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Posts for January, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 4

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 3

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murder, she wrote.

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

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

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

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

Somehow it didn’t seem right,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dorothy Arzner and Joan Crawford

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 2

Jim Burroway

January 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for New Year’s Day

Jim Burroway

January 1st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 31

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 30

Jim Burroway

December 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, December 22, 1978, page 16.

From Arizona Gay News, December 22, 1978, page 16.

Phoenix’s Band Box was so named for the live bands and other performers that had played there.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Beauford Delaney: 1901-1979. His mother had been born into slavery and never learned to read or write. Because of her experiences, and in keeping with the family’s hard-fought position of respectability in Knoxville where his father was a Methodist minister, the values of dignity, education and a keen awareness of injustices were paramount in the Delaney household. Beauford and his younger brother, Joseph, developed an interest in art at an early age, when they drew copies of pictures they saw on Sunday school cards and the family Bible. As a teenager, Beauford got a job at a local sign company, where his work was noticed by Lloyd Branson, Knoxville’s best known artist. Delaney became Branson’s apprentice and, with Branson’s backing, moved to Boston to study art in 1924. His escape from the Jim Crow south opened up a huge world, where he learned the essentials of painting techniques, was first exposed to the black activist politics, and experienced his first intimate encounter with another young man.

Beauford Delaney, “Can Fire In The Park”, 1946

By 1929, Beauford used up Boston and moved to Harlem, which coincided with the great artistic and political flowering known as the Harlem Renaissance. Despite being penniless during the early crushing years of the Great Depression, Delaney found an affinity with the “multiple of people of all races [who] spend every night of their lives in parks and cafes.” As he wrote in his journal, their courage inspired him to believe that “somehow, someway there was something I could manage if only with some stronger force of will I could find the courage to surmount the terror and fear of this immense city and accept everything insofar as possible with some calm and determination.”

That calm and determination became the subject of some of his greatest works. Delaney eventually found work here and there — as a bellhop, telephone operator, doorman, janitor — while also finding, slowly, an audience for his paintings. He rubbed shoulders Georgia O’Keefe and Henry Miller, and became close friends with author James Baldwin (see Aug 2), and yet he remained an isolated individual, presenting carefully crafted faces to the people he encountered depending on where he was. To his neighbors in Greenwich Village, where his studio was, he was part of a larger gay (and mostly white) circle of friends; in Harlem, he kept his other life hidden. The decidedly macho world of modernist and impressionist art in New York undoubtedly added to his isolation. Those who knew him saw an introverted and private person, one who had apparently never formed any lasting romantic relationships.

Beauford Delaney, “Nativity Scene,” 1961.

In 1953, Delaney moved to Paris where he found a greater sense of freedom in an already well-established expatriate community of ex-patriate African-American artists. His paintings shifted from the figurative images of his New York period to more of an abstract impressionist exploration of color and light. But by 1961, his mental and physical health began to deteriorate, problems which were compounded by continuing poverty, hunger, and heavy drinking. Baldwin remembered, “He has been starving and working all of his life – in Tennessee, in Boston, in New York, and now in Paris. He has been menaced more than any other man I know by his social circumstances and also by all the emotional and psychological stratagems he has been forced to use to survive; and, more than any other man I know, he has transcended both the inner and outer darkness.”

Delaney returned briefly to the U.S. in 1969 to visit family, but he was dogged by paranoia and hallucinations. He returned to Paris in 1970 and tried to resume working, but it became increasingly clear to his friends that he was no longer capable of living independently. In 1975, he was hospitalized, then committed to St. Anne’s Hospital for the Insane. He died there in 1979, and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Denaley’s work was mostly forgotten through much of the 1970s and 1980s, despite his influence on fellow artists. In 1986, Baldwin wrote that Delaney was “the first living proof, for me, that a black man could be an artist. In a warmer time, a less blasphemous place, he would have been recognised as my Master and I as his Pupil. He became, for me, an example of courage and integrity, humility and passion. An absolute integrity: I saw him shaken many times and I lived to see him broken but I never saw him bow.”

