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Posts for December, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 27

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, December 26

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with those measurements, Coppen determined that:

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

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

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

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

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

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A Very Merry Christmas to You

Timothy Kincaid

December 25th, 2015

christmas stocking

The Daily Agenda for Christmas Day

Jim Burroway

December 25th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

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

TIME Magazine’s “Object Lesson”: 1950. Col. Alfred Redl was Austria-Hungary’s masterful chief of counter-intelligence, having set up a massive espionage network in Russia. But when the Russians discovered evidence of his homosexuality in 1903, they blackmailed him into becoming, for the next eleven years, a double agent. In 1913, Austria-Hungary officials learned of Redl’s treachery. A group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer, and left a revolver behind in Redl’s room when they left. Redl wrote a last farewell letter and shot himself (see May 25). Thirty-seven years later, Time magazine wrote about the growing Lavender Scare taking hold in the U.S. (see Feb 28Mar 14, Mar 21Mar 23Mar 24Apr 14Apr 26, May 5, May 15, May 19, Jun 15, Jul 17, and Dec 15), and recalled the Redl Affair, as that whole mess had been known, as an “object lesson” on the what it called the dangers of allowing gay people to work for the U.S. government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, parts three and four.

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The Daily Agenda for Christmas Eve

Jim Burroway

December 24th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From In Step Milwaukee, December 21, 1984, page 41.

From In Step Milwaukee, December 21, 1984, page 41.

The Finale opened in 1975 as a small, friendly gay bar, but its popularity allowed it to expand six months later to add a dance floor in the back. It was known for the costume parties held for Halloween and New Years Eve. The parties came to an end in 1986 after a fire gutted the bar. The Finale never re-opened. Since then, the building was fixed up rather nicely and today houses a trendy restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 23

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Vector (San Francisco, CA), December 1973, page 48.

From Vector (San Francisco, CA), December 1973, page 48.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 22

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 21

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, December 18, 1976, page 23.

From This Week In Texas, December 18, 1976, page 23.

We’re driving cross-country from Tucson to visit family in Ohio. Guess where I was today.

Here’s a hint:


Merry Xmas, fellow pagans!

Time Magazine’s “Opportunistic Diseases”: 1981. Nearly seven months had passed since the CDC had issued its first notice of a puzzling new condition that was appearing in gay men (see Jun 5). A month after the CDC raised the alarm, the New York Times picked up the story (see Jul 3). But beyond that, the news was slow to spread outside of a few gay publications (and most of them were gun shy). In fact, the media seemed to go out of its way to keep from looking at AIDS. Randy Shilts described the problem in And the Band Played On:

The difference, (the CDC’s James W.) Curran knew, was media attention. Once Toxic Shock Syndrome hit the front pages the heat was on to find the answer. Within months of the first MMWR report, the task force had discovered the link between tampons and the malady. Back in 1976, the newspapers couldn’t print enough pictures of flag-draped coffins of dead American Legionnaires. However the stories just weren’t coming on the gay syndrome. The New York Times had written only two stories on the epidemic, setting the tone for noncoverage nationally. Time and Newsweek were running their first major stories on the epidemic now, in late December 1981. There was only one reason for the lack of media interest, and everybody on the (CDC’s) task force knew it: the victims were homosexuals. Editors were killing pieces, reporters told Curran, because they didn’t want stories about gays and all those distasteful sexual habits littering their newspapers.

The December 21 edition of Time (which featured Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi on the cover) placed the article titled “Opportunistic Diseases” deep inside. The article provided little context, information, or hope. Truth be told, there was little to give of any of those thus far. No one knew what caused it, nor did they even know what to call it. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome wouldn’t get its official name until July 1982. Time, instead, focused on the prevailing image of gays as diseased, while simultaneously expressing surprise that lesbians weren’t coming down with the strange new infections. Of the speculations about the disease, Time wrote:

One possible culprit in the syndrome is cytomegalovirus, which is known to weaken immune defenses and can be transmitted in semen more than a year after infection. In a recent study, traces of CMV were found in 94% of homosexual men, as opposed to 54% of heterosexual men. U.C.L.A.’s Dr. Michael Gottlieb believes that CMV does contribute to the immune deficiency, but, he points out, both the virus and homosexuality “have been around for thousands of years.” Thus, he concludes, “there is a piece of the puzzle missing.”

The missing link could be “poppers,” drugs like amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate, which are said to enhance orgasm. More than 85% of the CDC patients admitted to inhaling them. Another possible explanation is the so-called immunologic overload theory, says San Francisco’s Dr. Robert Bolan. Homosexuals with many sexual partners often contract numerous venereal diseases, intestinal disruptions (gay bowel syndrome), mononucleosis and other infections, explains Bolan. “This constant, chronic stimulation to their immune system may eventually cause the system to collapse.”

All of those theories would soon be proven wrong, although some of them would continue to linger among the conspiratorially-minded AIDS deniers who insist, against all evidence to the contrary, that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) doesn’t cause AIDS. It’s been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Time proved that aphorism wrong.

Kirk Murphy, in 2003

“The darkness keeps calling and I must go”: 2003. With those words written on a suicide note, Kirk Andrew Murphy ended his life in a New Delhi apartment. ““I’ll never forget this as long as I live,” said Frank, his supervisor back in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the first outside of India to receive the news. “I got a phone call from the account manager who reported to me. It was midnight or one o’clock in the morning. I was totally shook up.” Frank contacted Kirk’s sister, Maris, in New York, and together they went to India for the funeral.

What happened seemed utterly senseless to Maris, but seven years later she would learn something that would suddenly make so many things about her brother click. That’s when she learned that in 1970, when Kirk was just about to turn five years old and Maris herself was just an infant, their mother took Kirk to see a specialist at UCLA’s Gender Identity Clinic after a well-known researcher appeared on television to warn parents that gender-variant children would grow up to be homosexual. According to that researcher, UCLA had a new program, paid for with federal grants, to prevent homosexuality in children. Kirk’s mother saw that program and made an appointment. Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers, who worked with Kirk for about nine months before pronouncing him “cured.” Rekers went on to build a career on Kirk’s case, which Rekers mentioned in nearly twenty journal articles, chapters, and books. As late as 2009, referring to Kirk as “Craig,” Rekers wrote:

Follow-up psychological evaluations three years after treatment indicates that Craig’s gender behaviors became normalized. An independent clinical psychologist evaluated Craig and found that post-treatment he had a normal male identity. Using intrasubject replication designs, this published case was the first experimentally demonstrated reversal of a cross-gender identity with psychological treatment, and the journal article on this case was among the top 12 cited articles in clinical psychology in the 1970s

Kirk, at the age of 4 years and 6 months, just a few months before entering treatment at UCLA’s Feminine Boy Project (Photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, it is true that Rekers’s initial case report did become one of the most widely cited articles in the 1970s. But to say that Kirk had “become normalized” according to Rekers’s definition turned out to be misleading, to put it extremely mildly. Rekers’s went on to become an important anti-gay activist. He co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983 and served as its first chairman and CEO. He also became an important figure in the ex-gay movement, serving on the Scientific Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). All that came to an end in 2009 when Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp, two from the alternative newsweekly Miami New Times, photographed Rekers at Miami International Airport as he returned from a European vacation in the company of a handsome male escort.

In 2011, BTB was privileged to bring you the real story of Rekers’s most famous case history. In our award-winning investigation, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, we interviewed Kirk’s family, friends and associates, and we revealed the horrible treatment that Kirk and his brother went through while under UCLA’s care, and we learned of its terrible aftermath. We also investigated the state of psychology in 1970 and its evolution in the decades since, we looked into the claims that Kirk received “independent” follow-up evaluations indicating that he was healthy and straight, and we tried to get to the bottom of who exactly was in charge of Kirk’s treatment at the hands of that inexperienced grad student.

You can find all of that information here, along with statements from Kirk’s brother and sister, eulogies from family and friends, links to original published reports about Kirk’s case and the controversy it generated among behavioral therapists, and more information on the ex-gay movement and attempts to change sexual orientation.

