When Doctrine Overrides Humanity
November 2nd, 2013
Thomas Peters, NOM’s communications director, shows us the limits of empathy.
Peters suffered a diving accident that left him with a fractured fifth vertebrae, a severe spinal cord injury, and doubtful prospects for recovery. Fortunately, it seems, he’s doing better than most with this kind of injury, though he still may never walk and has limited use of his upper body. Recently, on NOM’s website, he posted “Reflections on my Time Away.”
It’s a sad read, and not just because of his trauma. I had hoped for a moment that it might be inspirational. I thought of Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who had a stroke in January 2012. A year later he was able to climb the steps of the Capitol, and a few months after that he issued this statement:
When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.
Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.
Thomas Peters has experienced no such epiphany, which makes it bittersweet for a gay man like me to read his moving tribute to family:
The accident has taught me the essential value defended by the principle of subsidiarity: the value of family and friends as the first line of defense when things go badly. My family and friends have come forward to help my wife and I in ways that have taken our breadth away. They brought us meals, helped pack and move our home, loaned us their cars, contributed their professional advice like how to plan our financial future and cover medical expenses, they have organized prayer groups for us, designed wristbands to help remind people to pray for us and offered us gifts so generous I have had to firmly say no because they are simply too much. The man is never poor or alone who has good friends. My wife and I simply could not gave survived this were it not for our dear family and friends.
The accident has taught me more about the incredible gift of marriage. My father, during his speech at my wedding reception, said the sacrament of marriage gives us the grace to do the impossible. I have met people during these months who think it is incredible, even impossible, that my wife and I survived a trauma like this having been married only three months. I tell them it helps to marry the right woman and get married the right way, the way the Church taught the two of us what marriage is and why it should be honored. People have told us that they are inspired and receive hope from the witness of our marriage – it inspires us too, I respond! We feel it is possible to face anything, even a future of me paralyzed, so long as we cling to each other, to God, and to our marriage vows.
That’s hard to read, because even as you’re thinking, Exactly, exactly!, you also know Peters is still determined to deny you the right to marry, deprive you of the honor and and hope and inspiration that come with it:
But make no mistake, as soon as I am able, I am coming back to fight harder than ever for all of these things [the causes of life, marriage and religious freedom] because I know now that it is prayer that makes the warrior his strongest.
Mark Kirk’s stroke left him with greater empathy and the courage to act on it. It didn’t merely deepen that empathy — it broadened it, too, extending it to a greater chunk of humanity than it had previously known. When the senator calls his stroke “a gift from God,” we can understand what he means, even as we’re daunted by the great price of that gift.
But not so for Peters. His empathy extends only to those who are like him. He sees his family and friends and supporters as people, but gays and lesbians are only abstractions. He can’t conceive of us as actual human beings gifted with marriages that we experience in just the same way that he does with his wife. If he did, he could never come back determined to destroy them.
For Mark Kirk, faith and tragedy gave him a light to see more of humanity. For Peters, a self-described “American Papist,” they led him into the legalism and strictures of his religion. They led him away from humanity.
What might it be like for Peters to follow Mark Kirk’s path? I see a clue in NOM’s blog posts. They refer to the Senator, but do not mention his stroke or the reasons for his change of heart. They simply call him a “GOP turncoat.” His actual life and experience are irrelevant. For them he’s defined simply by his betrayal of their doctrine.
This, I think, is what happens when doctrine overrides humanity, and here I find I butt up against the limits of my own empathy. I’ve never gone through a trauma as terrible as what Peters is dealing with now, and I can only struggle to imagine how it would feel. I don’t know how I would cope, what refuge I would take, what comforts I would seek. I suppose I can see why Peters would shy away from being labeled a turncoat by those he depends on the most.
Simply put, I can’t fault him for falling back on what he knows. All I can do, then, is congratulate him on what he’s accomplished so far, wish him strength in his battle ahead, and hope that recovery of the body is matched by growth in spirit and soul.
The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 2
November 2nd, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Observations about “Sexual Inversion in Women”: 1912. The journal Lancet-Clinic published an article by Dr. Douglas C. McMurtrie which tries to explain lesbianism, or as he put it, “sexual inversion in women.” McMurtrie set the stage for his discussion by observing that most physicians may know little to nothing about sexual inversion in general:
Cases of abnormal sexual development are liable to come under the observation of the psychologist as frequently if not more frequently than under the notice of the physician. That this is true is due to the fact that very few such cases are ever brought to the physician in a professional capacity. The subjects tend to conceal the fact of their condition, and are inclined to work out their own salvation. Only when their course conflicts violently with the interests of the community is the medical man called upon to diagnose and prescribe. The great majority of the sexually abnormal live their lives without ever coming in contact with the medical profession, at least in so far as their physical characteristics are concerned.
Given the relative rarity of physicians’ experience with homosexuality, McMurtrie wrote that the medical profession’s exposure to lesbianism was rarer still:
Perhaps one of the least known phases of sexual abnormality is that of homosexuality in women. There have been many studies of inversion, but practically all devote but little attention to female manifestations. …One reason for the lack of data on the subject is undoubtedly the difficulty of recognizing sexual inversion in women, due to the customs of the day which permit and even call for caresses and outward demonstrations between members of the female sex. In addition women are very generally ignorant of the details of sexual character and, not recognizing themselves the character of their tendencies, there would be greater difficulty for others to secure definite information.
Ten case descriptions followed, three of them men who were included as “of immediate interest to the subject” of homosexuality generally. Of the five women, three were prostitutes and one was an actress. Two more had scant details of only a sentence or two. One had a longstanding relationship with another woman who cheated on her, plunging her into depression. When, her lover returned after a two year absence, all was well. This woman, identified only as “G,” seemed to have a particular self-assurance about her sexuality, which McMurtrie obviously regarded with some surprise:
G. has only cared for this one woman. She describes this passion, however, as the most intense possible in life and the companionship of the loved one as the greatest happiness. She can see nothing wrong in such relationships except promiscuity, and regards the bond as being as holy as the conventional marriage vow. To this very unusual history I have only to add that the woman in question is highly regarded by all who know her, and not even her relatives and closest friends have the slightest idea of her sexual characteristics.
[Source: Douglas C McMurtie, "Some observations on the psychology of sexual inversion in women." Lancet-Clinic 108, no. 18 (November 2, 1912): 487-490.]
“Boise Underworld” Anti-Gay Witchhunt Begins: 1955. Terrible crimes were being committed in Boise, Idaho. Vernon Cassel, Ralph Cooper and Charles Brokaw were arrested and confessed to their crimes: sex acts wth at least ten local underage teenagers. Cooper, 33, had an arrest record that went back twenty years. He was quickly sentenced to life in the state pen, without the benefit of a lawyer. Ada county probation officer Emery Bess told the local newspaper to say that the investigation had only “scratched the surface” of a larger ring of several adults alledgedly molesting hundreds of teens.
Boise was a rather quiet town of 50,000, the kind of place in which everyone knew just about everyone else. News of the arrests sent shock waves through the city. The next day, an editorial in the normally mild-mannered Idaho Evening Statesman quickly amped the level of panic:
Crush the Monster
Disclosure that the evils of moral perversion prevail in Boise on an extensive scale must come as a distinct and intensely disagreeable shock to most Boiseans. It seems almost incredible that any such cancerous growth could have taken roots and developed in our midst. … the situation is one that causes general alarm and calls for immediate and systematic cauterization.
…Until the hole sordid situation is completely cleared up, and the premises thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, the job is one in which the full strength of county and city agencies should and must be enlisted. That’s what we demand: and that’s what we expect.
The three more arrests followed two weeks later: a respected lawyer, a teacher, the vice president of the city’s largest bank. With the second round of arrests, the Statesman followed with another alarmist editorial:
This Mess Must Be Removed
The decent foundations of the Boise community were joted beyond description recently withthe arrest of three local men on morals charges involving young boys. It did not seem possible that this community ever harbored homosexuals to ravage our youth. Yet it was true as conessions of both men and young boys made disgustingly clear.
…It might not be a bad idea for Boise parents to keep an eye on the whereabout sof their offspring. To date a number of boys hav ebeen victimized by these perverts. The greatest tragedy of all is that fact that young boys so involved grow into manhood with the same inclinations of those who are called homosexuals.
No matter what is required, this sorded mess must be removed from this community.
Parents did respond, by calling the police and high school officials with names of men they found suspicious: the man who paused to look at a football practice, men who were involved with youth groups, single men with no girlfriends. Calls overwhelmed the switchboards for the police, sheriff’s office, prosecuting attorney’s office, and the Statesman. Those calls led to more arrests. On December 12, Time magazine took the panic nationwide. In a story titled “Idaho Underworld,” Time wrote that the city “had sheltered a widespread homosexual underworld that involved some of Boise’s most prominent men and had preyed on hundreds of teen-age boys for the past decade.” On December 22, the city council hired William Fairchild, who had previously worked at the State Dempartment rooting out gay people as part of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s “lavender scare” a few years earlier, to head up Boise’s witchhunt. Fairfchild quickly expanded the investigation with a list of five hundred suspected gay men.
More arrests followed, and with each arrest came more names and more arrests. The terror among gay men led many of them to abruptly pack up and leaving town. (In one famous example, a teacher left so quickly upon reading the news that he left his half-eaten eggs on the breakfast table.) And by now, there was little concern whether the crimes were with teens or between consenting adults. In the end, only sixteen were arrested and charged, and only four of them were charged with crimes against minors. The others were charged with “infamous crimes against nature” with other consenting adults. As for the minors themselves, most of them ranged from high school age up to twenty-one years old. Court testimony revealed that they were gang members, either hustling, robbing, or blackmailing their sexual targets. This gave rise to numerous proposals for social programs to rehabilitate the youths and provide them with more respectable means of earning money.
But the sentiment was very different for the men who were caught up in the witch hunt. For them, the cry was the lock them up and throw away the key. Meanwhile, accusations and counter-accusations mounted, and took on political undertones, with the Statesman entering a running battle with the reform-minded mayor and specific members of the City Council. But by mid-1956, the investigation wound down, partly because of a lack of evidence to support some of the wild accusations, partly because of credibility problems with some of the gang members whose testimony was critical, partly because the national attention paid to Boise was becoming an embarrassment, and partly because Boiseans themselves began to feel that the investigations were going too far.
In the end, 1,472 people had been interviewed, countless lives were ruined, and a generally threatening cloud hung over Boise. That cloud would not go away for many more years to come. When CBS broadcast its 1967 hit piece, The Homosexuals (see Mar 7), Boise was singled out for “illustrat(ing) the fact that homosexuality cannot be stamped out; that it is everywhere, not just in the big cities.”
[Sources: John Gerassi. The Boys of Boise: Furor, Vice and Folly in an American City 2001 edition (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).
"Idaho Underworld." Time (December 12, 1955). Available online to Time subscribers here.]
Oregon’s Measure 9 Defeated: 1992. By a vote of 56-44%, voters in Oregon rejected Measure 9, which would have amended the state constitution to prohibit the expenditure of “monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.” This would have banned gay groups from using city parks or books about homosexuality in the public library. The measure was an effort of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, a conservative religious right group that was closely aligned with the Christian Coalition and was headed by Lon Mabon, with Scott Lively serving as his right hand man.
The campaign for Measure 9 was particularly nasty, with the OCA releasing a graphic video depicting gays as universally debauched and corrupt, while extolling the virtues of two “ex-gays.” The campaign also saw Lively found guilty of using unreasonable force to remove a free-lance photographer from an OCA meeting which debuted the video. Typical of anything associated with Lively, the OCA refused to acknowledge the magnitude of Measure 9′s defeat, and vowed to return to the ballot box two years later. But Measure 19 in went down in flames in 1994 by a similar margin. A poll in December 1992 found that 57% of all Oregonians had an unfavorable view of the OCA, against only a 14% with a favorable view. Lively called the poll “flawed.”
Colorado’s Amendment 2 Passed: 1992. You win one, you lose one. That’s what happened in 1992. The same year in which Oregonians rejected Measure 9, voters in Colorado passed Amendment 2 to that state’s constitution which prohibited state and local governments or court from taking any action recognizing gays or lesbians as a protected class in anti-discrimination measures. The measure passed 60% to 40%.
The Amendment immediately landed in court, with the State Supreme Court ruling that the measure couldn’t pass “strict scrutiny” under the Federal Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. When supporters appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, they ruled in 1995 in the landmark Romer v Evans that the measure didn’t even pass muster under a rational basis test. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, found that Amendment 2 went far beyond prohibiting “special rights” to gay people as supporters argued. It went further by actually disenfranchising gay people — and only gay people — from an important part of the political process. While everyone else could ask for redress from local governments and courts, gay people were singled out for being barred from that right of citizenship. “(Amendment 2) is at once too narrow and too broad,” he wrote. “It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.”
Helen Sandoz: 1920-1987. She went by “Sandy,” and she was born of hardy stock. She grew up on an Oregon farm, and after earning a bachelor’s degree she moved to Alaska for a time before moving back to Washington and Oregon where she held supervisory position in several department stores. One morning as she was driving to a bank, she rear-ended a farmer’s truck. The accident seemed minor, so she continued on to the bank. The teller saw her and asked “Miss Sandoz, did you know that there is blood trickling down your chin?” Turned out she had broken her neck and had to spend the a year in a full-body cast. She was never again able to sit still in a chair or remain mobile for any length of time, so she changed her career to one which allowed her to keep moving: she became a sign printer.
When Sandoz moved to San Francisco a few years later, she learned that a new organization for lesbians was being organized called the Daughters of Bilitis (see Oct 19). As DoB co-founder Phyllis Lyon recalled, “Sandy was one of the only lesbians we knew in San Francisco when we moved here from Seattle in 1953. Del (Martin, Lyon’s partner) knew Sandy beforehand, when she was with a woman everyone called ‘Bridge.’ We visited them and Sandy’s partner wanted nothing to do with DOB. When they broke up in 1957, we got Sandy.” When the DoB filed for a state charter in 1957, Sandoz was among the those who signed her real name. She did use a pseudonym for her public DoB work however: as “Helen Sanders” she became DoB president in 1957. That year, she represented the Daughters at the ONE Midwinter Institute in Los Angeles, where she met Stella Rush, who was reporting on the Institute for ONE Magazine. The two hit it off, and later that year Sandoz moved to L.A. As The Ladder said when she announced her move, San Francisco’s loss was Los Angeles’s gain, and Sandoz quickly set about the work of establishing an L.A. chapter for the Daughters.
She also continued to work with the DoB’s groundbreaking magazine The Ladder, contributing articles as “Helen Sanders” and as “Ben Cat,” a persona she used to explore a wider range of topics from the perspective of a house cat that she shared with Rush. Sandoz put her artistic skills to use in designing several covers, and she served as editor from 1966 through 1968.
By 1968, the DoB was being split along several lines: Between those who wanted a more activist political organization verses those who wanted the DoB to be a social club, between those who wanted a strong national organization versus those who sought greater autonomy for local chapters, and between those who saw the DoB as primarily a gay rights organization for women and those who believed that the Daughters should throw its weight behind other feminist groups like the National Organization for Women. While Sandoz believed in NOW’s goals, she was put off by some of the anti-male rhetoric. She and Rush had spent their entire lives working with male (and female) members of ONE and the Mattachine Society, and they regarded the fight for gay and lesbian rights as being one fight. Consequently, Sandoz and Rush withdrew from the Daughters after a disastrous 1968 convention in order to concentrate on advocacy for both gay men and women. Sandoz died in 1987 in Anaheim of lung cancer at the age of 66.
[Sources: Stella Rush. "Helen Sandoz a.k.a. Helen Sanders a.k.a Ben Cat (1920-1987)." In Vern L. Bullough's (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (London: Routledge, 2002): 145-147.
Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007).]
k.d. lang: 1961. Growing up on Canada’s western prairie in Alberta, she became fascinated with the life and music of country music star Patsy Cline. She formed a tribute band called the Reclines in Cline’s honor in 1983, but when her debut album, A Truly Western Experience was released in 1984, the ReClines became a more conventional back-up band for a most unconventional Country and Western singer. Her career was taking off in Canada when, in 1987, Roy Orbison tapped her to record a duet of his hit “Crying.” That collaboration won them a Grammy in 1989.
That award coincided with her American breakout with the Grammy Award-winning Absolute Torch and Twang, which featured such standout songs as “Full Moon of Love,” “Big Boned Gal,” and my favorite, “Pulling Back the Reins.” In 1992, she shifted gears with Ingénue an adult contemporary album shorn of her country influences, which included her most popular song “Constant Craving,” giving her yet another Grammy Award. That coincided with her coming out as a lesbian in The Advocate. That, coupled with her veganism and animal rights advocacy — her “Meat Stinks” raised a huge stink in her cattle-ranching hometown in Alberta — put her country music career in deep freeze.
But it has done little to slow down her career. If anything, it gave her the freedom to become a vocalist — not a singer, but a vocalist of the highest calibre — whose range is utterly unbounded by the petty distinctions of genre and styles. Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, “Few singers command such perfection of pitch. Her voice, at once beautiful and unadorned and softened with a veil of smoke, invariably hits the middle of a note and remains there. She discreetly flaunted her technique, drawing out notes and shading them from sustained cries into softer, vibrato-laden murmurs. She balanced her commitment to the material with humor, projecting a twinkling merriment behind it all.”
But when it comes right down to it, words cannot express the artistry of lang’s voice. And so at this point, all I can do is to shut up and listen as she sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during Canada’s 2005 Juno Awards in Winnipeg. If you know nothing else about her, then the only thing you really need to know is that she can do this:
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?
Vatican Surveys Parishes on Gays, Divorce, Contraception
November 1st, 2013
In preparation for the Vatican Synod on “Pastoral Challenges of the family in the context of evangelization” called by Pope Francis for next October, the Vatican is asking bishops around the world to conduct a wide-ranging poll asking Catholics their opinions on a number of church teachings, including same-sex marriage, contraception and divorce. The independent National Catholic Reporter has the details:
Among topics bishops’ conferences are asked in the Vatican document to question their Catholic populations about:
- How the church’s teaching on “the value of the family” is understood today. “In those cases where the Church’s teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice?” the document asks. “If so, what are they?”
- Whether cohabitation, the problem of divorce and remarriage, and same-sex marriages are a “pastoral reality” in their church. “Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases?” the document asks. “How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?”
