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Posts for September, 2014

AP: Gambian National Assembly Passes Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2014

According to the Associated Press by way of the Guardian, the Gambian National Assembly sometime last month gave its near-unanimous approval to a bill which would impose a lifetime sentence upon conviction of homosexuality:

 A draft seen by the Associated Press contains language identical to a controversial anti-gay bill signed into law in Uganda earlier this year.

In addition to “serial offenders” and people living with HIV/Aids, both pieces of legislation say examples of “aggravated homosexuality” include when the suspect engages in homosexual acts with someone who is under 18, disabled or has been drugged. The term also applies when the suspect is the parent or guardian of the other person or is “in authority over” him or her.

It was not immediately clear whether there were changes to the draft prior to the National Assembly vote.

You can see the full text of Uganda’s final Anti-Homosexuality Act here. The original bill as introduced before Parliament adopted several changes can be seen here.

The Gambian bill is reportedly awaiting President Yahya Jammeh’s signature. Jammeh, who came to power in 1994 following a military coup, threatened in 2008 to “cut off the head” of any homosexual he found in his country and promised to introduce legislation that would be “stricter than those in Iran” where homosexuality is punishable with death. In 2013, he told the United Nations’ General Assembly that LGBT people were one of the three “biggest threats to human existence,” along with greed and obsession with world domination. Together, Jammeh said they “are more deadly than all natural disasters put together.”

ICYMI: Uganda’s Parliament took the first formal step to re-introducing its Anti-Homosexuality Act last week.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, September 9

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From SilverDollar Times, September 1982, page 9.

From SilverDollar Times, September 1982, page 9.

An anti-suffrage post card, c.a. 1910 (source).

An anti-suffrage post card, c.a. 1910 (source).

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Degeneracy of Women’s Suffrage: 1895. For many decades, the word “degenerate” took on a very specific meaning: gay people were “degenerates,” as were almost anyone else who radically deviated (negatively) from what was considered normal and wholesome. Everyone — doctors (see Aug 2), police investigators (see May 19Jun 1), newspaper columnists (see Mar 23), housewives (see Jun 29) and Newsweek (see Oct 10) — thought nothing of using the word “degenerate,” and by the middle of the twentieth century its usage became much more specific to describe gay people.

But what was lost by that time was a recollection of where the word “degenerate” came from. It was the last vestige of a proto-scientific theory which had been universally accepted by social scientists, doctors and early geneticists in the nineteenth century. Degeneration Theory described a body of beliefs which was a kind of a theory of evolution, but in reverse. Darwin’s theory held that as species reproduced, the process of natural selection would help to weed out the lesser copies of the offspring, while the more capable versions would survive to reproduce again. Degeneration Theory pondered what would happen if natural selection was not such a strong force, thanks to advances in science, medicine, and civilization in general, in the development of the human race.

While there are a number parallels between Degeneration Theory and Evolution, Degeneration Theory actually pre-dated Darwin’s theory by about five decades. According to Degeneration Theorists, human beings, through the natural course of evolution, would naturally produce children who “de-generated” some of their parent’s characteristics in an imperfect form — think of a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy. Degeneration didn’t always yield lesser children; geniuses were examples of a kind of positive degeneration. They may have greater powers of reasoning than others, but they nevertheless deviated from the norm, and that deviancy was a sign of degeneration. Besides, geniuses often had other quirks as part of their personalities, and those quirks were seen as offsetting signs of degeneracy, a price, if you will, paid for their genius. It was also believed that degenerates, whether their degeneration was positive or negative, also bore physical markers, known as the “stigmata of degeneration,” in the form of various skull shapes, facial features, and other bodily characteristics which, if one looked closely enough, might provide further evidence of degeneracy. That’s why detailed physical descriptions were an important part of the scientific literature. In fact, those descriptions were considered so important and became so commonplace that the practice lasted well the 1960s, long after the very theories which required such descriptions were long dead and forgotten.

The product of this degeneracy was called the “reversion to the atavistic type” — in other words, a natural tendency of a species to return to a more primitive state. For humans, it would mean a descent into poverty, ignorance and criminality of which nineteenth-century inner-city tenements, according to Degeneracy Theorists, provided ample proof. But as pessimistic as the theory went, it did have its positive contributions: it spawned the hygiene movement which began mandating safe housing, clean food, proper sanitation, limitations in child labor and other protections, and universal education. In the glass-half-empty category, Degeneration Theory marked the beginning of the shift from regarding homosexuality as a crime to be severely punished, but as a malady to be addressed “scientifically” — namely by the nation’s doctors and insane asylums, along with the brave few who countered that gay and gender-variant people harmed no one and should be left alone. But far more darkly, Degeneration Theory would soon give rise to Eugenics, which would cast an especially dark shadow over much of the early twentieth century.

So to give you an example of “degenerates” who had nothing to do with gay people, the September 1895 edition of The American Naturalist included a classic anti-feminist tract steeped in Degeneration Theory. Dr. James Weir, Jr.’s, article, “The effects of female suffrage on posterity,” argued that feminism (which was then focused on voting rights and the prohibition of alcohol) was just another result of ongoing degeneracy in society. Weir argued that if women were given the right to vote, it would cause further “regression to the atavistic state” in civilization, which, he argued, included matriarchy ( “female government”), communism, “free love,” and homosexuality. He began his monograph, in typical Degeneration Theory fashion, by describing the atavistic swamp from which modern society first arose:

"I did not raise my girl to be a voter." (source)

“I did not raise my girl to be a voter.” (source)

In the very beginning woman was, by function, a mother; by virtue of her surroundings, a house-wife. Man was then as now, the active, dominant factor in those affairs outside the immediate pale of the fireside. Life was collective; “communal was the habitation, and communal the wives with the children; the men pursued the same prey, and devoured it together after the manlier of wolves; all felt, all thought, all acted in concert.” Primitive men were like their Simian ancestors which never paired, and which roamed through the forests in bands and troops. This collectivism is plainly noticeable in certain races of primitive folks which are yet in existence, notably the Autocthons of the Aleutian Islands. Huddled together in their communal Kachims, naked, without thought of immodesty, men, women and children share the same fire and eat from the-same pot.

Weir’s description of atavistic societies then became rather contradictory and confusing:

Frequent wars must have occurred between hostile tribes of primitive men, during which, some of them (physically or numerically weaker than their opponents) must have been repeatedly vanquished, and many of their females captured, for, in those old days (like those of more recent times, for that matter) the women were the prizes for which the men fought. Under circumstances like these, the few remaining women rmust have served as wives for all the men of the tribe; and, in this manner polyandry had its inception.

Under circumstances like these, the few remaining women must have served as wives for all the men of the tribe; and, in this manner polyandry had its inception. Polyandry gives woman certain privileges which monandry denies, and she is not slow to seize on these prerogatives and to use them in the furtherance of her own welfare. Polyandry, originating from any cause whatsoever, will always end in the establishment of a matriarchate, in which the women are either directly or indirectly at the head of the government.

Weir then ignored the vast preponderancy of male-dominated societies to find a few matriarchal ones (including, specifically, the Nair of India) which, he claimed, proved his point.

Weir then, somewhat abruptly, turned to the subject of genius — “retrogressive genius” in particular — which he said gave rise to feminism:

There are two kinds of genius; the first is progressive genius, which always enunciates new and original matter of material benefit to the human race and which is consequently healthy; the second is retrogressive genius, which is imitative and which always enunciates dead and obsolete matter long since abandoned and thrown aside as being utterly useless. The doctrines of communism and of nihilism are the products of retrogressive genius and are clearly atavistic, inasmuch as they are a reversion to the mental habitudes of our savage ancestors. The doctrines of the matriarchate are likewise degenerate beliefs, and if held by any civilized being of to-day, are in evidence of psychic atavism. Atavism invariably attacks the weak; and individuals of a neurasthenic type are more frequently its victims than are any other class of people. Especially is this true in the case of those who suffer from psychical atavism. The woman of to-day, who believes in and inculcates the doctrines of matriarchy, doctrines which have been, as far as the civilized world is concerned, thrown aside and abandoned these many hundred years, is as much the victim of psychic atavism as was Alice Mitchell who slew Freda Ward in Memphis several years ago [see Jan 25], and who was justly declared a viragint by the court that tried her.

This, of course, is where Weir touched on homosexuality and tied it to the feminist movement. The English language was still relatively bereft of easily understandable terms to describe homosexuality. The love that dare not speak its name was only just then acquiring its name in English when Weir wrote his monograph in 1895 (see May 6), and so the scandalous murder of Freda Ward by her lesbian lover stood in as the widely understood euphemism for lesbianism in particular, and somewhat tenuously, homosexuality in general. And it is here that Weir begins to tie it all together:

I think that I am perfectly safe in asserting that every woman who has been at all prominent in advancing the cause of equal rights in its entirety, has either given evidences of masculo-feminity (viraginity), or has shown, conclusively, that she was the victim of psycho-sexual aberrancy. Moreover, the histories of every viragint of any note in the history of the world, show that they were either physically or psychically degenerate, or both. Jeanne d’Arc was the victim of hystero-epilepsy, while Catharine the Great was a dipsomaniac and a creature of unbounded and inordinate sensuality.

…Viraginity has many phases. We see a mild form of it in the tom-boy who abandons her dolls and female companions for the marbles and masculine sports of her boy acquaintances. In the loud-talking, long-stepping, slang-using young woman we see another form, while the square-shouldered, stolid, cold, unemotional, unfeminine android (for she has the normal human form, without the normal human psychos) is yet another. The most aggravated form of viraginity is that known as homo-sexuality; with this form, however, this paper has nothing to do. Another form of viraginity is technically known as gynandry, and may be defined as follows: A victim of gynandry not only has the feelings and desires of a man, but also the skeletal form, features, voice, etc., so that the individual approaches the opposite sex anthropologically, and in more than a psycho-sexual way.

Even if feminists weren’t lesbians, they were, as far as Weir was concerned, only a few steps away from it, a prospect that he clearly didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about (“…with this form, however, this paper has nothing to do”).  Weir had bigger things to worry about. Aside from lesbianism, equal rights for women would bring about all manner of degeneration — moral, psychical, and physical — due to the stresses of increased responsibility:

The effects of degeneration are slow in making their appearance, yet they are exceedingly certain. The longer woman lived amid surroundings calling for increased nervous expenditure, the greater would be the effects of the accruing degeneration on her posterity. …The inherited psychical habitudes handed down through hundreds and thousands of years would prevent the immediate destruction of that ethical purity for which woman is noted, and in the posession [sic] of which she stands so far above man. …(But) there would come a time when the morality of to-day would be utterly lost, and society would sink into some such state of existence as we now find en evidence among the Nairs….

The baneful effects resulting from female suffrage will not be seen tomorrow or next week, or week after next, or next month, or next year, or a hundred years hence, perhaps. It is not a question of our day and generation; it is a matter of involving posterity. The simple right to vote carries with it no immediate danger, the danger comes afterward; probably many years after the establishment of female suffrage, when woman, owing to her increased degeneration, gives free rein to her atavistic tendencies, and hurries ever backward toward the savage state of her barbarian ancestors. I see, in the establishment of equal rights, the first step toward that abyss of immoral horrors so repugnant to our cultivated ethical tastes — the matriarchate. Sunk as low as this, civilized man will sink still lower — to the communal Kachims of the Aleutian Islanders.

[Source: James Weir, Jr. "The effect of female suffrage on posterity." The American Naturalist 29, no 345 (September 1895): 815-825. Full text available online at Archive.org.]

John Curry

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Curry: 1949-1994. As a child, he wanted to be a ballet dancer. His abusive father, a hard-drinking factory owner, forbade it, saying that such ambitions weren’t appropriate for boys. But he did allow his son to take up figure skating at the age of seven. Even then, the elder Curry wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter. He saw his son skate only twice. The father’s suicide 1965 proved to be a turning point. “We were delighted,” he later told a friend. “We were happy. We were free of him.”

By the time he was eighteen, Curry moved to London to study figure skating seriously, and finally take those long-delayed ballet lessons. In 1970, Curry won his first British skating championship after having come in second during the two years before. He would go on to win another four national titles before making the Winter Olympics team for 1976. Shortly before going to Innsbruck, he gave an interview to a journalist with the International Herald Tribune during which, in a moment he thought was off the record, confided that he was gay. International Herald Tribune’s story appeared soon after Curry defeated the favorites from the Soviet Union and Canada to win the gold medal. It made him one of the very few actively competing athletes to declare his sexuality openly.

