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Posts for January, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 13

Jim Burroway

January 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, October 1954, page 31.

From ONE, October 1954, page 31.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Unitarian Church Sponsors Symposium on Homosexuality: 1954. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a long history of inquiry on a large number of contentious topics. In 1954, the First Unitarian Church of Miami hosted a forum called “Homosexuality: Cause, Society, and Crime.” According to a write-up in ONE magazine, the nation’s first gay publication, the attendance “broke all existing records.” The panel included Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, psychologist Dr. Syvil Marquit (no affiliation was given), Dr. Jack Capschan of the University of Miami’s psychology department, and Dr. Alvin Winder, psychologist for the Veterans Administration. The psychologists generally agreed that homosexuality wasn’t an illness, but they differed on whether it was “curable” or whether society was the problem. Mayor Aronovitz however pleaded ignorance on the subject, saying he was only there because “in his desire to please, he had instructed his secretary to accept all speaking engagements.”:

He said that there are three or four places in Miami where homosexuals gather, but that the proprietors were not in business to help these people, only to profit monetarily from their suffering. He said that he didn’t want Miami known as a haven for homosexuals or divorce getting or any other criminals, but that homosexuals should not be persecuted or hounded, because they were undoubtedly suffering from a sickness of the mind. To conclude, he added, “They certainly need kindly understanding, but whose rights shall we consider?”

The discussion was then opened to questions from the audience. The first question was “How can we cure homosexuality?” Dr. Kapschan answered with this question, “Is it not possible that instead of sick homosexuals, we have a sick society?” Dr. Marquit added that we must have a wider acceptance of homosexuals. “In other words,” he said, “your sex life is your own business.”

…Then Mayor Aronovitz asked, “I would like to know if there are any individuals who have had the glorous experience of normal sexual relations who prefer homosexual relations?” “I’m sorry to disappoint the Mayor,” answered Dr. Marquit, “but it has been proven that a large percentage of confirmed homosexuals have experienced ‘glorious’ heterosexual relations. Then it was asked “If these, people are to be driven from the bars, beaches, and other gathering places, where would you have them spend their leisure time?” Mayor Aronovitz answered that if society accepted this, it should not be persecuted.

To the question “Is prejudice against homosexuality related to intolerance?” Dr. Kapschan answered, “Yes, research has proven that prejudice is generally against a number of minority groups, not just homosexuality. The authoritarian personality that condemns persons for their homosexual behavior is much more of a threat to society than the homosexual himself. They are psychoneurotics who need psychiatric treatment, not the harmless homosexual who varies from the so-called normal, criticized only insofar as what he does in bed. Prejudice against the homosexual makes an especially good scapegoat for the authoritarian personality.”

ONE’s editors were greatly encouraged by the forum, and hoped that it would “lead to more stimulated discussions by qualified people, sponsored by churches and other civic-minded groups.” Those hopes were short-lived however, as Mayor Aronovitz would go on that year to lead a notoriousanti-gay witch hunt in his city (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, Aug 16, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16).

[Source: Unsigned. “Who’s Sick?” ONE 2, no. 2 (February 1954): 4-5.]

ONE's first issue, January 1953.

ONE’s first issue, January 1953.

 US Supreme Court Issues First Gay Rights Ruling: 1958. It was barely a ruling, just a terse, one-sentence line, issued by the Supreme Court without hearing oral arguments. Reading the one-page document without knowing anything about the cases mentioned therein would leave one without the slightest idea what the whole thing was about. But that was all it took for the US Supreme Court to affirm the rights of the first major gay magazine, ONE, to be distributed by the U.S. Postal Service without its subject matter, homosexuality, being declared obscene.

When ONE debuted in January 1953, it sported a very sophisticated look, with bold graphics and professional typset and design. It  quickly caught the attention gays and lesbians across the country, and circulation jumped to nearly 2,000 within a few months — with most subscribers paying extra to have their magazine delivered in an unmarked wrapper. By today’s standards, ONE is tame. There were no racy pictures, its fiction was mostly limited to depictions of longing and desire, and there was nary any evidence of physical contact on its pages.

But what the magazine lacked in raciness, it made up for in political audacity. ONE’s editorial tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment, employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. And most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors. But in a sign of those times, all letters to the editor were published anonymously — from “m” in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or from “f” in Beaumont, Texas.

The August 1953 issue was held by the Post Office for three weeks.

The August 1953 issue was held by the Post Office for three weeks.

ONE also caught the eye of the U.S. Post Office. Since its inception, Los Angeles postal authorities vetted each issue before deciding whether it was legal to ship under the Post Office’s stringent anti-obscenity standards. And since homosexuality was illegal in most states, ONE had the added problem of possibly being guilty of promoting criminal activity. The Post Office finally acted in August 1953, holding up that month’s issue for three weeks while deciding if it violated federal laws. The cover story for that issue was on “homosexual marriage,” making ONE the first gay publication to tackle the subject seriously (see Aug 20). Finally, officials in Washington decided the magazine didn’t violate federal laws and ordered the LA Post Office to release it for shipment.

ONE, true to its aggressive stance, reacted defiantly to that move in its October issue by proclaiming in an editorial printed on its covers, “ONE is not grateful”:

ONE's defiant message to the Post Office was splayed on the front and back cover of the October 1953 issue.

ONE’s defiant message to the Post Office was splayed on the front and back cover of the October 1953 issue.

Your August issue is late because the postal authorities in Washington and Los Angeles had it under a microscope. They studied it carefully from the 2nd until the 18th of September and finally decided that there was nothing obscene, lewd or lascivious in it. They allowed it to continue on its way. We have been found suitable for mailing.

This official decision changes our status considerably. Incredible as it may seem to everyone else but us, we have been pronounced respectable. The Post Office found that ONE is obscene in no way, incites no one to anything but thought and doesn’t want to overthrow the government. This decision will also indicate to the timorous deviate that we are a safer bet than once assumed. Many who were contented to be told what to read, will now consider the matter of their own dignity and human rights. Subscriptions will mount astronomically. We are prepared.

…But one point must be made very clear. ONE is not grateful. ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance. It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered. ONE’s victory might seem big and historic as you read of it in the comfort of your home (locked in the bathroom? hidden under a stack of other magazines? sealed first class?). But the deviate hearing of our late August issue through jail bars will not be overly impressed.

But as defiant as ONE was in the October 1953 issue, they knew that the threat of closure due to postal censorship still loomed large — that is, if finances and distribution problems didn’t get to them first. Their prediction for astronomical subscriptions didn’t materialize, and ONE was forced to skip the August and September issues the following year. With such precarious finances, the last thing ONE needed was more legal trouble. ONE’s editors asked Eric Julber, their young straight lawyer fresh out of law school, to write a set of rules for the staff to follow — what they could publish, and what they should avoid. When readers began to complain that ONE was too tame, the editors asked Julber to print his rules in the October 1954 issue with a cover declaring, “You Can’t Print It!” Those rules prohibited:

The October 1954 issue of ONE. Ironically, this is the issue that got the magazine blocked by the Post Office.

(1) Lonely hearts ads, seeking pen pals or meetings.

(2) “Cheesecake” art or photos. To readers who ask, “But how about all the girlie magazines?” I can only reply that in our society, visual stimulation of man by woman is tolerated to a far greater extent than attempted visual stimulation of man by man, for what is in law a criminal purpose.

(3) Descriptions of sexual acts, or the preliminaries thereto. Again here, what is permissible in heterosexual literature is not permissible in ONE’s context.

(4) Descriptions of experiences which become too explicit. I.e., permissible: “John was my friend for a year.” Not permissible: “That night we made mad love.”

(5) Descriptions of homosexuality as a practice which the author encourages in others, or waxes too enthusiastic about.

(6) Fiction with too much physical contact between the characters. I.e., characters cannot rub knees, feel thighs, hold hands, soap backs, or undress before one another. (All examples taken from recent contributions).

Julber also insisted that he review each issue before it went to the publisher. But all this failed to keep ONE out of trouble — maybe because Julber didn’t strictly enforce his own rules. The October 1954 issue turned out to be arguably the raciest to date. That issue featured a fictional short story called “Sappho Remembered,” in which two young lovers touched each other four times, declared their love for each other, and the story had a happy ending. Another feature, a poem, made light of the arrest of several British public figures — including Lord Montagu (see Oct 20) and actor John Gielgud (see Apr 14) — on “morals” charges (“Lord Samuel is a legal peer / (While real are Monty’s curls!) / Some peers are seers but some are queers / And some boys WILL be girls.”). And there were two ads — one for the Swiss magazine Der Kreis (which, postal officials charged, meant that ONE was advertising “obscene materials” because Der Kreis often published beefcake photos; see Mar 16) and another for men’s pajamas and intimate wear (see today’s sponsor above).

That was enough for the Los Angeles Post Office to seize that issue —- the one with “You Can’t Print It!” on the cover -— and charge the editors with violating the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” material through the mail. Jubler took the case for free, without the help of the ACLU (which was still defending the constitutionality of sodomy laws; see Jan 17) and sued the the Los Angeles Postmaster Otto Olesen in Federal Court. It didn’t go well. The judge ruled for the Post Office in March 1956, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in February 1957, calling ONE “morally depraving and debasing” because the magazine “has a primary purpose of exciting lust, lewd and lascivious thoughts and sensual desires in the minds of persons reading it.”

ONE then took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. To everyone’s surprise, the Court agreed to consider the case, its first ever dealing with homosexuality. Even more surprising, instead of granting certiorari and scheduling briefs and oral arguments, the Supreme Court simply issued a short, one-sentence decision on January 13, 1958 based on the Appeals court transcript and overturned the two lower courts. The Supreme Court’s order simply read:

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth circuit and was duly submitted.

On consideration whereof, it is ordered and adjudged by this Court tht the judgment of the said United States Court of Appeals, in this case, be, and the same is hereby, reversedl and that this cause e, and the same is herey, remanded to the United States district Court for the Southern District of California. Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476.

ONE celebrates its victory. February 1958, page 16.

ONE celebrates its victory. February 1958, page 16.

That case cited in the order, Roth v. United States was the key. Roth was a landmark 1957 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court more narrowly defined obscenity as material whose “”dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest” to the “average person, applying contemporary community standards.” The court also found that “All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties” of the First Amendment. Thanks to Roth sorts of material that had been previously banned could be freely published and distributed — James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and so on. And now with ONE v. Olesen expanding Roth’s application to include homosexual themes, lesbian and gay publications could be mailed without legal repercussions — although many continued to experience harassment from the Post Office and U.S. Customs. Editor Don Slater (see Aug 21) celebrated the ONE decision in the February 1958 issue:

By winning this decision ONE Magazine has made not only history but law as well and has changed the future for all U. S. homosexuals. Never before have homosexuals claimed their right as citizens. Not even the Berdache, nor the Greeks, nor the Napoleonic Code, nor Wolfenden “recommendations,” nor The American Law Institute “recommendations” have managed to mean so much to so many. ONE Magazine no longer asks for the right to be heard; it now exercises that right. It further requires that homosexuals be treated as a proper part of society free to discuss and educate and propagandize their beliefs with no greater limitations than for any other group.

 Jesse Helms Calls Gays “Disgusting People”: 1990. When the three-term Senator from North Carolina stood on the platform at the state fairgrounds before a crowd of 1,700 to announce his intention to run for a fourth term, there was no doubt whatsoever what his platform would be: abortions and gays. “Family values in American are under attack as never before,” he said. “Think about it. Homosexuals and lesbians, disgusting people marching in our streets demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other. How do you like them apples?” Helms won that election, and another one again in 1996 before finally leaving the Senate in 2003. Helms is currently dead.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Charles Nelson Reilly: 1931-2007. He was a very well respected Broadway actor, director and drama school teacher, but he was best known and beloved for his campy comedic roles and as a panelist on the game show The Match Game. His break on Broadway came in 1960 with Bye Bye Birdie. His part was small, but it opened the door to 1961’s Pulitzer prize-winning musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He was also featured in 1964’s Hello, Dolly! Through the 1960s and 70s, he had several comedic guest appearances on television. He was a regular on The Dean Martin Show and made countless appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His campy character and his flamboyant dress marked him as a gay man. He never explicitly acknowledged it, although he would joke about how “butch” he was on The Match Game. No one asked, he didn’t tell, but everyone knew and no one bothered much with keeping the secret. In 2002, he finally discussed his private live in his one-man show Save It for the Stage, which became the basis for the autobiographical independent film, The Life of Reilly. He was too ill to attend its premiere in 2006 at South by Southwest, and he died at home on in 2007.

 Rip Taylor: 1934. I’ll bet you didn’t know this: the King of Confetti, known for his handlebar mustache, wild wigs, crazy props, and compulsive confetti throwing, began his adult life as a page in the U.S. Senate. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? After being drafted to serve in the Korean War, he came home and began his career as a stand-up comic. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a regular on several variety and game shows (including Hollywood Squares and The Gong Show), and a voice for Popeye and The Addams Family cartoons. His Gong Show gig led to his own brief program, $1.98 Beauty Show, which was produced by Gong Show executive and host Chuck Barris and was on the air from 1978 to 1980.

His schtick is that of an old fashioned gag man, deploying odd props as bad puns, dropping the worst one-liners imaginable, and manically throwing confetti. His show as been a mainstay in Vegas, either as an emcee for a chorus line show or an opening act for Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Ann-Margaret. As a result, he was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year for three years in a row in the 1970s. He’s also had a few more serious roles, including as Demi Moore’s boss in Indecent Proposal and in Broadway productions of Oliver!, Peter Pan and Anything Goes. More recently, The “Prince of Pandemonium” and the “Master of Mayhem” has had cameos in Will & Grace, George Lopez, and the first three Jackass movies. In 2006, he made another notable cameo appearance in his home town of Washington, D.C., as the grand martial for the Capital Pride parade. In 2010, he gave another more serious performance for his one-man show It Ain’t All Confetti.

Here’s a clip from 1987:

 Edmund White: 1940. He was born in Cincinnati and grew up in Chicago, then studied Chinese at the University of Michigan. He worked as a journalist in New York, then moved to France and settled in as a writer. In 1973, he co-wrote the first edition of The Joy of Gay Sex with psychologist Charles Silverstein, and that set him on his course of what one observer called his dedication to sexual truth-telling. His best known work, A Boy’s Own Story, was the first volume in his autobiographical-fiction trilogy that continued with The Beautiful Room Is Empty and The Farewell Symphony. His 2006 memoir, My Lives provides a frank and unflinching account of growing up gay in the Midwest and his life since then. In 2006, he told journalist Steve Dow, “Writing has always been my recourse when I’ve tried to make sense of my experience or when it’s been very painful. When I was 15 years old, I wrote my first (unpublished) novel about being gay, at a time when there were no other gay novels. So I was really inventing a genre, and it was a way of administering a therapy to myself, I suppose.”

White is currently a member of the faculty of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program. His most recent novel, Jack Holmes and His Friend, was published in 2012.

 Nate Silver: 1978. The math whiz, baseball fanatic, poker player, and political polling savant who accurately predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, wants it to be known that he is not a gay statistician, but a statistician who happens to be gay, while “ethnically straight.” To those who take such identity labels oh so seriously, Silver’s remarks challeneged an established orthodoxy, but one that is becoming increasingly irrelevant to those of Silver’s generation. As he once explained in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything”:

My quick-and-dirty view is that people are too quick to affiliate themselves with identity groups of all kinds, as opposed to carving out their own path in life.

Obviously, there is also the issue of how one is perceived by others. Living in New York in 2013 provides one with much a much greater ability to exercise his independence than living in Uganda — or for that matter living in New York forty years ago. So perhaps there’s a bit of a “you didn’t build that” quality in terms of taking for granted some of the freedoms that I have now.

And/but/also, one of the broader lessons in the history of how gay people have been treated is that perhaps we should empower people to make their own choices and live their own lives, and that we should be somewhat distrustful about the whims and tastes and legal constraints imposed by society.

Silver is the author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t. In March 2014, he expanded and re-launched FiveThirtyEight blog as a larger data journalism project for ESPN.

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?

Randy Thomas is gay

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

Randy Thomas

From 2002 to 2013, Randy Thomas was the Executive Vice President of Exodus International, an umbrella organization for various ex-gay ministries across the nation. And for much of that time, Randy was committed to anti-gay political activism.

But towards the beginning of this decade, the leaders in a number of ex-gay ministries began to question some of the presumptions that held them together.

Some came to realize that while the identity and perspective of their members could be shifted, orientation (what they called same-sex attraction) seemed not to change. After a number of high-profile “lapses” and even more quiet resignations, it became apparent that even leadership was subject to the seeming rigidity of the direction of desire.

