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Posts for January, 2016

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 9

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

From a flyer distributed in 1961. (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(By the way, that staff writer “Thomas Hayden” who wrote the piece was the very same Tom Hayden who would later co-found the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1968, he and seven others were arrested during protests during the Democratic National Convention. The Chicago Seven (Bobby Seale was tried separately) were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges. Hayden and four others were convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot, but the charges were reversed on appeal. He became a member of the California State Assembly in 1982, and moved to the State Senate in 1992 and served there until 2000. Along the way, his views changed considerably concerning homosexuality since he penned that editorial in 1960.)

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

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, August 8

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Chapman: 1941-1989. When Graham was growing up, his favorite radio program was the surreal British sketch comedy program The Goon Show, which made Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers household names. Chapman acknowledged that it was a major influence on him: “From about the age of seven or eight I used to be an avid listener…. In fact, at that stage I wanted to be a Goon.” He never got that chance, but he did go on to become a part of the Goon Show’s obvious successor: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Before that, Chapman and fellow future Python John Cleese (the two had met and started comedy writing while studying at Cambridge) joined the BBC to write for David Frost and Marty Feldman and various other radio and television programs. In 1967, Chapman and Cleese were given their own sketch television show for ITV called At Last the 1948 Show. Despite the show’s success (it lasted for two seasons before Chapman and Cleese returned to BBC for Python), Chapman was still uncertain about the whole show-biz stuff. Between the two At Last seasons, Chapman completed his studies and became licensed as a medical doctor.

Chapman’s characters tended to epitomize the famous British Upper Lip, although those characters were often undone when their masks slipped to reveal a loony madness underneath. His Colonel was the guy who would bring a Python sketch to an abrupt halt by declaring it “far too silly.” He  co-wrote the “Dead Parrot” sketch about a man who tries to return a dead Norwegian Blue Parrot to the pet shop, a sketch which is one of the Monty Python classics. Chapman played King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he played the title character in Life of Brian.

Chapman came out as gay to Cleese and Feldman in 1967, and he was committed to his life-long partner, David Sherlock, since 1966. In 1972, he helped to co-found the publication Gay News in an effort to change the way gay people were perceived by the public. Chapman was a raging alcoholic through much of his career. He went sober in 1977 following a drunken interview on British television. He died on October 4, 1989 of throat cancer, on the day before a planned twentieth anniversary celebration of the first Flying Circus broadcast. Fellow Python Terry Jones called it “the worst case of party-pooping in all history.” John Cleese delivered the eulogy: “Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch’, is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.”

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 Thursday, January 7

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

The “contrivance.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Remembering William Bishop Again

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2016
Subject: William Bishop

Mr Burroway

Would you please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email I am the niece of William Bishop. Thank you.

William Bert Bishop. Photo courtesy of the Bishop family.

William Bert Bishop. Photo courtesy of the Bishop family.

Most of our Daily Agenda stories involve rather ordinary and otherwise anonymous people who, but for that one event, would have lived their lives unnoticed by all except their family and loved ones. This probably would have been true for William Bishop, 29, if it weren’t for that one thing that would bring his young life to an abrupt end in 1955, in his Miami Beach apartment.

His story was featured in yesterday’s and today’s Daily Agenda. Here’s a recap: On January 5, 1955, William had met Thomas Francis McDonald, 21, who newspapers would describe as a “burly 210-pound Korean War veteran.” Thomas had abruptly left his wife and six-month-old daughter behind in Eatontown, New Jersey on December 28 (PDF: 21.6 MB/44 pages, see page 33), following a fierce argument that reportedly left him “despondent.” The papers also said he was depressed over the death of his parents, although his mother would later show up to testify at the trial. McDonald headed south, covering over 1250 miles before checking into the Tuscany Motel in Hollywood, Florida, just north of Miami. We don’t know when he arrived in Hollywood, but we do know that on January 5, he made his way nine miles south on highway A1A to a bar on 74th street in Miami Beach where he met William. They had a few drinks, played some shuffleboard, and sometime during the course of the evening, William invited Thomas to his 82nd street apartment.