If Kirk were alive today, he would be 48. He is still missed by his mother, sister, brother, and everyone who knew him.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 20

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, December 1963, page 24.

From ONE, December 1963, page 24.

Frank Kameny Fired From Government Job for Being Gay: 1957. Frank Kameny was a World War II veteran and Harvard-trained astronomer working for the Army Map Service. In Eric Marcus’s compendium of oral histories, Making History, Kameny described the event that led him to a lifetime of LGBT advocacy:

When I was on assignment in Hawaii in November or December of 1957, I got a call from my supervisor in Washington, D.C., to come back at once. I told him that whatever the problem, it could wait a few days, and I returned to Washington at the end of the week. As soon as I got back, I was called in by some two-bit Civil Service Commission investigator and told, “We have information that leads us to believe that you are a homosexual. Do you have any comment?” I said, “What’s the information?” They answered, “We can’t tell you.” I said, well, then I can’t give you an answer. You don’t deserve an answer. and in any case, this is none of your business.” I was not open about being gay at that time — no one was, not in 1957. But I was certainly leading a social life. I went to the gay bars many, many evenings. I’ve never been a covert kind of a person, and I wasn’t about to be one simply because I was working for the government. I’ve never been one to function on the basis that Big Brother may be looking over my shoulder.

So they called me in, and ultimately it resulted in my termination. They did it the way the government does anything: They issued a letter. They said they were dismissing me for homosexuality. I was in shock.

…Keep in mind I had been training all of my life for a scientific career, for this kind of occupation. I was not at all familiar with the job market. When I was thrown out, I had nowhere to go. Perhaps if this had happened five or ten years later, I would have had a professional reputation to fall back on, but in this case I didn’t. For a long time I applied for jobs in astronomy, but there was nothing. Ultimately, in 1959, I got a job doing something in physics. My bachelor’s degree is in physics, in the area of optics.

But meanwhile, I had decided that my dismissal amounted to a declaration of war against me by my government. First, I don’t grant me government the right to declare war on me. And second, I tend not to lose my wars.

Kameny launched a string of appeals, first through the Civil Service commission itself, then through the courts. He took his appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — writing his own brief (which is available here) declaring the discrimination he experienced “a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society, and a violation of all that this nation stands for.” The Supreme Court denied his petition in 1961.

Kameny went on to co-found the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which in 1963 launched a long campaign to overturn the federal employment ban on gay people and to overturn the district’s sodomy law. In 1965, he organized the first picket line in front of the White House in support of gay rights (see Apr 17), followed by several other protests throughout that year. He was also an instrumental player in the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971, he became the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when he ran for D.C’s non-voting Congressional delegate (see Feb 22). In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission notified him that they had changed their policies and were now allowing gay people to work in federal jobs (see Jul 3). In 2009, the U.S. government officially repudiated Kameny’s firing when John Berry, the openly gay Director of the Office of Personnel Management, delivered a formal apology during a special OPM ceremony in his honor. Upon receiving the apology, Kameny tearfully replied, “Apology accepted.” He passed away in 2011 at the age of 86. You can read his full biography here.


Vermont Supreme Court Rules State Must Recognize Same-Sex Unions: 1999. In a unanimous decision, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state must provide the same benefits, protections and obligations to same-sex couples as it does to heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court left it up to the legislature to decide how it would end the discrimination, either through marriage or through civil unions. Most state political leaders opted for the latter. State Attorney General William Sorrell, predicted, “It would likely be a civilly sanctioned relationship that would, for all intents and purposes, have the benefits and protections a traditionally married couple would have but wouldn’t be called a marital relationship. They wouldn’t be called spouses, they’d be called domestic partners, and for a number of people, that makes an enormous difference.” Gov. Howard Dean concurred, saying that same-sex marriage “makes me uncomfortable, the same as anybody else.”

The argument for Civil Unions won the dayBeth Robinson, the lawyer for the winning plaintiffs, dismissed that idea and pressed for full marriage. “The Legislature will come to understand that as a practical matter, you can’t call it something different and have it be truly equal.”

It would take another decade before the Legislature would come to that understanding, opting instead to go for civil unions, which Gov. Dean signed into law 0n April 26, 2000. It took effect on July 1, 2000. In 2009, the Legislature revisited the issue again and passed a same-sex marriage bill with bipartisan support, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Jim Douglas (R). The legislature then overturned the governor’s veto, and same-sex marriages finally became available in the Green Mountain State on September 1, 2009.

Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Utah.

Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Utah.

Judge Strikes Down Utah’s Marriage Ban in First Post-Windsor Federal Decision: 2013. In a surprise early Christmas gift (the decision hadn’t been expected for another month or so), Federal District Judge Robert J. Shelby declared that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage vilated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Judge Shelby’s was the first Federal ruling in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. US four months earlier. That Windsor decision, which declared that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act violated the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process clause. Judge Shelby relied heavily on the Windsor decision in striking down Utah’s law, even including Justice Antonin Scalia’s blistering dissent Windsor as part of his analysis:

The Constitution’s protection of the individual rights of gay and lesbian citizens is equally dispositive whether this protection requires a court to respect a state law, as in Windsor, or strike down a state law, as the Plaintiffs ask the court to do here. In his dissenting opinion, the Honorable Antonin Scalia recognized that this result was the logical outcome of the Court’s ruling in Windsor:

In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion … is that DOMA is motivated by “bare… desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.

133 S. Ct. at 2709 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court agrees with Justice Scalia’s interpretation of Windsor and finds that the important federalism concerns at issue here are nevertheless insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

…And Justice Scalia even recommended how this court should interpret the Windsor decision when presented with the question that is now before it: “I do not mean to suggest disagreement … that lower federal courts and state courts can distinguish today’s case when the issue before them is state denial of marital status to same-sex couples.”

Judge Shelby then took the unusual step in declining to stay his ruling, which meant that marriage began almost immediately in Salt Lake City and several other county offices. The state’s Attorney General’s office was in turmoil — John Swallow had resigned the month before in the wake of multiple corruption investigations — and so things were a bit disorganized in their efforts to get a stay. The Tenth Circuit quickly denied Utah’s pleas, as did Judge Shelby when the state tried to go back to him again. The state then decided to try to go to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay, but first they would have to engage outside counsel to do it since their own staff had proved incapable in the lower courts. Utah finally filed its request on New Year’s Eve and the high court finally issued its stay on January 6, but not before some 1300 same-sex couples were legally married.

Since then, federal judges have followed Judge Shelby’s lead in striking down marriage bans in Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi. All of those rulings following more or less the same findings as Judge Shelby’s ruling in Utah. Meanwhile, the Tenth Circuit upheld Judge Shelby’s ruling on June 25, 2014. Utah then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 6, the Supreme Court refused to consider Utah’s request, along with similar requests from Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. Marriages resumed once again in Utah along with the other four states.

140 YEARS AGO: Elsie de Wolfe: 1865-1950. She was the legendary interior designer who finally put gloomy victorian styles out of its misery. And for that, she is hailed as America’s first decorator and her designs, nearly a century later, are still just as fresh today as they were bold in at the turn of the last century. She began her creative life as an actress in the 1890s, but her appearances were appreciated more for her stylish clothes than for her performing abilities.

At about 1887, she began what was called a “Boston marriage” with Elisabeth “Bessie” Marbury, a New York socialite, literary agent, and business manager with such illustrious clients as Oscar Wilde (see Oct 16), George Bernard Shaw, and Sarah Bernhardt. The two bought and restored Villa Trianon in Versailles, France, where de Wolfe became enamored with the light colors and brightly-lit rooms that defined French style. She then drew on those influences as she set about redecorating Marbury’s New York home by throwing out all of that dark Victorian furnishings and cluttering bric-a-brac. New York’s high society took notice. When a group of wealthy women formed the exclusive Colony Club, de Wolfe was tapped to design the clubhouse’s interiors. The Colony opened in 1907 and with it, de Wolfe’s reputation was set.

A photo from A House In Good Taste, 1913.