Curry’s style of figure skating involved an artful combination of ballet and skating. That may not seem so unusual today, but men’s figure skating before 1976 was much more “athletic” — more jumping around and heaving women right and left. Peggy Flemming, the 1968 Women’s gold medalist, later commented, “I think he brought the purest form of ballet to the ice. He was a real purist, totally devoted to the art of skating. He also had the technique and athleticism to make that art look effortless. It was a wonderful blend of what skating is about — art and sport.”

But off the rink, his homosexuality would make him a ripe target for barbs and humiliations. The December after winning his Olympic gold medal, he was honored by the Sports Journalists’ Association at a London hotel. Curry was late to collect his reward, and as he made his way to the table during the evening’s comic act, the comic joked, “It’s good to feel the Christmas spirit among us all, and here comes the fairy for the tree.” Curry collected his award in silence. He later said it was “one of the most hurtful incidents in my life.”

Curry turned professional after winning the World Championships in 1976, and founded his own touring skating company after turning down offers to join other companies. “I never could see the point of spending 12 years training to go dress up in a Bugs Bunny suit.” He brought his show “Ice Dancing” to Broadway in 1977-1978, and toured with his John Curry Skating Company.

By the mid-1980s, Curry noticed the toll that AIDS was taking in the skating world. “”It is hard to watch people in that situation, and it was frightening when people started to become ill,” he said, adding “You start to think ‘When is it going to be my turn?’” His turn came in 1987 when he found out he was HIV-positive. He participated in the fundraiser Skating for Life in 1988, and his final skating performance in 1989 was for another AIDS benefit. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1991 and went back to his mother’s home in Binton, Warwickshire, where he died on April 15, 1994.

Here is a clip of his performance at Innsbruck.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, September 8

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2014
Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Ronald M. Gould, and Marsha S. Berzon

Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Ronald M. Gould, and Marsha S. Berzon

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Ninth Circuit to Hear Three Marriage Cases: San Francisco, CA. The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals will hear oral arguments to day in three marriage cases: Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii. In the Idaho case, the state Attorney General is appealing a lower court decision from last May which found Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The Idaho decision was the first ruling from a Federal Court in the Ninth Circuit which was bound by the Ninth Circuit’s SmithKline ruling which found that gays and lesbians were a suspect class subjected to heightened scrutiny.

That finding also led the Governor and state Attorney General’s office from Nevada to withdraw their defense of that state’s marriage ban. A Federal District Court there had upheld that state’s marriage equality ban in 2012, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision which has led to a flood of Federal Court rulings striking marriage bans in several states across the country. With only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage left to support that state’s marriage ban, it’s hard to see that this case will go very far at all.

So what’s the deal about the Hawaii case. Don’t they already have marriage equality? Well, they do, as a matter of legislation, thanks to a marriage equality bill that was signed into law in 2013. Before that happened, a Federal District Judge ruled that Hawaii’s law banning same-sex marriage was constitutional in 2012. The plaintiffs in that case argue that their case is not moot, since what can be made into law today can be unmade just as easily, in which case that 2012 ruling would still be in force. And so now they are seeking a post-Windsor, post-SmithKline ruling from the Ninth to completely seal the whole deal altogether.

The three judges drawn for today’s hearing — Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Ronald M. Gould, and Marsha S. Berzon — bodes exceptionally well for marriage equality. Judge Reinhardt wrote the Ninth Circuit majority opinions in the SmithKline case, with Judge Berzon joining in that opinion. Judge Gould wrote the Ninth Circuit majority opinion in Witt v. Dept. of the Air Force, which found “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional, making discharges of servicemembers in the Ninth Circuit somewhat more difficult since it required the military to demonstrate actual harm in that servicemember’s unit.

The hearings will begin at 1:00 p.m. PDT in Courtroom One of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, 95 7th St., San Francisco. The hearings will be livestreamed. Check here for more details.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 22.

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 22.

Jeannie Sullivan and Tommy Vasu.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 60 YEARS AGO: San Francisco Police Raid Tommy’s Place: 1954. Tommy Vasu, one of the owners of Tommy’s Place, was the first known lesbian to have an legal ownership stake of a bar in San Francisco. Wherever she went, she attracted attention: dressed in double-breasted suits, wide tie and a fedora, she loved to gamble and was known as a risk taker. Vasu, with her girlfriend Jeanne Sullivan, Grace Miller and Joyce van de Veer, opened Tommy’s Place at 520 Broadway in 1952. Tommy’s Place attracted a mixed crowd of artists, prostitutes, bohemians and, of course, lesbians. Vasu and Sullivan also operated 12 Adler Place; its entrance was just around the corner and the two clubs, which shared a single liquor license, were connected inside by a split-level mezzanine. Because Vasu had a police record, her name could not appear on a liquor license. She put the license in Sullivan’s name, and she listed Miller and van de Veer as owners of 12 Adler Place so they could serve as bartenders.

In 1954, the McCarthy “Lavender Scare” was still in full swing, and whenever elections loomed in San Francisco, the police department would unleash another round of raids to “clean up the city.” In June, The Examiner, owned by William Randolph Hearst, published a series of articles decrying the “marked influx recently of homosexuals” into San Francisco: “The condition (of the city) is marked by the increase of homosexuals in the parks, public gathering places and certain taverns in the city. It is a bad situation. It is a situation that has resulted in extortion and blackmail. Even worse, these deviates multiply by recruiting teen-agers.”

Police Chief Michael Gaffey announced a new campaign to “clean the homosexuals from the streets, the public rooms and the parks where their actions have become intolerably offensive.” That month, police raided five bars in the Tenderloin “suspected of being frequented by sex deviates.” While those cases drew headlines, those raids were quickly forgotten. The big raid was still in the planning phase. In July, Police were three months into an investigation involving a dozen high school girls who “donned mannish clothes and frequented pool halls.” On September 1, they raided the home of Jesse Joseph Winston, who they determined was hosting parties for teenage girls where he allegedly provided them with marijuana and Benzedrine, and supposedly schooled them in “sexual rebellion.” As part of that investigation, police determined that Winston met these supposedly “innocent girls from good families” at Tommy’s Place, where he invited them over to his place after the bars closed. The fact that Winston was African-American and the girls were white only added to the city-wide panic which ensued. Winston was charged with three counts of providing marijuana to a minor and one count of possession of marijuana.

Grace Miller, behind the bar at Tommy’s Place. (Click to enlarge.)

A week later, Police turned their attention to Tommy’s Place and 12 Adler Place, where they arrested Grace Miller and Joyce van de Veer, who were working as bartenders that night. They were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to news reports, Tommy’s place was targeted because:

The bar, police said, has long served as a happy hunting ground for a group of adult debauchees, who recruited school girls into their academy of dope addiction and sexual perversion. “At least a dozen” teen-age girls have been ensnared, according to Inspector L.G. Etherington and taken from the bar to other places in the Latin Quarter for a full education in abominable practices.”

One former patron later remembered the raid at Tommy’s Place:

“They (Miller and van de Veer) were framed as part of this harassment of gay bars. Two of her [Tommy's] bartenders were arrested. … One of them is a good friend of mine. She did six months. They were accused of serving minors, and the girls were minors but they had forged IDs. It sort of escalated, and the PTA got involved. Then the police planted some drugs in the ladies’ room, some heroin and the works or something like that, and they pretend to find it. … The Examiner just ran with it. At that time it was a real sensational tabloid.

Indeed it was. The day after the raid, The Examiner’s front page screamed with alarm: “School-girls’ vice, dope revealed in S.F. Bar Raid.” and “S.F. Teen-age Girls Tell of ‘Vice Academy’.” The raid on Tommy’s Place, pumped by The Examiner’s sensational headlines, sparked a city-wide panic, which led to more crackdowns on gay bars. News of Tommy’s raid even reached Washington. In October, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which had been holding hearings in various cities across the country, arrived in San Francisco, where the Tommy’s Place raid was the main focus.

As for the three who were arrested, Joyce Van de Veer was acquitted. Grace Miller was found guilty of serving alcohol to a minor and served six months in the county jail. Winston was convicted and sentenced to a term of one to twenty years at San Quentin. Eventually, the state of California revoked the liquor license, and Tommy’s Place and 12 Adler Place were forced to close. The building which housed Tommy’s Place is now a straight strip club called “The Garden of Eden.” The entrance to 2 Adler Place (the street has since been re-named William Saroyan Place) is now the home of Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe, a hard-to-find hipster dive bar which has been described both as “chaotically-themed” and “virtually unchanged.”

[Source: Nan Alamilla Boyd. Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (University of California Press, 2003): 92-100.]

 Time Magazine’s “I Am A Homosexual”: 1975. Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich’s picture on the cover of Time with the caption announcing “I Am a Homosexual” posed a direct challenge to the pre-”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving in the military. As Time reported, he was the perfect test case: “The tall, red-haired sergeant has an impeccable twelve-year military record, no known psychiatric problems, and a Bronze Star and Purple Heart won on one of his three tours in Viet Nam.” A five-member Air Force review board heard his case the following week. He lost that case, and he was excommunicated from the Mormon Church a month later.

But on this date in 1975, he became the face of the gay community as Time devoted several pages to the rising gay rights movement. By then, twelve states had eliminated their laws making homosexuality a crime, and the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association recognized that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. AT&T and the Civil Service Commission had announced that they were willing to hire openly gay employees, and one major educational journal wrote that gay teachers should come out to their students. Time covered the usual ground for stories of this kind: gay activism, the problems gay people face, the requisite tour of the raunchier gay establishments (New York’s Eagle gets a mention, along with an introduction to the handkerchief code and bathhouses), and yet the article manages to present gay people as real people — something quite rare for 1975. The word “gay” is used in about equal measure as “homosexual,” and the word “militant” appears only three times in the 5,400 word article. It did however end on a down note, warning that homosexuality become more widespread if anti-gay discrimination were to end:

Says Psychoanalyst Herbert Hendin: “‘Anything goes’ is a legitimate attitude for consenting adults toward each other, but for a culture to declare it as a credo is to miss entirely the stake all of us have in the harmony between the sexes and in the family as the irreplaceable necessity of society. This is a society that is increasingly denying its impotence by calling it tolerance, preaching resignation and naming all this progress.”

It’s worth noting that while both APA’s (the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association) had declared that homosexuality was not a mental disorder, the American Psychoanalytic Association was much slower to reach that conclusion. It wasn’t until 1991 when the APsaA formally declared that homosexuality was no longer a barrier to becoming a psychoanalyst. It’s also worth noting that most conversion therapy today is still rooted in older psychoanalytic theories. And, it’s worth noting further that the argument that increased acceptance for gay people today will create more gay people tomorrow is still a staple of anti-gay and ex-gay rhetoric.

On the whole, Time’s coverage of Matlovich’s case was relatively positive — well, positive-for-1975 positive. Coverage elsewhere wasn’t so tactful. Gay activists targeted San Francisco’s KPIX studios when an anchorman, after reading Matlovich’s story and thinking the microphone was switched off, was heard to say, “I was going to say ‘faggot flier’ but I thought…” — before a technician actually switched the mike off.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 60 YEARS AGO: Mark Foley: 1954. When the lifelong bachelor Republican from Florida cast his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, journalist Kurt Wolf decided it was time to out Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) and fellow Republican Jim Kolbe (R-AZ, see Jun 28) from the Congressional closet, first on a New York City radio station, then on a Boston cable-access television show. The Advocate picked up the story and decided to call the two congressmen for comment. Both men hid behind the excuse that their sexual orientations weren’t relevant, but a week later Kolbe decided to come out (see Aug 1).

Foley didn’t, and the story mostly went away until it was resurrected, briefly, when Foley was considering a run at Sen. Bob Graham’s (D-FL) vacating Senate seat. Ths time, Broward County’s New Times picked it up, leading Foley to call a news conference to denounce what he termed the “revolting and unforgivable” rumors, while simultaneously managing to avoid denying the rumors specifically. A few weeks later, he dropped out and decided to remain in the House.

All was quiet until September 28, 2006 when news reports broke that Foley had sent email messages to a former Congressional page asking the page to send him a photo. That report prompted another page to come forward, who shared sexual explicit AOL instant messages sent by Foley. Confronted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Foley resigned on September 29 rather than face expulsion from the House.

