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Alabama marriage carnival goes on

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2015

bama

Since our last update, the marriage situation in Alabama has continued to whirl and twirl to a wild caliope tune.

Mobile County Probate Judge Davis, having been told by the Alabama Supreme Court that he was not exempt from their order to discriminate against same-sex couples, turned back to Federal Judge Granade. He noted that the plaintiffs in the case have all gotten married now, and requested that she put a stay on her order so as to keep him from having to defy one court or the other.

Judge Granade didn’t let him off the hook. She said, no dear, it’s isn’t much good that you’ve issued the licenses if the state won’t recognize them. And really you haven’t given me any reason why my ruling shouldn’t be upheld, so go on now and do what you’ve been told.

So Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone.

But his problems didn’t stop there. Part of the marriage lawsuit was driven by Cari Searcy, one of the plaintiffs, desire to adopt the child that she and Kim McKeand had raised since birth. Alabama doesn’t allow second-parent adoption, but now that she’s married to the mother, she should be eligible.

But the state is refusing to recognize the marriage so Davis tried to enact partial compliance. He issued an interlocutory decree granting Searcy temporary parental rights but said he would not rule on the adoption itself until after the Supreme Court made it’s decision.

Searcy’s attorneys then sued Davis for failure to follow the order of the Federal Judge. But Davis used this to his advantage. He noted that he’s now a party to the suit and therefore no longer impartial and recused himself from the review of the adoption and asked the Alabama Supreme Court to give him a replacement for the case.

But, Searcy’s attorneys claim, a change in 2001 would have the replacement made by the presiding circuit judge. The matter is unclear because there is uncertainty whether the 2001 change applies to probate judges. This will undoubtedly delay the adoption further.

Meanwhile, Judge Granade has made her first ruling on the request by plaintiffs to add additional plaintiffs and to make the case class action. Attorney General Luther Strange had argued that too much time had passed, but Granade didn’t buy that.

She ruled that the case could be amended to allow additional plaintiffs and defendants.

There being no substantial reason to deny leave to amend, the court must allow the amendment. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (Doc. 76) is hereby GRANTED.

However, she did not rule on whether the case would be made class action.

Thus, although the court may dismiss class allegations “[w]here it is facially apparent from the pleadings that there is no ascertainable class,” …, the court finds that the Plaintiffs in this case have alleged adequate facts to support a potential class claim and the court will not engage in a detailed and rigorous analysis of the class claims until all of the current parties have had the opportunity to oppose or support the motion for class certification.

Grenade has given Strange until March 23rd to tell her why “all persons in Alabama who wish to obtain a marriage license in order to marry a person of the same sex and to have that marriage recognized under Alabama law, and who are unable to do so because of the enforcement of Alabama’s laws prohibiting the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and barring recognition of their marriages” is an ill-defined class definition.

It seems rather unlikely that Strange will convince Judge Granade that this class of people is vague and ill-defined. And it seems rather likely that Judge Granade will determine that her ruling applies to all such couples. This will eliminate all ambiguity about the extent and scope of the Federal ruling and may set the state on course for a showdown with the Federal government.

And then we will see what the Alabama Supreme Court has to say.

Presbyterians support marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2015

presbyterian logoCongratulations to the members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). (NYTimes)

After three decades of debate over its stance on homosexuality, members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Tuesday to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution to include same-sex marriage.

The final approval by a majority of the church’s 171 regional bodies, known as presbyteries, enshrines a change recommended last year by the church’s General Assembly. The vote amends the church’s constitution to broaden marriage from being between “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

Although not all presbyteries have voted, the lopsided two-thirds results to date are sufficient to ensure the endorsement of the change.

They join Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the United Church of Christ (UCC), the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as major denominations that now support marriage equality.

There are also a number of independent or smaller churches that value equality. The United Methodist Church does not allow for marriage equality primarily due to Asian and African voters in the international denomination, but the church body in the US is in open revolt and has mostly ceased trying to punish the growing number of ministers who flout the policy.

‘Bama Supremes er at it agin

Timothy Kincaid

March 11th, 2015

bama

Remember when the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama declared that they and they alone know what is in the US Constitution and ordered all counties in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples? Well, at the time, they made one tiny temporary exception.

They told Probate Judge Davis that he needed to get back to them about whether he thought that he was under any obligation to perform the tasks that Federal Judge Granade had ordered him to do.

And Davis, not being a complete lunatic nor wishing to be held in contempt, requested that he be exempted from the state court’s orders. Yeah, like that was going to happen! (WSFA)

The probate judge sought an 11-day extension to comply with the court’s order motion and on March 9 advised the court that he should not be included in the March 3 order because it would require him to violate a federal district court order.

The Alabama Supreme Court denied Davis’ request saying his concern was without merit.

“Davis has made no showing that he was, or is, the subject of any previously entered federal court order other than the one issued in Strawser,” the justices wrote, “and he makes no showing that that order has any continuing, binding effect on him as to any marriage-license applicants beyond the four couples who were the plaintiffs in that case and who already have received the relief they requested.”

I rather suspect that if Judge Granade was not pissed off already, this might have done it. And the ‘Baba Supremes may well discover that her idea of “without merit” is quite different from the one the good ol’ boys have.

Oklahoma may be getting out of the marriage business

Timothy Kincaid

March 10th, 2015

Governments love control. That’s a given.

So while many people – right, left, or center – have exclaimed, “the government get out of the marriage business, anyway!”, I’ve mostly ignored those cries as impractical. But by a vote of 67 to 24, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has voted to do just that.

HB 1125 removes all references to issuing marriage licenses and instead allows a provision by which the officiant of a marriage files a certificate after the fact informing the state that a legal marriage has occurred (and those who don’t wish for an officiant can file a common-law marriage affidavit). In this way, such county clerks or other public employees as don’t wish to issue licenses that offend their faith won’t have to issue any licenses at all.

Currently the marriage certificate is the final step in the process. And that would remain the same. Except that the certificate, once recorded and certified, is returned to the couple as their legal proof of marriage.

It’s not completely clear why receiving and documenting the certificate is less offensive to a clerk than issuing a license, but perhaps it’s a matter of filing the record of an event rather than issuing a license which is a form of permission.

Or, though unlikely, perhaps this whole fight has caused the Republicans in Oklahoma to ponder on some of the supposed small-government positions that they like to spout and ask themselves why it is that a couple should have to ask the state for permission to marry in the first place.

Interestingly, the law omits any ‘male-female’ requirements and the certificate has signature spaces for “first spouse” and “second spouse”. It does continue restrictions on under-age marriage.

The bill now goes to the state Senate and, if passed, would go into effect November 1, 2015.

Libertarians on Equal Protections

Timothy Kincaid

March 10th, 2015

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, has filed its brief before the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. In it, Cato seeks to show a distinction between original meaning and original understanding.

Some opponents of equality have taken an ‘original intent’ position and argued that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment did not intend to include gay people in their promise of equality under the law.

Cato argues that the meaning of equality is the same and that their intent was, indeed, equality. They merely didn’t understand their meaning to include gay people at that time.

This is interesting in that they don’t throw ‘original intent’ out the window, but rather sees intent in terms of principle and objective rather than in terms of some list of people that the framers may have or may not have had in mind.

The lower court erred by focusing on a certain kind of original understanding (the immediate effect supporters “understood” the Fourteenth Amendment to have). This Court has rejected that approach to constitutional interpretation, focusing instead, on original meaning. … In the Fourteenth Amendment context, this Court has asked how the well-established meaning of terminology added to the Constitution in 1868 applies to modern exclusions of new as well as established social groups.

Laws can and must have consequences beyond those understood or anticipated by the generation of their promulgation. … As one prominent originalist scholar recently put it, original-meaning originalism “is entirely consistent with updating the application of its fixed principles in light of new factual information. Indeed, such updating is often not only permitted, but actually required by the theory. Otherwise, it will often be impossible to enforce the original meaning under conditions different from those envisioned by the generation that framed and ratified the relevant provision.”

And rather than rely on speculation about intent as imagined by pundits or certain Supreme Court justices, they turn to the language of the framers:

Contemporaries explained the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause in precisely this way. Introducing the Fourteenth Amendment, Senator Jacob Howard said that the Equal Protection Clause “establishes equality before the law, and . . . gives to the humblest, the poorest, and most despised . . . the same rights and the same protection before the law as it gives to the most powerful, the most wealthy, or the most haughty.” The clause plainly “abolishes all class legislation in the States and does away with the injustice of subjecting one caste of persons to a code not applicable to another.” Cong. Globe, 39th Cong.,1st Sess. 2766 (1866) (Sen. Howard); see id. at 2961 (Sen. Poland) (similar). House Speaker Thaddeus Stevens explained that the public meaning of the clause was that “the law which operates upon one man shall operate equally upon all.” Id. at 2459 (emphasis in the original).

The Fourteenth Amendment was not an amendment to give rights to black people, but rather an amendment to prohibit legislatures from establishing castes of people with varying laws and benefits by class. Irrespective of how well that worked, that was its original intent.

Their blog commentary may put it in more approachable terms

Essentially, the Equal Protection Clause means, in 1868 as in 2015, exactly what it says: states cannot have one set of laws for the rich and another for the poor, separate schools for white and black students, or marriage licenses only for opposite-sex couples.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, March 19

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Amsterdam Bear Pride, Amsterdam, Netherlands; European Gay Ski Week, Avoriaz, France; Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; AIDS Walk, Ft. Worth, TX; Los Angeles Leather Pride, Los Angeles, CA; Elevation: Mammoth Gay Ski Week, Mammoth Lakes, CA; Black Party, New York, NY; European Snow Pride, Tignes, France.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Rose (a gay bar guide from Long Beach, CA), September 12, page 13.

From The Rose (a gay bar guide from Long Beach, CA), September 12, page 13.

In 1985, the Los Angeles Times took a look at the redevelopment then taking place in Long Beach:

In the beginning there were the bars. A dwarf named Lucy, a former circus performer, opened the first one at Broadway and Orange Avenue in 1966. For six months, according to present owner C. J. Cree, Lil’ Lucy’s drew a mixed crowd. Then some of the proprietor’s gay friends began showing up, setting the tone that has remained. Other gay bars opened along Broadway. And although the area had a gay presence since the 1940s, residents say, the drinking establishments provided a focus–a place to socialize and bring out-of-town friends.

… “It’s the Castro Street of Long Beach,” said Alec Phillips, speaking of San Francisco’s famous gay-oriented avenue on which he once lived. The sales manager of a concrete company, Phillips, 37, said he moved to the Broadway area five years ago because it is a “gay mecca” where “the gay dollar is very prevalent.” Richard Gaylord, a local real estate broker and chairman of the city Planning Commission, went a step further in assessing the Broadway corridor and its recent transformation. “It’s a renaissance,” he said.

…While area residents differ somewhat in their attitudes toward gay life styles, they tend to agree on at least one thing:the homosexual presence has had a positive economic effect. …John Manley, a real estate agent with Century 21/Sparow Realty, said the gay community had “taken what was once very difficult to sell and improved it.” And Doug Otto, president of the Long Beach Heritage Foundation, said the homosexual population had “gentrified the area” by improving its aesthetics.