Instead of the dark paneled rooms and heavy atmosphere common with men’s clubs, The Colony featured light draperies, pale walls, wicker furniture, chintz — she became known as “the Chintz Lady” — and light, lots of natural light. Her design practice exploded overnight, with commissions for private houses, clubs, opera boxes, and a dorm at Barnard College. Her 1913 book, The House in Good Taste, became an instant classic which still offers timeless advice today. As she explained, “I opened the doors and windows of American and let the air and sunshine in.” That same year, her design business took up an entire floor of offices on Fifth Avenue. In 1915, she was commissioned to design a brand new townhouse for Henry Clay Frick, then the wealthiest man in America. That commission alone made her a very rich woman.

De Wolfe was an iconoclast in many ways. She single-handedly turned the design profession from a “man’s world” into one in which women could excel. She embroidered her own pillows with the motto, “Never complain, never explain.” At her home in France, she had a dog cemetery where each headstone carried the epitaph, “The one I loved the best.” And speaking of France, When World War I came along, she broke from all expectations by volunteering to become a nurse — where she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor for her work with mustard gas victims. In 1926, she scandalized French society with her grand entrance to a society ball dressed as a Moulin Rouge dancer while turning handsprings — at the age of 61. Her many years of practicing yoga did well for her. Her marriage that same year to the diplomat Sir Charles Mendl was also a surprise because, as The New York Times dryly observed, “When in New York she makes her home with Miss Elizabeth [sic] Marbury at 13 Sutton Place.” Her marriage now made her Lady Mendl, immortalized in the Cole Porter lyric:

When you hear that Lady Mendl, standing up
Now turns a handspring landing up-
On her toes
Anything goes!

When World War II broke out, Mendl and de Wolfe moved to Hollywood. After the war, they returned to Villa Trianon where de Wolfe died in 1950.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, December 19

Jim Burroway

December 19th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), November 1971, page 7.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), November 1971, page 7.

Entre’ Nuit opened at at 4516 McKinney Avenue in Dallas sometime in mid-November of 1971. According to an announcement in Our Community, Entre’ Nuit boasted “a stunning parquet wood dance floor (the largest in Dallas), luxurious carpeting, wall-to-ceiling mirrors, a neo-Grecian classical facade and interior columns, spacious T-rooms, and billiards table.” But opening a gay club was a dicy proposition, as Our Community reported in January:

The beautiful Entre’ Nuit had been opened less than a month, and was already one of the favorite gathering places for the gay folks of Dallas. But on the morning of Sunday, December 19, at about 7: 00 A.M., someone (for reasons unknown) burned it. An off-duty policeman was the first to spot the flames, but by the time the fire department was able to bring the fire under control, the back half of the bar was completely gutted. Three jugs of gasoline had not burned. One was in the center of the parquet wood dance floor, another was placed near the bar, and the third was close to the entrance.

Bill and Joe, owners of the Entre’ Nuit have no idea who burned the bar nor do they know of any motive for anyone doing so. But one thing is certain: the Entre’ Nuit will not be closed for long. Completely redone, and with much the same decor, it will reopen shortly after the first of the year. So everyone attend the Entre’ Nuit New Year’s party even if it will be a little late this year.

Most gratifying is the way other bar owners have rallied together and have offered a reward ($800 so far) for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this latest burning.

Entre’ Nuit wasn’t the only establishment targeted that night:

Sunday night, December 19th, at 3: 15 A.M., the manager of the King of Clubs had just closed the club and was driving away with friends when he happened to look back and see a man with a can (perhaps gasoline) in the shadows of the building. The manager and his friends quickly stopped the car and gave chase to the prowler who ran down a side street and was lost in darkness. From the other side of the building, another man ran in a different direction. When the friends and manager reentered the club to call police, they head still a third man run across the roof, jump off, and disappear into the night. The police came, made a thorough search, and promised the club would be checked several times a night from now on. For added precaution, a security guard will be in the building at all times.

The paper then addressed the speculation that these might have been “gay-on-gay crimes”:

It was pure luck that this attempted burn-out was thwarted. With the burning of the Swinger, the Entre’ Nuit, and the vandalism of the Villa Fontana, the gay community is getting a little fed up with this crap, and is patronizing the victims of these “gay against gay?” crimes. One wonders who gains? Who is the loser – the real loser? The Swinger and the Villa have reopened and is doing more business than ever before. The Entre’ Nuit will reopen soon too. Gay bars are like gay people themselves: we’ve been imprisoned, murdered, and brutalized all through history. Yet we always come back — stronger.

From the 1980s to the late 1990s, that entire area of McKinney Avenue underwent a massive gentrification — although that particular area adjoining Highland Park was never exactly down on its heels.  The building where Entre’ Nuit was housed is now a trendy boutique.

[Source: “Arsonists Burn Another Bar.” Our Community (January 1972): 8.

“King of Clubs Saved from Arsonist.” Our Community (January 1972): 11. Full copies of Our Community are available online here.]

An abandoned building of the Norfolk State Hospital, via Flickr.

120 YEARS AGO: “Exaggerated Human Nature”: 1895. What is Insanity? Who better to ask than an insane man?

Said a patient in the Norfolk (Nebraska) Hospital: “I am not insane; this man is not insane; that man is not insane. There is no such thing as insanity; it is simply an exaggerated form of human nature.”

Insanity is a type of civilization, the offspring of humanity’s progress, the step-child of Nature, the penalty inflicted for brain-development. Indeed, it is in itself an abnormal form of brain-development, an exaggerated type of human nature. It is a little plant that has sprung from the footworn pathway traversed by the mighty cavalcade coming down the vast reaches of human civilization, human culture and human competition. It may be regarded as a proud flesh of the mind — a preternatural development or derangement of the protoplasmic cells. When the clock of civilization struck its sunrise hour, man everywhere was an unclad savage, drunken, greedy, treacherous and beastly. To fill his stomach and to find a comfortable place to sleep completed the apex of his ambitions and gratifications. It was his normal state.

When he commenced to enlarge his cranial sphere, when he began to expand the horizon of his thought-realm, he started the development of a subtle, an inscrutable agency, which has developed rough corners, exaggerated eccentricities and uncontrollable proclivities. In the slow and leisurely peregrination or the mad stampede at times of humanity adown the corridors of the past, in the jostle, the clash, the strife, the crowd, the crush, the greed, the vices and the mistakes, do we wonder that here and there should occur exaggerations, excrescences and abnormal protuberances of the functions of the mind?

Dr. J.H. Mackay was the superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane in Norfolk, Nebraska, where presumably he had that enlightening exchange with an inmate. He talked about his tenure there at an 1895 meeting of the Missouri Valley Medical Association in Kansas City. But imagine the horrors that patient, and others, must have endured under Dr. Mackay’s direction:

A unique fact in connection with the insane is that any injury producing pain, such as a scald, burn or corporeal punishment, as well as a shock or fright, has a remarkably salutary influence in brightening up the minds of the insane. Recently a patient in this hospital severed the external jugular vein and was in rigors from hemorrhage when found. The vein was ligated and the patient made a good recovery and improved very rapidly, his mind becoming much clearer than previous to the injury. Instances are on record by the score where accidents of scalding and other injuries involving pain have resulted in the recovery of patients suffering from melancholia and acute mania. It would be interesting to try the results of scorching the soles of the feet, or of administering corporeal punishment or blood-letting, fright and shock in some of the chronic cases of insanity and confirmed melancholia and mania. I am of the candid belief that such treatment would result in good to the patient. It may be claimed that such treatment is barbarous. No treatment is barbarous that benefits a patient and releases his mind from the fog and gloom of insanity, however painful that treatment may be.