- How persons in same-sex marriages are treated and how children they may adopt are cared for. “What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live these types of union?” it asks. “In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?”
- Whether married couples have “openness” to becoming parents and whether they accept Humanae Vitae, an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI that prohibited artificial contraception use by Catholics. “Is this moral teaching accepted?” it asks. “What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?”
The documents accompanying the survey reveal a tension within the Church. Since his election just seven months ago, Pope Francis has signaled a willingness to open the church up and change its approach to LGBT Catholics. And on the one hand, this unprecedented survey represents a huge change to the way the Vatican has traditionally done business. On the other hand, some of the documents deploy some of the more traditional cultural-warfare talking points:
Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage, and sometimes even excludes the idea of it, to same-sex unions between persons, who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children. The many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care include: …relativist pluralism in the conception of marriage; the influence of the media on popular culture in its understanding of marriage and family life; underlying trends of thought in legislative proposals which devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant; an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire); and new interpretations of what is considered a human right. Within the Church, faith in the sacramentality of marriage and the healing power of the Sacrament of Penance show signs of weakness or total abandonment.
Degrading rhetoric aside — wombs for hire? — the document does illustrate the crisis that the Church faces, particularly in the West and especially among young people:
Consequently, we can well understand the urgency with which the worldwide episcopate is called upon to gather cum et sub Petro to address these challenges. For example, by simply calling to mind the fact that, as a result of the current situation, many children and young people will never see their parents receive the sacraments, then we understand just how urgent are the challenges to evangelization arising from the current situation, which can be seen in almost every part of the “global village”. Corresponding in a particular manner to this reality today is the wide acceptance of the teaching on divine mercy and concern towards people who suffer on the periphery of societies, globally and in existential situations. Consequently, vast expectations exist concerning the decisions which are to be made pastorally regarding the family.
It’s not clear exactly how widespread the questionnaire will be distributed. A letter accompanying the US version of the survey simply asks the bishops “to share it immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local source can be received.” The survey period ends December 31, with reports due to the Vatican by the end of January. A spokesperson for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told NCR, “It will be up to each bishop to determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome.” Meanwhile, NCR reports that Bishops in England and Wales have posted a survey online. That survey is in essay form rather than multiple choice, asking participants such questions as:
- Is the idea of the natural law in the union between a man and a woman commonly accepted as such by the baptized in general?
- How is the theory and practice of natural law in the union between man and woman challenged in light of the formation of a family? How is it proposed and developed in civil and Church institutions?
- Is cohabitation ad experimentum a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage?
- Do unions which are not recognized either religiously or civilly exist? Are reliable statistics available?
- What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
- What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
- In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
- What is the estimated proportion of children and adolescents in these cases, as regards children who are born and raised in regularly constituted families?
- How do parents in these situations approach the Church? What do they ask? Do they request the sacraments only or do they also want catechesis and the general teaching of religion?
- How do the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children to provide them with a Christian education?
That last question can be a tricky one in the U.S., where there have been several cases of children being barred from Catholic schools because their same-sex parents have decided to live together as a couple or marry.
The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 11
November 1st, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Charleston Man Bludgeoned to Death in “The Candlestick Murder”: 1958. The front page of Sunday News and Courier bore shocking news to Charleston, South Carolina readers: “A 30-year-old Charleston chemical company executive was clubbed to death with a heavy brass candlestick in his Queen Street house sometime yesterday morning.” A maid found Jack Dobbins’s bloody and nude body on his living room sofa when she arrived for work. A housemate, a young student at the Medical College of South Carolina was sound asleep upstairs. The paper described the scene:
Dobbins’ body lay on his side fully outstretched on the sofa, the candlestick cradled between his crossed arms. The wall and sofa, in addition to the candlestick, showed bloodstains. A matching candleholder was in Dobbins’ bedroom. The victim’s underclothing lay on a nearby coffeetable and the remainder of his clothing was on an upstairs bedroom dresser. Also on the coffeetable were two highball classes nearly full of bourbon, a package of cigarettes and lighter. On a disk across the room stood a nearly empty bourbon bottle
The coroner said that Dobbins had been struck nine times with the candlestick, which fractured his scull in three places. He also said there was no signs that Dobbins resisted the attack and the room showed no signs of a violent struggle taking place, and suggested that Dobbins may have been taken by surprise while laying on the sofa. The housemate had heard nothing downstairs, and neither had the neighbors.
The next day, an airman at Charleston Air Force Base, Airman 3rd Class John Joseph Mahon, was arrested and held pending further investigation. According to Mahon’s lawyer, Mahon surrendered “upon having read of Dobbins’ death.” Mahon was charged on November 3 with murder and held without bail, just as Dobbins was being laid to rest in Spartanburg.
Dobbins, a Korean War veteran who was continuing his education through the Army, was well-liked in the neighborhood and well-regarded by his employer. These factors seemed to have influenced the way The News and Courier handled their reporting. “’Affable,’, ‘pleasant,’ ‘personable’ — these were the adjectives to describe the slain Dobbins,” the paper said. Nowhere in the initial reports on Dobbins’s death did the News and Courier explicitly identify Dobbins as homosexual.
But they hardly had to. That Dobbins’ nude body was found on the sofa while his male housemate slumbered upstairs only began to set the stage. The brass candlestick was obviously not something that would be commonly found in a typical bachelor pad, but since it was the murder weapon, its presence could hardly be ignored. And so the candlestick loomed large in the story: two-feet tall, with relief carvings on its blood-caked base depicting the Virgin Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The paper initially labeled the case the Halloween Murder or the Queen Street Murder, but before long, it was the Candlestick Murder in the minds of Charleston residents.
But the reports which gingerly placed Dobbins among “his kind” appeared on November 3, which said, “Ironically, Dobbins was very proud of the candlestick used to kill him. An acquaintance said Dobbins purchased a pair of antique holders at a candle shop last fall.” That’s hardly typical of heterosexual bachelors. A second article said he was “an admirer of fine paintings with a flair for artistic home furnishings. …The tastefully appointed rooms in his quaint Queen Street house bear out his reported appreciation for artful furnishings.”
And while the News and Courier was busy placing Dobbins in his element, the same paper was also describing Mohan as a an “18-year-old, boyish-looking airman,” a “clean-cut youth” who stood five feet six and weighted about 135 pounds, the very picture of innocence. That set up morality place nicely, as Mahon’s lawyer told reporters, “The youth’s actions were completely justifiable and in self defense. A complete statement will be given at the proper time.”
When the trial began on December 9, the defense attorney set the stage by asking Dobbins’s housemate whether Dobbins ever had a girlfriend. Dobbins hadn’t, as far as the roommate knew. The maid was asked what color Dobbins’s sheets were. They were lavender. And what about visitors? Almost exclusively men, as far as she knew. What relevance any of that had with the murder, nobody bothered to explain. Then the trial turned to what happened in the house that night. Two Air Force buddies testified that when Mahon returned to the base, he gave them two different stories:
One version is that the young airman struck Dobbins with the candlestick after Dobbins made improper advances. The airman at that stage, according to the testimony, became frightened and ran out the door.
Another story… is that the airman obtained the candlestick from Dobbins’ room to protect himself and that while he was upstairs Dobbins put out the lights in the living room and then made advances toward the airman.
At this point… Mahon struck Dobbins with the candlestick and Dobbins fell back on the couch, but bounded to his feet and the two struggled. Dobbins — 5 feet 10 and weighing an estimated 170 — struck the airman two blows, according to the testimony, when the airman — weighing an estimated 130 points — punched Dobbins in the stomach and “he got a funny look in his face and went down.” Mahon, according to that version, rifled the trouser pockets.
The two witnesses said that Mahon had returned to the base with money, a money clip, a cigarette lighter, a silver fingernail file, and other personal items. But when Mahon took the stand, it was now Dobbins who was on trial. Mahon described meeting Dobbins in a bar and accompanying him to several other clubs around town. They then went to Dobbins’s apartment, where Mahon said Dobbins offered him a drink and “made improper advances at him.” Mahon said excused himself to go to the bathroom, which was upstairs behind Dobbins’s bedroom. He came back down stairs, he said, to find the lights out and Dobbins unclothed (even though earlier reports said that Dobbins’ clothing was upstairs except for his underwear). Mahon said he ran back upstairs, found the candlestick, and came back down stairs. He then claimed that he hit Dobbins three or four times. Dobbins fell down on the couch, and Mahon tossed the candlestick down and fled the house.
Little of this made any sense. Nobody bothered to explain why Mahon didn’t just walk out the front door. Nothing in Mahon’s testimony explained how Dobbins received his fatal injuries or how the blood got on the candlestick. Given the testimony, the stolen items and the bloody candlestick, it ought to have been an open and shut case. The prosecution asked for the death penalty, the defense asked for acquittal. The jury got the case at 8:00 p.m. and was still deliberating after midnight, when the judge lost patience and called the jury into the court room. “If the state is entitled to a verdict in this case, it is entitled to it tonight,” he told the jury. “If the defendant is entitled to a verdict in this case, he is entitled to it tonight.” The jury went back to the jury room and emerged eight minutes later with its verdict: not guilty. ONE magazine, the nation’s first pro-gay magazine, summed it up all up this this way:
A bright and merry Christmas was in prospect for all-all, that is, except Jack Dobbins who would spend his Christmas six feet under the sod with a shattered skull. But then, of course, Jack used lavender sheets!
[Sources: Unsigned (“A Charleston Reporter”). “The Hallowe’en Party.” ONE 7, no. 5 (May 1959): 17-19.
William Chapman. “Queen St. Man Murder Victim: Candlestick Weapon in Halloween Killing.” The News and Courier (November 2, 1958): 1
Otis Perkins. “Airman held in killing: Teen-ager Jailed After surrendering to Police.” The News and Courier (November 3, 1958): 1.
William Chapman. “Queen Street Death: Jack Dobbins was Liked By Neighbors.” The News and Courier (November 3, 1958): 13.
“Halloween Murder: Young Airman Is Charged in Slaying.” The News and Courier (November 4, 1958): 1.
“Candlestick Murder Trial Gets Under Way: Five Witnesses Take the Stand.” The News and Courier (December 10, 1958): 1B.
“Conflicting Tales Told by 2 Trial Witnesses: Perjury Hinted in Halloween Murder.” The News and Courier (December 11, 1958): 1B.
Glenn Robertson. “Murder Weapon: Candlestick Plays Big Role in Case.” The News and Courier (December 11, 1958): 1B.
“Dobbins Murder Case Given to Jury Here: Defense Declares Killing Justified.” The News and Courier (December 12, 1958): 1B.
Otis Perkins. “Time Hung Heavy for 18-year-old: Jury Acquits Young Airman of Halloween Killing Here." The News and Courier (December 13, 1958): 1B.
ABC Broadcasts “That Certain Summer”: 1972. ABC television’s Wednesday night broadcast of the Movie of the Week broke refreshing new ground when it aired “That Certain Summer,” which marked the first sympathetic portrayal of gay people on television. The made-for-TV movie portrayed a mid-40′s divorced man who must explain his homosexuality to his 14-year-old son, Nick, who is on a visit during summer vacation. The production was written and produced by Richard Levinson and William Link, and it had been pitched to NBC first, which rejected it. “It was perfectly acceptable for Bob Hope or Johnny Carson to mince about the screen doing broad parodies of homosexual behavior,” they later observed. “But anything else, anything not derisive or played for laughs, was out of the question.” ABC picked it up instead.
“That Certain Summer” featured Hal Holbrook as Doug Slater, the teen’s father, Martin Sheen as Gary McClain, Slater’s partner, and Scott Jacoby as Nick. None of the characters fell into stereotype. In fact the two men were actually seen touching and neither of them died in the end. The New York Times’ John O’Connor said that the cast delivered “some of the most impressive and sensitive acting ever contributed ot television.” It would go on to receive seven Emmy nominations, with Scott Jacoby picking up the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Drama for his portrayal of Nick. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Movie Made for TV.
But not everyone thought the movie was so wonderful. Sacramento’s KOVR received 400 phone calls, including a bomb threat, in protest. The calls began as early as 10:00 a.m. on the morning before the film aired. But station manager Bill Lange said that most of the calls on Thursday were favorable. That seems to have been the pattern across the country. ABC hired extra operators to handle an anticipated avalanche of angry phone calls, but the calls never materialized.
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Missouri supremes set the state up for slap down
October 31st, 2013
Justice Scalia once famously said that “a tax on yarmulkes is a tax on Jews”, the idea being that one cannot hide behind the technicality of a law ‘applying to everyone’ when the actuality is that the law is designed to impact only one demographic.
And though Scalia refuses to see it, he provided the clearest legal parable as to why it is that laws designed to impact only gay citizens – though couched as ‘applying to everyone’ – violate the US Constitution.
Although several conservative politicians have tried to claim that their state’s sodomy laws are still valid using the argument that they applied to both gay and straight people, these have never gotten any legal traction. When Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Attorney General (and GOP gubernatorial candidate), tried to argue for reinstatement of that state’s sodomy laws by bringing a case involving oral sex with an opposite-sex minor, the US Supreme Court didn’t even grant certiorari.
Nevertheless, those who oppose equality for gay people often tie themselves up in logic pretzels, seeking a way to simultaneously disadvantage gay citizens while still convincing themselves that they are applying rules equally and fairly. And one of their favorite tactics is to make one unequal law – fully justified in this one instance by tradition and religious freedom and social need and, especially, ‘think of the children’ – and to then use that inequality as justification for the next. It’s what I call gay yarmulke logic.
The current iteration of the gay yarmulke is marriage (having replaced “homosexual acts”). Those who oppose equality aren’t anti-gay, you see, just anti-gay marriage. And, of course, the next inequality is justified by marriage inequality.
The latest example comes to us from the State of Missouri.
On Christmas Day 2009, Missouri State Trooper, Corporal Dennis Engelhard was hit and killed in the line of duty when a car hit an icy patch and veered out of control. He left behind his partner of 15 years, Kelly Glossip, and Kelly’s son who they were jointly raising.
The Police and Fireman’s Fund held a fundraiser for the parents, at which they ignored Engelhard’s spouse and child. The State Troopers issued an obituary stating that Engelhard was ‘single’ and the Governor asked people to pray for his family, who who “lost a beloved son and brother.”
And, naturally, claiming that Glossip was just “a boyfriend”, the state refused to provide him with the survivor benefits to which any spouse is entitled and which are intended to help the family go on after an officer is killed.
Glossip sued. And today the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that Glossip had no rights. Not because of his orientation, oh no of course not, but because of the gay yarmulke, marriage laws. Although they had exchanged rings, they weren’t a family. (OzarksFirst)
Glossip argued that the law was discriminatory because Missouri state law also forbids same-sex marriage. He also claims it is an unconstitutional special law.
The court rejected these claims.
In a 5-2 opinion, the court ruled that the law Glossip was challenging discriminated on the basis of marriage, not sexual orientation.
“Glossip was denied ssurvivor benefits because he and the patrolman were not married, not because of his sexual orientation,” the ruling document stated. “If Glossip and the patrolman had been of different sexes, Glossip would have still been denied benefits no matter how long or close their relationship had been. The result cannot be any different here simply because Glossip and the patrolman were of the same sex. The statute discriminates solely on the basis of marital status, not sexual orientation.”
They weren’t discriminating against gay people, you see, just people of the same sex being spouses. They also oppose heterosexual people of the same sex being spouses. Just like they would tax Lutherans for wearing yarmulkes.
But while these cases frustrate me, they are our key to equality. These examples of discrimination are so blatant, so intuitively unfair, that they win not only our legal arguments but the hearts of the public.
What the State of Missouri did to not just Kelly Glossip but to Dennis Engelhard, who gave his life for the state, is so cruel that it shames decent people. And the gay yarmulke argument is so obscene that it is inconceivable that it could hold up to an inspection by the US Supreme Court.
It is through cases like this one that marriage equality will finally be achieved.
The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 31
October 31st, 2013
Hawaii House Committees To Hold Hearings On Marriage Equality Bill: Honolulu, HI. Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill and sent it on to the lower house for its consideration. Today, the House Judiciary Judiciary and Finance Committees will hold a joint hearing where some four hundred people are expected to provide testimony, both for and against the bill. The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. this morning, and is tentatively scheduled to continue until midnight, with another session possible for tomorrow if they don’t make it through everyone today. All of this is expected to set up a final vote in the House of Representatives on Monday.
The indictment against the prisoners was as follows: –
“Central Criminal Court, to wit the jurors for our Lady the Queen upon their oath present that Edwin Gatehouse, late of the parish of Lambeth, in the county of Surrey, and within the jurisdiction of the court, labourer, and William Dowley, late of the same place, labourer, being persons of depraved and unnatural dispositions,in the 12th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, by the grace of God of the united kingdom of England and Ireland, Queen, defender of the faith, with force of arms, at the parish aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of the said court, in a certain room there unlawfully and wickedly did meet, and were then together for the purpose of committing with each other that most detestable horrid, and abominable crime called buggery; and did then and there unlawfully and wickedly lay their hands upon each other with intent then and there feloniously, wickedly, diabolically, and against the order of nature to commit and perpetrate with each other the detestable, horrid, and abominable crime aforesaid. To the great displeasure of Almighty God, to the evil example of all others in the like case offending, and against the pace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do further present that the said Edwin Gatehouse and William Dowley, being such evil disposed persons as aforesaid, afterwards (to wit) on the day and year aforesaid, with force and arms at the parish aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of the said court, unlawfully and wickedly did meet, and then and there were together in a certain room for the purpose and with the intent of committing and perpetrating with each other these divers nasty, wicked, filthy, beastly, and unnatural acts and practices; and that the said Edwin Gatehouse and William Dowly, in pursuance of such purpose and intent, unlawfully, wickedly, and indecently did then and there expose their naked private parts to each other, and did also then and there place their hands upon and take hold of and feel the naked private parts of each other, with intent then and there to excite and stir up in the minds of each other divers filthy, beastly, and unnatural lusts and desires, to the great scandal and subversion of religion, morality, decency, and good order, and against hte peace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity.”
