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Austria approves couple adoption

Timothy Kincaid

January 14th, 2015

AP

Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that gay couples have the same right as heterosexuals to adopt children.

Before the decision Wednesday, gay partners could adopt a child only if one of them was the child’s biological parent.

Explaining the decision, chief judge Gerhart Holzinger says there is “no objective argument for a differing rule based solely on sexual orientation” of the parents.

Congrats, Austrians

(and for us poor Americans with no sense of global geography, Austria is the birthplace of the Governator, not Pricilla, Queen of the Desert)

Another sad day for Andrew Shirvell

Timothy Kincaid

January 13th, 2015

It seems like every day is Andrew Shirvell’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

For a while it seemed like things were going wonderfully. Shirvell was accepted to Ave Maria School of Law, a Catholic law school with teachings that are “in fidelity to the Catholic Faith as expressed through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the teaching authority of the Church”. And after school he got a prestigious position as Michigan Assistant Attorney General.

But things took a tick in the wrong direction in March 2010 when Chris Armstrong was elected Student Body President at University of Michigan. Armstrong was a Radical Homosexual Activist, you see.

And rather handsome.

So Shirvell decided that he needed to keep an eye on things. Not having the distractions of wife or family, Shirvell had plenty of time to keep track of what kind of radical homosexual agenda Armstrong was up to and report on it in a blogsite dedicated to just that purpose.

He hid in Armstrong’s bushes, peered in his windows, and followed him on campus taking pictures to post on chris-armstrong-watch.blogspot.com. He posted pictures of Armstrong with swastikas scribbles on his face and accused him of being racist and a pervert and Satan’s representative on the Student Council.

His efforts caught him some attention, such as an interview with Anderson Cooper. Shirvell probably thought that was going to be a good day, but… well… it really wasn’t.

YouTube Preview Image

At first his boss, AG Mike Cox defended Shirvell’s right to “free speech outside work hours”. Cox even went on Cooper’s show to defend him. That proved not to be a good day for either of them.

In October 2010, Shirvell took an “indefinite personal leave”, with the expectation of returning to his job after things quieted down and people stopped asking his boss if he usually hired escapees from the looney bin. Nevertheless, no, not a good day.

But on November 8, 2010, Andrew was fired. It seems that some of his cyber-stalking was done on office computers. Definitely a terrible, horrible day.

But that wasn’t no good, very bad enough. Armstrong sued Shirvell for harassment, asking for $25,000. And being short on funds, Shirvell chose to hire a lawyer that didn’t have the best track record: himself.

Maybe he thought it a daring strategy, but when he spent an hour questioning himself on the stand, it probably didn’t give quite the impression that he wanted. The jury didn’t think that Armstrong’s request was reasonable and came back with different verdict: 4.5 million dollars. Definitely a no good day, no good at all.

He then tried to sue Armstrong’s attorney for suggesting that he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the hallway. (What are they teaching at Ave Maria? Yikes!). But the judge tossed the case saying that the attorneys statements were either her opinion or, perhaps, true. Terrible, check; horrible, check; no good, check; very bad, check.

But there was a bright ray of sunshine in the dark. In December 2012, Judge Paula Manderfield told the state of Michigan that they had to pay Shirvell unemployment. He had a First Amendment right to say crazy wackadoodle things and not be fired for it. So there’s that.

But this week he had another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. A Michigan appeals court ruled that he doesn’t get any unemployment compensation after all. Embarrassing your boss and discrediting the state isn’t protected speech, it turns out. (Detroit Free Press)

The attorney general’s office was justified in firing Andrew Shirvell in 2010 because his posts on Facebook and an anti-gay blog, as well as his campus visits and TV appearances, clearly had an adverse impact on the agency’s credibility, the court said in a 3-0 decision released Friday.

“Shirvell’s conduct undermined one of the department’s specific missions — i.e. the integrity of its anti-cyberbullying campaign,” said judges Stephen Borrello, Christopher Murray and Peter O’Connell. “By employing an individual such as Shirvell, whose conduct Cox agreed amounted to bullying, the department undermined its own message.”

Ya think?

Andrew plans on appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“Every public employee, whether liberal or conservative, will now be in fear of what they’re doing on their off hours,” he said.

Yep, Andrew Shirvell is still nutty as squirrel poo. And he has probably moved his obsession on to some other handsome radical homosexual activist and is busy creeping out whomever he meets.

But at this point all I can feel for him is pity. That’s a long string of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

Apply nightly

Timothy Kincaid

January 13th, 2015

renewed hope

At first glance, I immediately thought of Restored Hope Network, the anti-gay ex-gay group that arose after Exodus International closed up shop. But, sadly for Restored Hope, wrinkles are easier to fight off than one’s inherent orientation.

South Dakota’s marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

marriage 2015

dark purple – marriage equality
light purple – marriage equality in part of the state
pink – marriage equality stayed
yellow – federal ruling for discrimination
red – appellate ruling for discrimination

A federal judge has ruled, on summary judgement, that marriage is a fundamental right and that the ban on same-sex marriage in South Dakota violates the Equal Protections clause of the US Constitution. (Sun Times)

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed the lawsuit. The federal complaint challenges both South Dakota’s ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed in other states.

Judge Schreier stayed the ruling pending appeal, at least in part because the Eighth Circuit has not heard or ruled on a marriage equality case. The Eighth Circuit also includes:

Iowa – marriage equality due to a state supreme court ruling.
Minnesota – marriage equality as the result of legislation after the voters rejected a constitutional ban
Missouri – in November two judges ruled for marriage equality and did not stay their rulings. However these did not necessarily apply across the state, resulting in a few counties and the city of St. Louis issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Arkansas – in November a federal judge ruled for marriage equality. That ruling is stayed pending appeal.
Nebraska – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.
North Dakota – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.

The plaintiffs have indicated that they will appeal the stay.

SCOTUS drops Louisiana appeal

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

Among the marriage case appeals under consideration last Friday was Robicheaux v. George, in which U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman had found that the state of Louisiana had a “legitimate interest” in prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. The plaintiffs appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, but also appealed to the Supreme Court to hear the case before the circuit court decision.

The Supreme Court has now announced that it will not be hearing Robicheaux at this time. This is likely not detrimental to the cause of marriage equality, as the case was heard last week by the Fifth Circuit, and nearly all observers predict that the ruling will be overturned by that court.

SCOTUS has also announced that the four cases in which the Sixth Circuit upheld discrimination will be considered at their conference this Friday. As it stands, if any marriage cases are taken up by the court this year, it will be those in which laws singling out gay people for exclusion have been upheld.

Ninth Circuit slaps down Butch Otter

Timothy Kincaid

January 10th, 2015

Idaho Governor Butch Otter has had his hat handed back to him. Again.

Otter’s defense of the state’s anti-gay marriage laws hasn’t gone well. He lost in federal court. He lost on appeal at the Ninth Circuit. And the Supreme Court is not considering whether to hear Idaho’s appeal. On October 10th of last year, Justice Kennedy lifted the last stay and marriages have been occurring since.

But it seems that Otter hasn’t met Captain Obvious. So, in what appears to be a pointless effort, he appealed to the Ninth Circuit to hear his case en banc (by a larger panel of judges).

Yeah… no.

He did get the support of three judges, O’Scannlain, Rawlinson, and Bea, but,

The full court was advised of the petitions for rehearing en banc. A judge requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. The matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of the nonrecused active judges in favor of en banc reconsideration.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Four Marriage Cases

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the four marriage cases in which the Sixth Circuit turned back an effort to bring marriage equality or marriage recognition in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. According to today’s order: (PDF: 43KB/2 pages) the Court intends to keep the arguments focused on two narrow questions:

The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted limited to the following questions: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? A total of ninety minutes is allotted for oral argument on Question 1. A total of one hour is allotted for oral argument on Question 2. The parties are limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions. The briefs of petitioners are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015. The briefs of respondents are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015. The reply briefs are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2015.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog believes that oral arguments may take place in late April with a final ruling “probably in late June.” He adds:

Although the Court said explicitly that it was limiting review to the two basic issues, along the way the Justices may have to consider what constitutional tests they are going to apply to state bans, and what weight to give to policies that states will claim to justify one or the other of the bans.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 16

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Arosa Gay Ski Week, Arosa, Switzerland; Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen, CO; Bärenpaadiie, Hamburg, Germany; Midsumma, Melbourne, VIC; Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, Washington, DC.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
From 1965 to 1968, Houston had a gay newspaper called the Albatross. In itsOctober 1, 1965 issue, the Albatross welcomed a new advertiser from Lake Charles, Louisiana:

Lounging around the Calcasieu at THE GASLIGHT with genial hostess, Georgia, and associates, Rene and Giselle doing a good Saturday biz. A new sponsor of THE ALBATROSS, The Gaslight bows into this issue with their ad and invites all of their friends of other towns and cities to stop in for hospitality cognizicant (sic) of fair Lake Charles. Your reporter truly enjoyed the flavor of drinks… atmosphere… and well-rounded personalities who makeup (sic) the GASLIGHT! Come see Georgia!

