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Getting PrEP: Step One

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2015

truvadaAfter several weeks of effort, I was able to find a doctor within the Blue Shield HMO plan who prescribes Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP. The source of my primary care is now through APLA Health and Wellness at the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in Baldwin Hills.

This feels a bit ironic to me. For years I’ve sporadically supported AIDS Project Los Angeles. I’ve participated in the AIDS Walk from time to time and contributed to various programs but they weren’t particularly applicable to my life. They were just a “good organization” with whom I didn’t much interact.

Thursday evening was my first appointment. There was almost no one in the waiting room and the staff was more than pleasant. The employees seemed to be genuinely enjoying their work and their interaction with patients. The office, which is only a year old, was spotless, well lighted, and comfortable.

I didn’t see my doctor yesterday.

Before Truvada is prescribed, a series of tests needs to be run. There was blood work taken for two HIV tests (one which identifies more recent exposure), a liver test, as well as the usual lab work. Urine and swab samples were taken to indentify any sexually transmitted infections. And, of course, there were questions about recent sexual history and practices.

The nurse-practitioner was friendly, informative, and willing to answer questions. She was aware that some personal questions are uncomfortable and made the process feel professional rather than invasive.

We discussed the changes in care and protection over the years and the hopes for the future. Although we both celebrated the changes we’ve seen, she expressed concern about how a younger generation sees HIV like it sees diabetes, not terribly serious. A long time AIDS care provider and community advocate who has lost many friends to the disease, she’s disappointed that more people are not availing themselves of PrEP. I share that feeling.

But now I wait.

In two weeks I will return for my results and, if everything is proper, I’ll get my prescription and join the ranks of those who are proactively protecting themselves from the HIV virus.

Utah judge orders lesbian couple to give up child

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2015

Direct to you from the 1990’s comes a 2015 judge’s idiotic ruling (Salt Lake Tribune)

A Carbon County judge has ordered a lesbian couple from Price to give up a child they have cared for as foster parents, declaring the infant would be better off with heterosexual parents.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, who are legally married, told KUTV the order from 6th District Court Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen was issued Tuesday.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services now has seven days to remove the child from Hoagland and Peirce’s Price home.

This ruling has roughly zero chance of withstanding appeal. And the Division of Child and Family Services is looking into appealing this judge’s decision.

As for his thinking,

An attorney who represents the child’s biological mother, whose parental rights are being terminated by the state, told KUTV that Johansen said his decision was based on research that found children reared in same-sex households do not fare was well as those raised in heterosexual households.

A copy of the order was not publicly available Wednesday, but a court spokeswoman did confirm its contents.

It will be interesting to find out whether that judge will provide his “sources” for his research. As there are no modern resources in the child advocacy world that support his conclusion, it will prove to be anti-gay religious advocacy on which he’s relying.

Not surprisingly, Judge Scott Johansen got his law degree from Brigham Young University, a private university owned by the Mormon Church.

Continuing the hunt for PrEP

Timothy Kincaid

November 10th, 2015

truvadaIn my last update, I reported that Blue Shield HMO had provided me with the name of five doctors who they thought do prep. So I’ve made some phone calls.

First I eliminated the doctor who practices in Santa Paula, 70 miles away in another county. That’s a bit too far to drive every three months during office hours and I certainly wouldn’t want a primary physician that far away.

Then I called the doctor who doesn’t do PrEP at all; he only does HIV testing. Which I do myself using OraQuick, the at-home testing kit.

Next was the doctor who does do PrEP, but not through my insurance. He only accepts patients with my insurance if they are already HIV positive.

Finally, I called the last number (the two remaining doctors practice together). I was transferred to a voice message of someone who I believe said that he is the PrEP coordinator for APLA.

So there is still some hope that this final contact will come through and I will finally have access to the program.


I heard back from the PrEP coordinator and it turns out that the doctor does take my insurance, administers PrEP, and is accepting new patients. He’s 6 miles away and only about a half-hour drive, so I’ve changed my primary care doctor and have an appointment for next week.

This has not been an easy process. But it has proven to be possible, something I was not sure about for a while.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 21

Jim Burroway

November 21st, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

Michael Sandy

Michael Sandy’s Killers Sentenced. 2008. On October, 5, 2006, Michael Sandy, 29, was lured to a secluded beach in the New York area by three others who he met in an online chat room. When he arrived, he was pulled from his car and beaten. In trying to escape, he was chased onto a busy freeway where he was struck by an SUV. One of his attackers pulled him to the side of the road and went through his pockets before fleeing. Sandy was taken to the hospital, where he remained on life support for five days without regaining consciousness. His family removed him from life support one day before his 29th birthday.