Mackay’s beliefs were rather typical for the late 1800s. He was a firm believer in Degeneracy Theory (see Aug 16, Sep 9, or Oct 26 for brief explanations) and the older pseudo-science of phrenology (see Aug 6 for a brief introduction), and he touched on both theories in his talk. Those beliefs led him to the conclusion that all mental illness and criminality — Mackay didn’t see the difference between the two — were actually physical ailments of some sort, with its roots either in the patient’s heredity or his misshapen skull. He presented his sketches of skulls to prove his point:

MackayDrawingsThe next is a drawing of the skull of another murderer. Do you see the deposit of bone along the suture. It is nearly one-fourth of an inch thick. Who knows but what the abnormal condition of that poor fellow’s skull led him to be a criminal? and yet he was hanged. What was accomplished by killing him? …A representation of the skull of a Flathead Indian is also shown here. The Flathead is one of the most cruel and bloodthirsty of races. It is well known that the sloping angle is produced almost wholly by artificial means. What the shape of the skull may have to do with his vicious nature I leave to you to judge. The drawing of a normal skull is introduced for purposes of comparison. …

The malformations of which I have spoken exhibit peculiar types of exaggeration or atavism. Certain portions of the brain are abnormally developed; others are practically annihilated, crowded upon and crowded out until the patient has become mentally lop-sided. unbalanced and uncontrollable. Genius, incoherence, imbecility, criminality and perverted sexualism run riot, unrestrained and unbridled by the individual. Two-thirds of all the patients are sexual perverts. Homosexuality, sexual inversion, masturbation, urnings et id omnia genus ail nauseam are the rule.

There were also the “men-haters” among the women:

There are men-haters among the women — women whose sexual system has been starved or perverted or abused; old maids with acquired or inherited sexual perversion, starvation or inversion; married women whose maternal instinct and sexual nature have been extinguished by hard work, poor diet, frequent child-bearing and nursing, and the dreary, monotonous, pleasureless, changeless grind of a quarter of a century, more or less, of married life.

Because Degeneracy Theory held that things would only get worse, Mackay was a proponent of what had become known as Eugenics (see Nov 10 for an explanation; see Aug 16 for another example of Eugenics advocacy). Mackay’s proposal was particularly draconian.

It goes without saying that to be effective any effort to improve the physical characteristics of our race must antedate the birth of the individual. We need laws to abridge the life of all monsters that do not conform to the type of man, to quarantine or prohibit the public exhibition of museum freaks, and to prevent, as far as possible, the birth of such. A judicious inspection by the state of all children before reaching puberty would serve the double purpose of discovering abnormal conditions of mind and body, and afford an opportunity for the application of means, as far as possible, to remedy them, and the segregation of those totally unsuited mentally or morally to propagate their species. In this way only can we hope to prevent insane and half-witted girls becoming pregnant. Rigid restraint, quarantining and unsexing of criminals, insane, rapists, imbeciles and those who spread specific diseases.

Mackay was a political appointee of the Populist/Democrat Gov. Silas Holcomb, and took over the state hospital in Norfolk soon after the Governor took office in 1895. Mackay resigned his position in the summer of 1896. No explanation was given for his departure, but his wife filed for divorce the following year — a rarity and a scandal at that time — claiming “extreme cruelty and inhumane treatment,” and adultery. He died in Houston in 1922 at the age of 57.

[Source: J.H. Mackay. “Exaggerated human nature.” Medical Arena 4, no. 12 (December 1895): 353-361. Available online via Google Books here.]

 55 YEARS AGO: Michelangelo Signorile: 1960. After graduating with a degree in journalism at at Syracuse University, the Brooklyn native returned to New York where he got his first job at a public relations firm which specialized in placing stories about their entertainment clients in gossip columns. That naturally meant that he was collecting and trading in gossip, which is where he noticed the double standard in how the media glamorized the heterosexuality of celebrities while maintaining a veil of silence around anything that might be remotely gay. But it wasn’t until his friends began dying in the early years of the AIDS crisis that he began to draw a line from gay invisibility to the ease with which media and public officials could turn a blind eye on what was happening. He became an activist in 1988 when he joined ACT UP, which led to his arrest during a speech by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) who was the Vatican’s point man on Catholic orthodoxy and the author of papers against homosexuality and against condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Signorile had gone simply to watch the protesters, but as he heard the Cardinal speak, he thought of the homophobia he had experienced growing up in the church, and he couldn’t contain himself. As he wrote later in Queer in America: Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power:

Suddenly, I jumped up on one of the marble platforms, and looking down, I addressed the entire congregation in the loudest voice I could. My voice rang out as if it were amplified. I pointed at Ratzinger and shouted, “He is no man of God!” The shocked faces of the assembled Catholics turned to the back of the room to look at me as I continued: “He is no man of God—he is the devil!'”

So yeah, he was arrested, and another gay rights activist was born.

Signorile is considered the pioneer of the controversial act of outing public figures. He was the co-founding editor of OutWeek, where, in a weekly column called “Gossip Watch,” a watch column of the city’s gossip columns, he railed against the media’s double standard on how they treated gay and straight public figures, and he argued that this double standard drove the gay community to invisibility in the midst of an growing health catastrophe. He outed Hollywood producer David Geffen, who was promoting Guns ‘N’ Roses and comedian Andrew Dice Clay, two acts which were attacked for crude anti-gay lyrics and “jokes” about the AIDS crisis. He also outed gossup columnist Liz Smith and, perhaps most famously, publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes (see Mar 18). It was actually Time magazine which coined the term “outing,” but Signorile always considered the term itself biased. He preferred to call what he did “reporting,” and insisted that it was no different from the same kind of reporting that media outlets routinely do with straight people.

Signorile later worked at the Advocate and Out magazines, and he also wrote columns for In 2000 he began working in internet radio, and that led to hosting The Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM OutQ beginning in 2003. In 2014, his program moved to a broader audience on SiriusXM’s Progress 127, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. EST. He has written four other books, including Life Outside – The Signorile Report on Gay Men: Sex, Drugs, Muscles, and the Passages of Life and Hitting Hard, a collection of essays and columns. His 1996 book, Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers was an exceptionally valuable book to me as I was beginning my own journey of coming out. His latest book, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, came out in April 2015.

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, December 18

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), December 18, 1987, page 7. (Source)

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), December 18, 1987, page 7. (Source.)

 35 YEARS AGO: New York Court of Appeals Strikes Down Sodomy Law: 1980. New York became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to legalize homosexuality when the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, struck down the New York’s consensual sodomy law. In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that the law violated Constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, noting that the law banned anal and oral sex only when those acts were performed by unmarried couples. Married couples were exempt under the law. Writing for the majority, Judge Hugh Jones wrote:

“We express no view as to any theological, moral or psychological evaluations of consensual sodomy. It is not the function of the Penal Law or our governmental policy to provide for the enforcement of moral or theological values. …the People have failed to demonstrate how government interference with the practice of personal choice in matters of intimate sexual behavior out of view of the public and with no commercial component will serve to advance the cause of public morality or do anything other than restrict individual conduct and impose a concept of private morality chosen by the State.”

40 YEARS AGO: Jay Bakker: 1975. Having grown up in front of television cameras as the son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker at their Christian theme park home in Charlotte, North Carolina, he was deeply affected when his father’s empire came crashing down. His father was sent to prison for financial irregularities and mail fraud, and his family was subsequently ostracized by fellow Evangelicals. For Jay, that led to a downward spiral of rebellion and drug abuse. But he eventually turned his life around and committed himself to a different vision of Christianity, one with God as a loving and accepting being rather than a God of judgment and wrath. In the process, he became a very different kind of minister, an “evangelical punk preacher,” as he describes himself. Jay’s experience of being outcast informed his own philosophy of inclusiveness which extends to LGBT people. In the 2006 documentary One Punk Under God, Jay explains why he supports same-sex marriage to a congregation that is not ready to accept that message:

In 2011, Jay Bakker released his book, Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self & Society, in which he says that it’s grace, not religion, that he believes in. “Religion can be a very dangerous thing,” he told NPR. “It’s a constant reminder to me to be careful.” He co-founded Revolution Church in 1994, which meets every Sunday afternoon at a bar in Brooklyn. In 2013, Jay has moved to Minneapolis where he established another Revolution Church location. He has also released a new book, Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed: Walking with the Unknown God.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, December17

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From IN Northeast (Boston, MA), December 14, 1992, page 10.

From IN Northeast (Boston, MA), December 14, 1992, page 10.

The club which was located just off of I-84 in western Hartford, CT, is now host to the Charter Oak Boxing Academy.