Lil’ Lucy’s is now a donut shop.

Pope Alexander III

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Final Session of the Third Lateran Council, Orders Excommunication for the “Unnatural Vice”: 1179. Upon Pope Hadrian IV’s death in 1157, the divided Cardinals split into two camps backing two separate popes: Roland of Siena, who took the name of Alexander III, and Octavian of Rome who assumed the name of Pope Victor IV. While Pope Alexander III had majority of the Cardinals’ support, Pope Victor had the crucial support of Emperor Frederick I of the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick declared war on the Italian states and the Church in support of his candidate, causing a schism in the Church. Victor died in 1164, and two further Popes were declared in Frederick’s faction: Paschal III (1164–1168) and Callistus III (1168–1178).

Finally, the forces supporting Pope Alexander III proved victorious at the Battle of Legnano of 29 May 1176. WIth the Treaty of Venice in 1177, Pope Alexander III promised to hold an ecumenical council to bring the Church back together. That council, known as the Third Council of the Lateran established new regulations on papal elections to try to prevent future schisms, and laid down new Canons on the qualifications and proper conduct of the clergy. Twenty-seven Canons were promulgated in all, with some tying up some loose ends in civil matters: they abolished usury, forbade Jews and Muslims from employing Christian servants, and required that the evidence of Christians would always be accepted against Jews. In addition, Canon 11 read:

11. Clerics in holy orders, who in open concubinage keep their mistresses in their houses, should either cast them out and live continently or be deprived of ecclesiastical office and benefice. Let all who are found guilty of that unnatural vice for which the wrath of God came down upon the sons of disobedience and destroyed the five cities with fire, if they are clerics be expelled from the clergy or confined in monasteries to do penance; if they are laymen they are to incur excommunication and be completely separated from the society of the faithful. If any cleric without clear and necessary cause presumes to frequent convents of nuns, let the bishop keep him away; and if he does not stop, let him be ineligible for an ecclesiastical benefice.

Africans Identified As AIDS Risk Group: 1983. As I’ve said before, by the time 1983 came around the panic surrounding the emerging HIV/AIDS crisis had already reached epic proportions, with anti-gay groups and individuals pinning everlasting blame on the gay community. When they had bothered to notice, some would acknowledge that Haitians, drug addicts and hemophiliacs were also at risk for AIDS. But it was the gay community which bore the brunt of the responsibility for the new “plague.”

If ignorance among many Americans was running a fevered pitch, things were very different in Europe, particularly in Belgium and France where doctors had been noticing a strange development for quite some time. For several years, they had been treating wealthy Africans from their former colonies who were suffering from diseases which were remarkably similar to those reported by AIDS patients in America. While AIDS was also showing up in gay communities in Europe, these African patients signaled to European specialists that AIDs was neither a homosexual nor Western disease. Finally on March 19, 1983, the rest of the world would learn what they have been noticing with the publication of this brief letter by Dr. Nathan Clumeck of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in the respected journal The Lancet:

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in Black Africans

SIR,-Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been described in homosexual or bisexual men, in drug addicts, in haemophiliacs, and in Haitian immigrants. To our knowledge there is no report of AIDS and opportunistic infections in previously healthy Black Africans with no history of homosexuality or drug abuse.

Tables I and II show the clinical and immunological data on five Black patients seen in Brussels and who were from Central Africa (Zaire and Chad). Three of them had been living in Belgium, for between 8 months and 3 years. All were of good socioeconomic status. They presented with prodromes of fever, weight loss, and generalised lymphadenopathy, and extensive investigations did not reveal any neoplasia. Patients A and E died; the three survivors are still ill.

Because the HIV virus had not been discovered yet, there was no test for it. Doctors had to rely on a process of elimination to determine whether the patient really had AIDS:

These patients fulfilled all the criteria of AIDS. Two of them had severe herpes simplex infections and to exclude the possible role of herpes virus in their immune deficiency we did lymphocyte subset analyses in a control group of eight patients with HSV-2 infections. None had OKT4+ deficiency and their OKT4/OKT8 ratios were between 0.99 and 2.52 (mean 1.80), so it is unlikely that HSV-2 alone was responsible for the AIDS in the African patients.

Responses to mitogen stimulation (phytohaemagglutinin, concanavalin A, pokeweed) were well below normal in all cases. In eleven healthy Black Africans reactions to intradermal tuberculin, candida, and streptodornase were >5 mm: all five patients were skin test negative to these antigens.

This preliminary report suggests that Black Africans, immigrants or not, may be another group predisposed to AIDS.

This small letter to the editor would later prove to be an important first indication of the horror that had been stalking the Congo river region for decades (see Feb 5). Clumeck and his colleagues would follow up that letter with a larger study a year later in the New England Journal of Medicine. That study presented detailed data on 23 Africans treated for AIDS from as far back as May 1979. That would be a full two years before the CDC reported on the five gay patients in Los Angeles (See Jun 5). Eighteen of the patients treated in Brussels were from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), one from Chad, two from Rwanda, and two from Burundi. By then, ten had died. On further investigation, researchers found that the husband of one patient had died in 1976 in Belgium at the age of 27 from diseases “consistent with AIDS.”

In December 1984, Clumeck and associates published another paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences expanding their study to 40 patients who had undergone treatment in Belgium. Only two of them were gay male Belgians; the rest were Africans. By then, they had concluded, “It is likely that AIDS is endemic now in Central Africa, and that the cases seen in Belgium represent only the tip of the iceberg.”

[Sources: N. Clumek, F. Mascart-Lemone, J. de Maubeuge, D. Brenez, L. Marcelis. Letter to the editor: “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in Black Africans.” Lancet 1, no. 8325 (March 19, 1983): 624.

Nathan Clumeck, Jean Sonnet, Henri Taelman, et al. “Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in African patients.” New England Journal of Medicine 310, no, 8 (February 23, 1984): 492-497.

Nathan Clumeck, Jean Sonnet, Henri Taelman, et al. “Acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Belgium and its relation to Central Africa.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 437 (December 1984): 264-269.]

FDA Approves AZT To Treat AIDS: 1987. Dr. Jerome P. Horwitz, a researcher at Wayne State University’s cancer center, developed azidothymidine (AZT) as cancer drug in 1964. Part of a new approach to curing cancer, AZT was was made as a synthetic form of nucleosides, which is a fundamental building block of genetic material. The idea was to inject AZT into cancer cells and watch it confuse the cell’s real nucleosides and render the cancer unable to reproduce. It failed. Horwitz never bothered to patent it, and moved on to other avenues of investigation. For the next two decades, AZT would remain, in Horwitz’s words, “a very interesting set of compounds that were waiting for the right disease.”

Fast forward twenty years to 1984. The pharmaceutical company Burroughs-Wellcome  (now GlaxoSmithKline) asked the National Cancer Institute to investigate AZT’s potential in combatting AIDS. The investigation, conducted by government scientists under government funding, began clinical trials of AZT provided by Burroughs-Wellcome, and found that the drug was able to interfere with the reproduction of HIV’s DNA and reduce the viral load (the amount of the virus in the blood). Burroughs-Wellcome patented the drug in 1985, and with no other drugs available and AZT proving to be a real benefit, the FDA gave its approval in 1987, in record time, despite the drug only having gone through a phase one trial.

Marketed as Retrovir, AZT cost $10,000 for a one-year supply (that would be about $20,600 in today’s money), making it the most expensive drug in history. It’s cost was prohibitive for the estimated thirty-five percent of people with AIDS who either had no health insurance or whose policies didn’t cover the drug. And because it only went through a phase one trial, optimum dosage was still unknown. Consequently, and under the FDA’s recommendation, doctors prescribed it at very high doses which revealed its toxic side effects, which included anemia, depressed white blood count, liver damage, heart muscle damage, muscular weakness, changes in abdominal body fat, acid reflux, headache and loss of appetite.

While there were already a patchwork of medications to treat the various opportunistic diseases that befell people with aids, AZT remained the only FDA-approved drug for treating AIDS itself for several more years. Over time, researchers discovered that AZT’s dosage could be reduced to minimize the side effects without hindering its effectiveness. But AZT’s effectiveness was limited, regardless of dosage, by HIV’s remarkable ability to mutate into an AZT-resistant form. ATZ by itself prolonged life, on average, by a year or so, which was an eternity for a disease with a 100 percent mortality rate. It wouldn’t be until two other drugs entered the market in 1995 and AZT became a part of the three-drug cocktail (see Dec 6) when an effective treatment regimen to combat AIDS would finally become available. As for Dr. Horwitz, he never did see any royalties from his invention of AZT.

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).

This your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, March 18

Jim Burroway

March 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Amsterdam Bear Pride, Amsterdam, Netherlands; European Gay Ski Week, Avoriaz, France; Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; AIDS Walk, Ft. Worth, TX; Los Angeles Leather Pride, Los Angeles, CA; Elevation: Mammoth Gay Ski Week, Mammoth Lakes, CA; Black Party, New York, NY; European Snow Pride, Tignes, France.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), March 14, 1986, page 7.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), March 14, 1986, page 7.

We were just a dinky little club,” says Alejandro, a Jefferson High School Graduate who worked as a DJ at Phazez from 1986-89, and is now a co-manager of Hogwild Records. “It was only three or four years and it was just us, but that’s what it was like. You don’t get over it.”

The memory of Phazez has stayed with its loyalists so firmly that one of its old DJs, David Milne, decided to create a MySpace page for the long-defunct club, and the online chats that ensued led to a 2007 Phazez reunion show at Atomix, with Alejandro and Milne as featured DJs. Old patrons flew in from places as distant as Connecticut and California.

“It was way better than my high-school reunion, because these were the real cool people that you liked to hang out with,” says Suzanne Duroy, one of the club’s most loyal patrons.

…One of the things about it is that back then you had gay bars and straight bars, and that was it,” Alejandro says. “`At Phazez`, we were stuck in the middle. If a guy in drag showed up, he wasn’t going to get beat up by the straight kids there. Every once in a while, some frat boys would show up and there might be a problem, but generally, you could find frat kids in there, drag queens in there, and new-wave kids with crazy hair who would get laughed at by people at the mall.”

“You could be anybody you wanted to be. You didn’t have to stay within a clique,” Duroy adds.

The 2007 reunion was so popular they held another one in 2010.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
NYPD Backs Down From Gay Demonstrators: 1966. The Stonewall Rebellion is often described as the first time that the gays fought back in the face of police repression. That’s not entirely true, as indicated by a brief notice in the May 1966 copy of the Homosexual Citizen, which was published by the Mattachine Societies of Washington, D.C. and Miami.

Police Retreat from Angry Villagers
Greenwich Village has long been known as a homosexual Bohemia. On March 18, New York police erected baracades in an unsuccessful attempt to curb “undesirables” by preventing their entrance to a 14-block area. The barricades attracted a howling, chanting mob of 1500 “assorted undesirables” who forced the police to retreat and remove their barricades. The police experiment was part of Mayor Lindsay’s current push to “clean up and quiet down Greenwich Village.” The police are mapping new strategy while members of the Mattachine Society, Inc. of New York are distributing “If You Are Arrested” leaflets to the surging crowds.

