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Posts for May, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 30

Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; Bradford, UK; Ferndale, MI; Geneva, NYKarlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Malta; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Söderhamn, Sweden.

Other Events This Weekend: Film Out, San Diego, CA; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

A large wave of Italian, Greek and Eastern European immigration flowed throughout northeastern Ohio from the 1910s onward, with many of them settling in Youngstown. As major steel mill town almost exactly midway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Youngstown’s population exploded from 79,000 in 1910 to 170,000 in 1930. Youngstown became the nation’s third largest steel producer, and its workers were among the best-paid in the country. Such a major urban center quickly drew the interest of competing crime families in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which vigorously “competed,” shall we say, for dominance in the Mahoning valley, often with local elements of organized crime playing Pittsburgh and Cleveland against each other. Before long, the “Youngstown tune-up” entered mob jargon as a euphemism for a car bomb.

Youngstown has struggled to shake off its image as Mobstown, U.S.A., although those efforts received a significant boost with the 2002 conviction of Rep. James Traficant (D-Beam Me Up) of racketeering, bribery and tax fraud. Also, the mob just ain’t what they used to be. Unfortunately, neither are the steel mills. The biggest one, Youngstown Sheet and Tube, closed down in 1977, on a day that is still remembered as “Black Monday,” throwing 5,000 out of work. Youngstown’s population today is at 65,000, a shadow of its former self. Many parts of the city are hollowed out shells that often draw comparisons to Detroit. And like Detroit, a new urban pioneering effort is beginning to take hold in a few parts of Youngstown, with upscale bars and restaurants beginning to appear downtown.

I haven’t been able to find anything out about the Troubadour Lounge; its Facebook fan page doesn’t provide much info, other than giving a different address than the one in this ad. Maybe it moved at some point? Anyway, the location listed in the ad at 2010 Market Street  is today an empty lot. The location given in the Facebook page, which actually looks like it could have been a nice bar location, is a boarded up craft shop.

Paul Guilbert and Aaron Fricke

TODAY IN HISTORY:
35 YEARS AGO: Male Couple Attends Senior Prom After Obtaining Court Order: 1980. Aaron Fricke was a high school senior when he publicly came out as gay, started dating Paul Guilbert, and asked him to the Cumberland (Rhode Island) High School senior prom. The year before, Guilbert had tried to attend the junior prom with a male date, but he ran into opposition from both the principal and his father. This time, Fricke took the lead but, as before, the principal refused to allow the couple to attend, complaining that the publicity “upset other students, sent the community abuzz, and rallied out-of-state newspapers to consider the matter newsworthy.” It also earned Fricke five stitches under his eye when he was attacked in the hallway.

This wasn’t the first time that a gay couple tried to go to the prom. The year before, Randy Rohl, 17, and Grady Quinn, 20, attended a high school prom in conservative Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the full support of that school’s principal and several fellow students (see May 22). But this time in Rhode Island, Fricke first had to file a lawsuit in Federal court, charging that the school district was infringing on his First Amendment right to free speech. “I feel I have the right to attend,” he told the judge. “I feel I want to go to the prom for the same reason any other student would want to go.” The judge agreed (PDF: 60KB/7 pages), and not only ordered the school district to allow the couple to attend, but to beef up security in case there were any problems. And on this day in 1980, Fricke and Guilbert attended the prom, slow-danced to Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got The Night,” and the case of Fricke v. Lynch became an important legal precedent for other gay couples across the nation since then.

Fricke later wrote about his experiences in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He also collaborated with his father on another book about coming out, Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Christine Jorgensen: 1926-1989. She was born in the Bronx, and described herself as “frail, tow-headed, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games.” She also went by “George.” After a stint in the army following World War II, her identity as a woman was overwhelming — and her physical development as a man was underwhelming. As she attended dental school, she began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own and looked into sexual reassignment surgery. At the time, the only surgeries being performed were in Sweden. But at a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, she discovered Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Denmark’s Minister of Justice allowed her surgery to take place.

Christine’s surgery wasn’t the first of its kind, but that’s how it was portrayed on December 1, 1952 when the New York Daily News carried the front-page headline, “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” Within months, she was a national celebrity, and became the most written-about person in 1953. She tried to use her celebrity as an opportunity for education, which turned out to be a huge task. She acted in summer stock, toured the lecture circuit, wrote an autobiography, and made countless radio and television appearances. She was engaged to marry John Traub, but that engagement was called off. In 1959, she announced her engagement to Howard J. Knox, but the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license because Jorgensen’s birth certificate still listed her as a male. By the time they ended that engagement, Knox had been fired from his job over the publicity. Shortly before Jorgensen died in 1989, she said she had given the sexual revolution “a good swift kick in the pants.” She died of bladder and lung cancer just a month shy of her 63rd birthday.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, May 29

Jim Burroway

May 29th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; Bradford, UK; Ferndale, MI; Geneva, NYKarlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Malta; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Söderhamn, Sweden.

Other Events This Weekend: Film Out, San Diego, CA; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Out (Washington, DC), April 6, 1979, page 13.

From Out (Washington, DC), April 6, 1979, page 13.

“Is DC becoming the gay capital of America?” That’s what The Washingtonian magazine asked in 1980. The evidence was there for anyone with eyes to see: gays were a major voting block for Mayor Marion Barry (when Barry was a pro-gay politician), police harassment had largely died down, and gay visibility was increasing with businesses catering to the pink dollar — including four gay bars near DuPont Circle alone! Rascals was one of the four named, along with Mr. P’s, the Fraternity House, and Friends. “The waiting line outside Rascals is all male,” the sharp-eyed Washingtonian observed. Rascals was a popular show and dance club for about a decade. The building also included Shooters, a male strip club, upstairs.

Gay rights advocate Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and Frank Kameny (see May 21) on the picket line in front of the White House.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Second White House Protest: 1965. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s there, does it make a sound? That’s the kind of question that may have been on the minds of members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. following the first ever protest in front of the White House for gay rights the month before (see Apr 17). The group decided not to publicize that hour-long protest in advance because they didn’t want to give the police time to invent a reason to block their demonstration. But that also meant that there were no reporters or news cameras there either. As far as everyone outside the little group knew, it simply didn’t happen. But as Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Washington chapter recalled, the protest “went so well that we immediately decided to do a repeat, with advance publicity.” This time, they decided on a three-prong approach to get the word out: they sent a news release to major news outlets, handed out a mimeographed leaflet to passersby during the demonstration, and sent a follow-up release to news media after the protest ended.

Thirteen people showed up with picket signs, and this time there was considerable press coverage, including brief mentions in The New York Times, The Washington Star, the Associated Press, United Press International, and ABC television, whose East Coast viewers saw a line of respectable men (in jackets and ties) and ladies (in heels and skirts), protesting according to the dictates handed down by Kameny (“If you’re asking for equal employment rights, look employable!”). This protest would establish a pattern for future gay rights protests for the next four years.

“Polyester” Premieres: 1981. The John Waters film Polyester made its debut on the silver screen. Divine (see Oct 19) once again starred, this time as Francine Fishpaw, a suburban housewife whose world is thrown into chaos when her pornographer husband declares he’s been unfaithful, her daughter becomes pregnant, and her son is accused of breaking local women’s feet as part of his fetish. Nineteen-fifties heartthrob Tab Hunter (see Jul 11) appeared near the end as lounge-suit-wearing Todd Tomorrow who swept Francine off her sweep and proposed marriage — only to plot with Francine’s mother to embezzle her divorce settlement and drive her insane.

The film was notable for a unique technological breakthrough: it was presented in “Odorama,” in which theatergoers were handed scratch-and-sniff cards so they could smell along with the action. One of those odors was feces, leaving Waters delighted with the thought that his audiences actually “pay to smell shit.” Despite the film’s positive reception — it even got a positive review at The New York Times — it remains a scandal that Polyester has yet to earn any major cinematic awards.

Barney Frank Comes Out: 1987. Barney Frank became only the second member of Congress to confirm that he was gay, and the first to do so wholly voluntarily, when he told a Boston Globe reporter:

“If you ask the direct question: ‘Are you gay?’ the answer is yes. So what? I’ve said all along that if I was asked by a reporter and I didn’t respond it would look like I had something to hide and I don’t think I have anything to hide.”

Rep. Frank said that the disintegration of Gary Hart’s presidential campaign earlier that month over reports of his extra-marital relationship with a young model, and the recent revelation that Rep. Stewart B. McKinney of Connecticut had died of AIDS, had prompted his decision to come out. Of McKinney, Frank said there was “an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?’ I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.” On May 31, the Globe reported that most of his constituents were unperturbed by his announcement, and many were unsurprised.

LIA Protest

1o YEARS AGO: “Current Mood: Depressed”: 2005. Remember MySpace, the first large-scale social media site? Remember how posts began with the writer’s current mood? It was typically located right under the post’s title. In this case, the title was, “The World Coming To An Abrupt Stop,” and it was written by sixteen-year-old Zach, who had plenty of reasons to feel depressed. He wrote:

Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay. This didn’t go over very well, and it ended with my dad crying, my mom tearing, and me not knowing what I’d done – or what to do. It kind of.. went away for about a week or two I think. They claim it’s because they didn’t want to interfere with my last week or two of school.

Yesterday they told me that I couldn’t go anywhere until I got a job. Out of the blue. Because I’m the most irresponsible child my dad knows – as he told me – mainly because I forget to unload the dishwasher sometimes… it doesn’t matter that I have to clean up after my sisters and myself everyday. It just doesn’t.

Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long “talk” in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they “raised me wrong.” I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs – and I can’t help it.

I wish I had never told them. I wish I just fought the urge two more years… I had done it for three before then, right? If I could take it all back.. I would, to where I never told my parents things and they always were mad at me– It’s better than them crying and depressed cause they will have no granchildren from me. It’s better than them telling me that there’s something wrong with me. It’s better than them explaining to me that they “raised me wrong.”

Currently listening:
Hot Fuss
By The Killers
Release date: By 15 June, 2004

The next day it only got worse:

Monday, May 30, 2005

After The World Stopped, It Gave Me A Lot Of Rules.
Current mood: worried

Yeah, I was upset yesterday.. however I found an email about the rules and regulations of the program. My parents lied to me.. they told me (29th of May) that they didn’t know what the rules were exactly, however, this email wasnt sent on the 26th of May. I see now why they “didn’t know what the rules were.” It’s horrible.. they’re posted below.. and I so worried. It’s like boot camp… but worse. I obviously was not supposed to see this.. Seeing the bottom say “Parental Rules (not to be given to client)”

What is with these people…? Honestly.. how could you support a program like this? If I do come out straight I’ll be so mentally unstable and depressed it wont matter.. I’ll be back in therapy again. This is not good–

Currently listening:
Breakaway
By Kelly Clarkson
Release date: By 30 November, 2004

Zach posted the rules, giving the world first look at what the Memphis-based Love In Action residential ex-gay program was all about. The rules were staggering: hair can’t be too long or too short and can’t be colored, no Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein clothing, no contact with anyone outside the program, no cell phones, computers, or internet access. No TV, movies or “secular media.” No more than 15 minutes in the bathroom with the door closed while showering. Bedroom doors must be kept open at all times. The rules went on for several pages and were highly detailed.