At the close of the case for the prosecution, Ballantine, for the prisoner, Gatehouse, objected that neither of these counts disclosed any offense. The second count was clearly bad within the principle of the cases recently decided. It did not allege that the place where the exposure took place was public; and even if it was public, the exposure was only to one person, which was not sufficient. Indecency, to be criminal, must be in a public place, and in the sight of divers of her majesty’s subjects. The first count also was bad. It did not aver an attempt to commit buggery, but a mere intention accompanied by an act indicative of that intention. Such intention was not criminal. To constitute an offence, some act in pursuance of such intention, and as a commencement to the actual crime of buggery, must be shown.
The Common Sergeant. — The judges have not yet expressly decided that the second count is bad, but in accordance with the cases which have been decided, I think they would hold it to be bad. I shall therefore tell the jury that, as to that count, they must against acquit the prisoner. An intent to commit sodomy, must, I think, be charged and proved. But this is, in my opinion, done in the first count; and at present, I see no reason for holding that that count is bad. But before judgment is given, I will consult some of the judges; and if necessary, reserve the point for consideration of all judges.
The Jury found the prisoners Guilty on the first count.
Judgement was respited.
[Source: Chris White's Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality: A Sourcebook (London: Routledge, 1999): 42-43. In a footnote, White writes, "I have been unable to determine the fates of Gatehouse and Dowley."]
Gov. Reagan Denies “Homosexual Ring” Among Staffers: 1967. The wire services lit up with reports that California Gov. Ronald Reagan angrily declared that there was “no truth” to a Washington columnist’s report that “a homosexual ring has been operating in his office,” and that two homosexual staffers had been fired. The columnist, Drew Pearson, alleged that Reagan was given evidence that there were homosexuals among his staff but “did not move to clear up his office until last August when certain members of his staff were abruptly dropped.”
Person’s article was published in The New York Post, but most other papers, fearing exposure to libel lawsuits, refused to run it. But that didn’t stop the topic from occupying more than fifteen minutes of Reagan’s televised 25-minute press conference from Sacramento. “He’s lying,” Gov. Reagan told reporters at a Sacramento news conference. “Drew Pearson has been sort of riding my back for years.” Reagan denounced Pearson’s column, saying, “This is about the lowest. This is stooping to destroy human beings.”
Pearson and fellow Washington muckraker Jack Anderson responded on November 4 with a column alleging that Reagan’s denial raised a “credibility gap.” They wrote that reporters were surprised by Reagan’s denials because they had “heard the Reagan aide address himself to the recent firings on several occasions during the Governor’s conference cruise.” The New York Times listed the names of six reporters who heard Lyn Nozfinger, Reagan’s chief political aide and communications director, discuss the firings while aboard a ship in the Virgin Islands. The Boston Globe investigated and reached reached a similar conclusion. “To put it as politely as possible for the readers of a family newspaper, Ronald Reagan is not to be believed,” said the Globe.
Throughout the controversy, no one bothered to ask whether it was appropriate to fire employees simply for being gay. Homosexuality was still a crime in California, punishable with prison terms of a minimum of one year and no maximum, making a life term legally possible. There was also a ban on employing gays and lesbians in the federal government. All of this meant that there would have been no political consequences whatsoever if Reagan had declared publicly that he had, in fact, fired the two staffers. Reporters were baffled by Reagan’s denial. Jack Anderson put the question this way: “The question now buzzing in political circles is — why? It would have been far less damaging for him to admit the facts and point out that he had fired the homosexuals. Why did he try to cover it up?”
Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak called Reagan’s denial his “first serious political error,” but they applauded Reagan’s motives. “Considering that immediate public exposure would have destroyed these men but not harmed Reagan, the decision was made not out of political expediency but from consideration of personal decency,” they wrote. Evans and Novak blamed staffers for the debacle, who “without informing Reagan… put out the story to any reporters who happened to ask why certain Reagan staff members really resigned.” They singled out Nofziger for telling reporters “the sordid facts complete with names — an error in judgment by the usually shrewd Nozfiger.”
The furor refused to die. On November 14, Reagan took questions from reporters and reiterated, “I have never had and do not have any evidence or proof that would warrant an accusation. No accusation or charge has ever been made.” As for the credibility gap that reporters were tagging him with, Reagan responded, “Now if there is a credibility gap and I am responsible, it is because I refuse to participate in trying to destroy human beings with no factual evidence. And I’m not going to do that. And if that means there’s a credibility gap, then so be it, there’s a credibility gap.” By the end of November, word around Sacramento was that Nofziger’s job was now in jeopardy, with Michigan Gov. George Romney’s press secretary being whispered as a possible successor. But the always loyal Reagan refused to dismiss Nofziger. One staffer told reporters, “Lyn is the only one in the administration now with the kind of political savvy Reagan needs.”
[Sources: Julius Duscha. “Reagan Says ‘There is No Truth’ to Report of Homosexual Aides.” The Washington Post (Nov 1, 1967): A1.
Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. “Reagan Denial Raises Credibility Gap.” The Washington Post (November 4, 1967): B11.
Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. “Reagan’s Denial of Staff Problems Seen as First Serious Political Error.” The Washington Post (November 6, 1967): A21.
Jack Anderson. “Reagan’s ‘Lie’ Charge Challenged.” The Washington Post (November 9, 1967): G11.
“Credibility Questions Irk Reagan.” The Washington Post (November 15, 1967): A7.
“Gov. Reagan Won’t Fire Top Aide.” The Washington Post (November 29, 1967): A31.]
Time Magazine’s “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood”: 1969. Mainstream news media was slow to wake up to the cathartic effect the Stonewall rebellion had on the gay community in 1969. The New York Times buried the story on page thirty-three, and didn’t bother to mention why the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back. The New York Daily News reported the whole thing, on page thirty, and only from the police’s point of view (“3 Cops Hurt As Bar Raid Riles Crowd”). The Daily News followed on July 6 with the infamous report, “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.” The most extensive reporting on the riot was in a series of articles by the Village Voice. It’s reporting was, by turns, both sympathetic and mocking, with the mocking parts sparking an angry protest by the Gay Liberation Front (see Sep 12).
On October 31, Time magazine noticed the rapidly growing visibility of the post-stonewall gay community with its cover story “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood.” Written by contributing editor Christopher Cory, researched by Madeleine Berry, and reported by Ruth Galvin, the magazine sought to provide a comprehensive view of what was still a very controversial and touchy topic:
Their new militancy makes other citizens edgy, and it can be shrill. Hurling rocks and bottles and wielding a parking meter that had been wrenched out of the sidewalk, homosexuals rioted last summer in New York’s Greenwich Village after police closed one of the city’s 50 all-gay bars and clubs on an alleged liquor-law violation. … Some 50 homophile organizations have announced their existence in cities across the country and on at least eight campuses. … W. Dorr Legg, educational director at Los Angeles’ 17-year-old ONE, Inc., claims, “I won’t be happy until all churches give homosexual dances and parents are sitting in the balcony saying ‘Don’t John and Henry look cute dancing together?’”
The article introduced its readers to two terms they likely hadn’t encountered before: “fag hags” (“the parlor darlings of wealthy ladies”) and “homophobic,” which just might be the first instance in which the newly-coined word appeared in a mainstream publication. (If readers are aware of an earlier use of the word in a mainstream outlet, please let me know either via email or in the comments.) Gay marriage, however, was not what we would think of today: “Marriage in these circles can involve a homosexual and a busy career woman who coolly take the vows for companionship—and so that they can pool their incomes and tax benefits for a glittering round of entertaining.” It also gave an approving nod to those who feared that these “newly visible” and gays were taking over the world:
Is there a homosexual conspiracy afoot to dominate the arts and other fields? Sometimes it seems that way. The presence of talented homosexuals in the field of classical music, among composers, performers, conductors and management, has sometimes led to charges by disappointed outsiders that the music world is a closed circle. The same applies to the theater, the art world, painting, dance, fashion, hairdressing and interior design, where a kind of “homintern” exists: a gay boss will often use his influence to help gay friends. The process is not unlike the ethnic favoritism that prevails in some companies and in big-city political machines; with a special sulky twist, it can be vicious to outsiders. Yet homosexual influence has probably been exaggerated. The homosexual cannot go too far in foisting off on others his own preferences; the public that buys the tickets or the clothes is overwhelmingly heterosexual.
According to Time, it was the straight world that kept the gay one in check. Otherwise “Homosexual taste can fall into a particular kind of self-indulgence as the homosexual revenges himself on a hostile world by writing grotesque exaggerations of straight customs, concentrates on superficial stylistic furbelows or develops a ‘campy’ fetish for old movies.” That was just before the article went on to acknowledge the important literary contributions of Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and others. But then Time effectively dismissed those artists with a quote from The New York Times Drama Critic Clive Barnes: “Creativity might be a sort of psychic disturbance itself, mightn’t it? Artists are not particularly happy people.”
Time identified, broadly, six types of homosexuals, starting with “The Blatant Homosexual”:
This is the eunuch-like caricature of” femininity that most people associate with homosexuality. In the 1960s he may be the catty hairdresser or the lisping, limp-wristed interior decorator. His lesbian counterpart is the “butch,” the girl who is aggressively masculine to the point of trying to look like a man. Blatants also include “leather boys,” who advertise their sadomasochism by wearing leather jackets and chains, and certain transvestites, or “Tvs.”
“The Secret Lifer”:
The other 90% of the nation’s committed inverts are hidden from all but their friends, lovers, and occasionally, psychiatrists. Their wrists are rigid, their “s’s” well formed; they prefer subdued clothes and close-cropped hair, and these days may dress more conservatively than flamboyant straights. Many wear wedding rings and have wives, children and employers who never know. … To lead their double lives these full or part-time homosexuals must “pass” as straight, and most are extremely skilled at camouflage. They can cynically tell —- or at least smile at — jokes about “queers”; they fake enjoyment when their boss throws a stag party with nude movies.
Members of this group are likely to haunt public toilets (“tearooms”) or Turkish baths. They may be pathologically driven to sex but emotionally unable to face the slightest strains of sustaining a serious human relationship, or they may be married men who hope to conceal their need by making their contacts as anonymous as possible.
By contrast, they lead relatively conventional lives. They have a regular circle of friends and hold jobs … Their social lives generally begin at the gay bars or in rounds of private parties. Often they try to settle down with a regular lover, and although these liaisons are generally short-lived among men, some develop into so-called “gay marriages.” …
Many married homosexuals are merely engaging in “alibi sex,” faking enjoyment of intercourse with their wives. Some researchers, however, have found a number of men and women who have a definite preference for their own sex but engage in occasional activity with the opposite sex and enjoy it.
He is a man who engages in homosexual acts without any deep homosexual motivation. The two Kinsey reports found that almost 40% of white American males and 13% of females have some overt sexual experience to orgasm with a person of their own sex between adolescence and old age. Yet a careful analysis of the figures shows that most of these experiences are only temporary deviations. In prisons and occasionally in the armed forces, for example, no women are available.
But for all of Time’s attempts to paint a comprehensive overview of this “newly understood” minority, Time betrayed an abysmal lack of actual understanding. “The homosexual subculture, a semi-public world, is, without question, shallow and unstable,” it concluded, before devoting several more paragraphs to conjectures of what causes homosexuality. Virtually of the “experts” that Time consulted on cited early childhood experiences as the cause. It also concludes with the verdict that homosexuality is, at the very best, a “crippling maladjustment”:
A violently argued issue these days is whether the confirmed homosexual is mentally ill. Psychoanalysts insist that homosexuality is a form of sickness; most homosexuals and many experts counter that the medical concept only removes the already fading stigma of sin, and replaces it with the charge —- even more pejorative nowadays —- that homosexuality is pathological. The answers will importantly influence society’s underlying attitude. While homosexuality is a serious and sometimes crippling maladjustment, research has made clear that it is no longer necessary or morally justifiable to treat all inverts as outcasts. The challenge to American society is simultaneously to devise civilized ways of discouraging the condition and to alleviate the anguish of those who cannot be helped, or do not wish to be.
Time’s article is available to subscribers here.
Gay Advocates Protest San Francisco Examiner: 1969. This was the year when gay activists across the U.S. were declaring that a new day had come and they would no longer remain silent over outrages against the gay community. In San Francisco, the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner had long been a bitter foe of the gay community. Over several weeks in October, 1969, the paper had run a series of article’s about the city’s so-called “breakfast clubs,” after-hour underground clubs that sold low-grade liquor without a license. Most of those articles targeted straight clubs, but an October 24 installment in the series called attention to “The Dreary Revels of S.F. ‘Gay’ Clubs,” which describe the city’s “deviant establishments”:
San Francisco has more than a fare share of “gay” breakfast clubs. The “gay” clubs are gay in name only. Actually, the are sad, dreary after-hours traps here homosexuals and weird “straight” types gather for their sick, sad revels. … Take the Corral at 1535 Folsom Street. … Here the virile, ultra-male is wined and dined and wooed by other semi-males with flexible wrists and hips, and bona fide females have a strictly zero rating. The bar and outlying tables are occupied by types who undulate and wriggle, whose voices are an octave higher or lower than they should be, and whose manual contacts with their associates are lingering and tender.
Folsom street became “Queer street,” and the article was particularly obsessed with drag queens and cross-dressers. They were “drag-darlings,” “the pseudo-fair sex,” “hybrid blossoms,” and “counterfeit femininity.”
One week later, sixty members of the newly-formed Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the long-standing Society for Individual Rights (SIR) began a peaceful picket at the Hearst Building demanding, among other things, that the paper fire reporter Robert Patterson. About an hour into the protest, someone inside the building opened a third floor window and dumped a bag of purple printer’s ink onto the protesters below. In response, the protesters began blotting the windows and sides of the building with purple handprints, and someone smeared the words “Gay Power!” on the white wall, in what then became known as “The Friday of the Purple Hand.” SIR president Larry Littlejohn later recalled:
At that point, the tactical squad arrived — not to get the employees who dumped the ink, but to arrest the demonstrators who were the victims. The police could have surrounded the Examiner building and found out who did it but, no, they went after the gays. It was just incredible how stupid the police could be. Somebody could have been hurt if that ink had gotten in their eyes, but the police came racing in with their clubs swinging, knocking people to the ground. It was unbelievable.
The pitched battle quickly became bloody. Two officers threw a lesbian into the asphalt and then arrested her for obstructing traffic. Many others were knocked against the curb and suffered head wounds. Another lost his teeth when he was thrown into the paddy wagon. Twenty-one protesters were arrested; no one from The Examiner was charged. The next day a group of 25 gay activists staged a sit in in Mayor Joseph Alioto’s office in City Hall, demanding that all charges be dropped against those who had been arrested the day before. Three of them were arrested for refusing to leave the office at closing time.
[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 92-94.
"Protesting Homosexuals Seize City Hall in S.F." The Washington Post (November 1, 1969): A2.]
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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, October 30
October 30th, 2013
Hawaii Senate To Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Honolulu, HI. There’s been a lot of activity in the Hawaii Legislature’s special session which convened this week to take up the marriage equality bill. After a grueling twelve-hour hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on Monday in which more than 400 people address the lawmakers, the committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote. The bill now goes goes to the full Senate, which will debate and vote on it today beginning at 11:30 a.m.
If the bill passes the Senate, it then goes on to the House Judiciary and Finance Committees for a hearing tomorrow morning. Already, there is some infighting breaking out in the House’s tiny Republican caucus. (Democrats enjoy a 44-7 majority in the House.) Rep. Bob McDermott introduced a resolution to oust Rep. Cynthia Thielen from the Judiciary committee. Rep. Thielen just happens to be the only Republican who supports marriage equality. To further the retaliation, McDermott also wanted Thielen removed as vice Chair of the House’s Energy and Environmental Committee and Rep. Aaron Johanson replaced by Rep. Gene Ward as House Minority Leader. Rep. Theilen responded that she had been a Republican since the 1950s. “I support marriage equality. I may be the only Republican in the House Minority Party who does, but I’m not the sole Republican in our community,” she said, as she vowed to “fight to return Republicans to the mainstream.” The resolution failed.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Treatment of Homosexuality by Aversion Therapy: 1966. Doctors had been using painful jolts of electricity to try to torture homosexuality out of people since 1935 (see Mar 11 and Sep 6), and so the report that appeared in the October 1966 edition of Medicine, Science and the Law (remember, homosexuality was still against the law in most states, Canada and the UK) is depressingly similar to so many other cases that have been published in the medical literature. In this report, “The Treatment of Homosexuality by Aversion Therapy,” Dr. Northage Mather, a consultant psychiatrist at Crumpsall Hospital in Manchester, England, described “a particular technique in behaviour therapy for homosexuality, developed over the past three and a half years”:
The patient, to whom the treatment is carefully explained, is then shown a large series of slides and a number of films of both males and females, clothed and unclothed, from which he selects a number of both sexes in varying degrees of attractiveness to him. Each patient thus draws up his own particular hierarchies for both sexes. He then lies on a bed in a darkened room, watching a screen upon which these slides are thrown. The slide first used is that of a male which is only mildly attractive, and the patient has in his hand a switch by means of which he can remove the slide from the screen. If after eight seconds he has not removed it, he receives an electric shock which has previously been determined as unpleasant to himself. The shock continues until he presses the switch. During the eight seconds anxiety and tension are created and relief is obtained by an active movement on his part. Once the patient is regularly performing avoidance responses to a male slide in this way he is placed on a schedule of reinforcement so that one-third of his attempts to avoid are successful (reinforced), one-third are delayed for varying intervals of time (delayed), and onethird are held up for so long that he does receive a shock (non-reinforced). These three types of trial are randomly alternated. The purpose of this schedule is to reduce the likelibood of relapse.
In an endeavour to make females less unattractive, especially as many homosexuals also experience anxiety with females, or with the thought of sexual contact with females, relief from anxiety is associated with the immediate presentation of a picture of the female as soon as the patient himself removes the male slide by means of the switch. In two-fifths of the trials the pressing of the switch therefore by the patient not only removes the male slide but replaces it with the female slide which is the most attractive one in the hierarchy which he has previously drawn up. The female slide is removed by the therapist after approximately ten seconds, and before the request of the patient, so that eventually the patient is motivated to request the return of the female slide. This is granted in a random manner to prevent the patient predicting the consequences of removing the male slide.
Each treatment session lasts about twenty minutes, twenty-five presentations being given. Inpatients receive two sessions of trealment per day, outpatients according to patients’ own convenience.