And familiarity with pro-family politicians and advocacy groups was disillusioning. It quickly became apparent that these groups were not truly supportive of those who were “struggling with their same-sex attractions”, but were simply bigots dressed up in religiosity. They were happy to use these ex-gays in their anti-gay advocacy, but they certainly didn’t consider them to be equals.

But what presented the greatest challenges, I believe, were the developing relationships with a number of gay people. They discovered that there was a broad spectrum of ‘homosexual activists’, and that many of them seemed little like the stereotypes that were depicted within the bubble of conservative Christianity. They found those who were devout Christians, who did not seek to ‘destroy decency’, and who spoke strongly in favor of equality using the language of faith.

And, undoubtedly, after the 2009 Conference on Homosexuality in Kampala, Uganda, in which an Exodus board member participated and which led to the proposal of the death penalty for some gay Ugandans, the leadership at Exodus was shocked. This ultimate consequence of their message was not at all what they intended.

It’s hard to know exactly what all contributed to the decision, but by 2013, the Exodus leadership had had enough. In June, Exodus announced that it was closing shop.

Shortly after, in July, Randy Thomas wrote an apology to the gay community. He owned the hurt he had caused along with his silence about the actions of others.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen Randy seeking greater truth about himself. He hasn’t rejected his faith, but in questioning how he had allowed himself to behave in ways that were not Christlike, he also has questioned some presumptions and attitudes that had once seemed integral. In the process he has found, I believe, a greater acceptance of both others and himself.

And perhaps it is this acceptance and quest for honesty that has brought Randy to the position of seeing himself in a way that perhaps he never has before: a devout, sincere, and faith-filled gay man.

Four or five times, in offline social settings, over the past five months I was asked if I was gay. Each time I answered, without hesitation, “I am bi-sexual with a propensity toward dudes.” That brought smiles each time and I was told that if I was bi, gay, … whatever, they wanted me to know they accepted me. But, this is the first time in my life where I felt there were inconsistencies between what was happening in some circles as opposed to others. I started seeing the potential of a fragmented life developing and I *never* want that. There is nothing more tortured than feeling like you can’t be consistently you wherever you are. These recent offline disclosures were leading to an issue of conscience for me. As I was thinking through and writing this post it became clear that it is most accurate to say that I am gay with a bisexual propensity that I can’t adequately describe :).

As for the future, Randy is more open to possibility than he has been in a long time.

Could I see myself with a man? Yes. Could I see myself with a woman? Yes. Could I see myself being celibate for the rest of my life? Yes. Today has its own troubles and I am not worrying about tomorrow. I rest in God’s grace and trust Him to be the Good Shepherd He has proven, over and over, to be.

I am very happy for Randy. In addition to his personal introspection and spiritual maturity, he has also taken on a number of personal goals, exploring his art and getting in a healthier physical state.

I hope that wherever he finds himself and with whom, that this exploration of integrity and growing comfort never ceases.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, January 12

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

My Friend’s Place operated from approximately 1986 to 1991.

State Sen. Charley E. Johns (center) with two members of the Johns Committee.

State Sen. Charley E. Johns (center) with two members of the Johns Committee.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Florida Legislative Committee Reveals Search for Homosexuals at University of Florida: 1959. The Florida Legislative Investigations Committee was Florida’s homegrown version of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares from earlier in the decade. Known popularly as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, Senator president Charley E. Johns, who sought to create a Florida version of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. Johns had served earlier in the decade as Senate President, and then became acting Governor from 1953 to 1955 after Gov. Daniel McCarty died in office. (Florida didn’t have a Lieutenant Governor at the time; the Senate president was second in line.) Johns returned to the Senate in 1956, where he launched the committee after having gotten a mandate to investigate alleged communist links to the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But the NAACP bogged the committee’s work down in several court challenges.

With that work stymied, the Johns Committee decided to go after a much less organized target: gays and lesbians in the state’s schools, colleges and universities. In 1959, the Miami Herald reported that the Johns committee “has been quietly probing reports of homosexuality at the University of Florida.” Details were so far, but the paper predicted that “the full story will break when the committee meets for a public airing of its findings.” The date for that meeting had yet to be set, and Sen. Charley Johns was cagy about what exactly they were investigating. “We might be investigating communism,” he declared. “We might be investigating integration … or almost anything. But no public statement will be made until the full committee has met and fully aired the subject under consideration.”

The Board of Control, which supervised the state’s public universities, assured the Johns committee of the “immediate dismissal” of any gay professors or students unearthed in the witch hunt. William C. Gaither, a Board of Control member form Miami, told the Herald that the University of Florida was cooperating with the investigation.

“You can take any sizable group of a hundred to thousands and probably find some with homosexual tendencies,” said Gaither. “Be we do not think the University of Florida is harboring homosexuals. … I have heard rumors that 100 to 150 people are involved. But reports are that only five or six persons were interrogated during a hearing at Gainesville last weekend.”

From 1959 to 1964, the Johns Committee waged a massive campaign of intimidation and bullying in order to weed out gays and “undesirables” from the schools and universities. Professors and students were called out of class rooms one by one by uniformed campus police officers and interrogated for hours. Undercover officers sat in on classes and took careful notes. The committee succeeded in revoking 71 teachers licenses and obtaining an additional 39 dismissals, along with the expulsion of unknown numbers of students. One UF professor who was forced out attempted suicide the next day.

[Source: “Students, Faculty Quizzed: State Conducting UF Morals Probe.” Miami Herald (January 13, 1959): 2-A.]

GMHC’s office in 1983.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis Founded: 1982. Several dozen men gathered in writer Larry Kramer’s New York apartment to discuss the mysterious “gay cancer” that had been claiming the lives of their friends and lovers, and to figure out how to raise money for research. The group originally thought they were coming together for a one-time thing: persuade a club to hold a benefit, invite a bunch of A-listers to come and donate, give the money to a suitable research organization, and go home. But it quickly became apparent that there was much, much more work to be done. Forced by widespread apathy on the part of the news media, city officials, local health authorities, and even “confirmed bachelor” and barely closeted Mayor Ed Koch, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) quickly went from being an ad-hoc group to organize a fundraiser to a full-fledged charitable service organization to fill the void that the city refused to fill.

GMHC would go on to raise money to provide services and assistance for people with HIV/AIDS, including assistance from a large army of volunteers to meet day-to-day needs like cooking, housecleaning, dog-walking, and transportation to medical appointments, as well as help in navigating the apathetic bureaucratic maze. They also, just as critically, hounded the news medial trying to get attention to the disease. When that mostly failed, GMHC started a crisis hotline, which became one of the organization’s most important avenues for distributing AIDS information in the pre-Internet era. They also distributed material to help educate the general public on the need for safer sex. In these areas, GMHC worked hard to meet the needs that had been, at best, ignored by local and national health authorities and charities (most shockingly, including most faith-based charities). GMHC also battled the overt stigmatization and hostility which grew among well-known public figures, nationally as well as locally.

GMHC quickly established itself as a well-regarded authority for HIV/AIDS education and service. By 1984, the Centers for Disease Control called on GMHC’s help in planning public conferences on AIDS. As the epidemic continued to grow, GMHC expanded its reach by assisting heterosexual men and women, hemophiliacs, intravenous drug users, and children. This past year, GMHC has struggled with funding cuts, controversies over its new office space and the recent departure of its executive director as the organization continues its work as one of the nation’s leading non-profit, volunteer-supported AIDS service and educational organizations.

John Singer Sargent, Self Portrait, 1906.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Singer Sargent: 1856-1925. Was he or wasn’t he? Scholars have scratched their heads over that question. He was born in Florence to American parents, who were well off enough to casually travel throughout Europe. Sargent’s drawing skills developed early, and at the age of eighteen he went to Paris to study painting. His early masterpiece, El Jaleo (1882), which portrayed a bare-armed Spanish Gypsy dancer in full movement, was both sensual and exotic — and, therefore, scandalous in the closing days of the Victorian era. Other portraits were similarly controversial. His full-length portrait of New Orleans-born Parisian socialite Virginie Gautreau (1884), depicting her in a strapless gown and a plunging neckline, had much of Europe clutching its pearls.

Almost immediately, Sargent established himself as the defining painter of what would soon become known as the Edwardian era. He worked on the edge between respectability and sensuality. But he also had a commercially successful knack for finding beauty in everyone he painted while simultaneously preserving a candid honesty to his portraits. And just about everyone who was anyone sat for a portrait.

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Nicola D’Inverno, 1892.

For all of Sargent’s notoriety through his paintings, he was profoundly circumspect in his private life. He was flirtatious with women, but had no significant romantic attachments. He formed deep friendships with men — including Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Montesquiou, and perhaps most significantly, his assistant of twenty-six years and sometimes model Nicola d’Inverno — but there is no evidence that his relationships went beyond deep friendship.

And yet, the talk has always been there, and it was only amplified when, upon his death in 1925, his family destroyed his personal papers. And that talk centered on his male nudes, much of which were created for his own personal study and enjoyment, and not for public exhibition. In Donna Hassler’s preface in John Esten’s John Singer Sargent: The Male Nudes, she writes:

John Singer Sargent, Thomas E. McKeller as Apollo, 1921-25.

To Sargent, however, rendering the nude male figure was more than just an academic pursuit… He showed a strong preference for portraying the masculine form throughout his career (few Sargent drawings or paintings of the nude female figure are extant), and his work ranges from a straightforward student study of an unidentified male model wearing an posing strap to an emotionally charged, fully nude drawing of an identifiable male model, Thomas E. McKeller.

As Esten points out, “Like beauty, homoeroticism is in the eye of the beholder.” And many beholders have seen it in Sargent’s paintings. Several of his male nudes made their way into the famous mural in the Rotunda of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, some of them, including his sketch of McKeller as Apollo, refashioned into female figures.

Felipe Rose: 1954. You know him as “the Indian” for his appearance as a founding member of the Village People. The son of a Puerto Rican mother and Lakota Sioux father, Rose grew up in Brooklyn where he took up dancing at a very young age. When he was sixteen, he studied dance with the Ballet de Puerto Rico and participated in a Lincoln Center dance recital with the Ballet Company. At the urging of an aught, he began dressing in tribal regalia and exploring Native American influences in dance as an homage to his father’s heritage. He also, at about the same time, began exploring New York’s gay nightlife. Soon after French producer Jacques Morali saw him working as a go-go dance in his “Indian” get-up at a New York gay bar, he recruited Rose into a new singing group in which members wore costumes representing different “masculine” occupations. The Village People scored their first major disco hits, “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A” in 1978.

There have been numerous personnel changes in the Village People over the years, but there has only been one Indian. Rose is one of only two only Village People to have never left the group, and with Alex Briley (the G.I/Sailor), he remains one of only two original members.

While the Village People is all camp, Rose takes his Native American heritage seriously. In 2000, he recorded the single “Trails of Tears,” Which was nominated for 3 NAMMYs (Native American Music Awards). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Native American Music Association.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 11

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the First Annual Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) rodeo program, November 2-4, 1984, page 48. (Source.)

From the First Annual Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) rodeo program, Simonton, Texas,, November 2-4, 1984, page 48. (Source.)

Saddle Tramps West started out as a cowboy/leather bar in Oklahoma City’s NW 39th street corridor. In 1992, the club shortened its name to Tramps and mellowed out into a general all-around neighborhood bar which is still in business today.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oklahoma City Council Threatens Gay Bars With Closure: 1983. The Oklahoma City City Council gave its tentative support for a citizens’ petition calling for the closure of five gay bars along NW 39th Street, and unanimously approved a motion putting the bars on a six-month probationary period. If the bars didn’t improve relations with neighbors, they would face a formal hearing on public nuisance charges and risk possible closure.

Residents in the NW 39th St. corridor objected after a major dance bar, Angles, opened in September of 1982. Angles was the first major dance club to cater to the gay college age crowd, and its size and not-so-quite self-promotion quickly caught the attention of city leaders. Residents alleged that gay bar patrons “made threats to the lives of area residents” and warned that violence would result if the bars weren’t closed. But the neighbors true objections could be found in the charge that the clubs “cater to patrons whose mode of living is completely alien and objectionable to the residents of the area” and called on the city to “protect the owners and residents in the area from this type of invasion by a minority group. This blot on the area depreciates the value of all of the property.”

Some area residents at the council meeting acknowledged that the “problems” had eased somewhat after bars began hiring private security to patrol the area. But club owners complained of increasing police harassment in the area, including sending as many as eight officers onto dance floors to check I.D.s and liquor operations. One juice bar owner had been arrested 18 times over a three month period for such minor infractions such as not having soap in the rest room. Nothing much seems to have come from the city council’s threats: Angles remained in business until 2012, and NW 39th St. is still at the heart of OKC’s gay nightlife district.

[Source: Larry Bush. “‘Objectionable’ Gay Bars Face Possible Closure in Oklahoma City.” The Advocate, issue 362 (March 3, 1983): 12.]

15 YEARS AGO: Britain Lifts Its Ban on Gay Military Personnel: 2000. Once they put their minds to it, there wasn’t much dithering. It just took them a while to put their minds to it. Unlike the U.S. (in theory, anyway), Britain’s ban on gays in the military was complete and total, whether anyone was open about it or not. Anyone was subject to being followed or interrogated by the SIB (Special Investigations Branch) for any suspicion, or even no suspicion at all. In 1997, three gay men and a lesbian sued after they were discharged from the Royal Navy and RAF. Their case went all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in September 1999 that the Ministry of Defense’s policy violated the service members’ human rights.

The following December, the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the Defense Ministry would comply with the ruling. Members of the opposition Conservative Party were appalled. M.P. Gerald Howarth said, “This appalling decision will be greeted with dismay among ordinary soldiers in the armed forces, many of whom joined the services precisely because they wished to turn their back on some of the values of modern society.” Officers predicted sexual mayhem in the barracks or — horrors! — male couples dancing at a mess function. But one month after the announcement was made, the ban was lifted, and all of the fears came to naught. A review two years later across all the branches found widespread acceptance for lifting the ban, and gay and lesbian service members served with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside their American counterparts who still had to remain hidden and in the closet.

5 YEARS AGO: Prop 8 Trial Begins: 2010. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state of California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 began their opening remarks. Attorney Ted Olsen promised to argue the case on three fundamental points:

  1. Marriage is vitally important in American society.
  2. By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 works a grievous harm on the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered.
  3. Proposition 8 perpetrates this irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm for no good reason.

Olsen and co-counsel David Boies would ultimately prevail and U.S. Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker would rule that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s ruling but on much narrower grounds, namely that once a right has been granted and enjoyed by a class of people, it is unconstitutional to then strip them of that right. The case then went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided against ruling issuing a ruling on the merits, but instead held that Prop 8’s proponents, Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), didn’t have standing to appeal. This sent the case back to California where Judge Walker’s ruling became the final word.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 10

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Body Politic, May 1984, page 6.

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), May 1984, page 6.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gore Vidal’s “The City and The Pillar” Published: 1948. It turns out that the month of January, 1948 was a rather scandalous month for the American public. On January 5, Sexual Behavior In the Human Male, the first of the two Kinsey Reports, was released. Then just five days later, Gore Vidal’s novel, The City and the Pillar came out. Vidal wrote this novel, his third, at the relatively tender age of twenty-one, and it was the first mainstream novel dealing with homosexuality in its central characters. It was, in its day a kind of a Brokeback Mountain, a coming of age story in which the main protagonist awakens to his sexuality. Gore also smashed the prevailing stereotypes of the day by portraying the central characters as masculine. I guess both books coming out within the space of less than a week was too much for the New York Times. Their review the next day went like this:

Presented as the case history of a standard homosexual, this novel adds little that is new to a groaning shelf. Mr. Vidal’s approach is coldly clinical: there is no real attempt to involve the reader’s emotions, as the author sets down Jimmie’s life story — his first experience during his high school days, his life as a cabin boy, a tennis bum, his adventures in Hollywood and points East. Backdrops are gaudy, and Jimmie’s more ardent acquaintances include a picture star (the idol of a million bobby soxers), a fashionable novelist and members of the armed forces. But the over-all picture is as unsensational as it is boring…

Boring. Perhaps the worst thing that could be said about any novel, if anything was to be said at all. Most papers refused to review it, but a few saw it as a triumph. The Washington Post called it “an artistic achievement” and the Atlantic Monthly said it was “a brilliant exposé of subterranean life.” Despite it’s “subterranean” themes and The New York Times’ great displeasure, The City and the Pillar made it to the best-seller’s list. The Times so thoroughly disliked it that it refused to run ads for it and ignored Vidal’s next five books. Cut off from an important promotion vehicle, Gore resorted to writing mystery novels in the early 1950s under the pseudonym of Edgar Box.

