brought about by a dominating mother-figure or an absent father. Jody Shotwell, writing for The Ladder described Hadden’s treatment approach:

In his group-therapy technique, the homosexual is brought into contact w1th other homosexuals who, according to Dr. Hadden, have seen some kind of light. During the sessions, those patients farther along in treatment try to convince the newer members of the group of the dissat1sfactions — if not horrors — of life as a homosexual. Some attention is given to dress and mannerisms, in an effort to get the more effeminate homosexuals to conform to our culture’s notion of masculinity.

Hadden claimed he had managed to cure twelve of his thirty two-patients, a claim that an audience member challenged by asking whether any of his patients may have been motivated to lie about their progress. Hadden had no answer. He also didn’t bother trying to conceal his contempt for his audience. He likened homophile organizations to Nazis and the Klan, said that gay people should never be granted security clearances, and falsely asserted that everyone who had defected to the Soviet Union were gay. It was toward the end of the discussion that Kameny rose to challenge Hadden on his own turf:

Dr. Franklin E. Kameny of the Mattachine Society of Washington put the following questions to the speaker: 1. Are not his patients particularly susceptible or prone — as demonstrated by their being his patients — to justify the changes he has wrought, and hence atypical of homosexuals as a whole? 2. He seems to have taken it as a premise or axiom that homosexuality is pathological. What scientifically meaningful proof or demonstration of such pathology does he have? Dr. Hadden did not reply to or touch on the first question. In answering the second, he spoke in terms of “I feel (that homosexuality is a sickness, etc.) … We believe… I consider… We think…” In the exchange of remarks, Dr. Kameny asked for a definition of pathology in this context and said that homosexuals have been defined into sickness. When Dr. Hadden’s responses continued in terms of “I think” and “We feel,” Dr. Kameny declared, “This is not science, Dr. Hadden; this is faith.”

[Source: Jody Shotwell. "Special Report: Faith and Fury." The Ladder 9, n0. 8 (May 1965): 20-21.]

The old hotel at Bankhead Springs (Google Streetview)

Gay Groups Consider Buying Small California Town: 1971. Just five months after the Gay Liberation Front revealed plans to encourage gays and lesbians to move to rural Alpine County, California and take it over as a haven from discrimination and oppression (see Oct 19), reports emerged that Los Angeles-area gay leaders were considering buying another town east of San Diego and “colonizing” it.

The tiny town of Bankhead Springs, population 19, was up for sale. For a cool $239,000 (that would be almost $1.4 million today), the buyer would get a 51-year-old hotel, a cafe and eight houses. Bankhead Springs was named for Sen. John Bankhead, Tallulah Bankhead’s father and Alabama Senator who championed the construction of U.S. Route 80, “the nation’s Broadway,” from Savannah to San Diego. In southern San Diego County, Route 80 covered an old winding, mountainous stagecoach road, and Bankhead Springs became a convenient stop for automobile travelers midway between San Diego and El Centro.

But when Interstate 8 bypassed that section of Route 80 in the 1960s, traffic through town plummeted and businesses closed all along the route. LA-area activists saw an opportunity to create a settlement where gays could escape harassment, raise livestock, and establish an arts and crafts community. Morris Kight said that some of the surrounding properties had already been sold. “They’ve quietly moved into those villages in considerable numbers and are gradually colonizing them,” he claimed.

Kight said that the project to buy the town itself was sponsored by the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles, but a spokeswoman for another group interested in the town said the GLF only offered “moral support.” She said the plan was to buy the town, rename it Mount Love, and subdivide it into quarter-acre lots. But the town’s owner, Helen Miller, said she hadn’t talked with any prospective buyers who identified themselves as part a gay group, and added, “I don’t know if I would sell to them anyway. I love these mountains and don’t want to be run out.”

[Source: Associated Press. "Homosexual group eyes small town." (April 1, 1971).]

40 YEARS AGO: First Openly Lesbian Candidate Wins Public Office: 1974. For most of the previous decade, politics was the lifeblood of The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. In 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson chose that progressive campus to unveil his Great Society proposals during the commencement ceremony. In 1965, the anti-war movement was born when UM faculty members and 3,000 students held the nation’s first faculty-led “teach-in” to protest the Vietnam war. By 1974, protests, demonstrations, sit-ins and teach-ins to support all sorts of counter-cultural causes — civil rights, peace, women’s liberation, marijuana decriminalization, and all sorts of other progressive and radical causes — became mundane events in Ann Arbor’s student life.