The four men who were accused of planning the attack were arrested on hate crime charges. The police investigation showed that Sandy had been selected to be robbed because he was gay, believing a gay man would hesitate to resist the attack or report it to the police.

Michael’s death brought to the fore an ongoing debate over the intersection of race and sexuality in regards to community reactions to hate crimes. Los Angeles commentator Jasmyne Cannick noted:

Michael Sandy could have been anyone of us, and yet he was us. He was black. He was a black male and he was a black gay male. If Michael Sandy would have been heterosexual, would that have brought out the Reverend Jesse Jacksons and the Reverend Al Sharptons a black America? Would that have made it okay for the NAACP to get involved and for other black civil right groups to take notice? I’m beginning to think so.

…When Matthew Shepard was murdered, the world stopped. Why? Because whites across this country made that white gay boy’s death an issue for the media, politicians and community groups. Do we care enough to do the same? So again I ask, where’s the outrage?

Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery with a hate crime enhancement. As part of his plea agreement, he testified against his friends in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. John Fox, 20, who posed as a gay man in the internet chat room, was charged with manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to between 13 and 21 years in prison. Anthony Fortunato, 21, tried to avoid the hate crime enhancement by claiming he was gay himself. He was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime and was sentenced to 7 to 21 years. Ilya Shurov, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to 17½ years. Before sentencing, Michael’s father, Zeke Sandy rose to address the court. “These hate crimes become a cancer; it’s a disease,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to go butcher one another because we don’t like what they are, who they are.”

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 20

Jim Burroway

November 20th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Montrose Star, November 19, page 6 (source)

From the Montrose Star (Houston, TX), November 19, page 6. (Source.)

Miami Beach Police Raid Beach, Arrest 21: 1953. The Miami News, the city’s afternoon daily, published an oddly influential column titled “Whirligig.” It was a rather tiny feature — typically occupying just a couple of inches of space on the paper’s editorial page. But it’s minuscule physical presence belied its political influence, as the nameless author passed along political gossip and other goings-on about town. A good indication of the column’s influence can be illustrated by this small item that appeared on November 19:

Femmics — The new administration in the Miami Beach police department might send an observer over to the 22nd Street public beach to watch the antics of a coterie of youths who make that beach a gathering spot. The girlish attitudes of the boys cause many a gaping mouth among tourists.

Those two small sentences were enough for Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard to swing into action. The next day, the Chief personally led a raid on the beach, rounding up twenty-one men and hauling them to the police station for questioning. But while the News’ Whirligig column appears to have prompted the action, it was the paper’s morning rival, The Miami Herald, which capitalized on the raid by plastering its coverage on the front page:

Angered by complaints that the beach at 22nd st. was becoming a “hangout for males with a feminine bent,” Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard made a personal inspect Friday — and then called for the wagon. As a result, 21 perverts were taken to Beach police headquarters and questioned before being released. But Chief Shepard said the raid served notice on “this questionable type of individual” that they’re not wanted on Miami Beach.”

The chief said that he has been “getting lots of complaints” that men with girlish-looking hair-dos and flimsy, Bikini-type tights “have been prancing around the 22nd st. public beach in droves.” The area, he explained, has been acquiring a reputation as a congregating place for males who try to look and act like women.

The chief said that the 21 who were arrested were taken to headquarters and questioned about their employment, but he complained that he had to let them go. “We had no charges we could book them on,” he admitted. “It’s just a question of cleaning up a bad situation and letting undesirables know they’re not wanted here.” Meanwhile, that afternoon’s Miami News, reported that the cleanup would continue. “We’re going to continue to keep a close watch on their actions and I have instructed my men to pick them up every time they get out of line,” said Shepard. The News also made sure their readers knew why the chief acted so swiftly. “The Whirligig item was very timely and it was the basis for the action taken by my department,” the chief acknowledged.

[Sources: “Miami’s Whirligig: News Behind the News.” The Miami News (November 19, 1953): 19-A. Available online via Google News here.

“Police Corral 21 Undesirables.” The Miami News (November 21, 1954): 8-A. Available online via Google News here.

Stephen J. Flynn. “Rounded Up for Quiz: Turn-About Not Fair Play, Say Beach Police.” The Miami Herald. (November 21, 1954): 1-A. As reproduced in Edward Alwood’s Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 2.]