More pages and former pages came forward, with allegations stretching back at least ten years. It emerged soon emerged that Foley had been warned by another House Republican and the House Clerk in 2005. Subsequent criminal investigations by the FBI and the state of Florida found no eveidence of criminal wrongdoing; the pages were above the age of consent, although Florida investigators complained about “Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data.” Foley returned to Florida and entered the real estate business in Palm Beach. Foley also came out publicly and acknowledged his partner, Layne Nisenbaum. The two, it turned out, had been together since 1984. Nisenbaum died in 2012.

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, September 7

Jim Burroway

September 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Lincoln City, OR;Stavanger, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: Womenfest, Key West, FL; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Sacramento, CA; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week in Texas, July 2, 1977, page 33.

From This Week in Texas, July 2, 1977, page 33.

The original building is still there, serving as a restaurant and bar. A few years later, the Private Cellar moved about twenty blocks east to 709 E. Sixth, the eastern edge of Austin’s world-famous live music district, where by 1982 it was billing itself as “Austin’s oldest” in ads taken out in gay newspapers.

G Frank Lydston

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 125 YEARS AGO: “There Is In Every Community of Any Size a Colony”: 1889. ichard von Krafft-Ebing, the famed Austro-German psychiatrist argued in his 1886 book, Psychopathia Sexualis, that homosexuality was a biological condition rather than a moral failing. By the late 1880s, those ideas were beginning to have an impact on psychiatry across the Atlantic, particularly as translated excerpts from his book began appearing in English-language journals. One of those who tried to adopt, if rather incompletely, Krafft-Ebing’s new outlook on Contrare Sexualempfindung was a very colorful urologist, surgeon, and professor from Chicago by the name of G. Frank Lydston. In 1889, Lydston delivered a lecture at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago where he seemed to recognize that Kafft-Ebing’s new perspective was a decided advantage to everyone concerned:

The subject has been until a recent date studied solely from the standpoint of the moralist, and from the indisposition of the scientific physician to study the subject, the unfortunate class of individuals who are characterized by perverted sexuality have been viewed in the light of their moral responsibility rather than as the victims of a physical and incidentally of a mental defect. It is certainly much less humiliating to us as atoms of the social fabric to be able to attribute the degradation of these poor unfortunates to a physical cause, than to it willful viciousness over which they have, or ought to have, volitional control. Even to the moralist there should be much satisfaction in the thought that a large class of sexual perverts are physically abnormal rather than morally leprous.

To back up that statement, Lydston quoted from Krafft-Ebing, who wrote, “As we study into the abnormal and diseased conditions from which this malady results, the ideas of horror and criminality connected with it disappear … [T]he investigations of science will become the means of rescuing the honor and re-establishing the social position of many an unfortunate whom unthinking prejudice and ignorance would class among depraved criminals.” Krafft-Ebing concluded that such an understanding would be “a service to justice and to society by teaching that what seem to be immoral conditions and actions are but the results of disease.”

Considering the draconian criminal penalties that were imposed on those convicted of “crimes against nature,” Krafft-Ebing’s argument was exceptionally enlightened for its day. It was, in essence, this: Don’t throw them into prison; they can’t help what they’re doing. Lydston then set about to describe “them”:

There is in every community of any size a colony of male sexual perverts; they are usually known to each other, and are likely to congregate together. At times they operate in accordance with some definite and concerted plan in quest of subjects wherewith to gratify their abnormal sexual impulses. Often they are characterized by effeminacy of voice, dress, and manner. In a general way, their physique is apt to be inferior — a defective physical make-up being quite general among them, although exceptions to this rule are numerous.

Sexual perversion is more frequent in the female; women usually fall into perverted sexual habits for the purpose of pandering to the depraved tastes of their patrons rather than from instinctive impulses. Exceptions to this rule are occasionally seen. For example, I know of an instance of a woman of perfect physique, who is not a professional prostitute, but moves in good society, who has a fondness for women, being never attracted to men for the purpose of ordinary sexual indulgence, but for perverted methods.

When Krafft-Ebing wrote of Contrare Sexualempfindung (Contrary Sexual Feeling), he was describing homosexuality specifically.  But now it must be noted here that when Lydstrom wrote of “sexual perverts,” Lydston had shifted his definitions a bit. He defined sexual perversion more broadly as “the possession of impulses to sexual gratification in an abnormal manner, with a partial or complete apathy toward the normal method.” He then divided them into three classes: “(a) Those having a predilection (affinity) for their own sex; (b) those having a predilection for abnormal methods of gratification with the opposite sex; (c) those affected with bestiality.” And for all three classes, he departed from Krafft-Ebing, who described sexual “perversion” as the result of biology, by dividing his three classes further according to whether their “perversion” was congenital or acquired:

I. Congenital, and perhaps hereditary sexual perversion.

a. Sexual perversion without defect of structure of sexual organs.
b. Sexual perversion with defect of genital structure, e.g. hermaphroditism.
c. Sexual perversion with obvious defect of cerebral development e.g. idiocy.

II. Acquired sexual perversion.

a. Sexual perversion from pregnancy, the menopause, ovarian disease, hysteria, etc.
b. Sexual perversion from acquired cerebral disease, with or without recognized insanity.
c. Sexual perversion (?) from vice. [Note: the parenthetical question mark is in the original]
d. Sexual perversion from over stimulation of the nerves of sexual sensibility and the receptive sexual centres, incidental to sexual excesses and masturbation.

Lydston then considered the possible causes of “sexual perversion”. This is where Degeneracy Theory came into play (see Sep 3 for a brief introduction to Degeneracy Theory): “In some cases, perhaps, sexual differentiation has been imperfect, and there is a reversion of type; (to) the original bi-sexuality of the ancestors of the race, shown in the rudimentary female organs of the male.”  Because he, like nearly everyone else in the late nineteenth century, believed firmly in Degeneracy Theory, he gave a poor prognosis for the future:

It is probable that few bodily attributes are more readily transmitted to posterity than peculiarities of sexual physiology. The offspring of the abnormally carnal individual is likely to be possessed of the same inordinate sexual appetite that characterizes the parent. The child of vice has within it, in many instances, the germ of vicious impulse, and no purifying influence can save it from following its own inherent inclinations. Men and women who seek, from mere satiety, variations of the normal method of sexual gratification, stamp their nervous systems with a malign influence which in the next generation may present itself as true sexual perversion. Acquired sexual perversion in one generation may be a true constitutional and irradicable vice in the next, and this independently of gross physical aberrations.

Because Lydston believed — as Degeneracy Theory explained — that the volitional sins of the fathers become the biological errors of the sons, he had a particular disdain for those whose “perversions” were acquired. Whatever high-minded purpose he may have had at the beginning of the lecture when he cast the discussion as one between a moralist and a “scientific physician,” this particular physician wound up delivering a fully moralistic condemnation to everyone concerned:

There exists in every great city so large a number of sexual perverts, that seemingly their depraved tastes have been commercially appreciated by the demi-monde. This has resulted in the formation of establishments whose principal business it is to cater to the perverted sexual tastes of a numerous class of patrons. Were the names and social positions of these patrons made public in the case of our own city, society would be regaled with something fully as disgusting, and coming much nearer home, than the Pall Mall Gazette exposures.

The individuals alluded to would undoubtedly resent the appellation of “sexual pervert;” but, nevertheless, in many instances they present the disease in its most inexcusable form: that from vicious impulse. Personally, I fail to see any difference, from a moral standpoint, between the individual who is gratified sexually only by oral masturbation performed by the opposite sex, and those unfortunate mortals whose passions can be gratified only by performing the active role in the same disgusting performance. One is to be pitied for his constitutional fault; the other to be despised for his deliberately acquired debasement.

[Source: G. Frank Lydston. "Clinical Lecture: Sexual perversion, satyriasis, and nymphomania" (Part 1). Medical and Surgical Reporter 61, no. 10 (September 7, 1889): 253-258. The lecture is also available via Google Books here, in an 1895 collection of addresses and essays by Lydston.]

Joseph McCarthy and his “pixie.”

McCarthy’s 145 “Deviates” In The State Department: 1952. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) anti-Communist hearings are a dark, well-known chapter in American history. His campaign to root out suspected “subversives” from under every bed wasn’t limited to Communists; there was a very strong anti-gay subtext to his witch hunts as well. For the first time, gay men and women were actively rooted out of all levels of government employment. Gays were seen not only as morally suspect, but also a security risk and a dangerous influence in government offices. In 1952, McCarthy published a book titled McCarthyism: The Fight For America, in which he laid out his crusade to rid the country of “Communists and perverts.” As part of his book’s promotion, McCarthy answered several question from the editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel. McCarthy accused several State Department employees by name of harboring Communist sympathies and took credit for their ouster. He also took credit for the removal of 145 “deviates”:

QUESTION — How many sex deviates have been removed from the State Department?

ANSWER — Ninety-one were forced to resign from the State Department prior to 1950 and 54 since that time. The Senate Special Investigating Committee had this to say about those who were allowed to resign: “In most of those cases, these known homosexuals were allowed to resign for ‘personal reasons,’ and no information was placed in the regular personnel files of the state Department indicating the real reason for resignation nor was the Civil Service Commission informed of the true reason for the resignation … Die ot the manner in which these cases were mishandled, 23 of those 91 state Department employees found there way into other departments of government.”

QUESTION — Do you claim that the sex deviates removed from the State Department were all disloyal?

ANSWER — No, but all were considered security risks. One reason why sex deviates are considered by all intelligence agencies of the government to be security risks in that they are subject to blackmail. Is is a known fact that espionage agents often have been successful in extorting information from them by threatening to expose their abnormal habits.

The Special Senate Investigating Committee had this to say about the high percentage of sex deviates in government: “The homosexual has a tendency to gather other perverts around him. Eminent psychiatrists have informed the subcommittee that the homosexual is likely to seek his own kind because the pressures of society are such that he feels uncomfortable unless his is with his own kind. Due to this situation the homosexual tends to surround himself with other homosexuals, not only in his social but in his business life. Under these circumstances, if a homosexual attains a position in government where he can influence the hiring of personnel, it is almost inevitable that he will attempt to place other homosexuals in government jobs.”

The worst irony in all this is that throughout McCarthy’s witch hunts, a young lawyer by the name of Roy Cohn served as McCarthy’s right hand man. During one of McCarthy’s televised hearings into the supposed influence of communists in the U.S. Army, attorney Joseph Welch accused McCarthy of accepting a doctored photo as evidence. Referring to Cohn, Welch asked McCarthy whether the photo “came from a pixie.” When McCarthy asked what a pixie was, Welch replied “a close relative of a fairy.” Cohn would later become a regular fixture, albeit a publicly closeted one, in gay conservative circles. He died of AIDS in 1986.

Mayor Abe Aronovitz

 60 YEARS AGO: “Florida Gov. Appoints Special Attorney to “Eradicate” Gays from Miami: 1954. By the fall of 1954, with the public having had just about had enough with Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s constant and indiscriminate red-baiting, the Senate had begun a series of public hearings on a possible censure of the Wisconsin’s junior Republican. But the newspaper-driven Lavender scare which had been building in Miami for the past month showed no signs of abating (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1 and Sep 2). And now Florida’s acting Governor Charley E. Johns deciding to get into the act. In a letter to Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, Johns announced that he had appointed Miami attorney Morey Rayman “to aid you and to cooperate with you and your office in the eradication and control of sex deviates. Every law enforcement agency under my jurisdiction has been issued orders to do everything within their power to correct this serious situation which has been called to my attention.”

Florida’s acting Gov. Charley Johns

Johns became acting governor when Gov. Dan McCarty died in 1953. He would later return to the State Senate where he would head up the infamous Johns Committee which revived a statewide Red Scare and Lavender scare, with its investigations of alleged communists, homosexuals, and civil rights advocates among the students and faculty of Florida’s schools and university system. Johns would dominate the state’s anti-gay and anti-communist crusade from 1956 to 1965. By the time the committee was disbanded, it had forced more than 100 professors and deans out of the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of South Florida.

Aronowitz made the letter public while criticizing City Manager Arthur Evans and Police Chief Walter Headley for their failure to rid the city of homosexuals. The letter from the acting governor was just one way for him to turn up the heat on Evans and Headley, with whom Aronovitz had expressed increasing frustration for quite some time (See Aug 26 and Aug 31). “They had better start looking for other jobs if they don’t deliver the goods on this,” Aronovitz told reporters.

