Born On This Day, 1976: Babydaddy

Jim Burroway

September 1st, 2016

Babydaddy

40 YEARS AGO: The future guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist for Scissor Sisters was just Scott Hoffman when he graduated from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Through a mutual friend, Hoffman met Jake Sellards while Sellards was passing through and visiting a former classmate. Hoffman and Sellards hit it off and they moved to New York a year later. Hoffman attended Columbia University to study writing and music production, specializing in dance music. He and Sellards took stage names — Babydaddy and Jake Shears respectively — and became the first two members of Dead Lesbian, then Fibrillating Scissor Sisters, then just Scissor Sisters.

Babydaddy is the multi-instrumentalist of the group, playing keyboards, bass and rhythm guitar, banjo and saxophone. He’s not only the bear of the band, but he and Shears are the main lyricists. They also wrote “I Believe in You” and “White Diamond” for Kylie Minogue. In 2012, Scissor Sisters released their last album, Magic Hour and went on a world tour. In October of 2012 at a gig in North London, the Sisters announced that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2016

From David (Jacksonville, FL), July 1974, page 42.

From David (Jacksonville, FL), July 1974, page 42.

David, a glossy gay magazine from Jacksonville, covered the Miss Gay Florida Pageant for 1972-73:

(Click to enlarge)

From David, May 1972, page 26. (Click to enlarge)

The rains came down in Miami that day, but spirits were high for the MISS GAY FLORIDA, 1972-73 Contest held by KEITH’S CRUISE ROOM and by the AMBASSADOR III.

Billie Boots, as usual, did a splendid job of emceeing, and he never looked better. His long blond hair cascaded down to his shoulders and he changed outfits enough to make Loretta Young, Doris Day and Julie Andrews appear to have a limited wardrobe

Entertainment was provided ably by Tubby Boots and Tanny Roman.

While waiting for the contest to begin, Tubby proceeded to place the audience in a tremendous mood with his impersonations ofthe very funny Paul Lynd [sic], the inimitable Miss Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and even Moms Mably, sans teeth.

The talent in the contest itself was excellent in many cases. Three of the contestants skillfully twirled their batons; Three more danced their hearts out (two of them did tap dances; and another contestant used his own voice.

Walking away with the title of MISS Florida was the very pretty Tricia Marie, sponsored by PEACHES BACK DOOR in Atlanta. She won with a very tearful version of “With Pen in Hand”.

Today In History, 1954: Miami’s Mayor Grows Impatient Over “Deviates”

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2016

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Five days had passed since  Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz went on the radio to blast city manager E.A. Evans and police chief Walter Headley for failing to drive all of the homosexuals out of town (Aug 26). Never mind that both Evans and Headley themselves were out of town on vacation when Aronovitz took to the airwaves. But both of Miami’s daily newspapers were pressing for action against the gay community ever since the murder of an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (Aug 3) and the subsequent discovery, according to the papers, of “a colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregated mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.” The papers demanded that steps be taken to drive the gay community out of town and Miami’s “Powder Puff Lane” closed for good. It didn’t help matters that, in contrast to the aggressive raids staged by the Miami Beach police department and the Dade County Sheriff’s office,  Miami’s police chief’s policy of allowing a handful of bars operate in one centralized location to make it easier to “keep an eye on them” had earned the praises of ONE magazine earlier that year. Eight months later, the city’s papers were throwing ONE’s praises back in the city’s faces, and Aronovitz was feeling the heat.

So now that Evans was back (Headley was still on vacation), Aronovitz called Evans on the carpet and threatened to introduce a resolution in city council for his dismissal if the city manager failed to get rid of the city’s known gay bars. The mayor demanded that homosexuals be prevented from congregating in the bars, but he said it wanted it done within the existing legal framework and without violating anyone’s constitutional rights. Clearly, these instructions were impossibly contradictory, and Evans asked the mayor for instructions on how to accomplish this. “You are the director of public safety,” Aronovitz replied. “This is a law enforcement matter.” Evans, who was clearly feeling the heat, promised to get right on it and “put pervert hangouts out of business by tomorrow.”