[Source Warren D. Adkins (Jack Nichols, see Mar 16). “Newsfronts.” The Homosexual Citizen 1, no. 5 (May 1966): 13.]

William F. Buckley, Jr. Proposes Tattooing “All AIDS Carriers”: 1986. Two op-eds appeared in The New York Times’s editorial page under the heading, “Critical Steps in Combating the AIDS Epidemic.” One was written by Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, and the other by conservative pundit William F. Buckley, Jr. Dershowitz’s column, in keeping with the general hysteria of the day, was not without its alarmist elements. He repeated the belief that “AIDS may, in fact, be transmissible by tears, saliva, bodily fluids and mosquito bites” — a contention that was quickly refuted by those more familiar with the disease. But he also pleaded that “the flow of solid data should not be polluted by personal moralism. … We have a right to know the hard facts about AIDS, unvarnished by moralistic prejudgments.”

That recommendation contrasted sharply with Buckley’s op-ed that appeared on the same page. Buckley acknowledged that many who see homosexuality as morally wrong also saw AIDS as a “special curse of the homosexual, transmitted through anal sex between males.” But that didn’t stop him from trying to claim that those who “tend to disapprove forcefully of homosexuality … (tend) to approach the problem of AIDS empirically.” And how did Buckley “empirically” approach the AIDS crisis?

We face a utilitarian imperative, and the requires absolutely nothing less than the identification of the million-odd people who, the doctors estimate, are carriers.

How?

Well, the military has taken the first concrete step. Two million soldiers will be given the blood test, and those who have AIDS will be discreetly discharged. …The next logical step would be to require of anyone who seeks a marriage license that he present himself not only with a Wassermann test but also an AIDS test.

But if he has AIDS, should he then be free to marry?

Only after the intended spouse is advised that her intended husband has AIDS, and agrees to sterilization. We know already of children born with the disease, transmitted by the mother, who contracted it from the father.

…The next logical enforcer is the insurance company. Blue Cross, for instance, can reasonably require of those who wish to join it a physical examination that requires tests. Almost every American, making his way from infancy to maturity, needs to pass by one or another institutional turnstile. Here the lady will spring out, her right hand on a needle, her left on a computer, to capture a blood specimen.

Is it then proposed …that AIDS carriers should be publicly identified as such?

The evidence is not completely in as to the communicability of the disease. But while much has been said that is reassuring, the moment has not yet come when men and women of science are unanimously agreed that AIDS cannot be casually communicated. Let us be patient on that score, pending any tilt in the evidence: If the news is progressively reassuring, public identification would not be necessary. If it turns in the other direction and AIDS develops among, say, children who have merely roughhoused with other children who suffer from AIDS, then more drastic segregation measures would be called for.

But if the time has not come, and may never come, for public identification, what then of private identification?

Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.

A year later, Buckley “withdrew” his proposal under the unique kind of protest that only Buckley could muster:

Sixteen months ago, in a thinking-out-loud exchange with Professor Alan Dershowitz, I suggested that perhaps AIDS carriers should be tattooed discreetly, to guard uncontaminated sexual or needle partners from danger. This proposal reminded everyone of Auschwitz, and I have seen, in print, that Mr. Buckley “wants to tattoo all homosexuals.” It is as though anyone who found a use for barbed wire was secretly a concentration-camp fetishist. Never mind: I quickly withdrew the proposal for the simple reasoning that it proved socially intolerable. I have ever since been waiting for a socially tolerable alternative to be proposed…

But in 2005 when the news media would initiate a new round of hysteria over an imaginary AIDS “superbug,” Buckley was there again, suggesting that the tattoo idea be revived:

The objective is to identify the carrier, and to warn his victim. Someone, 20 years ago, suggested a discreet tattoo the site of which would alert the prospective partner to the danger of proceeding as had been planned. But the author of the idea was treated as though he had been schooled in Buchenwald, and the idea was not widely considered, but maybe it is up now for reconsideration.

The so-called “superbug” was a phantom, but Buckley’s Buchenwaldist proposal was, apparently, serious — serious enough for him to raise it again unapologetically 20 years later.

Malcom Forbes on his Harley-Davidson, on the cover of OutWeek, March 18, 1990. (Click to enlarge.)

 25 YEARS AGO: Michelangelo Sigornile Reports That A Very Wealthy Businessman Was Gay: 1990. Malcolm Forbes was gay. You knew that, right? Playwright George Osterman knew. He had had sex with Forbes a few times, and was one of the very few willing to talk about it under his own name. “To a degree, he was very charming. I did it for the experience, I mean, I was having sex with a millionaire, It was an experience. It was fine,” he said. A host of New York City waiters knew; Forbes seemed to have had a particular thing for waiters. A former employee at Forbes magazine said that half of the staff knew and the other half just didn’t want to know about it. New York’s gossip columnists knew: Newsday’s James Revson, The Daily News’ Billy Norwich, Village Voice’s Michael Musto. Liz Smith, also at The Daily News, undoubtedly knew, though she claimed to be “too square” to be aware of it. Besides, she was still tending to her own closet at the time. Even Elizabeth Taylor knew — even though the New York Times implied in Forbes’s obituary that he had wanted to marry her, only to strike that reference in the paper’s later editions. And because Michelangelo Signorile put all of that in a cover story for OutWeek three weeks after Forbes died of a heart attack, you know it too:

People talked and, in quite a few segments of the gay male community at least, it seamed that everyone knew someone who’d done it with Malcolm Forbes. He was also quite showy, liking to ride around with his “dates” on his motorcycle. It was not uncommon to spot Forbes on Christopher Street taking a break next to his bike with a hot, young, leathered bikemate by his side. He also would show up — often with young men — at such mixed clubs as Love Machine and Celebrity Club at the Tunnel, where the crowed was predominately gay but was never listed as such or considered a gay club per se. This the contradiction of Forbes: While he tried to keep it all very hush-hush, he behaved many times in a sloppy, seemingly deliberate way, yearning to have fun, and testing the limits of living a closeted life.

Michelangelo Signorile

Signorile’s first job out of college was with a public relations firm that specialized in getting their clients mentioned in gossip columns. That’s where he became increasingly aware of the double standard with which gossip columnists — and journalists generally — treated gay people. Every hint of a heterosexual dalliance was given press, but whenever they became aware of a romance involving a gay celebrity, there was nothing but silence — or a manufactured story of a heterosexual romance. As Signorile became involved with ACT UP in 1989, the group’s motto “SILENCE = DEATH” took on a special meaning. As long as gay people were an abstraction to the general public — as long as gay people were those people, relatively nameless and faceless because those who were well known remained silent — the unique combination of apathy and hysteria surrounding AIDS would continue.

Forbes wasn’t the first celebrity whose homosexuality Signorile reported on. As the features editor of OutWeek, Signorile also wrote a regular column titled “Gossip Watch,” in which he sought to hold New York’s other gossip columnists accountable. Beginning in 1989, he launched a second column called “Peek-A-Boo,” in which he listed the names of some ninety allegedly closeted celebrities. Critics, including many in the gay community, lambasted Signorile for publishing private and “salacious” details, as though being gay itself was somehow salacious. By 1990, the mainstream media began to notice, when Time magazine published “Forcing Gays Out of the Closet,” in which media critic William Henry III coined the word “outing” as a verb, a term that Signorile has always disliked. As he saw it, what he was doing was reporting, and was in no way different from what other journalists were writing about heterosexual celebrities.

As for the Forbes article, Signorile’s portrait was actually somewhat sympathetic. But in the end, Signorile said that setting the record straight, so to speak, was important “for the sake of posterity:

Is our society so overwhelmingly repressive that even individuals as all-powerful as the late Malcolm Forbes feel they absolutely cannot come out of the closet? It would seem so. Much like Congressman Barney Frank before he came out, Forbes was the victim of a virulently homophobic society which he too fed into regularly. He was forced to lead a life of secret pursuits and dark, dirty doings; of exploitation and abuse, His own internalized homophobia far outweighed the commanding authority that any amount of dollars could possibly wield.

And what is the significance of bringing all of this out now?

First, for the sake of posterity the truth must be told. All too often history is distorted. One of the most influential men in America just died, and regardless of how we may or may not see him as a proper public figure, he was gay, And that must be recorded.

Second, it sends a clear message to the public at large that we are everywhere.

Third, perhaps gays and lesbians at all levels of society can learn a great deal from the story of Malcolm Forbes, In researching this piece, in an attempt to try to obtain more information about Forbes and get to people who were close to him, I came upon someone who kneW the family very well and who would have been able to discuss intimate details about the man; not merely about sex, but about the the real inner-workings of Forbes’ mind, It was a person who could perhaps provide an insight into what Forbes thought about such issues as gay rights and AIDS, But, after considerable thought, he decided not to speak to me. Currently living a closeted existence with regard to his own family and business, he said, “My choice in speaking to you is between myself and the greater gay community, And — at this moment — I have to go with myself.”

Ultimately, that was the tragedy of Malcolm Forbes’ entire life, Under the guise, perhaps, of doing the best for “himself,” Forbes initiated a senseless, self-imposed prison sentence which benefited no one.

Despite what had become rather common knowledge — and despite Signorile’s efforts to promote to story to other news organizations, the mainstream press remained silent. Several months later, The New York Times, in an article about the “outing” controversy, refused to mention Forbes’s name, referring to him simply as “a famous businessman who had recently died.”

[Sources: Michelangelo Signorile. “The other side of Malcolm.” Outweek (March 18, 1990): 40-45. Available online here (PDF: 21.3 MB/108 pages).

William Henry III. “Forcing gays out of the closet.” Time (January 29, 1990). Available online with subscription here.]

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Not Lou Sheldon’s favorite day

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2015

Lou SheldonAt some point in the late 80’s or early 90’s a friend and I ran into Steve Sheldon at a convention. “Hey” he said, “I’d like you to meet my father.”

By that time Lou Sheldon, the founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, was pretty much known for his obsessive opposition to homosexuality. Well, that and his lisp.

I was curious as to how Sheldon would interact, and I do have to say it was odd. He took one look at me and the young lady I was with and said, “Hello, nice to meet you, are you married?”

Before I could even get “ummmm, no” out of my mouth, Steve grabbed his father’s elbow and with “Dad, there are some people down here who want to meet you” they were gone.

That was during Sheldon’s heyday. He was on television and in the newspapers ranting about the evils of homosexuality and peddling fears about your children. He was in the offices of legislators demanding concessions and oppressions. Thousands of pastors across the nation looked to him for leadership and many thousands of voters looked to the TVC Voter Guide to direct them in electing representatives which would uphold their Judeo-Christian values.

Over the years Sheldon has faded from the scene. His daughter Andrea took over the TVC and the they – and it – have mostly disappeared from the political landscape.

But when I heard that a majority of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s presbyteries had affirmed marriage equality, I thought of Lou.

He became a Presbyterian minister in 1960, when most Christians – and society – thought of homosexuality as distasteful if not downright abhorrent. In 1980 when he founded TVC, his position was dominant in Christendom.

Now his own branch has rejected his understanding of faith and fidelity.