As a teenager, Zach wasn’t eligible for the adult residential program. Thank God for small favors. Instead, he was sent to the youth-oriented Refuge program, a two-week day camp that would begin on June 6. Thanks to the pre-Facebook/Twitter power of MySpace, Zach’s cry to the world was quickly answered, first with comments of support and outrage over what was about to happen. Zach posted again to thank those who offered their support:

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thanks.. by the way.
Current mood: numb

Thanks. Thank you for all of the comments and messages, they mean a lot. really. I was shocked to see all of this… of course I haven’t been on a computer, phone, nor have I seen any friends in a week almost– Soon. Soon, this will be all over. My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight… three days. I went numb. That’s the only way I can get through this. I agree, if you’re thinking that these posts might be dramatized.. but the proof of the programs ideas are sitting in the rules. I pray this blows over. I can’t take this… noone can… not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject… I’m not a suicidal person… really I’m not.. I think it’s stupid – really. But.. I can’t help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It’s so horrible. This is what it’s doing to me… I have this horrible feeling all of the time… I wish this on no person… I’m so satisfied–happy’s too strong of a word the state I’m in– that everyone’s taking the time to email and write letters in complaint to these people. I dont know if it will do anything, but if something did happen it would be — awesome.

It’s been a week of torture – anger, and crying.
Current mood: worried

Hi. I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to be on. I ran away for a short while. I came back and they took everything from me, they don’t want me to have outside influences– i dont know how long im going to be on, because if tehy wake up, im screwed. The program starts June 6 and is until either teh 17th or the 20th. I’m sorry I don’t have time to write back o all of the comments and messages. I’m just here to let everyone know I am still alive, I’m sure you’ve left messages on my cellphone, they took that.. and my keys… and the computer.. and I’ve been homebound. -=sigh=- I just need this to be over. Don’t worry. I’ll get through this. They’ve promised me things will get better whether this program does anything or not. Let’s hope they aren’t lying. I’ve been through hell. I’ve been emotionally torn apart for three days… I can’t remember which days they were.. time’s not what it used to be.

LIA ProtestZach entered Love In Action on June 6. His friends, having seen his MySpace posts, organized a rally for him outside the facility as he showed up that morning with signs reading “It’s Okay to Be Gay” and “We Support You.” The next day, they showed up again, and the day after that and the day after that — for the next two weeks, so Zach would know he wasn’t alone. After a few days, national media began notice. Before long, the whole country learned what was happening behind the locked doors of Love In Action.

The national controversy brought a lot of unwanted attention to Love In Action. It was investigated by the state of Tennessee for child abuse and for operating a separate unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment program. Love In Action eventually settled with the state by re-casting themselves as a Christian ministry rather than as a therapeutic program. A year later, they quietly shut down their youth program.

This Is What Love In Action Looks LikeIn 2012, Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox released his documentary, This is What Love in Action Looks Like. Zach had remained out of the public eye ever since he left Love In Action, and six years later he still wasn’t giving interviews. But he did agree to appear briefly in the film.

Just as importantly, so did John Smid, Love In Action’s executive director, who by then had established an unlikely friendship with Fox. Smid credits that friendship for being instrumental in his profound change of opinions — about homosexuality, about his role in the ex-gay movement, and about himself personally. Smid resigned from Love In Action in 2008, and had written several letters of apology by 2010. In 2011, Smid wrote that change in orientation was both impossible and unnecessary. Smid and his wife divorced, and he married his current husband in 2014.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Nancy Cárdenas: 1934-1994. The poet, playwright, journalist, theater director and social activist was born in Parras, Coahuila in Mexico. She became a noted radio announcer at the age of 20 before turning to the stage. Her interest in literature became apparent in the 1950s when she participated in a public reading program, Poetry Out Loud followed in the 1960’s with the publication of her one-act play El Cántaro Seco (The Empty Pitcher).

In the 1970s, she became an acclaimed theater and film director. Her 1970 film, El Efecto de los Rayos Gamma Sobre las Caléndulas (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Marigolds), was a critical hit, earning the Theatre Critics Association Award. It was also very controversial for being gay themed. She drew death threats and the film was protested by the brother of then-President Luis Echeverría, which was no small thing: President Echeverría had been the hardline Interior Secretary during the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, when the Mexican government opened fire on protesting students ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics. But such was Cárdenas’s influence that not only was the film shown in the Mexican capital, but in a theater on Insurgentes no less — Insurgentes being one of the principal boulevards in Mexico city. It was a huge success.

She came out as a lesbian in 1974  during an interview on the public affairs television program 24 Horas. That act made her the first publicly declared lesbian in Mexico. That year she founded El Frente de Liberación Homosexual (FLH, the Gay Liberation Front). In 1975, she co-wrote with Carlons Monsivais the Manifiesto en Defensa de los Homosexuales en México. On October 2, 1978 as part of a commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre, she headed the first Gay Pride march in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. She continued her advocacy throughout the 1980s through her plays, poetry and public statements. She died in 1994 of breast cancer.

Gene Robinson: 1947. When he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New Hampshire in 2004, he became the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be elevated to the episcopate. His election was so controversial, he wore a bullet-proof vest during his consecration. In a BeliefNet interview the day after he gave a prayer at the opening of President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebrations, he talked about his journey toward coming to terms with his sexuality:

I’ve been the reparative therapy route. I did that. My own experience is it doesn’t work. I think what it does it that it teaches gay and lesbian people to become so self loathing that they are willing to not act in a natural way, and deprive themselves of the kind of love and support that makes life worthwhile, that makes sense of our own lives and being. I can’t be supportive of that. It only underscores the way the church has gotten this wrong. God doesn’t ever get it wrong but the church often does.

Bishop Robinson formally retired in January, 2013.

Rupert Everett: 1959. His 1981 role as a gay schoolboy in the stage version of Another Country proved to be his break, opening the way for his screen appearance in the 1984 film version with Colin Firth. In 1989, Everett moved to Paris and came out as gay, which he said may have damaged his career. Wags would say that the 1987 flop Hearts of Fire may have been a factor. But his appearance in the 1997 film My Best Friend’s Wedding and 2000’s The Next Best Thing showed that his career wasn’t entirely over — although it did appear that he would forever be typecast as the heroine’s gay best friend. In 2009, he told the British newspaper The Observer:

The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off… Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.

In recent years, Everett has remained active in British television and in the lead role of a London production of The Judas Kiss, about Oscar Wilde’s downfall and 1895 gross indecency conviction. And as a former sex worker himself, he has lately championed the decriminalization of sex workers and their clients. And ever the iconoclast, he criticized those who advocated for marriage equality in Britain, saying, “I find it personally beyond tragic that we want to ape this institution that is so clearly a disaster.”

Melissa Etheridge: 1961. Her debut album was completed in just four days after her record label rejected her first effort as too polished. That stripped down album, titled simply Melissa Etheridge, not only defined her sound, but it yielded a hit single, “Bring Me Some Water” and a Grammy nomination. In 1992, she won her first Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance on the strength of her third album, Never Enough. Her breakthrough album, 1993’s Yes I Am, was certified Platinum and garnered her a second Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her single “Come to My Window”. Her 2006 song “I Need to Wake Up” was recorded for Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

She came out publicly in 1993 and has been a committed gay rights advocate ever since. She is also a committed advocate on behalf of the environment and breast cancer research, having herself undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2004 and 2005. In an interview with Dateline NBC, she discussed her recovery and her use of medical marijuana while undergoing chemo. In 2011, she announced her separation from her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, after seven years together. They have two children, fraternal twins, who were born in 2006. Etheridge also has two children from her previous long-term relationship with Julie Cypher. In 2013, she announced her engagement to television producer Linda Wallem, although no date has been set.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

David Burtka: 1975. He began as an actor, first on the stage, and then in guest roles on The West Wing, Crossing Jordan and in seven episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Those appearances in Mother led to rumors that Burtka was romantically involved with one of the series’ stars, which finally prompted Neil Patrick Harris to publicly acknowledge in 2006 that he was gay. In 2010, Burtka and Harris, who have been together since 2004, became fathers to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. Birtka had cut back on acting to run a Los Angeles catering company and work as a full time chef, but he has recently returned to the stage on Broadway for a role in It Shoulda Been You.

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?

About North Carolina’s magistrate bill – UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

May 28th, 2015

Today the North Carolina House of Representatives will vote for the third and final time to approve Senate Bill 2. As it has passed the Senate and there are no revisions, it will go directly to the Governor. And while Gov. Pat McCrory has said that he does not support the bill, he may let it become law without his signature.

Quite a bit of kerfuffle has been raised about the bill with various “EMERGENCY!” emails flying about. But, within the LGBT community, not a lot has been said about the content of the “anti-gay marriage bill”. So I read the bill. And it may not be so very ookie-spookie scary as one otherwise might think.

Here’s what it says:

  • The Register of Deeds in a county cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That is an integral part of their duties and they have to fulfill their obligations.
  • Assistant Registers of Deeds can, however, give up issuing marriage licenses altogether as part of their tasks. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage licenses or none.
  • Magistrates can give up conducting marriage licenses altogether. But they cannot pick and choose; It’s either all legal marriage ceremonies or none.
  • If all magistrates in a jurisdiction refuse to conduct civil marriages, a magistrate will be assigned by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Until that magistrate is assigned, the Chief District Court Judge (or his assignee) will be deemed a magistrate to conduct civil marriages. There is no down time.
  • Marriages before a magistrate must be available a minimum of ten hours per week and over at least three days per week. This appears to be a new requirement.

This is not an onerous burden on same-sex couples. No gay couples are being turned away where straight couples are accepted. All legal licenses are being issued and every county is providing magistrates for marriage, impartially.

In fact, the greatest imposition of this bill is on the Register of Deeds and the Chief District Court Judge who are tasked with managing staff and ensuring that the newly added minimum service requirements are upheld.

The only question that I see remaining, is whether individuals who work for the State should be compelled to participate in procedures which violate their conscience in order to maintain employment. And that is an matter about which people of good will may differ.

UPDATE:

North Carolina’s Republican Governor has stated that he will veto the bill. (Citizen Times)

Acting just hours after the legislation passed the House, Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday he will veto a bill that would allow some state officials to opt out performing or issuing documents for same-sex marriages.

“We are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath,” McCrory said in a statement.

The vote in the House was not strong enough to overturn a veto.

UPDATE:

We mistakenly stated above that the vote in the House was not strong enough to overturn a veto. That is incorrect. A veto requires override requires “three-fifths of the members of that house present and voting”. The House vote was 60.9% (67 yes votes of 110 cast). To survive a veto override, two yes votes would have to vote not to override.