And so when Ann Arbor city elections came around in 1974, few eyebrows were raised when a local political party, the Human Rights Party (HRP), ran Kathy Kozachenko to represent the second ward surrounding the UM campus. Republicans, which until then had held a solid lock on city government, couldn’t find anyone to run in the second ward, leaving a lone Democratic candidate to run against Kozachenko. With Kozachenko running openly as a lesbian, it proved to be a tight race. After expressing fears that she might lose on election day, she ended up winning by just nine votes. “This is so goddamn great!” she told reporters. “Our victory cannot be attributed simply to gay people and the HRP ‘core’. I think people really understood the difference between actions and words.” Meanwhile, Kozachenko’s opponent, Mary Richman, gave what was perhaps the most unlikely concession speech in the history of American politics: “Apparently all the Republicans voted for Kathy.” In fact, Kozachenko may have been helped by a successful HRP-sponsored ballot initiative which proved popular with UM students: the so-called “dope ordinance” which reduced the fine for possession of marijuana to $5.

Peter Lemke and Frank Wittebrood, Ton Jansen and Louis Rogmans, Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus, Dolf Pasker and Geert Kasteel

First Gay Couples Marry in Netherlands: 2001. In 1998, the Netherlands became the first non-Scandinavian country to institute registered partnerships (geregistreerd partnerschap). That law was written so that opposite-sex couples could also enter into registered partnerships, making it a viable alternative to marriage for straight people while, at the same time, being the only option available for gay couples. That changed in April 1, 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. At the stroke of midnight, four couples — three male and one female — were among the first to be pronounced legal spouses in ceremonies at Amsterdam City Hall.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Alberta Hunter: 1895-1984. Born in Memphis to a very troubled family, she left home at the age of fourteen, moved to Chicago, lied about her age, and became one of Chicago’s top Blues singers in the 1910s and 1920s. She toured London and Paris in 1917, and appeared in clubs and musicals in New York and London throughout the 1920s and 1930s, including an appearance as “Queenie” in the first London production of Show Boat with Paul Robeson. In 1934, she was a regular with the Jack Jackson orchestra at London’s Dorchester Hotel. With the outbreak of World War II, she returned to America and toured with the U.S.O, entertaining troops in Casablanca, Europe and the Pacific.

Hunter was fiercely independent, which prompted rumors about her sexuality. To silence the rumors, she married in 1919, but the couple never slept together and the divorced in 1923. She had a long-term relationship with Lottie Tyler, a woman from New York that Hunter had met in Chicago. Tyler accompanied Hunter on at least one trip to Europe.

Alberta Hunter in her nursing uniform

Hunter’s mother death in 1954 caused her to reconsider her priorities. “I went as far as you could go. I played Broadway. I played the Royal Theatre in London. I played in Paris… and I figured I had gone to the top,” she later told a documentary filmmaker.” A career change was in order. So she took twelve years off her age, created a false high school diploma, and enrolled in nursing school in New York City. She was, by all accounts, a dedicated nurse for the next twenty years. None of her co-workers suspected that they were working alongside a singer who had been celebrated on two continents. In 1961, she broke her eleven-year vow to stay away from show business when she agreed to record her signature composition, “Down Hearted Blues,” and a few other songs for a couple of albums. She enjoyed the diversion, but decided to stick with nursing. She remained at New York’s Goldwater Memorial Hospital until 1977, when she reached, according to their records anyway, the mandatory retirement age of seventy. (She was, in fact, eighty two.)

Bored, she decided to launch a comeback. In 1978, she was booked for what was supposed to be a two-week engagement at a Greenwich Village club, the Cookery, which quickly turned out to be a huge hit. Columbia Records gave her another recording contract. She released two albums, supervised the re-release of her old material, made television appearances and began touring again in Europe and South America. The White House invited her to perform for Jimmy Carter, but she refused because “they wanted me there on my day off.” The White House adjusted its schedule and she accepted the invite. She continued to perform regularly at the Cookery until she died in October, 1984. She was inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011.

Here she is, in 1981, performing “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out” at the Cookery.