Although the gay characters’ portrayals in The City and the Pillar were generally positive, the tone was dark and the ending tragic, with the main character being murdered by his lover. It’s been widely reported that the publishers forced Vidal to change the ending to an unhappy one, but Gore himself denied this. But twenty years later, when he published the novel again as The City and the Pillar, Revised, Gore changed the overall tone to be less dark and allowed the main character to survive the ending.

Virgin Islands Murder Prompts Call for Crackdown on “Deviates”: 1963. Things move at a much slower pace on the U.S. Virgin Islands than they do on the mainland. St. Thomas residents had just seen their telephone service switch over to direct dial, and St. Croix was preparing for their turn a few months later. the power company was installing new diesel generators to try to stem the power outages, dock workers had just concluded a strike in favor of a 17¢ per hour wage increase, and the territory’s governor and legislature were wrangling over a revision to the election law. But on January 8, the local paper in Charlotte Amalie, the territory’s capital on St. Thomas reported on the suspicious murder of Deputy Commissioner of Commerce Sheldon “Shell” Nulty, 33, formerly of Glen Falls, New York. He had died just after 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 5 at Knud Hanson Memorial Hospital, but not before whispering into the ears of an investigating officer the name of Nulty’s killer.

The name Nulty offered up was twenty-three year old Ralph Moolenaar. The Virgin Islands Daily News was unusually coy about what happened. What I’ve been able to glean was that Moolenaar appeared at Nulty’s apartment in French Town. An argument broke out and Moolenaar stabbed Nulty in the stomach with a bread Knife. Officials ascribed the argument to “jealousy,” and left it at that. It would later come out in the trial that the jealousy stemmed, according to the Daily News from Moolenaar’s discovery that another man was in Nulty’s bedroom.

Nulty’s roommate, Kenneth Maynar, was detained as a material witness. He was later charged with being an accessory after the fact, along with two other residence of the apartment building, when it was learned that Nulty had laid in the apartment bleeding for more than an hour before anyone sought help. The U.S. Attorney quickly announced that he would press for a first degree murder conviction for Moolenaar, but a few days later, he announced that due to what the paper simply said was “background factors connected with Nulty’s death,” the charge would be reduced to either second degree murder or manslaughter.

As I said, the newspaper was very coy about the details of why Nulty was killed that day. But St Thomas is small, and people talk — many of them, probably, on those new direct-dial telephones. On January 10, the Daily News reported that Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky announced a drive to rid the islands of “deviates”:

Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky

Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky

Action to Rid Here of Deviates Begins

Governor Paiewonsky today declared that his Administration has no intention of permitting the Virgin Islands to become a haven for homosexuals in which to spread their peculiar perversions.

To this end he has directed Commissioner of Public Safety, Otis L. Felix to undertake an immediate investigation into the extent of the problem in the Virgin Islands simultaneous with an all out drive against offenders.

If existing law is inadequate, says the Governor, the Attorney General will prepare legislation designed to eliminate this offensive activity in the Islands.

Noting that a large number of such persons are reported to have come to the Virgin Islands from other places, the Governor stated that the public interest required that our children be protected from the spread of homosexual practices.

An op-ed from the English language San Juan Star reprinted in the Mattachine Review connected Gov. Paiewonsky’s pledge to Nulty’s death, and was somewhat less coy about describing the incident as resulting from “homosexual jealousy.” The columnist compare this logic to trying to “drive all married men out of town because occasionally a husband murders his wife.” The next day, Felix responded to Paiewonsky’s call for an investigation:

Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix.

Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix.

Problem of Deviates Is People’s Responsibility

“There is a definite need for better laws than we now have i we hope to control the situation,” said Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix, recently, in speaking of what has developed into a public concern over homosexuality.”

“The problem like many others in a community is not one that is an isolated police department problem but rather it is truly a community’s responsibility,” Felix said in connection with what can be done about the situation. ”

Governor Paiewonsky in the past few days has been quoted as saying that homosexuals must be run off the island and when asked if the police department plans to implement the administration’s edict, Felix said, “All established police agencies have various strategies in handling certain disagreeable conditions in existence. We feel that these strategies are common to us also.”

Felix also interjected that there is a possible weakness in the license laws which govern the operation of bars and clubs on the island — a situation which should be corrected, he said. This statement was made in reference to the fact that the Police Department suspects that certain clubs have been catering to this “undesirable element” in St. Thomas.

Voicing objection to the theory that when certain places of business are allowed to operate then the authorities can better keep a check on the activities of suspect persons, Felix felt “Civilized man cannot less than be contaminated directly or indirectly unless he is definitely isolated from objectional surroundings.”

The responsibility of citizens maintaining a constant vigil against moral decay in the community was further emphasized by the commissioner when he said, “If we have a community that is determined not to have such conduct and conditions in existence, they would cease through positive community action.”

If any police or community actions which may have taken place, none of it got reported in the Daily News. As for Ralph Moolenaar, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years. Judge Walter Gordon agreed that the U.S. Attorney had been “very fair in reducing the charge to voluntary manslaughter.” Gordon also offered a few words of encouragement to Moolenaar, offering to try to find a federal facility on the mainland where Moolenaar could learn a trade. Judge Gordon added, “I don’t want you to leave here as if this is the end of the world.”

[Sources: “Dying Govt. Official Whispers Assailant’s Name: Police Say.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 8, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“U.S. Attorney to Press for First Degree Murder Charge.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 9, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Action to Rid Here of Deviates Begins.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 10, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Hearing Held in Death of Govt. Official.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 10, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Problem of Deviates Is People’s Responsibility.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 11, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Virgin Islands to Be Swept Clean of Homos.” Mattachine Review 9, no. 2 (February 1963): 33-35.

“Murder Hearing Results in Two Being Arrested.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 11, 1963): 1. Available online here.]

Episcopal Church Ordains First Open Lesbian: 1977. Before Bishop Paul Moore of New York ordained Rev. Ellen Marie Barrett as a priest in his Episcopal diocese, there is a point in the service in which the ordaining bishop asks the congregation, “If any of you know any impediment or crime because of which we should not proceed, come forward now, and make it known.” Rev. James Wattley, who was an active opponent of the church’s decision to ordain women to the priesthood, rose to denounce the ordination as a “travesty and a scandal.” He went on: “my objection is for myself alone on the grounds that she is a self-proclaimed lesbian.”

Bishop Moore appeared prepared for the answer. “Attention has been drawn to the ordination because Ms. Barrett has not made a secret of her homosexual orientation,” the Bishop announced. “However, her personal life has never been under criticism. Many persons with homosexual tendencies are presently in the ordained ministry. Ellen Barrett’s candor in this regard is not considered a barrier to ordination. She is highly qualified intellectually, morally and spiritually. … Historically, many of the finest clergy in our church have had this personality structure, but only recently has the social climate made it possible for some to be open about it.”

Rev. Barrett’s ordination sparked another round of controversy in a church still split over its 1976 decision to admit women to the priesthood. Within a month of Barrett’s ordination, nine parishes announced they were leaving the church. In an unusual move, one Florida pastor read out an “excommunication decree” from the altar of his church against Bishop Moore and Rev. Barrett.

The following October, the church’s House of Bishops sought to calm the controversy with a resolution declaring that gay people should not be ordained as priests, saying that such an ordination would “require the Church’s sanction of such a lifestyle not only as acceptable but worthy of emulation.” The House of Bishops also gave a nearly unanimous consent to another resolution to support Bishops who “by their own conscience” refuse to ordain women priests or allow them to serve in their dioceses. But in a 28-62 vote, the House refused to censure Bishop Moore, and in a 49-68 vote refused to advise California Bishop Kilmer Myers against licensing Rev. Barrett in his diocese. Thus the precedent was set, and bishops continued ordaining openly gay priests under the same “conscience” principle which permitted other bishops to bar women from the altar.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Johnnie Ray
: 1927-1990. When his career broke open in 1951, his highly emotional brand of white R&B earned him the nickname “The Prince of Wails.” His intense performances foreshadowed the raw energy of Rock And Roll which would hit the charts hard a few years later. Ray’s first hits, “Cry,” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried”, were sides A and B of his first single, with both sides dominating the charts for several months. They were followed by a string of a couple dozen top-forty hits, including “Please Mr. Sun,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,”  “A Sinner Am I” (all three in 1952), “Such a Night” (1954), “Just Walkin’ In the Rain” (1955), and “Yes Tonight Josephine”  (1957).

Ray married in 1952. His wife knew he was gay going in — he had been arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer in Detroit for sex before his career took off — but the aspiring Mrs. Ray was confident she could “straighten him out.” Her efforts came to naught, and they divorced two years later. He also had a close friendship and casual affair with entertainment reporter Dorothy Kilgallen. Despite Kilgallen’s marriage and Ray’s string of male lovers, they remained close until her death in 1964.

In 1959, Ray was arrested, again in Detroit, and again for for trying to pick up an undercover cop, this time at a bar known as The Brass Rail. Kilgallen stood by him and the jury, comprised entirely of older women, found him not guilty. One juror rushed to comfort him when he fainted upon hearing the verdict.

His popularity in the U.S. took a hit, but he continued to do well in the UK, where his show at the Palladium became legendary. But by the early sixties, his fading star was further dimmed by alcoholism, a bout of tuberculosis and cirrhosis of the liver. By 1963, he had a new manager and first real long term partner, Bill Franklin, who worked to resolve Ray’s health and financial crises, and who got Ray to sober up. In 1968, Ray was appearing on American television again. He opened for Judy Garland’s last two concerts in Denmark and Sweden, followed by several more American television appearances in the early 1970s.

But that comeback didn’t take hold. Ray started drinking again, and Franklin left him in 1976 and cut off all contact a few years later. By the time the 1980s rolled around, gen-X’ers had little idea of who he was except for a line in the 1982 hit “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. (“Poor old Johnnie Ray sounded sad upon the radio / he moved a million hearts in mono.”) Ray continued performing in small venues until illness and alcoholism overtook him in late 1989. He died of liver failure in 1990.

Here is a performance of “The Little White Cloud That Cried.” Yes, it’s corny, but imagine seeing it in 1951 when the top acts that year included Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett — five years before Elvis.

And by the way, you may notice the clunky hearing aid in the video. He had lost about half of his hearing from an untreated childhood concussion. In 1958, he underwent two surgeries to restore his hearing, but the results were a disaster. He completely lost his hearing in his left ear and sixty percent in his right.

Here’s another appearance from 1956 on the Frankie Lane Show. The first song, “Walking In the Rain,” is rather corny in its staging, but his second number, “If I Had You,” is more vintage Johnnie Ray:

Sal Mineo: 1939-1976. He was a talented young actor who some say peaked with his first major role as John “Plato” Crawford in Rebel Without a Cause, the 1955 classic staring James Dean and Natalie Wood. That role got him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. He also appeared in another James Dean vehicle, Giant, as a Mexican boy, and for a while he became typecast as a troubled teen. In 1957, he made a brief stab at pop music, and in 1959, he appeared as the famous jazz drummer Gene Krupa in The Gene Krupa Story. He received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the epic Exodus in 1960. By the late 1960s, Mineo became one of the first Hollywood actors to acknowledge his homosexuality. He died in 1976, stabbed to death during a mugging as he was walking home from a rehearsal in West Hollywood. He was only 37.

But back to Rebel Without A Cause. By the time I saw the film for the first time as a teenager in the late 1970s, I had already read a lot about the classic. Critics and observers wrote about the movie’s themes of alienation, aimless adolescence, the ambivalence of impending adulthood — you know, stuff like that And so when the movie appeared on television one night (remember, this was before Netflix, or even VHS rentals), I was unprepared for what looked to be the most obvious theme of the movie: the sexual tension between Sal Mineo and James Dean. At the time I had no idea that Mineo was gay or that Dean was bi. But seeing their chemistry together on the screen, it was so bright, so combustible, so obvious! Well good lord, why wasn’t anybody talking about that? Yeah, I know. I would later find out that others noticed it too. But remember, this was the 1970s and I was growing up in Appalachia. And man, what an eye-opener.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 9

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Marriage Appeal Petitions: Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court will meet in conference today to decide whether the grant certiorari to any of the four cases from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court will also consider a separate petition from Lambda Legal to hear its case from Louisiana which upheld that state’s marriage equality ban. Lambda Legal is asking for that case to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court even though the Fifth Circuit has not yet weighed in on the case. The Supreme Court will today decide whether it wants to hear any of these cases, reject any of them, or hold them to decide again at a later date. Any decisions could be announced either this afternoon or Monday morning.

FifthCircuitFifth Circuit to Hear Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi Marriage Cases: New Orleans, LA. The three cases on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ calendar this morning are:

  • Robicheaux vs Caldwell, the Louisiana case that upheld that state’s ban on same-sex marriage;
  • Campaign for Southern Equality v Bryant, the Mississippi case which declared that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional; and
  • DeLeon v Perry, the Texas case that found that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The court convenes at 9:00 a.m., which one hour allotted for each case (30 minutes for each side). The oral arguments will be recorded, and will likely be made available sometime later today.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From a flyer distributed in 1961.] (Source).

From a flyer distributed in 1961. (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

Drag performer David Hummell began his career in the 1950s. He remembered the Diplomat:

I later moved to Detroit and happened upon a gay bar (The Diplomat) that had just started the very first drag show in Detroit. There may have been touring shows like the Jewel Box Revue but this was the first club to house a drag show. I had just lost my job so I decided to work on an act. Being six foot two I was way too tall to pass as a real female so I concentrated on comedy routines. I had another friend, Joe Price, who also wanted to break in an act so we teamed up and called ourselves The Fono Fools. After playing a few gigs we went to The Diplomat and became part of their show. This was in the late 1950s…

The Dip, as the locals called it, was owned by Morrie Weisberg and “Fat Jack” Bookie Stewart, who was described as “a Mafia-type character who spoke through a hole in his throat.” He also performed in drag. The drag shows were so legendary that straight couples soon arrived to check out the entertainment. But whatever entertainment value a few cutting-edge straight people found there, the Dip remained firmly gay. It was popular with Detroit’s gay community when the city was still the sixth largest in the nation, and it was a beacon to gay people who traveled there from outlying areas such as Ann Arbor, Jackson, Pontiac and Flint. Today, the building is gone, and the hallowed ground is occupied by a Baptist church.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Homosexual Crackdown at the University of Michigan: 1960. The campus paper, the Michigan Daily, headlined its editorial “Homosexual Crackdown of Dubious Value,” and informed the student body that Ann Arbor police had been patrolling campus restrooms, arresting 34 men. The paper dubbed the arrests “seriously questionable with regard to methods, motives, legality and moral implications.” The paper also criticized the expenditure of public funds “to aggravate the psychological problem of the homosexual, first by enticement, then by arrest, arraignment, trial, and perhaps a prison sentence. This is neither a logical way to spend public funds nor a sensitive way to handle a public problem.” Staff writer Thomas Hayden found the police motives odd:

No major incident-such as an attack on a child-triggered it. The police themselves admit no organized ring exists. Since the state law against indecent conduct between males has been on the books for many years, the suddenly renewed enforcement for no specific reason seems curious. It leaves one to guess that an irrational force in Ann Arbor is overly interested in keeping the city “a decent place to live” and that the police, are hypersensitive with regard to the public image.

What’s revealing about the editorial, however, is that writer didn’t tackle the topic because he thought gay people should be left alone more or less like anyone else. Instead, he engaged a much order argument, saying that gay people weren’t criminals who were responsible for their actions, but were mentally ill and couldn’t help what they were doing:

The situation once more illustrates the cultural lag which puts the homosexual under the heading of “criminal” when he is most often an individual with serious psychological difficulties. …What must be questioned most basically is the state statute itself. It simply is not consistent with advances in modern psychiatry. It is based on an absurd conception of homosexuality as the immoral behavior of stable rational individuals. It makes little attempt to understand such individuals as anything other than criminals, and most frightening of all, it sentences them to state prisons where their environment is hardly conducive for cure.

This line of reasoning passed for an “enlightened” viewpoint in 1960, even among many gay people. It would still take a few more years before gay rights activists would directly challenge the homosexuality-as-illness explanation, and even then it was controversial (see Mar 4). Meanwhile, Michigan’s crackdown would have tragic results for those arrested. At least nine pleaded guilty after a judge threatened them with six months in prison if they insisted on a jury trial (see Mar 12), and one man who had been found guilty a week earlier committed suicide two days before he was due in court for sentencing (see Mar 13).

[Source: Hal Call. “Calling Shots.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 3 (March 1960): 18-19.]

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, January 8

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2015

EMPHASIS MINE:

The cover of Charlie Hebdo, November 3, 2011.