The Gaslight apparently lasted just a few years. Its advertisements were gone by 1968. The building today houses a hair salon.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Conviction of Lesbians for “Unnatural Carnal Copulation”: 1967. Convictions of women for “crimes against nature” have been exceedingly rare in our nation’s history, but the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1967 upheld two such convictions. In 1966, Mary Young and Dawn DeBlanc were arrested and charged with “having committed a crime against nature” under Louisiana law during the course of a prostitution sting. A police officer testified in court that he had spoken with DeBlanc over the phone about arranging to meet her and Young at a motel. As they settled on a price for services rendered, DeBlanc said that sometimes they “gave a show” for an additional charge. The evidence at trial for the crime against nature charge was slim: A photo of the girls naked in the motel room when they were arrested and certain comic books in one of the girls’ purses which was labeled obscene. Judge Frank Shea refused to throw out the flimsy evidence, and in stead instructed the jury that the law defining “crimes against nature” included any joining or connection of a genital organ of one person with the mouth of another. He also refused to instruct the jury on laws on entrapment.

Young and DeBlanc were convicted and sentenced to thirty months in the Orleans Parish prison. They appealed the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court on the grounds that the charge was vague. In 1967, the court ruled:

The statute, of course, requires proof of an “unnatural carnal copulation.” As pointed out by this court … this phrase simply means “any and all carnal copulation or sexual joining and coition that is devious and abnormal because it is contrary to the natural traits and/or instincts intended by nature, and therefore does not conform to the order ordained by nature. … Oral copulation by and between two women constituted “unnatural carnal copulation” within statute proscribing such conduct.

[Source: Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the USA (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1976): pp 127-128.]

Photo by Annie Leibovitz

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Susan Sontag: 1933-2004. Her literary career began in fiction, and she considered herself mainly a novelist even it was her essays which made her famous. When “Notes on ‘Camp'” was first published in the Partisan Review in 1964, it established her reputation as a critical thinker in popular culture. That essay has become the reference point for everything we thing about when we think of “camp”: the “so bad it’s good” quality; the celebration of the unnatural, the obvious artifice which fails to conceal deeper truths; the mocking of all that is serious; the playfulness that serves as an answer to moral indignation. Her series On Photography, which first appeared in the New York Review of Books between 1973 and 1977, drew on the works of Dian Arbus, Andy Warhol, and the Depression-era photography commissioned by the Farm Security Administration to illustrate the relationship of photography to the viewer and the photo’s subject.

When she published Illness as Metaphor in 1978, she tackled the way sufferers of diseases are affected by the perceived morality and character traits of the disease itself. “With the modern diseases (once TB, now cancer), the romantic idea that the disease expresses the character is invariably extended to assert that the character causes the disease — because it has not expressed itself. Passion moves inward, striking and blighting the deepest cellular recesses.” Written while she was being treated for breast cancer, she argued that the metaphors people applied to diseases had the effect of silencing and shaming patients. Her observations couldn’t have been more prescient time. When AIDS came along just a few years later, Illness as Metaphor would find deeper relevance in the gay community, and it would lead her to write its continuation, AIDS and Its Metaphors in 1988.

Sontag was nothing if not controversial. Easily dismissive of anything she saw as smacking of provincialism — including the provincialisms of intellectual Harvard, Paris, Oxford or New York, making her relationship with the city she called home an uneasy one. “I don’t like America enough to want to live anywhere else except Manhattan. And what I like about Manhattan is that it’s full of foreigners. The America I live in is the America of the cities. The rest is just drive-through.” That was tame. In 1965, she famously remarked that “the white race is the cancer of human history.” She expanded that view in 1967 when she wrote, “America was founded on a genocide, on the unquestioned assumption of the right of white Europeans to exterminate a resident, technologically backward, colored population in order to take over the continent.” In 1968, her anger at the U.S. led her to visit North Vietnam, which she documented in “Trip to Hanoi.” That same year, she visited Cuba and called for a sympathetic understanding of the Cuban Revolution. Critics denounced her for what they saw as a naive sentimentality when it came to Communism. A few years later, Sontag renounced her earlier views, particularly when the Cuban regime imprisoned the poet Heberto Padilla and launched a wave of persecutions against the island’s gay community.

She drew another wave of indignation following the September 11 terrorist attacks, when she wrote in the New Yorker, “Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? … In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.”

Aware that she was bisexual at during her early teens, Sontag was married from 1950 to 1959, a union which produced a son, David. After her divorce, she had a number of lovers, both male and female. She had been open about her sexuality since 1995. In 2000, she told The Guardian that she had been in love seven times in her life. “No, hang on,” she said.” “Actually, it’s nine. Five women, four men.” The last of those loves was photographer Annie Leibovitz (see Oct 2), a relationship that lasted from the 1980s until the day Sontag died of cancer in 2004. Her New York Times obituary, like most obituaries, said only that she was survived by her son and a younger sister.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, January 15

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Arosa Gay Ski Week, Arosa, Switzerland; Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen, CO; Bärenpaadiie, Hamburg, Germany; Midsumma, Melbourne, VIC; Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, Washington, DC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), August 30, 1976, page 18.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), August 30, 1976, page 18.

The International, which was also known variously as International Stud or just the Stud, was known more or less for just one thing. As the local newspaper GAY put it in 1971: “The (International) Stud, Greenwich & Perry Sts. The best make out bar in the Village.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Torch Song Trilogy Debuts: 1982. The play is actually a collection of three plays by actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein (see Jun 6), with each play taking up an act in the final production: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First!. The thread that ties the three plays together is the central character, Arnold Beckoff, a torch song-singing Jewish drag queen, with each act focusing on a different phase in Beckoff’s life.

The first staging of International Stud took place in February 2, 1978, and deals with Arnold’s troubled relationship with Ed. International Stud is named for a real life gay bar in the 1960s and 1970s, the backroom of which plays a central role in the play. Act Two, Fugue in a Nursery, sees Arnold settling down with Alan and planing to adopt a child. It debuted on February 1, 1979. By the time Torch Song Trilogy opened three years later, Widows and Children First! and an opening soliloquy were added to complete the trilogy, with Act 3 finding Arnold, now tragically post-Alan, raising a gay teen and dealing with the teen’s his mother-from-hell from Florida.

The four hour long Torch Song Trilogy opened at the Actor’s Playhouse with a star studded cast: Fierstein, Joel Crothers, a young Matthew Broderick as the teen son David, and Estelle Getty as the evil mother. After its run at the Actors’ Playhouse, Torch Song Trilogy moved to the Little Theater Broadway in June, where it ran for 1,222 performances and won two Tonys. It was made into a movie in 1988, starring Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick (now grown up and playing Alan), and Brian Kerwin.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Loïe Fuller: 1862-1928. Born Marie Louise Fuller outside of Chicago, she began her theatrical career as a child actress and dancer/choreographer in burlesque, vaudeville and traveling circuses. Those early years as a dancer are when she developed her improvisational dance techniques, and where she learned to combine choreography with silk costumes and multi-colored lights and made her a pioneer of both modern dance and theatrical lighting.

She became famous enough in America, but she didn’t feel appreciated as an actress. She moved to Paris, where she found a warm embrace in the City of Lights. A regular at the Folies Bergère, her works Serpentine Dance and Fire Dance became signature pieces of the Art Nouveau movement. She also went on to hold several patents related to stage lighting, including chemical compounds used in color gels, luminescent lighting, and fabrics. Her work profoundly influenced other French scientists and artists, including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, François-Raoul Larche, Henri-Pierre Roche, Auguste Rodin and Marie Curie. Fuller introduced Isadora Duncan to Parisian audiences and advancing the acceptance of modern dance as a serious art form. She devleoped a close friendship with Queen Marie of Romania, and maintained a twenty-year live-in relationship with Gabrielle Block, a Jewish-French banking heiress known for dressing only in men’s suits. Fuller remained in Paris, returning only occasionally to America. She died in Paris of Pneumonia on the first day of 1928 at the age of 65.

In 1899, the Lumière brothers filmed and hand-colored, frame by frame, a performance by an unknown dancer of Loïe Fuller’s Serpentine Dance:

More early filmed versions of Serpentine Dance are available here.

Ivor Novello: 1893-1951. The Welsh screen idol did it all: actor on stage and silent screen, playwright and composer. When the Great War broke out, he wrote the music for the song “Keep the Home Fires Burning” to lyrics written by American Lena Guilbert-Ford. That hit was Novello’s debut in the the entertainment business. In 1916, he was drafted into the Royal Naval Air Service and trained as a pilot, but after crashing twice, he was transferred to central London to work as a clerk. That allowed him to work as a composer for theater during his off hours. That’s when he met actor Bobbie Andrews, who would become Novello’s life partner. He also met Noel Coward (see Dec 16), who envied “the magic atmosphere in which (Novello) moved and breathed with such nonchalance”

After the war, Novellow continued to find success in composing for musical comedy. He also began making a career of acting, first on the stage and then in film. He appeared in D.W. Griffith’s The White Rose (1923) and in two early Alfred Hitchcock silent thriller The Lodger (1926) and Downhill (1927). A lucrative contract from a British film company allowed him to buy a country house west of London which he renamed Redroofs, and entertained with little regard for convention. Those parties led to the rise of “the Ivor/Noel naughty set,” named for Novello, Noel Coward, and, shall we say, those sorts of people. During the late 1920s Novello was perhaps the most popular star in British films. In 1930, he took his plays Symphony in Two Flats and The Truth Game to Broadway, where he was offered a contract with MGM. But beyond writing the dialogue for Tarzan the Ape Man (including the famous line, “Me Tarzan, you Jane”), his Hollywood career failed to pan out.