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 29

Jim Burroway

December 29th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1989, page 8.

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1989, page 8.

John Addington Symonds (left) and Edward Carpenter (right)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“The Most Beneficial Results Accrue from the Sexual Relations Between Men”: 1892. John Addington Symonds was an English poet and literary critic who, although married and a father, was an early advocate of male homosexuality (see Oct 5). Edward Carpenter was a poet, socialist philosopher, and an early gay advocate — and among the very few who lived openly as a gay man in Victorian England (see Aug 29). In 1892, Symonds was beginning his collaboration with sexologist Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) for Ellis’s first installment of his six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex, when Symonds wrote to Carpenter to discuss some of the topics he intended to cover. While Ellis intended to stick strictly to a psychological discussion on homosexuality (or Sexual Inversion, as it was called at the time), Symonds was keen to open the topic up to historical and ethical considerations:

It is a pity that we cannot write freely on the topic. But when we meet, I will communicate to you facts which prove beyond all doubt to my mind that the most beneficial results, as regards health and nervous energy, accrue from the sexual relations between men: also, that when they are carried on with true affection, through a period of years, both comrades become united in a way which would be otherwise quite inexplicable.

The fact appears to me proved. The explanation of it I cannot give, & I do not expect it to be given yet. Sex has been unaccountably neglected. Its physiological & psychological relations even in the connection between man & woman are not understood. We have no theory which is worth anything upon the differentiation of the sexes, to begin with. In fact, a science of what is the central function of human beings remains to be sought.

This, I take it, is very much due to psychologists, assuming that sexual instincts follow the build of the sexual organs; & that when they do not, the phenomenon is criminal or morbid. In fact, it is due to science at this point being clogged with religious & legal presuppositions.

…My hope has always been that eventually a new chivalry, i.e.., a second elevated form of human love, will emerge & take its place for the service of mankind by the side of that other which was wrought out in the Middle Ages.

…How far away that dream seems! And yet I see in human nature stuff neglected, ever-present — pariah and outcast now — from which I am as certain as I live, such a chivalry could arise.

Whitman, in Calaumus, seems to strike the key-note. And though he repudiated (in a very notable letter to myself) the deductions which have logically to be drawn from Calamus, his work will remain infinitely helpful.

[Source Chris White’s Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality: A Sourcebook (London, Routledge, 1999): pp 92-94.]

Catholic Church Reaffirms Opposition to Homosexuality: 1975. It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But on this date in 1975, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — think of it as the Vatican’s equivalent of the Justice Department (so to speak) — issued Persona Humana, addressing “certain questions concerning sexual ethics.” On the subject of homosexuality, the Congregation stated:

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

The same statement also reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to premarital sex, extramarital sex and masturbation (which it also branded “an intrinsically and seriously disordered act”).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Billy Tipton: 1914-1989. It wasn’t until his death in 1989 when it became widely known that the American jazz pianist, saxophonist and bandleader was a transman. Early in his career, Tipton performed as a man while continuing to present as a woman otherwise, but by the 1940s, he had transitioned his gender identity fully to male — except for when he went home to his family, where he became Dorothy again, leading fellow musicians to believe he was lesbian.

By the 1950s, Tipton was identifying solely as a man. It was during that time when he was awarded a recording contract with Top records, for whom he recorded two albums of jazz standards. The albums were reasonably successful, and he was given the opportunity to sign a contract for four more. He declined the offer, and took his Billy Tipton Trio to Spokane where he performed weekly at a downtown nightclub called Allen’s Tin Pan Alley and worked as a talent broker at the Dave Sobol Theatrical Agency. He also entered into at least five heterosexual relationships, including a common-law marriage with Kitty Kelly with whom Tipton adopted three sons. One son, William, remembered Billy as a good father who loved to go on Scout camping trips. It was William who would learn that his father had been born a woman, when he was looking on as paramedics tried to resuscitate him after collapsing with a hemorrhaging peptic ulcer.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 28

Jim Burroway

December 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, December 27, 1975, page 13.