Sheldon caused so much pain and fostered so much hostility. His denunciations were vile, seldom based on even a kernel of truth, and espoused with such smugness and arrogance that it’s difficult to find any common humanity.

But here’s a man who struggled his whole life for what he believed only, in his twilight years to find everything he stood for rejected by those whom he thought he represented.

I can’t dredge up much sadness for Lou Sheldon on what much be a discouraging day. But I do have pity for the man.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, March 17

Jim Burroway

March 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, March 13, 1981, page 52-53.

From This Week In Texas, March 13, 1981, page 52-53.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Florida Legislature Issues Report On Homosexuality: 1964. In 1956, the Florida Legislature established the Legislative Investigations Committee, known popularly as the Johns Committee for its chairman, state senator and former governor Charley Johns. The committee’s broad mandate was, more or less, to carry on the work of the already-discredited Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s hearings from earlier in the decade. In addition to the red- and homo-baiting, the Johns committee also sought to rid the state of the NAACP and anyone else who “could constitute violence, or a violation of the laws of the state, or would be inimical to the well being and orderly pursuit of their personal and business activities by the majority of the citizens of this state.” In 1961, the legislature again tasked the committee to investigate “extent of [homosexuals’] infiltration into agencies supported by state funds.” The concern here was with the state’s college campuses. The legislature’s renewed directive came after the Johns committee had been searching for homos under the dorm room beds since at least 1958 (see for example Jan 12Mar 22, Apr 24).

Inside photo, page 4 of the Johns Committee Report (click to enlarge).

That effort culminated in a report released in 1964, nicknamed the “purple pamphlet” for the abstract purple cover that was added to obscure the more provocative cover inside. The report called for “increased research efforts to expose the underlying causes of homosexuality and its possible cures” and defined homosexuality as a problem “of control, and that established procedures and stern penalties will serve both as encouragement to law enforcement officials and as a deterrent to the homosexual hungry for youth.” It included a dictionary of slang terms and included confiscated photos from gay people who had undergone various anti-gay investigations over the previous years. The report lamented that “little has been done to reveal the role of the male muscle and physique magazines, the pinup books of homosexuality,” and it called for mandatory psychiatric evaluations of anyone convicted of homosexuality, the creation of outpatient treatment centers, a registry that potential employers could check, and making a second conviction a felony.

The report provoked an immediate outcry, but not for the reasons the committee expected. The State Attorney for Dade County warned that the purple pamphlet was “becoming the object of curiosity in every school in the state and could engender perversion.” If the Johns Committee sent any more copies of the report to his county, he warned, he would file obscenity charges. A Daytona Beach politician criticized the committee for “becoming engaged in the publication of such vile material.” The Miami Herald ran an editorial saying, “It is shocking to see that it bears the Great Seal of Florida and the governor’s office as the return address. We feel that the immediate resignation of every state official who had a hand in it, and the full investigation of possible violations of obscenity laws, are called for.”

The glory hole photo, page 26 of the Johns Committee Report (click to enlarge).

As if to prove the point, the Guild Press, publisher of male physique magazines including Grecian Guild Pictorial and other homoerotica, also saw the pamphlet’s prurient value and reprinted a facsimile edition of the non-copyrighted pamphlet and marketed it in their nationally-distributed catalogue enticing customers with “an action photograph of a rest room ‘glory hole’ scene that is unbelievable.” The ad described the photo as “the only scene such as this that we have ever seen in print anywhere.” It quickly became on of the Guild Press’s best sellers.

Rep. Richard Mitchell, then the committee’s chairman, responded to the controversy with a special news conference and said that the report would not be distributed “indiscriminately.” But the damage to the committee’s reputation was insurmountable. The next year, the Florida Legislature pulled funding for the Committee and it disbanded on July 1, 1965. The Committee’s decade-long inquisition was over, but its influence continued on. Jacksonville Mayor Haydon Burns ran for governor, saying he was “astounded at the number of pinks and Communists on the campuses of higher education in this state” and he pledged “to get rid of them.” He won.

The Johns Committee Report is available online here.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Bayard Rustin: 1912-1987. Many African-Americans are offended whenever some assert that “gays are the new Black.” That controversy isn’t a new one; just try to imagine the blowback when, in a 1986 speech, the venerable civil rights leader and aid to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared “The new niggers are gays”:

Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays. No person who hopes to get politically elected, even in the deep South, not even Governor Wallace, would dare to stand in the schoolhouse door to keep blacks out. Nobody would dare openly and publicly to argue that blacks should not have the right to use public accommodation. Nobody would dare say any number of things about blacks that they are perfectly prepared to say about gay people. It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change.

Indeed, if you wan to know whether today people believe in democracy, if you want to know whether they are true democrats, if you want to know whether they are human rights activists, the question to ask is, “What about gay people?” Because that is now the litmus paper by which this democracy is to be judged. The barometer for social change is measured by selecting the group which is most mistreated. … The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.

Rustin insisted on the connection between civil rights for gay people and civil rights for African-Americans. He had a special authority to assert that connection: openly gay his whole life, he was the main organizer of King’s 1963 March on Washington. By then, he had already devoted nearly two decades to Mahatma Ghandi’s teachings on non-violent resistance and three decades to his pacifist Quaker faith, which led to his imprisonment for refusing to fight in World War II. He is credited with teaching King about the principles of nonviolent protest when he met King during the Montgomery bus boycott, techniques Rustin honed during the first Freedom Rides in 1947 (and for which Rustin spent 22 days on a chain gang for violating North Carolina’s Jim Crow laws). Rustin later helped found the Congress for Racial Equality and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Rustin’s open sexuality was not without its complications. It was often used against him by enemies of segregation and, later, by more militant members of the Black Power movement. He was forced to resign from King’s organization during the bus boycott, but King turned to Rustin to organize the 1963 March on Washington. In the end, King and other civil rights leaders refused to abandon him and expressed their confidence in Ruston’s abilities.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Rustin became more active directly in the Democratic Party. He also became more involved in the labor movement and the gay rights movement. And through it all, he insisted that all fights for equal rights were connected by a common thread, running from Auschwitz to Montgomery to Stonewall:

There are four burdens, which gays, along with every other despised group, whether it’s blacks follow slavery and reconstruction, or Jews fearful of Germany, must address. The first is recognize one must overcome fear. The second is overcoming self-hate. The third is overcoming self-denial. The fourth is more political. It is to recognize that the job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.

Rudolf Nureyev: 1938-1992. The world-famous dancer was born on the move, on a Trans-Siberian train while his mother was traveling to Vladivostok, where his father was stationed with the Red Army. Despite auditioning and earning a spot with the prestigious Bolshoi, he decided instead to hitch his rising star to the Kirov in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where he danced fifteen roles in three years. His early reputation as a rebel meant that the Soviet Union kept Nureyev at home whenever the Kirov traveled abroad. But in 1961, the Kirov’s leading male dancer was injured and Nureyev was chosen to replace him for a European tour.

His performance in Paris created a sensation among audiences and critics. Kirov’s management couldn’t have been happier, except for one thing: they noticed that he had broken the rules about mingling with foreigners. The Kirov and KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union immediately. In one subterfuge, he was told that instead of traveling on to London, he was needed for a special performance at the Kremlin. When that didn’t work, they told him his mother was dying. Convinced (correctly, it turned out) that he was being lied to, he defected at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris.

Already a well-known among ballet aficionados, his dramatic defection made him a household name among those who knew nothing of ballet except for the local Christmas Nutcracker productions in the elementary school gyms. But Nureyev brought a style and verve to ballet that transformed the art. Before Nureyev, male dancers were little more than accessories to the star ballerinas, flinging them around and holding them aloft as on-stage props. Nureyev changed that by putting the male performance — his performance — first.

Ironically, Nureyev found employment difficult in the years immediately following his defection, as top companies were loath to jeopardize their relationships the the prestigious Bolshoi and Kirov. Nureyev picked up a low paying position with a middling Paris company. While on tour in Denmark, he met Erik Bruhn, a dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet, who would become his off-and-on lover until Bruhn’s death in 1986. Nureyev’s career eventually included two decades at the Royal Ballet in London, and a stint as director of the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1980s, where he also acted as chief of choreography and dancer until 1989. Nureyev also became famous in the gay community — some would say notorious – for his less artistic appearances in various bathhouses and other cruising venues. By the late 1970’s his health was declining due to what may have been various opportunistic infections brought on by AIDS. He was diagnosed in 1984, but continued dancing, although his capacity was becoming obviously diminished. His last public appearance was on October 8, 1992 for the premiere of a new production of La Bayadère, which he choreographed. He entered the hospital for the last time in November, and died two months later at the age of 54.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, March 16

Jim Burroway

March 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Der Kreis (The Circle), Zurich Switzerland, November 1962, page 37.

For those who could afford it, a trip to Europe often meant breaking free from the constraints of being gay in America. Then, as now, Amsterdam was a favorite destination. But as you can see, businesses elsewhere also sought the gay dollar, pound, franc and mark. The two Amsterdam hotels, Hotel Floca and Hotel Zwitserland Amsterdam, are now both private apartment houses. Cafe Tusculum was still there in Hamburg as least through 2008, although it appears to no longer be in business. Hotel P.L.M. is still operating as an inexpensive but well-regarded hotel in the heart of Cannes.

ONE Magazine, March 1959.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
ONE Asks, When Will Homosexuals Stop Pitying Themselves?: 1959. Never to leave well enough alone in its early years, the staff of ONE magazine staked out a bold-for-the-fifties argument for gay equality in the face of a generalized broad-based fear in the gay community in the wake of the Lavender Scare earlier that decade. ONE’s founders consisted of disaffected former Mattachine members who grew tired of the endless, aimless discussions taking place in Mattachine meetings (see Oct 15). ONE’s first issue opened with a stirring re-telling an exceptionally rare, early gay-friendly ruling in a court of law when Dale Jennings fought and won against lewd conduct charges resulting from a case of entrapment (see Jun 23). ONE fought vigorously against postal authorities that tried to shut the magazine down on indecency grounds, a fight that ultimately led to the very first gay rights Supreme Court victory (see Jan 13). ONE’s board chairman Dorr Legg (who went by the name of William Lambert, see Dec 15) even found himself face-to-face with FBI agents sent on J. Edgar Hoover’s orders demanding that he retract a statement that appeared in ONE alleging that gays occupied key positions in the FBI. Legg refused (see Jan 26).

So ONE, at least in its early years, was aggressive, sometimes too aggressive in the view of some in the gay community. In a March 1959 editorial, Legg pushed back against that criticism, hard.

“Too aggressive! Just asking for trouble!” Comments such as these have been thrown at ONE many times over the years by the timorous. As, for instance, the criticisms back in 1953 over an editorial which vigorously proclaimed, “ONE is not grateful.” The Los Angeles Postmaster had jusl released copies of an issue he had been withholding from the mails, The editorial continued, “ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance… 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.”

Whether or not this was “too aggressive” it has always been ONE’s position that homosexuals are, first of all, citizens, and entitled to exactly the same rights and privileges accorded all citizens. Neither second-class citizenship nor discrimination could be tolerated, we devoutly believed. It was our indignation over police brutalities, the peephole spying, and other such incidents which supplied us with the energies and “recklessness” that kept ONE going in the face of all obstacles.