Hollywood’s loss was London’s gain. On his return, he added playwriting to his repertoire of talents, which, along with his compositions, made him a powerhouse of British theater. A string of hits followed through the 1930s and 40s. He died suddenly in 1951, while still at the top of his game, from a coronary thrombosis and with Andrews at his side. Coward wrote in his diary, “Another landmark swept away. Poor, poor Bobbie… he will be utterly devastated.” Thousands of fans lined the streets to give their final goodbyes and his funeral was broadcast live on BBC. Four years later, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) established the Ivor Novello Awards for songwriting and composing. The Ivors, as the awards are called, remain the only award that is judged by the writing community, and not by publishers and recording companies.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 14

Jim Burroway

January 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Arosa Gay Ski Week, Arosa, Switzerland; Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen, CO; Bärenpaadiie, Hamburg, Germany; Midsumma, Melbourne, VIC; Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, Washington, DC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, a Houston-based, nationally-distributed magazine dedicated to gay motorcycle clubs. December 1983, pages 28-29.

From Club Scene, a Houston-based, nationally-distributed magazine dedicated to gay motorcycle clubs. December 1983, pages 28-29.

Dallas’s Hidden Door is still in business, having just celebrated its 35th anniversary last month.

An unidentified patient at Worcester State Hospital (Photo by Herbert Gehr/Life Magazine, 1949)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Hormone Treatments Found Ineffective for Altering Homosexuality (Or, More Precisely, Gender Identity): 1941. It’s a good thing this idea was knocked down rather early in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, it took a series of medical experiments on a mental hospital patient (almost certainly without the patient’s consent) to arrive at that conclusion. Worse, in an example which brings to mind the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the experiments were performed on an African-American patient. According to Dr. Saul Rosenzweig and R.G. Hoskins, working at Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, the patient, apparently transgender (in 1941, the idea of gender identity as distinct from sexual orientation was still unknown in the medical literature, which explains why doctors pegged her as homosexual), was admitted to the hospital following the death of her male lover:

The patient, A.D., a male negro of 46, entered the Northampton State Hospital in 1921 and 4 years later was transferred to the Worcester State Hospital with a diagnosis of “constitutional psychopathic personality without psychosis.” …[His symptoms] consisted mainly of seclusiveness, shyness, pronounced effeminacy, and excessive preoccupation with drawing, painting, designing of women’s clothes and similar “artistic” activities. His speech became disjointed and unresponsive and for two years he refrained from leaving his home. He talked of wearing women’s clothes and often went to bed with presumably imaginary ailments. Upon admission to the Worcester State Hospital he showed no pronounced psychotic symptoms.

He is a short, stocky negro who, except for his large masculine genitals, is in every respect a woman. He shows an exaggerated female gait and speech and all the mannerisms of a clinging-vine type of female, spends hours at his toilette, and says he is fond of being well-groomed. With men he is coy, silly, and affected. With the other sex he talks as one woman to another. He daily asks for cathartics and is overinterested in the needs of his lower intestinal tract. He knows he is considered effeminate, but says that that is the way God made him. He further excuses his peculiarities on the ground that he is an artistic genius and therefore entitled to a few eccentricities.

A.D. had been a patient for 20 years with little change in his mannerisms or appearance. What is alarming about this report so far is the admission that A.D. is a long-term mental patient “without psychosis.” It’s hard to imaging what the doctors would be looking for as a sign that A.D. was ready to be discharged, although it’s equally hard to imagine how A.D. would have been able to function in the world if he had been discharged after 21 years of confinement. But of course, the alarm doesn’t end there. Rosenzweig and Hoskins decided that A.D. was the perfect candidate for a series of experiments:

From October 16 to November 10, 1939 he was given orally the potent synthetic estrogen, Stilboestrol (Squibb), in dosage of 5 mgm. three times a week.

On December 6 he received an implant of a 150-milligram tablet of Testosterone (Schering), which was embedded in the subcutaneous tissues beneath the inferior angle of the left scapula.

On December 20, 1939 to February 7, 1940, intramuscular injections were given of a gonadotropic preparation derived from pregnant-mare serum (Anteron-Schering). The dosage was 1 cc. or 250 units twice weekly. Because of an upper respiratory infection medication was omitted during the week of January 11.

An attempt was then made to enhance the responsivity to sex hormones by the use of desiccated thyroid (Armour). This was begun on February 1 at 1 grain daily and continued throughout the remainder of the study.

On February 9, Pituitary Gonadotropic — Pranturon (Schering) — was substituted for the pregnant-mare preparation, also in dosage of 1 cc. twice weekly. At the same time Testosterone Propionate by intramuscular injection was begun in dosage of 50 mgm. twice a week. Both were continued until February 29.

On March 9 another estrogenic preparation was begun, Ayerst Mc-Kenna and Harrison’s Emmenin being used in dosage of 1 teaspoonful three times daily. This was discontinued on March 11.

Finally, from April 6 to 11 another estrogen, Estriol (Lilly), was given in the large dosage, 6.24 mgm. three times a day.

What was the point of all of this bizarre hormonal treatments on A.D.? Rozenzweig and Hoskins believed that homosexuality was caused by an “imbalance of male and female sex-hormone production,” and that by altering that ratio, they hoped to be able to observe changes in A.D.’s behavior. They failed. “No influence upon the behavior or the personality of the patient could be detected.” For Rozenzweig and Hoskins, it was back to the drawing board. But for A.D., we may never know what became of her.

[Source: Saul Rosenzweig & R.G. Hoskins. “A note on the ineffectualness of sex-hormone medication in a case of pronounced homosexuality.” Psychosomatic Medicine 3, no. 1 (January 1941): 87-89.]

“To Love and Let Love”: 1964. A short essay by Tom Wilson appeared in the January 1964 edition of the Mattachine Review which highlights the generous tolerance that many homosexual men and women felt toward those who were different:

Just because we prefer members of our own sex as love partners is no valid reason why we should persecute or harass men and women who choose to love members of the opposite sex. After all, it is no concern of ours what two adult heterosexuals of sound mind do in the privacy of their own homes so long as they do not prey on minors or flaunt their eccentricities in public, they should not be prosecuted.

I further believe that heterosexuals should be allowed to congregate in public places such as bars, restaurants and clubs, as that is their constitutional right as American citizens. Nor should we frown upon public dancing between men and women, much as we may deplore it as an odious practice. We must learn to be tolerant in these matters.

Furthermore, I believe that heterosexuals should be allowed to serve in the government and the armed forces, without being investigated by the F.B.I. regarding their private lives. I believe this, despite the fact that the majority of Americans involved in security risk situations are heterosexuals. Although it is true that more straight people become involved with the law than homosexuals (paradoxical [sic] as that may sound), this does not justify our unleashing a campaign of prejudice against them. They have many emotional and psychological problems which probably account, in part, for their apparent instability and we should do all we can to “understand” and alleviate their “problem:’

It has not yet been fully determined just what makes a heterosexual. No doubt environment, bed-wetting, broken families, early mother or father fixation, and many other complex problems playa part. Frankly, there has been very little scientific investigation into the origin anddevelopment of the heterosexual, except in the past decade or so, and such research still does not scratch the surface. In any case, it is obvious that most heterosexuals consider themselves normal and would not want to be “cured” (I use the word advisedly) even if there was any legitimate treatment. It is important to emphasize the fact that heterosexuals are not criminals. I have, on occasion, invited them into my own home and some of my best friends are heterosexuals.

…Organizations of heterosexuals and periodicals devoted to their way of life should be allowed full freedom under the lawand their press should be unhampered solong as it does not encourage pen-pals and utilize pornography. Poems and stories involving ‘girl-meets-boy’ themes should, of course, be permitted. and movies-and pIa ys dealing with heterosexual love should not be censored. This is, after all, the twentieth century, and we must progress with the times.

Further, I believe we should fight for the repeal of all laws which penalize sex between heterosexuals (in fact, a “Wilson Report” on this important matter will be the next project your reporter w.illundertake). Many ancient laws, often unenforced it is true, but still on the books, call for penalties up to ten years in prison (and higher in some states) for certain sexual acts between men and women, even if they are marriedI I feel that any type of sex-play between members of the opposite sex is just as natural and right as that between members of the same sex II may not agree with what heterosexuals do, but I will fight to the death their right to do it!

[Source: Tom Wilson. “Love and Let Love.” Mattachine Review 10, no. 1 (January 1964): 4-6.]

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 13

Jim Burroway

January 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, October 1954, page 31.