Headley responded that his anti-gay drive, while resulting in precious few arrests (see Sep 2), nevertheless was having its intended effect. “Now we’re getting complaints from other places that perverts are beginning to drift into them. I believe we’re making them uncomfortable,” he told The Miami News. He also revealed that six women suspected by police of being lesbians were arrested at a bar the prior night, questioned and released.

10 YEARS AGO: Log Cabin Republicans Refuse to Endorse Bush’s Re-Election: 2004. When Texas Gov. George W. Bush ran for President in 2000, he was eager to avoid the uglier aspects of kind of culture war politics which proved fatally divisive during his father’s failed re-election bid in 1992. The younger Bush’s solution was not to run away from social conservatism altogether, but to put a friendlier, more “compassionate conservative” face on it. He was up front about his evangelical belief, even going so far during a primary debate to name as his favorite political philosopher or thinker as “Christ, because he changed my heart.” Certainly, as Governor, Bush had opposed the repeal of Texas’s sodomy law (the same law which was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003), and he refused to back any pro-gay measures in the state. But when he agreed to meet with members of Log Cabin Republicans in 2000 in Austin, he became the first Republican presidential candidate to do so. Bush didn’t concede any policy changes at the meeting — he still opposed federal hate crimes expansion and same-sex marriage — but he said that marriage should be left to the states. After meeting, Bush declared “I am a better man” and promised to include gays and lesbians as part of his administration. When Bush took office in 2001, he appointed openly gay employees in his administration, including, most notably, Michael Guest to serve as ambassador to Romania from 2001 to 2004.

The landscape in 2004 was considerably different. Gays were marrying in Massachusetts (see May 17) and, briefly, in San Francisco (see Feb 12). Social conservatives, a vitally important voting block for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, were clamoring for a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to write discrimination permanently into national law once and for all. And Bush’s campaign, eager to avoid the too-close-by-a-chad outcome of 2000, was determined to energize the Evangelical base more directly than they had done in 2000. To placate that base — and in keeping with campaign strategist Karl Rove’s project to encourage several important states (including, critically, Ohio) to place marriage bans proposals on their ballots as part of a get-out-the-vote effort — Bush had declared his support for a the Federal Marriage Amendment (see Feb 24), which, if enacted, would have permanently and nationally banished all same-sex marriages “or the legal incidents thereof.”

Bush’s announcement was taken as a betrayal by those who had met with him in 2000 and were reassured that Bush’s compassionate conservatism would spell an end to divisive politics. And so two months before election day, Log Cabin Republicans announced that they would not endorse President Bush for re-election, specifically because of his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. “It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the president’s support for an antifamily constitutional amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships,” Log Cabin political director Chris Barron said.

LCR Executive Director Patrick Guerriero explained the decision: “Log Cabin’s decision was made in response to the White House’s strategic political decision to pursue a re-election strategy catered to the radical right. The president’s use of the bully pulpit, stump speeches and radio addresses to support a constitutional amendment has encouraged the passage of discriminatory laws and state constitutional amendments across America. Using gays and lesbians as wedge issues in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Valerie Taylor: 1913-1997. Born Velma Nacella Young in Aurora, Illinois, she developed scoliosis as a child, which led her to believe that she was unattractive — and which instilled in her an early identification and empathy with the underdog. She began publishing a series of mass market lesbian novels in the 1950s under the pen name Valerie Taylor. Those novels became classics of the lesbian pulp fiction era. She published her first general fiction novel, Hired Girl in 1953, and used the $500 proceeds to acquire a pair of shoes, two dresses, and a divorce against her increasingly abusive husband.

Taylor then became a prolific writer in several genres — poetry as Nacella Young, popular romances as Francine Davenport, and, of course, lesbian pulp fiction as Valerie Taylor, including such classics as Whisper Their Love (1957), The Girls In 3-B (1959), , Stranger on Lesbos (1960), World Without Men (1963), Unlike Others (1963),and Ripening (1988). A member of the Chicago Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, she was also a frequent contributor to the organization’s national magazine, The Ladder, as Velma Tate.

Valerie Taylor’s “Whisper Their Love” (1957).

While Taylor’s books might be dismissed as trashy novels, they were taken very seriously by gay women in the 1950s and 1960s. The Ladder didn’t just include them in book reviews, but often dedicated several pages to discussing, analyzing and criticizing them both on their literary merits and, more often, on the way the novels portrayed lesbians to a wider audience. This illustrated how important the lesbian pulp fiction genre really was: for many lesbians, especially those in small towns and rural areas outside the reach of the Daughters of Bilitis or The Ladder, lesbian pulp fiction was often the only medium where lesbians could see other people like themselves, even if those people were imaginary characters in impossibly outlandish situations. These pocket drug-store paperbacks were a treasured lifeline for many women across the country.

It’s fitting then that Taylor herself became very active in gay rights. In addition to her activities with the DOB, she helped to co-found Mattachine Midwest, the Chicago Chapter of the Mattachine Society, in 1965, and she and edited its newsletter for several years. She protested at the 1968 Democratic Convention with other Mattachine members, and she worked for the Women’s International League for Peace.

Taylor met her partner, civil rights attorney Pearl Hart (see Apr 7), when the two of them helped to co-found Mattachine Midwest. They remained together for the next ten years until Hart’s death in 1975. Sadly, as Hart lay dying in a hospital, Taylor was prohibited from visiting and saying goodbye to her because Taylor wasn’t considered immediate family. By the time a friend intervened, Hart was already in a coma.

After her partner’s death, Taylor moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she became a Quaker and a member of the Gray Panthers. She and Hart were inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992. Taylor died in 1997 at the age of 84. Her books have recently found a new audience as younger women rediscovered vintage pulp fiction paperbacks in second-hand stores, and many of her original novels have become prized collectibles. In 2011, several of Taylor’s titles were released on Amazon.com as Kindle ebooks.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 6

Jim Burroway

September 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bloomington, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Lincoln City, OR; Roanoke, VA; Stavanger, Norway; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, New Zealand; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Sacramento, CA; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Just Us, 1975, page 25

From Just Us, 1975, page 25.

Legal and informal segregation meant that the social scene for Washington D.C.’s gay African-Americans revolved around house parties and social clubs. Many of the social clubs saw their meeting places decimated by the riots and fires of April 1968. The Metropolitan Capitolites, one of the more popular clubs, moved from 14th St NW to the basement at 221 Riggs Road NE under a straight biker bar and opened the Zodiac. When the biker bar moved out, the MC’s took over the whole building and renamed the club Third World. Their sunday shows featured jazz, blues, rock and gospel singers. When the Third World outgrew its space, it moved to Upshur St. NW and became the ClubHouse, a membership-only club that freed it from some of the restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Schematic diagram of Louis William Max’s device for inducing a powerful electric shock. (Click to enlarge.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First Recorded Case Of Electric Shock Treatment for Homosexuality: 1935. The idea had been floated around for quite a while among therapists practicing a brand new, non-Freudian form of psychology known as Behavioral Therapy. The premise for this form of therapy goes back to Pavlov’s dog, which was trained to salivate whenever it heard a ringing bell. Behavioral Therapy used various systems of rewards and punishments — initially, mostly punishments — to instill desired behavior in their subjects. And therapists were always on the lookout for new, effective forms of punishment. Shocking patients with a dose of electricity was seen as one promising avenue, but improperly administered, electric current could be lethal, as prisons from Sing Sing to San Quentin demonstrated on a regular basis.

But by 1935, that problem was solved. At an earlier meeting of the New York branch of the American Psychological Association, New York University’s Louis William Max introduced a new device that he invented to safely administer a painful electric shock to his patient (see Mar 11). Later that year, Dr. Max traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to give a brief talk before the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting about his attempts to cure homosexuality using his new electric shock device. On Friday, September 6th at 2:00 p.m., the APA convened a panel on Abnormal Psychology at the University of Michigan’s Chemistry Amphitheater (room 165, to be exact), where Dr. Max gave his talk. The transcript of the talk itself is not available, but this brief synopsis appeared two months later in the APA’s Psychological Bulletin:

Breaking Up a Homosexual Fixation by the Conditioned Reaction Technique: A Case Study. Louis Wm. Max, New York University.

A homosexual neurosis in a young man was found upon analysis to be partially fetishistic, the homosexual behavior usually following upon the fetishistic stimulus. An attempt was made to disconnect the emotional aura from this stimulus by means of electric shock, applied in conjunction with the presentation of the stimulus under laboratory conditions. Low shock intensities had little effect but intensities considerably higher than those usually employed on human subjects in other studies, definitely diminished the emotional value of the stimulus for days after each experimental period. Though the subject reported some backsliding, the ” desensitizing ” effect over a three month period was cumulative. Four months after cessation of the experiment he wrote, ” That terrible neurosis has lost its battle, not completely but 95% of the way.” Advantages and limitations of this technique are discussed. [10 min.]

Behavioral techniques to try to “cure” homosexuality took many forms, from electric shock therapy on adults and adolescents, to so-called “mild swats” on four-year-old boys like Kirk Andrew Murphy, who underwent behavioral therapy at the hands of George Rekers. You can learn more about the role of Behavioral Therapy in attempts to “cure” homosexuality in Blind Man’s Bluff, an epilogue to our award-winning original investigation, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, about Kirk’s treatment at UCLA under Rekers.

[Source: Louis William Max. "Breaking up a homosexual fixation by the conditioned reaction technique: A case study." Psychological Bulletin 32, no. 9 (November 1935): 734.]

William Martin (left) and Bernon Mitchell (center) at the Moscow press conference.

Martin and Mitchell Announce Their Defection to the Soviet Union: 1960. The U.S. was still recovering from its embarrassment over the Soviets’ shooting down of an American U-2 spy plane in Soviet airspace four months earlier when the Soviets staged another dramatic press conference at the Kremlin. This time, the Soviets trotted out two American National Security Agency employees, Bernon F. Mitchell, 31, of Eureka, California, and William H. Martin, 29, of Ellensburg, Washington, who announced that they had defected to the Soviet Union with the intention of becoming Soviet citizens.

“We would attempt to crawl to the moon if we thought it would lessen the threat of an atomic war,” Martin said as he read a statement before television cameras. He then spilled their secrets: that the U.S. had broken the codes of 40 friendly nations and had planted a spy in the Turkish embassy. He denounced the U-2 reconnaissance flights over Soviet airspace and predicted that U.S. policy would lead to World War III. “Perhaps U.S. hostility toward communism arises out of a feeling of insecurity engendered by Communist achievements in science, culture and industry. If this is so, such feelings of insecurity are a poor excuse for endangering world peace,” he said.

The whole saga began on June 24, when they left Fort Meade, Maryland, for what they told family and friends was a vacation to see family in California and Washington. They never appeared at their destinations, and their failure to report back to work in mid-July prompted a massive investigation. On August 1, the Pentagon announced that the two were missing, and four days later, they revealed the “likelihood” that they had “gone behind the Iron Curtain.” Investigators learned that the men had booked a flight for Mexico City and briefly stayed at a hotel there before taking another flight to Cuba on tickets purchased “by someone other than Martin or Mitchell.” From there, they took a freighter to the Soviet Union.

Family members were shocked, and wondered whether they had been kidnapped or were in Moscow “under duress.” The mens’ parents said that the two had been very close friends, since serving together in the navy between 1951 and 1953, and joining the NSA in 1957. Both families recalled them as “normal boys.” The “normal boys,” meanwhile, said that they planned to settle down and start families in the Soviet Union. “Talents of women are encouraged and utilized to a much greater extent in the Soviet Union than in the United States,” Martin said. “We feel that this enriches Soviet society and makes Soviet women more desirable as mates…”

But within days, talk of the “long-time bachelor pals” began appearing in the press. Rep. Francis E. Walter (D-PA), chair of the House Committee on un-American Activities, said that the two were known to their acquaintances as “sex deviates.” Speculation ran rampant that the two were either blackmailed or mentally disturbed. Time reported that a review of security records revealed that Mitchell had visited a psychiatrist and speculated that the reason for the visit was “presumably out of concern for homosexual tendencies.” Attorney General William Rogers feared that the Soviets had a list of gay people to draw on in their recruiting and blackmail efforts. President Eisenhower, who had signed an executive order seven years earlier banning gay and lesbians from federal employment, (see Apr 27), sought a central authority to coordinate a government-wide investigation of gays in the workforce.