Of the thirty-six subjects in these experiments, fourteen were directly or indirectly referred by a court, and six more were patients at the psychiatric hospital. Only sixteen appeared to be there of their own accord. Eight more beyond the thirty-six had dropped out. One of the dropouts was “of hysterical personality (and) was so frightened of the treatment that he only attended twice.” Another insisted that he receive electric shock therapy under an anesthetic, which of course would have negated the aversive effects of the treatment. Mather attributed three other dropouts to their “gross personality disorders with histories of antisocial and psychopathic behaviour.” What that is supposed to mean is unclear, particularly considering that Mather described homosexuality as “giv(ing) rise to a considerable amount of individual suffering, as well as being responsible for many anti-social acts such as larceny, blackmail, robbery with violence and murder.”
And in Mather’s view, if someone was homosexual, then it was obvious that there was something wrong with them. Of each of the patients he evaluated, he was determined to find some kind of problem, even if it was an undefined “self-insecure obsessional personality trait.” Being sent to a shock doctor at a psych ward can have that effect on people.
The treatments continued until the patient managed to show “a change of interest occurs or it becomes clear that no change is likely.” That usually happened after about fifteen to twenty “treatments,” although some were subjected for up to thirty. If a patient was found to have slipped up during a years’ worth of follow-ups, more “booster” treatments were administered. It’s no surprise then that Mather reported that twenty-five showed some “improvement.” The extent of that change however is hard to judge, given the skimpy details he provided, almost all of which were self-reports from patients who were being subjected to torture. “Honest, Doc, I love women now!”, you can easily imagine the conversation going. As for the eleven who stubbornly refused to “improve,” well, it wasn’t the doctor’s fault. They were the ones with “weak-willed personality disorders” or “hysterical or attention-seeking personality disorders.” Naturally.
Mather would go on to become a well-respected leader in Britain’s psychiatric profession. In 1981, he was elected president of the Manchester Medical Society. His 2003 obituary in the British Medical Journal states that during his thirty years at Crumpsall Hospital (now North Manchester General Hospital), he had “(built) up a well known department.” He also was involved in criminal investigations and prosecutions, and served on the parole board.
By the way, forty-three years later, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) cited this very study among a host of other obsolete aversion therapy studies to claim that people can change their sexual orientation.
[Source: Northage John de Ville Mather. "The treatment of homosexuality by aversion therapy." Medicine, Science and the Law 6, no. 4 (October 1966): 200-205.]
160 YEARS AGO: Louise Abbéma: 1853-1927. Most accounts have her birth date as 1858, but this registry from her home town of Etampes, France suggests that she shaved five years off of her age. Her aristocratic background gave her access to a fine education in art, which she began while still in her early teens. On 1873, she went to Paris to study with the painters Charles Chaplin and Carolus-Duran. In 1875, she painted a portrait of actress Sarah Bernhardt, which was an immediate success when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon des Artistes Français. Abbéma’s painting became Bernhardt’s official portrait, and they remained lifelong friends and possibly lovers. In 1878, Abbéma made a bronze medallion of Bernhardt, and Bernardt, who dabbled in sculpture, returned the favor with a marble bust of Abbéma.
Abbéma’s specialty was in oil and watercolor impressionism, and she exhibited regularly at the Salon through 1926. She also exhibited in the Women’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Her large decorative panels and murals graced the Paris Town Hall, the Paris Opera House, and, naturally, Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt. The French National Horticultural Society also boasts some of her large panels, which is fitting given that flowers figure prominently in many of Abbéma’s paintings. Abbéma was also an accomplished writer for the journals Gazette des Beaux-Arts and L’Art. In 1900, she was awarded a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and she was named an “Official Painter of the Third Republic.” In 1906, Abbéma was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Légion d’honneur. She died in Paris in 1927.
Néstor Almendros: 1930-1992. Born in Barcelona, Almendros followed his anti-Franco father to Cuba in 1958. After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Almendros signed on to make several documentarise for the Castro regine, but he quickly became disillusioned with when Castro openly embraced communism and Almendros found two of his independent films, Gente en La Playa and La Tumba Francesa, banned. Almendros moved to France, where he made a dozen documentaries for French television between 1965 and 1967. In 1966, he was made director of photography for La Collectionneuse, which was the first of more than fifty films. In 1977, he won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festicval for his photography for La Marquise d’O (The Marquis of O).
By the mid-seventies, Almendros began working as director of photography for several Hollywood films. Credits include Days of Heaven (1976, for which he won an Oscar), Kramer vs. Kramer (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1979), Sophie’s Choice (1982) and Places in the Heart (1984). Almendros’s signature style was characterized by his careful use of natural daylight and his commitment to using as little studio lighting as possible. In 1984, he returned to his roots in documentary filmmaking with two films which portrayed human rights abuses in Cuba. Mauvaise Conduite (Improper Conduct) featured filmed interviews with twenty-eight Cuban exiles who had been interred in forced-labor concentration camps for their homosexuality, political dissidence or for being Jehovah’s Witnesses. A second documentary, Nadie Escuchaba (Nobody Listened) delved further into the arrests, imprisonment and torture of several of Fidel Castro’s former comrades. Almendros died at the age of 61 of AIDS-related lymphoma.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 29
October 29th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Carl DeLong, Jr., Murdered in Tampa: 1956. A Hillsborough County Florida sheriff’s deputy found Carl DeLong, Jr., unconscious on the side of a street, his feet hanging over the curb. The sheriff found no money or wallet, but inside DeLong’s jacket was a registration for a brand new 1957 Ford, giving his name and his St. Petersburg address. DeLong was rushed to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness. He died three weeks later, on November 20, at the VA hospital in St. Petersburg.
DeLong had already had a very difficult life in his short, twenty-six years. His mother was violent and mentally unstable, while his father tried to keep the peace in the family. When Carl was fourteen, his parents divorced and Carl stayed with his mother. Because of her constant moving around, Carl attended more than a dozen different schools that year before finally dropping out. He went to live with his father in Connecticut the following year where life became more stable. The fastidious, quiet young man kept to himself, which made him “soft” in the eyes of some of his relatives. Just before turning twenty-two, Carl enlisted in the army to “make a man of him.” A year and a half in, the army discovered his homosexuality and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse: an honorable discharge in exchange for a stint in a mental hospital. He accepted, and was sent to the St. Lawrence State Hospital in Ogdensburg, N.Y. But instead of telling his family the real reason he was there, he told them that he had molested a teenage girl — because that carried less stigma and shame than being a homosexual.
After being discharged from the hospital in 1954, DeLong moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and started a new life. Things were looking up for him. Over the next two years, he got a job, bought a new car, and made friends, many of them he met at the local gay bars in Tampa. He was last seen at the Knotty Pine Bar in the early morning hours of October 29. He stayed until closing time, then went across the street to the bus station. That was the last time anyone saw him until after the assault.
Sheriffs deputies had a strong suspect. The following January, they arrested Ronald Craft, 17, for the armed robbery of another gay man. Craft told deputies that he and another friend, Jimmy Milcher, had been “rolling and beating queers” for some time and that “Jimmy [said] he had hurt one queer real band and he had gone to the hospital.” The bus station was one of their favorite spots to find queers. As one detective wrote later for another case, “Most of these robberies are not reported because the ‘homo’ would rather lose the money than call attention to his own proclivities.” Police were unable to tie the two to DeLong’s death, but a judge sentenced them and three other young men to three years in prison for the other robberies.
DeLong’s case has remained officially unsolved, despite being re-opened in 1960, 1989, and 2005. It is still listed as an active case on the Sheriff’s office web site, where it’s the oldest unsolved homocide listed. DeLong’s case also left a legacy on the Tampa Bay gay community. Elected officials cited DeLong’s death as justification for giving police unchecked powers to raid gay bars, harass gay customers, and root out suspected “homosexual rings” by pressuring gays and lesbians to name names in order to avoid finding themselves in jail (see, for example, Jun 3).
[Source: Mike Wells. “Following the Coldest Trail.” The Tampa Tribune (January 15, 2006): 1.]
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
The Daily Agenda for Monday, October 28
October 28th, 2013
Hawaii Legislature Begins Special Session for Marriage Equality: Honolulu, HI. The entire marriage equality march began in the Aloha state twenty years ago, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that it was discriminatory to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The ruling prompted an immediate conservative backlash, which resulted in the Defense of Marriage Act becoming law in 1996. The Hawaii legislature responded by enacting a law banning, contrary to the Supreme Court ruling, banning same-sex marriage in 1994, and in 1998 Hawaii voters covered for the legislature by approving a constitutional amendment that took jurisdiction away from the courts and put that power solely in the hands of the legislature and the governor.
And so today, the question is now back before the legislature once again. All of the usual anti-gay forces are on hand to voice their displeasure, including Mark Regnerus, and the National Organization for Marriage — which donned Hawaiian shirts and played ukeleles in a totally not pandering video touting “our local culture.” In 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) signed a civil unions bill into law after his predecessor, Gov. Linda Lingle (R) vetoed it in 2010. But with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act making civil unions no longer an approximation to marriage, Gov. Abercrombie is pushing hard to get the marriage equality bill passed. “I think Hawaii has always celebrated its sense of Aloha for one another,” he told Reuters. “This is a question of equity.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the marriage equality bill begins at 10:30 A.M. in the State Capitol Auditorium. That should lead to a vote before the full Senate on Wednesday. The House Judiciary Committee and House Finance Committee are expected hold hearings later this week, setting up a possible vote in the House next Monday. You can track the bill’s progress here. Meanwhile, a lawsuit, Jackson v. Abercrombie, is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in case the legislative effort falls short.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Veterans Administration Strengthens Ban on Benefits for Gay Veterans: 1954. Since 1943, the U.S. Military, rather than sending all of the gays and lesbians it found through courts-marshal, decided to streamline the process by letting them go with an administrative “blue” discharge — neither honorable nor dishonorable. The discharges, named for the color of paper they were originally printed on, occupied something of a middle ground as “undesirable.”
With the millions of veterans with honorable discharges in their hip pockets, the distinction between having an undesirable and a dishonorable discharge was meaningless to prospective employers. But for the Veterans Administration, the distinction still had a difference, albeit a tiny one. Anyone with a dishonorable discharge was ineligible for VA benefits. In 1946, the VA added restrictions to benefits for two classes of blue discharge holders: those who accepted an undesirable discharge to avoid a trial by court-marshal, and
(d) An undesirable or blue discharge issued because of homosexual acts or tendencies generally will be considered as under dishonorable conditions and a bar to entitlement under Public No. 2, 73d Congress, as amended, and Public No. 346, 78th Congress. However, the facts in a particular case may warrant a different conclusion, in which event the case should be submitted to central office for the attention and consideration of the director of the service concerned.
In other words, beginning in 1946, gays and lesbians would be automatically barred from receiving VA benefits, but there was an appeals process. Over the next nine years, minor changes were made to that appeals process. Finally on October 28, 1955, the VA promulgated another rule change, eliminating the last sentence of Section (d), and with it, all possibility of appeal.
[Source: Mackinneth Fingal. "Uncle Sam Keeps Hacking Away the Rights and Benefits of the Homosexual Veteran." Mattachine Review 1, no. 4 (July 1955): 29-31.]
Francis Bacon: 1909-1992. He was born in Dublin to English parents while Ireland was still under British rule. He later pointed to violence of the Irish Civil War in 1922-23 as one of his artistic influences. His other great influence was his sexuality, which he refused to hide ever since his family ejected him from their home in 1927 for sleeping with his father’s horse grooms. Violence and sex, love and hate, and anguish — all were featured, often coexisting, in his paintings. His debut came his 1933 painting Crucifixion, which he said he finished “in about a fortnight when I was in a bad mood of drinking.” The English art world was taken aback, but his success appeared secured. But other exhibits the following year were met with bad reviews and little attention. He destroyed his canvases and quit painting for the next eleven years as dark storm clouds gathered across Europe.
In 1943, Bacon returned to the art world with his startling Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, a triptych which, according to one reviewer, contained “images so unrelievedly awful that the mind snaps shut.” His Head series captured what he called “figures in moments of crisis, with acute awareness of their mortality …(and) of their animal nature.” Head VI was a re-working of Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, in which all that remains of the pontiff’s head is a howling mouth. Five years later, Bacon returned to that same painting with Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, in which the howling pope is seated on his thrown in a decidedly hellish setting. But horror and violence weren’t his only subjects. One of Bacon’s solo exhibitions in New York featured Two Figures, which depicted two naked men wrestling on a bed (or, perhaps, depending on how you saw it, one man raping another).
Bacon’s personal life was as messy as his paintings. He was given morphine as a child for his asthma. When he was sixteen, his father had him horsewhipped by the stable hands when the younger Bacon was caught wearing his mother’s underwear. Banished from home, Bacon lived in London on a £3 a week allowance, taking advantage of rich men. A relative took him to Berlin to “make a man of him” — during the height of the Weimar Republic. You can imagine how that went. Two months later, Bacon went to Paris and spent the next year and a half there before returning to London where he would ultimately launch his art career.
In 1952, after a lifetime of rent boys and society types, Bacon entered his first long-term relationship with a former RAF pilot, Peter Lacy, who often beat him and destroyed his paintings in drunken ranges. They loved each other, beat each other, and experimented with S&M. “Being in love in that extreme way,” Bacon said, “being totally obsessed by someone, is like having some dreadful disease. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.” Lacy died on the day before Bacon’s first retrospective in 1962, probably the result of too much drinking.
Two years later, Bacon met the extraordinarily handsome George Dyer when Dyer broke into Bacon’s apartment. Dyer was another raging alcoholic, but their rocky relationship lasted seven years until 1971, when Dyer overdosed and killed himself the day before Bacon’s retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris. Dyer’s death came just as Bacon was being proclaimed Britain’s “greatest living painter,” but Bacon told friends that “daemons, disaster and loss” were his only companions. Bacon was offered a knighthood and the Order of Merit, but he refused them both. He died in Madrid in 1992 of cardiac arrest after his chronic asthma turned into a respiratory infection.
Frank Ocean: 1987. Christopher “Lonny” Breaux was born in Long Beach but grew up in New Orleans, where he listened to local jazz music and his mom’s Celine Dion and Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack CDs. After Hurricane Katrina hit, Lonny moved to L.A., and became a songwriter for Justin Bieber, Brandy and others while working on his debut solo album for Def Jam records. But when his album remained unreleased, Lonny changed his name to Frank Ocean, joined the alt-hip hop collective Odd Future, and rediscovered his DIY drive. He released his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra as a free download — unknown to Def Jam — on his Tumblr, and the buzz quickly began to spread throughout the music industry with Diddy, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Beyonce singing his praises. Critics compared Nostalgia, Ultra with Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear and Prince’s ballads. Rolling Stone’s Jonah Weiner called him a “gifted avant-R&B smoothie.”
On July 4, 2012, Ocean issued his declaration of independence when he posted on his Tumblr that his first love, at the age of nineteen, was with another young man of the same age. As Ocean explained to The Guardian: “I was thinking of how I wished at 13 or 14 there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that, who would have been transparent in that way. But there’s another side of it that’s just about my own sanity and my ability to feel like I’m living a life where I’m not just successful on paper, but sure that I’m happy when I wake up in the morning, and not with this freakin’ boulder on my chest.”
Tyler the Creator, another member of Odd Future, took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow artist, which was significant because Tyler debut album had him repeating the word “faggot” and other anti-gay epithets 213 times. Hip hop impresario Russell Simmons’s support for Ocean was effusive: “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? … Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”
On July 10, 2012, Ocean’s studio-released album Channel Orange debuted on iTunes for download and was streamed for free from his blog before becoming available as a CD a week later. Channel Orange was greeted with nearly universal critical acclaim and six Grammy nominations, winning two: for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “No Church in the Wild” with Kanye West and Jay-Z. Ocean is currently working on his second studio album.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
The Daily Agenda for Sunday, October 27
October 27th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Activists Protest Harper’s Magazine: 1970. The cover of Harper’s September 1970 issue was just the beginning: a closeup side view of a male chest, dressed in an unusually feminine fabric but with the shoulder pulled back to reveal a highly developed and flexed arm. Across the triceps, the magazine featured the title of only one article, Joseph Epstein’s “Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity,” an incredibly homophobic tour-de-force in which the author details every encounter he has ever had with a gay man, every encounter he has ever imagined having with a gay man, and every encounter that people he knew who had contact with gay men. And every one of them are predatory, sex-obsessed, and a flagrant affront to a civilized society, exemplifying the ethos to “smoke it, swallow it, eat it, wallow in it, screw it, kick it, stomp it to death, and never mind what ‘it’ is.” After exhausting eleven pages to air his disgust, he concludes in his final paragraph:
They are different from the rest of us. Homosexuals are different, moreover, in a way that cuts deeper than other kinds of human differences — religious, class, racial — in a way that is, somehow, more fundamental. Cursed without clear cause, afflicted without apparent cure, they are an affront to our rationality, living evidence of our despair of ever finding a sensible, an explainable, design to the world. One can tolerate homosexuality, a small enough price to be asked to pay for someone else’s pain, but accepting it, really accepting it, is another thing altogether. I find I can accept it least of all when I look at my children. There is much my four sons can do in their lives that might cause me anguish, that might outrage me, that might make me ashamed of them and of myself as their father. But nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual. For then I should know them condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men, their lives, whatever adjustment they might make to their condition, to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth.
The screed caused an uproar throughout New York’s gay community, which had been organizing over the previous year to confront a number of daily insults to the community since the Stonewall rebellion the year before. The Gay Activist Alliance formed in December 1969 by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front who disagreed with the GLF’s disorganized decision-making process and its distractions with other non-gay political causes. Members of GAA sent a letter to Harper’s Editor in Chief Willie Morris to demand that the magazine publish a another article, comparable in length, to provide a counterweight to Epstein’s diatribe. Morris claimed to be open to the idea, but he kept rejecting each draft that was submitted.
After several weeks with no resolution in sight, the GAA had enough. Forty GAA activists — including Vito Russo, Morty Manford, Jim Owles, Arnie Kantrowitz, David Ehrenstein and GAA’s president Arthur Evan– met at 9:00 a.m. on October 27, and quietly made their way into Harper’s eighteenth floor offices, with a film crew from WOR, which the GAA had notified ahead of time, following them in. As GAA’s Peter Fisher explained, “We were very aware that if we could make something visually amusing or find some way to get the press in on it — preferably TV — that was what we had to do. One of the main thrusts was to show ourselves as individual human beings — the man or the woman next door or a coworker.” Toward that end, the group commandeered a table in the reception area and set up coffee and donuts, while others went into the office areas and scattered leaflets on the desks. As employees arrived, GAA members offered them refreshments and a greeting — and all the while, cameras were rolling.