From ONE, October 1954, page 31.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Unitarian Church Sponsors Symposium on Homosexuality: 1954. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a long history of inquiry on a large number of contentious topics. In 1954, the First Unitarian Church of Miami hosted a forum called “Homosexuality: Cause, Society, and Crime.” According to a write-up in ONE magazine, the nation’s first gay publication, the attendance “broke all existing records.” The panel included Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, psychologist Dr. Syvil Marquit (no affiliation was given), Dr. Jack Capschan of the University of Miami’s psychology department, and Dr. Alvin Winder, psychologist for the Veterans Administration. The psychologists generally agreed that homosexuality wasn’t an illness, but they differed on whether it was “curable” or whether society was the problem. Mayor Aronovitz however pleaded ignorance on the subject, saying he was only there because “in his desire to please, he had instructed his secretary to accept all speaking engagements.”:

He said that there are three or four places in Miami where homosexuals gather, but that the proprietors were not in business to help these people, only to profit monetarily from their suffering. He said that he didn’t want Miami known as a haven for homosexuals or divorce getting or any other criminals, but that homosexuals should not be persecuted or hounded, because they were undoubtedly suffering from a sickness of the mind. To conclude, he added, “They certainly need kindly understanding, but whose rights shall we consider?”

The discussion was then opened to questions from the audience. The first question was “How can we cure homosexuality?” Dr. Kapschan answered with this question, “Is it not possible that instead of sick homosexuals, we have a sick society?” Dr. Marquit added that we must have a wider acceptance of homosexuals. “In other words,” he said, “your sex life is your own business.”

…Then Mayor Aronovitz asked, “I would like to know if there are any individuals who have had the glorous experience of normal sexual relations who prefer homosexual relations?” “I’m sorry to disappoint the Mayor,” answered Dr. Marquit, “but it has been proven that a large percentage of confirmed homosexuals have experienced ‘glorious’ heterosexual relations. Then it was asked “If these, people are to be driven from the bars, beaches, and other gathering places, where would you have them spend their leisure time?” Mayor Aronovitz answered that if society accepted this, it should not be persecuted.

To the question “Is prejudice against homosexuality related to intolerance?” Dr. Kapschan answered, “Yes, research has proven that prejudice is generally against a number of minority groups, not just homosexuality. The authoritarian personality that condemns persons for their homosexual behavior is much more of a threat to society than the homosexual himself. They are psychoneurotics who need psychiatric treatment, not the harmless homosexual who varies from the so-called normal, criticized only insofar as what he does in bed. Prejudice against the homosexual makes an especially good scapegoat for the authoritarian personality.”

ONE’s editors were greatly encouraged by the forum, and hoped that it would “lead to more stimulated discussions by qualified people, sponsored by churches and other civic-minded groups.” Those hopes were short-lived however, as Mayor Aronovitz would go on that year to lead a notoriousanti-gay witch hunt in his city (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, Aug 16, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16).

[Source: Unsigned. “Who’s Sick?” ONE 2, no. 2 (February 1954): 4-5.]

ONE's first issue, January 1953.

ONE’s first issue, January 1953.

 US Supreme Court Issues First Gay Rights Ruling: 1958. It was barely a ruling, just a terse, one-sentence line, issued by the Supreme Court without hearing oral arguments. Reading the one-page document without knowing anything about the cases mentioned therein would leave one without the slightest idea what the whole thing was about. But that was all it took for the US Supreme Court to affirm the rights of the first major gay magazine, ONE, to be distributed by the U.S. Postal Service without its subject matter, homosexuality, being declared obscene.

When ONE debuted in January 1953, it sported a very sophisticated look, with bold graphics and professional typset and design. It  quickly caught the attention gays and lesbians across the country, and circulation jumped to nearly 2,000 within a few months — with most subscribers paying extra to have their magazine delivered in an unmarked wrapper. By today’s standards, ONE is tame. There were no racy pictures, its fiction was mostly limited to depictions of longing and desire, and there was nary any evidence of physical contact on its pages.

But what the magazine lacked in raciness, it made up for in political audacity. ONE’s editorial tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment, employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. And most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors. But in a sign of those times, all letters to the editor were published anonymously — from “m” in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or from “f” in Beaumont, Texas.

The August 1953 issue was held by the Post Office for three weeks.

The August 1953 issue was held by the Post Office for three weeks.

ONE also caught the eye of the U.S. Post Office. Since its inception, Los Angeles postal authorities vetted each issue before deciding whether it was legal to ship under the Post Office’s stringent anti-obscenity standards. And since homosexuality was illegal in most states, ONE had the added problem of possibly being guilty of promoting criminal activity. The Post Office finally acted in August 1953, holding up that month’s issue for three weeks while deciding if it violated federal laws. The cover story for that issue was on “homosexual marriage,” making ONE the first gay publication to tackle the subject seriously (see Aug 20). Finally, officials in Washington decided the magazine didn’t violate federal laws and ordered the LA Post Office to release it for shipment.

ONE, true to its aggressive stance, reacted defiantly to that move in its October issue by proclaiming in an editorial printed on its covers, “ONE is not grateful”:

ONE's defiant message to the Post Office was splayed on the front and back cover of the October 1953 issue.

ONE’s defiant message to the Post Office was splayed on the front and back cover of the October 1953 issue.

Your August issue is late because the postal authorities in Washington and Los Angeles had it under a microscope. They studied it carefully from the 2nd until the 18th of September and finally decided that there was nothing obscene, lewd or lascivious in it. They allowed it to continue on its way. We have been found suitable for mailing.

This official decision changes our status considerably. Incredible as it may seem to everyone else but us, we have been pronounced respectable. The Post Office found that ONE is obscene in no way, incites no one to anything but thought and doesn’t want to overthrow the government. This decision will also indicate to the timorous deviate that we are a safer bet than once assumed. Many who were contented to be told what to read, will now consider the matter of their own dignity and human rights. Subscriptions will mount astronomically. We are prepared.

…But one point must be made very clear. ONE is not grateful. ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance. It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered. ONE’s victory might seem big and historic as you read of it in the comfort of your home (locked in the bathroom? hidden under a stack of other magazines? sealed first class?). But the deviate hearing of our late August issue through jail bars will not be overly impressed.

But as defiant as ONE was in the October 1953 issue, they knew that the threat of closure due to postal censorship still loomed large — that is, if finances and distribution problems didn’t get to them first. Their prediction for astronomical subscriptions didn’t materialize, and ONE was forced to skip the August and September issues the following year. With such precarious finances, the last thing ONE needed was more legal trouble. ONE’s editors asked Eric Julber, their young straight lawyer fresh out of law school, to write a set of rules for the staff to follow — what they could publish, and what they should avoid. When readers began to complain that ONE was too tame, the editors asked Julber to print his rules in the October 1954 issue with a cover declaring, “You Can’t Print It!” Those rules prohibited:

The October 1954 issue of ONE. Ironically, this is the issue that got the magazine blocked by the Post Office.

(1) Lonely hearts ads, seeking pen pals or meetings.

(2) “Cheesecake” art or photos. To readers who ask, “But how about all the girlie magazines?” I can only reply that in our society, visual stimulation of man by woman is tolerated to a far greater extent than attempted visual stimulation of man by man, for what is in law a criminal purpose.

(3) Descriptions of sexual acts, or the preliminaries thereto. Again here, what is permissible in heterosexual literature is not permissible in ONE’s context.

(4) Descriptions of experiences which become too explicit. I.e., permissible: “John was my friend for a year.” Not permissible: “That night we made mad love.”

(5) Descriptions of homosexuality as a practice which the author encourages in others, or waxes too enthusiastic about.

(6) Fiction with too much physical contact between the characters. I.e., characters cannot rub knees, feel thighs, hold hands, soap backs, or undress before one another. (All examples taken from recent contributions).

Julber also insisted that he review each issue before it went to the publisher. But all this failed to keep ONE out of trouble — maybe because Julber didn’t strictly enforce his own rules. The October 1954 issue turned out to be arguably the raciest to date. That issue featured a fictional short story called “Sappho Remembered,” in which two young lovers touched each other four times, declared their love for each other, and the story had a happy ending. Another feature, a poem, made light of the arrest of several British public figures — including Lord Montagu (see Oct 20) and actor John Gielgud (see Apr 14) — on “morals” charges (“Lord Samuel is a legal peer / (While real are Monty’s curls!) / Some peers are seers but some are queers / And some boys WILL be girls.”). And there were two ads — one for the Swiss magazine Der Kreis (which, postal officials charged, meant that ONE was advertising “obscene materials” because Der Kreis often published beefcake photos; see Mar 16) and another for men’s pajamas and intimate wear (see today’s sponsor above).

That was enough for the Los Angeles Post Office to seize that issue —- the one with “You Can’t Print It!” on the cover -— and charge the editors with violating the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” material through the mail. Jubler took the case for free, without the help of the ACLU (which was still defending the constitutionality of sodomy laws; see Jan 17) and sued the the Los Angeles Postmaster Otto Olesen in Federal Court. It didn’t go well. The judge ruled for the Post Office in March 1956, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in February 1957, calling ONE “morally depraving and debasing” because the magazine “has a primary purpose of exciting lust, lewd and lascivious thoughts and sensual desires in the minds of persons reading it.”