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Ukraine: EU Negotiations Sideline LGBT Rights

Randy Potts

March 31st, 2014

On the cover of today’s The New Republic is this piece by Maxim Eristavi, who writes that gays and lesbians took a front and center role fighting on the maidan/main square of Kyiv but are now being sidelined by the revolutionary government and, according to multiple sources, by the EU as well.

But despite these aggressions, LGBT activists are in a tricky position when it comes to the revolution. When I approached revolutionary campaigner Bohdana Babich, whoposted about the attacks on the gay club on her Facebook page, she refused to speak with me, saying that I shouldn’t create “informational noise” at a time of a crisis in Ukraine. When a group of LGBT activists decided to support the revolution last year, they did so with the understanding that they would have to do so quietly. “A majority of LGBT activists decided to fully support and participate in the revolution, because European values are close to our values and goals,” said Bogdan Globa, a well-known local LGBT activist, in an interview with Hromadske TV in January. “But, at the same time, we decided not to use our rainbow flags in joining the protest, not to demand a special attention to us and to publicly demonstrate our concerns.”

The EU, for their part, is still saying publicly that they “prefer a solution whereby the law covers sexual orientation” but are dropping an outright demand for it during the negotiations.

 

The Daily Agenda for Monday, March 31

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, April 1974, page 14.

Northwest Gay Review explained this Seattle event which took place forty years ago tonight:

I don’t believe this is really happening, but on March 31, the Trojan Shield I is holding a “Closet Ball.” You’re probably asking yourself, “What in the queen’s realm is a ‘Closet Ball’?” Well here it is sweetie. Go find yourself a straight friend (You do have at least one don’t you — some of my best friends are straight). If you truly don’t have any, then bring a gay substitute. Then on March 31 dress yourself up in drag and bring your (hee-hee) straight friend to the Trojan Shield at 8 p.m. Then for a specified period of time (I think one hour) you will proceed to undress yourself and dress your former friend in your drag outfit. Since neither of you will be recognizable, you can both come out of your closets. Tickets for the event are $3 with rules and entry blanks available at the Shield. The pair performing the best transformation will receive a beautiful color photo of Rock Hudson

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 2-B.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Off-Duty SF Police  Officers Assault Lesbian Bar: 1979. About fifty burly young men, most of them drunk, had gathered outside of Peg’s Place, a lesbian bar in San Francisco’s Richmond neighborhood. They were loud and obnoxious, and some of them talked about “getting the dykes.” Bar employees met them at the door and an argument broke out. The argument quickly escalating in shouting and pushing. When one of the women threatened to call the cops, the guy doing the pushing responded, “We’re the cops, and we’ll do as we damn please.”

In fact, the men, who were out celebrating a bachelor party for their friend, included San Francisco off-duty officers. A general melee broke out as patrons rushed to defend the door, armed with pool cues. One officer beat bartender Alene Levine so badly she was hospitalized for ten days due to severe head injuries. A police lieutenant arrived, and promptly began investigating — the bar, carefully checking all of the bar’s licenses and permits, and accusing the bartender of being drunk.

The lieutenant refused to believe that his officers could be at fault. But in fact, the officers’ actions were part of a much larger trend. Police had been hassling, and sometimes beating and/or arresting customers as they tried to enter gay bars. In January, police officers assaulted and arrested two women as they left a lesbian bar in the Mission. To make matters worse, they were strip searched at the jail.

The Peg’s Place assaults quickly became a major story in the local press, and gay leaders pressed Mayor Dianne Feinstein to address the growing problems. Their frustration grew as Feinstein waited two full weeks before issuing a statement calling for the prosecution of the policemen involved. One of the officers was eventually charged, tried, and convicted of battery. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $1,000. But the problems continued to fester. Resentments in the gay community grew as police harassment continued without letup. Anger finally boiled over less than two months later, when former city Supervisor Dan White was sentenced to a paltry seven years for shooting San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT advocate Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Gays rioted at City Hall and police rioted in the Castro, in what became known as the “White Night Riots” (see May 21).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sergei Diaghilev: 1872-1929. The Russian-born art patron and connoisseur forever changed the world of modern ballet when he founded the revolutionary Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909. Three years earlier, Diaghilev had mounted a major exhibition of Russian art in Paris, which he followed with a series of concerts of Russian music and a production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Paris Opéra. When he returned to Paris again in 1909 with a troupe of dancers led by his lover, Vaslav Nijinsky, they performed all new works with innovative set designs and choreography. His four-week run was a smashing success.