California Supreme Court Restores Teacher’s Credentials: 1969. In the spring of 1963, Marc S. Morrison, a teacher in Whittier, California, became friends with a fellow teacher, Fred Schneringer, who was in the process of getting a divorce and was experiencing serious financial troubles. Morrison did what he could to help his friend out by providing advice and support. One night, that support extended to what court documents described as “a limited, non-criminal physical relationship which Morrison described as being of a homosexual nature.” The relationship lasted a week, and while the two remained friends, nothing further happened. There were no arrests and no convictions, just whatever that “non-criminal” activity happened to be. (The California Supreme Court ruling would only say “It would serve no useful purpose to describe or detail them except to note that they did not fall within the statutory offenses of sodomy or oral copulation.”) But for whatever reason, Schneringer reported the incident to the Lowell Joint School District a year later, and that led to Morrison’s resignation in May of 1964.

Nineteen months later, Morrison found himself at a State Board of Education hearing fighting to retain his two lifetime teaching diplomas. He told the board that, aside from “a homosexual problem” at the age of 13, his contact with Schneringer was the only time he “experienced the slightest homosexual urge or inclination for more than a dozen years.” An investigator backed him up, and assured the board that this was “was the only time that [Morrison] ever engaged in a homosexual act with anyone.” Furthermore, Morrison’s record was clean and there was no evidence that he had engaged in any misconduct while teaching.

Nevertheless, the Board decided that the lone, solitary incident constituted immoral and unprofessional conduct involving “moral turpitude,” and stripped Morrison of his lifetime teaching diplomas. Morrison went to court, but the Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the Board and called Morrison “unfit for service as a teacher in the California public school system.” Morrison then appealed to the California State Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 that an individual cannot be denied his teaching credentials unless evidence shows that homosexual behavior affected his fitness as an instructor. The Court criticized the Board for failing to uncover any such evidence:

The board called no medical, psychological, or psychiatric experts to testify as to whether a man who had had a single, isolated, and limited homosexual contact would be likely to repeat such conduct in the future. The board offered no evidence that a man of petitioner’s background was any more likely than the average adult male to engage in any untoward conduct with a student. The board produced no testimony from school officials or others to indicate whether a man such as petitioner might publicly advocate improper conduct. The board did not attempt to invoke the provisions of the Government Code authorizing official notice of matters within the special competence of the board. This lack of evidence is particularly significant because the board failed to show that petitioner’s conduct in any manner affected his performance as a teacher.

The ruling was a narrow one, both in the vote and in the ruling’s reach:

Our conclusion affords no guarantee that petitoner’s life diplomas cannot be revoked. If the Board of Education believes that petitioner is unfit to teach, it can reopen its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding and the implications of the 1963 incident with Mr. Schneringer. The board also has at its disposal ample means to discipline petitioner for future misconduct.

Finally, we do not, of course, hold that homosexuals must be permitted to teach in the public schools of California. As we have explained, the relevant statutes, as well as the applicable principles of constitutional law, require only that the board properly find, pursuant to the precepts set forth in this opinion, that an individual is not fit to teach. Whenever disciplinary action rests upon such grounds and has been confirmed by the judgment of a superior court following an independent review of the evidence, this court will uphold the result.

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner Fined $200: 1998. One of the biggest steps toward gay equality, the end of America’s sodomy laws, began on November 17, 1998 when a 911 operator received a call about “a black male going crazy with a gun” at John Geddes Lawrence’s home in the Houston suburbs. Harris County sheriff’s deputies responded and entered Lawrence’s unlocked apartment. There, they purportedly found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in consensual sex. What they actually found is a matter of debate. Lawrence and Garner weren’t lovers — in fact, that false report had been phoned in by Garner’s actual lover, Robert Eubanks, who suspected Garner and Lawrence were having an affair. One deputy wrote in his report that he saw Garner on the bed “on all fours” on the receiving end of anal sex with Lawrence, and that both were completely naked. Another said that he saw them on the floor, and that Garner wasn’t naked. He wasn’t sure whether he saw them having anal sex or oral sex — two completely different acts which would be very difficult to confuse. “The black guy was giving him head or they was [sic] doing each other from behind. I don’t remember.”

Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in jail overnight, and charged with violating Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. That law, otherwise known as the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, prohibited engaging “in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” They both denied having sex that night, but their lawyers, sensing that the case might have the makings of a landmark case, advised them to plead no contest, neither admitting guilt nor protesting innocence. Because they didn’t actually have sex, the lawyers didn’t want to make the case about their innocence. After all, it’s hard to argue that two consenting adults of the same sex have the right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their home when the two adults in question hadn’t actually had sex. And so on November 20, 1998, Lawrence and Garner were convicted of the Class C misdemeanor by a Justice of the Peace in Houston, and were fined $200 each.