ONE then took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. To everyone’s surprise, the Court agreed to consider the case, its first ever dealing with homosexuality. Even more surprising, instead of granting certiorari and scheduling briefs and oral arguments, the Supreme Court simply issued a short, one-sentence decision on January 13, 1958 based on the Appeals court transcript and overturned the two lower courts. The Supreme Court’s order simply read:

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth circuit and was duly submitted.

On consideration whereof, it is ordered and adjudged by this Court tht the judgment of the said United States Court of Appeals, in this case, be, and the same is hereby, reversedl and that this cause e, and the same is herey, remanded to the United States district Court for the Southern District of California. Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476.

ONE celebrates its victory. February 1958, page 16.

ONE celebrates its victory. February 1958, page 16.

That case cited in the order, Roth v. United States was the key. Roth was a landmark 1957 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court more narrowly defined obscenity as material whose “”dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest” to the “average person, applying contemporary community standards.” The court also found that “All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties” of the First Amendment. Thanks to Roth sorts of material that had been previously banned could be freely published and distributed — James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and so on. And now with ONE v. Olesen expanding Roth’s application to include homosexual themes, lesbian and gay publications could be mailed without legal repercussions — although many continued to experience harassment from the Post Office and U.S. Customs. Editor Don Slater (see Aug 21) celebrated the ONE decision in the February 1958 issue:

By winning this decision ONE Magazine has made not only history but law as well and has changed the future for all U. S. homosexuals. Never before have homosexuals claimed their right as citizens. Not even the Berdache, nor the Greeks, nor the Napoleonic Code, nor Wolfenden “recommendations,” nor The American Law Institute “recommendations” have managed to mean so much to so many. ONE Magazine no longer asks for the right to be heard; it now exercises that right. It further requires that homosexuals be treated as a proper part of society free to discuss and educate and propagandize their beliefs with no greater limitations than for any other group.

 Jesse Helms Calls Gays “Disgusting People”: 1990. When the three-term Senator from North Carolina stood on the platform at the state fairgrounds before a crowd of 1,700 to announce his intention to run for a fourth term, there was no doubt whatsoever what his platform would be: abortions and gays. “Family values in American are under attack as never before,” he said. “Think about it. Homosexuals and lesbians, disgusting people marching in our streets demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other. How do you like them apples?” Helms won that election, and another one again in 1996 before finally leaving the Senate in 2003. Helms is currently dead.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Charles Nelson Reilly: 1931-2007. He was a very well respected Broadway actor, director and drama school teacher, but he was best known and beloved for his campy comedic roles and as a panelist on the game show The Match Game. His break on Broadway came in 1960 with Bye Bye Birdie. His part was small, but it opened the door to 1961’s Pulitzer prize-winning musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He was also featured in 1964’s Hello, Dolly! Through the 1960s and 70s, he had several comedic guest appearances on television. He was a regular on The Dean Martin Show and made countless appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His campy character and his flamboyant dress marked him as a gay man. He never explicitly acknowledged it, although he would joke about how “butch” he was on The Match Game. No one asked, he didn’t tell, but everyone knew and no one bothered much with keeping the secret. In 2002, he finally discussed his private live in his one-man show Save It for the Stage, which became the basis for the autobiographical independent film, The Life of Reilly. He was too ill to attend its premiere in 2006 at South by Southwest, and he died at home on in 2007.

 Rip Taylor: 1934. I’ll bet you didn’t know this: the King of Confetti, known for his handlebar mustache, wild wigs, crazy props, and compulsive confetti throwing, began his adult life as a page in the U.S. Senate. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? After being drafted to serve in the Korean War, he came home and began his career as a stand-up comic. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a regular on several variety and game shows (including Hollywood Squares and The Gong Show), and a voice for Popeye and The Addams Family cartoons. His Gong Show gig led to his own brief program, $1.98 Beauty Show, which was produced by Gong Show executive and host Chuck Barris and was on the air from 1978 to 1980.

His schtick is that of an old fashioned gag man, deploying odd props as bad puns, dropping the worst one-liners imaginable, and manically throwing confetti. His show as been a mainstay in Vegas, either as an emcee for a chorus line show or an opening act for Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Ann-Margaret. As a result, he was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year for three years in a row in the 1970s. He’s also had a few more serious roles, including as Demi Moore’s boss in Indecent Proposal and in Broadway productions of Oliver!, Peter Pan and Anything Goes. More recently, The “Prince of Pandemonium” and the “Master of Mayhem” has had cameos in Will & Grace, George Lopez, and the first three Jackass movies. In 2006, he made another notable cameo appearance in his home town of Washington, D.C., as the grand martial for the Capital Pride parade. In 2010, he gave another more serious performance for his one-man show It Ain’t All Confetti.

Here’s a clip from 1987:

 Edmund White: 1940. He was born in Cincinnati and grew up in Chicago, then studied Chinese at the University of Michigan. He worked as a journalist in New York, then moved to France and settled in as a writer. In 1973, he co-wrote the first edition of The Joy of Gay Sex with psychologist Charles Silverstein, and that set him on his course of what one observer called his dedication to sexual truth-telling. His best known work, A Boy’s Own Story, was the first volume in his autobiographical-fiction trilogy that continued with The Beautiful Room Is Empty and The Farewell Symphony. His 2006 memoir, My Lives provides a frank and unflinching account of growing up gay in the Midwest and his life since then. In 2006, he told journalist Steve Dow, “Writing has always been my recourse when I’ve tried to make sense of my experience or when it’s been very painful. When I was 15 years old, I wrote my first (unpublished) novel about being gay, at a time when there were no other gay novels. So I was really inventing a genre, and it was a way of administering a therapy to myself, I suppose.”

White is currently a member of the faculty of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program. His most recent novel, Jack Holmes and His Friend, was published in 2012.

 Nate Silver: 1978. The math whiz, baseball fanatic, poker player, and political polling savant who accurately predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, wants it to be known that he is not a gay statistician, but a statistician who happens to be gay, while “ethnically straight.” To those who take such identity labels oh so seriously, Silver’s remarks challeneged an established orthodoxy, but one that is becoming increasingly irrelevant to those of Silver’s generation. As he once explained in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything”:

My quick-and-dirty view is that people are too quick to affiliate themselves with identity groups of all kinds, as opposed to carving out their own path in life.

Obviously, there is also the issue of how one is perceived by others. Living in New York in 2013 provides one with much a much greater ability to exercise his independence than living in Uganda — or for that matter living in New York forty years ago. So perhaps there’s a bit of a “you didn’t build that” quality in terms of taking for granted some of the freedoms that I have now.

And/but/also, one of the broader lessons in the history of how gay people have been treated is that perhaps we should empower people to make their own choices and live their own lives, and that we should be somewhat distrustful about the whims and tastes and legal constraints imposed by society.

Silver is the author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t. In March 2014, he expanded and re-launched FiveThirtyEight blog as a larger data journalism project for ESPN.

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?

Randy Thomas is gay

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

Randy Thomas

From 2002 to 2013, Randy Thomas was the Executive Vice President of Exodus International, an umbrella organization for various ex-gay ministries across the nation. And for much of that time, Randy was committed to anti-gay political activism.

But towards the beginning of this decade, the leaders in a number of ex-gay ministries began to question some of the presumptions that held them together.

Some came to realize that while the identity and perspective of their members could be shifted, orientation (what they called same-sex attraction) seemed not to change. After a number of high-profile “lapses” and even more quiet resignations, it became apparent that even leadership was subject to the seeming rigidity of the direction of desire.

And familiarity with pro-family politicians and advocacy groups was disillusioning. It quickly became apparent that these groups were not truly supportive of those who were “struggling with their same-sex attractions”, but were simply bigots dressed up in religiosity. They were happy to use these ex-gays in their anti-gay advocacy, but they certainly didn’t consider them to be equals.

But what presented the greatest challenges, I believe, were the developing relationships with a number of gay people. They discovered that there was a broad spectrum of ‘homosexual activists’, and that many of them seemed little like the stereotypes that were depicted within the bubble of conservative Christianity. They found those who were devout Christians, who did not seek to ‘destroy decency’, and who spoke strongly in favor of equality using the language of faith.

And, undoubtedly, after the 2009 Conference on Homosexuality in Kampala, Uganda, in which an Exodus board member participated and which led to the proposal of the death penalty for some gay Ugandans, the leadership at Exodus was shocked. This ultimate consequence of their message was not at all what they intended.

It’s hard to know exactly what all contributed to the decision, but by 2013, the Exodus leadership had had enough. In June, Exodus announced that it was closing shop.

Shortly after, in July, Randy Thomas wrote an apology to the gay community. He owned the hurt he had caused along with his silence about the actions of others.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen Randy seeking greater truth about himself. He hasn’t rejected his faith, but in questioning how he had allowed himself to behave in ways that were not Christlike, he also has questioned some presumptions and attitudes that had once seemed integral. In the process he has found, I believe, a greater acceptance of both others and himself.

And perhaps it is this acceptance and quest for honesty that has brought Randy to the position of seeing himself in a way that perhaps he never has before: a devout, sincere, and faith-filled gay man.