Because the majority of yes votes were from the same party as the Governor, there may be some unwillingness on the part of some members to defy the decision of the leader of the party. So it is not an entirely unlikely scenario that the bill will stay killed.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 28

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; Bradford, UK; Ferndale, MI; Geneva, NYKarlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Malta; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Söderhamn, Sweden.

Other Events This Weekend: Film Out, San Diego, CA; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

AVeryNaturalThing-Advocate1977.08.24p34

From The Advocate, August 24, 1977. page 34.

Before 1970 or so, films with gay characters were either tragic (you just knew someone was going to be killed or commit suicide), or were played for laughs. By the 1980s, films turned turned even more tragic, thanks to AIDS. But there was a brief moment, say in 1974 when A Very Natural Thing debuted, when a film about ordinary love and relationships between men could be released to the general public by a somewhat alt-mainstream company, which is what New Line Cinema was aspiring to be at the time.

A Very Natural Thing is regarded as the first American film about gay relationships intended for a mainstream audience. The film’s reception was ambiguous. Straight critics thought it was too political (two men in love, apparently was what made it so), while gay critics were more inclined to think it wasn’t political enough (the characters were too white, too middle-class, and too heteronormative). Producer/director Christopher Larkin thought all of the critics were reading too much into the film. “I wanted to say that same-sex relationships are no more problematic but no easier than any other human relationships. They are in many ways the same and in several ways different from heterosexual relationships but in themselves are no less possible or worthwhile.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First Pro-Gay Film Released 1919. The German silent film Anders als die Andern (“Different From the Others”) tells the story of a famous concert violinist, Paul Körner (played by Conrad Veidt, who later appeared in Casablanca as Major Heinrich Strasser) who falls in love with his student Kurt Sivers (Fritz Schulz). Both men experience disapproval from their parents, and Körner becomes the subject of a blackmail attempt. The real-life Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the famous German sexologist and gay-rights advocate (see May 14), makes several cameo appearances in the film. In one scene, he explains to Körner’s parents that their son “is not to blame for his orientation. is not wrong, nor should it be a crime. Indeed, it is not even an illness, merely a variation, and one that is common to all of nature.”

Hirshfeld’s appearances appear directed more toward the audience than the characters he’s speaking to. In one flashback scene, when Körner first meets Hirschfeld’s character after discovering that an “ex-gay” hypnotherapist was a fraud (some things never change), Hirschfeld tells him, “Love for one of the same sex is no less pure or noble than for one of the opposite. This orientation can be found in all levels of society, and among respected people. Those that say otherwise come only from ignorance and bigotry.”

The acting is stilted, as is common for that era, and the plot is fairly predictable. Körner reports Bollek for blackmail and has him arrested. In retaliation, Bollek exposes Körner. Both men wind up in court, and both are found guilty, despite Hirshfeld’s testimony on Körner’s behalf (and another soliloquy for the audience). The judge has mercy on Körner however, and sentences him only to one week. Disgraced and shunned by his family, Körner kills himself. Sivers also tries to kill himself, but Hirschfeld intervenes. “You have to keep living; live to change the prejudices by which this man has been made one of the countless victims. …Justice through knowledge!”

The film was originally released for general distribution, but it soon fell under official censorship and its showings were restricted to doctors and lawyers. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they rounded up all the copies they could find and burned them. Only small fragments of the film survives today. A version has been reconstructed from those fragments, surviving stills and added title cards describing missing plot points. It’s available on DVD. This clip includes one of Hirscheld’s cameos (beginning at 3:10):

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Michael Brown lies about Irish vote

Timothy Kincaid

May 27th, 2015

michaelbrowndvd

Anti-gay activist and Charlotte pastor Michael Brown has long been fond of demonstrating his contempt for gay people, his callousness towards bullying, and his astonishing arrogance as to his own discernment of truth. He will twist and turn any factlet that he encounters and has less credibility than your ordinary used car salesman, but generally he has, in our interactions, avoided demonstrably false declaration of observable facts.

Not so today.

In a desire to “explain” the decision of the people of Ireland to include gay Irish citizens fully into civil life – or to do so in a way that demonizes gay people (his favorite tactic) – Brown repeats a lie and calls it “absolutely right”.

In a hit piece hosted by Family Research Counsel’s American Family Research’s OneNewsNow, Brown pushed his theme of “tried and true tactics of bullying, intimidation, media bombardment, aggressive activism, and massive U.S. funding” by the horrible horrible gays. And as evidence, he presents a letter that he claims is from “a woman who supports our ministry and lives in Ireland”:

We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of US dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire, Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million.

See there! Americans paid for the Yes campaign! Feeney gave $24 million!

Except that isn’t true. Not even close. It’s a false statement presented by The Irish Catholic and the National Catholic Register and other opponents of equality in an effort to conflate social pressure efforts with a political referendum so as to suggest that the results are not valid. For example:

Between 2004 and 2014, Feeney’s foundation virtually created the gay-rights movement in Ireland, with direct investment of more than $17 million and priceless indirect support, according to Breda O’Brien, a Catholic columnist at The Irish Times, research compiled on the blog Yes Funding Exposed and Atlantic Philanthropies’ own website and reports.

Wow, that certainly sounds damning. Except that the referendum hasn’t been going on since 2004. And most of the funds had nothing at all to do with same sex marriage.

Here’s what happened: Mr. Feeney and many others both in and outside Ireland have contributed over the years to various groups, including those who have the goals of advocating for gay Irish people. And part of their efforts include public outreach to change hearts and minds as to how one treats your gay son, niece, or neighbor. And, over time, part of that discussion included the notion that civil services should be offered to gay people on the same terms as straight people, including the rights of marriage.

In 2010, the government set in place civil unions so as to offer rights without the prestige of marriage. They argued that the nation’s constitution prohibited same-sex marriage and only through a vote of the people could that be change.

Then, a few years ago, a referendum was set by the government and scheduled for 2015. Campaigns were created to support or oppose the referendum.

But Ireland bans foreign contributions to political referendums. And, after accusations by the No Campaign, the press made inquiries. (TheGuardian)

Atlantic Philanthropies declined to answer questions about the claims, but backers of the yes campaign firmly rejected them. They said their group adhered to the strict rules on campaign funding set up by Ireland’s Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission. The Sipo register of lobby groups shows that at least 10 of the pro-gay marriage organisations have fully complied with its rules, including a ban on foreign donations.

Brian Sheehan, the co-director of pro-gay marriage group Yes Equality, said: “Atlantic Philanthropies are not funding the Yes Equality referendum campaign. Yes Equality is fully funded through its supporters organising fundraising initiatives throughout Ireland.

“In addition we ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise monies for our poster, bus tour and booklet campaigns. All elements of the Yes Equality campaign are appropriately registered with the Standards in Public Office commission. Yes Equality is entirely dependent on generous small donations from around the country. The average donation made to Yes Equality has been €70.”

Get that? The Yes Campaign registered it’s fund with an oversight agency and the media verified their compliance. Feeney’s funds may have gone to various groups, but none went to the Yes Campaign.

Now Brown and others may say that this is splitting hairs, a mere technicality. They might argue that because Mr. Feeney funded organizations that advocate for marriage equality, he is funding the campaign in a more general sense. He’s not actually funding buttons and flyers and posters, maybe, but he’s helping fund groups that are pro-gay so it’s all the same really.

But that is nonsense. A contribution to Amnesty International is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. A contribution to a Child and Family Agency is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. Even if some members of each group – like most Irish – voted Yes.

It makes as much sense to say that anyone who has given to the Catholic Church in Ireland is “funding the No Campaign”. After all, Catholic Bishops called for the adherents to go to polls and vote No.

There is a difference between funding organizations with an ideological bent and who seek a social position, and funding an actual campaign for a referendum. This is a clear distinction and one that Michael Brown knows well.

But, as is becoming more and more the case with anti-gay activists, honesty holds little currency. And it appears to me that Michael Brown has taken the step from truth-spinner and fact-bender to blatant liar.

UPDATE: Michael Brown has issued a rebuttal in which he states that he is not a pastor.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 27

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; Bradford, UK; Ferndale, MI; Geneva, NYKarlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Malta; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Söderhamn, Sweden.

Other Events This Weekend: Film Out, San Diego, CA; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Cinépride LGBT Film Festival, Nantes, France; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine, November 1965, page 7.

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine, November 1965, page 7.

The Daughters of Bilitis’ official magazine The Ladder first appeared in October, 1956 as a twelve-page typewritten, mimeographed and hand-stapled newsletter. One hundred and seventy-five copies of that first issue were sent out, and from those humble beginnings, The Ladder went on to become first nationally distributed lesbian publication in the U.S. In Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement, Marcia Gallo wrote “For women who came across a copy in the early days, The Ladder was a lifeline. It was a means of expressing and sharing otherwise private thoughts and feelings, of connecting across miles and disparate daily lives, of breaking through isolation and fear.” The Ladder appeared monthly from 1956 until 1970, then every other month until its demise in 1972.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Homosexual Ring Broken Up”: 1948. A veteran University of Missouri journalism professor was arrested and charged with sodomy as Prosecutor Howard B. Lang, Jr. described to reporters fantastical tales of “mad homosexual parties” in Columbia, Missouri. According to the Associated Press on the day of his arrest:

The prosecuting attorney said he had issued a warrant for the arrest of E.K. Johnston, for 24 years a member of the faculty of the university’s school of journalism, after a long investigation into abnormal sex orgies here and other central Missouri cities. Two other men were held in the Boone County jail on similar charges. They are Willie Coots, a gift shop employee here, and Warren W. Heathman, 35, Rolla, Mo., an itinerant instructor for the Veteran Administration’s farm training program.

Lang said both had signed statements, implicating Johnston as a principal in what he called a homosexual “ring” at Johnston’s apartment which Coots had shared for the last 15 or 16 years. At least of score of University of Missouri students and other residents here, Lang said, also are implicated in the ring. No charges have been filed against any one except Coots, Heathman and Johnston, but several are being held in jail for investigation or as material witnesses.

Heathman, Lang reported, told a near-fantastic story of “mad parties” at Johnston’s apartment and at a cabin near Salem, Mo., in which as many as 30 members of the “ring” gathered to boast of conquests and to indulge in homosexual practices.

Johnston was released after posting a $3,500 bond (that would be nearly $35,000 in today’s money), and the university fired him the next day. Johnson initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of sodomy, but after the other two testified against him, he changed his plea to guilty in exchange for four years’ probation under a $2,000 bond. Terms of the probation included “cessation of homosexual practices.” The others also pleaded guilty and were placed on probation.