After that, it’s mostly he-said/he-said, except one of them would be dead. What everyone did agree on, mostly, was that when William’s roommates discovered his body the next morning on the enclosed porch, it was clothed in what was described as a silk dressing gown (although some reports would describe him as nude), with his hands tied behind his back with an extension cord and a sash from his gown, and a towel and handkerchief stuffed in his mouth as a gag.

Now even this story might have come and gone like any other murder story, and William Bishop’s name might has slipped back into that same obscurity from where it came. But two things conspired to revive his memory more than half a century after his not-quite three-decade life had ended. First, William’s death came after one of Miami’s worst “lavender scares” ever to take place. That scare was the product of a fierce headline war between the scrappy afternoon Miami Daily News and its larger morning competitor, the Miami Herald. While both papers had engaged in anti-gay skirmishes more than a year before, it was the August 1954 murder of an Eastern Airlines male flight steward and the subsequent “discovery” of a large gay community in Miami that sent both papers into a running battle over who could provide the most sensational headlines and shrillest alarms — and capture the most readers. The witch hunts had mostly died down by December, but not before a fresh round of anti-gay ordinances were passed, bars and beaches were raided, names and photos were plastered on the front pages, and countless people were fired and their lives ruined. William’s murder took place against that historical backdrop, and for two days in January, it earned the same sensationalistic and hyperbolic coverage in the local press as the numerous other stories over the previous five months.

The second thing that helped to bring William’s memory back to life was the Internet, and the decision by Google to digitize and post online several editions of the Miami Daily News. That historical trove has since been removed (temporarily, I hope), but it did allow me to write two items for the Daily Agenda about William’s murder and McDonald’s arrest and conviction. And that allowed Judy Bishop Sewell, William’s niece, to find a few answers to questions she had about her uncle’s death, answers that none of the older family members were willing to provide while they were still alive. She emailed me last April, and we spoke briefly on the phone a few days later. We then followed up with another conference call that also included her brother, Chip Bishop. Together, we pieced together a much clearer picture of who William Bishop was, and the impact his death had on the family.

William Bishop with Judy Bishop Sewell

William Bishop with Judy Bishop Sewell. Photo courtesy of the Bishop family.

William grew up in the paper mill town of East Millinocket, Maine, the youngest of six boys. As an adult, he honed his hairdressing skills in nearby Millinocket, where he opened his own beauty shop. Chip is too young to remember him, but Judy was about thirteen years old when William was murdered.  “I remember his kindness,” Judy said, “and I remember that he would play with me and I know that he bought me some clothes. And as a young kid, that was just wonderful. And there was always something that he was going to give me, and I think that we went to the circus one time. And also, he gave me one of the vanities at his shop when he left. And I just remember him as being a warm person and a favorite of my father’s brothers.”

William worked at Serene's Beauty Shop in Millinocket, just a few miles west of East Millinocket. The beauty shop was located under the green awning on the right hand side. (Image via Google Streetview.)

William worked at Serene’s Beauty Shop in Millinocket, just a few miles west of East Millinocket. The beauty shop was located under the green awning on the right hand side. (Image via Google Streetview.)

Millinocket had been founded in 1899 by the Northern Development Company, which later became the Great Northern Paper Co. East Millinocket was founded eight years later. Both were, in essence, company towns. Williams father worked at the mill in East Millinocket, as did just about everyone in town. “The mill paid a very good salary,” said Judy. “I think that I had a wonderful childhood growing up in that town. I made friends there that I’ve kept in touch with for … well since I went to grammar school. … It was a nice town to grow up in. It’s now very much on the decline with no industry there. People are moving out, the kids not staying because there are no jobs. It’s kind of a depressed area.”