From This Week In Texas, December 27, 1975, page 13.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Closeted Anti-Gay Activist Dies of AIDS: 1986. Terry Dolan, who helped to found the National Conservative Political Action Committee, was pretty well known in elite gay circles. According to Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On, when playwright Larry Kramer recognized him at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party, he walked up to Dolan and threw a drink is his face. “How dare you come here?” he shouted. “You take the best from our world and then do all those hateful things against us. You should be ashamed.”

Among those awful things was sending out fundraising letters for NCPAC, which claimed that “Our nation’s moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians).” Meanwhile, Dolan had, at the time of that 1984 encounter with Kramer, had just ended an affair with a male epidemiologist at the New York City Health Department, and was then enjoying everything the gay social scene had to offer.

Dolan knew how to raise money. “The “shriller you are,” he said in 1982, “the easier it is to raise money.” He had honed those skills at NCPAC, and during the late 1970s as part of the leadership of Christian Voice, a pre-Moral Majority right wing anti-gay group. And those skills he honed during those years have been the recipe for anti-gay activists ever since.

But four years later, Dolan himself was dead of AIDS at the age of 36. The following May, The Washington Post published an article about “the cautious closet” of Terry Dolan. His brother, Reagan White House speechwriter Anthony Dolan, was livid and took out a two-page ad in The Washington Times, arguing that “the greatest and most malicious falsehood in this story was its entire thrust, its basis: the claim that my brother lived and died a homosexual.” But Dolan did live and die a homosexual, and a deeply closeted one at that. But despite his brother’s and family’s best efforts, the secret was out, and no amount of wishful thinking otherwise would ever change that fact.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, December 27

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, a magazine catering to gay motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts. December 1983, page 22.

From Club Scene, a magazine catering to gay motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts. December 1983, page 22.

Kindred Spirits is described as “a women’s alternative” for Houston, Texas.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“An Evil Force In Our Land”: 1708. That was a sermon against “sodomites” delivered by a British preacher, according to historian Rictor Norton:

The Societies for Reformation of Manners was founded in 1690 and there were about twenty such Societies by 1701. They aimed to clean up public vice, and focused particularly upon prostitution. The leader of the Societies, Reverend Bray, was obsessed with sodomy, which he called “an evil force invading our land” in the sermon he preached at St Mary’s Le Bow before the Societies for Reformation of Manners on 27 December 1708. Bray directed several raids from 1707 through 1709, in association with Constables who were themselves members of the Societies. By their annual meeting in 1710 they were able to boast that by their means “our streets have been very much cleansed from the lewd night-walkers and most detestable sodomites.” Our knowledge about the homosexual subculture of London at that time is exactly coterminous with the investigations of the Societies for Reformation of Manners. It is not accurate to say that the gay subculture was “born” at that time, only that it was “uncovered” by these campaigning moralists.

A Stranger “Declared Himself in Favour of the Crime of Sodomy”: 1720. Historian Rictor Norton has a treasure-trove of British history at his web site. Here’s another excerpt, from The London Journawhich reported the following:

Some Days since a Gentleman meeting another on the Royal Exchange, though a Stranger to him before, was presently acquainted with him, and told him, he was captivated with the fineness of his Person, and then declared himself in favour of the Crime of Sodomy; and warmly sollicited him for his Company to an adjoyning Tavern. This stun’d at first, the other; but collecting himself in order to view the Monster, and have an Opportunity to punish and put him to shame, he agreed to meet him the next Day at a Tavern by the Exchange; but before they met, the Gentlemen acquainted the Master of the House with the Matter, and several Persons were got ready on the Signal to enter the Room. Accordingly, when every thing within was ready for Action and the Alarm given, the People rushed in. The Guilty Person was not able to rectify some Indecencies he was in. Upon this they gave him the Cold Bath with several Pales [i.e. pails] of Water thrown in his Face. Thus restoring Speech and Motion to him, he cursed and swore in a very outragious manner, and endeavoured to fling himself out of the Room, but they would not part with him till he had been well rubbed down with some Oaken Towels, prepared for that purpose; after which they kick’d him out of the House.