Johnston was just one of a large number of students and faculty who were caught up in a wider anti-gay witch hunt then taking place on the UM campus, spearheaded by the university’s vice president Thomas A. Brady. In the late 1940s, the university had gained a reputation as a “safe haven” for gay people, and the state legislature exerted pressure to get them out of the university. The university set up an investigative committee under Brady’s guidance, and the committee set about identifying gay students and faculty based on the interviews with those who were offered immunity in return for testifying against the others. That investigation led Johnston’s arrest along with several other students:

“Phillip,” a former MU student interviewed by Jim Duggins of the GLBT Historical Society, describes running into a gay friend who’d been caught “at a party out in the woods in Salem, Mo., in a cabin, having a wild time.”

“The university got rid of everyone,” Phillip says. “Each student who had been involved had his transcripts stamped, ‘This student will not be readmitted to the University of Missouri until he is cleared of charges regarding homosexual activities.’ That’s why one kid killed himself right away, and others killed themselves during the ensuing months. It was just tragic.”

Phillip and the other interviewees also discuss the 1948 dismissal of MU advertising professor E.K. Johnston. “E.K. Johnston had been at the party,” Phillip says. “He was immediately dismissed; the chancellor of the university, or whoever it was, said, ‘We had no idea. Such a respected man,’ though Johnston had been talked about for years.”

Professor Johnston moved to Kansas City, where he lived until his death in 1990.

Daughters of Bilitis Convention Program.

 55 YEARS AGO: Daughters of Bilitis Hold First National Convention: 1960. When Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, the tiny group only had eight members (see Oct 19). Five years later, and the Daughters were large enough to hold its first biennial convention at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco. The DoB’s press release announcing the convention was met mostly with silence, with a few sprinkles of condescension here and there. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Herb Caen typified the latter when, while referring to a gay-baiting mayoral campaign the previous autumn (see Oct 7), he wrote, “Russ Wolden, if nobody else, will be interested to learn that the Daughters of Bilitis will hold their nat’l convention here May 27-30. They’re the female counterparts of the Mattachine Society — and one of the convention highlights will be an address by Atty. Morris Lowenthal titled ‘The Gay Bar in the Courts.’ Oh brother. I mean sister. Come to think of it, I don’t know what I mean.”

Two hundred women and men attended the convention, whose theme was “A Look At The Lesbian.” he convention began on Friday night with a cocktail party at Martin and Lyon’s home. The main convention occurred at the hotel on Saturday, with panels of speakers, a lunch, and a cocktail reception and banquet that night.  Just as lunch was about to be served, a detail from the San Francisco police department also showed up to have their own look at the lesbians, specifically to make sure the ladies were wearing ladies’ clothing. SFPD had a long history of harassing lesbians dressed in slacks, jeans, or shirts with the buttons on the wrong side. As the Daughters had long emphasized outward conformity in the hopes that it would put larger society at ease, they were already prepared for the inspection. Del Martin brought the police inside so they could verify that everyone — the women, anyway — was wearing dresses, stocking and heels.

The convention went off without further disruptions from police, but the same couldn’t be said of some of the invited speakers. As Helen Sandoz (see Nov 2) reported in the DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder:

Saturday was a day to remember. We started out with the usual panel … the pat on the head… the understanding… the back-up by professionals. So, another homophile convention was under way in the usual manner. Then lunchtime came. An Episcopal minister served up our dessert with damnation.

Stella Rush provided more details about the brimstone delivered by Rev. Fordyce Eastburn, Episcopal chaplain at San Francisco’s St. Luke’s Hospital:

Having admitted that homosexuality was an unknown island to him, Rev. Eastburn proceeded to inform us that he felt that homosexuality was a “primary disorder of the Divine Plan.” …Homosexuals, he told us, were: 1, afflicted with a disorder of nature; 2, must attempt to stay away from their sources of temptation; and 3, should take therapy and attempt to make a heterosexual adjustment to life. (If you can’t make number three, I presume that leaves you celibate, presuming further that you’re capable of remaining  celibate and retaining your sanity.) …Well, it was a real different kind of luncheon, you had to admit that!

The gathering remained polite, despite the seething anger building in the crowd. Martin had invited Eastburn in the hopes if “open(ing) a door to communication with the church.” But Rush remembered, “It was awful — once more we were being told we were sinners. The men and women activists held up well, for they had come to accept themselves. But a gay boy I knew in L.A., who had no ties or experience in ONE, Inc., or the Mattachine and had come at my invitation, was harmed rather than helped. I lost his friendship over it.”

Things calmed down a bit, only to heat up again during a mid-afternoon debate between opposing lawyers in a gay bar case. Sidney Feinberg, North Coastal Area Administrator of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, defended the ABC’s practice of arresting gay bar patrons who propositioned undercover officers. One man at the convention rose up to ask a simple question:

“Sir,” the man asked timidly, “What is wrong with the person so approached saying ‘no’?” Mr. Feinberg asked in thundering tones whether the young man realized what he was asking. He was implying that to be protected all anyone had to do was say “No.” (Yes, it appeared as if that was what the young man was saying.) Such an implication seemed to inflame Mr. Feinberg greatly; certainly it was clear that such a thesis would put the ABC out of the job it said it wanted to be put out of. Mr. Feinberg expostulated that a man di d not have to accept the proposition of a prostitute either, did the questioner mean to imply that there should be no repression of prostitutes? There was a sprinkling of affirmations from the audience of those who believed there should be no such repression, and Mr. Feinberg became even more agitated. He stated in effect that if the audience did not even see eye-to-eye with the Law on something like that, that we would pursue two parallel lines in discussion and never come to any understanding.

Another queried, “Sir, would it be considered ‘indecent’ in a bar for men to be dancing together?” Mr. Feinberg opined that it would. The young man asked, “Why?” Mr. Feinberg said that such at hing was offensive. Another male member of the audience asked rather curtly, “Offensive to whom?” Mr. Feinberg became even more agitated, and the tension in the audience rose proportionately. “Offensive to the public.” Someone else asked, “Who decides what is offensive to the public? You?”

Finally it was Morris Lowenthal’s turn to speak. Lowenthal was a San Francisco attorney who successfully defended a gay bar that the ABC had tried to shut down. As Lowenthal detailed the ABC’s many attempts to shut down gay bars solely on the basis of the makeup of its clientele — as “resorts for sex perverts,” as ABC policy put it. The heated exchange that followed not only shocked the audience, but even made it into the Sam Francisco newspapers. Again, Rush described what happened:

Mr. Feinberg, who had been crouched over the table all this time, obviously fuming, erupted with a demand that he be allowed rebuttal time at the end of Mr. Lowenthal’s discourse.  …Mr. Feinberg was almost incoherent with fury until he calmed down a bit and tried to refute Mr. Lowenthal. Unfortunately he did not use facts, but sheer passion and sound decibles. I felt a rumble which literally rose from the floor, a very frightening feeling to one who has never been in such a position before. Mr. Feinberg attacked Mr. Lowenthal as having accused State officials of corruption, bribery and blackmail.

The audience, which had borne patiently the fireworks up to that POL1t, became angered at tactic s which it felt were not only unfair, but untrue. Also the audience was much impressed by the fact that whatever the merits of anybody’s case, Mr. Lovlenthal had at no time raised his voice, shouted or become angry.

Del Martin managed to calm the waters before open rebellion broke out, and was undoubtedly relieved when the time came to bang the gavel and move the convention to the next item on the agenda. The rest of the convention went on without interruption or aggravation. That night, they even gave out honorary S.O.B.’s — a “Sons of Bilitis” award to nearly a dozen male activists and allies. By Sunday night, while Lisa Ben (see Nov 7) delighted the crowd with her gay songs and parodies, the organizers and attendees were overjoyed at the convention’s success. Sandoz ended her report in The Ladder with a note of thanks to everyone who attended, including those who were uninvited or otherwise less than welcome:

Those of us who attended will never forget the excitement, the living proof of our worth. It was a timely shot in the arm when so much is adverse in so many areas. Thank you, DOB, ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control); Vice Squad, professional folk… thank you all for letting us see you and letting you see us.

[Sources: Sten Russell and Helen Sanders (pseudonym for Stella Rush and Helen Sandoz). “Convention Highlights.” The Ladder 4, no. 9 (June 1960): 5-6, 25.

Sten Russell (pseudonym for Stella Rush). “DOB Convention: A Look At The Lesbian.” The Ladder 4, no. 10 (July 1960): 6-25.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006).]60-66.

Russia Decriminalizes Homosexuality: 1993. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality on this date,. Since 2006, Moscow gay rights advocates have attempted to commemorate the anniversary of this historic event by conducting a gay pride march in Moscow. And every year, Moscow authorities have suppressed the march, usually violently. In 2013, Russia upped the ante when President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure which ostensibly bans distributing “pro-homosexual propaganda” to minors, but which is so broadly written as to ban virtually all pro-LGBT advocacy anywhere in Russia.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Marijane Meaker: 1927. The American novelist and short story writer is known among lesbian pulp fiction fans as Vin Packer, and among fans of young adult fiction as M.E. Kerr. Her 1952 paperback, Spring Fire, is often considered to be the first lesbian pulp novel. Maker worked on the novel while working as a proofreader at Gold Medal Books. She got Spring Fire published there by posing as a literary agent representing an author named “Vin Packer.”

Spring Fire, was a hit, but the nature of the audience caught Gold Medal Books by surprised. “Spring Fire was not aimed at any lesbian market,” Meaker said in 1989, “because there wasn’t any that we knew about. I was just out of college. We were amazed, floored, by the mail that poured in. That was the first time anyone was aware of the gay audience out there.” Thrilled with Spring Fire’s success, Gold Medal sought more stories from Vin Packer, who proceeded to produce twenty pulp fiction novels between 1952 and 1969.

Inspired by Donald Webster Cory’s groundbreaking book The Homosexual in America (see Sep 18), Meaker’s second persona, Ann Aldrich, published a series of nonfiction works to describe the the lesbian experience in 1950s America. We Walk Alone appeared in 1955 to mixed reviews. While it was an eye opener to general audiences, lesbians weren’t so taken with it, with many of those criticisms being played out in the pages of the Daughters of Bilitis’ newsletter The Ladder. Aldrich’s 1958 follow-up, We, Too, Must Love (1958), did little to win over her lesbian critics. Del Martin (see May 5) wrote:

Your intentions are admirable, Miss Aldrich, but somehow we feel that you have not reached your objective. You have glossed over that segment of the Lesbian population which we consider to be the “majority” of this minority group. We refer to those who have made an adjustment to self and society and who are leading constructive, useful lives in the community in which they live. While we will grant you that the “average” Lesbian, like any other “average”, makes dull reading, you must concede that without inclusion of this group you have not painted a well-rounded and true picture of Lesbian life. …Lesbian life which you have depicted may be likened to a similar study of heterosexual life in which only the Skid Road characters and the well-to-do are delineated. …Surely in your 18 years of Lesbian experience you have met those capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation.”