But all decorum evaporated when, as the cameras kept rolling, Evans confronted Midge Dector, the editor of the Epstein article, and unleashed a tirade: “You know that the article would contribute to the suffering of homosexuals! You knew that! And if you didn’t know that, you’re inexcusably naive and should not be an editor. If you knew that those contribute to the oppression of homosexuals, then damn you for publishing it, and we have a right to come in here and hold you politically and morally responsible for doing that. You’re a bigot, and you are to be held responsible for that moral and political act!”
Dector denied that the article reinforced anti-gay prejudice. A decade later, she would write her own virulent anti-gay screed, “The Boys on the Beach,” for Commentary, Norman Podhoretz’s magazine (who also just happened to be her husband). The only regret that she expressed about her encounter over Epstein’s “elegant and thoughtful essay” was that the protesters lacked the “dash and high taste” she had come to expect from summers she spent earlier that decade in the Pines.
Harper’s, too, remained unrepentant. Publisher William S. Blair, in trying to both defend and distance Harper’s from Epstein’s article, flatly refused the GAA’s demand that Harper’s publish a retraction or policy statement. Blair told The Advocate, “What I said was that we would be willing to write a letter to the GAA saying that we have disagreements about the wisdom of publishing that particular piece. I hope that they don’t think this happens because we, personally, are against the civil rights of homosexuals, or fail to recognize that they are treated harshly and should not be. …. It’s a statement signed by me making clad, I hope, that our decision to publish that article was not because we in any way want to denigrate homosexuals.” Even though it is one if my favorite magazines, to this day Harper’s has never addressed or expressed regret over Epstein’s article.
But the outcry over “Hetero/Homo” did have an important galvanizing effect. Merle Miller, an author and a former Harper’s managing editor, was having lunch with two New York Times editors when the topic turned to the Harper’s article. During the heated discussion, Miller said, “Look, goddamn it, I’m homosexual, and most of my best friends are Jewish homosexuals, and some of my friends are black homosexuals, and I’m sick and tired of reading and hearing such goddamn demeaning, degrading bullshit about me and my friends.” A few days later, one of those editors asked Miller if he would write an article for The New York Times Magazine, which operated almost as a separate publication from The Times (and was therefore under different editors from The Times’ notoriously homophobic editors). His groundbreaking essay, “What It Means To Be A Homosexual,” became the first article written by a self-acknowledged gay person to be published in a major mainstream publication (see Jan 17)
[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 103-109.
"GAA Zaps Harper's Magazine." The Advocate (Dec 8, 1970). As reprinted in Chris Bull's (ed) Witness to Revolution: The Advocate Reports on Gay and Lesbian Politics, 1967 - 1999 (Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 1999):32-33
Midge Decter. "Boys On the Beach." Chapter 93 in Larry Gross and James D. Woods (eds.) The Columbia Reader on Lesbians & Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999): 601-611.
Joseph Epstein. "Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity." Harper's Magazine (September 1970): 37ff.
Merle Miller. On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual (New York: Penguin Classics, 2012 reissue with foreword by Dan Savage and afterword by Charles Kaiser.) ]
Murder of Radioman Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen R. Schindler, Jr.: 1992. By the time his fellow sailors got done with him, the only identifiable feature left intact was a tattoo on his arm. While on shore leave in Sasebo, Japan, two drunken shipmates followed Schindler into a public restroom in a park. Airman Charles Vins watched — and occasionally joined in — as Airman Apprentice Terry Helvey kneed Schindler in the arm, punched him repeatedly on the floor, and stomped on him with the heel of his boot. The pathologist described Schindler’s body as the worst case he had ever seen, and compared the damage to that of a “high-speed auto accident or a low-speed aircraft accident.” He also said that it was worse than another case he had seen, that of a man who had been trampled to death by a horse. The pathologist’s report chronicled a litany of lacerations, contusions and abrasions of the forehead, eyes, noes, lips, chin, neck, Adam’s apple, trachea, lungs, liver (which was “like a smushed tomato”) and, tellingly, penis. All but two ribs were broken, and both his lungs and brain had hemorrhaged.
The Navy stonewalled the investigation. The murder occurred just as the pre-DADT debate was getting started over allowing gays to serve in the military. The Navy refused to confirm how Schindler died or whether a weapon was involved. At one point, a Navy senior officer leaked the story that Schindler’s murder was the result of a romance with Helvey gone bad. Meanwhile, Schindler’s mother, Dorothy Hajdys, was kept in the dark by Navy officials about what happened to her son or about the investigation. They even tried Vins without her knowledge and sentenced him to four months in the brig. All the information Dorothy received about her son’s case came from the press. “If one more reporter calls me with information before you do,” she told the Navy commander in charge of the case, “you haven’t even heard me scream!” Two months after the murder, Navy officials finally admitted that Schindler had been killed in a gay bashing.
The Navy denied that they had received any complaints of harassment. But as the investigation continued, it was slowly revealed that Schindler’s ship, the amphibious assault ship Belleau Wood, was a living nightmare for him. His locker had been glued shot and he was the brunt of frequent comments, like, “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die.” Schindler requested a separation from the Navy, but his superiors insisted he remain aboard ship until the process was finished. During Helvey’s trial , it was revealed that Helvey told one investigator that he had no remorse for the killing. “I don’t regret it. I’d do it again. … He deserved it.” Helvey avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to “inflicting great bodily harm,” and was sentenced to life in prison. The ship’s captain who had tried to keep the crime quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. And Dorothy, virtually overnight, became an outspoken advocate for hate crime protections and for gays being allowed to serve in the military.
Canada Federal Court Orders Gay Military Ban Lifted: 1992. Michelle Douglas joined Canada’s Armed Forces Military Police in 1986, and she was quickly prompted to Second Lieutenant and assigned to the Special Investigations Unit, complete with a Top Secret Security Clearance. With that clearance came increased scrutiny, and in 1989, she found herself under an investigation over her sexuality. After two days of interrogation, she told investigators she was a lesbian. She was then given an honorable discharge under administrative release item 5d: “Not Advantageously Employable Due to Homosexuality.”
Douglas filed a wrongful dismissal suit in Federal Court of Canada. On October 27, 1992, Lawyers for Douglas and the federal government met in the Toronto courtroom for a trial that was expected to last three weeks. But when they emerged from that courtroom minutes later, they did so with a ruling by Judge Andrew MacKay that found that the restrictions on gays in the military violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It turns out that the military had agreed to settle the case. Chief of Defense Staff Gen. John de Chastelain quickly announced, “The Canadian Forces will comply fully. Canadians, regardless of the sexual orientation, will now be able to serve their country in the Canadian Forces without restrictions.” Douglas was thrilled with the win. “This is not only a great day for me, but it’s a win for all gays and lesbians in Canada and in the Canadian Armed Forces. It’s something I fought for a long time. It’s been a long road, a difficult road at times, but I’m thrilled today.”
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 26
October 26th, 2013THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“One Wonders If This Perversion Is As Rare As It Appears”: 1884. George Savage was one of Britain’s most prominent nineteenth century psychiatrists, having become the chief medical officer at Bethlem Royal Hospital (Europe’s oldest asylum for the mentally ill, which gave us the word bedlam). He became chief of Bethlam in 1878, the same year that he cofounded the Journal of Mental Science. He also maintained a private practice, whose wealthy and notable clients included Virginia Woolf. In 1884, Savage wrote his major text, Insanity and Allied Neurosis which became an influential reference book for psychiatric students. That same year, Savage published a brief case description of a patient, perhaps one from his private practice, whose situation led Savage to wonder of the young man’s “perversion is as rare as it appears.”:
A young man, single, aged 28 ; father violent and excitable ; one brother odd, and another a drunken scapegrace.
The patient himself is of middle height, anæmic and emotional. He began his description of his state of mind by saying that he felt he must kill himself. He said he did not feel any real mental depression, but he felt so ashamed of his unnatural state that he wished he were dead, to prevent scandal to his family. He had been to hear many religious teachers, and, in fact, was sent by one of these to see me.
He had always been industrious and hard-working, and made a good living as a traveller for a foreign house. He had led a very solitary life, and had never indulged in worldly amusements.
He was proud of repeating that he was a professing Christian. He had but one pleasure, and that was in music, and of late he had given this up, as it took him into society, where he met other men. At eleven years of age he learnt to masturbate, and had continued the habit ever since.
He has never indulged in sexual congress. He says he has no desire or lust after women, and, though he will not be sure, he thinks he never did have any lust for women.
He told his employer of his feeling, and said that he felt that he must embrace him. This the master resented, and said if he “came any more of that stuff” he should discharge him.
He says in America he was fairly comfortable, because the men were only of moderate size and height; but that in England, where there are so many men over six feet, he is perfectly miserable. He says the sight of a fine man causes him to have an erection, and if he is forced to be in his society he has an emission.
He has no loss of memory, no tremulousness ; his senses appear to be normal in every respect, and his reasoning powers in no way affected.
I recommended him to follow his occupation with energy, to seek mixed society, to go to places of amusement in cities, and to pursue his musical tastes.
I have no further news of him.
I have met with only one other man, who was in a general hospital, who had similar symptoms, but he had malformation of his genetalia, and his sex was at least doubtful.
In one female patient, in Bethlem, there was powerful lust towards those of her own sex. She died, and an infantile uterus was discovered. One wonders if this perversion is as rare as it appears, when we meet with trials such as have been held in Ireland.
[Source: George Savage. "Case of sexual perversion in a man." Journal of Mental Science 30, 131 (October 1884): 390-391.]
Biography of “Loop-the-Loop”: 1917. A fascinating account of a “passive pederast” appeared in the October 1917 edition of the American Journal of Urology and Sexology. It’s fascinating not so much for what we can learn about the individual in question but for what it reveals about the man who examined the drag queen and street hustler. First off, terminology gets complicated here right off the bat. Even though the word homosexuality had made its way into the English language some ten years before, Dr. Robert W. Shufeldt consistently referred to this person, identified only as “J.W.,” as a “passive pederast,” which harkens back to a time when pederast was used interchangeable with what we know understand as homosexuality, instead of today’s usage of pederast to identify an older adult male who prefers post-adolescent males. Such finer points weren’t understood or acknowledged then. But even if they were, Shufeldt wasn’t the kind of person to trouble himself with finer points, as will be made plain shortly.
Shufeldt begins his description of J.W. this way:
Everything in his history appears to point to the fact that he is a typical example of contrary sexual instinct, with not a few things about him worthy of special record. He is a “fairy” from the slums of Brooklyn, N. Y., and known among his associates there, and in Potsdam, Pa., also in Philadelphia as “Loop-the-Loop.”
…At different times I have successfully photographed him — once on July 24, 1906, when I obtained a full-length figure (anterior); two of his genitals and posterium, and again on November 4, 1916, when I photographed him (full length) in female attire. At this time he was over twenty-three years of age; weighed 150 lbs., and had a height of 5 feet, 8 inches.
In form he is distinctly of the masculine type, being notably slender in build and erect in carriage. His features are seen to be coarse and of a criminal cast, while in both body and clothing he exhibited very marked uncleanliness. His dark brown hair, abundant and unkempt, showed that, when he did part it, the part was in the middle. Extremely nervous in temperament, his blue eyes appeared to be ever on the alert, while his somewhat thin, non-sensuous lips pointed rather to decision than to weakness, and with the features at rest he often had a way of keeping them parted, thus showing his wonderfully fine set of
teeth, free from the slightest blemish.
There’s a lot of theoretical assumptions packed into those paragraphs, particularly the last one, where Shufeldt confidently detects a “criminal cast.” This observation is a legacy of degeneracy theory, a kind of pseudo-science that gave rise to the eugenics and social hygiene movement at the turn of the twentieth century. Degeneracy theory was a kind of a theory of evolution in reverse (although, in fact, it predated Darwin’s theory by more than half a century). Degeneracy theory held that without the positive intervention of higher civilization, mankind was destined to “degenerate” into lower orders of existence with each succeeding generation — with each generation being a kind of a bad copy of a copy, if you will. All sorts of things — intelligence, criminality, morality, educational attainment, just to name a few examples — were believed to be both hereditary and also capable to leaving a hereditary mark on future generations. A ne’er-do-well from a well-bred family was destined to pass his criminality on to his progeny along with his blue eyes and blond hair.
Furthermore, with criminality was now in his genes, this “degeneracy” was also bound to reveal itself in physical traits, what degeneracy theorists called “the stigmata of degeneration.” And it’s here where degeneracy theory became intrinsically intertwined with racism: the pronounced brow and wide noses common among several groups of African were taken as evidence of a more primitive, “atavistic” state. The particular shape of Asians’ eyes were stigmata of their particular brand of degeneracy, as were the hirsute bodies and hooked noses of the Mohammedans. You get the picture. Shufeldt himself shared those prejudices in abundance, having published America’s Greatest Problem: The Negro just two years before this paper. With degeneracy theory, homophobia and racism both rose from the same swamp and their stench was masked with the same pseudo-scientific perfume.
And thanks to degeneracy theory, doctors, psychiatrists and criminologists were constantly on the lookout for physical traits that might serve as markers for moral deficiencies. And so we see Shufeldt fulfilling his duty be detailing “Loop-the-Loop’s” physical traits: height, weight, genitals, the part of his hair, his “ever on the alert” blue eyes, and “thin non-sensuous lips.” And of course, topping it all off, J.W. hailed from the slums of Brooklyn, and everyone with even a passing knowledge of degeneracy would have understood what that meant. Shufeldt continued his search for more possible stigmata:
Oval in outline, his face possesses a certain unattractive hardness, inclined to repel the one looking at it, lacking as it does every expression indicative of truth, refinement, or good moral purpose. His limbs are straight and slender; his hands are inclined to be large, while his feet are slender and elongated, especially all the toes. It would be difficult to say when they were washed last, and they possess a sickening odor of foul perspiration. When he came to remove his clothing, in order to be photographed for the first time in my study, he appeared extremely nervous and agitated. He invited my attention to the fine development of his breasts, whereas there was not the slightest evidence of gynecomasty — a point rather in his favor, for it is in evidence sometimes in criminals. …Without especial examination I noted that his genitals were very well developed, the penis being covered by the prepuce; the testes of good size and the hair on the pubis abundant. There is no question in my mind but that the subject is perfectly virile, though he stoutly denied that he had ever had congress with a woman, having a powerful aversion for anything of the kind, while not lacking the power to accomplish it.
Shufeldt was particularly interested in Loop-the-loop’s feminine presentation, and J.W. appears to have been game to provide Shufeldt with more than he bargained for. According to Shufeldt, J.W. “claimed to have his menses regularly every month. … In July he admitted that he had never been pregnant; while in November, when he brought with him one of his numerous ‘husbands’ or lovers, he claimed that he had been pregnant a few years previously, and that he been operated on in hospital and the conception removed ‘through his side.’” It’s hard to know how much of this J.W. really believed or whether he was putting Shufeldt on.
Conversely, it’s hard to know how much of this was the product of Shufeldt’s imagination. In addition to being a thorough racist, Shufeldt had already demonstrated an appalling capacity to publish unadulterated garbage in the guise of science. While divorcing his second wife, the granddaughter of John James Audubon, Shufeldt published an article, ”On Female Impotency,” which included a photo of nude, supposedly mixed-race woman but who was probably his wife as part of a blackmail scheme. That got him fired from the Smithsonian Institution. So it’s important to take what Shufeldt wrote here with that in mind. Shufeldt, perhaps seeing J.W.’s story too hard to take, offered this out: he wrote that during one visit, J.W.’s lover came along and “laughed at the story, and stated that my subject, though ‘honest in other respects, was a most outrageous liar.’ I am convinced that this mendacity is due to his delusions; while on the other hand I found him to be one of the most skillful pickpockets that had ever come under my observation, and that is admitting a good deal.”
The examinations continued:
I further satisfied myself on that occasion, among other things, that he was not impotent; that his nipples did not become erect upon frictional excitation; that he knew of no other sexual perverts in his family, and that, while he could sing soprano well, he could not whistle, and he threw a stone like a girl.
That J.W. couldn’t whistle was also deemed important. As far back as the mid 1800s, it was believed that gay men couldn’t whistle (see Nov 9) J.W. was just one more data point to confirm that belief. Shufeldt then portrayed J.W.’s everyday life:
Quick and active in his motions, he did not, as he moved about indoors and out, give one the impression that there was anything in his demeanor simulating femininity, nor did his behavior in any way betray the remarkable manner in which his sexual life was being lived. He scoffed at religion of every kind, and remarked that he believed if he ever entered a church “the blooming thing would fall down.” From the very little schooling he had enjoyed in his lifetime, he is able to read his own language to only a moderate extent; his ability to write it being far worse. Still, apart from his extremely meagre education, he is no fool or dullard in other particulars. He is keen with respect to all the happenings in his own peculiar and lowly environment, and nothing in ordinary human nature seems to escape him. In gait and attire on the street, he gives one the impression of being an energetic, though rather poorly-clad young man, and he would not attract special attention. His manners are, however, very uncouth, and utterly lacking in anything at all approaching even commonplace breeding, and it would seem that his trade is plied chiefly for the money there is in it. According to his own statement, he claims he has never been arrested or otherwise interfered with by the police — something I am very much inclined to doubt. Nevertheless he was willing to prove it by my accompanying him some evening up and down the low streets and alleys he usually haunts. “Fifty cents or a dollar will buy off any cop,” he said, “and that from dark to daylight. We all do it.”