The cover of Charlie Hebdo, November 3, 2011.

charlie-hebdo-022The Prophet Muhammad was the “guest editor” of the November 3, 2011 issue of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine.  In this cartoon, Muhammad warns: “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing!” There were no sacred cows in the Charlie Hebdo offices, as you can see at right with its depiction of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or this one mocking Judaism. Or this one mocking François Hollande. or Nicolas Sarkozy. Or ultra-right nationalist Marine Le Pen. Or Miss France. Or McDonalds. Or Ebola. Or Christmas. Or the Pope. Or the Pope. Or the Pope. Or the Cardinals. Or the Pope. But only a one of those cartoons was used as justification for the murder of twelve people in Paris. Well, okay — perhaps more than one.

Charlie Hebdo is outrageous. Outrageously outrageous. Its cartoons have long provoked those whom it skewered, and in its refusal to respect taboos, Charlie Hebdo has struck a blow to those who would use taboos for censorious aims. Mark Ruben tells us what’s at stake:

Satire and ridicule are like carnival caricatures. They may exaggerate, but they strike a chord because their basis in fact resonates with a wide audience. Such is the case also with satire. Islamists cannot handle free thinking at the best of times, but ridicule is their kryptonite, for it shows that the would-be caliphs have no clothes.

Free speech can be a powerful tool, and so Western liberals should rally around Charlie Hebdo. To suggest that the satirical outlet brought violence upon itself is to suggest women wearing bikinis invite rape. Do not blame the victims, but rather the perpetrators. Recognize that free speech is under assault, and that it is a value worth protecting. Let us hope that no government or publisher responds to today’s violence with self-censorship, as some commentators and journalists have counseled under similar circumstances. If they do, the Islamists have won and all man’s progress since the Enlightenment is at peril.

Terror is an open admission of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Where persuasion and the moral force of argument is lost, terror seeks to impose those losing ideas through brute force. But while we’re on the topic, we should again return to the warning against condemning all Muslims for the actions of a few Islamists. After all, another serious incident occurred just yesterday when an IED was set off at the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP. No one was hurt, but police are looking for a balding white guy, about 40 years old, driving a “2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, August 1974, page 72.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, August 1974, page 72.

“Man haters” in Sydney. The Arrow from January 8, 1932. (Click to enlarge.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Man Haters” Hold Orgies In Sydney: 1932. The Arrow, a scandal/sporting broadsheet published in Sydney, New South Wales, regaled readers with an alledgedly eyewitness account of the annual crowning of the queen of a “kamp kult” (see Dec 23.) The scandalous hook, obviously, was the gender-bending men in glorious drag enacting an elaborate coronation, complete with actors playing the role of bishop and attendants played before an audience chattering “in the mincing tones that inverts adopt in familiar conversation.”

After the Christmas holidays had passed, The Arrow was at it again, and this time it was the lesbians’ turn. First, a introductory lesson for the Arrow’s readers was in order:

Lesbianism is the term applied to intercourse between two women,one being aggressive, and acting therole of a “husband,” tho other being the “wife.” The name is derived from the island of Lesbos, where a school of homosexuality among women was founded by Sappho, and which has flourished in comparative secrecy, since centuries B.C. Mother Grundy has been so ready to frown upon friendships of young; boys, that she has blinded herself to the stark instances of perverted love of girls, for older, and younger members of the fair sex.

And here, an introductory lesson for contemporary readers is in order. “Mother Grundy” referred to an old woman, “as old as the hills,” as they said, who clung to old-fashioned forms of propriety and morality and was overly concerned with what other “respectable folk” might think. The Arrow then went on to describe a “ghastly” attack made at a New Year party when a young woman slahed her father with a can opener when he tried to drag her away “from the clutches of her female ‘husband’, a good looking girl sime years her senior with whome she was desperately in love.” The Arrow continued:

Fiona’s partner in life is Dolly, a fluffy, baby faced blonde, with winsome ways, a horror of lighting the bath heater, a dread of being left alone in case of burglars, and she has other feminine attributes which make her partner Mona feel all the more manly. Dolly stays at home to do the house work, and mend Mona’s clothes, and prepare the meals. In every respect she is a loving and dutiful wife. Her parents, simple folk, who live near Hornsby, rejoiced that their nineteen-year-old daughter had gone to stay with an old school chum till she found work. That was till her father herad rumors and got a tin opener slashing for his efforts to rescure her.

The Arrow claimed that early during the New Year’s party Dolly whispered to one of the guests (“six girls, all of whom arrived in taxis and were dressed as men”) that she was unhappy, fearful that Mona was seeing someone else and would “give me up if I go on moping.” Meanwhile the party continued, in a story line that probably tittilated just about every straight man’s fantasy:

The gramophone played gaily, but only records by male impersonators were heard. Ella Shields, and others famed for their skill in adopting male attire, and voice, kept everyone in gales of husky laughter with their bright songs. The talk turned to books, books in which Lesbianism was the theme. Edna was besieged with inquiries when she announced that she had found in a second hand shop “The Well of Loneliness,” Radclyffe Hall’s banned but beautifully written novel… During supper Mona flirted outrageously with Mavis, and Mavis’s “husband” Edna was too drunk to notice. Soon Mona and Mavis disappeared into the bedroom, and the door was shut lie hind them. Dolly, the little blonde, stared after them, tears filling her eyes. Repeated questions such as “Is there any more coffee, pey?” from Edna, and ‘Where DID Mona got that pretty blue shirt?” from Jessie, evoked no reply.

The hideous party continued. Soon the girls were fondling each other, and kissing desperate, sterile kisses in wild abandon. The noise grew louder as they sang, and jazzed, and the suggestion of “Let’s play strip poker,” was hailed with cries of “Yes, let’s! Where are the cards! Oh, Mona will find them!” Someone hammered on the bedroom door, until Mona came out, her tie awry, her sleek Eton crop ruffled, and her temper more so.

Mona joined the card game, and that’s when Dolly’s father showed up to spoil the fun. He demanded that Dolly return home. Dolly refused, grabed a can opener, sliced her father’s arm. Meanwhile the others packed Dolly’s suitcase and Mona demanded that Dolly leave. “I can’t have your father snooping about hero finding fault,” she supposedly said. “For God’s sake, get out, and don’t como into my ofllcc snivelling and asking for me, like you did last time. I won’t, take you back.”

Dolly went home with her father, the party disbanded, and the entire improbably story came to an equally unlikely end, more or less. But not without a bit more moralizing from The Arrow:

Strange how this Lesbian love is flourishing in Sydney. Blame the war, blame the way women are encouraged to flaunt -their enjoyment of masculine occupations and hobbies, blame modern freedom in allowing masculine women to entice feminine women away from the places where they may meet suitable husbands, to spend barren years in the society of a sexually-perverted girl-friend. In Berlin Lesbians have their own cafes and newspapers. How horrible if such a state of affairs should come about in Sydney!

Medical men realise that a certain proportion of truly homo-sexual women must be expected in every big city.

But parents should be wide-awake to the dangorous fascination that a vigorous, domineering woman may exercise over a clean-minded, sympathetic, and simple girl. Beware of these friendships between women which so often lead to perversion and mental derangements.

[Source: Aldson Mitchell “And Now Women Are Holding Orgies: Man Haters Hold Wirld Party in William Street Flat. Girls Dressed as Men — Tin Opener Attack.” The Arrow (Sydney, NSW, January 8, 1932): 5. Available online here.]

Two Men Arrested for “Abominable Act and Detestable Crime Against Nature”: 1962. Read that year again. It was in 1962, and not any number of centuries earlier, when Max Perkins and Robert McCorkle were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the charge that they “did unlawfully, willfully, maliciously and feloniously commit the abominable and detestable crime against nature with each other.” The North Carolina statute they were charged under was a 429-year-old law carried over from England which provided imprisonment of between five to sixty years, after having been modified in 1869 to remove the death penalty. McCorkle pleaded no contest and received the minimum sentence of 5 to 7 years. He served a portion of that sentence (I don’t know how long) and was released. Perkins, who was at the very least a cross dresser but more likely may have been transgender, pleaded innocent. The jury however found Perkins guilty, and the same judge who sentenced McCorkle earlier sentenced Perkins to 20 to 30 years in prison.

Perkins went to Federal Court, and on October 5, 1964, Federal Judge J. Braxton Craven ruled that Perkins was wrongly convicted. Craven found that if the statute outlawing the “detestable crime” was a new one, it would be unconstitutionally vague. But since it wasn’t, he held that the weight of historical interpretation and common law pointed to a much more specific crime. “It has been interpreted many times by the North Carolina Supreme Court,” Craven wrote. “Although the court has said it means much more than it meant at common law or at enactment during the reign of Henry VIII, its decisions have made equally clear that crime against nature does not embrace walking on the grass.” Based on those decisions, Craven found that the specific crime being outlawed was “buggery”; Perkins’s “detestable crime” was fellatio. He also found that Perkins’s excessive punishment, when compared to McCorkle’s, was obviously imposed because “his not guilty plea inconvenienced the court and that he was punished for it.” Further, he found that Perkins’s court-appointed counsel refused to mount a defense or call any of Perkins’s witnesses. Judge Craven ordered Perkins released before concluding his opinion:

Is it not time to redraft a criminal statute first enacted in 1533? And if so, cannot the criminal law draftsmen be helped by those best informed on the subject — medical doctors — in attempting to classify offenders? Is there any public purpose served by a possible sixty year maximum or even five year minimum imprisonment of the occasional or one-time homosexual without treatment, and if so, what is it? Are homosexuals twice as dangerous to society as second-degree murderers — as indicated by the maximum punishment for each offense? Is there a good reason why a person convicted of a single homosexual act with another adult may be imprisoned six times as long as an abortionist, thirty times as long as one who takes indecent liberties with children, thirty times as long as the drunk driver — even though serious personal injury and property damage results — twice as long as an armed bank robber, three times as long as a train robber, ten times as along as one who feloniously breaks and enters a store, and 730 times as long as the public drunk?

These questions, and others like them, need to be answered.

Judge Craven would go on to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1966 until his death in 1977. Perkins received a new trial and was found not guilty.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Graham Chapman: 1941-1989. When Graham was growing up, his favorite radio program was the surreal British sketch comedy program The Goon Show, which made Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers household names. Chapman acknowledged that it was a major influence on him: “From about the age of seven or eight I used to be an avid listener…. In fact, at that stage I wanted to be a Goon.” He never got that chance, but he did go on to become a part of the Goon Show’s obvious successor: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Chapman’s characters tended to epitomize the famous British Upper Lip, although those characters were often undone when their masks slipped to reveal a loony madness underneath. He also co-wrote the “Dead Parrot” sketch about a man who tries to return a dead Norwegian Blue Parrot to the pet shop, a sketch which is one of the Monty Python classics. Chapman played King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he played the title character in Life of Brian.

Chapman came out as gay just before Monty Python’s Flying Circus went on the air in 1969, and he was committed to his life-long partner, David Sherlock, since 1966. In 1972, he helped to co-found the publication Gay News in an effort to change the way gay people were perceived by the public. Chapman was a raging alcoholic through much of his career, but he went sober in 1977 following a drunken interview on British television. He died on October 4, 1989 of throat cancer, on the day before a planned twentieth anniversary celebration of the first Flying Circus broadcast. Fellow Python Terry Jones called it “the worst case of party-pooping in all history.” John Cleese delivered the eulogy: “Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch’, is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.”

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 7

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

I can’t find any information about Indianapolis’ Uptown Connection, but what was once the Uptown Connection is now Downtown Olly’s, a gay sports bar.

The “contrivance.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Sure-Fire Cure for Masturbation: 1899. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, non-procreative sexual activity was thought to be the root of all sorts of diseases, both mental and physical. As early as 1725, it was thought that semen was a product of the blood, and that wasting it for purely recreational purposes (or, in the case of nocturnal emissions, no purpose at all), were believed to be debilitating, particularly for young men and women (see Sep 16). That debilitation was confirmed, so they thought, by the fact that people were inordinately exhausted after so much excitation and expenditure. And it was that momentary “weakening” following the deed which was believed to be the very opportunity which diseases seized upon to enter the body and take root. The reasoning went this way: since weak people got sick, and sex made people weak, it’s only logical that sex, especially lots of sex, makes people sick.

Those beliefs were beginning to break down as the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, but not all medical practitioners were coming to their senses. On January 7, 1899, the Maryland Medical Journal reprinted part of a lecture by Dr. Jackson Piper in which he reflected on “gleanings in the course of a long practice.” The topics he touched on included the case of malarial fever, a strangulated hernia, chronic pneumonia, and his invention for preventing masturbation:

A Pad for the Treatment of Seminal Weakness.– For many years I have been using a contrivance for the cure of seminal emissions caused by masturbation. The success obtained has been so marked that I desire to call the attention of this association to it. It consists of a padded leather belt, which is fastened around the waist and held in position by a buckle in front. The padded side is, of course, next to the body, and the padding extends from either side of the spine to a short distance beyond the ossa ilii (the hips). From this waistband at the spine falls a perpendicular strap, which strap is made to move freely on the band by a loop made by the strap being doubled on itself. This strap, which I will call the perineal strap, is divided into two parts after it passes the perineum, which parts meet the waistband on either side of the abdomen, and each end is fastened to it by a buckle. These buckles are attached to loops which move easily over the waistband in front. The center or perineal strap is supplied with a pad to which is attached a loop on its back, so as to move easily over the perineal strap. The waistband should be’ two inches wide. The perineal band, one and one-half inches wide and its divisions after it leaves the perineum, would, of course, be
three-quarters of an inch each in width. The pad should be two inches wide by one and one-half inches long. Its upper or perineal surface must be padded firm and hard and made slightly concave. The length of the waistband and the perineal strap must be determined by actual measurement for the patient for whom it is made.

When in position the pad must fit over the perineum, just at the commencement of the scrotum and between this and the anus. The appliance must be worn continuously and well tightened to keep up a firm pressure by the pad on the perineum. Wherever the appliance hurts the patient the pressure must be eased by wads of raw cotton.

The object of this pressure is to cut off the blood supply to the penis, which supply is often of itself the incentive to self-indulgence, or, if the patient is asleep. this pressure prevents an involuntary emission. The pad also acts, by pressure, as a tonic on the already weakened vesiculae seminalis and the vas deferens, which together constitute the ejaculatory duct. This apparatus, simple in construction, simple in application and simple in action, does away with other treatment, save, possibly, the use of tonics and nervines, for a constitution already impaired. It absolutely destroys the consummation of erotic desires and tones up the parts and also imparts hope and will power to the patient. I have used it in many cases with perfect success. The apparatus should be worn for months — in fact, until the patient is cured and feels able to trust himself. I claim no originality here, having seen the invention in an ancient number of Braithwait’s “Retrospect.”

[Source: Jackson Piper. “Gleanings in the course of a long medical practice.” Maryland Medical Journal 41, no. 1 (January 7, 1899): 6-9. Available online via Google Books here.]

Four Men Plead Guilty to Homosexual Offenses: 1949. According to the Associated Press:

Columbia, Mo., Jan 7. (AP). Four men pleaded guilty yesterday to statutory charges and were placed on probation four years. They were Warren W. Heathman, itinerant agriculture instruction for the Veterans Administration at Rolla; Harry J. Sohn Jr., of Hannibal, former University of Missouri student; Willie D. Coots of Columbia, former clerk in a novelty shop, and Joe Byers, local grocer.

E.K. Johnston, former journalism professor at the university pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a similar charge and was placed on four-year probation. Yesterday’s action closed the cases resulting from an investigation last spring of homosexual activities at the university and elsewhere.

The prior spring, newspapers reported on a “homosexual ring” with “mad homosexual parties” taking place near the University of Missouri campus (see May 27). Professor E.K. Johnston’s 24-year teaching career was ruined when he and several others were arrested. Coots may have been Johnston’s partner at the time of the arrests, as reports at the time indicate that they had shared an apartment in Rolla “for the last 15 or 16 years.” Reports indicate that “at least of score” of other students and residents were “implicated in the ring,” but as far as I’ve been able to determine, no others were arrested.

114 Arrested in Miami Gay Club Raid: 1951. Numerous BTB Agendas have detailed a long-running anti-gay witch hunt that took place in Miami in 1954 through 1955, but in fact there is considerable evidence that police raids were a long-established practice throughout much of the decade. In 1951, for example, the Miami News reported on a massive police raid of the Latin American Center club at 228 NE 3rd street early Sunday morning:

An assortment of blonde wigs and women’s hats were discarded when the deputies moved in. There were indications that it was a gathering place for sex perverts.

None of those arrested will go to trial and they did not post bond. Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Jackson, who ordered the raid, said that the “nuisance value alone of a raid of this kind gives places of bad repute in Miami fair warning that we are after them from now on.”