But subsequent investigations over the next three years failed to come up with any evidence for Martin’s or Mitchell’s homosexuality. On the contrary, the NSA’s internal investigations uncovered evidence of relationships with women, with Martin sometimes engaging in sex with “multiple female partners,” as well as a running sexual relationship with a Baltimore stripper. A 1961 NSA report found no evidence that the two were gay, let alone lovers as many had assumed. “Martin and Mitchell were known to be close friends and somewhat anti-social, but no one had any knowledge of a homosexual relationship between them,” the report said. In fact, Martin married a Russian woman four months after arriving there, and Mitchell married later.

But lacking any other rationale that would explain the pair’s betrayal, the NSA launched a witch hunt for any other “deviants” on its payroll, leading to the purging of twenty-six employees because of alleged “perversions.” When the House un-American Activities Committee issued its report in 1961, it blamed the pair’s defection on their alleged homosexuality. The press jumped on the same bandwagon, with the Los Angeles Times speculating that Martin and Mitchell were part of a ring of homosexuals who “recruit other sex deviates for federal jobs.” Hearst papers referred to them as “the two defecting blackmailed homosexual specialists” and as a “love team.” The Lavender Scare of the McCarthy era ten years earlier was in full bloom again. For years to come, government officials would point to the Martin and Mitchell case as justification for maintaining its ban on federal employment and security clearances for gay people. The employment ban would remain in place until 1975 (see Jul 3), and it would take an executive order from President Bill Clinton in 1995 (see Aug 4) to finally remove homosexuality as a reason for denying security clearances once and for all.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sylvester: 1946-1988. Born Sylvester James in Los Angeles, he lived his entire life on the corner of Gay and Black. Like Cher, he dropped his surname when he moved to San Francisco in 1970 and began performing with the gender-queering troupe known as the Cockettes. He also performed in drag in a musical review of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday songs. He went on to form rock several bands before finally latching onto the disco craze in the mid-1970s as a solo artist. His second album, Step II, yielded his greatest funk/disco hits, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat)”. In 1979, he appeared in the film The Rose, starring Bette Midler, and in 1983 his Hi-NRG dance hit “Do You Wanna Funk” appeared in the film Trading Places. During the disco era, he was called “The Queen of Disco,” but as he moved away from disco and toward a more Dance/Funk sound, his record company wanted him to butch things up a bit. Sylvester’s response was to attend meetings with the label’s execs in full-on drag. A drag photo shoot that he put together to tweak his record label bosses ended up on the cover art for his posthumous release Immortal. His last hit, 1986′s “Someone Like You,” hit number 1 on the U.S. Dance Chart, and came from his only Warner Brother’s album, Mutual Attraction, which featured cover art by Keith Haring. Sylvester is another of the many giant talents consumed by the AIDS epidemic; he died in 1988, and willed his future royalties San Francisco’s AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand. Last June, Fantasy Records re-released Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits, with proceeds going to Sylvester’s named charities.

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32 States Urge Supreme Court To Settle the Marriage Question

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2014

There are currently three marriage cases — from Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah — that are currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. After this week’s unanimous and entertaining ruling by the Seventh Circuit striking down marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana, Wisconsin’s attorney general says that he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Late yesterday, 32 other states have filed two briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept at least one of those cases. Fifteen of those states which currently allow same-sex couples to marry, joined a brief led by Massachusetts urging the Court to overturn the bans. Seventeen other states, led by Colorado, didn’t ask the court to overturn the bans but to clear up a “morass” of lawsuits:

The experience of Massachusetts — the first state to legalize gay marriage — shows that allowing same-sex couples to wed has only benefited families and strengthened the institution of marriage, said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “Laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying are discriminatory and unconstitutional,” she said. “The time has come for this critical issue to be resolved.”

Massachusetts was joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Colorado’s brief argued that the definition of marriage faces legal challenges only the Supreme Court can resolve, and that without a Supreme Court decision, states defending bans could be liable for huge legal bills from future lawsuits if they are overturned. It was written by Daniel D. Domenico, the state’s solicitor general, and Michael Lee Francisco, assistant solicitor general.

Colorado was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 5

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bloomington, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Lincoln City, OR; Roanoke, VA; Stavanger, Norway; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, New Zealand; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Sacramento, CA; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 12.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 12.

The softball game was sponsored by Buffalo’s Gay Community Center as part of a three-week long Gay Visibility Celebration in June 1975. The Fags won, 19-14.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Many Names for Gay: 1998. To demonstrate the persistence of “derogatory language” used to describe gay people in publications that “have the potential to influence popular prejudices, Lisa Bennet analyzed the 356 articles about gays and lesbians that appeared in Time and Newsweek from 1947 to 1997 and published the list of terms she found in her study, “The Perpetuation of Prejudice in Reporting on Gays and Lesbians.” They are:

1947-1959 (23 articles): aberrant, abnormal, abominable, abomination, corrupt, criminal, degenerate, degraded, depraved, deviant, dirty pansy, disgusting, evil, extreme medical disorder, fairy, filthy, horrible, indecent, infamous crime against nature, invert, misdeed, neuropsychiatric case, pervert, psychopath, queer, sex criminal, sex deviant, sex offender, sodomite, undesirable, unmentionable subject, unnatural, unspeakable crime, vice, victim, vile, wicked.

1960s (25 articles): aberrant, abomination, butch, crime against nature, crime of deviation, dandified sissy, detestable, deviant, deviate, effeminate, emotionally immature, fag, gay, hair fairies, homme-femme, homophile, invert, le vice anglais, lesbian, moral malady, pederast, pervert, psychic masochist, psychopath, queen, queer, sodomite, swish, third sex, transvestite, tweedy lesbian, unnatural.

1970s (62 articles): aberrant, abomination, admitted homosexual, avowed homosexual, committed homosexual, confessed homosexual, deviant, drag queen, fag, fairy, flaming fag, fruit, homophile, human garbage, human rot, mental aberration, militant homosexual, queer.

1980s (95 articles): avowed gay, consensual grossness, deviant, deviate, dyke, faggot, faggot bitch, fairy, fruit, homophile, militant gay, militant homosexual, oddwad, pervert, prissy sissy, professed homosexual, queer.

1990-1997 (151 articles): abnormal, acknowledged gay, acknowledged homosexual, avowed gay, avowed homosexual, biker dyke, butch, butt pirate, degenerate, diesel dyke, dyke, fag, faggot, fascist pervert from hell, femme, go-go boys, lipstick lesbian, the love that dare not speak its name, pervert, poofter, professed homosexual, queer, queer dyke bitch, sexual nonconformist, sinner, sodomite, unnatural, vanilla lesbian, wicked, a willful choice of godless evil.

[Source: Lisa Bennett. The Perpetuation of Prejudice in Reporting on Gays and Lesbians: Time and Newsweek: The First Fifty Years. (Cambridge, MA: The Joan Shirenstein Center of the Press, Politics and Public Policy, September 1998). Available online here (PDF: 257KB/24 pages).]

John Cage

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Cage: 1912-1992. His best-known work, 4’33″, is also his most controversial. Composed in 1952 for any instrument or combination of instruments and divided into three movements. The lengths of each movement varies, depending on the manuscript you’re consulting — the causes of the discrepancies aren’t currently understood since the original manuscript has been lost — but the first movement is about 30 seconds in length, the second about 2 minutes and twenty-three seconds in length, and the fourth movement is about a minute forty in length. Each movement is nothing but silence. When pianist David Tudor premiered the work in 1952, he marked the beginning of each movement by closing the lid on the keyboard, and then opened it gain at the end of each movement. The premiere was highly controversial, with many in the audience walking out. It has remained controversial to this day. Cage remembered the premiere in 2003:

They missed the point. There’s no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out

Cage discovered chance as a musical device when a friend and fellow composer in “the New York school” of composition presented him with a copy of the I Ching or The Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese divination guide which sought to illuminate order in chaotic events. The first results of his new method of composition could be found in Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for twelve radio receivers, and Music of Changes for piano, which calls for consulting the I Ching to determine the starting sounds, durations and dynamics, which then defines how the rest of the composition is to be performed.

But with 4’33″, Cage, the performer, and the I Ching are all removed as elements of determining chance, leaving nothing but chance itself. With 4’33″, Cage challenged the definition of music much as Rothko challenged the definition of landscapes and Magritte challenged the definition of a pipe. But where Rothko and Magritte relied on the languages of abstraction expressionism and surrealism respectively, Cage set his question of what constitutes music in the most direct way possible. He also succeeded in deconstructing our notions of silence. After all, what is silence when you are surrounded by traffic, HVAC systems, nature, the blood in your ears or the thoughts in your head? And that also makes 4’33″ arguably the most intimate composition ever created, leaving the listener alone with his own thoughts, perceptions, and, in many cases, emotions — especially when that emotion is anger or disgust at the piece.

Cage's unorthodox compositions required an a new approach to musical notation for his manuscripts. This is part of the score for Music for Piano 1-85 (1952).

Cage’s unorthodox compositions required a new approach to musical notation for his manuscripts. This is part of the score for Music for Piano 1-85 (1952).

Cage was born in Los Angeles where, just before graduating from high school, he gave a prize-winning speech at the Hollywood Bowl suggesting that America establish a day of silence. “By being hushed and silent, ‘we should have the opportunity to hear what other people think”, he said. That speech anticipated 4’33″ by more than three decades. While in college in 1928, he learned his first lesson in chance when he noticed all of his classmates reading copies of the same book in the library. “Instead of doing as they did, I went into the stacks and read the first book written by an author whose name began with Z. I received the highest grade in the class. That convinced me that the institution was not being run correctly. I left.”

He went to Europe where he studied art, architecture, painting, and poetry. He then took up music composition and discovered that “the people who heard my music had better things to say about it than the people who looked at my paintings had to say about my paintings.” He studied composition at The New School in New York, and then studied under Arnold Schoenberg, the modernist atonal composer who developed the twelve-tone technique. It was at about that time that he met the Alaska-born Russian artist Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff. They married in 1935. The couple moved to Seattle in 1938, where Cage worked as a composer and dance accompanist on piano for the Cornish College of the Arts. It’s where he met dancer Merce Cunningham, who would later become Cage’s lifelong collaborator and partner after Cage divorced Kashevaroff in 1945. By then, Cage was in New York and Cunningham was a member of the Martha Graham dance company. The two collaborated on a number of ballets, most notably 1947′s The Seasons which was commissioned by the New York City Ballet.

Cage went on teach experimental music at Wesleyan University in the early 1960s. He also taught at the School for Social Research in New York and, briefly, at the highly innovated Black Mountain College outside of Asheville, North Carolina. He continued composing throughout the rest of his life, including the massively multimedia work HPSCHD in 1969 for seven harpsichords, fifty-two sound tapes, sixty-four slide projectors and forty films. He continued working up through the 1980s, but declining health took its toll. He suffered a a stroke in 1992 while preparing tea for himself and Cunningham, and died the next morning.

As a fitting coda, in 2010 a Facebook group formed in Britain encouraging everyone to purchase a recording of 4’33″ in the hopes that it would prevent the winner of the seventh series of the X Factor from topping the U.K. Singles Chart for Christmas Day, which traditionally is the most prestigious time to reach number one for the entire year. (This phenomenon inspired the Band Aid charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in 1984.) The Facebook group’s goal was not only to deny the X Factor the top spot for Christmas, but also to “make December 25 a ‘silent night’.” 4’33″ failed to reach number one, peaking instead at 21 on the U.K. Singles Chart.

Freddie Mercury: 1946-1991. So there we were during my freshman year in high school, my classmates and me in our quiet Appalachian town, just minding our business when all of the sudden “Bohemian Rhapsody” came screaming out of our radios like space aliens from a distant planet. Nobody was quite sure what to make of it — Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? — it was hard at first to be too enthusiastic about this very flamboyant song, mostly because we couldn’t figure out what it all meant. Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds? Sure, we had that figured out. Mama Got A Squeeze Box? Got it. Stairway to Heaven? We were still working on that, but it didn’t seem too far out of reach. Just few more tokes one a Saturday night by the river and we’d get it. But Bismillah? Beelzebub? Why are they singing about Galileo? We didn’t even know where to start. But we always turned it up whenever it came on the radio. And it didn’t take long at all before we were hooked.