Finally, Shufeldt described J.W.’s last visit, which, whatever the veracity of his rendition of the visit, at least resulted in Shufeldt’s prize photo:
Few writers in the field of psychiatry have enjoyed what I had next the opportunity to observe in the life incidents of this subject: the putting on of female attire by a contrary sexed male. This, it is stated above, took place on the 4th of November, 1906, when J. W. came to my study to have his photograph taken, which he did at my request and with the confidence I had inspired in him, he seemed to fear neither a plot to capture, police, nor danger from detectives. …
As though it had suddenly occurred to him what he was there for, he hastily sat down on a convenient lounge and began, in a flustered sort of manner, to open his suit-case, having previously removed all his clothing and his cap, excepting his underwear. Remarkable indeed was the female attire he produced from the case, and no less extraordinary the spectacle he presented while engaged in taking it out. His hands trembled; a low, passionate look came into his eyes; an extremely sensuous expression crept over his features, and his body gave forth a decidedly disagreeable odor which was by no means mitigated through his not having bathed for some time. So oppressive did this become that I was obliged to raise a window.
“What do you think of that hat, isn’t it a dandy? I trimmed it myself.” In reality it was a miserably dirty affair, made of some thin material, with a wreath of some cheap, gaudy, red flowers fastened to its under side. At the same time I admired it, as it was not difficult for me to recognize the fact that he was, without the slightest doubt, thoroughly in earnest in all he said and did, and by no means was he playing a part.
Next followed three rather short, decidedly soiled, white muslin petticoats, each trimmed with a cheap, embroidered flounce of eyelet-work. These he at once put on, covering them with a waist and skirt, composed of some thin material, bright scarlet in color, and trimmed here and there with black, spangled net. At this stage his appearance was something painfully unique, and it was not much improved upon when he drew over his hairy legs and filthy feet a pair of unmended, open-work, tan-colored stockings, slipping on a pair of very far gone low shoes, with rather high heels.
“Dear me,” he said, “I’ve forgotten my earrings; but you won’t mind that?” Upon my assuring him that I liked young girls better without them, he seemed relieved and proceeded to fit to his head a fearful blond wig, made in two parts, the front piece rolling in pompadour fashion over a large “rat.” Into this he stuck a steel butterfly ornament, which on some occasion, he said, he fastened to the dirty standing collar he wore about his neck, or on the front of the equally soiled tulle gumpee which be carelessly put on between it and the waist to his dress. As he had recently shaved, his face was quite smooth, and in a twinkling he made it up with a by no means delicate pink powder, with red pomade for the lips.
While thus engaged he several times complained that the hair on his arms greatly annoyed him, but “most of the boys didn’t mind it.” What capped the climax, however, were his gloves, they being of the white cotton variety, coarse and thick, and very like those worn by the enlisted men in the army. They had not been in the wash for some time; and when he slipped on over them a cheap bracelet on each arm, the effect can better be imagined than described — more particularly as the gloves by no means reached high enough to cover his naked forearms, upon which, as already stated, grew a rather abundant growth of hair.
“Ha!” he said, “I feel more like myself now, and I am ready for the picture — what will you have, a pingpong?” I thought not; but I was not long in exposing a couple of negatives (8 x 10) on his own selected poses, the better one of these being here reproduced.
[Source: R.W. Shufeldt. "Biography of a passive pederast." American Journal of Urology and Sexology 13, no. 10 (October 1917): 451-460. Available online via Google Books here.]
60 YEARS AGO: Keith Strickland: 1953. The founding member of the B-52s started off as the group’s drummer, but switched to guitar after Ricky Wilson died in 1985. Strickland has also played keyboards and bass guitar on many B-52s recordings. He writes most of the music, while leaving the lyrics to the other band members. The band’s music has always had a fun, quirky factor, which Strickland says is the essence of what the B-52s are all about: “The underlying message of the B-52′s is, it’s okay to be different.” In December 2012, Strickland announced that “my barnstorming days have come to an end” and he would no longer tour, although he remains a member of the group. Strickland lives in Key West, Florida, with his partner.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
Croatia to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Ban
October 25th, 2013
Croatia officially joined the European Union on July 1 after a lengthy process which included, among many things, close scrutiny of Croatia’s human rights record. Croatia adopted a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in order to meet one of the conditions of EU membership. But now, a Croatian governmental commission has decided to take an opposite tack:
Croatia will hold a referendum on Dec. 1 to consider changes to the country’s constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, a parliamentary commission decided on Wednesday.
The commission voted 10-3 to hold a referendum on whether to constitutionally define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Croatia currently has minimal partnership protections in the form of “cohabitation agreements.”
J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed reports that if the proposal passes in December, the proposed constitutional amendment would then go back to Parliament for a final vote before becoming official. “In theory,” Feder writes, “the Croatian people could vote to ban same-sex marriage and the parliament could then veto their decision.”
News of the vote came as top human rights officials from the U.S. and Europe were gathering for a meeting of the International Gay and Lesbian Association’s (IGLA) European branch in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. Croatia’s foreign minister Vesna Pusić seems to have been caught off guard, telling the conference that “We have a lot of uphill struggles ahead of us, one pretty close ahead of us.”
The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 25
October 25th, 2013
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
120 YEARS AGO: An Organization of Colored Erotopaths: 1893. Charles H. Hughes, a St. Louis physician, former superintendent of Missouri’s State Lunatic Asylum in Fulton, and the respected founder and editor of the journal Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was a ninetheenth century term for psychiatrist), published a lengthy paper in the October 1893 issue titled “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism,” which he had presented to the Pan-American Medical Congress the month before. In that paper, he set out to distinguish various forms of sexuality and categorize them according to whether they were products of “the neuroses or the neuro-psychoses,” which he described as “resistless” or subject to “the resistible involvement of the will… simple moral vice, uninfluenced or unextenuated by neural disease, ” because “[t]he sexually insane must be differentiated from such of these perverts as are not damaged in mind to the degree of insanity; a difficult task, yet one now imperatively demanded of psychiatry.”
Some of those “perversions” did not yet have commonly known names, and so to describe homosexuality he needed to tie together several terms used by several other authors: “Westphal, Moll, Krafft-Ebing and many others have presented instances of sexual perversion under the titles of ‘Erninger and Conträre Sexualempfindung,’ psychopathia-sexualis, homo-sexuality, etc., the anima muliebris in corpore virili inculsa (a female psyche confined in a male body), according to Ulrichs, himself a sexual pervert, and reasserted by Magnan, Kiernan, Gley and Lydston.” The fact that Hughes used the word homo-sexuality, which had been introduced into the English language just a year earlier with the first English translation of Richard Von Crafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, indicates Hughes’s keen interest on the subject. And that Hughes recognized the difficulty of assigning blanket categories of gay people as either morally bankrupt or mentally insane — and Hughes appears not to have entertained any other option — it reflected the limited parameters of debate then taking place in psychiatry.
Hughes was, among many things, a lover of debate, and his journal reflected his encyclopedic interests. What makes perusing old copies of Alienist and Neurologist so particularly rewarding is the variety of reprinted letters, anecdotes, speeches, news items, magazine articles, and just about anything else that remotely touched on psychiatry in the nineteenth century. On example was a suicide note from a young gay man in St. Louis (see Feb 23) which Hughes described in “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism.” Another example is these three paragraphs which appeared later in that same October 1893 issue that included Hughes’s talk on “Erotopathia”:
Postscript to Paper on “Erotopathia.” — An Organization 0f Colored Erotopaths. — Apropos of my paper on “Erotopathia,” I am credibly informed that there is, in the city of Washington, D. C., an annual convocation of negro men called the drag dance, which is an orgie of lascivious debauchery beyond pen power of description. I am likewise informed that a similar organization was lately suppressed by the police of New York city.
In this sable performance of sexual perversion all of these men are lasciviously dressed in womanly attire, short sleeves, low· necked dresses and the usual ball-room decorations and ornaments of women, feathered and ribboned head-dresses, garters, frills, flowers, ruffies, etc., and deport themselves as women. Standing or seated on a pedestal, but accessible to all the rest, is the naked queen (a male), whose phallic member, decorated with a ribbon, is subject to the gaze and osculations in turn, of all the members of this lecherous gang of sexual perverts and phallic fornicators.
Among those who annually assemble in this strange libidinous display are cooks, barbers, waiters and other employes of Washington families, some even higher in the social scale — some being employed as subordinates in the Government departments.
[Sources: Charles H. Hughes. "Erotopathia -- Morbid Erotism." Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available online here.
Charles H. Hughes. "An organization of colored erotopaths." Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 731-732. Available online here.]
A Letter from an Invert: 1919. Through the early part of the twentieth century, American medical and mental health writers took an increasing interest in homosexuality (or “sexual inversion,” “contrary sexual feeling,” “perverted sexual instinct,” or any number of other terms which they had yet to settle on). One of the professional journals to actively investigate all aspects of sexology was the Journal of Urology and Sexology under the editorship of William J Robinson, a physician, sexologist , birth control advocate, and department head of Genito-Urinary Diseases at Bronx Hospital Dispensary.
But it was rare to hear from “inverts” themselves. Last July, we reprinted one letter to the editor from 1919 which gave some indication of the frustration that many felt due to the severe societal disapproval that was prevalent a the time (see Jul 30). Three months later, that same journal published another letter “from an invert”:
To the EDITOR:
I know you will disagree with me, but it is my belief that two men who love each other have as much right to live together as a man and woman have. Also that it is as beautiful when looked at in the right light and far more equal!
There are many men who believe as I do. One might say they are abnonnal. Does that have anything to do with the right or wrong of the question? To sleep all day, to work all night, is an abnormal condition. It isn’t natural. Does that go to prove that the one who does it is right or wrong? There is that abnormal condition; to bring in a moral question would be foolishness. “Wrong” and “abnormal” seem to mean the same thing to many people. Or shall I put it — “wrong” and “unnatural”? From the way people look at me who know my belief, you would think me a leper or a negro! *
May I not have as high an ideal in my love toward men, as a man has towards a woman? Higher, no doubt, than most men have toward women? Higher, no doubt, than most men have toward women!
The idea people hold is making me bitter. All that I might be is being killed. I can understand the thoughts of Jean Valjean, who held to his high ideals and asked only to be left alone — yet had to lose his whole life fleeing, ever fleeing, from people.
I wish the question might be discussed in your magazine. I have never known of any other magazine which gave its readers the liberty of expressing their own opinions, as gladly as your magazine does.
There are reasons (position, etc.) why it would be better to withhold my name. You need not doubt the good faith in which this letter is written.
A MAN [?].
Jean Valjean is the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables, which follows his 19-year-long struggle with the law for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children. The editor appended this footnote to the letter:
* This sentence shows that the writer is no more broadminded on the racial question than most people are on the subject of sexual abnormalities and perversions.-W. J. R.
[Source: American Journal of Urology and Sexology 15, no. 10 (October 1919): 454-455.]
Claude Cahun: 1894-1954. She was born Lucy Schwob in Nantes, France, but in 1919 she chose the gender-ambiguous name (in French) of Claude Cahun in keeping with her photographic self-portraits that she began making at the age of sixteen. Her self-portraits in different guises expressed a range of sexual self-expression, from the close-cropped hair and stubbled chin in her masculine appearance to the exaggerated femininity in china-doll perfection, to a range of androgyny inbetween. When surrealism became fashionable, she fit right in, declaring that she had “always been a surrealiste.”
In 1937, she and her stepsister/partner, Suzanne Malherbe moved to the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, which would see Nazi occupation during the war. Cahun became active in the resistance by writing and distributing anti-German leaflets. She and Malherbe would sometimes dress up and attend German military events in Jersey, and sneak leaflets into soldiers’ pockets. They were arrested in 1944 and sentenced to death, but the sentences were never carried out. Much of Cahun’s photographic work, including plates and negatives, were destroyed with the army raided her home. While Cahun and Malherbe both survived the war, Cahun’s health had deteriorated due to her detention and she died in 1954.
Chely Wright: 1970. She had her first Top 40 Country in 1997 when “Shut Up and Drive,” peaked at Number 14. In 1999, she hit #1 in the U.S. and Canadian Country charts with “Single White Female,” from her album by the same name. Those successes however came during a rather complicated time in her personal life. Chely had been in a off-and-on committed relationship with a woman that she described as “the love of my life,” — even during a period when the woman had married a man during part of that time. They lived together during their final five years together, from about 1999 to 2004, despite both women being closeted and both of them believing that gay relationships were wrong.
In 2000, Chely’s already complicated life became even more so when she started an affair with fellow country singer Brad Paisley. She liked him, loved him even, but wasn’t in love with him. But, as she later wrote in her autobiography, “If I figured I’m going to live a less than satisfied life, this is the guy I could live with. If I’m gonna be with a boy, this is the boy.” But in the end, she she wound up with a lot of remorse over how she treated him, “I have a lot of regret for how that [relationship] began and had a middle and ended. I had no business being in a relationship with him.”
Beginning in 2004, she began coming out to members of her immediate family and close friends. In 2007, she finally decided to come out publicly when she began writing her autobiography, and with its 2010 release she was officially out, once and for all. In August 2011, Wright married LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer in Connecticut. Wright herself has also become an LGBT advocate in founding LikeMe, which provides support and education scholarships for young LGBT advocates.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 24
October 24th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Doctor Looks At Love and Life: 1926. The October 24, 1926 edition of The New York Times reviewed a book by Dr. Joseph Collins, a physician and neurologist for the New York Neurological Institute, and also something of a polyglot. Collins himself was the first to review James Joyce’s Ulysses for the Times, and his earlier books included Sleep and the Sleepless (1912), My Italian Year (1919), The Doctor Looks at Literature (1923) and The Doctor Looks at Biography (1925). His latest endeavor, The Doctor Looks at Love and Life, was rather groundbreaking on several fronts, not the least of which in the way it prompted the venerable Times to print the word “homosexual” for the first time in its history.
The Doctor Looks at Love and Life had a clear division between the first part, “Love” which was specific to the issues of sex and matrimony, and the second part, “Life,” in which Collins took a literary view of psychology and education. Our interest lies in the first part, particularly in chapter IV, titled simply “Homosexuality,” which marked Collins as something of transitional figure in in how homosexuality was treated in the popular literature during the first decades of the twentieth century:
It will probably be difficult to convince the generation succeeding ours that, when this country was at the zenith of her commercial prosperity, it was improper to utter the word homosexuality, prurient to admit its existence and pornographic to discuss the subject. It was proper to read novels in which it was treated more or less openly if the setting was European: decadent people in decadent countries. Here, if it existed at all, it could not flourish; our soil is unfavorable, our climate prejudicial, our people, too primitive, too pure.
…It is impossible to make the average American believe that homosexuality is not necessarily a vice, or that its possessor is not what is called a degenerate. It may be a vice and the possessor of it may be immoral or unmoral, but the majority of homosexuals, male and female, are not degenerates, to use that word in its colloquial sense. Genuine homosexuality is not a vice, it is an endowment. …I have known many well-balanced homosexuals of both sexes. Some of them have made distinctive positions for themselves in various fields of activity from arms to the pulpit. … As a rule, they are persons of taste, refinement and sensibility. Many of them seek aid to be relieved of a burden which they find intolerable; if they attempt to deliver it in the way nature suggests to them, the State puts them into prison.
It is important to say that while Collins was a transitional figure, he was not a transformative one. And as a result, his chapter on homosexuality is, at times, self-contradictory. He criticized much of what had been written before about homosexuality: that it was a viscous crime, a sign of madness, or the result (or cause) of hereditary degeneracy of a race whose evolution was being adversely disrupted by the modern world (see Sept 3 for a brief discussion of degeneracy theory). Compared to those arguments, Collins’s view that homosexuality was in some way constitutional and that society needed to adjust its judgments accordingly can be seen as a kind of progress. But when he suggested that homosexuality was an endowment, he did not mean to say that homosexuality was normal: “They are not nature’s elect, but deviates who will one day disappear from the world when we shall have guessed the last riddle of the sympathetic nervous system and the ductless glands.” His opimism was typical in virtually the entire medical profession of his day. But while he believed that nature gave gay people a raw deal, society also had its share of guilt:
There are many potential and actual homosexuals whose intercourse with persons of their own sex is confined to emotional and intellectual contact, to establishing romantic friendships with them and seeking relief from tedium vitae in their society. They are not degenerates. There are others in which intercourse is physical as well. The rank and file of the world considers them degenerates, a blot on its escutcheon, a bar sinister in its pedigree. The world may do them an injustice, but nature has done them a far graver one. They are victims of Fate, the only ones that do not excite our compassion: and all because we cannot or will not distinguish between the work of God and Satan. … We are shorter of tolerance in this country than of any other virtue.
While he argued strongly that society should break from the past in how it regarded gay people, he could not accept the views coming out of Europe which held that homosexuality was just another variation of human sexuality. Those views he considered “pornographic” and dangerous, and on this point Collins suddenly becomes positively Victorian, if not Puritan:
Moreover, there has grown up around it an enormous literature, some of which may have been begotten in the interest of science, but most of which has been claimed by pornography. Strangely enough, this literature has come largely out of the country that precipitated the World War and that was decimated by the war. Ulrichs, Krafft-Ebing, Freud, Stekel and dozens of their countrymen have flooded the Western world with it. Their writings were promptly translated and published in this country, and though it has been claimed that their sale is restricted to clergymen, physicians, lawyers, social workers, etc., the books have been sold to high grade imbeciles, esthetes and flappers, pruriency mongers and potential perverts, to their great injury. To those for whom it is said they were intended they have been a fountain of misinformation, a flood of misrepresentation. One might readily gather from reading the latest one from Vienna that there were no normal people left in the world.
Unlike other books by Karl Ulrich’s (see Aug 28), Richard von Krafft-Ebing (see Aug 14), or Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) — the sales of which were (ostensibly) restricted to professionals to avoid running afoul of obscenity laws — Collins’s book was marketed directly to the average lay reader in homes across America. And like many those other mass market books, Collins upheld the hetersexual ideal, although by portraying homosexuality as a kind of a naturally-occuring defect, he was quite progressive in comparison. And unlike most of those other mass market books, Collins refrained from demonizing gay people as moral defects. But through the rest of his chapter, he emphasized that it was science’s duty to figure out how to cure and prevent homosexuality’s development (and he optimistically believed, in 1926, that science stood at the threshold of that very accomplishment). And yet it would take many more years before other books on sexuality and relationships targeting the mass market readership would begin to provide this kind of outlook:
I have but small hope that I shall be able to convince the majority of my readers that urnings are not monsters in human form whose salutations should be met with sneers and overtures to friendship with a kick; nevertheless, in view of the fact that my experience has taught me that they are not necessarily morbid or mad, and that many of them suffer through their sex-allotment, I construe it to be my duty to interpret them as it is society’s duty to understand them.