Meaker became a successful young adult fiction writer under the pseudonym M.E. Kerr, beginning in 1972, covering topics which weren’t usually covered by books for that audience: racisms, absent parents, homosexuality and, later, AIDS. Her first book as M.E. Kerr, 1972’s Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!, had as a central character an overweight girl, and was listed by the School Library Journal as one of the 100 most significant books for children and young adults. She also wrote four books for younger audiences under the pseudonym Mary James.

Meaker had a contentious relationship from 1959 to 1961 with the eccentric author Patricia Highsmith (see Jan 19), which Meaker wrote about in the 2003 memoir, Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s. Meanwhile, a whole new audience has rediscovered her pioneering pulp fiction work, with collectors driving up prices on original paperbacks. Cleis Press re-releaseda large number of titles since 2011 in paperback and for Kindle.

25 YEARS AGO: Chris Colfer: 1990. If you watch Fox’s “Glee,” you know him as Kurt Hummel, the fashionably gay kid who is routinely bullied in school. He had auditioned for the role of Artie Abrams, but the show’s creators were so impressed with Colfer that they created the role of Kurt especially for him. Colfer, who is gay himself, says that he was accepted by his family but often bullied in school. You can see Colfer’s video for the “It Gets Better” project here.

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, May 26

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 16

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1974, page 16

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Massachusetts Buggery Law: 1697. After the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies were united into the new Massachusetts Colony, a revision to the old Massachusetts Bay Law of 1672 revised its old sodomy law. The death penalty remains, but now “Buggery” is defined to include bestiality as well as sodomy:

For avoiding of the detestable and abominable Sin of Buggery with Mankind or Beast, which is contrary to the very Light of Nature; Be it Enacted and Declared … That the same Offence be adjudged Felony … And that every Man, being duly convicted of lying with Mankind, as he lieth with a Woman; and every Man or Woman that shall have carnal Copulation with any Beast or Brute Creature, the Offender and Offenders, in either of the Cases before mentioned, shall suffer the Pains of Death, and the Beast shall be slain and Burned.

Massachusetts abolished the death penalty for sodomy and bestiality in 1805.

First Known Intersex Actress On Film: 1976. She made her debut on the screen in the 1976 movie Drive-In. Set in small town Texas, the story portrays a slice of life as the town’s teens gather at the local drive-in to watch a disaster flick. The film’s movie-within-a-movie (the movie being screened at the drive-in) is a hilarious sendup of action movies. Among the cast is Katherine Connella (billed as Neely Richlond) who plays a student and is the first intersexed person to star in a motion picture. Katherine’s biography, released in 2001, describes her experience of being born and growing up a combination of genders.

Maryland Adds Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Hate Crime Law: 2005. Five days after vetoing a bill that would provide domestic partnership for same sex couples, Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) signed a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crime law. Conservative religious groups naturally protest.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sakia Gunn: 1987-2003. If she were alive today, she’d be celebrating her twenty-eighth birthday. Instead, she didn’t quite make it to sweet sixteen. On May 11, 2003, she and her friends were waiting for the #1 New Jersey Transit bus in downtown Newark when they were propositioned by two men. The girls rejected their advances by declaring themselves to be lesbians. The men attacked, and when Gunn fought back, one of the attackers stabbed her in the chest. After both attackers fled, Gunn was rushed to the hospital where she died. The murder became the subject of several protests in Newark, and more than 2,500 people attended her funeral.

One of the attackers, Robert McCullough, was arrested and charged with murder. In a tale that could have come from a bad comedy sketch, McCullough claimed that Gunn died after she ran into his knife. He eventually agreed to a plea bargain in which the murder charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea for manslaughter, aggravated assault and bias intimidation. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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 Memorial Day

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2015

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day set aside to remember those who gave their lives for this country. With the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2011, gay and lesbian service members have been able to serve their country openly and with honor and pride. And gays and Lesbians, both servicemembers and their civilian spouses and loved ones, can also, without shame or fear, remember and honor the sacrifices of their loved ones. That, in particular, was perhaps one of the cruelest aspects of DADT and prior bans on gays and lesbians serving, and dying, openly. In prior years, loved ones were made to mourn in silence. In 1961, ONE magazine published a poignant letter from one such World War II army veteran who still mourned another who didn’t come home:

Dear Dave:

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theater in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show for 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player -= competition –miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theater and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea –pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.

The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

Brian Keith

[Source: Brian Keith. “Letter to a G.I.” ONE, 9, no. 9 (September 1961): 19.]

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Out (Washington, D.C.), May 21, 1981, page 30.

From Out (Washington, D.C.), May 21, 1981, page 30.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
120 YEARS AGO: Oscar Wilde Convicted: 1895. Author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. He made his mark in literature in The Picture of Dorian Gray (an annotated edition with some of the more homoerotic themes restored was released in 2011). His essays made him a respected man of letters, while his popular plays (Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and especially The Importance of Being Earnest) burnished his reputation for sophisticated wit.

But the wild success of Earnest, which premiered February 14, 1895, was quickly eclipsed by Wilde’s conviction and sentencing for homosexuality. Four days after the premiere of Earnest, Wilde was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensberry (see Feb 18). Wilde, who was involved with the Marquess’s son, Alfred Douglass, ignored the advise of his friends and sued the Marquess for libel. That proved disastrous. During cross-examination, Queensberry’s lawyer asked Wilde whether he had ever kissed a particular young man, Walter Grainger, in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.” Queesnbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admssion for not kissing Grainger: it wasn’t that Wilde didn’t like kissing men, but that he didn’t want to kiss this particular “ugly” man.

In short order, Wilde lost the case (see Apr 5). The next day, he was arrested and charged with gross indecency. His first trial began on April 26, with Wilde pleading not guilty. It was during that trial that Wilde uttered these famous lines under cross-examination:

Charles Gill (prosecuting): What is “the love that dare not speak its name”?

Oscar Wilde: “The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

Despite that admission, Wilde’s first trial ended in a hung jury. But a second jury on May 25 found him and another friend guilty. Justice Alfred Wills sentenced them to the maximum sentence allowed by law: to two years of hard labor:

Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man pf honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials. That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.

It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried. that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.

I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

[Cries of “Oh! Oh!” and “Shame!”]

Oscar Wilde: And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?

The court adjourned.

The Redl Affair: 1913. Col. Alfred Redl was a Galician native from a poor family in what is now Ukraine but was then a part of the Austrian Empire. He joined the Austrian army where his keen intelligence and facility with languages outweighed his poverty-stricken background and opened doors into the officer corps. That was a rarity, since officers were nearly uniformly drawn from the rich and the politically well-connected. Redl was appointed to the counter-intelligence service, and his innovations quickly led the way to a series of promotions which led to his becoming the service’s chief in 1907. In 1911, Redl was honored with the Expression of Supreme Satisfaction, which was a personal honor bestowed by Emperor Franz Josef himself.

But while that was happening, Redl was also an spy for Russia, starting probably around 1903 (although the Austrian Empire’s official rendition of events had him starting only in 1912). How he became a spy for the Austria’s arch enemy isn’t clear, but we do know that Russia became aware of Redl’s homosexuality as early as 1901, and it is believed that Redl was blackmailed. Before World War I broke out, Redl handed over Austria’s plan for invading Serbia, revealed the names of Austrian agents in Russia, and underestimated Russia’s military strength to the Austrian military. The results were disastrous for Austria. With Russia and Serbia knowing Austria’s moves ahead of time, it is estimated that Redl may have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Austrian soldiers and civilians.

Ironically, Redl’s innovations in Austria’s counter-intelligence service proved to be his undoing. When Redl was promoted up and out of the counter-intelligence service, his successor and protégé, Major Maximilian Ronge, became aware of some suspicious envelopes, stuffed with cash but no note, being delivered to the Vienna post office for a Herr Nikon Nizetas for General Delivery (in other words, with no address; the post office was to hold the envelopes for Nizetas to pick up). Because of the large sums of money involved and evidence that the envelopes may have come from Russia, Ronge personally led the investigation. To Ronge’s surprise, it was Redl who arrived at the post office to claim the envelopes. When Ronde and a group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer where Redle was staying, Redl cordially invited them into his room and admitted his crimes. Redl then asked to borrow a revolver. Knowing what would come next, Ronge and his men left a Browning pistol and left, waiting outside the hotel for the sound of the gunshot. Redl removed his uniform, wrote one last farewell letter, and shot himself.

At first, Emperor Franz Josef tried to keep the circumstances behind Redl’s suicide under wraps, but Redl’s death soon became a rallying point for a number of factions within the government. Aristocrats pointed to Redl’s humble background to demand that the officer corps be returned to its all-aristocratic foundations. His Galician upbringing brought all Slavs in the officer corps under suspicion, despite the fact that Redl was ethnically German. And a rumor that Redl was Jewish, despite his Roman Catholic upbringing, stoked yet another wave of anti-Semitism in central Europe.

But more crucially, the Redl Affair became a worldwide symbol of the vulnerability of high-level government officials to blackmail, particularly where homosexuality was concerned. During the Cold War, the Redl Affair, along with the 1951 defection to the Soviet Union of British spies Guy Burgess and Don MacLean, reinforced the argument that gay people could not be trusted in government, and during McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the 1950s, homosexuality and communism were further linked as twin threats to national security.

Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee.

Florida Legislative Committee Calls Schools “Veritable Refuge for Practicing Homosexuals”: 1961. That charge was levied in a report by the Florida Legislative Investigations Committee, which was Florida’s homegrown version of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares from a decade earlier. Known popularly as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, state Senator and former acting Governor Charley Johns, it was established in 1956 to investigate alleged communist links to the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1957, the Legislature broadened the committee’s mandate to investigate gays in the state’s colleges and universities. In 1961, just as that mandate was about to expire, the Johns committee issued a biennial report to the Legislature which claimed that it found a “call ring” in an unidentified populous county which put teenage boys “through what amounts to a regular course in training in homosexual acts. When properly trained they are made available to older homosexuals the same as female prostitutes.”

The report, filed by Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), the committee’s chair, claimed that the investigation was ongoing and three men had been arrested, but provided no other details of the alleged ring. ONE magazine was skeptical of the charges:

It seems to this reporter that there have been entirely too much acceptance of alleged happenings as reported by investigative bodies or individuals who are never required to give absolute and irrefutable proof. We have for years been hearing about supposed homosexual “rings” and “clubs” that serve their memberships play-boy style. I defy anyone to show me one.

ONE was right to be skeptical, as no such case has ever hit Florida’s newspapers as far as I’ve been able to determine. But the report did tally the damage the committee had done to people lives as of 1961. Since 1959, 39 teachers’ certificates had been revoked and fourteen more cases were pending before the state Board of Education (see Apr 22 for the case of five teachers from St. Petersburg) “The committee is in possession of sworn testimony concerning homosexual conduct in excess of 75 additional public school teachers,” the report added, but added that disclosure of details would derail its investigations.