We have always felt sad, even a little ashamed, for those who “just couldn’t afford to be associated with such a group.” For this attitudes showed how many Americans were forgetting that Constitutional freedom also included the freedom from being pushed around by public officials, and that if one class of citizens is deprived of its rights, all can and eventually would be.

However, in trying to be “the voice of U.S. homosexuals,” ONE Magazine had to steer a course between what only a rare few were discerning as an issue of the highest moral order, and the all-too-evidence inability of most homophiles to get out from under the crushing load of guilt imposed upon them by a society which hated queers, laughed at fairies, or gladly beat-up homos, all with the deepest feelings of self-satisfied virtue. This same society could not and would not listen to the proposition that homosexuals were, by and large, no better or no worse than other people. “Preposterous,” they snorted, while the homophiles themselves rather pitifully asked, “Do we dare claim this?” or else struck back at ONE for even proposing such a heresy.

Legg noticed that all of the legal victories won so far came about because heterosexual lawyers were willing to take up the causes that “homosexuals have hitherto been too spineless to do for themselves”:

When are American homosexuals going to stop sitting around pitying themselves, excusing themselves, hiding their faces and bemoaning their lot? When are they going to roll up their sleeves and do some of the hard work and the fighting that any segment of society must do to defend its own rights. These attorneys are pointing out some of the ways of going at these things. How embarrassing that this should be necessary! …

A salute to the attorneys for waking us up! Once awakened, what are we going to do about it? Let it never be forgotten that evils unchallenged grow even worse, nor that few evils are more vicious than the suppression of personal freedoms. ONE proposes to strengthen its battle for the social and civil rights of homosexuals. The ride may be bumpier from here on out. But what is anyone with a shred of self-respect to do about that?

[Source: William Lambert (Dorr Legg). Editorial. ONE 7, no. 3 (March 1959): 4-5.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Karl (Rolf) Meier: 1897-1974. Karl Meier’s first love was the theater. He began training as an actor in Zurich in 1917, and he began performing in Swiss plays and operettas starting in 1920. Between 1924 and 1932, he was part of several productions touring Germany, although he never appeared an any of the famous cabarets of Berlin. He returned to Switzerland in 1934 and joined the cabaret Cornichon, which proved to be a huge success for the next thirteen years. He resigned from Cornichon in 1947 and moved to children’s theater, radio, and then television and minor roles in film. He also moved into stage production, direction and set design, became the leading producer of independent amateur theater productions in Switzerland. He remained involved with Swiss theater until his stroke in 1970. His life partner of thirty years, Alfred Brauchli, cared for him until his death in 1974.

The mention of his life partner brings us to Karl Meier’s other life, a parallel one but not a hidden one. While Meier never performed in Berlin during his tours of Germany, he did come in contact with the gay subculture there, where he met Adolf Brand (see Nov 14), editor of the world’s first gay journal, Der Eigene (often translated as The Unique, The Special One, or The Self-Owned; there is no direct English equivalent.) Meier contributed a number of articles to Der Eigene and, from 1934, for the Schweizerisches Freundschafts-Banner (Swiss Banner of Friendship) in Zurich, a gay journal that was founded in 1932.

In 1943, one year after Switzerland decriminalized homosexuality, Meier took over the editorship of the journal, which by then had added a French section to the original German. Under the pseudonym of “Rolf” (even though his association with the journal was well-known), he changed the title to Der Kreis (The Circle), and by 1952 made the journal trilingual with the appearance of an English language section.

He also took the journal into a much more conservative direction. Before Switzerland decriminalized homosexuality, the journal had been very vocal in the political sphere. But after changing to Der Kreis, Meier feared that pushing for any further political reform would incite a backlash. From then on, Der Kreis limited itself to philosophical, cultural and medical/psychological topics while promoting a much more heteronormative model for gay men and women. And while the French and English sections of Der Kreis had their own editors, Meier’s influence was supreme. The German sections made up about half of the journal, and Meier’s articles, under various pseudonyms, made up close to a fifth of the entire German output. He also included a section of  photos and illustrations — always tasteful and never showing frontal nudity — including some fifty photos by George Platt Lynes (see Apr 15) over the course of several years.

Der Kreis would prove to be profoundly influential to would-be gay publishers around the world, including the band of brothers who founded ONE magazine in Los Angeles (see Oct 15). ONE often reprinted articles from Der Kreis, and it regularly carried advertisements for Der Kreis subscriptions. For its part, Der Kreis encouraged gay men in America and all over Europe to travel to Zurich for its conferences, festivals, and a large Christmas celebration each year. But by the 1950s Der Kreis was already being criticized for being too conservative. When the 1960s rolled in and more daring publications emerged from Germany and Scandinavia, Der Kreis’s popularity declined precipitously. It finally ceased publication in 1967.

Jack Nichols: 1938-2005. The co-founder, with Frank Kameny, of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., Nichols was out to his parents since he age of twelve. His mother, described as an Auntie Mame figure, accepted him with aplomb; his father, an agent with the FBI who had divorced his mother after returning from World War II, not so much. His mother’s Scottish immigrant parents, with whom he and his mother lived in affluent Chevy Chase, Maryland, were similarly accepting: his grandmother allowed him to neck with his male dates in the driveway. They also encouraged Nichols’s self-education through their own devotion to the Scottish free-thinker tradition. By the time he was fifteen, Nichols had read over a thousand books on philosophy, poetry, and religion.  By the time he was nineteen, Nichols and his first boyfriend bought a house and lived together openly as a couple.

In 1960, he met Frank Kameny (see May 21), and together they co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. Beginning in 1963, Nichols chaired the Washington Mattachine’s committee on religious concerns, which eventually became the Washington Area Council on Religion and Homosexuality. With Kameny, he led the first gay rights protest in front of the White House in April, 1965. Afterword, when Nichol’s presence at the protest drew the attention of J. Edgar Hoover, Nichols’s father, who feared that it would jeopardize his career, threatened to kill him. For obvious reasons, that would mark their final parting.

That same year, Nichols participated in the first of five annual pickets at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on Jul 4, and he began to lead the challenge to remove homosexuality from the APA’s list of mental disorders. Nichols was among those who appeared on the 1967 documentary CBS Reports: The Homosexuals (See Mar 7). In 1969, he and his partner, Lige Clarke, moved to New York and founded GAY, reputed to be the first gay weekly newspaper in the US distributed on newsstands. He and Clarke also wrote a column, “The Homosexual Citizen,” for Screw magazine. That column was the first gay-interest column in a non-gay publication. Nichols would later serve as editor for Sexology magazine, the San Francisco Sentinel, and GayToday.com. He also wrote four books: 1974’s Roommates Can’t Always be Lovers: An Intimate Guide to Male-Male Relationships, 1975’s Men’s Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity, 1996’s The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists, and 2004’s The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer. He died in 2005 at his home in Florida of complications from cancer.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 15

Jim Burroway

March 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Texas Bear Round-UP, Dallas, TX; Scandinavian Ski Pride, Hemsedal, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, March 14, 1980, page 24.

From This Week In Texas, March 14, 1980, page 24.

Houston’s Montrose Patrol, a volunteer gayborhood watch program, was getting ready for another year of queer-bashings as weather warmed up. Bashing season was apparently about as regular feature as the humidity, with a member of patrol noting that “violence is occurring with more frequency earlier this year than before.” Just the prior weekend, one gay young man was stabbed in the back with an ice pick in a parking lot at the corner of Fannin and Elgin about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. At 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, another gay man was shot by two men in a passing car. He crawled to a nearby apartment building near Mason and Avondale where he was found dead. Then on Sunday evening, another gay man was shot at with a pellet gun, sustaining minor injuries. The benefit had already been scheduled at the Family Center, but the previous weekend’s events only emphasized the Montrose Patrol’s need for more volunteers and money.

Harper's1963.03

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Harper’s Examines New York’s “Middle Class” Homosexuals: 1963. By the early 1960s, reporting on gay people followed a predictable arc: homosexuals were sad and lonely people, desperate for love and acceptance, and incapable of living a fulfilling life. With fulfillment being defined as the achievement of the middle class American Dream: with a home in the suburbs, a car, two kids and a dog, and a lovely June Cleaver waiting at home with a fresh batch of cookies. The classic middle class American Dream was out of reach for gay people, but that didn’t keep Harper’s William J. Helmer from providing a very interesting and well-balanced look at New York’s gay middle class. In “New York’s ‘Middle-class’ Homosexuals” — were the quotation marks ironic or emphatic? — Helmer’s profile was anything but sensationalistic. For example, here’s his description of a typical gay club in West Greenwich with a bar in the front and a dance floor in the back:

Although we went on a Thursday night, the back room was so crowded that many were standing, and the atmosphere was that of a speakeasy: dim lights, loud noise, cigarette smoke, music, and, I was told, a signal to stop dancing in the event of a police raid. My reaction to the unusual sight of men embracing each other on the dance floor was one more of curiosity than aversion, probably because the dancers appeared so casual and others in the room so indifferent. I was far more surprised to see no one who “looked” homosexual. A few were a little too well-groomed or elegant in their behavior, and a few were dressed younger than their age (though all looked to be under thirty), but otherwise the only noticeable difference was that everyone resembled the dashing young men in college sportswear advertisements. At other bars I did see a few obviously effeminate persons, but they were not flamboyant. and I was told that the better class of gay bar usually discourages conspicuous homosexuals in order to avoid police crackdowns.

If it was all about appearances in 1963 America generally, it’s easy to imagine that appearances were similarly important in the gay community. There was, of course, what respectable Americans would consider the “dark underbelly,” but in Helmer’s description, the respectable gay counterpart was equally eager to keep its distance from those unseemly scenes. “The genuine orgy,” he wrote,” is less common and regarded by some as rather jading and degrading, but still ‘okay if you like that sort of thing’.” But as for the parties:

A colorful — but not necessarily sexual — event in the gay world is the “drag party” to which guests may come dressed as women. Unlike genuine transvestitism, however, such masquerading is often done as a titillating joke, the idea being to dress like a ridiculous parody of the female in order to humorously exaggerate one’s “perversion.” The term gay, which often strikes a heterosexual as inappropriate if not ironic becomes meaningful at parties and dancing bars. Any private gathering is an opportunity to relax and “drop the mask” one wears in public, and there is usually an air of conspiracy and intrigue which is not without its appeal. Such conditions tend to promote a spirit of good-fellowship, and everyone tries to outdo each other in being friendly, sociable, and “gay.” Part of this is artificial — the same sort of attempt at jolly behavior that may go on between males and females after a few drinks at a dull cocktail party. But no doubt homosexuals do feel a genuine exuberance in temporarily escaping the sense of rejection implicit in their frequent need to conceal their nature from employer, acquaintances, and family.