He termed the club the “most notorious in Miami.” It was the largest single raid in Miami’s history. The patrons and operator Edward Kawas, 36, of 836 Wallace St., Coconut Grove, were taken over to county jail in the paddy wagon, which shuttled back and forth to accommodate the crowd.

The paper went on to report that the “young and well-dressed” patrons were “photographed, fingerprinted and interrogated.” It took deputies twelve hours to process everyone. The State Beverage District Supervisor said that an investigation would be launched to deprive the club of its liquor license. Jose Marela, identified as the “dean of the Miami consular corps,” reportedly complained about the club’s name because, as he said, there were no Latin American members.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Jann Wenner: 1946. He founded Rolling Stone in 1967 when he was just 21, after borrowing $7,500 from family members. In 1977 he founded Outside magazine, and in 1985 he bought a share of US. In 1995, he separated from his wife, Jane Wenner, to live with Matt Nye, a former model and fashion designer. Jann and Jane finally divorced in 2011. Jane is still vice president of Wenner Media. In addition to the three sons he had with Jane, Jann and Matt also have three children.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 6

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Palm Beach Post, February 10, 1950, page 23.

From The Palm Beach Post, February 10, 1950, page 23.

Bobbie Johnson, one of the performers at West Palm Beach's Melody Club.

Bobbie Johnson, one of the performers at West Palm Beach’s Melody Club.

It’s hard to believe, but drag shows were very popular at the more posh night clubs from West Palm Beach to Miami Beach. As the tourism trade resumed after World War II, drag shows became a popular form of entertainment, and local papers ran ads for the shows alongside other theater ads. And the ads weren’t coy — this one from West Palm Beach promised to be “the gayest show in town.” The papers even ran reviews, often laudatory. Jackie Jackson, a popular drag performer, recalled that he even got an official police escort to his performance at the 1948 policeman’s ball.

Jackie Jackson.

Jackie Jackson (Source).

That was sixty-five years ago. And while the well-heeled, the tourists, local politicians and visiting celebrities were raunching things up in the fancier night clubs, Miami police were rounding up drag queens in gay bars in the less glamorous parts of town (see Jan 7). Then, sixty-two years ago, Miami Beach banned all drag shows from within its city limits.

Of course, the crackdown was never about drag or drag performers. Sixty years ago, a young male airline steward was murdered by two young toughs (see Aug 3), and Miami’s mayor took the opportunity to launch a devastating anti-gay witch hunt that saw hundreds of people arrested and careers destroyed — and more violence against gay people (see below). Fifty-four years ago, the anti-gay witch hunt went statewide, with the infamous Johns committee looking for homosexuals in every schoolhouse (see Mar 22, May 25, Jun 3). Fifty-two years ago, the witch hunt shifted to college campuses (see Apr 24). Fifty-one years ago, that same committee published its infamous Purple Pamphlet, which called for mandatory psychiatric treatment of gay people — and which was so explicit that other Florida officials threatened to file obscenity charges if the state continued to distribute the report (see Mar 17). Thirty eight years ago, Anita Bryant launched a devastatingly vicious campaign with national impact that succeeded in convincing Miami-Dade voters to rescind a gay rights ordinance (see Jun 7), and a day later, Gov. Ruben Askew (D) signed an adoption ban into law (see Jun 8). Six years ago, 62% of Florida voters agreed to enshrine discrimination in their state constitution by adding what they envisioned as a permanent ban on same-sex marriage. And even just four years ago, a Florida Democratic operative gay-baited a political opponent as “Unmarried, unsure, unelectable … with a suspect commitment to family values.”

But also four years ago, Florida’s ban on adoption by gay parents was declared unconstitutional in state court, and just yesterday, same-sex couples began marrying in Miami-Dade. And today, a federal judge’s stay of his ruling that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional has expired, meaning that gay couples can marry state-wide. County clerks offices in all 67 counties are handing out marriage license, although at least fourteen of those counties have ended the practice of officiating all marriages just so they don’t have to marry the gay ones. Which just goes to show, it’s not the gays that are a threat to marriage, it’s straight people — or more specifically, straight clerks.

Detective Charles Sapp handcuffs Thomas F. McDonald

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Suspect Arrested In Miami “Hairdresser Murder” Case: 1955. Only a day had passed since Miami Beach police were called to an apartment on 82nd Street where William Bishop’s roommates discovered his dead body on the floor of an enclosed porch (see Jan 5). When police arrived, they examined his nude body with his hands tied behind his back, his ankles tied together, and a dish towel and handkerchief fashioned into a gag around his mouth. The Dade County sheriff’s legal-medical advisor told reporters that Bishop probably died from strangulation, but he wouldn’t be able to make a final determination until an autopsy was performed. A separate Associated Press report the next day would reveal that the autopsy showed that “Bishop died of strangulation and that he had been sexually abused.”

If this were Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday briefing reporters on the case, those would have been, in his words, “just the facts, ma’am.” But this murder had taken place against the backdrop of a long-running newspaper-driven anti-gay witchhunt (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16), and The Miami News was once again eager to fan the flames of anti-gay prejudice. They played this latest incident they way they played all of the other developments: to maximum effect. In yesterday’s report, Bishop was identified as a hairdresser — not just once but four times, including twice in the headlines, just in case anyone missed it. The reporter, Frank Fox, dutifully pointed out that the roommates were also a hairdresser and a florist, and they were “hysterical” — Fox used that word twice — when they called the police. Police allowed Fox a close-up look at the body so he could report, in detail, Bishop’s “silk dressing gown sash” which was used to tie Bishop’s hands together. Fox apparently was also given the run of the apartment. He described the full layout of the U-shaped apartment and “the reading matter about homosexuals” scattered about. Fox did leave it to the homicide detective to say openly what Fox and his Miami News readers already concluded: “It looks to me like a sadistic murder.”

William Bishop’s death looked like it was shaping up to being just one more crime that police and the public would refuse to take seriously. Which makes it all the more surprising when the following day, police announced the arrest of “a 21-year-old Korean War veteran” by the name of Thomas Francis McDonald. Miami News reporter Sanford Schnier described him as a veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, a private first class who served “11 months in Korea with the 71st Regiment, 7th Infantry (Hourglass) Division as a switchboard operator (with) several battle stars who, in effect, had little choice but to attack William Bishop. The story went like this:

McDonald, who has a wife and 6-month-old child, related this story: He left home several days ago feeling despondent over an argument with his wife and because of the recent deaths of his mother and father. He checked into the Tuscany Hotel in Hollywood, and came to Miami Beach Tuesday night. In a 74th Street bar he met Bishop. They played shuffleboard and had a few drinks, he said. Bishop invited him to his apartment and he accepted.

When they go there, McDonald stated, Bishop “tried to make some improper advances towards me. I hit him with my first three or four times, and he struck back and got me on the jaw twice. He fell when I hit him again.”

The, he said, he tied him up “Because I figured he might follow me,” and left the scene. He went back to Hollywood, checked out at 7:15 a.m. yesterday and came back to Miami, where he planned to check in.”

Asked by detectives if he knew Bishop was a homosexual, McDonald answered, “I never had any use for them and I still don’t.”

McDonald, 210 pounds and 5 feet, 11 inches tall, said he took Bishop’s gold watch, $5 in case, two shirts and a tan sport jacket, which he was wearing when arrested. McDonald admitted in his statement to Miami Beach police that ho took a ring from Bishop and hocked it later in the day at a Miami pawnshop for $35.

“I swear he was breathing when I left; you got to believe me,” he implored detectives.

That’s how the story ended on January 6: a burly Korean war vet and married father who attacked a silk dressing-gowned hairdresser. It would appear that, in The Miami News’ opinion, the case was more or less closed — except for the small matter of a dead body. The News dropped the story until May, when a judge ruled that McDonald was competent to stand trial and jury selection began. The story then fell back off of the paper’s pages, so I don’t have much information about what happened during the trial But on May 24, the paper’s late edition carried a very brief one-paragraph description of McDonald’s testimony:

Accused Testified in Murder Trial.
Thomas F. McDonald, accused of murdering William B. Bishop, took the stand in his own defense today and reiterated that Bishop was still alive when he left Bishop’s apartment at 235 82nd St., Miami Beach, the night of Jan 5. McDonald, a 21-year-old Korean veteran, told the court that he beat, bound and gagged the 29-year-old hairdresser because he was “acting like a mad dog.”

Later that day, the jury found McDonald guilty of murder, “and recommended mercy, thus saving him from death in the electric chair.” Fortunately, Florida law placed a limit to that mercy: a life sentence was the mandatory minimum. McDonald was formally sentenced to life on May 27.

Alan Chambers speaking at the Gay Christian Network conference in Orlando, Florida. L-R: GCN Executive Director Justin Lee, Alan Chambers, former ex-gay leaders John Smid, Wendy Gritter and Jeremy Marks.

Ex-Gay Leader: “99.9% Have Not Experienced A Change In Their Orientation”: 2012. Exodus International President Alan Chambesr appeared on a surprise panel at the Gay Christian Network’s annual conference in Orlando discussing the ethics and methods of the ex-gay movement. Early in the program, Chambers was asked about Exodus’ longstanding messaging which promised that participants in Exodus programs could experience a change in their sexual orientation. Chambers responded:

I think it’s a fair criticism from the past. … feel like I’ve been very upfront and clear, both in the media, at conferences, anytime I have the opportunity to write about it, about the fact that I believe the slogan “Change is Possible,” for those of us who are Christians we do understand that when you come into a relationship with Christ all sorts of things are possible.

The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think there is a gender issue there, there are some women who have challenged me and said that my orientation or my attractions have changed completely. Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know do still experience some level of same-sex attraction.

And so that’s something, I think, I can’t be any clearer about that. …I hope that we’re coming to a place where we are a much more honest group of people, that when we talk about “Change is Possible,” we are very, very clear about what change means in our lives.

That acknowledgement was a startling development, not so much for what Chambers said — he had beein saying something along those lines since at least 2007 — but for the depth with which he was willing to discuss this point. And those statements drawing away from the “change is possible” matra was followed by further actions. Later that month, Exodus dropped all Reparative Therapy books from its bookstore, canceled all but one of its Love One Out scheduled for that year, and began to speak out against other anti-gay activists. Those moves were met with increasing dissention among some of the more hard-core Exodus member ministries, many of which formed the rival Restored Hope Network. Many many defections followed. It all came to a head on June 19, 2013, when Exodus issued a lengthy apology “to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International.” Later that night during the opening session of what would become Exodus International’s final annual conference in Irvine, California, Chambers announced that Exodus would be closing its doors.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, January 5

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
10003701+2US+NEWS+GAYMARRIAGE-FLORIDA+6+FLMarriage Equality Arrives in Miami. This is going to be a pretty big week for Anita Bryant’s old stomping grounds. Same-sex marriage could start as early as today in Miami-Dade, where a stay in one of the state court cases challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage may be lifted. But even if that doesn’t happen, marriage licenses should be issued for same-sex couples statewide tomorrow when a Federal stay expires. All 67 counties in Florida will be compelled to issue licenses to any and all eligible same-sex couples who request one, although several of those counties have announced that they will no longer officiate any marriages, gay or straight. While Florida’s twice-divorced Attorney General Pam Bondi is appealing the federal case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, she has finally thrown up her hands in her efforts to get the current stay extended after failing to convince the 11th or the Supreme Court of the impending dangers to any of her marriages.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” Published: 1948. The dry, scientific, statistics-laden Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was published by W.B. Saunders, a respected publisher of medical textbooks and journals who had no idea what they were getting into when they agreed to publish this book. Their experience was with a limited customer base where a run of 5,000 copies was considered a huge success. W.B. Saunders ended up publishing a quarter of a million copies during that first year instead.

The only person who wasn’t surprised by the runaway success of what became known simply as “The Kinsey Report” was Alfred Kinsey himself. He and his colleagues had spent the previous nine years interviewing nearly 12,000 people across the country, asking them questions covering more than five hundred details of their intimate, sexual lives. When the book was finally published, America was emerging from the frugality that marked the Great Depression and World War II, full of economic and cultural vitality and itching to settle down in their Levittown houses and start making thousands of babies. The Kinsey Reports quickly entered popular culture along with Tiki-chic, bachelor pads, and a huge post-war baby boom. Sex was breaking out all over, and “Kinsey” became a popular code-word for anything risqué. It also introduced millions of Americans to the notion that gay people — and a lot of other people as well — were have gay sex. Now more than sixty years later, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (and its companion volume, 1953’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female) are still the books that everyone loves — especially those who have never read them. They are also the books that social conservatives love to hate, blaming them for sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960′s. For more information about the book’s impact, you can check out our report, “According To The Kinsey Reports,” which was written on the occasion of the book’s sixtieth anniversary.

60 YEARS AGO: “Male Hairdresser” Found Murdered in Miami: 1955. Miami’s Miami’s four month-ling newspaper-driven anti-gay witch hunt (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16) seemed as though it might have been calming down as the new year began. But hopes in the beleaguered gay community that things might be getting back to normal were shattered when Miami Beach police were called to an apartment when a resident discovered that his roommate, 29-year-old William B. Bishop, had been murdered. The Miami News’ front page report was very nearly as hysterical as the phone call that Bishop’s roommate reportedly made to police when he discovered the body. According to The Miami News:

Bishop’s nude body was trussed with handkerchiefs, a silk dressing gown sash and an electric wire cord, and he had been wounded. The exact cause of his death was unknown hours after one of the nearly hysterical roommates notified police at 8:10 a.m. Beach detectives and sheriff’s office homicide investigators found the body on the terrazzo floor of a jalousied porch in the apartment at 235 82nd St. Bishop shared the living quarters with two friends.

“Edward Hedgepeth, left, and William H. Tower, roommates of slain William B. Bishop, are escorted to a telephone by Officer C.E. Hobson of Miami Beach. The two said they slept undisturbed while Bishop was dying on apartment porch. — Miami Daily News photo by Spencer.

The Miami News didn’t identify Bishop as gay, but it may as well have. Not only was he identified as a “male beautician” in the headline, but his two room mates were also identified by name and professions: another hairdresser and a florist. The florist, William H. Tower, 22, told detectives that he went to bed at 6:30 p.m. the night before while the other roommate, Edward B. Hedgepeth, 27, went to bed at about 11 p.m. Neither of them heard anything unusual overnight. When Tower got up the next morning, he found Bishop on the porch.

Detectives apparently regarded the crime scene as quite a spectacle, and they invited reporters onto the porch to get a closer look at the body. The Miami News happily supplied the details:

Bishop’s hands were tied behind him with a man’s handkerchief and the dressing gown sash, which were twisted together. The wrists and ankles were bound together with the electric extension cord, and a dish towel and another handkerchief were knotted around the face as a gag. … John Berdeaux, sheriff’s homicide investigator, said: “It looks to me like a sadistic murder.”

The police also appeared to have allowed reporters to go through the apartment as well:

A desk in the apartment was littered with reading matter about homosexuals, including the book, “Strange Loves,” by Dr. LaForest Potter. The book was described on the jacket as a study in sexual abnormality.”

Reporters also drew parallels to another unrelated murder which had occurred the summer before of a “Coral Gables schoolboy (who) was found dead in a tree near his home… The youth had been bound with rope to a pole held between forks in a tree.” After noting that that crime was still unsolved (in fact, investigators weren’t even sure whether that death was a murder or suicide), the reporters apparently ran out of anti-gay stereotypes to exploit, and so the article came to an end.

The article ended, but south Florida’s gay community feared that their nightmare was about to repeat itself all over again. After all, it was the murder of a gay airline steward the previous summer (see Aug 3) that had served as the pretext for a wave of police harassment and arrests that would last more or less through December.

The Brunswick Four: Adrienne Potts, Pat Murhpy, Sue Wells, Heather Elizabeth.

The Brunswick Four: Adrienne Potts, Pat Murhpy, Sue Wells, Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth.

The Brunswick Four Arrested in Toronto: 1974. It was amateur night at the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto, things were already getting off to a bad start for four friends. Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth were sitting at a table when a man joined them, uninvited. At first things were friendly, but it quickly turned sour when the man became belligerent and insulting. When the four rebuffed his sexual advances, he got angry, poured beer over Potts’s head, and left the table. The women complained to management, who promised that the man would be made to leave.

With everyone in the tavern witnesses to the incident, Adrienne and Pat decided to make the best of things and take the stage to sing their rendition of “I Enjoy Being a Dyke,” a take-off from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Flower Drum Song tune “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” Their lyrics went:

When I see a man who’s sexist
And who does something I don’t like
I just tell hem that he can fuck off
I enjoy being a Dyke
I’ve always been an uppity woman
I refuse to run — I stand and strike
Cuz I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m angry
And I enjoy being a Dyke.