The Florida Legislature approved an additional appropriation to the Johns Committee and renewed its charter for another two years. In 1963, the Committee said that its work still was not done so the Legislature renewed its charter again for two additional years. In 1964, the fruits of that “exhaustive investigation” were finally made public when the Johns Committee issued its final report, “Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida” (see Mar 17). Known as the “purple pamphlet” for the abstract purple cover that was added to obscure the more provocative photos inside, the report was blasted as an exercise in taxpayer-funded pornography. The Legislature responded to the controversy by finally pulling funding for the committee and forcing its disbanding.

Everard Bathhouse Fire Kills Nine: 1977. In 1976, the fire officials ordered the Everard to install a sprinkler system. They were installed by May 1977, but they hadn’t been hooked up to a water supply yet when, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 25, 1977, a mattress fire broke out. Occupants when through several fire extinguishers trying to put out the flames before finally calling the fire department.

By the time firefighters arrived, about 80 to 100 occupants had managed to flee the building, many of them clad only in towels or robes. Others clung to windows awaiting rescue by the more than 200 firefighters who arrived at the scene. Nine customers didn’t make it.. Seven died from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one from injuries sustained after jumping from an upper floor.

Identification of the victims was complicated by the fact that many of them had registered under assumed names. Friends wound up identifying them rather than family. They were: Hillman Wesley Adams, 40, South Plains, NJ; Amado Alamo, 17, Manhattan; Anthony Calarco, age unknown, The Bronx; Kenneth Hill, 38, Manhattan; Brian Duffy, 30, address unknown; Patrick Knott, 38, Manhattan; Ira Landau, 32, Manhattan; Yosef Signovec, 30, a Czech refugee whose address was unknown; and James Charles Stuard, 30, Manhattan, who was a well-known DJ at the club 12 West.

George Ames, manager of the Club Baths in Boston, was on the premises when the fire broke out. He told reporters later that the customers remained calm, although “the young employees… were hysterical. … The management at the Everard showed no regard for the customers. They are just a bunch of straight people coining money at the expense of the gay community.” Ames criticized the club for its lack of sprinklers, fire escapes, and emergency lighting. The National Gay Task Force’s Bruce Voeller (see May 12) described the Everard as a “shabby, dreadful place, run down and grubby beyond words.” He pointed out that there had been a fire five years earlier, and there was nothing more than a “cosmetic renovation,” of the facility. The only reason the Everard was still popular, he said, was because of its long history and its location in a safe neighborhood.

(Note: This video of the fire erroneously give the year as 1975.)

The fire destroyed the top two floors. They were rebuilt and the Everard reopened in 1979 — this time with sprinklers — only to close again in 1986 during a campaign by New York mayor Ed Koch during the AIDS epidemic.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Ian McKellen: 1939. His roots are in theater, mainly Shakespeare, where he continues to perform in a number of state productions in Britain. But beginning in 1969, he branched out in film and television, covering a wide range of genres from drama (And the Band Played On, Gods and Monsters), to mystery (Six Degrees of Separation, The Da Vinci Code), to action and fantasy (X-Men, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as Gandolf).

McKellen was among the earliest actors to come out publicly as gay. He came out in 1988 during a BBC interview while discussing the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, which stated that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” (see May 24). According to a 2003 interview, McKellen said he visited Environment Secretary Michael Howard (who was responsible for local governments) to lobby against the bill. Howard reaffirmed his approval of Section 28, and in a defining moment of chutzpah, asked McKellen to leave an autograph for Howard’s children. He did. It read, “Fuck off, I’m gay.” McKellen remained politically active and co-founded the British gay-rights group Stonewall in 1989. In 2007, he became a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organization that provides support to homeless and troubled LGBT youth.

McKellen is properly called Sir Ian McKellen. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts. He was also named a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to LGBT equality in 2008.

Anne Heche: 1969. She got her start on the NBC soap opera Another World, where she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991. Appropriate, given that so much of her life reads like a soap opera. She was the daughter of a Baptist choir director who disclosed his homosexuality to his family just before dying of AIDS in 1983. That same year, her brother died in a car accident. Four years later, Heche launched her acting career with Another World as soon as she got out of high school. From there she took a series of roles in television and film, including If These Walls Could Talk (1996), Walking and Talking (1996), Wag the Dog (1997), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997).

It was at about that time that Heche began dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres. They had said they would get a civil union if it became legal in Vermont, but they broke up in August, 2000. Just hours after news broke of their relationship ending, she appeared that the rear door of a house in Fresno County wearing nothing by shorts and a bra, asking if she could take a shower. She had curled up on the couch for a nap when sheriff deputies arrived. She told officers that she was “God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship.” She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was released a few hours later.

That episode became the stuff of tabloid headlines and served as a turning point in her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy (which she wrote in only six weeks), where she described the her sexual abuse by her father, and her subsequent emotional problems and drug abuse. Meanwhile, her mother, Nancy Heche capitalized on her daughter’s fame and became an important speaker at ex-gay conferences where she claimed that her prayers “cured” Anne’s lesbianism. Anne, who is bisexual, says that her mother’s campaign is “a way to keep the pain of the truth out.” In 2011, Anne said that she doubted that she would ever reconcile with her mother.

In 2001, Heche married a cameraman who she met during DeGeneres’s 2000 standup comedy tour, and had a son the following year.  They divorced in 2007. That same year, she moved in with actor James Tupper, who was her co-star in the ABC comedy-drama Men in Trees (2006-2008). She had her second son with Tupper in 2009.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, May 24

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Angers, France; Birmingham, UK; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Düsseldorf, Germany; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Pride Washington, DC (Black Pride).

Other Events This Weekend: International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; Great Plains Rodeo; Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is bought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), September 1977, page 20.

Milwaukee’s Sugar Shack opened in 1976 as a bar “by and for women.” It lasted until 1985 when the two women who owned it sold it . It then re-opened as another lesbian bar, D.K.’s Tavern. That lasted just two years until 1987, when it changed hands again and became a men’s gay bar, The Triangle, which finally closed down in 2012. The building has since been renovated beyond recognition and houses a chic restaurant.

Pat Buchanan

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Pat Buchanan Calls AIDS an “Awful Retribution”: 1983. “The sexual revolution has begun to devour its children,” proclaimed Pat Buchanan in a New York Post op-ed that was relayed in newspapers across America. “And among the revolutionary vanguard, the Gay Rights activists, the mortality rate is higher and climbing.”

By 1983, the known AIDS epidemic was about to reach its two-year mark. A general panic was spreading in the gay community, and a general backlash was brewing everywhere else. Buchanan fueled that backlash with this op-ed, warning that no homosexual should be permitted to handle food. He also warned that the Democratic party’s decision to hold their 1984 convention in San Francisco would leave their delegates wives and children at the mercy of “homosexuals who belong to a community that is a common carrier of dangerous, communicable and sometimes fatal diseases.” And he attributed all of it to divine retribution with his now-infamous money-quote: “The poor homosexuals… they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.”

Buchanan had a flair for the dramatic turn of the phrase, having served as an opposition researcher and speechwriter for President Richard Nixon. He would go on to become communications director for the Reagan White House from 1985 to 1987. In 1992, as Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination for President, he again called AIDS “nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways” (see Feb 27). His speech before the Republican National Convention later that summer brought the term “culture war” to a nationwide audience.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Britain Enacts Section 28: 1988. When Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party swept into Government in 1979, it brought with it sweeping changes throughout Britain touching on all levels of society. With “Thatcherism” came a wholesale transformation of the economy, widespread cuts in social programs, open warfare with trade unions, and a retrenchment on a wide range of social issues including homosexuality. British society’s attitudes towards gay people hardened further during the early 1980s as AIDS began to take root in the U.K.

But in areas in which either the Labour or Liberal Party held sway, gay rights activists were able to get a number of local councils to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies. The Greater London Council authorized several grants between 1981 and 1984 to local gay groups and the London Lesbian and Gay Community Centre in Islington, and in 1985, the Labour Party called for an end to all legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. When the Daily Mail, in its characteristic alarmist fashion, discovered the book  Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin by the Danish author Susanne Bösche in a school library, all hell broke loose.

On December 2, 1987, Conservative MP David Wilshire responded to the outcry with a proposed amendment to the Local Government Act to prohibit local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” or teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” in schools. The clause which later became known as Section 28, was inserted at the committee stage on December 7, debated in Committee on December 8, and was adopted by the full House of Commons on December 15. The House of Lords approved it the following spring, and the law took effect on May 24, 1988.

The law had its intended effect. Where local governments had previously allowed gay groups to meet on government property and libraries to keep LGBT publications, many now were reluctant to do so. It also had an unintended effect: Section 28 almost singlehandedly revived the gay rights movement on a national scale. Ian McKellen came out on the BBC and helped to found Stonewall, while Peter Tatchell established OutRage!, and the two spent the next decade campaigning against Section 28. In 1997, Labour was swept back into Government in a landslide victory, but the first two legislative attempts to repeal Section 28, both in 2000, were defeated in the House of Lords. After another Labour landslide in the 2001 elections, opponents of Section 28 made another run at repeal again. in 2003. This time it was successful, and the repeal went into effect on November 18, 2003.

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

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62% Said Yes

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015

The official results were announced at Dublin Castle at about 7:00 p.m. IST (2:00 p.m. EDT).  With all 43 constituencies counted, and with a turnout of 60.52% of the eligible electorate, the ayes have it 62% to 38% (1,201,607 to 734,300 in raw vote counts). Only one constituency, Roscommon-South Leitrim, voted against marriage equality, and even there it was fairly close at 48.6% to 51.4%. With this vote, the following text will be added to Article 41 of the Irish Constitution:

Féadfaidh beirt, gan beann ar a ngnéas, conradh pósta a dhéanamh de réir dlí.

Which means,

Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.

The Irish Times describes what happens next:

To give effect to the amendment, the Oireachtas will enact the Marriage Bill 2015, which will state in law for the first time the principle that being of the same sex is no longer an impediment to marriage. Officials in the Department of Justice will begin drafting the legislation next week. A spokesman said the Bill would be prioritised with a view to it being passed by the Oireachtas before the summer recess.

…When the Marriage Bill has been drafted, it will go to Cabinet for a formal sign-off. It will then be enacted by the Oireachtas – probably in July – before practical work is done on changing marriage forms and procedures. Finally, the Minister for Justice will sign a commencement order.

A three-month notice period for civil marriages means that, all going to plan, the first same-sex marriage in Ireland could take place before Christmas.

Civil partnerships will not be automatically upgraded to marriage, but will remain in effect. No new civil partnerships will be issued once the Marriage Act goes into effect.

 

Yes!

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015
Ireland election officials count their votes the tried-and-true way. No hanging chads here.

Ireland election officials count their votes the tried-and-true way. No hanging chads or fiddly electronics here.