But like the rest of society, appearances and neighborhood were important marks to social standing:

Wealth and family background themselves usually are not sources of status within the homosexual community, though their manifestations — possessions, manners, etc. — may be. Since most homosexuals have no dependents and only personal expenses, a modest income will usually provide the obvious luxuries of “sophisticated” city life, reducing the importance of real wealth. Most homosexuals who participate exclusively in gay social life have a relatively low income, so there exists no real moneyed class within the community toward which to aspire. A prominent family background brings little status since few homosexuals can afford to mix their gay life with their straight life.

…In gay society an individual is often typed (not always accurately) according to his neighborhood. The “East Side Snob” is described as an elegant, high-class dandy, or a bland, pseudosophisticated “organization man with a flair,” and both tend to confine themselves to their own more private social circles. The West Sider is thought to be a lower-class, sometimes bizarre person, and the two extremes seem to meet in the Village where stereotypes mix. To some homosexuals, Forty-second Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenues is practically a taboo area because of the hustlers, hoodlums, and generally undesirable types who often congregate there. The West Seventies are said to be a “pansy patch” because of the number of obviously effeminate homosexuals, often Puerto Rican, who live there; and some areas of the Upper East Side are called “fairy flats” because they are supposedly inhabited by “conspicuously elegant types usually walking poodles,” as one informant put it. Brooklyn Heights, just across the East River from Lower Manhattan, is thought of as a kind of homosexual suburbia popular with “young marrieds.”

[Source: William J. Helmer. “New York’s ‘Middle Class’ Homosexuals.” Harper’s Magazine (March 1963): 85-92.]

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, March 14

Jim Burroway

March 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Texas Bear Round-UP, Dallas, TX; Scandinavian Ski Pride, Hemsedal, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 29.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 29.

I haven’t been able to find any information about the Citadel. The address — indeed, the entire block — is now occupied by a Ritz-Carlton Boston Common.

Sen. David Walsh (D-MA)

Sen. David Walsh (D-MA)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Naval Intelligence Police Raid Gay Brothel: 1942. Prostitution was against the law (still is, in fact), and police regularly raided brothels whenever they found them. On that point, this raid wouldn’t be much different, at least at the start, when Navy police raided one such establishment at 329 Pacific Street in Brooklyn. But because the Brooklyn Naval Yards had been the center of Brooklyn’s gay life since Walt Whitman’s days there after the Civil War, Naval intelligence was very sensitive to the goings-ons in the area. They also had received tips that the brothel had become a hangout for Nazi spies and sympathizers. They arrested the brothel’s manager, Gustave Beekman, and then told him that if he cooperated with federal authorities, they’d go easy on his sentence. His cooperation led to the arrest of several foreign agents. So far, so good, right?

Well, one of the names Beekman mentioned was a U.S. Senator who he identified as “Doc” and the press whispered as “Senator X.” On May 1, New York Post all but named Sen. David Walsh (D-MA), a confirmed bachelor with a reputation as a dandy, as that Senator X. Time magazine called it “one of the worst scandals that ever affected a member of the Senate.” Walsh was already well-known as an outspoken isolationist before the attack on Pearl Harbor, going so far as to refuse to endorse FDR for the Democratic primary in 1940 over the issue. As chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, he blocked Roosevelt’s attempt to help Britain after the fall of Western Europe. (Roosevelt got around it through the Lend-Lease program, which meant that we never “gave” Britain aid but just lent and leased it instead.)  Walsh collected a number of political enemies as a result.

His homosexuality was also one of the worst kept secrets in Washington and Massachusetts, making it very tricky for him to mount a defense. Walsh called it “a diabolical lie” and demanded a full investigation. Seeing an opportunity to bring Walsh to heel, Roosevelt defended Walsh’s reputation (despite saying privately that “everyone knew” that Walsh was gay) and asked the FBI to investigate. Just a few weeks later, on May 20 to be exact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover delivered that, ahem, exhaustive FBI report to Senate majority leader Allen Barkley (D-KY). Barkley made a lengthy address before the Senate, saying that the report exonerated Walsh and that his “unsullied” reputation remained intact. He also declined to enter the report into the Congressional Record “because it contains disgusting and unprintable things.” Walsh survived the scandal, but his career was mortally wounded. He lost his race for re-election in 1946 to Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

As for Beekman, federal agents reneged on their promise to let him off easy. He was charged with sodomy and given the maximum sentence: twenty years in Sing Sing. He entered prison on October 5, 1942 and wasn’t released until April 1, 1963, at the age of 78.

[Source: Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): 580-581.]

65 YEARS AGO: Joseph McCarthy Adds Names to His Famous List: 1950. In February, Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s national profile went through the roof when, during a speech at the Republican Women’s Club if Wheeling, West Virginia, he announced, “I have here in my hand a list of names … that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” There’s been some dispute as to how many names he said he had. Some sources put that number at 205, others say 57. No audio recording or transcription of the Wheeling speech survives. Nevertheless, he never did make that list public, despite several promises to do so.

Meanwhile, the State Department tried to get in front of the situation when Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he announced that the State Department had already let go 202 employees since 1947 who were considered “poor security risks.” Peurifoy added that 91 of those let go “for moral weakness … Most of them were homosexual. In fact, I would say all of them were.” (see Feb 28.) With that statement, the Red Scare quickly took on a distinctly lavender hue.

McCarthy wasn’t about to let the Truman Administration duck what he thought was a ripe political scandal, and over the next several days, he and Peurifoy skirmished openly in the press. McCarthy charged that Truman’s State Department was lax in ridding itself of “perverts,” while Peurifoy taunted McCarthy for refusing to release his list of a constantly-changing number of names. Finally, on March 14, McCarthy submitted 25 names of State Department employees that he said should be investigated to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee. He also claimed, according to press reports, “that a homosexual had been hired by the Central Intelligence Agency after the State Department allowed him to resign. He did not name the man, but said his perversion made him a bad security risk.”

“1,112 and Counting…”: 1983. More than a year had passed since playwright Larry Kramer helped to found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (see Jan 12) to provide the kind of social services to gay men with AIDS that New York’s public health agencies were loathe to address. In the succeeding fourteen months, the death toll continued to rise and the paralysis which had struck local public health officials seemed no closer to abating. Kramer, who was never known for squelching his anger whenever or wherever it arose, took his frustrations out in an essay, titled “1,112 and Counting…” in the March 14, 1983 edition of The New York Native, which at that time was just about the only source the gay community could turn to for the latest news (and obituaries) on the epidemic. It began:

If this article doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in real trouble. If this article doesn’t rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future on this earth. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get.

I am writing this as Larry Kramer, and I am speaking for myself, and my views are not to be attributed to Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

I repeat: Our continued existence as gay men upon the face of this earth is at stake. Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die. In all the history of homosexuality we have never before been so close to death and extinction. Many of us are dying or already dead.

Before I tell you what we must do, let me tell you what is happening to us.

There are now 1,112 cases of serious Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. When we first became worried, there were only 41. In only twenty-eight days, from January 13th to February 9th [1983], there were 164 new cases – and 73 more dead. The total death tally is now 418. Twenty percent of all cases were registered this January alone. There have been 195 dead in New York City from among 526 victims. Of all serious AIDS cases, 47.3 percent are in the New York metropolitan area.

These are the serious cases of AIDS, which means Kaposi’s sarcoma, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and other deadly infections. These numbers do not include the thousands of us walking around with what is also being called AIDS: various forms of swollen lymph glands and fatigues that doctors don’t know what to label or what they might portend.

When Kramer wrote his essay, the announcement of the discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was still two months away (see May 20):

And, for the first time in this epidemic, leading doctors and researchers are finally admitting they don’t know what’s going on. I find this terrifying too – as terrifying as the alarming rise in numbers. For the first time, doctors are saying out loud and up front, “I don’t know.”

For two years they weren’t talking like this. For two years we’ve heard a different theory every few weeks. We grasped at the straws of possible cause: promiscuity, poppers, back rooms, the baths, rimming, fisting, anal intercourse, urine, semen, shit, saliva, sweat, blood, blacks, a single virus, a new virus, repeated exposure to a virus, amoebas carrying a virus, drugs, Haiti, voodoo, Flagyl, constant bouts of amebiasis, hepatitis A and B, syphilis, gonorrhea.

I have talked with the leading doctors treating us. One said to me, “If I knew in 1981 what I know now, I would never have become involved with this disease.” Another said, “The thing that upsets me the most in all of this is that at any given moment one of my patients is in the hospital and something is going on with him that I don’t understand. And it’s destroying me because there’s some craziness going on in him that’s destroying him.” A third said to me, “I’m very depressed. A doctor’s job is to make patients well. And I can’t. Too many of my patients die.”

Not that finally knowing that a virus was causing this mayhem was going to ease the sense of panic among those who saw the devastating effects first hand. Whatever panic Kramer experienced, he channeled it towards anger. He lashed out at the National Institutes of Health for its delays in grant funding, at The New York Times for its lack of coverage, at city Health Commissioner David Spencer for the “appalling” lack of health education, at the publishers of medical journals for the excruciatingly slow pace of the peer review process which had the effect of withholding vital information — sometimes by as much as a year — from doctors on the front lines, at The Advocate for soft-peddling the growing epidemic, and at the gay community itself:

If all of this had been happening to any other community for two long years, there would have been, long ago, such an outcry from that community and all its members that the government of this city and this country would not know what had hit them.

Why isn’t every gay man in this city so scared shitless that he is screaming for action? Does every gay man in New York want to die?

But his sharpest barbs were reserved for the (barely) closeted New York Mayor Ed Koch:

Our mayor, Ed Koch, appears to have chosen, for whatever reason, not to allow himself to be perceived by the non-gay world as visibly helping us in this emergency. Repeated requests to meet with him have been denied us. Repeated attempts to have him make a very necessary public announcement about this crisis and public health emergency have been refused by his staff. I sometimes think he doesn’t know what’s going on. I sometimes think that, like some king who has been so long on his throne he’s lost touch with his people, Koch is so protected and isolated by his staff that he is unaware of what fear and pain we’re in. No human being could otherwise continue to be so useless to his suffering constituents. When I was allowed a few moments with him at a party for outgoing Cultural Affairs Commissioner (and Gay Men’s Health Crisis Advisory Board member) Henry Geldzahler, I could tell from his responses that mayor Koch had not been well briefed on AIDS or what is happening in his city. When I started to fill him in, I was pulled away by an aide, who said, “Your time is up.” … One can only surmise that our mayor wants us treated this way.

Kramer closed by listing his friends who had died of AIDS, twenty-one names long, “and one more, who will be dead by the time these words appear in print. If we don’t act immediately, then we face our approaching doom.” The article also included a call to direct action. In doing so, it forever changed the way AIDS was discussed in the gay community. Randy Shilts, writing in And the Band Played On, called Kramer’s essay “inarguably one of the most influential works of advocacy journalism of the decade. ‘1,1112 and Counting…’ swiftly crystallized the epidemic into a political movement for the gay community at the same time it set off a maelstrom of controversy that polarized gay leaders.”

You can read the full essay here.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sylvia Beach: 1887-1962. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister and a doting mother, Beach became enthralled with Paris while her father was posted there as an assistant pastor at the American Church. The family returned to America in 1906 when her father took a post at a church in Princeton, New Jersey, but Beach returned to Europe for several return trips, including a two year stint in Spain. During the First World War, she served in the Red Cross in Serbia before finally settling in Paris to study contemporary French literature.