New York Times: “Growth of Overt Homosexuality In City Provokes Wide Concern”: 1963. Randy Wicker was a brash young activist who, beginning in 1958, decided it was time to shake things up if the gay community was ever going to get anywhere. As a grad student, he volunteered with the New York Mattachine Society hoping to move the organization’s advocacy efforts in a much stronger direction. When the group scheduled a talk on “The Homosexual and the Law,” Wicker took it upon himself to print up some signs and post then throughout Greenwich Village to publicize the event. Mattachine members, who were more accustomed to the more closeted word-of-mouth method of getting the word out, found Wicker a “disturbing acquisition to the movement,” as the group’s president later said. To get around the Mattachines’ fearfulness, Wicker created a one-man advocacy “group” he called the Homosexual League of New York, so that whenever he had a project that the Mattachines felt was too far out there, his league of one could ride to the rescue. It was under that guise that Wicker appeared on WBAI radio in 1962 (see Jul 15), where New York radio listeners, for the first time, heard Wicker and six other gay men talk for ninety minutes about what it was like to be gay.

Wicker was always looking for ways to generate attention, and so when Robert Doty of The New York Times contacted him asking for help on a story about homosexuals — Doty explained that he actually knew very little about the subject — Wicker was eager to help. He took Doty on something on a field trip of gay bars in New York, and he provided him with articles from ONE magazine about Evelyn Hooker, the UCLA psychologist whose research challenged the prevailing view that homosexuality was an illness (see Aug 30 and Sep 2). As Wicker later recalled, “I told him, ‘Look, I understand that the majority opinion in the psychiatric community says that homosexuality is a disorder and that these people are out claiming they can change people. All I want is equal treatment. At least give some exposure to the minority voices that say homosexuality is not necessarily a pathology.”

Unfortunately, equal treatment was not on offer when Doty’s story appeared on the Times’ front page on a brisk Tuesday morning in December:

The problem of homosexuality in New York became the focus yesterday of increased attention by the State Liquor Authority and the Police Department.

The liquor authority announced the revocation of the liquor licenses of two more homosexual taverns that had been repeatedly raided by the police. The places were the Fawn, at 795 Washington Street near Jain Street, and the Heights Supper Club at 90 Montague Street, Brooklyn.

The city’s most sensitive open secret — the presence of what is probably the greatest homosexual population in the world and the increasing openness of its manifestations — has become the subject of growing concern by psychiatrists and religious leaders as well as law enforcement officers. One division of the organized crime syndicate controls bars and restaurants that cater to the homosexual trade. Commenting yesterday on the attack on such places and the attention being directed at their habitues, Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy said:

“The police jurisdiction in this area is limited. But when persons of this type become a source of public scandal, or violate the laws, or place themselves in a position where they become the victims of crime they do come within our jurisdiction.”

Mr. Hostetter said the Heights Supper Club had a signal light system “that warned the boys to stop dancing with one another” when a newcomer was suspected of being a policeman. The Fawn had a back room to which an admission was charged and where as many as 70 to 80 deviates had parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Most of the patrons were males, but on police found women dancing with women.

There were 19 police visits this year resulting in summonses and complaints of a noisy jukebox, disorderly premises, insufficient lighting and dancing without a cabaret license, and an arrest for degeneracy.

Before Doty could even broach the subject of homosexuality as a mental illness — and he did devote much of his article to that very topic — he introduced New Yorkers to homosexuals as criminals, or at least as associating with the criminal element. Doty wrote that homosexuality had been, until now, “protected by taboos on open discussion,” which allowed it to become “an obtrusive part” of New York society. As for balance, Doty provided this:

Two conflicting viewpoints converge today to overcome the silence and promote public discussion. The first is the organized homophile movement — a minority of militant homosexuals that is openly agitating for removal of legal, social and cultural discrimination against sexual inverts. Fundamental to this aim is the concept that homosexuality is an incurable, congenital disorder (this is disputed by the bulk of scientific evidence) and that homosexuals should be treated by an increasingly tolerant society as just another minority.

This view is challenged by a second group, the analytical psychiatrists, who advocate an end to what it calls a head-in-the-sand approach to homosexuality. They have what they consider overwhelming evidence that homosexuals are created — generally by ill-adjusted parents — not born. They assert that homosexuality can be cured by sophisticated analytical and therapeutic techniques.

More significantly, the weight of the most recent findings suggest that public discussion of the nature of these parental misdeeds and attitudes that tend to foster homosexual development in children could improve family environments and reduce the incidence of sexual inversion.

Wicker’s copies of ONE magazine featuring articles about Evelyn Hooker’s research on homosexuality made one small appearance in Doty’s article: “The homosexual has a range of gay periodicals that is a kind of distorted mirror image of the straight publishing world.” That was it. Doty then went on to describe, in a very stereotypical fashion, the homosexuals who “throng Manhattan’s Greenwich Village”:

They have their favored clothing suppliers who specialize in the rights slacks, short-cut coats and fastidious furnishings favored by mane, but by no means all, male homosexuals. There is a homosexual jargon, once intelligible only to the initiate, but now part of New York slang. The word “gay” has been appropriated as the adjective for homosexual.

… The list of homosexuals in the theater is long, distinguished and international. It is also self-perpetuating. There is a cliquishness about gay individuals that often leads one who achieves influential position in the theater — and many of them do — to choose for employment another homosexual candidate over a straight applicant, unless the latter has an indisputable edge of talent that would bear on the artistic success of the venture.

But back to that thing about homosexuality as a mental illness. A year earlier, Dr. Irving Bieber published the highly influential book, Homosexuality — A Psychoanalytic Study of Male Homosexuals, in which he and a team of seventy psychiatrists claimed a success rate of 27% in curing gay people through psychoanalysis. It would take several more years before many of Bieber’s colleagues and former patients to come forward to dispute those claims.But Doty devoted the remaining half of his lengthy article to Bieber’s views, including his theory that homosexuality was the result of of bad parenting:

In almost every homosexual case they found some combination of what they termed a “close-binding, intimate” mother and/or a hostile, detached or unresponsive father, or other parental aberrations.

Unsaid, though was that in almost every homosexual case they also found a gay man or a lesbian who was deeply distressed at being gay, so much so that they paid some very expensive psychoanalyst in a desperate attempt to get rid of it. What their so-called study said about those who didn’t seek their services, nobody bothered to ask. To back Bieber up, Doty turned to another psychoanalyst, Dr. Charles Socarides — the same Charles Socarides who would co-found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992 and whose son, Richard, would come out as gay. In Doty’s article, Socarides denounced the efforts of gay activists to win social acceptance for what he called a kind of “normal abnormality.” The homosexual is ill,” he said, “and anything that tends to hid that fact reduces his changes of seeking and obtaining treatment. If they were to achieve social acceptance it would increase this difficulty.”

“I thought it was a terrible betrayal,” said Randy Wicker of Doty’s article. “Because he was a man I had given all the information to and when it came out it was disgusting. He didn’t give any mention — not one mention — that there was a division among psychiatrists — not one word.” The Daughters of Bilitis’s The Ladder wrote that the story was designed to frighten readers into believing that gay people were flooding the streets of New York and “threatening to engulf the normals.” But Newsweek saw the article positively: “While straining for objectivity, a Times trademark, Doty nevertheless tried to explode a favorite myth propagated by some homosexuals that their condition is incurable and innate.”

[Sources: Edward Allwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 47-50.

Robert Doty. “Growth of Overt Homosexuality In City Provokes Wide Concern.” The New York Times (December 17, 1963): 1ff.

Jack Nicols. “Randolphe Wicker (1938- ).” In Vern L. Bullough’s (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 273-281.]

Paul Cadmus: 1904-1999. When he died in 1999 at the ripe old age of 94, his New York Times obituary read:

Paul Cadmus, an American artist noted for a virtuosic figurative style that he applied to subjects ranging from biting social satire to moralizing allegories to sensual, sometimes sentimental male nudes, died on Sunday at his home in Weston, Conn. He was 94.

Mr. Cadmus found his inspiration in the art of Italian Renaissance painters like Mantegna and Luca Signorelli. His career was remarkable for its unruffled stylistic consistency over 70 years, from his days as a precocious student in New York in the 1920’s through his incendiary stint in the 30’s with the federal Public Works of Art Project, later folded into the Works Progress Administration, and up to the present. Although he stopped painting a few years ago, he continued to sketch.