[Source: Joseph Collins. The Doctor Looks at Love and Life (Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing Co., 1926): 64-103.]
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
Oklahoma Sees Its THIRD Same-Sex Marriage
October 23rd, 2013
That’s right. Oklahoma. Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear have been together for nine years. The Oklahoma City couple had been planning to travel to Iowa to get married, but when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, Black Bear decided to call the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe (both are tribe members) to see if they could get a license through the Cheyenne-Arapaho court. They got good news:
Rosemary Stephens, editor in chief of the Tribal Tribune, a newspaper owned by the tribe, said the tribe’s law does not address gender in its marriage ordinance.
“One of them has to be a member of this tribe but not both,” Stephens said. “It’s our tribal law and order code. It doesn’t address gender at all.”
And it’s not even the first gay marriage that the tribe has licensed, she said. Lisa Liebl, spokeswoman for the tribe, said the first couple was two men who married on Dec. 12, 2012. Liebl said there is a third couple who received a marriage license on Oct. 7. Pickel and Black Bear were just the first who were willing to go public with their marriage plans, she said.
That’s right. The news going around the interwebs is that this is the first same-sex marriage license issued in Oklahoma, when in fact there have now been three. The first was ten months ago.
The Tulsa World verified that the Cherokee Nation, the Osage Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation all have laws with specific language which bans same-sex marriage. Stephens said that the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe has supported same-sex relationships for many years with no problems:
“We have a lot of support for gay couples within the tribe,” Stephens said. “They’re just not called out. … There’s a huge amount of support.”
As for the happy couple, they have planned a wedding for later this month. Black Bear’s father, a preacher, will officiate:
“My father has always fought for civil rights and equality and so that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to include them,” said Blackbear.
Blackbear says this will be his father’s first time officiating a same sex marriage, his father’s only request– for Blackbear and Pickel to write their own wedding vows.
Black Bear told Indian Country Today that his father has been contacted by other same-sex couples who want him to officiate at their weddings.
The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, October 23
October 23rd, 2013
New Mexico Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments on Marriage Equality: Santa Fe, NM. Two months ago, Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion saying that the state’s marriage law was gender-neutral and the longstanding practice of banning same-sex marraige was likely unconstitutional. After King announced that he wouldn’t intervene to halt Doña Ana County’s actions, seven more counties covering 58% of the states population jumped on the marriage equality bandwagon over the next two weeks. On September 7, the five-member state Supreme Court agreed to decide once and for all whether New Mexico would be a marriage equality state, and scheduled oral arguments for today. There’s an outside change that the Supreme Court could issue its decision today as well, but it’s far more likely that the decision will come sometime later. Oral arguments begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. MDT and are scheduled to go for one hour. In an extraordinary move, oral arguments will be live-streamed here.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Draft Board Head Says Being Gay Is One Way To Beat the Draft: 1965. Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, 72, had headed the Selective Service System since 1940, when he organized the Service after Congress authorized the draft for World War II. Establishing a national system of local draft boards was challenging, so was keeping the system operating while balancing the concerns, more or less, of five president, Republican- and Democratic-led Congresses, and millions of families whose sons would find themselves the recipient of a letter from Uncle Sam with the salutation, “Greetings!” Part of the systems success could be found in the autonomy that was granted to local draft boards. The Selective Service Law gave those local draft boards complete discretion in deciding to grant or deny deferments.
But as the Vietnam War escalated and students became restive with anti-draft demonstrations, Hershey found himself with a new set of challenges. In 1965, Hershey was still unfazed, calling the early anti-draft movement “a complete flop.” But he did express one concern to a United Press International reporter: “My real concern is that some local boards may react to all of this agitation by canceling student deferments. I hope that won’t happen. It would be unwise, because the national interest is served by keeping young men in college to complete their education.”
As for the “agitators,” Hershey said that of the two million college men, “only a tiny fraction of one percent have been involved in staging protest parades, burning draft cards or other demonstrations of unwillingness to serve in the armed forces. … The effect on our ability o meet draft calls has been negligible, and I am confident it will remain negligible.” Hershey had also learned that some young men were trying to beat the draft by deliberately flunking the mental and physical exams. “We also have ingenious ways of detecting these little frauds,” he said. “There are always some people who try to fool the examiners. But only a very few get away with it.” And with draft calls shooting up to 45,000 men a month, the armed forces had relaxed their examination requirements somewhat. “A man with a high school diploma is now virtually assured of acceptability,” Hershey said.
But there was still one sure-fire way to beat the draft: “If he tells the examiner that he’s a homosexual, he’ll be rejected. We recognize that he might be lying, but a person who’ll say that has certainly got something wrong with him. We have enough men to defend this country without having to draft self proclaimed homosexuals.”
Gay Activists Hold Third White House Picket: 1965. Gay activists wrapped up an ambitious year of public protests with a third picket in front of the White House, demanding an end to the bans on federal employment, military service, and security clearances for gay people. Earlier protests took place at the White House (see Apr 17, May 29), the United Nations (see Apr 18), Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), and the Pentagon (see Jul 31). The pickets were an outgrowth of an increased determination among gay activists for more direct action, in contrast to the aversion to publicity exhibited by the prior generation of activists.
This protest, like many of the others, was sponsored by the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose coalition of independent gay rights groups. About 45 demonstrators showed up for the two-hour afternoon march, including representatives from the Mattichine Societies of Washington, D.C., New York, Miami, and Chicago, along with Philadelphia’s Janus Society. Frank Kameny (see May 21), head of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., notified police and the media ahead of time, and picketers distributed leaflets and an open letter to President Lyndon Johnson listing their demands. FBI informants were there too. Their reports also described a small counter-demonstration by two teenage males carring placards which read, “Are You Kidding?” and “Get Serious.”
Mel White Meets With Jerry Falwell: 1999. Mel White had been a successful evangelical minister, television producer and ghostwriter for such popular televangelists as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. When White finally came to terms with his own homosexuality and came out of the closet, he quickly became one of Falwell’s biggest critics, accusing Falwell of fostering anti-gay rhetoric which had the effect of encouraging violence against LGBT people. Having worked closely with Falwell before coming out, White repeatedly called on Falwell to meet with him to discuss the problem. After several years of back-and-forth negotiations, that meeting finally tool place on an October Saturday when about 200 members of White’s pro-LGBT advocacy group, SoulForce, joined members of Falwell’s congregation in the gymnasium of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The gathering was billed as an Anti-Violence forum, as the two groups sat down to discuss the impact of hate speech and hate-motivated violence. Falwell took the opportunity to complain that Christian fundamentalists were being singled out for violence because of pro-gay rhetoric. Falwell also infuriated White and the Soulforce attendees when a prominent ex-gay spokesman, Michael Johnston, got up to speak to the gathering about his “ultimate goal is to bring you out of the lifestyle and into the Lord.” (Four years later, Johnston’s ministry would end in disgrace when his double life of gay orgies and unprotected sex came to light. See Aug 1.)
Falwell later told White that he didn’t know anything about Johnston, claiming that Johnston just showed up that day and asked to speak. White also challenged Falwell over his web site, which claimed that the gay community’s quest for equality was “a sewer of moral filth,” created “an environment that’s incredibly dangerous to our children,” and represented “a culture that despises Christian faith and morality.” Falwell claimed that those statements were neither written nor approved by him, but he pledged to “look very carefully” at those statements and others in the future.
At a press conference afterward, White characterized the meeting as an important first step in an ongoing dialogue. “We’re listening to each other. I think, down the long road, we’re going to be reconciled, and it starts today,” White said. Falwell, in turn, praised White and said, “And I hope that evangelicals might build a bridge to gay and lesbian people just as we have built a bridge to drug addicts, alcoholics and unwed mothers.” It’s as if he never heard a thing.
Demonstrations Against Montreal Police Raids: 1977. About two thousand of Montreal’s gay community took to the streets and jammed downtown Ste. Catherine Street very early on Sunday morning shouting “fascist dogs” and “gestapo” at motorcycle police who were called to clear the area. The focus of the anger was the brutal “morality squad” raids early Saturday morning at Truxx and Le Mystique, two gay bars. Police barged in wielding machine guns and bullet-proof vests as they arrested 144 men for being in a “bawdy house” or for “gross indecency” — common charges for anyone who was thought to be gay.
Those raids capped two years of nearly constant police harassment and raids which had begun as a campaign to “clean up” the city in preparation for the 1976 Olympics. But with this latest raid, the gay community fought back in what was later dubbed, “Quebec’s Stonewall.” Also different this time, gays and lesbians had the news media’s support. By the end of the year, the Parti Québéois adopted Bill 88 which ensured that sexual orientation would be covered under the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which prohibited all forms of discrimination. However, the change failed to have much of an appreciable affect, and police raids would continue until Montreal’s “other” Stonewall rebellion in 1990 following a riotous raid of a loft party.
120 YEARS AGO: Jean Acker: 1893-1978. She appeared in several silent films in the 1910s and 1920s, thanks, in part, to a relationship she struck up with another silent film actress, Alla Nazimova (see Jun 3), who introduced Acker to a group of lesbian and bisexual actresses known as the “sewing circle.” Acker’s greatest claim to fame, however, is in her real-life role as Mrs. Rudolph Valentino (see May 5). They married in 1919 after a two month courtship, but the marriage was reportedly never consummated (it’s said that she locked him out of the hotel bedroom on their wedding night). They filed for divorce, although she insisted on using the name Mrs. Rudolph Valentino for some time after. In 1923, Acker met former Ziegfeld Follies girl Chloe Carter, and they remained together for the rest of their lives. Acker died in 1978 of natural causes and was buried next to Carter.
Lilyan Tashman: 1896. The actress got her start in Vaudeville and Broadway before moving to Hollywood to become a well-known film star. Most of her roles were as a “bitchy” other woman or as a sharp, clever villainess. She married a vaudevillian performer in 1914, but they divorced in 1921. In 1925, she married openly gay actor Edmund Lowe, and they had what Hollywood reporters described, perhaps with a bit of snark, as an “ideal marriage.” The couple entertained lavishly at their home, where their weekly parties reportedly becoming “full-blown orgies.” One reporter described her as “the most gleaming, glittering, moderne, hard-surfaced, and distingué woman in all of Hollywood.” She died young, at the age of 37, of cancer shortly after filming her final film in New York in 1934.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
Australian Capital Territory Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
October 22nd, 2013
The Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (pop. 373,000), home of the nation’s capital of Canberra, earlier this morning gave its approval for the Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill. Under the new law, same-sex couples throughout Australia will be able to marry in the ACT by the end of the year. The awkwardly-named bill’s title was the result of several last-minute changes made in an attempt to head off a promised High Court challenge by the Federal Government under Tony Abbot. According to this press release from the Human Rights Law Centre and Australian Marriage Equality:
The HRLC and AME have provided the ACT Government with suggested amendments which would be easy to make and would ensure the Bill creates a new legal status of “same-sex marriage” clearly distinguishable from federal marriage. This would greatly shore up the law’s chances of surviving the High Court challenge that the Commonwealth Government has promised to mount.
At this point, it’s unclear to me what differences lie between marriage as it existed before and this new legal status of same-sex marriage. Whatever those differences may be, the Federal Government under Prime Minister Tony Abbot has already promised to launch a High Court challenge. Liberal party leaders (which is actually the conservative party in Australia) are also concern-trolling on behalf of same-sex couples:
Earlier this month, Senator Brandis said he had received advice the bill was “invalid by reason of inconsistency” with the Commonwealth Marriage Act.
“It would be very distressing to individuals who may enter into a ceremony of marriage under the new ACT law, and to their families, to find that their marriages were invalid,” a statement put out today read.
ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson supports the Commonwealth’s stance.
“It would be disappointing for those individuals to then find themselves in a legal tangle,” he said.
“There would have been many many couples that had been waiting for this, particularly couples that live in the ACT, and if Virginia and I were living there we would probably take advantage of this law having been passed,” Ms Forster told Sky News.
“The federal government has foreshadowed that it will challenge the law in the High Court and that casts a shadow over the long-term validity of this law.
“I hope that it stands. Ideally, however, the best outcome we could have for all Australians would be a change in the federal marriage act. Then it would be beyond question by the High Court and that’s the ultimate goal and I think that’s what everybody would like to see.”
Forster added that they will not rush to ACT to get married, but will wait until they can marry “here in our home.” She also called for her brother to allow a free conscience vote on marriage equality nationwide for the ruling coalition. Labor MPs were allowed a conscience vote last year when the question came up in the Federal Parliament.
Domestic partnership registries are currently available in New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. Until now, ACT provided Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples, as does Queensland. In 2004, the federal Parliament amended the Marriage Act to limit marriage to one man and one woman and to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage from a foreign country. Other parts of Australian law over the years have been changed however to recognize same-sex couples on the federal level in areas such as taxation, pensions, health, and unemployment.
The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 22
October 22nd, 2013
Rally for Marriage: Springfield, IL. The Illinois House convenes a Veto Session this week, with another session taking place the first week of November. The House failed to take up a marriage equality bill last May — or, more accurately, Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s openly gay sponsor, failed to bring the bill up for a vote, much to the consternation of gay advocates. The bill passed the Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn is ready to sign it, but Rep. Harris said that after counting the votes, he didn’t believe it would pass the House. Sixty votes are needed to get the bill through the House. Windy City Times has published its latest estimated tally as 34 yes’s, 18 likely yes’s, 41 no’s, and 9 likely no’s. Sixteen are on the fence, so it’s anybody’s guess right now what will happen.
Some are counseling caution, but the consensus emerging outside of the Statehouse seems to be coalescing around calling for a vote, come what may. Some think that with the recent momentum toward marriage equality nationwide and with history on the line, the votes will materialize. Others say that it’s just time to get everyone on the record so they will know who to work during the next legislative sessions.
Today, marriage equality supporters will converge on the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield for a rally and march. The rally begins at 2nd and Capitol streets at noon, followed by a march around the Capitol at 2:30.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Texas Health Official Seeks Authority to Quarantine People with AIDS: 1985. In the first such effort by a state health official, Texas Health Commissioner Dr. Robert Bernstein announced that he was preparing a request to the state Board of Health to add AIDS to the list of communicable diseases to be covered under Texas’s quarantine law. AIDS would join cholera, yellow fever and tuberculosis as conditions that would result in involuntary quarantine under Bernstein’s proposal. Bernstein said that the use of quarantine would be limited to what he termed “extraordinary cases”. Bernstein cited the case of a Houston hustler who continued to engage in sex with customers until he was finally persuaded to check into a hospital for treatment. ”It would not be for the average or the multitude of cases of AIDS,” he said. “It would just isolate the one who are a potential risk.”
But critics of Bernstein’s proposal pointed out that quarantines were traditionally reserved for those whose disease was spread through casual contact. AIDS, they pointed out, did not fall under that category. Gary LaMarche, executive director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union said, “It’s almost a unique communicable disease. Everything we know about it suggests you have to go out of your way to get it.” Gay activist Ray Hill of Houston added, “You can’t catch it by getting breathed on. You can’t catch it by shaking hands.” Dr. Harry Haverkos, AIDS program officer at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed. “You don’t pick this disease up by riding the subway into work with someone or going to school with someone. We’re talking about a different form of transmission, and quarantining individuals isn’t necessary with this disease.”
Bill Foster of the Austin Lesbian-Gay Political Caucus added that much of the problem Bernstein cited was due to a lack of social services for people with AIDS. That shortage meant that some were being forced to fend for themselves using whatever means were at their disposal. “The quarantine law may allay fears of the general public,” he said, “but would, in fact, be nothing more than a smokescreen and a misdirection of public resources.” Two months later, the Texas Board of Health gave its tentative approval to Bernstein’s proposal (see Dec 14), but as criticism grew, the board withdrew its proposal in January (see Jan 17).
Surgeon General Urges Frank Sex Ed to Combat AIDS: 1986. While the Reagan White House would become widely remembered for its reticence to discuss the AIDS epidemic, the administration’s point man on health matters, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop had no qualms about addressing the topic head on. On October 22, 1986, Dr. Koop issued what The New York Times called “an unusually explicit report to the nation” calling on schools and parents to have “frank, open discussions” with very young children and teens about AIDS.
Koop wrote in the report, “Many people, especially our youth, are not receiving information that is vital to their future health and well-being because of our reticence in dealing with the subjects of sex, sexual practices and homosexuality. This silence must end. We can no longer afford to sidestep frank, open discussions about sexual practices — homosexual and heterosexual. Education about AIDS should start at an early age so that children can grow up knowing the behaviors to avoid to protect themselves from exposure to the AIDS virus.” His report also addressed several myths that were floating around about AIDS, stressing that HIV was not spread by common everyday contact like shaking hands, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing, nor is it spread from contact with toilet seats, food prepared by people with AIDS, or eating utensils.
This report marked the end of a long and puzzling period of silence about the AIDS epidemic, both from the administration and from Koop himself. He later wrote in Koop: The Memoirs of America’s Family Doctor that in 1983, Assistant Secretary of Health Ed Brandt had excluded him from the Executive Task Force on AIDS, an act which was the start of a long series of battles Koop had with others in the administration who effectively muzzled him from speaking on the topic. He was even forbidden from talking to Congressional representatives about it. That exclusion finally ended in the summer of 1985 when Koop was able to join the task force and become the administration’s public spokesperson on AIDS. In February 1986, Reagan asked him to write a report on AIDS, and Koop worked feverishly not only to complete the report, but to get it past some in the administration who opposed any discussion on AIDS. After Koop’s press conference on October 22, some in the White House made a last ditch attempt to modify or “bottle up the report,” as he put it, but “eventually the presses rolled, the mail trucks ran, and the report went out.”
Lord Alfred Douglas: 1870-1945. Nicknamed “Bosie,” Douglas was best known as the lover of Oscar Wilde. Their affair began at around 1891 even though Wilde was already married and had two sons. Friends described Douglas as spoiled, reckless and extravagant, perhaps in a bid to emulate Wilde’s own flamboyance. Douglas’s father, The Marquess of Queensberry, soon became suspicious of the relationship between his son and Wilde, and tried to disown him. Douglas refused, and tensions escalated. When Queensberry publicly insulted Wilde by leaving a visiting card at a club on which he had written, “For Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomite,” Wilde responded by suing Queensberry for libel. When Queensberry was declared not guilty, attention then turned to Wilde himself, who was arrested and tried for sodomy and “gross indecency” based on evidence presented at Queensberry’s trial. Wiled was convicted in 895 and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Douglas was forced into exile in Europe.