It was during the course of her studies that she discovered Adrienne Monnier’s bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres. The two took an instant liking to each other, became lovers, and remained together for the next thirty-six years until Monnier’s death in 1955. In 1919, Beach opened her own bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, as an English-language counterpart to Monnier’s bookshop and lending library. Beach’s bookshop quickly became a favorite meeting place for American expatriate writers, and in 1921, she moved Shakespeare and Company to larger quarters at 12 rue de l’Odéon, right across the street from Monnier’s.

James Joyce, with Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, 1938.

For the next two decades, Shakespeare and Company would operate as a kind of a community center, bank, library, post office, crash pad, office, and even publishing company, when Beach took the chance to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses when no other publisher would touch it. Loyal customers and patrons included Ernest Hemmingway (she called him “my best customer”), T.S. Elliot, Paul Valery, André Gide, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and Man Ray. Her supporters rallied to Beach’s aid when she thought she would be forced to close the shop in 1936. She remained open after the Germans entered Paris, but she was forced to close in 1940 and was interned for six months. She kept her books in a vacant upstairs apartment. In 1944, Hemmingway famously “liberated” Shakespeare and Company, but the shop never re-opened for business.

In 1955, Beach wrote her memoir, Shakespeare and Company, about the cultural life of Paris during the inter-war years. She remained in Paris until her death in 1962. Columbia University Press published an edition of Sylvia Beach’s letters in 2010.

In 1964, George Whitman, an American bookseller in Paris, renamed his bookstore Shakespeare and Company as a tribute to Beach’s shop. He also named his daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman, who runs that store today.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, March 13

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Texas Bear Round-UP, Dallas, TX; Scandinavian Ski Pride, Hemsedal, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 9.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Michigan Man Commits Suicide Ahead of Sentencing: 1960. The crackdown against homosexuality being waged by Ann Arbor police and officials at the University of Michigan (see yesterday) took a tragic turn when one man who was due in court for sentencing was found dead in a hotel in St. Louis.

James P. Wiles had been found guilty of “attempting to procure an act of gross indecency” on March 7. The judge set sentencing for March 15, while Wiles’s lawyer announced that he would appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court, contending that Wiles had been the victim of police entrapment. But two days before that sentencing date, the 53-year-old Detroit resident’s body was discovered by a hotel clerk at the Melbourne Hotel when the clerk called to check in on the man after he failed to answer his phone. He had checked into the hotel under an assumed name on Thursday, March 10, three days after his conviction, and on the same day when he was reported missing from his home.

[Source: “Michigan Campus Purge Felt with Added Fury.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 5 (May 1960): 10, 21.]

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, March 12

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Texas Bear Round-UP, Dallas, TX; Scandinavian Ski Pride, Hemsedal, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Barnard Bulletin, November 6, 1968, page 2.

From The Barnard Bulletin, November 6, 1968, page 2.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Nine Plead Guilty To “Gross Indecency” In Ann Arbor, MI: 1960. The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan is sometimes called the Berkeley of the Midwest for its reputation for progressive politics. In 1974, Ann Arbor voters elected the nation’s first openly lesbian candidate to its city council (See Apr 1). But in 1960, things weren’t so comfortable for gay people. Earlier in the year, Ann Arbor and University of Michigan police had embarked on a series of raids around campus which netted at least 34 arrests, and they were scheduled to appear in court on March 12. The arrests were generally involving homosexuality in some respects, including “acts of gross indecency and attempting to procure between males.”

On March 12, attorneys for nine of the men asked for jury trials, whereupon Judge James R. Breakey, Jr., announced that if the defendants insisted on wasting his “valuable time” and the jury found them guilty, he would sentence them to six months in Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson, and add increased fines for good measure. But if the defendants change their plea to guilty and “throw themselves on the mercy of the court,” they would be sentenced to thirty days in jail, a $250 fine plus court costs, and five years’ probation. All nine took the bargain and changed their pleas to guilty.

[Source: “Michigan Campus Purge Felt with Added Fury.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 5 (May 1960): 10.]

New York Times Magazine’s “Homosexuality On Campus”: 1978. In February of 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court, in declining to review a lower court ruling, let stand a decision requiring the University of Missouri to recognize a gay student group as an official campus organization. That ruling became the backdrop for journalists Grace and Fred Hechinger’s profile on the state of homosexuality on the nation’s campuses for the New York Times Magazine. The Hechingers traveled to six campuses — Yale, Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Northwestern, Missouri, and Hood College (a small women’s college in Frederick, Maryland) — to explore the extent to which attitudes had changed on campus toward gay people, and the growing visibility of gays themselves. There were inevitable conflicts, but the journalists focused less on overt displays of homophobia and concentrated instead on the interpersonal challenges:

For many members of the homosexual minority, being homosexual is still almost as much a disadvantage as it was 30 years ago. As freshmen, they enter into a peer culture that, for the first time, is free of most parental and general adult restraints. A new world of experimentation opens up. The homosexuals — many of them for the first time confronting, or perhaps merely suspecting, their homosexuality — are thrown into a world in which they must function without feeling fully part of it. It is a world dominated by powerful traditional and communal mores and symbols. All around them, heterosexual preoccupations with dating and mating are at a peak. Sex looms large among student concerns and conversation. The basic difference in interest is bound to erect a barrier between homosexual and heterosexual roommates….

An editor of an undergraduate daily admitted that he felt a certain sickness about homosexuals,” but on the political level I’m supportive.” As a junior he had picked a homosexual roommate from a choice of two. The heterosexual candidate was addicted to loud music; the homosexual one had a lot of books, was interested in history. “On a conscious level,” the editor, now a senior, said, “there was no problem. But still I didn’t get to be good pals with him. His life outside school was different from mine. There was a gap. I feel like the white liberal kid talking about a black roommate.”

But most of the article focused on gay students themselves, mainly on issues surrounding how and whether to come out on campus and with their families. Some campuses had responded with group programs to aide in navigating the complex waters:

At Northwestern, James E. Avery, the university’s young and articulate chaplain, arranged for us to meet with a group of homosexual students and Samuel Todes, the associate professor of philosophy, who is one of the rare species of homosexual faculty members willing to “come out.” Professor Todes reported that every Wednesday evening a discussion group is held, attended by some 40 students, most of whom are in the process of “coming out.” The discussion group, said Professor Todes, “is a small breathing hole in what is still a pretty airtight closet.”

…At Standord, we joined The Bridge, a peer-counseling group, in an informal afternoon discussion. Sitting in a circle, cross-legged on pillows, the group of young men and women looked like any other college rap session. Although we had been told that at least half of those present were homosexual, it would have been impossible to tag them, confirming our observation that on campuses, as elsewhere, only a small number of homosexuals matched popular stereotypes.

In sharing the emotional strain of many of their follow students, these young people underscored the tough side effects of coming out, even the tentative declarations to a few friends. One heterosexual student described her reaction when a member of the group had told her he was homosexual. “What was I supposed to say? You can’t just reply, ‘That’s interesting, what else is new?’ ”

…”Coming out,” said Dave, a peer counselor as well as a leader in the Gay People’s Union, “is a very liberating experience, but you have to be awfully sure of yourself to handle negative attitudes.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Edward Albee: 1928. The playwright best known for The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), Albee was adopted just a few weeks after he was born by a wealthy theatrical management family involved with the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit in New York. His parents gave him all of the advantages of wealth, but he never felt close to them. He figured out he was gay when he was twelve and away at boarding school. He never really came out to his parents — “There were many things they never discussed with me – that being one of them – but I didn’t feel close enough to them to impose on them to discuss anything, not that I felt I needed any discussion about it.”

Friends and collaborators describe him as crusty and curmudgeonly. Writers, when writing about him, find it impossible to resist titling their efforts, “Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee?” His reaction to being labelled a “gay writer” illustrates this trait. When he was given the Pioneer Award at the 2011 Lambda Literary Awards, he said, “A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay. Any definition which limits us is deplorable.” Many artists in attendance took offense at that remark, but Albee stuck to his guns, explaining to NPR “Who goes around talking about abstract expressionist painters and making a definition or a distinction between those of them that were straight and those of them who were or are gay? Nobody does it. People only do it with writers and I find that so ridiculous.” But that doesn’t mean he’s a fan of assimilation:

Why do all gay people wish to vanish into this society? Is it self-protection? I don’t know. I just don’t want us to be forced to think that we must imitate other people and behave the way they do in order to become invisible.

I had a 35-year relationship. Were we married? Yeah, I guess we were. We certainly felt that we were. We certainly treated each other like we were married to each other. Did we ever feel the need to get a marriage license? No, of course not. We knew we were married to each other. All this legality that people seem so involved with nowadays, it troubles me just a little bit. I understand all the problems to come with wills and families denying access to the loved one and all of that, but come on, do we really want to be exactly like straight people?

Albee has received three Pulitzer Prizes, for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994). The Pulitzer’s drama jury selected Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for the 1963 prize, but the jury was overruled by the advisory committee which decided not to give a drama award for that year. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf  did get a Tony for best play that year, as did 2002’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? In 2005, Albee was honored with a special Tony for lifetime achievement.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, March 11

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Texas Bear Round-UP, Dallas, TX; Scandinavian Ski Pride, Hemsedal, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 36.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 36.

Dr. Ignatz Leo Nascher (1863-1944)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“Some Queer Folk” in Greenwich Village: 1919. Esthesiomania was defined as “a form of insanity marked by perverted moral feeling and by purposeless eccentricities.” If you’ve never heard the term, you can be forgiven. The Austrian-born New York physician Ignatz Leo Nascher was something of a wordsmith, having coined the word “geriatrics” to describe the particular branch of medicine he pioneered. He didn’t coin “Esthesiomania” though, but he apparently thought it was a handy word when he began his article in the March 1919 edition of the American Journal of Urology and Sexology with this definition and a complaint that while the condition was “quite prevalent little has been written about it, many textbooks omitting it altogether.” A lot of people were eccentric — “the artist, the poet, the novelist, the composer” — but some took those eccentricities a bit farther than he considered healthy. Admitting that there was no set demarcation between eccentrics and esthesiomaniacs, he felt that a “close number of the erratic, unconventional class called bohemians, in the Latin quarter of New York City” might help to provide an illustration. The Latin Quarter, which then was also known as Greenwich Village, was home to

…many men and women presenting marked peculiarities and eccentricities, departures from the customs, styles or ethics of the day, yet they possessed an idealistic sense of morality. Others possessed an inherent sense of justice but they cannot adapt themselves to the restrictions upon behavior imposed by society. Some deliberately adopt eccentricities in a spirit of bravado, others in a spirit of egotism to attract attention and secure notoriety, some for a commercial or mercenary purpose. It was possible in some cases to determine an aberrant, perverted moral feeling and trace from this the obvious eccentricities.