The Fleet’s In!, 1934 (Click to enlarge)

It took the Times’s Holland Cotter four paragraphs before he could work his readers up to Cadmus’s favorite subject matter: the frank depiction of gay men as free and happy people. His “incendiary stint” came about over his 1934 PWAP commission, The Fleet’s In!,  which portrayed sailors on shore leave in New York picking up local “trade”. That painting became the center of “the Battle of the Corcoran” when Navy Secretary Claude Swanson condemned it as “a most disgraceful, sordid, disreputable, drunken brawl” and ordered it seized from the gallery. The painting remained out of public view until 1981, but the outcry cemented Cadmus’s career as a satirist. For the rest of his life, he maintained that he was grateful for the publicity.

What I Believe, 1947 (Click to enlarge)

His cartoonish style became known as “magical realism,” and his themes nearly always touched on sexuality in some form, with homosexual themes nearly always present as either a subtext (glances and signals of cruising in otherwise ordinary scenes) or as an overt subject. His 1947 painting What I Believe, inspired by an E.M. Forster essay by the same name, was his visual manifesto. It depicts nude and contented gay couples in the center and left side of the painting in bright sunlight while reading, drawing, playing music, and conversing. That paradisal scene contrasted with the almost hellish right third of the painting, where heterosexual couples reclined in bare dirt and misery — not unlike traditional renderings of the final judgment. The painting, he said, celebrated  “the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human condition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos.”

In an interview with the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, Cadmus quoted the French artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: “People say my paintings are not right for the times. Can I help it if the times are wrong?” Times have changed. The Fleet’s In!, the painting that started all the controversy, is now in the permanent collection of The Navy Art Gallery in Washington, where it is among its most popular attractions.

40 YEARS AGO: John Burroway: 1975. My youngest brother. Happy birthday, old man.

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Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 16

Jim Burroway

December 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 4.

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 4.

The Warehouse VIII in Miami. Four clubs in one convenient location. The former warehouse (duh!) featured an enormous dance floor, a cruise bar upstairs that stayed open until 5:00 a.m., a Levi/leather bar in the back, and a rooftop “where anything could happen.”

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Miami Officials Testify Before Senate Committee About Anti-Gay Crackdown: 1954. It has been quite a year for Miami’s anti-gay witch hunt (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14Aug 15, Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20 and Nov 12), and Miami’s Mayor Abe Aronovitz got one more shot in before the year was out. He and several other Miami officials testified before the Senate Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee about the “alarming” rise in young people running afoul of the law. Several contributing problems were cited: a growing crime rate, the lack of resources in the county sheriff’s office, runaways appearing in Miami from other parts of the country, and, of course, homosexuals.

Daniel Sullivan, chairman of the Greater Miami Crime Commission, complained to the subcommittee that there had been a “tremendous increase” in the number of “perverts” making the Miami area their “headquarters.” He cited recent estimates of the number of homosexuals there at 8,000 (out of about 500,000 for all of Dade County). Sullivan blamed the “increase” on the number of bars and nightclubs that cater to gay people.

Aronovitz chimed in, criticizing Police Chief Walter Headly’s preferred policy of allow gay bars to operate in certain areas, saying that this was, in effect, an open invitation “to homosexuals from all over the nation.” But Chief Headly countered that while he had obeyed the mayor’s orders to break up such gatherings (see Sep 2), he believed that all that he had actually accomplished was to “scatter” the problem elsewhere in the area rather than actually getting rid of the “perverts.” Aronovitz saw it differently, telling the committee that the crackdown “temporarily improved” the situation, but said, “the federal government should spend money to help local governments battle the problem.”

Noël Coward: 1899-1973. He first appeared on the stage at the age of eleven, and his stage work as a teenager — along with his (possibly romantic) relationship with the painter Philip Streatfeild — opened the doors for the precocious son of a house maid to London’s high society, and his embrace of that society cemented his image for the rest of his life. “I am determined to travel through life first class,” he often remarked. Coward went on to write fifty plays, over a hundred songs, and a dozen musical theater works. He never acknowledged his homosexuality, but given his body of work he hardly had to. His 1924 hit play, The Vortex, offered a daring portrayal of a nymphomaniac society woman and her drug-addicted son. The play shocked London sensibilities with its portrayal of drugs and hints of gay life in high society, but that shock leaned more toward titillation than outrage. Coward spent the rest of his life walking that balance.

Ever the fervent anti-Fascist, Coward enlisted with British Intelligence in 1938. For his first assignment in Paris he was given the cover story of working in the British Propaganda office, where he famously critiqued the quality of its work. “If the policy of His Majesty’s Government is to bore the Germans to death I don’t think we have time,” he said. His next assignment was to go to America and use his wit and celebrity status to sway popular opinion to support the British. He also used that tour to gauge public sentiment and political leaders’ opinions about the war and report those findings back to Bletchley Park. Coward’s next assignment was to travel the world to entertain the troops, another assignment which provided perfect cover:

“I was the perfect silly ass,” (Coward) said. “Nobody … considered I had a sensible thought in my head, and they would say all kinds of things that I’d pass along.”

It was a senior diplomat named Robert Vansittart, routinely dismissed in the Foreign Office as an anti-Nazi Cassandra, who in late 1937 or 1938 spotted how to use Coward’s flamboyance, intelligence and flawless memory to help tend an unofficial, off-the-books anti-Nazi intelligence network he had set up across Europe. Vansittart dispatched Coward on tour in such un-Cowardy places as Warsaw, Moscow and Helsinki, where he sang songs, gauged Nazi influence among star-struck V.I.P.’s and (very likely) contacted sources on the ground. If he fooled the V.I.P.’s, Coward failed to fool the Nazis. He was soon on the Gestapo’s list of people to be “liquidated” when Britain fell.

King George VI had recommended Coward for a knighthood during the war, but Prime Minister Winston Churchill vetoed it. Coward was too “flamboyant” for Churchill’s tastes. After the war, Coward continued to find success in Britain and America. He also fell in love with actor Graham Payn and they remained together for the next thirty years. The two became tax exiles and moved first to Bermuda, then Jamaica. He never did acknowledge his sexuality, believing that any direct discussion of sex was tasteless. Besides, he said, “There are still a few old ladies in Worthing who don’t know.” He was finally knighted in 1969. That year, Time wrote of him, “Coward’s greatest single gift has not been writing or composing, not acting or directing, but projecting a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” He died in 1973, in the company of his partner Graham. His diaries and letters were published posthumously.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 15

Jim Burroway

December 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 8. (Source.)

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 8. (Source.)

This announcement in Our Community heralded the Briarpatch’s opening on December 15, 1971:

Very quietly, and without fanfare, a new bar has opened in Dallas, and it will soon be one of the most popular bars in town. The Briarpatch is the name, and 5709 Oram (just off Greenville Ave. near Ross, in East Dallas) is the location. There was no advanced publicity, and only a few invitations sent out for the free buffet dinner party celebrating the opening. Yet 700 people showed up December 15th. That’s because Joe and Mary, owners, are well known and liked in Dallas, and their many friends got the word around. The bar is charmingly decorated, has three pool tables, and a cozy atmosphere. On entering the bar (so off the beaten path), one would think that this was a friendly neighborhood bar. It is that. But it is much more also. Everyone feels at home here – the bar offers what people want. Faithful patrons come from all over town, some almost nightly, to spend a few hours here.

… All kinds of interesting plans are being made for the gay community. The first will be an All Country-Texas Style buffet dinner served New Year’s Day. Time: 1: 00 P.M. Visit Dallas’ newest — you’ll like it.

The same announcement said that the Briarpatch already had plans to expand and build a larger dance floor. The building is still there, at the corner of Oram and Greenville Avenue. The Briarpatch appears to have operated out of one or more of the side entrances on Oram Street. That area, known today as Lower Greenville (or Lowest Greenville, depending on who you ask), has long been one of Dallas’s main entertainment districts.