Chip added: “Back in the time that we’re talking about, well when the company came in, they built the town, they helped people to build the houses. They put everyone in a square, divided it into house blocks, and they gave everyone land and they help them build the houses. And so it was a very tight community. It wasn’t spread out geographically at all. It was bunched straight up. It was a town where they all worked in the same place, and where everybody knew everybody else’s business. And there was a lot of gossip and a lot of talk, and they would go on and it would spread like wildfire. You were apt to hear something from somebody in town before you would hear it from your own relatives, the way the gossip and the wildfire would spread.”

William Bishop with two nieces. Photo courtesy of the Bishop family.

William Bishop with two nieces. Photo courtesy of the Bishop family.

While we don’t know for certain, it appears that gossip and wildfire, precipitated by a particularly embarrassing brush with the law, may have led to William’s move to Florida. Sometime around 1952 or 1953, William was arrested on what Judy remembered as a sodomy charge. “I saw a little cutout of an article in Mom’s jewelry box about it. But I didn’t know even what sodomy was at the time. I know as I read that article that he had been arrested, and then as I got older I remembered that article. I went snooping in my mother’s jewelry box and I found it with some other articles that she had saved – not about William but about other people. And I thought, well, that kind of answers the question about why one day we all went to Bangor, and I think it was when William either went there for a trial or went there to discuss this charge that had been brought up with a lawyer. But I remember us going to Bangor and my mom said we have to go, and it’s about William. And I never heard anything else about it.” Judy remembered pestering her parents about what sodomy meant, but “I just couldn’t drag it out of them.”

We don’t know the specific charge against William, nor the circumstances behind it. An 1857 law provided from one to ten years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of “the crime against nature.” (It was repealed by the state legislature during a comprehensive revision to the criminal code in 1975.) We don’t have any indication that William was ever imprisoned. Nor do we know whether he was found guilty of a lesser charge.

But we do know that by 1954, he had moved to Miami Beach, a city that he was probably familiar with. “William and his mother would often go to Florida for several weeks to a month during the winter,” recalled Judy. He re-established himself as a hairdresser and it seems the he was doing pretty well for himself. He was living in a rather nice apartment located just two short blocks from the beach. He shared that apartment with two other roommates: William H. Tower, a florist who was twenty-two years old at the time of William’s death in 1955, and Edward B. Hedgepeth, twenty-seven and also a hairdresser.

“Edward Hedgepeth, left, and William H. Tower, William Bishop’s roommates, being escorted to a telephone in a neighboring apartment by Miami Beach police officer. (Photo by the Miami Daily News.)

For the rest of William’s story in Miami Beach, we now have to turn to the city’s newspapers. Now in those days, newspapers could usually be counted on to be sympathetic to the murder victim and antagonistic to the perp. Not so in this case. The Miami News reminded readers four times — twice in the headlines — that Bishop was a hairdresser. It also described his roommates as “hysterical” twice, a coded description that at the time was reserved almost exclusively for women. Despite the apartment still being the legal private residence for two surviving roommates, police allowed a reporter to roam through the entire apartment where he found a desk “littered with reading matter about homosexuals, including the book, ‘Strange Loves,’ by Dr. LaForest Potter.” Police also gave the reporter a close-up look at William’s body:

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

Detective Charles Sapp handcuffs Thomas F. McDonald. (Photo by the Miami Daily News.)

McDonald — “who has a wife and 6-month-old child,” the Miami News quickly assured its readers — was arrested the next day and charged with murder. Newspapers throughout Florida and the wire services across the country consistently described McDonald as a “burly 210-pound Korea War veteran” every bit as often as they described Bishop as a “hairdresser,” who McDonald had no choice but to kill because Bishop “tried to make some improper advances towards me. I hit him with my first three or four times, and he struck back and got me on the jaw twice. He fell when I hit him again.” McDonald also had no choice but to tie him up “because I figured he might follow me,” what with Bishop being unconscious and all. McDonald also insisted that he wasn’t gay. “I never had any use for them and I still don’t,” he protested. The newspapers’ subtext was clear: they both were guilty — and the murderer was also a victim. “It was almost like a put-down to William,” said Judy, “when it was noted in the newspaper that he was a hairdresser, and that kept coming up. Why did they have to repeat it so many times?”