Born On This Day, 1977: Del Marquis

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2016

Del Marquis

Jake Sheers had already formed Scissor Sisters when they were looking for a guitarist, and the guy Jake was dating had a friend who was looking for the gig. Derek Gruen answered the call, adopted the stage name of Del Marquis, and the rest of history. Scissor Sisters went on to fame on the strength of their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” That was followed by their own string of hits in 2004 which did well mainly on the British charts, but their popularity in the U.S. was blunted by Wal-Mart’s refusal to stock their eponymous debut album. They objected to the single “Tits On the Radio,” which they called a “snarling, swaggering attack on conservatism.” Which Wal-Mart took as a Very Bad Thing from which their bargain-hunting customers needed protection. The band refused to record a “clean” version. Since 2008, Del Marquis began releasing his own solo material, which you can hear on his web site. In 2012, Scissor Sisters released their latest album, Magic Hour, and they promptly went on a world tour. In October of that year, while performing in North London, the Sisters announced that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2016

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), August 30, 1976, page 35.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), August 30, 1976, page 35.

The former cabaret in New York’s West Village is now a high-end Italian restaurant.

Today In History, 1956: The Adjustment of Male Overt Homosexuals

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2016

Dr. Evelyn Hooker

60 YEARS AGO: As the annual American Psychological Association Convention got underway in Chicago, the body heard UCLA’s Dr. Evelyn Hooker read a paper which, over time, would shake the foundation of the mental health professions’ collective insistence that homosexuality was a mental disorder. Psychiatry’s opinion of homosexuality was both clear and curt: the first edition of the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM), which defined mental illnesses for the American Psychiatric Association, defined “Sexual Deviation” as a Sociopathic Personality Disturbance, and included “pathologic behavior, such as homosexuality, transvestism, pedophilia, fetishism and sexual sadism (including rape, sexual assault, mutilation).” The APA’s dim view of homosexuality was, at that time, backed up with more than a half-century’s worth of serious study of the subject. Unfortunately, all of those series studies were of those exhibiting homosexual behavior in prisons and reform schools or among psychiatric patients, many of whom also suffered other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Until 1956, not one paper or research project looked systematically at gay men and women who were living contented and productive lives. As far as the mental health professions were concerned, such people didn’t exist, mainly because the vast majority of the so-called experts had never seen them (at least, that they knew of).

But Dr. Hooker had an altogether different view of gay people. As a research assistant at UCLA’s psychology department, Hooker’s social circle had already widened to include a number of prominent gay people in Los Angeles (Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy were neighbors) and a student in her classroom, who challenged her: “We have let you see us as we are, and now, it is your scientific duty to make a study of people like us.”

Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red and Lavender scares were still fresh in everyone’s memory. So when Hooker applied for a grant with the National Institute of Mental Health, her chances of getting funding was considered a long shot. An NIMH representative personally flew to L.A. to make sure she was legitimate (and not a lesbian). Finding backing for her project at UCLA was similarly challenging. When she met with the chair of the Psychiatry Department to discuss her proposed study of “normal male homosexuals,” he rose from his desk and said, “What do you think you are doing? There is no such person.” He referred her to another colleague to review her proposal. His reaction was similar, but more positive. “I have never seen such persons, but I sure would like to.”

After winning the NIMH grant (miraculously, she later said, given the subject matter), she began assembling a group of thirty gay men who had never been in therapy or in trouble with the law, through contacts with the Mattachine Society, the staff of ONE magazine, and through her own social circle. Finding thirty gay men willing to participate during the McCarthy era proved exceptionally difficult. As she later recalled in 1992:

It will be obvious to you that the absolute sine qua non of research into behavior thought to be “a sin, a crime, and a disease” is confidentiality. …The triple stigma was never far from the minds of the men whom I came to know nor was it far from mine. …Building confidentiality with the gay community at that time was not an easy task. I could not lightly, if at all, share these confidences with another. Informal applications to be a coinvestigator were numerous, but I continued to work alone until the data gathering phase was complete. …I hasten to make clear that, when I characterize conducting research with gay men as stressful, I am only referring to the McCarthy era when the penalties were barbaric.

She also found thirty straight men with whom she could painstakingly match to the gay men according to age, education, and IQ. Once she assembled her study samples, she administered three psychological tests: the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), which was used to provide information about a subject’s views of the self, the world, and interpersonal relationships; the Make-A-Picture-Story (MAPS), in which subjects were asked to describe a story based on cut-out figures they selected and placed in a setting; and the Rorschach test, in which subjects are asked to identify what they saw in a series of abstract inkblots. All three tests were popular methods in the 1950s for assessing personality and mental disorders — and they were used particularly for diagnosing homosexuality. But rather than assessing the test results herself — after all, she knew who was gay and who wasn’t — she turned them over to a panel of three judges, each of them known experts in each of the tests. (One of the examiners was Edwin Shneidman, who was the creator of the MAPS test.)