65 YEARS AGO: US Senate Committee Issues Report on “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sexual Perverts”: 1950. The Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments issued an interim report which would prove to become a major document of the 1950s anti-gay witch-hunts. The next day, The New York Times carried a story on the report:

“A Senate investigating group labeled sexual perverts today as dangerous security risks and demanded strict and careful screening to keep them off the Government payroll. It said that many Federal agencies had not taken “adequate steps to get these people out of Government.” …

Stressing the risks that the Government takes in employing a sex deviate or keeping one on the payroll, the subcommittee said:

“The lack of emotional stability which is found in most sex perverts, and the weakness of their moral fiber, makes them susceptible to the blandishments of foreign espionage agents.”

The report also noted that perverts were “easy prey to the blackmailer.” It said that Communist and Nazi agents had sought to get secret Government data from Federal employees “by threatening to expose their abnormal sex activities.”

The subcommittee criticized the State Department particularly for “mishandling ninety-one cases of homosexualism among its employees.” It said that many of the employees were allowed to resign “for personal reasons,” and that no steps were taken to bar them from other Government jobs. …

The committee said that it was unable to determine accurately how many perverts now held Federal jobs. It added, however, that since Jan. 1 1947, a total of 4,954 cases had been processed, including 4,380 in the military services and 574 on Federal civilian payrolls. …

In addition to strict enforcement of Civil Service rules about firing perverts, the subcommittee recommended tightening of the District of Columbia laws on sexual perversion, closer liaison between the Federal agencies and the police and a thorough inquiry by all divisions of the Government into all reasonable complaints of perverted sexual activity.

APA “Cures” Nation’s Gay Population: 1973. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classified homosexuality as a mental illness beginning with the DSM’s first appearance in 1952. Before then, psychiatrists and psychologists looked at homosexuality as a perversion and as a deviant behavior, but the idea that it was a mental illness was considerably more controversial. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, famously wrote to one American mother in 1935, “Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness.” (see Apr 9)

But by the early 1950’s American society’s view of homosexuality took a very sharp turn toward the dark side. This turn was partly sparked by the loud controversy stirred by Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 (see Jan 5). Where before, homosexuality was little talked about; now it seemed suddenly to be everywhere. In the minds of Americans across the country, homosexuality now joined the other emerging threat, communism, as two great menaces to American order. By 1952, there had already been several purges of gays from federal employment. With the APA’s addition of homosexuality to its list of mental disorders, the fates of gays and lesbians would be sealed for the next two decades.

That opinion wasn’t uniform. In 1956, UCLA researcher Evelyn Hooker published a groundbreaking paper that revealed that when psychiatrists and psychologists were given the blind results of psychological testing of gay and straight subjects, these professionally trained therapists couldn’t determine which were straight and which were gay (see Aug 30). If gay people were automatically and necessarily mentally ill, their mental illnesses should have revealed themselves in these tests. More research followed . After the mounting evidence demonstrated that gays and lesbians are not mentally ill simply because they are gay (see Oct 20), the American Psychiatric Association’s board of trustees finally approved this two-part resolution:

I. Removal of homosexuality per se from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders and substitution of the following new category and definition:

302.0 Sexual orientation disturbance:

This category is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily toward people of the same sex and who are either bothered by,. in conflict with, or wish to change their sexual orientations. This diagnostic category is distinguished from homosexuality, which by itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality per se is a form of sexual behavior and like other forms of sexual behavior which are not by themselves psychiatric dosorders, is not listed in this nomenclature of mental disorders.

II. Civil rights and sodomy repeal statement:

Whereas homosexuality in and of itself implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or vocational capabilities, therefore, be it resolved that the American Psychiatric Association deplores all public and private discrimination against homosexuals in such areas as employment, housing, public accommodations, and licensing, and declares that no burden of proof of such judgment, capacity, or reliability shall be placed on homosexuals greater than that imposed on any other persons. Further, the APA supports and urges the enactment of civil rights legislation at local, state, and federal levels that would ensure homosexual citizens the same protections now guaranteed to others. Further, the APA supports and urges the repeal of all legislation making criminal offenses of sexual acts performed by consenting adults in private.

In a compromise to those who fought the finding, the APA agreed to define “sexual orientation disturbance” to describe “individuals whose sexual interests are directed toward people of their own sex and who are either disturbed by, in conflict with or wish to change their sexual orientation.” That diagnosis would provide cover for therapists to continue to try to “cure” gay people, with some of those “therapies” still involving electric shock aversion therapy. In 1980, that diagnosis would be changed to “ego dystonic homosexuality” before it was finally removed in 1986. Today, virtually all major medical and mental health professional organizations agree that homosexuality is not an illness to be “cured” or treated with the goal of trying to change one’s sexual orientation.

W. Dorr Legg: 1904-1994. Born William Dorr Lambert Legg, Dorr Legg (who also sometimes wrote as Bill Lambert) took a rather intellectual approach to things when he finally joined up with the homophile movement in the 1950s. While studying landscape architecture and music at the University of Michigan in his home town of Ann Arbor, Legg reputedly read Marchel Proust’s Remembrances of Things Past in the original French, just so he could learn something about gays in Europe. After graduating, and after a stint in Florida, he settled in New York City. While there, he became involved with the local gay scene, but he was put off by what he saw as fussy queens. But he also discovered the speakies and drag balls in Harlem, and that’s where he became interested in the intersection of gay life with similarly taboo interracial relationships.

In 1935, Legg moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where he took a teaching position at Oregon State College’s landscape architecture program. He remained there until 1942, when the draft claimed so many students that the landscape architecture program came close to collapse. Legg moved back to Ann Arbor where he met Marvin Edwards, and the two became lovers. But with Edwards being African-American, the sight of the two of them together sometimes raised the eyebrows of local police whenever they were out together. So in 1948, they decided to move to Los Angeles, where they felt that the more diverse culture there would be more to their liking.

Once they arrived in L.A., they quickly began to meet other gay African-Americans. Somewhere along the way, Edwards left and Legg met Merton Bird, another African-American, and the two of them founded the Knights of the Clock as a social and support group for interracial gay couples. That made Legg and Bird pioneers in the nascent gay rights movement in more than one way, but Legg gave Bird the credit. He later wrote, “Hostility and harassment were the daily lot of interracial same-sex couples in 1950. … [Bird’s] idea was that by coming together to form a mutual aid society, the group could at the very least offer each other encouragement.”

Legg also learned about the Mattachine Society, and he became one of that group’s early members. A few years, following a Mattachine Society discussion group that Legg hosted at his home, Legg, Don Slater (see Aug 21), Martin Block (see Jul 27), and Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) stayed after the meeting was over and brainstormed about the pressing need for gay people across the country to have access to news and information about themselves and others. Out of that discussion, ONE Magazine was born (see Oct 15), and Legg became its business manager When ONE debuted in January 1953 as America’s first pro-gay magazine, it sported a very sophisticated look with bold graphics and professional typeset and design. ONE’s slick offering quickly caught the attention gays and lesbians across the country, and circulation jumped to nearly 2,000 within a few months — with most subscribers paying extra to have their magazine delivered in an unmarked wrapper.

ONE Magazine, October 1954.

ONE also caught the notice of federal officials. The FBI tried to shut the magazine down, but abandoned the idea after deciding the magazine wasn’t worth their efforts. But the Post Office was another matter. The Los Angeles Postmaster ordered the August 1953, held for three weeks while deciding if it violated federal laws. (Ironically, the cover story for that issue was on “homosexual marriage,” an issue that is still contentious more than fifty years later.) Three weeks later, the Post Office decided no laws were violated and allowed its distribution. ONE, in its typically brash fashion, proclaimed “ONE is not grateful” on its October cover. A year later, its October 1954 issue was confiscated and this time the Post Office decided that the issue was illegal. Ironically, that issue’s cover proclaimed “You Can’t Print It!” ONE sued, and the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court. On January 13, 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its first ever pro-gay ruling in ONE Inc. v. Olesen, a landmark decision that allowed a magazine for gays and lesbians to be sent through the U.S. mail. (You can read more about that landmark case here.)