Four or five times, in offline social settings, over the past five months I was asked if I was gay. Each time I answered, without hesitation, “I am bi-sexual with a propensity toward dudes.” That brought smiles each time and I was told that if I was bi, gay, … whatever, they wanted me to know they accepted me. But, this is the first time in my life where I felt there were inconsistencies between what was happening in some circles as opposed to others. I started seeing the potential of a fragmented life developing and I *never* want that. There is nothing more tortured than feeling like you can’t be consistently you wherever you are. These recent offline disclosures were leading to an issue of conscience for me. As I was thinking through and writing this post it became clear that it is most accurate to say that I am gay with a bisexual propensity that I can’t adequately describe :).

As for the future, Randy is more open to possibility than he has been in a long time.

Could I see myself with a man? Yes. Could I see myself with a woman? Yes. Could I see myself being celibate for the rest of my life? Yes. Today has its own troubles and I am not worrying about tomorrow. I rest in God’s grace and trust Him to be the Good Shepherd He has proven, over and over, to be.

I am very happy for Randy. In addition to his personal introspection and spiritual maturity, he has also taken on a number of personal goals, exploring his art and getting in a healthier physical state.

I hope that wherever he finds himself and with whom, that this exploration of integrity and growing comfort never ceases.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, January 12

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

My Friend’s Place operated from approximately 1986 to 1991.

State Sen. Charley E. Johns (center) with two members of the Johns Committee.

State Sen. Charley E. Johns (center) with two members of the Johns Committee.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Florida Legislative Committee Reveals Search for Homosexuals at University of Florida: 1959. The Florida Legislative Investigations Committee was Florida’s homegrown version of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares from earlier in the decade. Known popularly as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, Senator president Charley E. Johns, who sought to create a Florida version of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. Johns had served earlier in the decade as Senate President, and then became acting Governor from 1953 to 1955 after Gov. Daniel McCarty died in office. (Florida didn’t have a Lieutenant Governor at the time; the Senate president was second in line.) Johns returned to the Senate in 1956, where he launched the committee after having gotten a mandate to investigate alleged communist links to the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But the NAACP bogged the committee’s work down in several court challenges.

With that work stymied, the Johns Committee decided to go after a much less organized target: gays and lesbians in the state’s schools, colleges and universities. In 1959, the Miami Herald reported that the Johns committee “has been quietly probing reports of homosexuality at the University of Florida.” Details were so far, but the paper predicted that “the full story will break when the committee meets for a public airing of its findings.” The date for that meeting had yet to be set, and Sen. Charley Johns was cagy about what exactly they were investigating. “We might be investigating communism,” he declared. “We might be investigating integration … or almost anything. But no public statement will be made until the full committee has met and fully aired the subject under consideration.”

The Board of Control, which supervised the state’s public universities, assured the Johns committee of the “immediate dismissal” of any gay professors or students unearthed in the witch hunt. William C. Gaither, a Board of Control member form Miami, told the Herald that the University of Florida was cooperating with the investigation.

“You can take any sizable group of a hundred to thousands and probably find some with homosexual tendencies,” said Gaither. “Be we do not think the University of Florida is harboring homosexuals. … I have heard rumors that 100 to 150 people are involved. But reports are that only five or six persons were interrogated during a hearing at Gainesville last weekend.”

From 1959 to 1964, the Johns Committee waged a massive campaign of intimidation and bullying in order to weed out gays and “undesirables” from the schools and universities. Professors and students were called out of class rooms one by one by uniformed campus police officers and interrogated for hours. Undercover officers sat in on classes and took careful notes. The committee succeeded in revoking 71 teachers licenses and obtaining an additional 39 dismissals, along with the expulsion of unknown numbers of students. One UF professor who was forced out attempted suicide the next day.

[Source: “Students, Faculty Quizzed: State Conducting UF Morals Probe.” Miami Herald (January 13, 1959): 2-A.]

GMHC’s office in 1983.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis Founded: 1982. Several dozen men gathered in writer Larry Kramer’s New York apartment to discuss the mysterious “gay cancer” that had been claiming the lives of their friends and lovers, and to figure out how to raise money for research. The group originally thought they were coming together for a one-time thing: persuade a club to hold a benefit, invite a bunch of A-listers to come and donate, give the money to a suitable research organization, and go home. But it quickly became apparent that there was much, much more work to be done. Forced by widespread apathy on the part of the news media, city officials, local health authorities, and even “confirmed bachelor” and barely closeted Mayor Ed Koch, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) quickly went from being an ad-hoc group to organize a fundraiser to a full-fledged charitable service organization to fill the void that the city refused to fill.

GMHC would go on to raise money to provide services and assistance for people with HIV/AIDS, including assistance from a large army of volunteers to meet day-to-day needs like cooking, housecleaning, dog-walking, and transportation to medical appointments, as well as help in navigating the apathetic bureaucratic maze. They also, just as critically, hounded the news medial trying to get attention to the disease. When that mostly failed, GMHC started a crisis hotline, which became one of the organization’s most important avenues for distributing AIDS information in the pre-Internet era. They also distributed material to help educate the general public on the need for safer sex. In these areas, GMHC worked hard to meet the needs that had been, at best, ignored by local and national health authorities and charities (most shockingly, including most faith-based charities). GMHC also battled the overt stigmatization and hostility which grew among well-known public figures, nationally as well as locally.

GMHC quickly established itself as a well-regarded authority for HIV/AIDS education and service. By 1984, the Centers for Disease Control called on GMHC’s help in planning public conferences on AIDS. As the epidemic continued to grow, GMHC expanded its reach by assisting heterosexual men and women, hemophiliacs, intravenous drug users, and children. This past year, GMHC has struggled with funding cuts, controversies over its new office space and the recent departure of its executive director as the organization continues its work as one of the nation’s leading non-profit, volunteer-supported AIDS service and educational organizations.

John Singer Sargent, Self Portrait, 1906.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Singer Sargent: 1856-1925. Was he or wasn’t he? Scholars have scratched their heads over that question. He was born in Florence to American parents, who were well off enough to casually travel throughout Europe. Sargent’s drawing skills developed early, and at the age of eighteen he went to Paris to study painting. His early masterpiece, El Jaleo (1882), which portrayed a bare-armed Spanish Gypsy dancer in full movement, was both sensual and exotic — and, therefore, scandalous in the closing days of the Victorian era. Other portraits were similarly controversial. His full-length portrait of New Orleans-born Parisian socialite Virginie Gautreau (1884), depicting her in a strapless gown and a plunging neckline, had much of Europe clutching its pearls.

Almost immediately, Sargent established himself as the defining painter of what would soon become known as the Edwardian era. He worked on the edge between respectability and sensuality. But he also had a commercially successful knack for finding beauty in everyone he painted while simultaneously preserving a candid honesty to his portraits. And just about everyone who was anyone sat for a portrait.

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Nicola D’Inverno, 1892.

For all of Sargent’s notoriety through his paintings, he was profoundly circumspect in his private life. He was flirtatious with women, but had no significant romantic attachments. He formed deep friendships with men — including Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Montesquiou, and perhaps most significantly, his assistant of twenty-six years and sometimes model Nicola d’Inverno — but there is no evidence that his relationships went beyond deep friendship.

And yet, the talk has always been there, and it was only amplified when, upon his death in 1925, his family destroyed his personal papers. And that talk centered on his male nudes, much of which were created for his own personal study and enjoyment, and not for public exhibition. In Donna Hassler’s preface in John Esten’s John Singer Sargent: The Male Nudes, she writes:

John Singer Sargent, Thomas E. McKeller as Apollo, 1921-25.

To Sargent, however, rendering the nude male figure was more than just an academic pursuit… He showed a strong preference for portraying the masculine form throughout his career (few Sargent drawings or paintings of the nude female figure are extant), and his work ranges from a straightforward student study of an unidentified male model wearing an posing strap to an emotionally charged, fully nude drawing of an identifiable male model, Thomas E. McKeller.

As Esten points out, “Like beauty, homoeroticism is in the eye of the beholder.” And many beholders have seen it in Sargent’s paintings. Several of his male nudes made their way into the famous mural in the Rotunda of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, some of them, including his sketch of McKeller as Apollo, refashioned into female figures.

Felipe Rose: 1954. You know him as “the Indian” for his appearance as a founding member of the Village People. The son of a Puerto Rican mother and Lakota Sioux father, Rose grew up in Brooklyn where he took up dancing at a very young age. When he was sixteen, he studied dance with the Ballet de Puerto Rico and participated in a Lincoln Center dance recital with the Ballet Company. At the urging of an aught, he began dressing in tribal regalia and exploring Native American influences in dance as an homage to his father’s heritage. He also, at about the same time, began exploring New York’s gay nightlife. Soon after French producer Jacques Morali saw him working as a go-go dance in his “Indian” get-up at a New York gay bar, he recruited Rose into a new singing group in which members wore costumes representing different “masculine” occupations. The Village People scored their first major disco hits, “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A” in 1978.

There have been numerous personnel changes in the Village People over the years, but there has only been one Indian. Rose is one of only two only Village People to have never left the group, and with Alex Briley (the G.I/Sailor), he remains one of only two original members.