Despite the crowd’s enthusiastic response, the manager became incensed and cut the microphone mid-song. He also demanded that all four women leave. With the support of other patrons, the women challenged the manager, especially when they noticed that the man who had started whole mess was still there. The women refused to leave until the tavern’s manager explained himself. He refused, and called the police.

Eight officers quickly arrived, dragged the women out of the bar, and took them to the police station. The four were harassed, but not charged. Instead, they were forcibly thrown out of the Division 14 station. They returned to the tavern in search of witnesses, where they were met by policemen and bouncers.

Three of the four were thrown into an unmarked car and taken back to the station. (Sue Wells was not taken in because there was no room in the car, even though she demanded to be taken with the others.) Back at the station, the three endured five hours of harassment.  Officers’ remarks were of the crudest sort: “Did you ever put your finger in a Dyke?” one was heard asking another. The three were finally charged with creating a disturbance, and Elizabeth was given an additional charge of obstructing the police.

Pat Murphy was also a member of Toronto Gay Action, which made sure there was plenty of publicity surrounding the arrest. The group became known as the Brunswick Four, and Judy Lamarsh, former Secretary of State for Canada, defended the women free of charge. Later that summer, Murphy and Elizabeth were acquitted (the obstruction charge against Elizabeth was dropped), and Potts was given three months probation after the judge ruled that she was responsible for the entire disturbance.

After the trial, Potts, Murphy and Beyer compelled the Crown to charge the arresting officers with assault after collecting extensive evidence in the form of doctors’ notes and photographs of their bruising. But the police officers had exchanged hats and badge numbers before entering the tavern, which prevented the women from making positive identifications. Murphy, Potts and Beyer refused to participate in the trial, calling it a scam and a miscarriage of justice. The officers were acquitted and Murphy was sentenced to thirty days in jail for contempt of court for refusing to rise for a recess. Despite the unsatisfactory outcomes, the incident is regarded by many as Canada’s Stonewall for inspiring a more outspoken and confrontational gay rights movement in Canada.

[Sources: “Uppity Women.” The Body Politic (March 1974): 1.

“Partial Win for Brunswick 4.” The Body Politic (July 1974): 6.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
85 YEARS AGO: Kay Lahusen: 1930. Her life partner, pioneering lesbian rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), was probably more famous, but Kay Lahusen was an equal partner in the couple’s active participation in the early gay rights movement. She had been raised in Cincinnati by her Christian Science grandparents, and she encountered her first crisis over her sexuality while still in high school when she fell in love with another girl and developed what she thought was “the world’s greatest friendship.” But that friendship also stirred feelings of love, desire, and sex, “just like straight people feel. I have to tell you, I had a breakdown over this revelation.” She went to bed and stayed there for two weeks. When her grandparents called a Christian Science practitioner to the house to pray over her, Lahusen decided that she had no choice but to figure out how to pull herself up and deal with the situation head-on. “I just decided that I was right and the world was wrong, and that there couldn’t be anything wrong with this kind of love.”

After a difficult breakup with that same girlfriend in college, she moved to Boston to work in the Christian Science Monitor’s reference library, where she observed that “they filed homosexuality under ‘vice’.” In 1961, she read Voyage from Lesbos: the Psychoanalysis of a Female Homosexual by New York psychiatrist Richard Robertiello, she contacted the author and asked where she could learn more about other lesbians. He told her about the Daughters of Bilitis and gave her a copy of the group’s magazine The Ladder. “So I wrote to DOB in New York and who got my letter but Barbara.” Gittings, who had organized the first DOB chapter in the East Cost when she established the New York chapter, invited Lahusen to a DOB meeting. Barbara herself was out of town, but Kay met four others at that small get-together. A short time later, Kay met Barbara at a DOB picnic in Rhode Island. “When I met Barbara at the picnic, I thought she was a very interesting person. I was quite taken with her.” That meeting marked the start of a powerful lifelong personal and political partnership

Photo of Lilli Vincenz, by Kay Lahusen, on the January 1966 cover of The Ladder

Together, they established a much more politically active wing of the Daughters of Bilitis, and their strong push for visibility came to epitomize the East Coast approach to gay advocacy. When Barbara began editing The Ladder in 1962, she pushed the magazine into a much bolder direction. She quickly replaced the magazine’s hand-drawn covers with photos of real lesbians, photos which were often supplied by Kay — credited as “Kay Tobin” because, she said, “Lahusen is too hard to pronounce.” By then, Lahusen was becoming “the first gay photojournalist” by photographing an increasing number of gay rights pickets on the East Coast.

Kay Lahusen, walking a picket line in front of Independence Hall in 1969, just a few days after the Stonewall rebellion.

It was those pickets, including at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), the White House (see Apr 17 and May 29), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), the Pentagon (see Jul 31) and the State Department (see Aug 28), which became a source of growing tension between the East and West Coast branches of the DOB. Lahusen and Gittings, along with other East Coast gay rights activists like Frank Kameny (see May 21) and Randolphe Wicker, believed that a more direct and confrontational approach was needed if anything was truly going to change, and they were increasingly frustrated by the cautious and accommodating approach advocated by West Coast leaders. When the national DOB became paralyzed over how to respond to a police raid on a lesbian bar in Philadelphia (see Mar 8), Lahusen and Gittings decided it was time to move on.

After leaving DOB, they began working with other men and women on the East Coast through a host of other organizations, including the Homophile Action League, the East Coast Homophile Organization (ECHO), the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) and, after Stonewall, the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA). They also played key roles in the drive to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Kay’s activism continued into the 1980s when, after becoming a realtor, she organized a group of agents to march in New York’s Gay Pride Parade. Kay and Barbara remained together for 46 years, until Barbara’s death from breast cancer in 2007. Key currently lives in an assistance living facility in Pennsylvania.

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

Alvin Ailey, Jr.: 1931-1989. It can be said that Alvin Ailey single handedly elevated African-American dance from popular steps to modern art. It’s hard to imagine African-American modern dance without his Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, even though he was always proud of the fact that his dance company was integrated. Ailey combined modern dance with classical styles, bringing together a long, unbroken leg line (“a ballet bottom”) and a dramatically expressive upper torso (“a modern top”). “What I like is the line and technical range that classical ballet gives to the body. But I still want to project to the audience the expressiveness that only modern dance offers, especially for the inner kinds of things,” he once explained. His signature work, Revelations, drew on his memories of his early childhood in Texas, combining elements of blues, spirituals, and gospel music with a thoroughly modern choreography. His 1970 American Ballet Theatre commission, The River, had the ABT’s ballet company employing classical dance styles with the music of Duke Ellington.

Ailey relative openness about his sexuality was the source of continued tensions between him and his mother. When he was dying of AIDS in 1989, he asked his doctor to announce that he had died of a blood disorder to spare his mother the social stigma of dying from AIDS. Considering the many barriers that Ailey smashed to smithereens during the course of his career in dance, his final act stands as a sad anomaly. And yet his work endures. His dance troupe carries on his legacy through performances, commissions and in providing higher education to dance students through The Ailey School.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 4

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 4.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 4.

Dallas’s Bayou Club originally opened in January 1970 in a small location on Rawlins Street in the Oak Cliff neighborhood (I’m still looking for that address). It wasn’t very popular at first, not until a straight man wakined in and was shocked to see men dancing with men. He wrote a letter to the Dallas Times-Herald asking whether such goings-on was legal. The Landing’s co-owner, Frank Caven later recalled, “That was like $10,000 worth of free publicity. … From then on, it was wall-to-wall bodies.” The Bayou was a huge success.

Almost years later, Caven sold the club, and the new owners moved it to massive new digs of about 23,000 square feet in what was then a kind of a no-man’s land near downtown Dallas, at the corner of Pearl Street and Silver Springs Road. Re-christened Bayou Landing, it held its grand opening on January 4, 1972. The local gay rag, Our Community excitedly described the brand new venue:

On entering the stunning foyer, you will be warmly greeted by a staff member. But this is an open bar, no membership card required. From there you enter the main room brilliantly decorated in red, white, and blue. A handsome bartender will be glad to serve you a drink and you will enjoy dancing on the large dance floor. Several levels with tables and chairs overlook the fun. There is a stage on which the Bayou Review will perform. Bayou Review? Another drag show? No, a “camp review” by professional entertainers. The show will be bathed with all kinds of theatrical lighting. And, there are, not one but several, movie screens and a projector for the showing of camp movies.

Continuing your journey through this gay wonderland, you will next enter the butch game room with pool tables, game tables, and other games. This room as a balcony on all sides – for spectators, or whatever.

Then there is the Tiki Room, a bit of South Sea Island Paradise. Here you may order sandwiches, snacks, or just sit and talk. Or would you like to join the gang around the piano and sing?

But if you are real hungry, you visit the Tiffany Room and dine in the comfort of Louis XVth tables and chairs. The well equipped kitchen could serve a French army, so the mind delights in anticipation of the delicious food Chef Bob has planned for us! Want to give a, private party? That too can be arranged. There is a private dinning room that seats 30.

Is this enough? Yes, but there is more still. The Steam Bath. This will open the 5th of January and will have private rooms, a group therapy room, showers, sauna, steam heat – the works. The entrance will be guarded by closed circuit TV, and electronic steel doors for quiet and security. You will find this a wonderful place to exercise, unwind, and relax.

In this one location, one can find so much to do and enjoy that it should appeal to everyone – the young, the not-so-young, the liberated, the closet set, those who enjoy good drinks, excellent food, and good companionship, all in a pleasant atmosphere. On top of that there is plenty of free parking with a uniformed guard for your safety and the safety of your car.

On Sunday afternoons, the Landing featured 10¢ draft beers and 50¢ fried chicken dinners. One former D.J. remembered:

The Wednesday & Sunday shows at the Landing were directed by Jennifer George, and featured Tiffany Jones (famous for her numbers done as a roller skating nun), Carmelita and Ernestine: AKA Randy Zachary — one of the funniest spontaneous performers I’ve ever seen. (Jerry Vanover [Remember his “Stand By Your Man”?] was the star of the show in Dallas and came to the Houston club for guest shots.)

One of many unforgettable things about the Bayou Landing? The big hand-drawn sign on the front of the counter at the door, announcing “This Is A Gay Bar!”. And going on to make it clear that anyone not comfortable with that who made it past that point would be removed from the club if they did anything inside to upset the regular clientele.

When the disco era took hold, Bayou Landing was the premiere discotheque until Caben opened the Old Plantation and grabbed the limelight in the late ’70s. I don’t know when the Bayou finally closed down, but the building was razed around 2001. By then, what had been a sketchy neighborhood on the edge of downtown had become the southern anchor of Dallas’s hot new Uptown area.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
20 YEARS AGO: Gay Man Stabbed to Death in Texas: 1995. Fred Mangione, 46, and his longtime partner, Kenneth Stern, 42, popped in to Dolly’s Place in Katy, Texas for drinks. The two had known each other for sixteen years, and had lived in the Houston area for the past ten, where they worked in the restaurant industry and shared their home with their two ailing mothers. That night, they had had a quite day with “the Moms,” strolled through a nearly empty local mall, and made plans to spend Valentine’s Day together by themselves in Disney World before deciding to grab a couple of drinks. They were regulars at Dolly’s Place, and felt comfortable with the place:

In this anonymous suburb west of Houston, where one fast-food restaurant blends into another, Stern and Mangione had managed an unusual popularity. At Community Bank, at the pancake house, at Dolly’s, where they were the designated gay couple among a largely heterosexual clientele, their appearance usually was greeted with cries of, “Here come Kenny and Fred!”

“People come into your life and they touch you,” said Suzie Andrews, 33, an office manager who had known the couple for several years. “They showed us a great deal. We were even aware at the time of how much they were showing us — the longevity of their relationship, how much love and togetherness they shared. They were like an old married couple.”

When Mangione started selling some Avon products to some of the bar patrons, someone yelled out that someone should “whip those fags.” A short time later, Daniel Bean, 19, and his half-brother Ronald Henry Gauthier, 21, who were visiting from Montana and were in the bar that night having drinks, talked to the man and appeared to have talked him down. Witnesses later said that Gauthier told the man they were going to mess with the “fags.” They then struck up a friendly conversation with Mangione and Stern. When Mangione and Stern decided to go to a convenience store for cigarettes, the brothers asked to tag along.

When the four return, Stern walked into the bar first, assuming the others were following behind. Instead, Gauthier walked in and began beating Stern. Bean then walked in and threw a dear-gutting knife with a six inch blade, covered in blood, onto the bar and joined the beating. Other patrons pulled the brothers off Stern. Wondering where Mangione was, Stern and the patrons ran outside to discover Mangione lying on the floor of a van covered in blood, the result of some 35 stab wounds.

When police arrived and arrested the brothers, they told police that they had just “fucked up a fag.” “It’s very obvious the victim was targeted because of the fact that he was homosexual,” sheriff’s Capt. Don McWilliams said. “They demonstrated no remorse at all over this.”. The two also bragged about being members of the German Peace Corps, a neo-nazi group based in California. Gauther would later deny being a member of the group during the trial, but Bean had the group’s initials tatooed on his arm.

Kenneth Stern holds a cross necklace given to him by his partner, Fred Mangione. (via)

Three years before Matthew Shepard’s death, Fred Mangione’s murder became among the earliest anti-gay hate crime murders to gain national attention. His murder also pulled the local community together, with a prayer vigil at Dolly’s Place and a well attended funeral. Community members also packed to court room to demand that Bean and Gauthier bond, then set at $200,000, was not reduced further. The judge decided, instead, to hold the pair without bond. After the trial, Bean was sentenced to life for stabbing Mangione. Gauthier was given only 10 years probation. Jurors told reporters that the prosecution failed to convince them that Gauthier was involved with the stabbing.

Gauthier’s sentence was met with outrage from the Houston Gay Political Caucus, and Stern expressed his concern that Gauthier would live with his mother in the subdivision right next to Stern’s. “For the rest of my life,” he said, “I have to watch what he does.”

5 YEARS AGO: HIV Travel Ban Lifted: 2010. One of the late Sen. Jesse Helm’s (R-NC) last legacies finally fell into the trash heap of history when the ban against people with HIV from entering the United States was finally lifted. The ban had been in place since 1987, when the former Senator from Anti-Gay USA added an amendment added to a 1987 appropriations bill which required that HIV/AIDS be included on the list of excludable diseases for immigration. When HHS moved to remove AIDS from the list in 1993, Congress retaliated by approving a measure that made the HIV/AIDS immigration and travel ban law. That law remained in place until 2008, when President George W. Bush signed the sweeping President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) into law. The law, which vastly expanded U.S. aid to combat HIV/AIDS overseas, also included a provision repealing Helms’s 1993 amendment. The Bush administration initiated the cumbersome and time-consuming rule-change process in order to lift the administrative application of the ban. That process was completed nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Marsden Hartley: 1877-1943. He was born Edmund Hartley, the youngest of nine children in Lewiston, Maine. His mother died when he was eight and his father married Martha Marsden four years later. Edmund adopted his step-mother’s maiden name as his first name while in his twenties, after having studied art at the Cleveland School of Art, the New York School of Art, and the National Academy of Design. In 1909, he landed his first major exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in New York, followed by a second exhibition in 1912.

That same year, Marsden took his obligatory trip to Paris and Germany, where he met Gertrude Stein (see Feb 3), Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, and Charles Demuth (see Nov 8). Hartley remained in Germany after the outbreak of World War I, returning only after the death of a young German soldier, Karl von Freyburg. Hartley’s famous Portrait of a German Officer (1914) includes a full range of German military insignia and banners, along with von Freyburg’s initials, regiment number (4), and his age (24). Harley painted a series of what he called the War Motifs, which were intended to reflect his revulsion of the war. But his usage of German imagery proved highly unpopular with American collectors and critics.

Marsden Hartley, Madawaska Acadian Light Heavy (1940), a portrait of a wrester.

By 1919, Hartley moved away from abstract impressionism in favor of landscapes, still lifes and figure studies. By the 1930s, is figure studies turned decidedly masculine. In 1938, he painted Adelard the Drowned, Master of the “Phantom”, inspired by the death of a close friend, Alty Mason. (The nature of their relationship isn’t clear.) The painting features his friend’s unbuttoned shirt, hairy chest, and a single white flower placed at his left ear. A year later, Hartley placed Mason in Christ Held by Half-Naked Men, as a kind of an all-male pietà. But most of his work remained concentrated in landscapes set in Maine and Nova Scotia, where he remained for much of his life. Recognition and fame eluded Marsden during his lifetime. Not until twenty years after his death in 1943 did the New York Times recognize his portraits as “the boldest paintings of male figures in the history of American art.” In 2003, another Times critic drew a more direct observation: “Hartley painted what Whitman, the pre-eminent poet of the physical, hailed as the body electric.”