In subsequent years, Ballets Russes became known for breaking all of the rules. The violently sexual Scheherazade, based on a symphonic poem by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, so outraged the composer’s widow that she protested in open letters which Diaghilev published. His debut of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913, with its insistent rhythms and dissonant score and the highly unconventional choreography set off a riot in the theater on opening night. Diaghilev was delighted at the controversy, telling Stravinsky that it was “exactly what I wanted.”

Ballets Russes collaborated with wide-ranging artists as composers Claude Debussy, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss and Erik Satie, and artists Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Georges Rouault, and Max Ernst as designers. It also launched the careers of George Balanchine, Ninette de Valois, and Serge Lifar.

Diaghilev was always very open about his homosexuality. It’s largely the reason he abandoned pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg for the more permissive climes of Paris. Composer Nicolas Nabokov said, “he was perhaps the first grand homosexual who asserted himself and was accepted as such by society.” He was also a very passionate man in everything he did. Diaghilev’s affair with Nijinsky was perhaps the most famous gay affair in Europe until Nijinsky married in 1913. Diaghilev promptly fired him. Diaghilev then turned to Léonide Massine, who he coached into becoming a great dancer and one of the more important choreographers of the century. They were together until Massine married in 1920. Diaghilev promptly fire him also.

While Ballets Russes was both a critical and artistic success, it was never a financial one. Diaghilev barely kept the company afloat, and it never found a permanent home any time in its two decade existence. When he died in Venice of diabetes in 1929, his friend had to pay the hotel bill. Ballet Russes folded upon Diaghilev’s death.

80 YEARS AGO: Richard Chamberlain: 1934. He first became famous in 1961 as the handsome young intern, Dr. Kildare, in the television series of the same name, a role that lasted until the series ended in 1966. From there, he became involved in repertory theater and film roles which had a more literary bent: The Tree Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Music Lovers, and The Lady Carline Lamb (his 1974 appearance in The Towering Inferno being a notable departure.) He returned to television in the 1970s in several popular miniseries, including Centennial, Shōgun, and The Thorn Birds as Father Ralph de Bricassart. He lived in Hawaii with his partner, Martin Rabbett, from 1976 to 2010; and it was during that time that he was outed by a French women’s magazine in 1989. While that outing didn’t really stick very well with the general public, it didn’t surprise many people when Chamberlain finally and officially came out in 2003 in his autobiography Shattered Love. In 2010, he advised actors who sought leading-man roles to remain in the closet. “Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, its still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”

Barney Frank: 1940. He represented Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional district from 1981 until his retirement in 2012, and he did so as an openly gay representative since 1987. When he came out to The Advocate that year, he became the first member of Congress to do so voluntarily. He recalled that when Rep. Stewart McKinney of Connecticut died of complications from AIDS (McKinney’s physician claimed that McKinney became infected from a blood transfusion, but many didn’t believe it.), there was “an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?’ I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.” After coming out, Frank easily won re-election in 1988 and in just about every election since then.

He earned a reputation for being one of the House’s quickest wits, saying, for example, that he was unable to finish reading the Starr Report about President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky because it was “too much reading about heterosexual sex.” In 2006, Rep. John Ostettler (R-IN) accused Frank of pushing a “radical homosexual agenda.” Frank responded to that charge by point out, “I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.” He married his partner, Jim Ready, in July of 2012, making Frank the first gay-married Congressman in history.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 30

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; AIDS Walk & Music Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Los Angeles Leather Pride, Los Angeles, CA; OutBoard, Steamboat Springs, CO.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee), November 1971, page 5.

 
Nite Beat, Milwaukee’s “girl’s bar,” opened originally at 196 S. 2nd street in about 1964, and lasted there until sometime between 1968 and 1971, when it moved across the street to 183 Second Street. One former patron remembered: “The Nite Beat was a hard-core diesel bar. Butches were butches, femmes were femmes, and my generation of role-light young feminists was viewed with total suspicion. Although it was on street level, you felt as though you were walking into a basement.” In 1972, the bar became much more femme when it was sold and re-opened as the Riviera Show Lounge, which featured lavish drag shows.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“Yes, I Am!”: 1958. It seems that much of gay history before the rise of the women’s movement in the 1960s is often centered on the experiences of gay men. It was men were being arrested and jailed, in numbers which far exceeded the experiences of lesbians, although lesbian bars were also targeted by police (see for example, Mar 8, Sep 8, Sep 21). We can all imagine what it was like to be a gay man fifty-five years ago thanks to the early homophile magazines ONE and The Mattachine Review. The latter was devoted almost exclusively to male concerns (although lesbians made an occasional appearance from time to time) while ONE, in its early days, mostly relegated women’s concerns to a segregated regular column called “The Feminine Viewpoint.”