While the Village People is all camp, Rose takes his Native American heritage seriously. In 2000, he recorded the single “Trails of Tears,” Which was nominated for 3 NAMMYs (Native American Music Awards). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Native American Music Association.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 11

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the First Annual Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) rodeo program, November 2-4, 1984, page 48. (Source.)

From the First Annual Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) rodeo program, Simonton, Texas,, November 2-4, 1984, page 48. (Source.)

Saddle Tramps West started out as a cowboy/leather bar in Oklahoma City’s NW 39th street corridor. In 1992, the club shortened its name to Tramps and mellowed out into a general all-around neighborhood bar which is still in business today.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oklahoma City Council Threatens Gay Bars With Closure: 1983. The Oklahoma City City Council gave its tentative support for a citizens’ petition calling for the closure of five gay bars along NW 39th Street, and unanimously approved a motion putting the bars on a six-month probationary period. If the bars didn’t improve relations with neighbors, they would face a formal hearing on public nuisance charges and risk possible closure.

Residents in the NW 39th St. corridor objected after a major dance bar, Angles, opened in September of 1982. Angles was the first major dance club to cater to the gay college age crowd, and its size and not-so-quite self-promotion quickly caught the attention of city leaders. Residents alleged that gay bar patrons “made threats to the lives of area residents” and warned that violence would result if the bars weren’t closed. But the neighbors true objections could be found in the charge that the clubs “cater to patrons whose mode of living is completely alien and objectionable to the residents of the area” and called on the city to “protect the owners and residents in the area from this type of invasion by a minority group. This blot on the area depreciates the value of all of the property.”

Some area residents at the council meeting acknowledged that the “problems” had eased somewhat after bars began hiring private security to patrol the area. But club owners complained of increasing police harassment in the area, including sending as many as eight officers onto dance floors to check I.D.s and liquor operations. One juice bar owner had been arrested 18 times over a three month period for such minor infractions such as not having soap in the rest room. Nothing much seems to have come from the city council’s threats: Angles remained in business until 2012, and NW 39th St. is still at the heart of OKC’s gay nightlife district.

[Source: Larry Bush. “‘Objectionable’ Gay Bars Face Possible Closure in Oklahoma City.” The Advocate, issue 362 (March 3, 1983): 12.]

15 YEARS AGO: Britain Lifts Its Ban on Gay Military Personnel: 2000. Once they put their minds to it, there wasn’t much dithering. It just took them a while to put their minds to it. Unlike the U.S. (in theory, anyway), Britain’s ban on gays in the military was complete and total, whether anyone was open about it or not. Anyone was subject to being followed or interrogated by the SIB (Special Investigations Branch) for any suspicion, or even no suspicion at all. In 1997, three gay men and a lesbian sued after they were discharged from the Royal Navy and RAF. Their case went all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in September 1999 that the Ministry of Defense’s policy violated the service members’ human rights.

The following December, the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the Defense Ministry would comply with the ruling. Members of the opposition Conservative Party were appalled. M.P. Gerald Howarth said, “This appalling decision will be greeted with dismay among ordinary soldiers in the armed forces, many of whom joined the services precisely because they wished to turn their back on some of the values of modern society.” Officers predicted sexual mayhem in the barracks or — horrors! — male couples dancing at a mess function. But one month after the announcement was made, the ban was lifted, and all of the fears came to naught. A review two years later across all the branches found widespread acceptance for lifting the ban, and gay and lesbian service members served with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside their American counterparts who still had to remain hidden and in the closet.

5 YEARS AGO: Prop 8 Trial Begins: 2010. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state of California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 began their opening remarks. Attorney Ted Olsen promised to argue the case on three fundamental points:

  1. Marriage is vitally important in American society.
  2. By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 works a grievous harm on the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered.
  3. Proposition 8 perpetrates this irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm for no good reason.

Olsen and co-counsel David Boies would ultimately prevail and U.S. Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker would rule that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s ruling but on much narrower grounds, namely that once a right has been granted and enjoyed by a class of people, it is unconstitutional to then strip them of that right. The case then went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided against ruling issuing a ruling on the merits, but instead held that Prop 8’s proponents, Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), didn’t have standing to appeal. This sent the case back to California where Judge Walker’s ruling became the final word.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 10

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Body Politic, May 1984, page 6.

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), May 1984, page 6.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gore Vidal’s “The City and The Pillar” Published: 1948. It turns out that the month of January, 1948 was a rather scandalous month for the American public. On January 5, Sexual Behavior In the Human Male, the first of the two Kinsey Reports, was released. Then just five days later, Gore Vidal’s novel, The City and the Pillar came out. Vidal wrote this novel, his third, at the relatively tender age of twenty-one, and it was the first mainstream novel dealing with homosexuality in its central characters. It was, in its day a kind of a Brokeback Mountain, a coming of age story in which the main protagonist awakens to his sexuality. Gore also smashed the prevailing stereotypes of the day by portraying the central characters as masculine. I guess both books coming out within the space of less than a week was too much for the New York Times. Their review the next day went like this:

Presented as the case history of a standard homosexual, this novel adds little that is new to a groaning shelf. Mr. Vidal’s approach is coldly clinical: there is no real attempt to involve the reader’s emotions, as the author sets down Jimmie’s life story — his first experience during his high school days, his life as a cabin boy, a tennis bum, his adventures in Hollywood and points East. Backdrops are gaudy, and Jimmie’s more ardent acquaintances include a picture star (the idol of a million bobby soxers), a fashionable novelist and members of the armed forces. But the over-all picture is as unsensational as it is boring…

Boring. Perhaps the worst thing that could be said about any novel, if anything was to be said at all. Most papers refused to review it, but a few saw it as a triumph. The Washington Post called it “an artistic achievement” and the Atlantic Monthly said it was “a brilliant exposé of subterranean life.” Despite it’s “subterranean” themes and The New York Times’ great displeasure, The City and the Pillar made it to the best-seller’s list. The Times so thoroughly disliked it that it refused to run ads for it and ignored Vidal’s next five books. Cut off from an important promotion vehicle, Gore resorted to writing mystery novels in the early 1950s under the pseudonym of Edgar Box.

Although the gay characters’ portrayals in The City and the Pillar were generally positive, the tone was dark and the ending tragic, with the main character being murdered by his lover. It’s been widely reported that the publishers forced Vidal to change the ending to an unhappy one, but Gore himself denied this. But twenty years later, when he published the novel again as The City and the Pillar, Revised, Gore changed the overall tone to be less dark and allowed the main character to survive the ending.

Virgin Islands Murder Prompts Call for Crackdown on “Deviates”: 1963. Things move at a much slower pace on the U.S. Virgin Islands than they do on the mainland. St. Thomas residents had just seen their telephone service switch over to direct dial, and St. Croix was preparing for their turn a few months later. the power company was installing new diesel generators to try to stem the power outages, dock workers had just concluded a strike in favor of a 17¢ per hour wage increase, and the territory’s governor and legislature were wrangling over a revision to the election law. But on January 8, the local paper in Charlotte Amalie, the territory’s capital on St. Thomas reported on the suspicious murder of Deputy Commissioner of Commerce Sheldon “Shell” Nulty, 33, formerly of Glen Falls, New York. He had died just after 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 5 at Knud Hanson Memorial Hospital, but not before whispering into the ears of an investigating officer the name of Nulty’s killer.

The name Nulty offered up was twenty-three year old Ralph Moolenaar. The Virgin Islands Daily News was unusually coy about what happened. What I’ve been able to glean was that Moolenaar appeared at Nulty’s apartment in French Town. An argument broke out and Moolenaar stabbed Nulty in the stomach with a bread Knife. Officials ascribed the argument to “jealousy,” and left it at that. It would later come out in the trial that the jealousy stemmed, according to the Daily News from Moolenaar’s discovery that another man was in Nulty’s bedroom.

Nulty’s roommate, Kenneth Maynar, was detained as a material witness. He was later charged with being an accessory after the fact, along with two other residence of the apartment building, when it was learned that Nulty had laid in the apartment bleeding for more than an hour before anyone sought help. The U.S. Attorney quickly announced that he would press for a first degree murder conviction for Moolenaar, but a few days later, he announced that due to what the paper simply said was “background factors connected with Nulty’s death,” the charge would be reduced to either second degree murder or manslaughter.

As I said, the newspaper was very coy about the details of why Nulty was killed that day. But St Thomas is small, and people talk — many of them, probably, on those new direct-dial telephones. On January 10, the Daily News reported that Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky announced a drive to rid the islands of “deviates”:

Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky

Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky

Action to Rid Here of Deviates Begins

Governor Paiewonsky today declared that his Administration has no intention of permitting the Virgin Islands to become a haven for homosexuals in which to spread their peculiar perversions.

To this end he has directed Commissioner of Public Safety, Otis L. Felix to undertake an immediate investigation into the extent of the problem in the Virgin Islands simultaneous with an all out drive against offenders.

If existing law is inadequate, says the Governor, the Attorney General will prepare legislation designed to eliminate this offensive activity in the Islands.

Noting that a large number of such persons are reported to have come to the Virgin Islands from other places, the Governor stated that the public interest required that our children be protected from the spread of homosexual practices.