To everyone’s surprise, none of them could find any differences between the members of the study. In other words, all of those supposedly mentally-ill homosexuals in her study — and remember, the APA said that all homosexuals were mentally ill — all of those supposedly mentally-ill homosexuals were indistinguishable from their not-mentally-ill heterosexual counterparts. As Hooker wrote in her groundbreaking paper:

As a judge compared the matched protocols, he would frequently comment, “There are no clues;” or, “These are so similar that you are out to skin us alive;” or, “It is a forced choice;” or, “I just have to guess.” The difficulty of the task was reflected not only in the comments of the judges but also in the results. Judge “A” correctly identified 17 of the 30 pairs, and Judge “B” 18 of the 30. Thus neither judge was able to do better than chance. In seven pairs both judges were incorrect, that is, identifying the homosexual as the heterosexual, and vice versa; in twelve pairs, correct; and in the remaining eleven they disagreed.

The degree to which the judges disagreed or got their diagnoses wrong was very entertaining. Man #16, depending on the judge and the test he was evaluating, was identified as a “strong, superior and wise” straight man, and by another as “the most heterosexual-looking homosexual I have ever seen.” A judge said of Man #50, “Except for a little too much emphasis on conquest in heterosexual relations, he is well adjusted and smooth.” Both men were gay.

When she presented the results of the study to the APA in Chicago, the findings came under withering criticism. Some criticized her for studying members of homophile groups who were probably were better adjusted than those who weren’t. Others criticized her for relying on such a small sample. But to Hooker, those  criticisms actually supported the very point she was making:

But would we not, in this case, be dealing with a different question, namely, “How many homosexuals, as compared with heterosexuals, are average or better in adjustment, and how many were worse than average?” It seems to me that for the present investigation the question is whether homosexuality is necessarily a symptom of pathology. All we need is a single case in which the answer is negative.

Her paper, “Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual,” was published the following March in the Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment, and she would follow that with a number of other follow-up papers reinforcing these findings. In 1972, Dr. Marvin Siegelman of City College of New York used similar methods and a larger study sample of men — and women — and found results nearly identical to Hooker’s study of gay men. Meanwhile, Hooker had chaired the NIMH Task Force on Homosexuality in 1967, which recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and its removal from the APA’s list of mental disorders. But the APA would not act on that recommendation until 1973, and it would take another thirty years before the U.S. Supreme Court would finally release gay men and women from the threat of imprisonment.

[Sources: Evelyn Hooker. “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual.” Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment 21, no. 1 (March 1957): 18-31.

Evenly Hooker. “Reflections of a 40-year exploration: A scientific view on homosexuality.” American Psychologist 48, no. 4 (April 1993): 450-453.

Marvin Siegelman. “Adjustment of homosexual and heterosexual women.” British Journal of Psychiatry 120, no. 558 (May 1972): 477-481.

Marvin Siegelman. “Adjustment of male homosexuals and heterosexuals.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 2, no. 1 (June 1972): 9-25.]

Federal Judge Blocks UNC From Enforcing North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill”

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

UNCThe University of North Carolina is barred from enforcing the portion of North Carolina’s HB2 which would require transgender people to use public restrooms based on the gender marked on their birth certificates:

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, issued the 83-page injunction late Friday on the basis the law, House Bill 2, likely violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“The University of North Carolina, its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with them are hereby enjoined from enforcing Part I of HB2 against the individual transgender plaintiffs until further order of the court,” Schroeder writes.

However, Schroeder writes plaintiffs in the case “have not made a clear showing” they’re likely to succeed in their challenge against the law on the basis it violates the right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. Further, the court, Schoroder writes, will reserve ruling on due process claims pending further briefing from the parties.

The judge based his injunction on a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals case involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who is suing his Virginia school district for preventing him from using male rest rooms. That decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court pending an expected an appeal to the high court.

UNC had already said that they would not be enforcing HB2 on campus, and would comply with the injunction. The full trial  is set for November 14.

Georgia Pastor Who Praised Orlando Shooting Arrested for Child Molestation

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

57c08f1f1600003503bfeb6aKenneth Adkins, a prominent pastor in Brunswick, Georgia, just outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has been arrested on charges of aggravated child molestation and child molestation based on allegations made by a young male church member:

Stacy Carson, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Kingsland office, said District Attorney Jackie Johnson asked the GBI on Aug. 12 to assist the Brunswick Police Department in the investigation. It focused on suspected molestation in several locations in the Brunswick area including at Adkins’ church, a vehicle and a victim’s home, Carson said.