Queen had already been very popular in the U.K. for several years, but for most Americans “Bohemian Rhapsody” was our introduction. And we had almost nothing to prepare us for — well, I’ll say it again — the openly flamboyant lead singer. Even the band’s name was provocative. One of my friends bought a Queen teeshirt at a concert in Dayton, but his mother prohibited him from wearing it. It was “too homosexual.” And so was Freddie — maybe. Except he had a girlfriend, as the press went, so maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it was all an act, we told each other (and ourselves). You know, a character like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust or Alice Cooper or any of the members of Kiss. Whatever he was, he flaunted it, as it went in our vernacular, but as long as it was a character he was flaunting, maybe it was okay. It helped that Queen’s follow-on hits — “You’re My Best Friend,” “Someone To Love” — were sufficiently “normal” while unmistakably Queen to calm things down a bit. By the time News of the World came out and the testosterone-laden “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” became my high school’s unofficial anthem the same year that we won the state AA basketball championship, everyone had chilled. Those of us in that small town and school who were easily freaked out over the very possibility of homosexuality — including us homosexuals — were well served by our sometimes willful naiveté. Without it, it would have been socially impossible to enjoy the music.

Freddie hoodwinked those of us who wanted to be hoodwinked, just enough so we could enjoy the music and the spectacle. The hits kept coming: “Fat Bottomed Girls,” Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Under Pressure” (with David Bowie, of course). By the time it dawned on me that he really was gay, I had long since left home and it no longer mattered socially whether I was a fan or not. And by the time it was announced that he had AIDS and would die very shortly, nobody was surprised but everyone was saddened. It seems that there are some people who are too outsized in our world to remain in it for very long, and Freddie was one of them. On November 25, 1991, the day after he died, Britain’s tabloid The Sun carried a very simple headline: “Freddie Is Dead.” It’s hard to believe, but if he had survived he’d be just a few years shy of seventy.

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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Seventh Circuit slaps down gay marriage bans

Timothy Kincaid

September 4th, 2014

Well that was quick!

Just last week Justices Williams, Hamilton, and Posner heard oral argument as to why the states of Wisconsin and Indiana could ban marriage between same-sex couples without violating their constitutional rights. Today they’ve released their ruling and, to no one’s surprise, they unanimously agree that anti-gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.

They didn’t exactly pull punches.

Our pair of cases is rich in detail but ultimately straight-forward to decide. The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and the only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction—that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended—is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.

The justices found that a ‘more than reasonable basis” review was required because discrimination against a minority makes a law “constitutionally suspect”. Nevertheless, not even a rational basis was provided.

They found that these laws violate the equal protections promises of the constitution and, as it was unnecessary, chose not to prove other possible violations.

Interestingly, the court seemed to find merit in the theories that homosexuality is a form of natural selection by which a small percentage of a population is not naturally procreative, thus freeing that subgroup to provide supplemental care for the children of procreative relatives. This may speak to the motivation of Posner’s repeated questions about the harm to children adopted by same-sex couples.

And it forms much of the ruling:

Married homosexuals are more likely to want to adopt than unmarried ones if only because of the many state and federal benefits to which married people are entitled. And so same-sex marriage improves the prospects of unintended children by increasing the number and resources of prospective adopters. Notably, same-sex couples are more likely to adopt foster children than opposite-sex couples are.

Also, the more willing adopters there are, not only the fewer children there will be in foster care or being raised by single mothers but also the fewer abortions there will be. Carrying a baby to term and putting the baby up for adoption is an alternative to abortion for a pregnant woman who thinks that as a single mother she could not cope with the baby. The pro-life community recognizes this.

I love the reference to the pro-life community. It’s reminding them that their biases are hurting themselves as well.

Finally, they concluded:

To return to where we started in this opinion, more than unsupported conjecture that same-sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriage or children or any other valid and important interest of a state is necessary to justify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As we have been at pains to explain, the grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 4

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bloomington, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Lincoln City, OR; Roanoke, VA; Stavanger, Norway; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, New Zealand; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Sacramento, CA; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 54.

From David, May 1972, page 54.

Photos from the Miss Sweetheart Contest, 1972. (From David, May 1972, page 46.)

Unidentified contestants at the Miss Sweetheart Contest, 1972. (From David, May 1972, page 46.)

According to Wikipedia, Asheville has been well-recognized in several best-of rankings: One of the “Top 25 Small Cities for Art,” one of “20 Great Cities for Writers,” “a New Age Mecca,” “The New Freak Capital of the U.S.,” “The Hippie Capital of the South,” and the “Happiest City in the South.” It wasn’t always that way. Asheville’s downtown area had been in a state of serious decline until the late 1980s. But it has long been one of the gayest cities of the South, in good times and in bad. The Flaming Ember opened as a gay bar sometime in the late 1960s. In 1972,  David,  a Florida-based gay lifestyle magazine, described what was believed to be Asheville’s first drag show:

With the latest craze for female impersonation contests going around, Asheville, North Carolina decided not to be outdone. The FLAMING EMBERS lounge recently held its Miss Sweetheart Contest, 1972. It was Asheville’s first drag show and the ten contestants performed to a standing room only audience. A selection of songs from Purlie won Robbie the title of Miss Sweetheart ’72. First runner up was Lola with her interpretation of the popular Cabaret and Monica walked off with the 2nd runner up position by doing Bridge Over Troubled Water. A special treat of the evening came when Gary Wilson, the owner, did a show-stopping version of Coronet Man.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wolfenden Report Recommends Homosexuality “Should Not Be A Crime”: 1957. Home Secretary David Maxwell-Fyfe in 1954 appointed a special fifteen-member committee to examine laws in Britain which criminalized homosexuality and prostitution. The committee came about after the arrest of several well-known men that year for homosexuality, including Lord Montagu (see Oct 20) and Peter Wildeblood (see May 19). Those arrests and trials provoked a national debate over Britain’s “gross indecency” law, which criminalized homosexual behavior between men. (Lesbian relations had never been made illegal.) The committee, chaired by Lord John Wolfenden of Reading University, included theologians, psychiatrists, educators, judges, lawyers, and several other leading figures. The Wolfenden committee, as it became known, was tasked with reviewing the medical, mental health, legal, and moral aspects of homosexuality and prostitution, and to report on their findings and recommendations for legal changes.

On of the chief difficulties the committee ran into was finding gay men who were willing to provide testimony. After all, the committee was, in effect, asking people to incriminate themselves for a crime under the same statute that had famously sent Oscar Wilde to prison for two years at hard labor (see May 25). One of those giving testimony was Peter Wildeblood, who had written one book about his arrest, trial, conviction, the appalling conditions of his imprisonment, and his experience of being spat upon by a “respectable looking, middle-aged, tweedy” woman while out the street. His second book included twelve essays describing various gay people he had come in contact with. Both books, along with his testimony and that of two others, helped to inform the Wolfenden’s report.

And so did a study conducted by a Wolfenden member, Dr. Desmond Curran of the Department of Psychiatry at St. George’s Hospital in London. That study, published in the British Medical Journal (see Apr 6), examined one hundred gay men who were under evaluation and treatment for homosexuality. Curran found that none of them could muster anything more than a “slight alteration” toward heterosexuality — and almost all of those who achieved that minimal accomplishment were classified as bisexual to begin with. Curran also found no evidence that homosexuality was an impairment, but was instead “compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency … both practising and non-practising homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society.”

Lord John Wolfenden

After three long years, the committee finally published its recommendations the 155-page “Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.” Known popularly as the Wolfenden Report, its first run of 5,000 copies sold out within hours of publication. The report recommended wholesale revisions to English and Welsh law with regard to age of consent, penalties for sexual assault, the statute of limitations, and, most critically, on the criminalization of homosexuality itself: that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence… The law’s function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others… It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”

The Report’s recommendations enjoyed wide support, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Goeffrey Fisher, who also served on the committee. The Times of London approved the report, as did the Star, which pointed out that “The present laws are out of date and often cruel in their application.” The Manchester Guardian called the Report “A fine piece of work, interleaving sympathy and sternness.” The Daily Mirror also chimed in: “Now Whitewash. No Prudery. And No Hypocrisy,” went the headline. “What they say may shock the sort of people who shut their eyes to the unpleasant facts of life. But it is the truth.” The Economist urged Parliament to take up the Report’s recommendations: “If the Government cannot pluck up courage to bring in legislation of its own (and it ought to), Parliament should at least be given every facility for a free vote on a private member’s bill.”

Other papers weren’t so supportive. The Daily Express asked, “Why did the Government ever sponsor this cumbersome nonsense,” while the Daily Mail called the recommendations “full of danger.” Its editorial warned, “If the law were to tolerate homosexual acts a great barrier against depravity would be swept aside.”

The Government ended up rejecting the Wolfenden Committee’s recommendations, and it would be another decade before Parliament would take up the task of decriminalizing sex between men (see Jul 28).

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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Louisiana Logic

Rob Tisinai

September 3rd, 2014

I’m having some trouble with Judge Feldman’s decision upholding Louisiana’s ban on marriage equality. I’m not a lawyer, though, so perhaps others can correct me.

For instance, in explaining why heightened scrutiny applied in the Loving case but not here, Feldman writes:

Heightened scrutiny was warranted in Loving because the Fourteenth Amendment expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil; in short, the Constitution specifically bans differentiation based on race.

But here’s the first section of that amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It does not “expressly” mention race. Nor does the rest of the amendment.

Feldman then dismisses the argument that the ban discriminates based on gender:

Even ignoring the obvious difference between this case and Loving, no analogy can defeat the plain reality that Louisiana’s laws apply evenhandedly to both genders–whether between two men or two women.

He seems to be saying that because the law applies to both genders equally, it does not discriminate based on gender. The odd thing, though, is that in Loving, defenders of the interracial marriage ban tried the same tactic, saying that the ban did not discriminate because it applied to all races — but the Supreme Court expressly rejected that reasoning:

…we find the racial classifications in these statutes repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment, even assuming an even-handed state purpose to protect the “integrity” of all races.

So you can’t use Loving to say it’s okay to discriminate “even-handedly.” (It’s striking that Feldman and the Supreme Court both used that phrase.) Further, it’s reasonable to think a gender-based classification of people and their rights would also be repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. (And remember, Feldman is addressing gender discrimination in this bit, not orientation-based discrimination.)

Now that Feldman has used this flawed (to my mind) reasoning to justify rational-basis scrutiny of Louisiana’s ban (the easiest level of scrutiny for a law to pass), he looks for that rational basis and finds it in this:

Defendants rejoin that the laws serve a central state interest of linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents. Of even more consequence, in this Court’s judgment, defendants assert a legitimate state interest in safeguarding that fundamental social change, in this instance, is better cultivated through democratic consensus. This Court agrees.

Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents. Louisiana’s regime pays respect to the democratic process; to vigorous debate. To predictable controversy, of course.

A couple problems here. First, about that societal interest in ensuring that fundamental social change be cultivated via the ballot or legislature instead of the courts: this is an invitation never to find any law unconstitutional, no matter how great an affront to the Constitution it may be. Feldman hedges his way out of this with the qualifier, “in this case.” But why, in this case? He never explains. The closest he comes is in his comments about linking children to their biological parents. But this is inadequate. Such a policy goal explains why the state permits biological parents to marry. It explains not at all why other marriages should be banned. This is a huge hole in Feldman’s reasoning, and I suspect there really is nothing that could fill it.

There’s quite a bit more in the decision, but this seems to be the core of it. Feldman settles on rational-basis scrutiny by using flawed reasoning and flat-out mistakes about what the Fourteenth Amendment says, and then fails in his attempt to find that rational basis.  To my untrained eye, this decision looks easy to challenge on appeal. Any lawyers out there care to comment?