An op-ed from the English language San Juan Star reprinted in the Mattachine Review connected Gov. Paiewonsky’s pledge to Nulty’s death, and was somewhat less coy about describing the incident as resulting from “homosexual jealousy.” The columnist compare this logic to trying to “drive all married men out of town because occasionally a husband murders his wife.” The next day, Felix responded to Paiewonsky’s call for an investigation:

Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix.

Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix.

Problem of Deviates Is People’s Responsibility

“There is a definite need for better laws than we now have i we hope to control the situation,” said Commissioner of Public Safety Otis Felix, recently, in speaking of what has developed into a public concern over homosexuality.”

“The problem like many others in a community is not one that is an isolated police department problem but rather it is truly a community’s responsibility,” Felix said in connection with what can be done about the situation. ”

Governor Paiewonsky in the past few days has been quoted as saying that homosexuals must be run off the island and when asked if the police department plans to implement the administration’s edict, Felix said, “All established police agencies have various strategies in handling certain disagreeable conditions in existence. We feel that these strategies are common to us also.”

Felix also interjected that there is a possible weakness in the license laws which govern the operation of bars and clubs on the island — a situation which should be corrected, he said. This statement was made in reference to the fact that the Police Department suspects that certain clubs have been catering to this “undesirable element” in St. Thomas.

Voicing objection to the theory that when certain places of business are allowed to operate then the authorities can better keep a check on the activities of suspect persons, Felix felt “Civilized man cannot less than be contaminated directly or indirectly unless he is definitely isolated from objectional surroundings.”

The responsibility of citizens maintaining a constant vigil against moral decay in the community was further emphasized by the commissioner when he said, “If we have a community that is determined not to have such conduct and conditions in existence, they would cease through positive community action.”

If any police or community actions which may have taken place, none of it got reported in the Daily News. As for Ralph Moolenaar, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years. Judge Walter Gordon agreed that the U.S. Attorney had been “very fair in reducing the charge to voluntary manslaughter.” Gordon also offered a few words of encouragement to Moolenaar, offering to try to find a federal facility on the mainland where Moolenaar could learn a trade. Judge Gordon added, “I don’t want you to leave here as if this is the end of the world.”

[Sources: “Dying Govt. Official Whispers Assailant’s Name: Police Say.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 8, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“U.S. Attorney to Press for First Degree Murder Charge.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 9, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Action to Rid Here of Deviates Begins.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 10, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Hearing Held in Death of Govt. Official.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 10, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Problem of Deviates Is People’s Responsibility.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 11, 1963): 1. Available online here.

“Virgin Islands to Be Swept Clean of Homos.” Mattachine Review 9, no. 2 (February 1963): 33-35.

“Murder Hearing Results in Two Being Arrested.” Virgin Islands Daily News (January 11, 1963): 1. Available online here.]

Episcopal Church Ordains First Open Lesbian: 1977. Before Bishop Paul Moore of New York ordained Rev. Ellen Marie Barrett as a priest in his Episcopal diocese, there is a point in the service in which the ordaining bishop asks the congregation, “If any of you know any impediment or crime because of which we should not proceed, come forward now, and make it known.” Rev. James Wattley, who was an active opponent of the church’s decision to ordain women to the priesthood, rose to denounce the ordination as a “travesty and a scandal.” He went on: “my objection is for myself alone on the grounds that she is a self-proclaimed lesbian.”

Bishop Moore appeared prepared for the answer. “Attention has been drawn to the ordination because Ms. Barrett has not made a secret of her homosexual orientation,” the Bishop announced. “However, her personal life has never been under criticism. Many persons with homosexual tendencies are presently in the ordained ministry. Ellen Barrett’s candor in this regard is not considered a barrier to ordination. She is highly qualified intellectually, morally and spiritually. … Historically, many of the finest clergy in our church have had this personality structure, but only recently has the social climate made it possible for some to be open about it.”

Rev. Barrett’s ordination sparked another round of controversy in a church still split over its 1976 decision to admit women to the priesthood. Within a month of Barrett’s ordination, nine parishes announced they were leaving the church. In an unusual move, one Florida pastor read out an “excommunication decree” from the altar of his church against Bishop Moore and Rev. Barrett.

The following October, the church’s House of Bishops sought to calm the controversy with a resolution declaring that gay people should not be ordained as priests, saying that such an ordination would “require the Church’s sanction of such a lifestyle not only as acceptable but worthy of emulation.” The House of Bishops also gave a nearly unanimous consent to another resolution to support Bishops who “by their own conscience” refuse to ordain women priests or allow them to serve in their dioceses. But in a 28-62 vote, the House refused to censure Bishop Moore, and in a 49-68 vote refused to advise California Bishop Kilmer Myers against licensing Rev. Barrett in his diocese. Thus the precedent was set, and bishops continued ordaining openly gay priests under the same “conscience” principle which permitted other bishops to bar women from the altar.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Johnnie Ray
: 1927-1990. When his career broke open in 1951, his highly emotional brand of white R&B earned him the nickname “The Prince of Wails.” His intense performances foreshadowed the raw energy of Rock And Roll which would hit the charts hard a few years later. Ray’s first hits, “Cry,” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried”, were sides A and B of his first single, with both sides dominating the charts for several months. They were followed by a string of a couple dozen top-forty hits, including “Please Mr. Sun,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,”  “A Sinner Am I” (all three in 1952), “Such a Night” (1954), “Just Walkin’ In the Rain” (1955), and “Yes Tonight Josephine”  (1957).

Ray married in 1952. His wife knew he was gay going in — he had been arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer in Detroit for sex before his career took off — but the aspiring Mrs. Ray was confident she could “straighten him out.” Her efforts came to naught, and they divorced two years later. He also had a close friendship and casual affair with entertainment reporter Dorothy Kilgallen. Despite Kilgallen’s marriage and Ray’s string of male lovers, they remained close until her death in 1964.

In 1959, Ray was arrested, again in Detroit, and again for for trying to pick up an undercover cop, this time at a bar known as The Brass Rail. Kilgallen stood by him and the jury, comprised entirely of older women, found him not guilty. One juror rushed to comfort him when he fainted upon hearing the verdict.

His popularity in the U.S. took a hit, but he continued to do well in the UK, where his show at the Palladium became legendary. But by the early sixties, his fading star was further dimmed by alcoholism, a bout of tuberculosis and cirrhosis of the liver. By 1963, he had a new manager and first real long term partner, Bill Franklin, who worked to resolve Ray’s health and financial crises, and who got Ray to sober up. In 1968, Ray was appearing on American television again. He opened for Judy Garland’s last two concerts in Denmark and Sweden, followed by several more American television appearances in the early 1970s.

But that comeback didn’t take hold. Ray started drinking again, and Franklin left him in 1976 and cut off all contact a few years later. By the time the 1980s rolled around, gen-X’ers had little idea of who he was except for a line in the 1982 hit “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. (“Poor old Johnnie Ray sounded sad upon the radio / he moved a million hearts in mono.”) Ray continued performing in small venues until illness and alcoholism overtook him in late 1989. He died of liver failure in 1990.

Here is a performance of “The Little White Cloud That Cried.” Yes, it’s corny, but imagine seeing it in 1951 when the top acts that year included Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett — five years before Elvis.

And by the way, you may notice the clunky hearing aid in the video. He had lost about half of his hearing from an untreated childhood concussion. In 1958, he underwent two surgeries to restore his hearing, but the results were a disaster. He completely lost his hearing in his left ear and sixty percent in his right.

Here’s another appearance from 1956 on the Frankie Lane Show. The first song, “Walking In the Rain,” is rather corny in its staging, but his second number, “If I Had You,” is more vintage Johnnie Ray:

Sal Mineo: 1939-1976. He was a talented young actor who some say peaked with his first major role as John “Plato” Crawford in Rebel Without a Cause, the 1955 classic staring James Dean and Natalie Wood. That role got him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. He also appeared in another James Dean vehicle, Giant, as a Mexican boy, and for a while he became typecast as a troubled teen. In 1957, he made a brief stab at pop music, and in 1959, he appeared as the famous jazz drummer Gene Krupa in The Gene Krupa Story. He received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the epic Exodus in 1960. By the late 1960s, Mineo became one of the first Hollywood actors to acknowledge his homosexuality. He died in 1976, stabbed to death during a mugging as he was walking home from a rehearsal in West Hollywood. He was only 37.

But back to Rebel Without A Cause. By the time I saw the film for the first time as a teenager in the late 1970s, I had already read a lot about the classic. Critics and observers wrote about the movie’s themes of alienation, aimless adolescence, the ambivalence of impending adulthood — you know, stuff like that And so when the movie appeared on television one night (remember, this was before Netflix, or even VHS rentals), I was unprepared for what looked to be the most obvious theme of the movie: the sexual tension between Sal Mineo and James Dean. At the time I had no idea that Mineo was gay or that Dean was bi. But seeing their chemistry together on the screen, it was so bright, so combustible, so obvious! Well good lord, why wasn’t anybody talking about that? Yeah, I know. I would later find out that others noticed it too. But remember, this was the 1970s and I was growing up in Appalachia. And man, what an eye-opener.

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

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