The incidents possibly occurred in 2010 and would have had to involve someone younger than 16 for child molestation charges to be brought.

Adkins’s wife countered that the accuser has mental health issues:

“This young man was part of our teen ministry,” she said. “Ken and I have treated him like family, as has our church. He is a deeply troubled young man, to be sure, but our thoughts and prayers remain with him even now.”

Two days after the Orlando attack, Jackson sent out a series of tweets, including one saying: “been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!” His twitter account has since been locked down in protected mode and is available only to vetted followers.

 

Maine’s Governor Is the Epitome Of What’s Wrong In The Republican Party

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

Goldwater, then Reagan, made the Republican Party a party of ideals. Whatever you may think of those ideals is another matter altogether, but at the core of everything they fought for and everything they did stood a set of principles that anchored their positions.

Those kinds of people still exist in the Republican Party today. But those kinds of people have largely been shunted aside in favor of a party that is now driven but pure, unmediated rage. It might be tempting to feel sorry for the principled wing of the Republican Party if it weren’t for that fact that the principled wing — now dismissed as “the establishment” — is in large measure responsible for the pure screaming id that is now at the top of the GOP ticket. By courting the Tea Party and nurturing it from one manufactured outrage to the next, as a deliberately obstructive tactic against the past eight years of the Obama presidency. The party of ideas in Congress spent the last six years in an internal battle with itself, against the emerging party of “no” — it’s perhaps more accurately described as the party of “gaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!”

Trump is the “gaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!’s” standard bearer, but he’s really a johnny-come-lately to the scream-till-you-turn-blue wing. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, on the other hand, is something of an éminence grise of the tantrum set. Since his successful 2010 run for governor, LePaul has gone from one head-scratching outrage to the next. It’s hard to know how to rank the latest outrage against the others — there were have been so many that his Wikipedia page could probably be used as a useful diagnostic guide to identify political batshitism in its sufferers. But what’s particularly noteworthy about his latest remarks is how it perfectly illustrates the mindset of the Republican Party’s new establishment. Here is LePage’s message he left as a voicemail to State Rep. Drew Gattine:

Paul LePageMr. Gattine, this is Governor Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker. You, I need you to, just freakin’, I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

LePage was apparently proud of his soliloquy:

LePage later invited a Portland Press Herald reporter and a two-person television crew from WMTW to the Blaine House, where during a 30-minute interview the governor described his anger with Gattine and others, told them he had left the phone message and said he wished he and the lawmaker could engage in an armed duel to settle the matter.

“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”

The ironic fact that LePage used a homophobic slur to argue that he’s not racist isn’t, in itself, being commented on very much. Comments lean more to wow, LePage really is a truly awful person, which kind of misses the point when in a political culture where being a truly awful person is a badge of honor and hailed as a substitute for “strength.” He also doubled down on the racially explosive comments that Gattine had criticized:

In a State House press conference, the governor restated previous comments about the numbers of black and Hispanic drug dealers who are bringing heroin into Maine and likened them to the enemy in a war.

“Look, the bad guy is the bad guy, I don’t care what color he is,” LePage said. “When you go to war, if you know the enemy and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red.”

LePage then turned to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, an officer who serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard and sat in on the press conference. “Don’t you – Ken (Fredette) you’ve been in uniform? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

The governor met with reporters to explain statements he has made about drugs and race dating back to January, when he said in a town hall meeting in Bridgton that dealers from Connecticut and New York bring drugs to Maine and “impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”

LePage was the second sitting governor, after New Jersey’s Chris Christie, to endorse Trump last February. LePage is now being condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike, both locally and nationally. But don’t expect that to mean much. He won’t resign, and why would he? He’s a hero to his die-hard supporters. And besides, his remarks aren’t any more incendiary that those uttered by his own hero, the man sitting at the very top of his party’s ticket.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), April 29, 1974, page 22.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), April 29, 1974, page 22.