Irish eyes were already smiling this morning before the official referendum count began with reports of heavy turnout in Dublin and comparatively light turnout in the rural areas. This news, many observers felt, would bode very well for the marriage equality referendum. The official hand-count began at 9:00 local time, and by 9:14 there were already strong results from Dublin North with marriage equality being approved with a 65% to 70% yes vote. As other constituencies began reporting similar margins, the yes count had already gathered into an obvious landslide by 9:30, with even a number of rural constituencies throwing their weight onto the yes side’s lead. The “no” side tweeted their concession to the yes campaign at 10:00.Ballot counting is continuing, so the final count hasn’t been released yet. But when all is said and done, Irish voters will have approved marriage equality with an astounding 2:1 margin:

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has predicted that the referendum will carry in Dublin with a 70-30 Yes majority.

He said he thought other cities in Ireland, including Limerick, Galway and Waterford, would be close at 60-40

He said he believed even in rural conservative constituencies we were seeing 50-50 and that some might be a slight majority for No and others would be a slight majority for Yes.

Minister Coveney said right across the country there is a big endorsement of a new attitude towards a minority that had been discriminated against for far too long.

This makes Ireland the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality through a popular vote. Here’s a likely timeframe going forward, from an Irish Times reporter:

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 23

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Angers, France; Birmingham, UK; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Düsseldorf, Germany; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Pride Washington, DC (Black Pride).

Other Events This Weekend: International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; Great Plains Rodeo; Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, page 28.

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, page 28.

Cyril Wilcox,  the Harvard undergrad whose suicide launched Harvard’s ant-gay Secret Court.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
95 YEARS AGO: Harvard’s Secret Court: 1920. On May 13, 1920, Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard sophomore, committed suicide. He had been struggling with his grades and with his health, and returned home to recover. While at home, he told his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. George apparently reacted very badly to the news, with Cyril’s suicide following shortly after. Soon after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters. One was a gossipy letter from a gay classmate, and another was from a recent graduate. Armed with those letters, George demanded that Harvard’s acting Dean, Chester N Greenough rid the college “of this pernicious scourge.” Greenough consulted with Harvard President Abbot Lowell and formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became known as the “Secret Court.”

Acting Dean Chester N. Greenough, who led the investigations for the Secret Court.

The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. At least one student committed suicide following his expulsion. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed guilty. The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.

In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from newspaper staff, the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced. He called the reports “extremely disturbing” and the court’s actions “abhorrent.” Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan responded to Summers’s statement by saying that “Harvard embraces bathhouse values”:

Harvard’s code is now based on Summers’ values, which hold that the old moral code of Christianity, which teaches that sexual relations between men are unnatural and immoral, is “abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university.” Harvard has not only turned its back on its Christian past, it has just renounced its Christian roots as poisoned and perverted. If Harvard is educating America’s leaders, this country is not Slouching Toward Gomorrah, we are sprinting there.

[More information can be found in William Wright’s Harvard’s Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals]

65 YEARS AGO: State Department Announces Tougher Scrutiny for Job Applicants: 1950. By May of 1950, the Truman Administration and its State Department had withstood unrelenting attacks from Republican and Southern Democrats in Congress over charges that the administration was lax about hiring homosexual employees, all of whom allegedly posed as security risks (see Feb 28Mar 14Mar 21Mar 23Mar 24Apr 14, Apr 18Apr 26, May 2May 5 and May 19). On May 22, the State Department’s top security officer, R.W. Scott McLeod, announced steps in the hiring process to try to address those criticisms. He told Congress that he was ordering his aides to be “completely ruthless” on passing on new job applicants who had a hint of security issues. According to news reports, McLeod said that someone who made a single mistake in the past might be able to “cancel it out” with good performance since then, with one exception. He said that a single homosexual act, no matter how long past, would make the employee subject to blackmail and would never be hired.

Supporters of Eugene's gay rights ordinance gather for a candlelight protest on election night. (Source.)

Supporters of Eugene’s gay rights ordinance gather for a candlelight protest on election night. (Source.)

Eugene Oregon Voters Defeat Gay Rights Ordinance: 1978. Anita Bryant’s successful campaign to defeat a Miami non-discrimination ordinance in 1977 (see Jun 7)) Launched a wave of ballot measures in cities across the country the following year. Voters in St. Paul, Minnesota repealed their ordinance by more than a two-to-one margin (see Apr 25) and Wichita, Kansas voters bested that two weeks later with a five-to-one vote (see May 9). Anita Bryant’s Protect America’s Children had poured $20,000 into those battles ($74,000 in today’s dollars), which were enormous sums for city elections.

The juggernaut next moved on to Eugene, Oregon two weeks later, where residents were asked to vote on whether to approve a gay rights amendment to the city’s human rights ordinance. The amendment would have extended existing prohibitions of housing, employment and public accommodations discrimination to include sexual orientation. The Eugene City Council had passed the amendment on November 28. It would have gone into effect thirty days later, but a group quickly formed, calling themselves the Volunteer Organization Involved in Community Enactments (VOICE), and they managed to collect 10,000 signatures in less than two weeks to place the amendment on the next primary election ballot.

From The Eugene Register-Guard, May 21, 1978, page 3A.

From The Eugene Register-Guard, May 21, 1978, page 3A.

With Eugene being home to the University of Oregon and known for being friendly to more progressive brand of politics, the gay community felt that this fight would give them the best chance to turn back the tide. Early polling, which showed voters about evenly split, was promising. According to local news reports, VOICE and the pro-gay Eugene Citizens for Human Rights (ECHR) “conducted vigorous but restrained campaigns that lacked the inflammatory rhetoric of campaigns on similar gay rights proposals in other communities.” While VOICE sought examples of brochures and advertisements from the other campaigns, they elected to focus their message less on morality and religious beliefs, and more about whether gay people deserved “special” protections under the law. ECHR, similarly, shunned assistance from outside groups. ECHR coordinator Candy Hansen said, “Eugene is Eugene and we want to win this for the people of Eugene.”

From The Eugene Register-Guard, May 21, 1978, page 7A.

From The Eugene Register-Guard, May 21, 1978, page 7A.

That win didn’t happen. The vote was 22,898 to 13,427 — 63 to 37 percent. It was the best margin yet for the gay community, but still a landslide defeat. Turnout among college students was low, which may  partly explain why the polling looked so much more favorable. Lynn Greene, a campaign coordinator for VOICE was ecstatic. “We’ve shown that a liberal community will oppose legislation destructive to moral standards. “It shows that you don’t have to be religious to see that this kind of ordinance can negatively affect the community. The idea that this is a human rights issue is a facade, and people recognize that.” VOICE director Larry Dean called the vote a reaction against a “swing in morals” and said that even in liberal Eugene, voters weren’t ready to endorse what amounted to an “acceptance of homosexuality.” “If they (the gay community) cannot win here, they can’t win anyplace, except perhaps San Francisco.”

That same night, Dean received a congratulatory telegram from Anita Bryant, who praised “the Christian public and all the citizens of Eugene who worked and voted against legalized immorality. Let us continue to reach out in Godly love to all homosexuals who want deliverance, while opposing at the threshold every attempt of the militant homosexuals to represent their lifestyle as ‘normal’ and to impose it on us and our children.” Meanwhile, Edward Rowe, the Executive Director for Protect American’s Children reiterated his denial that his group was directly involved with VOICE’s campaign. “We worked only indirectly with the people in Eugene. There was consultation with our office in Miami Beach and the groups in Wichita and St. Paul. There was no funding in this case.”

While VOICE supporters were celebrating at a Chuckwagon steak house, the gay community and its allies marched quietly from the Eugene Hotel to the courthouse in a candlelight parade.

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

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Where Do You Begin With Something Like This?

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2015

Welcome_Duggar_612x187How about with a little bit of snark? Throughout the Family “Research” Council’s 32-year history, it has promoted the lie that gays and lesbians were far more likely to molest children, even though it is not and never has been true. In fact, we now know that, at least as of yesterday, it’s FRC leaders who are statistically much more likely to molest kids than pretty much any other group.

That fact came to light after Josh Duggar, the executive director of FRC Action, the group’s political lobbying arm, resigned amid allegations that he had molested at least five girls between 2002 and 2003.

Josh Duggar joined the Family “Research” Council in 2013 to become their rock-star anti-gay activist. Last December, he led successful effort to defeat an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He charged that the ordinance would pose a threat to children, an argument that his mother, Michelle Duggar, repeated in a robocall to voters. ThinkProgress has a pretty good round-up of examples of Josh Duggar’s lectures on family values. As FRC’s superstar political executive, he campaigned on behalf of ultra-conservative candidates in Kansas, Virginia, and Mississippi, and he’s had so many photos and selfies taken with GOP presidential aspirants that there’s an entire Tumbler dedicated to them.

DuggerFRCJosh Duggar reached his rock-star status as the scion of the humongous Duggar clan, headed by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The family follows a strict form of conservative Christianity which includes the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movements. The names of those movements are suggestive. The Quiverfull movement eschews birth control so that families can raise up large numbers of children as foot soldiers for Christ, while the Christian Patriarchy movement teaches that families must follow a strict patriarchal order. Millions of viewers have become familiar with these movements through the Duggars’ TLC reality series “19 kids and counting.” It had debuted as “17 Kids and Counting” in 2008. That series grew out of a series of TLC specials, including “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” (2005),  Raising 16 Children” (2005), and “16 Children and Moving In” (2005), in which they move into a 7,000 square-foot house that was partly built by TLC.

But it was at about that time when Springdale, Arkansas, police had opened a felony investigation against the Duggar’s oldest son, Josh. The scandal magazine InTouch Weekly broke the story yesterday, that Springdale police opened their investigation following a tip from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, which had received an email from an un-named Arkansas resident detailing some of Josh’s molestations. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette added that at the same time Harpo Studios passed on the email to authorities, Springdale police were notified about a letter “containing allegations of improper touching in the Duggar home. The report says the letter, written 31/2 years earlier, had been found in a book lent by a family friend of the Duggars to someone else.”

Police followed up and interviewed Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who said that they learned in March 2002 that Josh, then 14, had, on multiple occasions, touched another girl’s breasts and genitals while she slept. Their reaction? They “disciplined (Josh) after this incident,” but otherwise kept quiet.

Then nine months later, they found out that “there was another incident” — actually incidents, as multiple girls were involved. This time, Jim Bob consulted church elders — none of whom reported the abuse to authorities — and promised to send Josh to a “program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling.” That “program” appears to have been little more than helping out a family friend in the remodeling business for three months, although new reports are emerging that the family friend, Harold Walker, was a former leader at the Little Rock-based Institute in Basic Life Principles Training Center. The faith based and unaccredited center was founded by Bill Gothard, who resigned after more than thirty young women and teenagers claimed they were sexually harassed by Gothard.