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The Daily Agenda for December 26

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Data Boy,December 23, 1982, page 29.

From Data Boy,December 23, 1982, page 29.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Body Build of Male Homosexuals: 1959. In many ways, just about everyone (including most of the mental health community) saw gay people, particularly gay men, as being so alien as to almost constitute a different species. Well, maybe not a different species literally, but for some, gay men were at least some sort of a mutation of homo sapiens, and were not like just any common man on the street. On December 26, 1959, the august British Medical Journal published a short paper by Dr. A.J. Coppen, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London who believed that he had proven, on the basis of physical measurements of just thirty-one gay men, that there was a distinct body build associated with homosexuality in men — and it was the same body build associated with mental patients.

He came to this determination by measuring the shoulders and hips of three groups of people. “The homosexual group,” he wrote, “consisted of 31 patients who had been either exclusively homosexual or predominantly homosexual, with only occasional heterosexual activity. The patients had attended the Maudsley Hospital primarily for homosexuality; the majority had been referred from the courts after they had been convicted of homosexual offences.” Because a number of them had “psychiatric symptoms” of “mainly depression or anxiety” (is there any wonder?), he included “another control group of 22 heterosexual neurotics, … as any differences found in the homosexuals may be related to the differences widely reported in psychiatric patients rather than to their specific sexual abnormalities.” The third group, a control group, consisted of 53 members of a business organization “who were attending for mass radiography,” and who agreed to be part of the study.

For all three groups, Coppen measured the circumference around their shoulders (biacromial) and hips (bi-illiac), calculated an equivalent diameter (he doesn’t say how), and used those measurements to determine what he called an “androgyny score” (3 x biacromial – x bi-iliac diameters, in cm.). Coppen scoured the literature to provide evidence to support his contention that such a score could detect deficiencies in masculinity in men — because, as they all knew in the 1950s, all homosexuals suffered from this very deficiency:

Raboch (1957) found a decreased biacromial diameter in hypogonadal men and in men with female sex chromatin. Lindegard (1956) showed that size of penis was correlated with the androgyny score. Patients suffering from pre-eclamptic toxaemia and frigidity have been found to have abnormally masculine androgyny scores (Coppen, 1958). Thus there is evidence that subjects who suffer from certain abnormalities related to sexual function will show abnormalities in their androgyny score. The hypothesis tested in the present investigation is that homosexuals have abnormally feminine androgyny scores.

And with those measurements, Coppen determined that:

Androgyny ScoresThe results show that homosexuals have a decreased androgyny score and biacromial diameter compared with the control group. This difference, however, is not specific for homosexuality, as the neurotic patients in this study also differ from the controls to approximately the same extent as regards both androgyny and biacromial width. The androgyny score does not discriminate between homosexuals and controls better than does the biacromial diameter, though, as the Chart shows, three homosexual patients have very low androgyny scores, outside the range of the other two groups. It appears, therefore, that homosexuals are similar to people with other psychiatric disorders in having decreased breadth measurements, but that their sexual abnormality is not specifically related to these. Rather it seems that the homosexual is influenced by the similar (unknown) factors that produce the abnormalities in body-build found in other psychiatric patients.

This article from 1959 is an interesting holdover from an early path of investigation that is reminiscent of nineteenth-century Phrenology. That discarded science is perhaps best known today for its busts and diagrams of human skulls with dotted outlines of areas denoted with labels like “Friendship” or “Adhesiveness” (see Aug 6). Phrenologists believed that different areas of the brain consisted of “organs” relating to different character traits. Early on, they also believed that it was possible to determine the different developmental levels of these “organs” by relating them to the shape of an individuals skull with its various bumps and bulges.