While Wilde was in prison, he wrote his famous letter, De Profundis, to Douglas, describing in detail what he felt about him, and making clear in no uncertain terms that the two men were lovers. He was never allowed to send it while in prison, although he may have sent a copy after his release. After Wilde’s death, portions of De Profundis were published in 1912, which led Douglas to denounce Wilde as “the greatest force for evil that has appeared in Europe during the last three hundred and fifty years.” He also began a “litigious and libelous career,” suing and being sued for criminal libel over the next decade. In 1923, he was convicted of libeling Winston Churchill, saying Churchill was part of a Jewish conspiracy to kill the British Secretary of State for War, for which Douglas spent six months in prison. Apparently that experience made him more sympathetic to Wilde’s experience, and his attitude softened. He died in 1945 at the age of 74.
Robert Rauschenberg: 1925-2008. Born to a blue-collar, fundamentalist family in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenbeg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, the Académie Julian in Paris, and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was at Black Mountain College where Rauschenberg studied painting under Josef Albers, a Bauhaus founder, but the strict Bauhaus principles of “uninfluenced experimentation” taught Rauschenberg to do ”exactly the reverse.” The otherwise experimental nature of Black Mountain however encouraged him to explore and collaborate with a wide range of interdisciplinary artists, including performances with composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
He had married, briefly from 1950 to 1953, and that union produced a son. After that marriage ended, he spent a year with painter Cy Twombly before embarking on a personally and professionally fruitful relationship with Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg and Johns remained together for the next eight years, exchanging ideas, critiquing each other’s work, and together establishing a new approach to art. Their personal relationship and professional collaboration would end up defining a new approach to art, one which sought to bridge the gap between art and life — especially the deeply introspective and sometimes obtuse art of Abstract Expressionists. Their approach was to combining found common objects — quilts, newspapers, tires, brooms, and all kinds of salvaged objects — with images from pop culture, as a kind of foreshadow for Andy Warhol’s work a decade later. Rauschenber called his works “combines,” and some of his most famous ones were Monogram (1955-1959, which included a stuffed goat with a tire around its abdomen) and Canyon (1959). In Factum I (1957), he created a painting that the spontaneous drips, splashes and smears of paint popularized by Action Painters like Jackson Pollack, and then questioned the entire process by faithfully reproducing his painting in Factum II.
After Rauschenberg’s relationship with Johns ended in 1961, Rauschenberg began working with silkscreen printing for a series of paintings what included news photographs. He designed sets and costumes for Merce Cunningham, and other experimental choreographers. In 1983, he won a Grammy Award for his album design for the Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues. In 1998, the Vatican commissioned a work based on the Apocalypse to commemorate the controversial Franciscan priest Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who reputedly displayed stigmata on his hands, feet and side, and who had died in 1968. That work covers a massive window of Pio’s new pilgrimage church in Pio of Pietrelcina, which was designed by Architect Renzo Piano. The work was a particular challenge for Rauschenberg, who grew up in the austere Church of Christ and who hadn’t attended church since his twenties. “I bet you’ll be a Catholic before you finish the project,” the Franciscan prior in charge of the project told Rauschenberg. “And I suppose you’ll be an artist,” Rauschenberg replied. He died in 2008 at his home on Captiva Island, Florida.
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
NJ Gov. Christie Drops Marriage Appeal
October 21st, 2013
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced this morning that he is dropping the same-sex marriage appeal to the state Supreme Court. The announcement recognizes that last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling denying his request to stay a lower court order requiring the state to begin granting marriage equality today is a strong indicator of how the Court will rule next year when it is scheduled to hear the full case:
Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie, said that Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, writing for the court in a 7-0 opinion last Friday, “left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.’ ”
But at the same time, Christie sharply criticized the court for stepping in and ruling on the case. The Republican governor, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has maintained that he wanted voters to take up the issue on the ballot.
“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” Reed said. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
The Daily Agenda for Monday, October 21
October 21st, 2013
New Jersey Says “I Do”. At the stroke of midnight, the Garden State became the fourteenth state in the Union to provide marriage equality for all of its couples. The first marriage to take place after the stroke of midnight was between Lambertville City Councilwoman Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey, who in 2007 were the first couple to take advantage of New Jersey’s civil unions. Senator-elect Cory Booker, in his capacity as Mayor of Newark, also officiated some of the earliest weddings in the rotunda of Newark City Hall. Those were the first marriages that Booker has officiated since becoming mayor in 2006. Since taking office, he has refused all requests to officiate marriage until the day when he could legally marry all couples. There was one hitch in the ceremony. When Booker asked for objections, a heckler shouted, “This is unlawful in the name of God.” After the heckler was escorted out, Booker resumed: “I do not hear any substantive, worthy objections.” Other midnight marriages took place in Jersey City, and a judge in Essex granted four lesbian couples a waiver so they could skip the mandatory 72-hour waiting period and marry today.
With New Jersey’s addition to the roster of states providing equal marriage for same-sex couples, fully one third of Americans — 33% — now live in marriage equality states. That figure now surpasses the 30% of Americans who lived in states where their relationships were a criminal act just ten years ago. In addition, another 10% of Americans live in states with similar though lesser recognition of same-sex relationships, states which included New Jersey until today. More may be on the way. In the next two weeks, the Illinois and Hawaii legislatures are expected to take up marriage quality bills, and the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear oral arguments on whether it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
The Bishop of Clogher Defrocked for “Sodomitical Practices”: 1822. On July 19, 1822, Bishop Percy Jocelyn, the Anglican Bishop of Clogher in the Church of Ireland was caught in, shall we say, a most compromising position with a Grenadier Guardsman, John Moverly, at the White House Pub’s back room (apparently, they had ‘em even then) in Westminster. They were caught by the pub’s proprietor, and dragged through the streets by a mob, mostly naked as they were found, to a nearby jail. Bishop Clogher was granted bail a few days later, but the soldier remained in jail:
Lord Sefton when to see the soldier in prison. He says he is a fine soldierlike man and has no the air which these wretches usually have. The Bishop took no precautions, and it was next to impossible he should not have been caught. He made a desperate resistance when taken away, and if his breeches had not been down they think he would have got away. It seems that the soldier will be proceeded against with the greatest vigour, and the Magistrate is much blamed for having taken such small bail as that which he required. The Duke will not spare the Soldier. Lord Lauderdale said the other day that the greatest dissatisfaction would pervade the public mind at the escape of the Bishop and the punishment of the Soldier, and the people, who cannot discriminate, or enter into nice points of the law, will only see in such apparent injustice a disposition to shield the offender in the higher classes of society from the consequences of his crime, while the law is allowed to take its course with the more humble culprit.
Eventually, the soldier was released on bail as well. Both fled the city and were never seen again (although the Bishop was reportedly later seen in Paris as though nothing had happened). The Bishop’s ecclesiastical trial was set for October 21, and it went on despite his absence. According to the court record:
…It [the evidence] also proved the fatal and depraved purposes for which he associated himself with a private soldier, wholly beneath him in rank and station, as the unworthy and vicious partner of his depravity and guilt. The place chosen by him for that base purpose was also unfitted to him as a prelate of the church, the man of high rank and station; it was a common alehouse, situate in St. Alban’s-place in the city of Westminster. In his career of vice, he was very fortunately stopped, before he had perpetrated the last foul act, or crime, which he himself designed; and by which, if committed, his life would have been forfeited to the offended law of the country. Being found by the watchman and others, in a situation disgraceful and degrading to him, he was made a prisoner, in order to be removed to the watch-house of the district.
The bishop wasn’t actually convicted of the capital offense of sodomy itself because English law required that the act be, err, fully consummated, a standard of proof that was difficult to reach. Hence the observation that he was caught before perpetrating “the last foul act, or crime” of the, um, emission of seed. But the evidence was strong enough to strip the bishop of his office for “the crimes of immorality, incontinence, Sodomitical practices, habits, and propensities, and neglect of his spiritual, judicial, and ministerial duties.”
It’s almost impossible for a scandal to unravel worse than this one. First, the fact that a Bishop was caught in flagrante delicto was itself quite shocking. That was compounded by the perception that he had been given preferential treatment with his early release with very low bail. And if all that wasn’t enough, the Bishop was a well-known member of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. All of this hypocrisy was too much for Londoners to bear, and for many weeks afterward it was unsafe for members of the clergy to be seen on the streets. But it all made great material for satirists:
The Devil to prove the Church was a farce
Went out to fish for a Bugger.
He baited his hook with a Frenchman’s arse,*
And pulled up the Bishop of Clogher.
*Moverly was from a French family.
Los Angeles Times Picketed Over Refusal to Cover Gay Issues: 1974. Two hundred demonstrators protested the ongoing crackdown on gay bars in West Hollywood, but the Los Angeles Times ignored the protest. Later that summer, two thousand people turned out for the Christopher Street West parade (the name given for the annual Pride event held in June), but the Times ignored that also. Four months later, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Community Church raised money to buy a bus for a local children’s home –a fascinating human interest story, but the Times wasn’t interested. On Sunday, October 20, Rev. Lee Carlton told his congregation that it was time to do something about it.
The next day, thirty protesters arrived at the Times building, with reporters from five local TV stations, radio stations and the Associated Press in tow. Times managers though the protesters would leave by the end of the day. But at closing times, protesters pushed their way into the vestibule, spread out their sleeping bags and settled down for the night. The next morning, Times employees stepped and tripped over the protesters as they tried to get to work. Finally, a manager came down and said that the editorial board would meet with a few representatives. Six went inside. Activist Morris Kight later described the tacit agreement: “They said we were absolutely right in our protest. They admitted they had dealt with us very badly and laid out out a plan. They said we would disappear from their pages for about six months while they figured out what to do about us. We took them at their word on that. After that, they improved dramatically.”
[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 133-134.]
Kansas Supreme Court Overturns 17-Year Sentence for Gay Sex: 2005. Matthew R. Limon was eighteen. In February 2000, a week after his eighteenth birthday, he performed consensual oral sex on another teenager who was just under fifteen years old — three years, one month and a few days younger. The two were students at the same residential school for developmentally disabled youth. Under Kansas law, what Limon did was statutory rape. Also under Kansas law, a “Romeo and Juliet” exemption provided much more lenient sentences for those in a similar situation to Limon’s: a maximum of fifteen months’ imprisonment. But also under Kansas law, that “Romeo and Juliet” exemption applied to heterosexual teens only. Because Limon’s act was with another boy, he wasn’t eligible to be sentenced under that exemption. Limon got seventeen years as an adult sexual predator.
In 2003, lawyers for the ACLU appealed the sentence, which a state appeals court upheld. It then went to the Kansas Supreme Court which ruled unanimously that because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision striking down the nation’s sodomy laws, Kansas could not use its laws to express “moral disapproval” of homosexuality, nor could it punish illegal sex more harshly if it involved homosexual acts rather than heterosexual acts. The court ordered Limon re-sentenced under state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, which resulted in his release after five years of imprisonment.
Claire Waldoff: 1884-1957. Born Clara Wortmann in Gelsenkirchen, Westphalia, she took the stage name of Claire Waldoff while studying theater. In 1907, she went to Berlin where she quickly became a celebrated cabaret singer. Her style was unique: instead of using double-entendres for which cabaret was known for, she went straight to the point. She was bucked the cabaret’s stylish conventions by adopting a rough persona, wild red hear and street Berliner slang, all of which suited her short and stocky presence. She limited her performances to just three songs and no encores, which gave her time to play at several venues in a single night. Openly lesbian, Waldoff settled in nicely with other lesbian friends and her life partner, Olga Von Roeder, through much of the Weimar period.
The Great Depression and the Nazi’s rise to power brought cabaret culture to an end. In 1939, Waldoff and von Roder left Berlin and moved to remote Bayerische Gmain near the Austrian Alps. After the war, she lost her savings in the German Monetary reform of 1948, but was able to get a stipend from the City of Berlin in 1954, the year after she wrote her biography. She died in 1957.
Dale Jennings: 1917-2000. If anyone knows anything about Jennings, it’s probably limited to just one thing: his false arrest in February of 1952, from within his own home, on charges of soliciting a police officer for immoral acts. It wasn’t the fact that he was arrested which was so notable, but that he chose to fight the charges while also refusing to deny that he was gay. A gay man arguing before a jury that he was innocent was so unusual it made headlines across the country. Those headlines only got bigger when the jury deadlocked 11-1 for acquittal and the charges were dismissed (see Jun 23).
If he was known for anything else, then perhaps it was because two years earlier, Jennings helped to found the Mattachine Foundation with Harry Hay, Chuck Rowland, Rudi Gernreich, and Hay’s student at the California Labor School, Bob Hull, who happened to be Jenning’s boyfriend at the time. Jennings had met Hay and Gernreich while involved with the Communist Party in Los Angeles. When Jennings was arrested in 1952, the Mattachines came to his rescue by raising money, hiring a lawyer, and generating enough publicity about the case that it would come to the attention of those newspapers which wrote about it. The case also had the effect of raising Mattachine profile among gay people who previously hadn’t known about the secretive group, and its membership skyrocketed.
That it was Jennings who galvanized the Mattachines and gave it a sense of purpose is, perhaps, the greatest irony. Jennings, despite his flirtations with Communism, had little patience for the political theorizing and navel-gazing that took place in the early Mattachine meetings. One Mattachine member recalled that as the group droned on about “the pain and sorrow, the desperate loneliness of being homosexual and afraid, always having to lie and hide,” Jennings “struggled not to laugh out loud.” He also scoffed at Hays’s insistence that homosexuals made up a distinct minority who were inherently and qualitatively different from heterosexuals. Jennings maintained that there were no differences whatsoever between men who preferred sex with women and men who preferred sex with men. “How could you construct a cultural minority out of a group of people with little in common except what they did in bed?”, he asked. Where Hays wanted the right to be publicly gay, Jennings wanted nothing more than the right to be left alone.
Jennings may expressed a desire to be left alone, but his combative nature ran counter to any desire he might have had to leave things well enough alone. As a budding novelist and playwright, he felt like he had a lot to say and wanted to say it. And so during another one of the interminable Mattachine meetings, he found himself drifting into the kitchen where a smaller group of people were discussing the need for a nationally-distributed magazine (see Oct 15) — a real magazine, professionally typset and graphically designed rather than the typewritten and mimeographed newsletters that had tried to pose as pale imitations. Jennings’s contributions would prove to be crucial: he was the only one of that small group who knew the first thing about the mechanics of publishing: editing, layout, typesetting, artwork, advertising, and so forth. He also provided access to the magazine’s first printing press: the first issue was printed by Jennings’s sister and brother-in-law in their basement.
Jennings wound up serving on the editorial board of ONE Magazine when it made its debut in 1953. As was common practice with ONE in its early days, Jennings not only wrote under his own byline, but under other pseudonyms as well to provide the illusion that ONE’s staff was larger than it really was. That first issue included his first-person account of his arrest and acquittal under his own name, along with two other articles as “Heironymus K.” and “Elizabeth Lalo.” In ONE’s third issue, as “Jeff Winters,” Jennings wrote “Homosexuals Are Not a People,” which, as the title suggested, reiterated his contention that homosexuals did not make up a distinct minority. (“Homosexuality is today’s great irrelevancy,” he argued.) As “R. Noone,” he lambasted President Eisenhower’s executive order barring the employment of gay people in the federal government (see Apr 27), and in 1954, again as ”Jeff Winters,” he wrote “Can Homosexuals Organize?”, a very critical history of the Mattachine Foundation which had just kicked out its founders and reorganized itself as a much more conservative Mattachine Society (“The present Society however invites certain destruction by denial of all those things for which the Mattachine was founded. …From the trembling president on down to the least officer, they are terrified.”).
Jennings tenure as ONE’s first editor-in-chief was short-lived. He was headstrong and opinionated, which led to constant fights with business manager Dorr Legg (a.k.a. Bill Lambert, see Dec 15) and co-founder Don Slater (see Aug 21), and others. That divisiveness — and Legg’s unease over Jennings’s Communist ties — led to Jennings’s departure in March of 1954. (He was replaced as Editor in Chief by Irma “Corky” Wolf, who went by the pseudonym Ann Carll Reid.) As Jennings acknowledged nearly three decades later to Slater:
Bill Lambert got rid of me at almost the precise time that the local red cell took my membership card away from me for being a carnivore (gay) and hence a security risk. Naturally both organizations were quite correct and should have been more circumspect about letting me come near them in the very beginning.
After leaving Mattachine and ONE, Jennings more or less dropped out. In 1968, he published his first novel, The Ronin, a recasting of an old Zen Buddhist myth, which found a somewhat surprising success in Japan. His second book, The Cowboys (1971), was based on a story he had sold to Warner Brothers and made into a John Wayne movie. He fought with the publishers to get his book published; they balked at the homoerotic passages. He finally got it published by a smaller imprint, but it was the $150,000 he got from Warner Brothers that secured his financial future.
Jennings bought a ranch outside of Los Angeles, but then lost it in a lawsuit to a former lover. He then moved to northern California, but decided in the 1980s to move back to southern California and reconnect with the gay community. But by then, the gay community had long since moved on and had forgotten him. Not only that, but the gay community had moved left politically while Jennings moved hard to the right. He did manage to reestablish contact with Don Slater in the 1980s, and they maintained a correspondence that lasted until Slater died in 1997. In 1984, Jennings sent one Christmas card to Slater lamenting, “When I was a loud-mouthed commie, people fled the Mattachine in the thousands; now that the prevailing shade this season is red, my conservatism is worse than damned: it’s ignored.”
Through the 1990s, Jennings became reclusive, surly, and a heavy drinker. He spent every day working on his memoirs on a word processer, but he often lost an entire day’s work by shutting the machine off without remembering to hit save. He began losing his memory, but was cognizant enough to ensure that his papers would go to Slater’s Homosexual Information Center Archives, which are currently housed at California State University at Northridge. He died on May 11, 2000 at the age of 82.
[Source: C. Todd White. "Dale Jennings (1917-2000): ONE's Outspoken Advocate." In Vern L. Bullough (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 83-93.]
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?