 55  YEARS AGO: Michael Stipe: 1960. Stipe met bandmate Peter Buck at a record store in Athens, Georgia, that Peter managed. “He was a striking-looking guy and he also bought weird records, which not everyone in the store did.” Buck later recalled. They formed R.E.M. with Bill Berry and Mike Mills, and with Stipe as lead singer. The band’s first album, Murmer (1983), found critical success, even though critics couldn’t make out the lyrics due to Stipe’s mumbling. His vocal styling continued on their second album Reckoning (1984), by which time Stipe’s mumbling became fodder for parodies. Stipe answered his critics: “It’s just the way I sing. If I tried to control it, it would be pretty false.”

In 1985, R.E.M. finally began to hit their musical stride when Stipe decided to enunciate more clearly for Fables of the Reconstruction. The clearer singing began to reveal an earnest, albeit nonlinear, writing style in his lyrics. That nonlinearity extends to his personal life as well: he doesn’t consider himself gay. “I don’t,” he reiterated in 2005. “I think there’s a line drawn between gay and queer, and for me, queer describes something that’s more inclusive of the grey areas.” In a 2011 interview, Stipe said that he was “around 80-20″ gay, but still prefers to identify as queer. “A lot of younger people have a much more it-is-what-it-is approach to sexuality. The black and white binary approach just does not work. So you find the terms that make you most comfortable.” R.E.M announced their retirement as a band in September 2011.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 3

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Out ( a Washington, D.C. magazine, not to be confused with the nationally-distributed glossy),May 21, 1981, page 21.

From Out ( a Washington, D.C. magazine, not to be confused with the nationally-distributed glossy),May 21, 1981, page 21.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Addressing “A Horror of Everything Related to the Homosexual Tendency”: 1899. In 1897, British sexologist Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) published the first installment of his six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Volume 1 was subtitled Sexual Inversion (as homosexuality was more often called in the English language at that time), with some of the material the product of a collaboration with early gay rights advocate John Addington Symonds (see Oct 5). Two years later, Sexual Inversion was still making waves for being the first scientific book to discuss homosexuality in a humane and nonjudgmental way. Ellis argued against the contemporary attitudes about homosexuality being abnormal, criminal, or immoral, and presented it instead as a variation in a broad spectrum of sexual expressions. Ellis concluded that it was useless to try to change sexual orientation, and he advocated for the abolishment of Britain’s anti-gay laws like the “gross indecency” law under which Oscar Wilde was prosecuted in 1895.

Most books about homosexuality at the turn of the century were severely restricted in their distribution. Sexual Inversion was first published in German in 1896 because Ellis feared it would be censored in England. Since several other books on sexuality had already been published there, German had become the lingua franca, so to speak, of sexuality research. When the first English edition was published in London in 1897, its distribution was restricted to the professional trade. In the January 1899 edition of the International Journal of Ethics, a writer by the name of H. Sturt reviewed Ellis’s book, calling it “a solid and valuable contribution to psychology” and commending Ellis for “give(ing) the impression that he is a genuine scientific man doing his best to illustrate an obscure… province of human nature.”  Sturt, then argued that the restrictions placed on Sexual Inversion’s distribution was a misguided policy:

There are some who would raise the general question whether a subject like the present can fitly be made the matter of a published treatise. Many excellent persons have a horror of everything related to the homosexual tendency. Their feelings command our respect, and yet it seems better to have the subject brought out publicly. That all sorts of immature and half-educated people should read Mr. Ellis’s book is, of course, most undesirable. But in view of the prevalence of sexual inversion it is necessary that every schoolmaster, every criminal lawyer, we had almost said every head of a family, should be acquainted with its phenomena. Were the subject better understood, mistakes would be avoided that have ruined thousands of lives.

[Source; Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper & Row, 1983): pp 296-297.]

Murder, she wrote.

Phyllis Lyon Kills Ann Ferguson: 1957. When the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing The Ladder in October 1956, it’s masthead identified its first editor as Ann Ferguson. In the second issue, Ferguson penned a short article addressing the first problem they encountered in publishing what would become the nation’s first magazine for lesbians. As Ferguson explained it, too many people feared “that names on our mailing list may fall into the wrong hands, or that by indicating interest in this magazine a person will automatically be labeled a homosexual.” She assured readers that subscribers included all kinds of people, including lawyers, social workers, psychiatrists, business, and other professionals. She also assured readers that “Daughters of Bilitis is not outside the law — we advocate no illegal actions by anyone.”

Ferguson revealed that the organization had obtained legal council and would file for incorporation under the laws of California. She also explained a recent Supreme Court decision which upheld the rights of citizens to refuse to reveal to Congressional committees the names on subscription lists or lists of purchases. So in addition to the organization’s own bylaws prohibiting the disclosure of The Ladder’s subscription lists, “the decision also guarantees that your name is safe!”

Ferguson had been at the helm for only thee months when the January 1957 issue included this startling announcement:

ANN FERGUSON IS DEAD!
I confess. I killed Ann Ferguson. Premeditatedly and with malice aforethought. We ran an article in the November issue of THE LADDER entitled “Your Name is Safe”.” Ann Ferguson wrote that article. Her words were true, her conclusions logical and documented — yet she was not practising what she preached.

Somehow it didn’t seem right,

She spent some time considering the situation. Then came to a conclusion. At the November public discussion meeting of the Daughters of Bilitis we got up — Ann Ferguson and I — and did away with Ann. Now there is only Phyllis Lyon.

Seriously, my pseudonym was taken in the first place without much thought. Somehow, it seemed the thing to do. But all it did was create problems. If you’re going to write under a pseudonym then you should go by that name in personal contacts. But everybody connected with the Daughters of Bilitis already knew me as Phyllis and the attempt to call me Ann confused everyone, including me.

I’m sure that I’m not placing myself in any jeopardy by using my real name — and I’m only simplifying matters and practising what I preach.

Phyllis Lyon (see Nov 10) with her partner Del Martin (see May 5) were among eight women who founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955 (see Oct 19). In 2008, they Phyllis and Del became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the state of California. Del passed away later that year. At last report, Phyllis still lives in their home in San Francisco.

[Sources: Ann Ferguson. “Your Name Is Safe!” The Ladder, 1, no. 2 (November 1956): 10-12.

Phyllis Lyon. “Ann Ferguson Is Dead!” The Ladder, 1, no. 4 (January 1957): 7.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Dorothy Arzner: 1897-1979. Hollywood was a man’s world, but Dorothy Arzner managed to become a director despite the obstacles. When she first decided that her future lay in motion pictures after serving in the ambulance corps during World War I, she was hired right away by Paramount. As a stenographer. But she used that position to move on to script writer, then film editor. That’s where her work in the 1922 classic Blood and Sand starring Rudolph Valentino won her praise for her editing style.

When Paramount refused to promote her to director, she threatened to move to Columbia Studios. Paramount relented and named her director for the successful silent comedy Fashions for Women. She directed the first talkie for “The It Girl,” Clara Bow, in The Wild Party (1929). Arzner showed considerable ingenuity in making the film: She invented the boom mike when she had the sound crew suspend a microphone from a fishing rod so Bow could move uninhibited around the set. The Wild Party, set in a women’s college, introduced coded references to lesbian themes. Similar themes would emerge in Anybody’s Woman (1930) and Working Girls (1931). Arzner launched the careers of Katherine Hepburn in Christopher Strong (1933), Rosalind Russell in Craig’s Wife (1936), and Lucille Ball in Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). For that last film, Arzner collaborated with choreographer Marion Morgan, who had been Arzner’s partner for at least ten years and would remain so until Morgan’s death in 1971.

Dorothy Arzner and Joan Crawford

When World War II came along, Arzner directed several army training films. By 1943, Arzner stopped directing major studio feature films due to an illness. When she was ready to return after the war, she found that the workplace had grown impatient with women holding on to “men’s” jobs now that men were returning from fighting overseas. Arzner turned to teaching instead, first at the Pasadena Playhouse and then at the newly-established film school at UCLA, where Francis Ford Coppola was one of her students. Meanwhile, her old friend (and rumored paramour) Joan Crawford, who had married the chairman of Pepsico, got Arzner hired to make more than 50 television commercials in the 1950s. In 1975, Aarzner was recognized with a special tribute by the Directors Guild of America, after having become the guild’s first female member in 1936. She continued teaching until her death in 1979 at the age of 82.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 2

Jim Burroway

January 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
William “Billy” Haines: 1900-1973. Throughout his life, Haines refused to deny his homosexuality. At the age of 14, he ran way from home with his boyfriend. Five years later he became a top model, and from 1924 through 1930, he was one of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men during the Silent era. He was already starting to successfully transition to talkies when he picked up a sailor in Los Angeles’s Pershing Square and took him to a room at the YMCA. The police raided the Y and Haines was arrested. MGM head Louis B. Mayer demanded that Haines enter into a sham marriage to salvage his career, but Haines refused to leave his longtime lover Jimmie Shields. Haines was fired and his name was entered into the so-called Doom Book, the blacklist maintained by Hays Commission.

Haines and Sheilds turned their attentions to each other and to interior design. Their design business took off quickly, thanks to Haines’s connections in Hollywood which allowed them to become the designers to the stars. Clients included Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, George Cukor, Betsy Bloomingdale, the Annenbergs and the Reagans. Haines and Shields remained together for nearly fifty years, prompting their friend Joan Crawford to dub them the “the happiest married couple in Hollywood.” Gloria Swanson tried to get Haines back into the movie studio for Sunset Boulevard in 1950, but Haines declined. Haines died on December 26, 1973 of cancer. Soon after, Jimmie Shields put on Haines’s pajamas, crawled into their bed, and took an overdose of pills. They are buried together at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. In 1999, Haines was the subject of a biography, Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood’s First Openly Gay Star, by William J. Mann. You can see examples of Haines’s interior design work here.

Michael Tippett: 1905-1998. Britain, in some respects, is a small island, very nearly not quite big enough to simultaneously host two acclaimed openly gay classical composers who were pacifists during WWII. And so Michael Tippett has often been overshadowed by his contemporary, Benjamin Britten (see Nov 22). Tippett was imprisoned as a conscientious objector (Britten avoided imprisonment), and that, with his broader interest in humanitarian work, often influenced his music. His wartime premiere of his pacifist oratorio, A Child of our Time, (with Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, cast as soloist) received wide acclaim. The Times of London called it “strikingly original in conception and execution,” and The Observer hailed it as “The most moving and important work by an English composer for many years.”

The premier of his First Symphony, Third Quartet, and Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli — one of his most popular and frequently performed works — soon followed. But audiences and performers alike found his 1955 opera The Midsummer Marriage confusing. Modeled after Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Tippett’s work recast it as a Jungian manifesto where, as he put it, “a warm and soft young man was being rebuffed by a cold and hard young woman to such a degree that the collective, magical archetypes take charge.” The music, however, was well received, and he re-used the Four Ritual Dances from the opera as a separate concert work. Controversy surrounded premieres of two following works, the Piano Concerto (1955, its first appointed soloist backed out after declaring it unplayable), and the Second Symphony (1957). During the symphony’s premiere, the BBC Symphony orchestra actually broke down live on air a few minutes into the first movement and had to be restarted.

In 1965, Tippet visited America for the first time, and that experience marked a major turning point as he began incorporating jazz and blues into his music. His third opera The Knot Garden not only explored the complex themes of the Sexual Revolution, but also incorporated electric guitar and a drum set in the orchestra. His Third Symphony (1973) also was influenced by American blues, with the solo soprano’s part becoming a tribute to the late blues singer Bessie Smith. But his fourth opera The Ice Break was roundly criticized for its hackneyed use of American slang and the inclusion of race riots and a psychedelic trip giving what The Telegraph calls “toe-curling results.” Nevertheless, Tippett’s popularity grew through the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 1998, just six days after his ninety-third birthday.

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

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The Daily Agenda for New Year’s Day

Jim Burroway

January 1st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

Some three and a half decades ago, long before Scruff and Grinder, before Gay.com and AOL chat rooms, before the Internet and BBS’s — before all of that, some were still turning to computers, via computerized dating services like Datagay, to help them find their Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, as the case may be.

EMPHASIS MINE:
The Los Angeles Advocate closed out 1967 with a December editorial comparing the relatively free atmosphere LGBT people in San Francisco enjoyed compared to the near-daily examples official and unofficial harassment in Los Angeles and wondered why there was such a difference:

First of all, we have to bury the idea that SF’s gains were made simply because it is a “different city,” Homosexuals here have used this as an excuse for far too long. True, there was a certain set of conditions that led to the new freedom enjoyed by homosexuals there, but these conditions were man-made, not the result of Kismet — a few enlightened men in positions of power in the Police Department; a few strong and determined homophile organizations, SIR, CRH, and the Tavern Guild; and an unbelievably inept harassment of a big New Year ‘s Eve Ball a few years ago. It was the latter event that apparently triggered the homosexual resurgence, and the organizations were quick to capitalize on the police bungling. The results of the efforts by some hard working people are evident to those of us who visit that city.

Bars are flourishing. Arrests are at a minimum. SIR has almost 1000 members. The Tavern Guild is stronger than ever. The organizations sponsor a variety of public events. Many politicians openly court the homosexual vote. The October issue of SIR’s Vector Magazine carried eight political ads, including one by a candidate for Sheriff. Candidates for Mayor or their representatives spoke before homosexual groups during the campaign. …

The time must come soon when we in Los Angeles will have to test our political muscle, We may get whipped time and again, but if we learn from our defeats, we can still get stronger and do battIe again. One thing is certain, though — the LA organizations will have to unite in any political effort and bury all past enmities. This will be the real test of the homophile leaders. A massive drive to register homosexuals for voting must precede any serious political effort, and homosexuals must devote more of their energies to educating the heterosexual community about homosexuality. It’s worth a good try or two. We cannot believe that homosexuals enjoy second class citizenship.

– Editorial: “Politics by the Bay.” The Los Angeles Advocate, December 1967, page 12.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 130 YEARS AGO: English Criminal Law Amendment Act Takes Effect: 1885. English law had long held that homosexuality was an “abominable crime” punishable with death by hanging, but in 1861, the law was modified to provide imprisonment from ten years to life instead. But crime of sodomy was always difficult to prosecute because it required a witness and evidence that the sexual act had been fully consummated, complete with penetration and what we would call a happy ending. Obviously, that made convictions rare.

That changed in 1885, although the change may have been somewhat unintentional. During the middle of the nineteenth century, there was a growing concern over the dangers suffered by England’s daughters over the “gross indecencies” imposed upon them. But again, convictions were rare because the statute required that the sexual assault take place in a “public place.” And so on January 1, 1885, a revision to the criminal code raised the age of consent for girls from thirteen to sixteen, and it made “gross indecencies” punishable regardless of age and place a misdemeanor, punishable with up to two years imprisonment. It didn’t take long for “gross indecency” to be interpreted by the courts to include homosexuality. In fact, it would be under this statute that Oscar Wilde would be convicted and sentenced to the maximum two year term ten years later.

 50 YEARS AGO: San Francisco Police Raid New Year’s Day Ball: 1965. Early San Francisco LGBT-rights advocates had long recognized that much of the opposition to homosexuality rested on religious objections, and that if any progress was to be made, it was necessary to foster links between the gay community and the bay area’s religious leaders — at least those leaders who might be inclined to be supportive, whether publicly or privately. Earlier in 1964, Daughters of Bilitis founders Phyllis Lyon (see Nov 10) and Del Martin (see May 5), together with Glide Memorial Methodist Church, formed the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. CRH was notable for two reasons: not only was it the first organization in the U.S. to incorporate the word “Homosexual” in its name, but it was also the first organization to bring straight and gay people together to minister to the gay community.

And that opportunity for those early straight allies to get a first-hand taste of what gay people routinely experienced came on New Year’s Day of 1965, when CHR held a New Years Mardi Gras as a fundraiser at California Hall. When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department on December 23 of their planned costume party, the police tried to coerce the hall’s owners into cancelling the rental. Organizers again met with police on December 29, for negotiations which the ministers described “strained.” SFPD officials couldn’t understand why these ministers were arguing on behalf of gay people. Observing the wedding bands on the ministers’ fingers, one officer reportedly said, “We see you’re married. How do your wives accept this?” Their wives, the ministers explained, would be at the ball also, along with other members of their congregations. Police tried to question them on theology and warned them that they were being “used” by local homophile organizations, but the ministers persisted. Finally, the two parties reached a deal where police promised not to arrest anyone in costume, including those in drag.

A couple walks past police officers to attend the New Year’s Mardi Gras ball.