That last theory was soon discarded, but the idea that an individual’s character traits could somehow be imprinted on that person’s physical development was firmly established in the scientific imagination. In the late 1800s the Italian Cesare Lombroso, who is credited for founding the discipline of Criminology, drew on phrenology, Degeneracy Theory (see Aug 16Sep 9, or Oct 26 for brief explanations) and Social Darwinism to argue that criminality was an inherited trait rather than an impulse of human nature. Lombroso argued that criminals, would-be criminals, and other “defectives” could be diagnosed via their anatomical features such as the shape of the forehead, ear sizes, limb sizes, asymmetrical features and other “stigmata of degeneracy.” The appearance of children with Down’s Syndrome, for example, only seemed to confirm these theories.

By the end of the first third of the twentieth century, such theories had been largely discarded. But some of the ideas that took root in those theories took a lot longer to die off.  Texts on homosexuality right up through through the 1950s often had several paragraphs dwelling on the physical characteristics of their study subjects, and some even included nude photos to illustrate purported masculine deficiencies. By the late 1950s, those descriptions had mostly disappeared from the literature, which make this 1959 article something of an interesting anachronism.

[Source: A.J. Coppen. “Body-Build of Male Homosexuals.” British Medical Journal no. 5164, vol 2 (December 26, 1959): 1443-1445. Available online here.]

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The Daily Agenda for Christmas Day

Jim Burroway

December 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

All of us at BTB wish you a wonderful and happy Christmas.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
TIME Magazine’s “Object Lesson”: 1950. Col. Alfred Redl was Austria-Hungary’s masterful chief of counter-intelligence, having set up a massive espionage network in Russia. But when the Russians discovered evidence of his homosexuality in 1903, they blackmailed him into becoming, for the next eleven years, a double agent. In 1913, Austria-Hungary officials learned of Redl’s treachery. A group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer, and left a revolver behind in Redl’s room when they left. Redl wrote a last farewell letter and shot himself (see May 25). Thirty-seven years later, Time magazine wrote about the growing Lavender Scare taking hold in the U.S. (see Feb 28, Mar 14Mar 23Apr 18, May 15, May 19, Jun 15, Jul 17, Dec 15), and recalled the Redl Affair, as that whole mess had been known, as an “object lesson” on the what it called the dangers of allowing gay people to work for the U.S. government:

Last week, a Senate investigating committee resurrected the case of Alfred Redl as an object lesson for the U.S. For 27 weeks, North Carolina’s frock-coated Clyde Hoey, with three other Democratic Senators and three Republicans, had been quietly looking into a sordid matter: the problem of homosexuals in the Government. The problem had been the subject of nervous explanations, joke-cracking and effective campaign sneers ever since last February, when Deputy Under Secretary of State John Peurifoy offhandedly told Congress that State had gotten rid of 91 employees for homosexuality (see Feb 28).

Senator Hoey’s investigators had compiled a shocking history. They had found a record of homosexuality or other sexual perversions among workers in 36 of 53 branches of government, as well as in the armed forces. Between Jan. 1, 1947 and last April, 4,954 cases had come to light among some three and a half million people in Government service. Most were in the armed services, which are far larger than civilian Government departments and traditionally aggressive at searching out perverts.

There were 574 cases involving civilian Government employees and 69 are still under investigation; in all the other cases the accused had either quit, been cleared or fired. The investigators found the greatest batch of civilian cases—143—in the State Department. State had cleared or gotten rid of all but a dozen whose cases were still pending. A surprise second in the totals was the Veterans Administration, with 101 cases. Others: Atomic Energy Commission, 8; EGA, 27; Congress’ legislative agencies (Library of Congress, congressional employees, etc.), 19; White House office, none.

…The investigators feared that some sex perverts would inevitably go undetected in Government jobs, but most federal bureaus and agencies, they concluded sharply, had been lazy or downright negligent about cleaning house. The Senators recommended tighter laws and harsher punishment for sex perversion in the District of Columbia, more intensive examination of job applicants.