Wrongfully Convicted During Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria, Bee Baran Is Finally at Peace

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2014

20090610_073615_bernard_baran[1]Bernard Baran died on Monday night. Known as “Bee” to his friends, he died suddenly at his home wile talking with his partner, David, and his niece, Crystal. He was forty-nine years old. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Some thirty five years ago, Americans were riveted by the shocking allegations of child sexual abuse in the McMartin pre-school case near Los Angeles. The bizarre allegations included satanic rituals and secret tunnels under the school. Seven employees and the owners were charged with 321 counts of child abuse involving 48 children. After seven years of hysteria, charges were finally dropped against five, and Peggy McMartin Buckey and Ray Buckey were finally acquitted after a three-year-long trial and nine weeks of jury deliberation. That hysteria led to other allegations — the Little Rascals day care center in Edenton, North Carolina, the Fells Acres day care center in Malden, Massachusetts, and the Early Childhood Development Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The latter case is where Bee Baran came in. Openly gay since he came out in high school, Bee began working as a teacher’s aide in 1983. Soon after the Fells Acres case made national news, the parents of a boy in Baran’s class complained to the board of directors of ECDC, saying they “didn’t want no homo” working with their four-year-old son, who had been placed at ECDC by social workers due to the child’s abusive home environment. The parents, who were drug addicts and police informants with the Pittsfield Police’s drug control unit, complained to police, charging that Baran had molested their child that day — a day which was actually three days after they removed their child from day care.

Bee Baran, at the time of his arrest

Bee Baran, at the time of his arrest

The panic quickly spread. Another mother, herself a survivor of child sexual abuse, interrogated her daughter about Baran and elicited an accusation. Other parents panicked and the hysteria spread. Baran, then just nineteen years old, was arrested. Investigators brought in so-called “experts” who, using suggestive and leading interrogation techniques, , extracted preciselty the kind of testimony from other very young and impressionable children they were looking for. During the subsequent trial, evidence was withheld from the defense attorney while a general atmosphere of hysteria spread throughout the community and the state.

Baran and his mother were from a working-class background and had very little money for a defense attorney. They found an inexperienced lawyer who took the case for only $500. He barely reviewed the evidence or mounted much of a defense. At trial, there were no eyewitnesses, the forensic evidence was practically nonexistent, and the children’s testimony came only after extremely heavy prompting and leading questions by the prosecution.

Baran’s case differed from the other nationally-known cases in two key ways. First, unlike the other defendants, he was openly gay in a conservative community where many unquestionably assumed that gay people were child molesters. The district attorney played on those assumptions in his closing arguments, comparing Bernard to “a chocoholic in a candy store.” And secondly, unlike most of the other defendants who were eventually acquitted or saw their cases dismissed, Baran was found guilty and given three life sentences on January 30, 1985.

Baran spent the next twenty-one years in prison, caught in a terrible catch-22. If he had accepted a plea deal, he would have been a free man after just a few years. If, after conviction, he had stopped denying that he had committed the crimes he had been charged with, he may have been able to win parole. If he had said that he was a pedophile, he could have been placed in a more protective environment at the minimum security Bridgewater Treatment Center instead of the maximum security facility at Walpole State Prison. As a convicted pedophile, Baran was marked for extra abuse by other prisoners:

After Walpole, Baran was shuffled through five medium-security state prisons to ensure his safety, but the abuse did not let up. At Concord, he was beaten several times, and fellow inmates stole most of his property. At the now closed Southeastern Correctional Center, three inmates beat and gang-raped him.

The beatings intensified at Norfolk, where Baran says his eye was split open in one incident. In another, a fellow inmate slammed a metal tray on his head in the cafeteria, giving him a concussion. Baran was hospitalized both times. Despite the DOC’s standard investigations into the savage beatings, he never identified the perpetrators.

“If you snitch, you’re gonna get killed,” Baran says. “At least if you don’t tell, you get a little respect for that.” It was also at Norfolk that he twice attempted suicide.

Baran was eventually sent to Bridgewater on a bizarre technicality: because he refused to admit his crime, he was labeled a “sexually dangerous person” and eligible for treatment.

Baran is finally released from prison in 2006.

Baran is finally released from prison in 2006.

In 2002, a new legal team took Baran’s case and began submitting motions for a new trial. As part of their briefs, they identified over 300 flaws from the original trial, including prosecutorial misconduct, suggestive and leading interviewing techniques, and ineffective counsel. The state retaliated by trying to get Baran transferred out of the relative safety of Bridgewater and back into the general population, but the transfer board refused to go along. In 2006, a court finally set aside his 1984 conviction, ordered Baran released from prison and granted a new trial. The Berkshire County District Attorney appealed the decision, but the Massachusetts Appeals Courtaffirmed the lower court’s ruling in 2009. In 2010, Baran’s lawyers began suing previous attorneys for negligence and the state for prosecutorial misconduct. The state settled for $400,000 but continued to oppose moves to expunge Baran’s record. Baran and his partner bought a home in Fitchburg with the settlement money, but with his wrongful conviction still appearing on his criminal record, he continued to have trouble finding work.

You can find a full timeline of Bee Baran’s case here.

Uganda Parliament Takes First Step Toward Reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2014

Ugandan lawmakers took the first step toward re-introducing the nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act for another round of debate and possible passage by granting leave of two MPs to prepare the bill for introduction. The AHA had been annulled by the Constitutional Court on August 1 after Parliament passed the bill in December without a constitutionally-mandated quorum. Daily Monitor has more:

Yesterday, as the House resumed from a mini-recess, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, said the two MPs (AHA’s original sponsor David Bahati and reputed co-author MP Benson Obua Ogwal) have been granted leave of Parliament to allow them time to prepare the Bill, triggering excitement among members.

…Shortly after the court nullification, lawmakers led by Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala began collecting signatures in support of a plan to immediately reintroduce the law. They wanted the House to suspend handling of the ongoing Budget process, with a proposal that the new Bill be the first on the Order Paper, a request that was turned down yesterday.

“We are now focusing on the Budget process and the Bill was already here and we passed it into law. If it had still been within Parliament, it would still be property of Parliament and we would have done whatever necessary to correct the anomalies,” Mr Oulanyah said.

“So when we finish the Budget and as soon as the movers of this Bill are ready, we will proceed. When it is introduced, we will handle it appropriately about those issues that were raised that caused the nullification,” he added. Under Uganda’s Penal Code Act, sexual acts “against the order of nature” are already criminalised.

This is officially the first step toward allowing a private member’s bill to be considered by Parliament. Before the original Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced in Parliament in October 2009, M.P. David Bahati had received similar leave from Parliament in a little-noticed procedure six months earlier. (Government bills, in contrast to private members’ bills, have a slightly more direct line to introduction.) The next step would be the bill’s first reading, which constitutes its formal introduction into Parliament. After that, it goes to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for consideration and proposed amendments. The bill then goes back to Parliament for its Second Reading, followed by the consideration of the Committee’s recommendations. After each clause of the bill and its proposed amendments are considered, then the bill goes to its third reading for final consideration. It then goes to the President for his assent. He may return the bill back to Parliament, but under Uganda’s constitution he has no power to veto the bill entirely.

These are the steps that the AHA followed before becoming law earlier this year, except that Parliament didn’t have a proper quorum when speaker Rebecca Kadaga called for a snap vote in December. This was apparently in keeping with the expressed desires of a large number of MPs who supported the bill’s passage but wanted to avoid having their names associated with it out of fear that they would be blacklisted for travel visas by foreign governments or that their pet projects would be de-funded. But since that maneuver didn’t work out so well with the Constitutional Court, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya promised to follow the proper procedures this time:

Two weeks ago, President Yoweri Museveni met with ruling party members to strategize the way forward on the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The President announced the formation of a ten-member committee chaired by Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. Because the Court only ruled on the matter of the quorum and didn’t address the other constitutional issues raised by the legal challenge, the committee was tasked to review the legal challenge in its entirety to anticipate other grounds on which a future Anti-Homosexuality Act may be annulled. This latest move by Parliament may be an end-run around the President’s committee. The NTV reporter’s mention of the Anti-Homosexuality Act being the “property” of Parliament hints at a tug-of-war between the President and Parliament over the legislation’s future.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, September 3

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bloomington, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Lincoln City, OR; Roanoke, VA; Stavanger, Norway; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, New Zealand; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Sacramento, CA; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GLC Voice (Minneapolis, MN), November 1979, page 9.

From GLC Voice (Minneapolis, MN), November 1979, page 9.

I haven’t been able to find out anything about this business. Remer is located in the Chippewa  National Forest, about a three hour drive north of the Twin Cities. Bemidji has its giant Paul Bunyan statute, Darwin brags that it has the world’s largest ball of twine, and Remer, with its population of about 370 can boast a ten-foot tall Bald Eagle right there on the main drag.

Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, just after saying "I Do."

Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, just after saying “I Do.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
The First Legal Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: 1971. Jack Baker (see Mar 10) and Michael McConnell (see May 19) first tried to get a marriage license a year earlier in Minneapolis (see May 18). They were not only denied their license, but Michael McConnell lost his job at the University of Minnesota when news of their application hit the news. Baker and McConnell sued in state court, but that would potentially keep things tied up for years. The pair came up with an alternate solution. In August of 1971, McConnell legally adopted Baker in an arrangement that would allow them at least some of the benefits of marriage (inheritance, medical decision-making, and even reduced tuition for Baker who a student at U.M.), but they were still denied their ultimate goal.

But there was one other crucial thing they got out of that adoption: Jack Baker had a new legal and gender-neutral name, Pat Lyn McConnell. And with that, they went to the Blue Earth County courthouse in Makato, Minnesota and applied for a marriage license. They got it on August 16, 1971. They asked a Methodist minister to perform the wedding, and he agreed. They even went through the lengthy pre-marital counseling that was required for any couple about to marry in the Methodist Church. But one day before the wedding was to take place, the minister got the jitters and backed out.

With little time left, they turned to a friend, Pastor Roger Lynn, who had volunteered with the couple in Minneapolis’s LGBT community center. Lynn immediately agreed, since the Methodist Church had no rules specifically banning same-sex couples from marrying. “The Methodist church has always taken a strong stand on social issues,” he said. “I expected that the progressive side of the church would support me.” Baker and McConnell arranged for a friend who worked at a local TV station to film the ceremony.

Lynn pronounced the couple “husband and husband,” and the two kissed. From then on, as far as they were concerned, they were legally and really married. Once news of the marriage got out, things got rocky. A retired Baptist minister waged an unsuccessful campaign to get Baker expelled from the University of Minnesota’s Law School, saying that Baker was “unfit to enforce the lawå because he is himself an avowed law breaker.” (Gay relationships had been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in 1967, but those convicted were still liable for up to one year in jail.) Hennepin County Attorney George M. Scott referred Rev. Lynn’s actions to a Grand Jury in early 1972, but the Grand Jury refused to indict him. He was however fired from his job and formally reprimanded by his presiding Bishop.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Baker and McConnell’s challenge to Hennepin County’s original 1970 denial of their marriage license. The Court declined to hear Baker v. Nelson “for want of a substantial federal question.” McConnell and Baker however contend that the license they did get from Blue Earth County was perfectly legal and remained in effect, although the I.R.S. didn’t see it that way. They filed joint returns for 1972 and 1973 with no problems. But in 1974, an I.R.S. official rejected their joint returned, changed their status to single and recalculated their taxes for them. By doing so, it meant that they two weren’t liable for the so-called “marriage penalty” and had overpaid their taxes by $309 (nearly $1,500 in today’s money). The couple refused to accept the refund. Baker told a reporter, “We realize that the legal position we take necessarily requires us to pay about $150 each year in taxes as a married couple over and above what would be expected if we filed as singles. However, we also recognize that privileges and responsibilities go hand in hand. Hence, we accept the good with the bad.”

The two are still together, living a quiet, happily married life in Minneapolis.

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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Coahuila legislature votes in marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2014

coahuila
Telesurtv

The Congress of Coahuila, a northern state in Mexico, approved same sex marriages on Monday.

The legislators modified more than 40 articles of the State’s Civil Law to give all the rights and obligations of a heterosexual marriage to homosexual couples.

Before the reform, marriage in the state was defined as the union of a man and a woman in order to procreate.

With the changes, the article now states that marriage is “the union between two people with the possibility of procreating or adopting.” said the local congressman that promoted the reform, Samuel Acevedo, according to EFE news agency.

Coahuila is the first of Mexico’s 31 states to enact marriage equality. The Federal District acted similarly in 2009, and in 2011 in the state of Quintana Roo, a local judge pointed out that the local law made no mention of the gender of marriage participants. And two other states are part way through a lengthy judicial process which would find the ban on same-sex marriages to violate the constitutional rights of citizens. Marriages conducted in any Mexican state or the Federal District are recognized throughout the country.