I haven’t been able to come up with much information about Dirty Edna’s except that it was a rather seedy bar owned by a husband and wife team, reputedly with mob connections — like a lot of other New York gay bars at the time. According to a Village Voice article from 1978:

Most of the bars he laces into are run by a husband-and-wife team who have been around the gay-bar scene since Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Indians. Legally we cannot identify the couple or be more specific about names, dates and places reported by (Ediie “Skull” Murphy, described as a “double agent and gay liberationist”) … But according to him, the couple own more property than the Catholic Church and have old East Side Yorkville Mafia ties. Whatever those ties are, he doesn’t say. “They’re still paying their porters $5 a day and their bouncers $20 a night. Among the spots they own or have owned are the Pub, La Fiesta, Boot Hill, the Wildwood, the Roundhill Lounge, Dirty Edna’s, the Barrow Inn, the Mailbox, and Gracie Manor in Brooklyn.

Near as I can tell, the location now appears to be a parking lot a block off of Broadway.

Today In History, 1970: Protesters March, then Riot in Greenwich Village over Police Harassment

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

Marchers

Since the very first Christopher Street Day celebration in two months earlier (Jun 28), gay residents in New York’s Greenwich Village began to notice increased police harassment, particularly during the last three weeks of August. In one week alone, over three hundred had been arrested in the Times Square area. The Gay Liberation Front’s newsletter Come Out! reported that one young man was looking at a display window when a police officer came up to him and asked, Were you ever arrested?” “No,” the young man replied. The officer said, “There’s always a first time,” and hauled him away. Women were also being harassed, which was a new development.

Local activists had had enough, so on the last Saturday of August, the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists’ Alliance, Radical Lesbians and other women’s groups organized a demonstration that night. About 250 people showing up at 8th Avenue and West 42nd Street near Times Square, and marched down 7th Avenue to Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village.

Riot

Photo by Steve Rose / Come Out!

The demonstration broke up around midnight, but the frustrations were still there. Some went on to march around the Women’s House of Detention at Greenwich Avenue and 6th Avenue. Police arrived to break it up, and the crowd ran toward Christopher Street. The crowd arrived at Sheridan Square just in time to witness the police raiding the Haven. As a mass of people gathered in front of the Haven, the police called for reinforcements. A police bus arrived, and it was met with a shower of bottles. A running battle ensued over the next two hours, as crowds set trash cans on fire, looted a record shop and overturned at least one car. Eight were injured and about a dozen were arrested.

The next day, the GLF and GAA held a news conference at the gay-friendly Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, charging the police with harassment. They also denounced police inaction against a series of gay bashings and anti-gay harassment in the neighborhood. A police spokesman denied that there were any increased actions against the gay community, but refused further comment.

[Sources: Frank J. Brial. “Protest march by homosexuals sparks disturbance in ‘Village’.” The New York Times (August 30, 1970): 49.

C. Gerald Frasier. “‘Gay ghettos’ seen as police targets: but homosexuals’ charge of harassment denied.” The New York Times (August 31, 1970): 28.

Martha Shelly. “Gays Riot Again!” Come Out! 1, no. 5 (September 1970): 3-5.]

Born On This Day, 1844: Edward Carpenter

Jim Burroway

August 29th, 2016

Edward Carpenter and George Merrill

(d. 1929) Britain would be a very different place without him, and so would the LGBT world. Carpenter was a very influential poet, philosopher, anthologist, nudist, feminist, pacifist, and early gay activist. He was as leading proponent of socialism, and he helped to found Britain’s Labour Party. Reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in the 1860’s was a huge revelation for him, with Whitman’s dreams of “a brotherhood of manly love” (Jul 4). Carpenter’s 1889 book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure argued that civilization is a form of disease from which no society ever survived more than a thousand years before collapsing. His cure involved a closer relationship with the land and a greater sense of our own development as individuals. He very much practiced what he preached, living among tenant farmers and other working class workers.

Carpenter was relatively open about his homosexuality, which itself was a remarkable accomplishment. Unlike Oscar Wilde, who was arrested and imprisoned for his vice, Carpenter escaped scandal and arrest, even though he had moved in with the man who would be his partner for the rest of his life, George Merrill, in Millthorpe.  Carpenter befriended Walt Whitman (May 31), E.M. Forster (Jan 1), Havelock Ellis (Feb 2), John Addington Symonds (Oct 5), and several other early pioneers in the nascent gay community. Carpenter and Merrill’s relationship would serve as the model for Forster’s homoerotic novel, Maurice and, hetersexualized, for D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Carpenter’s groundbreaking 1908 book, The Intermediate Sex: A Study of Some Transitional Types of Men and Women, would become a foundational English-language text for future LGBT movements. He wrote that because “intermediate types” (his preferred term for gay people; he hated “homosexual” because of what he called its “bastardization” of the Latin and Greek) were free of gender limitations, they were uniquely qualified for bringing about greater gender equality and equal rights for women. More than forty years later, Carpenter’s writings would inspire Harry Hay to found the Mattachine Foundation in Los Angeles (Nov 11), and thus spark a new gay rights movement half a world away.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2016

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay photography and lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay photography and lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

The address in this tiny strip mall appears to be vacant.