[Source: “Object Lesson.” Time (December 25, 1950): 10.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Albert Cashier: 1843-1915. It’s unclear when Jennie Irene Hodgers undertook a male identity, but by 1862 the Irish native was living in Illinois when he decided to enlist in the union army. He enlished as Albert Chashier and served in Company G as part of the Army of the Tennessee under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Company G fought in the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign and at Guntown, Mississippi. Cashier’s fellow soldiers noticed that he was small and standoffish, but thought little about it. He was once captured by the Confederate army, but escaped back to Union lines after overpowering a guard. He remained in the Union army until he and the rest of his company were mustered out in 1865.

After the war, Cashier worked as a private handyman for Illinois State Senator Ira M. Lish at his estate in Saunemin. Cashier also workd as a farm hand, church janitor, and cemetery worker. As a man, Cashier registered and voted in elections long before women’s suffrage came into being, and he claimed a veteran’s pension. He successfullly maintained his male identity until 1911, when he was hit by a car and broke his leg. The attending physician discovered his biological gender, but in an amazingly forward-thinking move, the physician decided to respect Cashier’s privacy, sharing the secret only with the superintendent of the Soldiers and Sailors Home at Quincy, where Cashier was then living. It was only after Cashier’s mind deteriorated and he was moved to Watertown State Hospital in 1913 when attendants discovered his birth gender and forced him to wear a dress. But when Cashier died on October 10, 1915, he was buried in his Civil War uniform and given a full military funeral. His grave stone in Saunemin cemetary simply reads: “Albert D.J. Cashier. Co. G., 19 Ill. Inf.” Sometime in the 1970s, a second tombstone was placed with Cashier’s birth name added.

Quentin Crisp: 1908-1999. He was always a gender-bending raconteur, even going back to when he was the object of endless teasing in elementary school. In 1926, he studied journalism at King’s College London, but switched to art at Regent Street Polytechnic. He also visited the cafes and pubs of Soho’s Old Compton Street, which is still the heart of the gay community in London. It was then that he decided that his life’s work would be “making the existence of homosexuality abundantly clear to the world’s aborigines,” and he did so by developing the flamboyant style that would become his signature. When World War II broke out, he tried to join the Army, but was rejected on medical grounds — “sexual perversion” was the diagnosis. He remained in London during the Blitz, and placed himself at the service of American G.I.’s, so to speak. That’s where Crisp picked up his love for all things American.

In 1968, he achieved success with his third book, an autobiography he titled The Naked Civil Servant. The title referred to his job as a paid nude model for government-supported art schools, which he described as “like being a civil servant, except that you were naked.” The book at first didn’t sell well, but it led to a documentary featuring him talking about his life while sitting in his flat filing his nails. That documentary eventually led to the 1975 television adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant, featuring John Hurt as Crisp. Crisp’s second career as professional raconteur and lecturer was launched, touring Britain with his one man show, and moving to New York permanently in 1981 to fulfill a longtime dream. Before moving to the States, he was reportedly asked at the US Embassy in London if he were a practicing homosexual. He replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect.” But his sharp-tongued wit also got him in trouble. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, he recklessly joked that AIDS was the latest “fad.” He made a pact with a New York performance artist named Penny Arcade that he would live to be a hundred years old, with a decade off for good behavior. He died just one month before his 91st birthday.

Here he is in a Q&A session in Los Angeles following a lecture on style:

Also, parts three and four.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 24

Jim Burroway

December 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), December 1976, page 12.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), December 1976, page 12.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Brenda Howard: 1946-2005. “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why Gay Pride Month is June tell them “A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.” That’s how New York area gay rights activist Tom Limoncelli euglogized Brenda Howard shortly after her death in 2005. Howard was among the thirty-seven women and men who founded the more militant Gay Liberation Front shortly after the Stonewall rebelion in 1969. She helped to organize a one-month anniversary commemoration of Stonewall, and then created the Christopher Street Liberation Day March a year later for Sonewall’s first anniversary. She later pushed to expand the commemoration to a whole week, to be known as “Pride Week” and encouraged similar observances in cities across American. Those efforts led to her being known as “The Mother of Pride.”