Polly’s Restaurant (Click to enlarge)

Nascher recognized that there was a very relative quality to morality: “We must remember that what is considered moral in one place or at one time may be considered unmoral in another place or at another time, that the styles, customs and ethics of one community or in one stratum of society will be looked upon as queer and abnormal in another community or in another stratum of society.” By way of example, he pointed out that wearing sandals, common attire in the neighborhood, was highly unorthodox but healthier than “the high-heeled, narrow-pointed shoe.” In this case, one convention was merely sacrificed for another ideal, with no real moral lines crossed. Nascher also recognized that some of the eccentricities for which the Village was known were little more than affectations by poseurs:

Many of the so-called bohemians are merely shamboes, sham bohemians, who imitate and exaggerate the eccentricities of well known characters to attract attention to themselves. They are egotists, extravagant in their eccentricities, loud in talk, radical in their expressed views but shallow and weak when pinned down to discussion. They are readily swayed by argument or threat, are not inherently vicious or immoral, but, like the high-grade moron, they lack a sense of responsibility and obligation to society. They are studiously negligent in their appearance, talk art, music, literature apparently erudite to the uninformed but banal to the person familiar with the subject. They fit up their rooms in a bizarre fashion and make a display of them as they do of themselves to secure notoriety. Their whole life is a sham.

It is hardly necessary to speak of those who deliberately affect eccentricities in dress and surroundings for commercial purposes, to attract visitors to their shops. Most of them lead at home quiet, regular, conventional lives. Others affect eccentricities in dress and conduct in a spirit of bravado, women especially adopting them to show that they are “emancipated” and can do anything a man can do. Greenwich village has received an unenviable reputation through its exploitation for commercial purposes, by a few tradespeople who play upon the morbid curiosity of sightseers.

No, those aren’t the ethesiomaniacs he wanted to study. The subjects Nascher sought were the “true bohemians” who “do not advertise the fact that they are bohemians, nor do they deliberately violate the dictates of society. They ignore them as though unconscious of any social restrictions.” They were often artists, writers, musicians or actors:

They lack ambition and if they seek fame at all, it is only as an aid in securing a livelihood or for a momentary gratification. They are usually improvident, unpractical, indolent and lack the sense of responsibility and obligation. Wanderlust, procrastination and a lack of neatness and order are common failings and the pursuit of pleasure is a more important factor in their lives than their future welfare. While most of the men belong to the intellectual class and many are college graduates, and many of the women are college or convent bred, the belief in palmistry, phrenology, clairvoyance, astrology, fortune telling by cards and other methods, is very prevalent and they readily adopt peculiar cults and fads especially such as have something of the mystic or mysterious about them.

The lack of the sense of responsibility and obligation extends to their social relations. There is a spirit of good fellowship not found in conventional society and entirely different from the spirit of friendship. At social gatherings there is no thought of sex differences, women smoking, drinking and often paying their own bills, taking part in discussions and unabashed if the conversation takes a turn which would exclude them in conventional gatherings. There is no deep or lasting affection in this good fellowship and the “hail fellow, well met” feeling disappear at the parting. There are seldom deep, lasting friendships except in the “pal” relations between couples of opposite sex. In some of these cases there is true platonic love, couples sometimes living together as though they were of the same sex. In other cases marital relations are maintained without civil or religious bonds, in some the relations are frankly those of man and mistress, and sometimes couples live together as pals and occasional sex mates. but each retains absolute independence. I have reason to believe that in some of the “pal” relations, between individuals of the same sex as well as between individuals of opposite sex, the couples are perverts.

…I found in the village a number of sex perverts, male and female, including sadists and masochists, and a few inverts, masculine women with female perverts as mates and effeminate men with male perverts as mates.

All in all, it looks as though very little has changed in the Village after nearly a century.

[Source: I.L. Nascher. “Esthesiomania: A study of some queer folk of New York’s Latin Quarter.” American Journal of Urology and Sexology 15, 3 (March 1919): 121-132. Available online via Google Books here.]

80 YEARS AGO: The Delivery of “Safe” Electric Shock for Psychological Treatments: 1935. Two years earlier in April 1933, the New York Branch of the American Psychological Association decided to form the Committee on the Use of Electric Shock in Psychological Experimentation. The committee was formed to “exchange views regarding some of the difficulties involved in electrical stimulation,” namely the delivery of powerful electric shock in aversion therapy as part of the popular new therapeutic craze known as Behavioral Therapy. The electric shock had to be powerful enough to serve as a negative reinforcement against undesired thoughts, feelings or behaviors, but not so strong that it would prove lethal. That was not a small issue in the 1930s. Electrical executions had been by then well on their way to replacing the hangman’s noose and the firing squad as more “humane” ways of imposing the death penalty on criminals. To avoid the same fate for psychiatric patients, research was needed to invent “safer” devices and institute safety standards so that clinicians could begin shocking their patients into conformity.

In a paper published in the March 1935 edition of Psychological Bulletin, New York University’s Louis William Max came to the rescue with a nine page thesis, describing his research into the problem. He had experimented with three types of protective devises: fuses, mechanical relays, and vacuum tube-based devices:

The ideal protective device must meet three requirements: (1) it must operate smoothly and unfailingly at the pre-determined cut-off current; (2) this operation must be sufficiently rapid, since the duration factor is an important one in lethal shock; and (3) the cut-off action must never occur below the prearranged maximum, as this would interfere with experimentation. Since the quantitative evidence thus far available is of a more or less anecdotal nature, and the physiologically safe limits both as to time and intensity have not yet been satisfactorily determined, we recommend as provisional maxima 12 m.a. and 8 sigma (½ cycle of 60 cycle A.C), these values being subject to subsequent increase when justified by further experimentation. This means that an adequate safety device must eliminate all currents above 12 m.a., and that this elimination must take place within 8 sigma after the onset of the stimulus. The 8 sigma limit is but a small fraction of the threshold shock-duration reported by Duchosal as producing ventricular fibrillation in the animal heart, and thus affords a good margin of safety; as ½ cycle A.C. it also provides a convenient electrical parameter for specifying and checking the speed of A.C. protective devices.

While his study of the three types of devices was still ongoing, his investigation into the use of fuses and mechanical relays didn’t appear promising. Instead, he recommended a “vacuum-tube protective device for A.C. shock with adjustable cut-off,” complete with crude hand-drawn schematics. He had been using a version of his device using D.C. electric shocks on human subjects for the previous two years, but D.C. shocks were unsatisfying; A.C. was what delivered the best jolt (electric chairs, for this reason, used A.C., not D.C.):

Schematic diagram of Louis William Max’s device for inducing a powerful electric shock. (Click to enlarge.)

Of the vacuum-tube devices investigated, the one which best meets our requirements is that of Fig. 2. As regards expense, a complete stimulator circuit built around this device would cost less than present electrostimulators. Its chief disadvantage is that its underlying circuit is more complicated than a fuse or relay circuit would be. But the manipulative adjustments required are rather simple, and could easily be made even by a non-electrically minded experimenter, by following a set of operating instructions.

…Regardless of which protective device proves most adequate, the design of shock apparatus needs improvement. All live and exposed connections with which an operator may come in contact or which may be short-circuited by an accidentally dropped screwdriver or metal pencil should be eliminated. Experimenters, for example, have reported unpleasant shocks from exposed studs and tap switches…

Even the most ideal of protective devices cannot substitute for the exercise of care in the use of shock apparatus. For the operator’s protection, it is recommended that only one hand be employed in the manipulation of the controls in present high-voltage apparatus. In locating the shocking electrodes on the subject, avoid all contralateral leads {i.e., from one side of the body to the other), or ipselateral leads above and below the heart (such as right hand to right foot). Where possible, electrodes should be firmly fastened to the subject, especially when intense shocks are contemplated, as the subject’s “startle” responses may dislodge an electrode and throw it into contact with a body part to be avoided. The subject might well be insulated from the ground, by means of a rubber mat or glass casters, particularly where the floor is of cement or composition. Finally, every experimenter using shock apparatus on human subjects should learn the Shaefer method of resuscitation.

Six months later, Max would present a paper before the 43rd annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan (See Sep 6) describing the use of his new invention in an attempt at “breaking up” a “homosexual neurosis in a young man.”

[Source: Louis W. Max. “Protective devices and precautions against lethal shock” Psychological Bulletin 32, no. 3 (March 1935): 203-211.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
David LaChapelle: 1963. When the kid from Connecticut move to New York City and started hanging out at Studio 54, he met Andy Warhol who hired the aspiring young photographer to work for Interview magazine. He would go on become a fashion photographer for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone. GQ, Vogue, and Photo. He depicted David Duchovney in Lycra bondage pants, Chris Rock in a Blaxploitation fantasy, Kanye West as an African-American Jesus, Michael Jackson as an archangel, Jason Priestly as Elvis, Eminem naked, Elizabeth Taylor in a shocking pink turban, Lady Gaga as, well, Lady Gaga, and Dolly Parton’s breasts as a mountainous backdrop for Dollywood. His 1995 photo of the “kissing sailors” ad for Diesel was one of the first public ads showing a gay couple kissing. It was extremely controversial, landing in the glossy mags fresh off of the debate over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also branched out into videos, working for Elton John, Moby, Enrique Iglesias, Macy Gray, Amy Winehouse, and many others. In 2004, he produced a documentary about the South Central L.A. dance style know as “krumping.”

LaChapelle’s color-saturated, provocative and surreal images have been in high demand in the fashion and music world, both for his photography and his videos, and the workaholic put in grinding hours getting each painstaking detail just right. It took him fourteen years, he says, before he finally learned how to say no. That came when Madonna was haranguing him about a video the two were planning. LaChapelle had enough, pulled the cell phone away from his ear, and snapped it shut. That’s right. He hung up on Madonna. He’s still working, but at his own pace and on his own terms. He no longer feels he has to say yes to everyone, which now leaves artists scrambling for substitutes when he turns them down. In 2011, LaChapelle accused Rihanna of copying his imagery for her video “S&M.” The two settled out of court just as the case was about to go to trial.

John Barrowman: 1967. You’ve heard of bilingual. This Scottish-born actor is bidialectic, having learned to speak naturally with a non-descript American accent after his family moved to Illinois in 1975. Barrowman quickly picked up his Americanish after he was getting picked on by other kids in school because of his Scottish accent, although he still speaks with his brogue when talking to his parents. The accent isn’t the only thing Barrowman picked up while in Joliet. At the urging of his high school music and English teachers, he discovered a love of performing and won several parts in several musical productions.

After graduating from high school in 1985, he moved to San Diego to study performing arts, which opened the opportunity for him to move back to Britain in 1989 to study Shakespeare. That’s when he landed his first West End role as Billy Crocker in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. For the next decade, he appeared in other West End productions: Matador, Phantom of the Opera, Hair, Rope (where he met his future husband, Scott Gill), Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard, Godspell, and Beauty and the Beast, just to name a few.

He broke into television in 1993 with the BBC’s children’s program Live & Kicking, and he became a regular presenter and guest for several other programs and prime-time soap operas. He was considered for the role of Will in Will & Grace, but was rejected for being “too straight.” Ironically, the role went to the straight Eric McCormack. Barrowman’s big television breakthrough would come with his role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spin-off, Torchwood.

Barrowman and Gill entered a civil partnership in 2006 and married in the state of California in 2013. The couple shuttle between their homes in London and Cardiff.

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