Today In History, 1951: California Gay Bars Given Very Brief Reprieve

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2016

San Francisco’s Black Cat Cafe at 710 Montgomery St.

65 YEARS AGO: The Black Cat Cafe was one of San Francisco’s more enduring institutions. Opened originally after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the dance hall and host of raunchy vaudeville-style acts came under police scrutiny as it earned a reputation as a center of prostitution. It closed during the Prohibition era, but was re-opened again in 1933 by the same owners when the booze started flowing again. After World War II, the Black Cat became a watering hole for the Beat crowd and for a growing gay clientele, and by the 1950s, the bar was placed on the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board’s list of forbidden establishments for military personnel. The bar had also been the target of a steady stream of police harassment. In 1951, the cafe’s owner, Sol Stoumen, was charged with “keeping a disorderly house” and the State Board of Equalization, which was then responsible for regulating the sale of alcohol, suspended the Black Cat’s liquor license indefinitely. Stouman sued, and on August 28, 1951, the California Supreme Court ruled in Stoumen v. Reilly that “something more must be shown that many of his patrons were homosexuals” before the bar could be closed down.

The Black Cat Cafe is now an upscale tapas bar.

The case is one of the earliest legal affirmations of gay rights, but there was a clause in that ruling that made it an extraordinarily limited one. The court added that the bar could be closed with “proof of the commission of illegal or immoral acts on the premises.” Because homosexuality was illegal in California (along with every other state and territory), the state still had broad powers to act against gay establishments. It just needed the proper legislation to do so. Three years later, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (CABC) was established via a constitutional amendment, and the California Assembly passed legislation authorizing it to shut down any “resort [for] sexual perverts.”

The Black Cat continued to be the target of raids and mass arrests until 1963, when the CABC revoked its liquor license right before its annual Halloween party. Stouman was already in debt from past legal battles and could no longer afford to keep fighting. The Black Cat limped along a few months more as a non-alcoholic venue before closing down permanently in February of 1964.

Today In History, 1965: Gay Rights Advocates Picket the State Department

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2016

The historic year of organized gay rights protests continued as the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., organized another of its pickets, this time in front of the State Department. Earlier pickets that year had targeted the White House (Apr 17, May 29), the U.N. (Apr 18), the Civil Service Commission (Jun 26), Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (Jul 4), and the Pentagon (Jul 31). This time, fourteen people turned out to picket the State Department in protest over the department’s prohibition on hiring gay people or granting them security clearances. Some of the signs they carried read, “Sexual Conduct is Irrelevant to State Department Employees” and “Governor Wallace Met with Negroes, Our Government Won’t Meet with Us.”

The Mattachine Society circulated a press release two days earlier to announce the protest, explaining that “the State Department remains the last resolute bastion of McCarthyism in our government.” The announcement also promised that “the demonstration is expected to be orderly, dignified, and fully lawful.” The day before the appointed day, reporters asked Secretary of State Dean Rusk about the upcoming picket during a news conference. Rusk explained department policy:

Secretary of State Dean Rusk, speaking at a news conference the night before the picket.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk, speaking at a news conference the night before the picket.

“I understand that we are being picketed by a group of homosexuals. The policy of the Department is that we do not employ homosexuals knowingly, and that if we discover homosexuals in our department we discharge them. This does not have to do with medical or humane considerations. It has to do with the fact that the Department of State is a department that is concerned with the security of the United States, and that we have to exact standards of conduct that are far higher than the conduct of the general society in which we operate. This has to do with problems of blackmail and problems of personal instability and all sorts of things. So that I don’t think that we can give any comfort to those who might be tempted to picket us tomorrow.”

Thanks to Rusk’s comments, there was somewhat greater press interest in this protest compared to the previous ones. Reporters from CBS, Agence France-Presse and the Kansas City Star were there, and a story ran the next day in the Washington Post.

[Sources: “Rusk Probed on Picketing.” The Ladder (October 1965): 18.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement (Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007): 105-108.]

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Featured Reports

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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
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