After GLF broke up, Howard moved over to the Gay Activists Alliance to chair its Agitprop Committee and Speakers Bureau with it’s message, “Gay is great, be proud if you’re gay, don’t mess with us if you’re not.” In 1987, she helped to found the New York Area Bisexual Network and became active in BiPAC and BiNet USA. She died of cancer on June 28, 2005, on the very day of the thirty-fifth Pride Parade of New York.

Lee Daniels: 1959. The actor, producer and director became the first African-American to solo produce an Academy Award winning film with 1992’s Monster’s Ball, which earned a Best Actress accolade for Halle Berry. Daniel’s directorial debut came in 2006, with Shadowboxer, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Mo’Nique, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and R&B singer Macy Gray. In 2009, he scored another major success with Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. Featuring Gabourey Sidibe in the title role of Claireece “Precious” Jones and Mo’Nuque as her mother, the film told the difficult story of an obese and illiterate teen growing up in the projects of Harlem who suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse from her mother (played by No’Nique) and was impregnated twice by her father. It was Sidibe’s first professional acting job, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Daniels himself was also nominated for Best Director.

His 2012 film The Paperboy, a 1960s erotic thriller starring Matthew McConaughy, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray and Scott Glenn, opened to decidedly mixed reviews. The strong cast appears to have saved the film from ignominy. The Village Voice Film Poll sprinkled best actor/actress nominations for just about about the entire cast, but nominated Lee Daniels for Worst Film. His 2013 film, The Butler, is a historical fiction centered on an African-American White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whittaker). It opened to much more positive reviews and top box office sales during its first three weeks.

Ricky Martin: 1971. Born Enrique Martín Morales, the Puerto Rican singer first achieved fame as a member of boy band Menudo before embarking on a solo career in 1991. His early popularity in Latin markets was boosted by his appearance in the second season of a Mexican telenovela, Alcanzar Una Estrella (“Reach for a Star”) in which he played a member of a boy band which achieves fame and fortune. In 1999, Martin found crossover appeal with the singles “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “She’s All I Ever Had,” from his first English language album. That was followed with “She Bangs” in 2000. In 2007, he took a break from recording, but returned again with a new album in 2010, along with his autobiography, Me. Shortly before the book came out, Martin acknowledged the truth behind the worst-kept secret of the decade, the fact that he’s gay. In 2011, Martin became a Spanish citizen (his grandmother is Spanish) in what was seen as a possible prelude to an upcoming marriage with his partner, economist Carlos Gonzales, although that marriage didn’t happen. The couple split by January 2014. Martin is currently raising twin boys, Matteo and Valentino.

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SCOTUS marriage decision looms

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2014

The Supreme Court has scheduled January 9, 2015, as the date on which to consider whether to hear appeals in five marriage cases. The states from which these cases originate are Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana.

In Louisiana a federal judge ruled to uphold the anti-gay marriage ban, and the other four are in the Sixth Circuit, where the appeals court overturned federal judges who had ruled for equality.

We will not know until next month whether SCOTUS will hear any marriage appeals, but if they do so, it will only be those which are requesting that marriages be allowed. In other words, the court has not scheduled for hearing any appeals which could reverse a state’s current practice of allowing same-sex marriage.

I think that this, when taken with past appeal and stay decisions, may suggest a predisposition on the part of the court to move in the direction of equality.

However, the court has also illustrated a lack of willingness to rule directly on the issue. And this brings up another possibility – though probably not a likely one.

On January 9th – or some point thereafter – the court could take steps to reverse the Sixth Circuit decision without taking up appeal. They could return the cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals with instruction that the court more carefully consider or weigh some aspect of the case.

But whichever direction they go, it now seems encouraging that next month will prove to be a rather big step (likely forward) in the marriage movement.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 23

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 52.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 52.

The Wreck Room Bar opened in July 1972 as the city’s first cowboy/levi/leather bar. It had three rooms and a small outdoor patio, and in keeping with the “wreck” theme, a back room featured a T-Bird’s front end sticking out of a wall and the room with the pool table was decorated with hub caps and chain link fencing. Barrels of free peanuts were set around the bar and the floor was littered with shells. By the following year, it was the home base for the Silver Star Motorcycle Club which later morphed into a leather club. Its anniversary parties were legendary. Beginning around 1976, two streets surrounding the bar were blocked off for a free corn roast and brat/burger fry. The bar also sponsored the Wreck Room Classic invitation softball tournament on Memorial Day weekends.