Until 1836, Coahuila included the territory that is now Texas.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, September 2

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 27, 1977, classified section, page 18.

From The Advocate, July 27, 1977, classified section, page 18.

The Hollywood Spa, the largest and oldest bathhouse in Los Angeles, closed last April (although the North Hollywood Spa is still in business). According to its owner, Peter Sykes, rising rents and dropping attendance combined to bring about its end after forty years in business:

Sykes said the rent increase is only one factor in what he called a “trifecta” of reasons for closing the spa. Other reasons he cited are that the space is too big and that business is down. He attributed the decline in customers in part to a cultural change, which he said is having an impact on gay bathhouses across the country. “You don’t have to be in the closet as a gay man,” he said. “You can go to the supermarket and play with the bananas and get a date.”

You can also download Grindr and Snuff on your smartphone. With Sykes “pushing 70,” as he put it in that last February, I wonder if he and other bathhouse owners may be underestimating the impact of specialized social media. Last week, ABC news pointed to the Hollywood’s demise and talked about it in a much larger context:

In the heyday of bathhouses in the late 1970s, there were nearly 200 gay bathhouses in cities across the U.S., but by 1990, the total had dropped to approximately 90, according to Damron, the publisher of an annual gay travel guide. In the last decade, bathhouses, including ones in San Diego, Syracuse, Seattle and San Antonio, have shut down and the total nationwide is less than 70. Most patrons are older.

Is the end of bathhouses inevitable? I doubt it, and a part of me hopes not. (Full disclosure: I’ve never been to one and it’s not on my bucket list, but I also wouldn’t rule it out.) But like all things, good or bad, they will have to change to keep up with the times. The WehoVille article pointed out that “[c]onditions apparently have deteriorated (at Hollywood Spa) in recent years, with commenters on Yelp.com and various gay websites complaining about poor maintenance and customer service and drug use by spa customers.” As Flex Spas CEP Todd Saporito explained, “Bathhouses at some level will go extinct if you don’t offer something more than a towel.”

Did anyone think to look in South Beach?

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 60 YEARS AGO: “Perverts Vanish” from Miami: 1954. By now, the media-driven anti-gay hysteria gripping Miami for the past month (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, and yesterday) began taking on a Keystone Kops mentality. On August 26, Miami mayor Abe Aronovitz blasted City Manager E.A. Evans and Police Chief Walter Headley — who were both out of town on vacation — for “coddling homosexuals” in the city, and said that he would give Evans just one week rom the time he returns to “clean out certain pervert nests in Miami proper.” Evans returned on August 31 and met with Aronovitz, promising to “put pervert hangouts out of business by tomorrow.” Tomorrow came yesterday, and Evans was forced to clarify that no, they weren’t going to put anyone out of town that day, but that what he was really going to do was meet with Chief Headley to come up with a plan. Headley, for his part, threw up his hands, saying that he was hamstrung by the law. “We can’t put those places out of business unless someone passes a law that it’s illegal to serve homosexuals,” he told a reporter for The Miami News. His detective, Benjamin Palmer, suggested that maybe there was another way to get rid of all the homosexuals. “Practically all of the homosexuals work in Miami. If people wouldn’t hire them, they’d go away.”

That long review of increasingly comical events brings us to today, because it turns out that while Chief Headly didn’t have a new plan up his sleeve, he could at least put into practice the plan they always had: try another round of pointless police checks at known gay bars. They did exactly that later that evening, and on September 2, City Manager Evans claimed success. As The Miami News reported:

Miami’s many perverts have been chased “underground or out of town,” City Manager E.A. Evans declared today. Evants said his edict to the Police Department to harass bar owners catering to these characters had resulted from their disappearance from downtown streets.

“They have just disappeared,” said Evans. “Extra men have been added to police details and a check reveals only a few customers at bars where the homosexuals gather.”

Evans admitted that giving the city’s gay community a week’s notice through public arguments in the newspapers probably tipped them off to the coming raids, but he promised that the patrols weren’t “just for a few days. This is a long range proposition.” Neighboring Miami Beach’s Police Chief Romeo Shepard, who had long taken a much harder line on gay bars and the beaches, reacted to his larger neighbor’s crackdown. “We don’t want Miami’s homosexuals running over here. We’re making special plans to keep them out.”

Miami’s crackdown continued that night, but the results were paltry. The following day, The Miami News reported that four bartenders were arrested for liquor law violations — two for serving minors, one for “serving a drunk,” and one for having a “noisy juke box” — along with a 20-year-old Marine who as found drunk and turned over to military authorities and another man arrested at Bayfront Park. Meanwhile, police complained that they didn’t have enough laws to keep gay people in check. Chief Headley repeated his call for  a new law “forbidding them to congregate or buy drinks.” But they did claim success in one area. Police told The News that “the notorious Moulin Rouge bar, formerly the Singing Bar, was closed down some time ago, and its new operators reportedly plan to reopen the place for ‘normal’ trade.” Other bars cited that night included the Champagne Girl (559 W. Flagler Street, for having a “noisy juke box”), Samba Bar (249 N.E. First Street, for “serving a drunk”) and Vic’s Bar and Restaurant (39 N.E. Second Street, for serving a minor).

Evelyn Hooker

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Evelyn Hooker: 1907-1996. Dr. Hooker, the psychologist who is widely credited for establishing that gay people are not inherently mentally ill, knew what it meant to overcome long odds. Born the sixth of nine children in North Platte, Nebraska, she had to overcome uncountable barriers to women in academia and psychology throughout the first half of the 20th century. In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, one of her students introduced her to other members of the gay community and challenged her to study “people like him” — homosexuals who were neither troubled by their homosexuality and who had none of the features commonly associated with mental illness. Among those she came to know was noted author Christopher Isherwood, who rented a guest house from her. “She never treated us like some strange tribe,” he recalled later, “so we told her things we never told anyone before.” Hooker quickly became convinced that most gay men were socially well-adjusted, quite unlike the homosexuals that had been written about in the scientific literature until then. By 1953 — at the peak of the McCarthy “lavender scare” period — she decided that this could be proven through psychological testing.

For her groundbreaking study, she gathered two groups of men. The first were gay men, many of them members of the local Mattachine Society, and the second were heterosexual men. She administered three sets of psychological tests, and presented the 60 unmarked sets of data to a team of three expert evaluators. The independent evaluators were unable to tell the difference between the members of the two groups. When she presented her paper, “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual“, at the 1956 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago (see Aug 30), her results were met with incredulity. It was a well-established orthodoxy in psychology that all gays were mentally ill, and that the disturbances would have been obvious in the test results. But until Hooker’s study was published, there was no scientific data available about non-imprisoned, non-patient homosexuals. For the first time, Hooker’s peer-reviewed study — it would soon appear in the March 1957 edition of the Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment – would prove that there were well-adjusted, normal and healthy gay men, and lots of them.

Hooker’s research into the subject didn’t end with just that single paper. In 1958, her paper “Male Homosexuality in the Rorschach” challenged whether the Rorschach inkblot test could weed out gays from straights as claimed by its backers. In 1959, she published “What Is A Criterion?”, in which she again reiterated that the three most popular tests then in use for personality assessments were incapable of picking gay men out of a crowd, despite claims to the contrary. She argued that part of the problem was that “we need to get beyond the fact that the individual is homosexual, to the kind of homosexual that he is,” adding:

It will have become evident by this time that I am not greatly disturbed by the fact that projective techniques diagnosing homosexuality are not demonstrably valid means for diagnosing homosexuality. In fact, I am rather encouraged by this because I hope it will force us to re-examine the much over-simplified picture we have had and encourage us to remind ourselves that the first goal of science is understanding, with prediction and control as secondary to it.

Her 1969 paper, “Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and non-patient samples,” refused the widely accepted claim that parents were the cause of their children’s homosexuality.  That same year, she chaired the National Institute of Mental Health’s Task Force on Homosexuality, which recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and its removal from the APA’s list of mental disorders. The APA finally acted on that recommendation in 1973, but it would take another thirty years before the U.S. Supreme Court would finally eliminate the remaining sodomy laws across the nation.

In 1991, the American Psychological Association honored Dr. Hooker with its Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest, saying: “Her research, leadership, mentorship, and tireless advocacy for an accurate scientific view of homosexuality for more than three decades has been an outstanding contribution to psychology in the public interest.” She died in 1996.

[Sources: Evelyn Hooker. "The adjustment of the male overt homosexual." Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment 21, no. 1 (March 1957): 18-31.

Evelyn Hooker. "What is a criterion?" Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment 23, no. 3 (September 1959): 278-281.

Evelyn Hooker. "Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and nonpatient samples." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 33, no. 2 (April 1969): 140-142.

Evenly Hooker. "Reflections of a 40-year exploration: A scientific view on homosexuality." American Psychologist 48, no. 4 (April 1993): 450-453.]

 Billy Preston: 1946-2006. As a three-year-old, little Billy began playing the piano while sitting on his mother’s lap. By age ten, the child prodigy was playing the organ for such noted gospel singers as Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland (who, it was later revealed, was also gay — which is a different story for another time). At age eleven, he appeared on Nat King Cole’s national TV program singing Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill, and at age twelve, he started with Cole in the film St. Louis Blues, playing a younger W.C.Handy. In the 1960s, he became a much sought-after studio musician, playing organ for Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and the Beatles, whom he had met while performing in Hamburg in 1962.

When Preston joined up with the Fab Four again in 1969, the four weren’t quite so fab. In fact, they were on the verge of breaking up and were struggling to complete Abbey Road and Let It Be. George Harrison brought Preston in, and his gregarious personality and musicianship briefly calmed the tensions in the studio, so much so that John Lennon proposed making Preston an official “Fifth Beatle.” (Paul reportedly countered that it was bad enough with four.) Preston did join the band for its final rooftop concert at Abbey Road studio, and his prominent eclectic piano solo on “Get Back” earned him a credit on the resulting single as “The Beatles with Billy Preston.”

Preston didn’t join the Beatles, but he did join their record label, Apple Corps, which released his 1969 album That’s the Way God Planned It... His 1970 release, Encouraging Words included Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr as guest musicians. After his departure from Apple for A&M, Preston continued his collaboration with George Harrison in The Concert for Bangladesh and toured with Harrison during his 1974 North American tour. Meanwhile, Preston’s start as a solo artist began to shine, with his 1972 instrumental “Outa-Space” winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. That was followed by his number one hits “Will It Go Round In Circles” in 1972 and “Nothing from Nothing” in 1974.

While Preston continued released solo albums throughout his career, his spotlight as a solo artist was relatively short-lived. But his collaborations with other musicians remained strong, including an extended stint with The Rolling Stones for several albums and concert tours through the seventies. Keith Richards, in his recent autobiography Life, recalled, “He was gay at a time when nobody could be openly gay, which added difficulties to his life. Billy could be, most of the time, a bundle of fun. But sometimes he would get on the rag. I had to stop him beating up his boyfriend in an elevator once. Billy, hold it right there or I’ll tear your wig off. He had this ludicrous Afro wig. Meanwhile, he looked perfectly good with the Billy Eckstine look underneath.”

Some of Preston’s difficulties undoubtedly was rooted in his background in Gospel music. While his main success came in secular music, he remained in touch with the Black Gospel world, including playing organ for Donny McClurkin’s self-titled debut album in 1996. That was before McClurkin announced in 2002 that he was gay but had “experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle.” Preston’s remaining foot in Gospel only added to the pressure to remain publicly closeted. As a close friend said, “Billy was gay. He didn’t wear it on his sleeve. How could he? He was a black man that came from the church. The church would have destroyed him. [But] he wasn’t ashamed of who he was.” While Preston keenly felt the need to remain closeted, there is a good reason why he may have felt at home in the Gospel world. He once quipped to a friend in Gospel music that the Black church choir was “the original gay-straight alliance.” Here, Preston plays “How Great Thou Art” at Gospel Celebration 1988:

YouTube Preview Image

Preston continued collaborating with other musicians through the remainder of his life. When George Harrison died, Preston played for the 2002 commemorative Concert for George in London. He also collaborated with Johnny Cash for 2002′s American IV: The Man Comes Around and on Ray Charles’s 2004 Genius Loves Company. Preston died in 2006 of complications from malignant hypertension and kidney failure, despite having undergone a kidney transplant in 2002.

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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