Those promises quickly proved empty. As guests began arriving at 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Day, they encountered police officers snapping photographs of everyone as they entered the building. The obvious attempt at intimidation deterred many — organizers expected 1500 to show up but only about 500 actually attended. Later that evening, police demanded entry into the building. Three CRH lawyers explained that the party was a private party under California law and that police could not enter without buying tickets or showing a warrant. The lawyers were arrested, along with a ticket-taker, and charged with obstructing an officer. Two other gay men were arrested for “disorderly conduct” after one of them tripped over a chair; police accused him of trying to kiss another man and both were hauled in.

Throughout the night, police repeatedly entered the hall to conduct “fire code inspections.”  The ball was scheduled to end at midnight, but organizers decided to end the ball an hour earlier. Their next job was to get their guests safely out of the building. One minister was threatened with arrest while escorting two guests to their cars.

Police photographer snaps photos of everyone as they enter California Hall.

For many of the straight attendees, this was their first exposure to routine police intimidation tactics against the gay community. Del Martin said, “This is the type of police activity that homosexuals know well, but heretofore the police had never played their hand before Mr. Average Citizen … It was always the testimony of the police officer versus the homosexual, and the homosexual, fearing publicity and knowing the odds were against him, succumbed. But in this instance the police overplay their part.”

The following morning seven of the ministers who had attended the party held a press conference where they described the pre-event negotiations and the resulting “intimidation, broken promises and obvious hostility” of the San Francisco Police. The American Civil Liberties Union agreed to represent those under arrest.

The New Year’s Mardi Gras party, occurring as it did some five years before Stonewall, proved to be a turning point for gay rights in San Francisco. As the Mattachine Society’s Hal Call (see Sep 20) recalled, “That was when we got newspapers, TV, and radio on our side. The police were so brutal. And with some respectable clergymen on our side, that was a turning point.” Phyllis Lyon said that it was “our first step into some kind of connectedness with the rest of the city.” City officials, embarrassed by the obvious police misconduct, responded by designating officer Elliot Blackstone as the first liaison between the department and the LGBT community. (At his retirement dinner in 1975, Blackstone was saluted by LGBT community leaders for his ensuing twenty years of advocacy and support.)

When the three lawyers’ trial began in February, the police department were still trying to figure out the legal basis for their actions. When asked why police were taking pictures of guests arriving at the ball even though no crime had occurred, one official replied that police “wanted pictures of these people because some of them might be connected to national security.” He also said that the contingent of more than a dozen officers and two photographers were needed because “we went just to inspect the premises.” After four days of prosecution testimony and before the defense could begin presenting their case, the judge ordered a directed verdict of “not guilty” after four days of prosecution testimony. One of the lawyers who had been arrested and charged, Herb Donaldson, would go on to become San Francisco’s first openly gay judge.

[Other sources: Kay Tobin. “After the ball…” The Ladder 9, no. 5 (February 1965): 4-5.

Unsigned. “Cross currents.” The Ladder 9, no. 9 (June 1965): 14-16.

Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 40.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007): 105-108.

LGBT Religious Archives Network. “Raid at New Year’s Day Ball at California Hall.”]

Los Angeles Gay Bar Raided: 1967. It all was sparked by the temerity of a kiss, when a small group of gay men at Silver Lake’s Black Cat bar, upon the countdown to midnight on New Years’ Eve, had the gall to kiss each other “on the mouth for three to five seconds” in the presence of about six undercover policemen who had infiltrated the gay bar. As soon as the pecks on the lips began, police identified themselves and began viciously beating and arresting the kissing offenders. As the melee widened, several people tried to escape to the New Faces bar across the street. Undercover officers followed and raided that bar as well. One of the New Faces workers was beaten so badly by police that they cracked a rib, fractured his skull and ruptured his spleen. Six Black Cat kissers were tried and convicted of “lewd or dissolute conduct” in a public place — legaleese for, in this instance, hugging and kissing.

Just as with the New Year’s Mardi Gras raid in San Francisco two years earlier, the Black Cat raid had the effect of galvanizing the gay community in Los Angeles. Gays turned out for protests and demonstrations in the months that followed, and they began to pass a newsletter around which quickly morphed into a local newspaper, The Los Angeles Advocate, which a few years later became the nationally-distributed Advocate. By the time a similar police raid took place in a dive bar in Greenwich Village two years later, the ground was well prepared for gays to come out nationally to declare their presence in society. In 2008, the Black Cat bar was declared a historical-cultural landmark by the city of Los Angeles, in a move that was partly inspired by the story of the Black Cat bar posted on BTB in 2006.

Homosexuality decriminalized: The first day of the year often marks the day in which new state laws take effect, which explains why on this day in history, a number of states officially decriminalized homosexuality effective January 1. Among the states that I know of in which laws prohibiting same-sex relations include: Arizona (1980), California (1975), Colorado (1971), Hawaii (1972), Illinois (1962), Iowa (1976), Maryland (1998 for oral, 1999 for anal), New Mexico (1975), North Dakota (1978). Ohio (1974), Oregon (1971) and Vermont (1977). (If you know of any others, please let me know in the comments below.)

Of that list, Illinois is particularly noteworthy. When the state legislature adopted the wholesale revision of their entire criminal code earlier that year, they used the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide, which omitted homosexual acts as criminal offenses (see Jul 28). When the Illinois legislature followed suit, it became the first state in the nation to legalize consensual same-sex relationships.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
E.M. Forster: 1879-1970. Why did the author of such classics as Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India, stop writing novels after 1924 until his death in 1970? Papers released in 2010, which his “sex dairy,” indicate that his writing career ended after he lost his virginity to a wounded soldier while in Egypt, and later when he met his long-term lover, the married policeman Bob Buckingham. Forster felt that he could no longer reconcile his English middle-class characters with the reality of his affairs. In one diary entry, Forster wrote: “I should have been a more famous writer if I had written or rather published more, but sex prevented the latter.”

Before Forster’s lifelong conflict with his sexuality, he was well on his way to becoming a celebrated man of letters. His first novel, 1905’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, told the story of a young English widow whose relatives try to intervene in her love affair an Italian man. Forster returned to Italy as the setting for 1908’s A Room with a View, in which Lucy Honeychurch faces the choice between two men she met while vacationing with her cousin. Both books illustrate a kind of narrow-mindedness often present among middle-class English tourists while abroad. The also deal with conflicts between misguided bourgeois English propriety and matters of the heart. For 1910’s Howards End, Forster deals more directly with the social strata within Edwardian England’s middle classes. But his greatest success came with his 1924’s A Passage to India, drawn from his observations while traveling to India in the early 1920s to work as the private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas during the latter days of the British Raj.

Forster’s lifetime publication ended in 1924, but that didn’t mean he stopped writing altogether. He worked on a novel of a homosexual love story set in London, Cambridge, and Wiltshire, with parts of the story likely drawn from personal experiences. But given his reputation that had already been established with the earlier novels — and given that homosexual relationship between men was a criminal offense throughout Britain — Forster could see no way to out himself by publishing Maurice during his lifetime.

Based on the strength of his earlier works, Forster was elected an honorary fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life, doing relatively little save an occasional essay and an appearance on the BBC. He maintained his relationship with Buckingham, the “love of his life,” and became close friends with Buckingham’s wife, Mary. In 1964, three years before Britain finally decriminalized homosexuality, Forster complained to his diary, “Now I am 85 how annoyed I am with society for wasting my time by making homosexuality criminal. The subterfuges and the self-consciousnesses that might have been avoided.” He passed away following a stroke in their Coventry home in 1970, and Maurice was published eighteen months later.

James Hormel: 1933. The grandson of the founder of Hormel Foods made history of his own in 1999 when President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, making him the first openly gay man to represent to U.S. as an ambassador. Clinton first considered Hormel for Ambassador to Fiji in 1994, but following protests from Fiji, Clinton declined to submit Hormel’s nomination to the Senate. Instead, Hormel was named to the U.N’s Human Rights Commission in 1995, and he became an alternate for the U.N. General Assembly in 1996.

Clinton nominated Hormel for the Luxembourg post in 1997, but the Republican-controlled senate blocked his nomination for the next two years. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) compared homosexuality to alcoholism and kleptomania and other Senators and anti-gay activists called Hormel pro-pornography and anti-Catholic. Hormel was finally named Ambassador in May 1999 as a recess appointment. He was sworn in as ambassador in June with his partner holding the Bible, and his former wife, five children and several grandchildren in attendance.

Previously, Hormel had been one of the co-founders of the Human Rights Campaign in 1981, and he funded the Kames C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library in 1995. He currently lives in San Francisco with his partner, Michael P. Nguyen. His memoir, Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador, was published in 2011.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 31

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, January 1, 1977, page 3.

From This Week In Texas, January 1, 1977, page 3.

Mary’s opened in 1972 as a gay bar in Houston’s Montrose area, at around the time Montrose was just beginning to develop its identity as a gayborhood. It quickly established a rather wild reputation: “[T]he bar was known for having it’s own set of rules, one of which made it ‘illegal’ to wear underwear. And newcomers who violated the rule would have their underwear stripped from them and thrown to the rafters, past the trapeze that was normally manned by a naked bartender or patron.” As the years wore on, the bar also became something of a community center: “On a Friday night you could experience your favorite fetish out back, and on Monday you could attend a rally to support AIDS funding.” The bar changed ownership in 2003, and experienced a long, slow decline. It’s iconic outside mural was painted over in 2006, and the bar finally closed in 2009. The building now houses the Blacksmith coffee shop.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
LIFE Magazine’s “Homosexuals In Revolt”: 1971. In Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I (1981), there is the famous pun in which the Count de Monet tells King Louis XVI, “It is said that the people are revolting.” The king replies, “You said it. They stink on ice.” Ten years earlier, Life magazine found homosexuals revolting all over the place, in its year-end photo essay covering “the year that one liberation movement turned militant”:

It was the most shocking and, to most Americans, the most surprising liberation movement yet. Under the slogan “Out of the closets and into the streets,” thousands of homosexuals, male and female, were proudly confessing what they had long hidden. They were, moreover, moving into direct confrontation with conventional society. Their battle was far from won. But in 1971 militant homosexuals showed they were prepared to fight it.

…They resent what they consider to be savage discrimination against them on the basis of a preference which they did not choose and which they cannot — and do not want to — change. And while mist will admit that “straight” society’s attitudes have caused them unhappiness, they respond to the charge that all homosexuals are guilt-ridden and miserable with the defiant rallying cry “Gay is Good!” … Never before have homosexuals been so visible.

The photo essay consisted of eleven pages of angry gays, fists clenched and raised in the air, confronting police, marching in the streets, organizing, and, of course, wierding people out. Later in the essay came mentions of early gay rights groups and activists, including Frank Kameny (May 21), Jack Baker (see Mar 10), Rev. Ray Broshears (see Sep 27), Merle Miller (see Jan 17), and Rev. Troy Perry (see Jul 27) — each and every one of them a “militant.” As for the younger and more nameless “militants”:

Most of the young militants shown here are members of homosexual liberation’s most effective organization, New York City’s Gay Activists Alliance. …GAA has developed a form of protest called a “zap,” which is part picket line and part sit-in. … The activists claim that demonstrations offer them the best therapy for the humiliations inflicted by anti-homosexual society. “One good zap,” they say, “is worth six months on a psychiatrist’s couch.”

Life‘s follow-up article asked the burning question, “Is Homosexuality Normal or Not?”, and they tackled it pretty much the way everyone did back then: by talking to a lot of straight people about gay people, but without quoting from a single gay person. Featured in the article was noted anti-gay therapists Edmund Bergler (despite being dead for nearly ten years), Lawrence Hatterer (who conducted electric shock aversion therapy), Irving Bieber, and Charles Socarides — who would later go on to co-found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The article tried to present a rundown on what makes gay men gay (there was virtually no mention of lesbians in the article), and then, without quoting from a single “homosexual militant”, asserted that these militants opposed all research on homosexuality. All of this led to the article’s final two paragraphs:

Whether liberationists choose introspection, militancy, or violence as a course of action, the basic stumbling block remains the same: heterosexual antipathy to homosexuality. Will this ever change? Dr. Hatterer has observed that society’s tolerance of homosexuality is increasing but he doubts that we will ever accept it as a desirable “alternative lifestyle.” Nonetheless he and virtually all other psychiatrists advocate repealing the laws that violate this minority’s civil rights.

On the question of “normality,” much remains to be learned. In opposing all inquiry, the militants expose fears of what science might find out about them. Dr. (Evelyn) Hooker’s task force on homosexuality makes the sensible recommendation that the National Institute of Mental Health fund a center for the study of all sexual behavior. “It is essential,” says the report, “that a study of homosexuality be placed within the context of the study of the broad range of sexuality, normal and deviant.”

[Source: “Homosexuals In Revolt” Life 71, no. 26 (December 31, 1971): 62-71. Available online via Google Books here.

“Is Homosexuality Normal or Not?” Life 71, no. 26 (December 31, 1971): 72. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Joe Dallesandro: 1948. His father was in the Navy and his mother just sixteen when Joe was born, and by the time he was five his mother was serving time for auto theft. The younger Dallesandro ended up on foster care before being reunited with his father in Queens. By age fifteen Dallesandro was expelled for punching the school principal and began to follow in his mother’s footsteps steeling cars. After wrecking one stolen car in the Holland Tunnel, he was stopped by police and shot in the leg. He was sentenced to a boy’s rehab center in 1964.

Dallesandro escaped a few months later, robbed a theater in Brooklyn, and fled to Mexico before eventually hitchhiking to Los Angeles. There, he took to hanging out at the bus station where, among the many lucrative offers, was one for modeling for Bob Mizar’s Physique Pictoral as part of Mizar’s Athletic Model Guild. After getting into more trouble in L.A., Dallesandro made his way back to New York, where he appeared in his first Andy Warhol film in 1967, the experimental 25-hour Four Stars. Dallesandro’s work with Warhol and Paul Morrissey changed everything:

“There’s no rhyme or reason why I wound up where I wound up,” says Joe, still sounding vaguely incredulous about his fate. “I walked into that place and everything changed. It wasn’t until Paul and Andy came into my life that I got what you might call ‘direction’. It was only then that I started to know what I wanted to do with my life. If I hadn’t met them I’d probably have ended up in prison because I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. When I got connected with Paul and Andy I got some good direction.”

The following year, his nude scenes in his role as a hustler in Warhol’s Flesh brought Dallesandro to somewhat more mainstream audiences. His comfortable nonchalance with nudity and his laid-back film presence made him the first explicitly-eroticized male sex symbol of the 1970s. His onscreen comfort in his beautiful skin extended to both genders, on screen and off. The New York Times‘ Vincent Canby nodded to Dallesandro’s bisexual appeal when he wrote, “His physique is so magnificently shaped that men as well as women become disconnected at the sight of him.” Warhol said simply, “In my movies, everyone’s in love with Joe Dallesandro.” Fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo called Dallesandro “one of the ten most photogenic men in the world.” Dallesandro’s crotch served as the cover art for the Rolling Stones’ 1971 album Sticky Fingers, and Lou Reed immortalized him as “Little Joe” in his 1972 hit “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Dallesandro’s collaboration with Warhol and Paul Morrissey continued, with Lonesome Cowboys (1968), Trash (1970), Heat (1972), and Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (both in 1974). Those last two were shot in Europe, where Dallesandro remained for the rest of the decade and appearing in a string of low-budget and alternative films. While abroad, Dallesandro’s foster mother died, his brother committed suicide (or died of auto-erotic asphyxiation, according to some accounts), his second wife sued for divorce, and he sank into a quagmire of drug and alcohol abuse.

By 1980, Dallesandro decided to move to New York, kick the drugs, and eventually dry out. Dallesandro’s movie career then received its second breath with minor roles in The Cotton Club (1984, as the mobster “Lucky” Luciano), Sunset (1988), and Cry-Baby (1990). He also appeared in several guest roles on television, including Miami Vice and Matlock. But since the 1990s, Dallesandro had been semi-retired from acting. At last report, he and his third wife were happily managing an apartment complex in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Higdon: 1962. Who says playing flute in a Tennessee high school band is a dead end? It certainly wasn’t for Jennifer Higdon, who majored in the instrument at Bowling Green State University where she also began composing. After graduation, she served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. Her one-movement tone poem blue cathedral, inspired by her brother’s death from cancer, has become among the most performed modern orchestral works by a living American composer. Her Violin Concerto, which premiered in 2009 in Indianapolis, was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. That same year, her Percussion Concerto won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Higdon lives with her high school sweetheart, Cheryl Lawson, in Philadelphia, where Higdon teaches at the Curtis Institute, where she holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Compositional Studies.

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