William’s family found out about his murder the same way everyone else did: through the papers. Judy was in school when “one person came up to me, and it was when that article in the Bangor Daily News happened. She came up and said, ‘Did you know your uncle was murdered in Florida?’ And I was absolutely stunned. That’s how I found out.”

She continued: “I went home for lunch and I told my mom what had happened, and I think she said, ‘Your grandmother just found out in the newspaper that William had been murdered.’ So I don’t think anybody called to break the news. I was always told that they found out in the newspaper, which to me is just not right.”

Judy doesn’t remember there being a funeral, nor does she remember anyone in the family talking about William’s death. “I mean, it was like nobody was supposed to know about this. … Which seemed strange to me, you know? I think the family was dysfunctional in the fact that I suspect they knew that there was something, quote-unquote, ‘wrong’ with William, that he wasn’t like the other brothers. I think they just kind of dismissed it and nobody wanted to talk about it.”

She and Chip both think that the family’s discomfort over William’s sexuality and the circumstances surrounding his death were compounded by other dynamics in the family. “I think he grew up in a dysfunctional home because his mother, my grandmother, was an alcoholic,” said Judy. “And I think children that grow up in a home where there’s a parent who is an alcoholic have a very difficult life.” Chip added that William’s mother “also had man-friends that came over a lot and played cards, drank, and whatever… Mom used to talk about.”

“He had five other brothers that lived a very hard life,” Chip added. “I mean, my dad dropped out of high school in the eighth grade to go work in the woods to help the family. My dad went into the service and had a very bad time in World War II, where most of the people in each of his squads were killed. He came out, like, the only guy, a couple of times. He did a lot of killing over there in Italy. He come back and, my mother always told me, was very hardened. He wasn’t the same guy when he came back. So I would image when this came out about William, he did not want to hear this at all! And I suspect that, he also had a couple other brothers that also served, and they were probably of the same mentality and feeling that they did not want this. I think they really did everything that they could to suppress it.”

McDonald went on trial that May, where he repeated his claim that Bishop made improper advances. McDonald reacted by hitting Bishop on the head with an ash tray and tying him up. One press report included this detail:

McDonald said he thought of the idea (of tying Bishop up) after recalling how he had seen GIs in Korea bound and gagged the same way — the only difference being the soldiers had been shot through the head.

Other reports stated that the medical examiner determined that Bishop had been “abused sexually.” Judy wondered whether there was some post-traumatic stress playing out. “If William made an advance and he was uncomfortable maybe, it might have just triggered pure rage in this man. I don’t know. I’m just guessing. … I think his war experiences had an effect on him. It couldn’t help but have an effect.” She also noticed that McDonald only had two defense witnesses: his wife, Joan, who was then twenty-one years old and raising their infant daughter, and a “Mrs. J.E. McDonald” of Chelsea, Massachusetts. “It was just so sad to read that. It must have been terrible for that family as it was for our family. And it was interesting, too, that McDonald’s mother lived in the Boston area and that’s where I live. She lived in Chelsea, right outside Boston, and I live in Ashland, which is about twenty-five miles west.”

As we ended our phone conversation, Judy was reflective: “I’ve thought a lot today about his pain in being a gay man and probably not getting any support from family and friends. That’s got to be very hurtful. And I wonder if William didn’t divorce himself from the family when he went to Florida to live, if he had just had enough and wanted to start anew. Because with the sodomy episode in Maine and the small town gossip, it must have been gut-wrenching for him.”

HeadstoneAt the time we spoke on the phone, she and Chip didn’t even know where William was buried. A few days later, I got a couple of emails from Chip. The ring that McDonald stole was recovered and had been returned to the family. The diamond was removed and placed in a new setting. It is now a treasured heirloom. Chip was also relieved to find William’s final resting place in the East Millinocket Cemetery — William’s info was missing from the cemetery’s registry. “It really made my day in knowing his five brothers were able to step up and do right by William,” he wrote. He also noticed that the headstone got William’s name backwards — “Bert William” instead of William Bert.