While ONE magazine was perhaps the most visible part of ONE, Inc., Legg envisioned the organization’s main mission as educational rather than publishing. At Legg’s behest, ONE, Inc. established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies in 1956, which became the first institution to provide LGBT studies in the US. The ONE Instutute began conducting annual seminars known as the Midwinter Institute, and published the ONE Institute Quarterly as an academic journal dedicated to the study of homosexuality. Legg, as “Marvin Cutler,” also wrote Homosexuals Today: A Handbook of Organizations and Publications about the nascent gay rights movement.

Legg’s interest in the educational side of the organization at the expense of ONE magazine, coupled with his increasingly authoritarian style, created tensions within the group, principly between Legg and Don Slater, ONE Magazine’s editor and the organization’s librarian. While Slater also saw ONE’s mission as being educational, he also felt that the magazine as playing an indispensable role in that mission. He also feared for the integrity of ONE’s archives, which he believed were the heart and soul of the organization. By 1965, the split on ONE’s board became irreconcilable, and on Easter Sunday, Slater and two others entered ONE’s offices and moved the magazine’s assets and archives out and to another location.

For the next four months, two competing ONE magazines hit the streets: Slater’s ONE was sent to subscribers using the organization’s subscriber list, and Legg’s ONE arrived after Legg re-assembled a rival subscriber list from memory and detective work. Legg and Slater were soon in court, where Legg’s overbearing demeanor, it’s been said, alienated the judge who might have otherwise ruled in his favor. Instead, ONE, Inc., retaining the right to publish ONE Magazine, while Slater’s The Tangent Group, which by then had change the name of their magazine to Tangents, retained ownership of the archives. ONE finally ceased publication in 1969.

Legg’s first-hand experience with police raids and harassment, FBI surveillance and intimidation, and Post Office censorship gave him a deep and abiding distrust of government. That distrust informed his libertarian politics. In 1977, he became a founding member of the Log Cabin Club, a group of California gay Republicans who organized to oppose the Brigg’s Initiative which would have banned gays, lesbians, and their supporters from teaching in the public schools. The Log Cabin Club later changed its name to Log Cabin Republicans. Legg’s libertarian political beliefs however, contrary to stereotypes about gay conservatives, did not amount to an assent to assimilation. He forcefully opposed the idea that gay people should “desperately contort themselves into simulacra of heterosexuality.”

Legg died in 1994. By then, the ONE Institute had stop offering classes due to another legal dispute with a prominent donor. After Legg died, the remnants of ONE, Inc. merged with the International Gay and Lesbian Archives. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives today is housed at the University of Southern California, and the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum is located in West Hollywood.

[Sources: Wayne R. Dynes. “W. Dorr Legg (1904-1994).” In Vern L. Bullough’s (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 94-102.

Martha E. Stone. “Unearthing the ‘Knights of the Clock’.” The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 17, no. 3 (May 2010).  Available online 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).

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 14

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), December 12, 1986, page 4.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), December 12, 1986, page 4.

San Antonio’s El Jardin had been a longtime fixture in the city’s gay nightlife ever since it opened in 1946. It apparently closed sometime at around the turn of the millennium:

The El Jardin. It was the oldest gay bar in Texas, and had the exhausted clientele to prove it. They had to close it a couple of years ago because the San Antonio Conservation Society purchased the building –– they’re gonna “save” it. …

The well-intentioned ladies will restore the building to what they perceive as its most important historical pinnacle; when it was the thriving business of an industrious German peach grower in the 1870’s, or something like that. Der Yawn. They will excitedly refresh its colors to juniper berry blue with cranapple red trim; “authentic” historic colors (in Cape Cod). And the El Jardin will be buried under the building’s newest layer, masked as an early 21st Century, Martha Stewart, “it’s a good thing”, over-restored, Disneyland, “Ye Old German Towne” of a building. There!

Why can’t they just restore it to what I truly feel is its greatest historic apex –– when it was the only place in town where you could score a dime bag and listen to Edith Piaf on the jukebox.

Rising property values due to the building’s proximity to the Riverwalk finally did El Jardin in. The entire building now is a boutique hotel.

The Milwaukee Journal, Dec 14, 1954. (Click to enlarge.)

Milwaukee Doctor Faced Blackmail: 1954. The Milwaukee Journal reported that Anthony Roy, 26, was charged with attempting to extort $500 from a Milwaukee physician in exchange for not “exposing” him for being gay. He also made similar extortion attempts against a jeweler and an osteopath. These blackmail attempts took place at a time when even rumors that someone was gay might result in the complete ruining of that person’s reputation. In the case of the doctor and osteopath, it might have even resulted in their licenses being revoked. After all, in 1954 they were both legally criminals and (according to the APA) mentally ill. The Journal described how Roy was caught:

Roy was seized in a public toilet at 1905 E. North av. The doctor, co-operating with police, had placed there a fake money package containing a dye powder. Officers said Roy’s hands were stained blue and the package was in his topcoat.

Police said the three professional men received a total of 10 extortion notes, demanding pPayment of $500 each  from the physician and the jeweler and $1,000 from the osteopath. None of the intended victims is a homosexual, police said.

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

CA State Sen. Briggs Urges Appointment of Non-Gay To Succeed Harvey Milk: 1978. San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein released a telegram sent to her from California State Sen. John Briggs urging her to fill the vacancy left by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk’s assassination with a “non-homosexual.” Briggs, who was the driving force behind an unsuccessful 1978 ballot measure (see Nov 7) which would have banned gays, lesbians, and anyone who supported them from working in public schools, responded that he was a “little shocked” that Mayor Feinstein made the telegram public. Feinstein, who had been elected mayor to fill the vacancy left by the Nov. 27 assassinations of Milk and Mayor George Moscone, had said that she was considering appointing another gay person to fill Milk’s vacancy. Briggs responded via telegram:

“I am appalled by your apparent desire to use the quota system in appointing supervisor Harvey Milk’s successor ‘as the only moral thing to do.’ Surely merit not sexual preference should be the criterion. Supervisor Milk always insisted to be considered a human being first and a homosexual second. As an attractive alternative, perhaps now is the time to provide fair representation for San Francisco’s Oriental, black or Chicano populations.”

It’s pretty rich that Briggs wanted her to consider gay people “a human being first and a homosexual second,” given that his ballot measure, Proposition 6, would have done precisely the opposite. Feinstein ignored Briggs’s advice, and on January 8, 1979, she appointed Harry G. Britt, a former United Methodist minister and “avowed homosexual,” to fill Milk’s vacancy to represent the Castro district.

Dr. Robert Bernstein

30 YEARS AGO: Texas Health Department Gives Tentative Approval to AIDS Quarantine: 1985. The Texas Board of Health voted 12-5 to give tentative approval for a rule which would allow “incorrigible” people with AIDS to be declared as a public health threat and be placed under quarantine.  Dr. Robert Bernstein, the state health commissioner, proposed the rule two months earlier (see Oct 22) to ensure the “isolation or separation” of those who refused to curtail their sexual activity or drug use. “This does not deal with the average AIDS patient,” he told the press. “This is not aimed at a disease. It is aimed at individuals who have the disease and might be incorrigible in a public health way. Whether we’ll use this, I don’t know.”

Board member Dr. Barry Cunningham, a Round Rock dentist, was more blunt: “We have a moral obligation to protect the people of Texas against a disease that is 100 percent fatal.”

Bernstein emphasized that the proposed rule would only be used as a “last resort.” Local health officials would have to first get the state commissioner’s approval before imposing a quarantine. He justified the proposal by citing a Houston male prostitute with AIDS who had initially refused to stop working. The man later accepted counseling from a local gay advocacy group and admitted himself into a hospital.

Several Texas doctors spoke out against the proposal. Dr. Phillip Anderson, and Austin physician whose practice was about 60% gay, said, “The law is clearly outdated and inappropriate.” Board chairman Dr. Ron Anderson of Dallas, who voted against the proposal, said, “It’s not really scientifically what would help us very much.” Others noted that quarantines had historically been imposed on people with diseases which were spread through casual contact, and that HIV/AIDS is not a casually-spread disease. A hearing was set for public comment for January 13.

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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