In 1956, the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing The Ladder to provide women with a voice separate from men — and indeed, for much of the fifties, the gay men’s movement and the lesbian movement, such as they were, were mostly separate movements which only sometimes recognized the common cause between them. But thanks to The Ladder, we have, preserved like a time capsule, a collection of voices from, well, the feminine viewpoint. And so what was it like to be a lesbian in the 1950s? Well, an article that appeared in the March 1958 issue of The Ladder provides one illustration of how invisible lesbians often were — and often made themselves — in those year. The article was signed with the name of Sandra Pine, although that was probably a pen name. It was titled, simply, “Yes, I Am!”:

I wish it were possible for me to wr1te this on my letterhead, but my “world” would be too shocked if they were to learn their perfectly proper and “normal” appearing friend, business and professional member of their society were any different than she appears. And more shocked to know that she is secretly glad to be a Lesbian.

I’ve never consulted a psychiatrist (but many have with me) as I am not emotionally disturbed nor suffering from a guilt complex. I am perfectly healthy, have no need or use for drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. Although I move in a society that uses them with the rest of their problems, I’m not concerned with their use.

I’ve only had one “friend”. Fifteen years ago we “discovered” one another at a rather boring society tea and instantly we knew there was a tie that bound us. We’ve been true. There is nothing “cheap” about the deep love that we have shared. We are both very prominent women. There has never been the slightest finger of suspicion pointed at us. Our manners in public are such as not to attract any undue attention. We are both attractive, well groomed, fashionably dressed, completely feminine.

If occasionally our hands meet under the table when dining out it is with complete fulfillment and security. We have found what few individuals ever do – that is complete compatibility and understanding, without jealousy or distrust.

I am always secretly amused when some wise person says “I can tell one a mile away”. When my secretary, a clever young woman who has been with me for 10 years, said to me recently when she accidentally saw my copy of THE LADDER: “What do you want with that stuff – you’re no homosexual” I knew my mask had never slipped, and I was secretly proud of the fact. But I long f or the day when I could say “I am a Lesbian” with the same ease I say “I am a Republican”.

My friend and I do not and never have lived together. We have conventional families who never even guess we are “different”. We manage to have a day a week together. We meet at social affairs and quite often we weekend, or take a vacation somewhere, even Europe.

I would not change my way of life, even if I could. Of course, we all should come out in the open and proclaim our status, but the world is not quite ready for that. While I’m not afraid of men, mice, ‘ snakes or storms, I’m just not brave enough — yet — to say “Ye s, I am!”

As an answer to that odd, contradictory, and yet, given the times, understandable declaration of deeply closeted pride, The Ladder published another article the following July by Jule Moray, titled, “An Open Letter to Sandra Pine”:

I was touched by your article, “Yes, I Am” in the March edition of THE LADDER; touched, and a little terrified.

I see two well dressed women, perfectly groomed, at whom the finger of suspicion has never pointed; their hats fashionably perched above masks that never slip. Two perfect ladies, completely feminine. Miss Pine, might I ask what are you being feminine for? Whom are you trying to deceive? Yourself, or the well dressed, well groomed, completely masculine men you meet every day? Or your conventional families, who trust you and would never guess? Is it not possible that these normal business and professional friends are as afraid of showing you that they know, as you are afraid of knowing they know? Let us by all means keep our personal lives as private as can be; but if we are lucky enough (and many are not) to have private lives why not let them be as full and satisfying as we can possibly make them? A hand touched beneath the table; one day in seven alone; the occasional week-end; even a trip to Europe in fifteen years -is that the best you can do for your love life, Miss Pine?