Here is some additional biographical information that I’ve been able to uncover:

Thomas Francis McDonald, William’s killer, was born on March 13, 1933 in Everett, Massachusetts, to David C. McDonald and Jessie E. (Marshall) McDonald. He died on July 29, 1994 in Boston at the age of sixty-one, which suggests that he was paroled sometime before he died. If his daughter is still alive today, she would be sixty-one years old. If his wife, Joan, is still alive, she would be eighty-two.

Edward Bernard Hedgepeth, one of William’s roommates, was born on January 20, 1927 in Nash County, North Carolina. He apparently changed his name in 1956, just a year after the murder, to Edward Bernard Edwards, taking his mother’s maiden name. He was still living in Miami in 1984 and in North Miami in 1992. He passed away there on January 4, 2002, just shy of his seventy-fifth birthday.

William H. Tower, William’s other roommate, was born sometime around 1932 or 1933. I have been unable to find any further information about him. If he is still alive today, he would be eighty-three years old.

If you or someone you know has any information about William Bishop or anyone else in this story, please contact me here.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 6

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

Jackie Jackson.

Jackie Jackson (Source).

But while the well-heeled, the tourists, local politicians and visiting celebrities were raunching things up in the fancier night clubs, Miami police were rounding up drag queens in gay bars in the less glamorous parts of town (see Jan 7). By 1953, Miami Beach banned all drag shows from within its city limits.

Detective Charles Sapp handcuffs Thomas F. McDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s how the story ended on January 6: a burly Korean war vet and married father who attacked a silk dressing-gowned hairdresser. It would appear that, in The Miami News’ opinion, the case was more or less closed — except for the small matter of a dead body. The News dropped the story until May, when a judge ruled that McDonald was competent to stand trial and jury selection began. News reports about the trial were scant, with no information provided about the prosecution’s case. The only news reports to appear were on May 24, when McDonald took the stand. According to an AP report, it appears that McDonald’s story may have changed in some of the details:

McDonald testified he met Bishop in a bar and they went to the latter’s apartment where Bishop changed into a dressing gown and made improper advances. McDonald said he became angry and hit Bishop, who weighed 180 pounds, on the head with an ash tray, bound his hands and feet and gagged him.

McDonald said he thought of the idea after recalling how he had seen GIs in Korea bound and gagged in the same way — the only difference being the soldiers had been shot to through the head.

McDonald admitted taking a ring, watch, radio and clothing that belonged to Bishop because he wanted to get even.

McDonald’s wife, Joan, 21, and his mother, Mrs. J.E. McDonald, of Chelsea, Mass., were the only other defense witnesses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 5

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The police also allowed reporters to go through the apartment as well, despite the fact that it was still the private residence for the two roommates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, January 4

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2016

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 Oak Lawn 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.

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 day, they had a quite day with “the Moms,” so stepped out for the evening and strolled through a nearly empty local mall, where they made plans to spend Valentine’s Day together by themselves in Disney World. They then decided to grab a couple of drink. 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, 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 returned, 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 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.”

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.

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.”

 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.”

R.E.M. hit their musical stride in earnest in 1985 when Stipe decided to enunciate for Fables of the Reconstruction. The clearer singing revealed 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.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 3

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2016

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.

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:

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.]

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.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 1

Jim Burroway

January 1st, 2016

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 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.

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.

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.

 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.

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: A Novel 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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Happy New Year

Timothy Kincaid

December 31st, 2015


Here’s wishing the very best to all of you in 2016.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, December 31

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2015

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.

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.]

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 Wednesday, December 30

Jim Burroway

December 30th, 2015

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.

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 Tuesday, December 29

Jim Burroway

December 29th, 2015

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)

“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.]

40 YEARS AGO: 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”).

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 Monday, December 28

Jim Burroway

December 28th, 2015

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.

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 Sunday, December 27

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2015

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.

“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.

295 YEARS AGO: 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 [slang for a woodenclub or cudgel — ed.], prepared for that purpose; after which they kick’d him out of the House.

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