By the late 1980s, the death of one of the owners from AIDS, competition from other bars, the neighborhood’s redevelopment coinciding with the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design’s rehabbing an old industrial building across the street all contributed to the bar’s slide. The Wreck Room hosted its final anniversary party in 1994, and its building was purchased by the design school and converted into a student center.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wild Bill Dannemeyer’s Op-Ed on Gays in the Military: 1991. “Dob’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers, has been gone since 2011 (see Sep 20), and the controversy surrounding gays serving openly has largely disappeared. But in 1991, the debate was well underway over whether the Defense Department should rescind its decades-long policy of prohibiting gays in the military. In the pre-DADT era, the ban was a matter of DoD policy, not the law. Conservatives then, as now, wanted to keep the ban in place, and few were more hard core about it — or more obnoxious — than Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-CA). On December 23, 1991, he was true to form in his op-ed lambasting gay people with his usual class:

A very poor joke asks: What is meaner than a pit bull with AIDS? The guy who gave the dog AIDS, of course. This could be the fightingest son-of-a-gun in the whole Army. But should he be?

I have seen how aggressive the lunatics of ACT-UP can be-rioting in the streets, smashing windows, fighting with anyone in disagreement-and have often thought how effective they might be on the front lines of combat. But does this prowess and compunction for destruction automatically certify the few and the proud?

…Many people still believe that homosexual sodomy is a perverse behavior, that someone choosing to do so isn’t playing with a full deck. Survey after survey of military personnel supports this belief. …For homosexuals to blame others for reacting adversely to their chosen lifestyle is absurd. The notion of punishing “homophobes” (the label applied to people who find homosexual sodomy repugnant) in the military as perverts rather than those persons who define their very existence by a sex act is itself perverse…

Those were the arguments against gays in the military in the early 1990s. When Bill Clinton ran for President, he promised to overturn the ban. But as soon as he was sworn into office, he ran into a buzz saw of opposition led by fellow Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. In 1993, Congress shifted the ban from administrative policy to legal imperative with the passage of the Defense Authorization Bill, which included the codification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. According to Servicemembers United, 14,346 soldiers, sailors and airmen/women would be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” over the next eighteen years.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 22

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, December 23, 1977, page 12.

From Arizona Gay News, December 23, 1977, page 12.

The city of Tucson found itself in the gay bar business quite by accident a year later, in November of 1978, when it purchased Tucson House, a high rise apartment building on 1455 N. Miracle Mile, which the city intended to turn into public housing for senior citizens. City council members were surprised to learn that a tiny strip mall in front of Tucson House, which housed Jekyll and Hyde’s and its sibling gay disco, the Last Culture, was part of the same real-estate deal, making the city the clubs’ new landlord. While Tucson overall was quite gay friendly for its day — the city council would pass a broad anti-discrimination ordinance a month later — anti-gay council member Ricard Amlee was aghast. “I don’t want to use city funds to finance any of their operations,” he said, apparently ignorant of the fact that the two bars were now paying the city “four figures each month” for rent and still had eight years to go on their lease.

The clubs are long gone, although building is still there (that stretch of Miracle Mile was renamed as the southern portion of Oracle Road to reflect a realignment several blocks to the north), and houses a family and youth counseling non-profit organization.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
President Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law: 2010. It all came down to the wire during the closing days of the 111th Congress. If it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) when all hope for DADT’s repeal appeared to be dead, President Barack Obama never would have been able to place his signature on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. But sign it he did, and that act kicked off a nine month process to implement DADT’s repeal. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell officially came to an end on September 20. Since then, DADT’s end has been largely considered a non-event within the military. Even Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who had been on record as opposing DADT’s repeal, now says he is “very pleased with how it has gone.”

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