After Josh returned from Arkansas, Jim Bob took him to family friend and Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens, who gave Josh a “very stern talk,” but otherwise took no official action. Hutchens, it turns out, is serving a 56-year prison on child porn charges. When police asked to talk to Josh, the Duggars lawyered up — after two lawyers refused to take the case — and refused to cooperate further. The investigated ended in late 2000 because the statute of limitations ran out. The Democrat-Gazette reports however than investigators filed a “family in need of services” affidavit in Juvenile Court, which resulted in a trial in 2007. The records of that trial are sealed.

Well, now that this has come to light, TLC has announced that they are pulling “19 Kids and Counting” from their schedule. That was after having unwisely run a three-hour “19 Kids and Counting” marathon last night, which provoked a giant social media backlash. Another seven-hour marathon had been scheduled for tonight.

Immediately following Josh Duggar’s resignation, the Family “Research” Council issued the following statement:

“Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years.

“Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved,” concluded (FRC President Tony) Perkins.

You can bet that this statement is a very far cry from the one they would have released had it been the oldest son of a famous same-sex couple who had been accused of molesting children. It’s also interesting that FRC posted the statement to its front page where it will likely disappear over the weekend, instead of to a dedicated press release where it might remain available for future reference. Meanwhile, the Dugger family — Jim Bob and Michelle, Josh, and his wife Anna — posted these three statements on Facebook:

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married – it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was — even every difficult past mistakes. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him… I was able to say, “Yes” knowing who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren’t for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

Do you notice what’s included in these statements? God has forgiven him and so should you. Also, they’re closer to God now. (Is that supposed to make it okay? I wonder how Josh’s victims feel.) And lots of concern for Josh’s well-being in this “difficult time” — but don’t worry. He’s moved on and is much better now.

Notice what’s missing? Any mention of his victims or their difficult times, which must undoubtedly stretch back at least a dozen years and is being revived all over again today. How are they doing today? Are they thankful for their “journey”?

This is more than mere hypocrisy. That word is far too trivial to use here. This is abusive, both in the original acts of molestation, and in the parents unconscionable decision to turn their entire family into a public spectacle. Because here’s the thing: At least one of the victims was a daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle.* That fact right there, which they well knew at the time and were busy sweeping under the rug, makes their decision to turn their entire family reality TV starts all the more revolting. For the sake of their pride and the opportunity to become big-time TV stars and culture war activists, they coerced at least one sexual abuse victim in their own family to smile and pretend that nothing was wrong. I can’t imagine too many things more vile than that.

* A number of other sites have reported this detail about Josh’s victims, and it’s not too difficult to find out more, including the precise numbers and other details. I recognize how important it is to keep sexual abuse victims’ details private, and I struggled with whether to provide this information here. But I decided to include this because it is particularly germane to a broader issue of abuse that goes beyond Josh’s activities and the parents’ egregious response. Please do no disclose any further details about the victims in the comments. They will be deleted, without exception.

Ireland Goes to the Polls

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2015

Irish voters today will consider a very important question, the outcome of which would make available a very important institution to larger numbers of Irish citizens: whether to lower the minimum age from 35 to 21 for those running for President.

I have no idea how that referendum will go since it’s hard to find any polling data on this important question. That’s because everyone is talking about the other question on today’s ballot, whether to enshrine marriage equality for same-sex couples in Irish law. On that question, one major poll (PDF: 1.1MB/5 pages) commissioned for The Sunday Independent shows the yes vote for marriage equality outpaces the opposition by 69% to 31% — but that is after excluding the undecideds:

But as always, there is more to this than meets the eye. Let’s look at the figures including the potential floating voters – they account for nearly one in four. On this basis, support for the plebiscite is just over half (53pc – down significantly by thirteen points), whilst the No side has shifted marginally upwards by three to 24pc.

…Much has been said about the “silent No” vote. In light of the UK election, and the “Shy Tory” theory, this may be the case for some. Even still, the Yes side’s lead seems unassailable. The fear for them will not be the silent No vote, but rather the danger of complacency, and the effect this will have on turnout.

With headlines assuring the public that the marriage referendum enjoys wide support, the actually turnout will be key. If turnout is low — especially if younger people fail to cast their ballots — then it will likely disproportionately affect the yes vote. Another wild card is Irish expats, who will also have a say. This trainload of expats from London looks promising, and the #hometovote hashtag is trending on Twitter. Turnout looks good in the early going, but with the high number of undecideds, this one isn’t in the bag. Polls will be open until 10:00 p.m. IST. Vote counting begins Saturday at 9:00 a.m. IST (4:00 a.m. EDT), with solid returns expected about three to four hours later. The Irish Times is live-blogging it here.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, May 22

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2015

<strongTODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Angers, France; Birmingham, UK; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Düsseldorf, Germany; Eskilstuna, Sweden; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Pride Washington, DC (Black Pride).

Other Events This Weekend: International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; Great Plains Rodeo; Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

AnitaBryant.DivorceCruise-Blade1980.06.12p21

From The Washington Blade, June 12, 1980, page 21.

Randy Rohl and Grady Quinn.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First Gay Couple To Attend High School Prom: 1979. Randy Rohl, a 17-year-old senior at a Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, embarked on the most quintessential high school rite of passage: attending the senior prom. His date wasn’t so quintessential: his friend, 20-year-old Grady Quinn. The couple wore matching powder blue tuxes, rose boutonnieres and matching silver pierced earrings.

Rohl wore his sexuality rather lightly, especially considering the times and the locale. He later told a friend that it wasn’t meant to be a political act. He just wanted to go to the prom. The school’s principal, Fred Stephens, granted permission for the couple to attend the dance, saying “My belief is that people need their rights protected. Homosexuals have rights.” Rohl told reporters, “The principal was very concerned for my well-being.”

And aside from a few pre-prom threats (which brought out a police presence in case anything came from those threats), and some raised eyebrows and a heavy media presence with glaring bright lights, it all went off without a hitch. . The couple danced five times. “The first one was a slow dance,” Rohl told reporters, “and people were a little surprised to see two guys dancing together.” The Washington Post reported that they got was a lot of extra room on the dance floor. But when the faster disco tunes were played, they attracted less attention.

“I think it’s rather sad that my date and I have to get more publicity or more acknowledgement from the press than any other couple,” he said. “I don’t think we’re any more worthy of special attention. Yes, maybe it’s a milestone in gay rights, but it’s being made into more of a freak show.” He also said that despite the threats, several students came over and congratulated the couple. “A lot of people were really glad we stuck to your guns and went.”

According to the National Gay Task Force, this was the first time an acknowledged gay couple attended a high school prom together in the U.S., even though the two were just friends. (Grady Quinn was the partner of a local gay rights activist.) This would be Randy Rohl’s only act as an activist. After high school, he moved to Minneapolis to attend college, and retreated back into private life. He died on December 31, 1993 of AIDS.

[Additional source: “‘It’s a Good Feeling,’ Says Gay Who Took Boyfriend to His Prom.” The Advocate, no. 271 (July 12, 1979): 7.]

BryantGreen 35 YEARS AGO: Anita Bryant Files for Divorce: 1980. The Associated Press described her as a “strong-principled advocate of God, family and flag.” Nevertheless, she announced that she was divorcing her husband and manager, Bob Green because he “violated my most precious asset: my very conscience.”

Bryant’s statement, which the AP reported she released “from her 25-room Miami Beach home,” charged that Green cooperated “with certain hired staff members who conspired to control me and to use my name and reputation to build their personal careers instead of my ministry.” Her statement brought to a close their twenty year marriage. She also announced that she was resigning from Anita Bryant Ministries.

Green answered Bryant with an open letter, which was also released to the press:

Dear Anita:

I love you with all my heart and I am awaiting your return as my wife and the mother of our children. God’s love and forgiveness is open to both of us if we will but seek it.

Let us both put aside all other earthly considerations and reunite our lives in Christian love.

Your husband,
Bob

Bryant wasn’t interested in Green’s overture, such as it was, and she went ahead with the divorce, even though it was “against everything I believe in.” Green, citing his religious beliefs, refused to recognize the divorce, saying they were still married “in God’s eyes.” He also blamed gay people: “Blame gay people? I do. Their stated goal was to put [Bryant] out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did. It’s unfair.” He died, an embittered old man, in 2012.

As for Bryant, she married again, relaunched her career in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. When that failed, she moved to Branson, Missouri. When that failed, she declared bankruptcy and moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to start over one more time. That also failed, leaving a pile of unpaid creditors and abused employees in the wake.

Harvey Milk

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
85 YEARS AGO: Harvey Milk: 1930-1978. Also known as the Mayor of Castro Street, Harvey Milk finally succeeded in becoming California’s first (and the nation’s fourth) openly gay non-incumbent candidate to win a political office for two reasons: he refused to hide who he was; and he made it his mission to build alliances with groups that other gay activists thought were impossible to reach. So to those who knew Harvey well weren’t surprised when his 1977 as San Francisco City Supervisor that he was good terms with conservative supervisor Dan White. White, a former cop, was supported by the city’s police union whose leaders were angry over city policies which they considered to be soft on crime and homosexuals. The local media ate it up as the two made joint appearances on local talk shows where they both talked warmly of each other. Harvey began to privately telling friends that he thought White was “educatable,” and that the two might actually be able to work together.

But all that changed when Milk wound up voting against White’s proposal to bar a psychiatric treatment center from opening in White’s district. White retaliated by voting against Milk’s gay rights bill (it passed anyway), and for the next several months, White would not speak to Milk or his aides. Other supervisors noticed that White stopped spending as much time at his office in City Hall, and he was sullen during the weekly board meetings. White abruptly resigned on November 10, 1978. When he had a change of heart a few days later, Mayor George Moscone refused to commit to re-appointing him to the board. On November 27, 1978, White snuck into City Hall and confronted Moscone in his office, and shot him twice in the abdomen, then twice more in the head. He then walked down the hall to Milk’s office. After arguing with Milk, White shot him three times in the chest, once in the back and twice in the head.

Milk’s short political career changed the face of LGBT politics. During the 1978 campaign against the Briggs Amendment which would have required the firing of gay teachers and any school employee who supported gay rights, Milk insisted on aggressively confronting the anti-gay campaign by raising the visibility of the gay community. The campaign against the Briggs Amendment was also a campaign against the closet. He told a crowd during San Francisco’s Gay Pride that year:

“On this anniversary of Stonewall, I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets… We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I’m going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives.”

45 YEARS AGO: Mark Bingham: 1970-2001. A true hero, Mark Bingham was among the passengers who stormed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 after it had been hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. His personal bravery was well known before that fateful day. His boyfriend of six years, Paul Holm, recalled that Bingham had thwarted two attempted muggings, one at gunpoint. His friends recalled that he proudly showed off the scars he received during a running of the bulls in Pamplona. During the hijacking, Bingham, who was sitting in first class, made a brief call to his mother. She later called him back after learning of the other 9/11 attacks and said the flight was being used on a suicide mission. Bingham has been honored with several others for bringing the aircraft down and preventing a much greater loss of life.

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?

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