Would you lose your job, your mother’s love or your right to vote Republican if you let slip just a couple of small hairpins, took a flat with you friend (sic), and started to make up for all the time you two have lost? Who is going to worry? Not your secretary — you haven’t made a pass at her in ten years — we know that. Not those professional and business gentlemen — you’ve been giving them the red light all along. Who else is there? The ladies at your social gatherings — they’ll be only too thankful you’re not after their men. And at the very worst, if the whole town knows you’ve left home and are sharing with a roommate; is that going to rock anybody?

My friend and I have been together for twenty years; it took us eight years, owing to the war before we were able to live together. We’re not at all smart or well groomed, and I don’t honestly know if you’d say we are feminine or not. Probably in every plaoe we’ve ever lived everyone has known we are Lesbians. We rarely think about it, and we never worry about it. Certainly no one has ever hinted that our relationship is at all strange. Most of our friends are married and no one has ever refused to come to our house. We, in fact, think ourselves liked, sometimes well-liked, very rarely disliked.

Miss Pine, you are not afraid of men, mice, snakes or storms? All right; why don’t you take that flat? A comfortable one, serviced, you can afford it. Let yourselves go a bit over the decor, be bold, but cosy; and, before it’s too late, see to it that there’s only one bedroom with a full size double bed. You won’t, either of you be so well groomed in the future — but it will be worth it.

[Sources: Sandra Pine. "Yes, I Am!" The Ladder 2, no. 6 (March 1958): 12-13.

Jule Moray. "Open Letter to Sandra Pine." The Ladder 2, no. 10 (July 1958): 16-17.]

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, March 29

Jim Burroway

March 29th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: European Gay Ski Week, Alpe d’Huez, France; Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; AIDS Walk & Music Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Los Angeles Leather Pride, Los Angeles, CA; Gay Snow Happening, Sölden, Austria; OutBoard, Steamboat Springs, CO; European Snow Pride, Tignes, France.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Los Angeles Advocate, November 1968, page 35.

 
I’ve been able to find references to the Roaring 20′s Lounge in Torrance, California from as far back as 1959, when it was under different ownership. During those days, it was apparently a pretty swank little joint, hosting singers, jazz ensembles and other regional acts. By the 1960s, the ownership changed, and with it, apparently, the clientele. The area has changed again since then. If you go to the corner of 166th and Crenshaw today, all you’ll find is a 7-Eleven on one side and a parking lot on the other.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Inducing Hallucinations to “Cure” Homosexuality: 1962. Ever since Ivan Pavlov taught his dog to salivate whenever a bell was rung, Behavioral Therapists employed all sorts of adverse stimuli to produce a conditioned response in their patients which would represent a desired change in behavior: smoking cessation, giving up alcohol and other drugs, or stopping being gay — as though being gay was nothing more than behavior. And as far as Behavioral Therapists were concerned, being gay was just behavior and nothing more. (See Blind Man’s Bluff for a more complete explanation of Behavioral Therapy and its history.) And ever since Louis M. Max invented a device for delivering non-lethal doses of electric shock (see Mar 11), Behavioral Therapists have deployed any number of punitive methods designed to “cure” their patients of their homosexuality (see Jan 18, Jan 20, Jun 3, Jul 26, Oct 30, Dec 8), and our award-winning investigation, What are Little Boys Made Of?).

But among the cruelest methods for attempting to “cure” gay people must be the one described by the University of Edinburgh’s Dr. Ian Oswald, in which he used a combination of aversion therapy and induced hallucinations to try to cure one of his patients of the gay. (His other six patients were two rubber fetishists — one apparently gay and one straight — three alcoholics, and a married cross dresser.) The aversion therapy portion of the treatment was literally retching: Oswald administered two-hourly injections of apamorphine, a powerful emetic which induced violent vomiting and, in some cases, diarrhea. This was already a relatively common form of aversion therapy, but for Oswald’s experiments, the vomiting had the added desirable effect of making his patients dizzy and lightheaded due to the depletion of electrolytes. He also injected them with pilocarpine nitrate, which causes heavy salivation and sweating and, in some cases shortness of breath. Oswald never says why he used pilocarpine nitrate, but it might have been to simulate a panic attack in his subjects. He also gave his patients small doses of dexamphetamine, a stimulant, which he used to induce sleep deprivation.

All of that pharmacology was in the service of creating a condition in which his patients could be induced to experience auditory hallucinations when a tape loop was repeatedly played for hours on end. His goal was to create a state of mind similar to that of paranoid schizophrenia. Here is how it went for a patient identified as Case 5:

Case 5. A homosexual male aged 25 under the management of Dr. W. D. Boyd. The patient’s tyrannical father died when the patient was 15. The mother, to whom the patient was closely attached, was a drunkard, a spiritualist and a Lesbian. Elder brother had never engaged in honest work. No family history of mental illness.

Homosexual relationships began at the age of 14 and included frequent brief affairs in public lavatories and several long love-affairs. He had married at 19 and had two children. He came for treatment to try and salve his marriage, for he had been living away with a man for eight months. He was usually a passive partner, principally interested in fellatio. He was greatly excited by male urine and sometimes drank it.

Aversion therapy was embarked on with some reservations. A 30-minute interview in which he described his homosexual practices was tape-recorded. Every two hours he received apomorphine by injection and then the tape-recorded interview was played through a loud speaker. Glasses of urine were sometimes placed by him. In the intervals the following tape loop was played; “It makes him sick, it makes him sick, Sex with men? Oh, it makes him sick now. He gets sex with men. It must make him sick now. He’d meet men in the lavatories. Ugh. Sex with men makes him sick. He looks at men’s bodies. It must make him sick now.” (One male voice). Four seconds pause.

He received pilocarpine nitrate 1/20 grain once on the first day and once on the fourth, and dexamphetamine sulphate 10 mg. each night. Fluid and electrolyte depletion were prevented as with the other patients and serum potassium and sodium remained within normal limits, though the CO2 combining power rose to 33@5m.Eq./L. and chloride fell to 96 m.Eq./L. on the fourth day, having remained within normal limits previously.

He experienced the words of the tape-loop changing from the first day and throughout the four days’ treatment. The changes never had any great significance for him, seeming merely trivial or absurd. He could not voluntarily re-experience what was actually played through the loudspeaker. The changes were experienced by day and night throughout the four days and three nights of treatment.

At times he wrote down the various phrases he heard, which included:

“I like it thick my bacon thick. Sanford man, what makes it him sick now. He has Sangford man. They musta made a mistake now. They’ll need 8 men in the lavatories. Sangford man makes it sick. Be a good man Sportis? Do not make sick now. I’ll knock him sick. What makes him sick now. Enough with men’s bodies. Bolton quick it’d make you sick. Sex written in. He’s got six sick men, that must make him sick now. He’d eight men in the lavatories. Sax written back Matron’s sick. Hey’n they’ve got nice bodies. But you mustn’t make them sick now.”

After the end of treatment on the fourth day he wrote of his most recent auditory experiences:

“This impression of the tape-recorded message was not written down in detail at the time I heard it because I was quite convinced that it really was a separate recording, and I accepted it as such without question. I remember that the dialogue seemed much briefer and with longer pauses than the original recording, also the intonation seemed different. While listening, my mind’s eye formed a picture of the characters involved in this little ‘sketch’. One person monopolized all speech on a telephone while his weak-stomached friend sat immobile in a bath-chair. The man on the ‘phone would jokingly say he had ‘mixed bodies’ (sweets?) then say something quietly to the effect that he had better not say that as it might make ‘him’ (the bath-chair sitter) sick. There would then be a deep belching sound not before heard on the recorder and the person on the ‘phone would say, ‘He’s sick now,’ or words to that effect. Then after a pause, very loudly, ‘Oh, we’ve made him sick, we’ve made him sick,’ then carry on more normally asking after the health of two friends with strange names I cannot remember. The dialogue would then come round to the part about ‘mixed bodies’ and carry on repeating endlessly the same sickly tale. If I remember correctly these variations in the recordings always came after I’d snatched a little sleep. They never changed while listening and no effort would make them sound like the original recording.”

A month later the patient reported that he had had one attempt at sexual relations with a man but had stopped because he felt feelings of revulsion and physically sick. Within two months, however, he had left his wife and gone off to live with a man.

As for the other patients, Owens claimed success with the three alcoholics, but only one of the two fetishists — the other rubber fetishist had “formed a friendship with a male homosexual (but had not had sexual relations with him” — while the cross-dresser, “in the 8 month since, he has dressed-up in female clothes on many occasions.”

[Source: Ian Oswald. "Induction of illusory and hallucinatory voices with consideration of behaviour therapy." Journal of Mental Science 108, no. 453 (March 1962): 196-212.]

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