And with that, the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas began to make its way through the court system: to the Texas Criminal Court (which rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the charges), a three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals (which ruled the law unconstitutional), and the full nine-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals (which reversed the three-judge panel). The appeal then reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which serves as the state’s supreme court for criminal cases. That court refused to hear the case, which left the lower court’s decision standing. Lawrence vs. Texas was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law in a 6-3 ruling, along with similar laws in twelve other states. But it wasn’t until 2011, when Dale Carpenter published Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, that we learned the ironic fact that the case about two men having sex was based on a case in which it appears that neither man had ever had sex with the other, before that fateful night or since.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

 Manhattan Declaration Released: 2009. That was an interesting year for marriage equality. The year before, voters in California, Arizona and Florida had approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage (see Nov 4). The slap was particularly strong in California, where same-sex couples had been able to marry during a four-month window after California’s Supreme Court found that Prop 22, an initiative (and not a constitutional amendment) which banned same-sex marriage, violated the state’s constitution (see Jun 16). Then on November 3, 2009, Maine voters repealed that state’s newly-minted law allowing same-sex couples to marry. (That law hadn’t gone into effect yet.) But also that year, voters in Washington state elected to affirm the legislature’s decision to provide domestic partner benefits equal to marriage to same-sex couples. Also, legislators in New Hampshire and Vermont approved bills allowing same-sex couples to marry, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that that state must begin offering same-sex marriages, and Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin also began offering domestic partner benefits.

It may have been difficult to see at the time, especially given the stinging defeats at the ballot box, but 2009 may well have marked the start of a turning point in the fight for marriage equality. According to opinion polls, a majority of Americans still opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry, but the gap was closing very rapidly. That was thanks largely to a growing crop of younger voters who, as an age group, overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. As trends continued, it would only be a few more years before majorities overall would support same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, and despite the setbacks in California and Maine, the number of Americans living in marriage equality states doubled from 2007 to 2009, and nearly a quarter of Americans were now living in states that either provided full marriage equality or a lower form of civil union/domestic partnership recognition. While marriage equality opponents could still point to ongoing victories, they worried that the long-term trend didn’t look good.

On October 20, 2009, when polls still showed that efforts in main to block that state’s marriage equality law might go down in defeat, three anti-gay extremists got together to begin drafting what they hoped would be a stirring manifesto to rally their side. Princeton University Law Professor Robert George, Beeson Divinity School dean Timothy George, and evangelical leader and convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson spent a month drafting what they called “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” which called for a rededication to the fight for “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.”

When the document was released a month later, it carried the signatures of more than 150 American religious and political activists (and one African one: Anglican archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, who had led the effort to induce American Anglican congregations to split with over ordination of gay clergy). Notable signatories included Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, anti-gay political activist Gary Bauer, Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, marriage equality opponents Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Frank Schubert, and anti-gay pastors Ken Hutcherson and Harry Jackson, and other assorted activists and extremists, including William Donahue, Jim Daly, Richard Land and Allan Sears. Nine Catholic Archbishops also signed the declaration.

The Manhattan declaration sought to address a rather large host of issues — abortion, single parenting, divorce, promiscuity — but it a good deal of its energy for the arguments against marriage equality:

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life.

…We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being “married.” It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it? On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships? … No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage.

The document also called for what it termed “civil disobedience”:

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.

The call for civil disobedience got a lot of attention. In fact, The Washington Times’ story led with that call in its headline. ALos Angeles Times editorial called the declaration’s “apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking” both disingenuous and dangerous. “We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that,” Robert George said during the news conference announcing the declaration. “When the limits of conscience are reached and you cannot comply, it’s better to suffer a wrong than to do it.” When pressed, the three writers remained mum over what sort of civil disobedience they were contemplating.

The document purported to represent the Christian position on marriage and family as “heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.” But missing from the original signatories were representatives from large swaths of mainstream Christianity, including Seventh-Day Adventists and Episcopalians. Presbyterians, United Methodists and Pentecostals were also notably under-represented among the signers. Several signers spoke of the document as a moral one rather than a political manifesto. During the news conference, Colson incredibly claimed, “this document is a clarion call to reach out to the poor and the suffering.” BTB’s Timothy Kincaid wasn’t buying it:

While this alliance is one that does not reflect the face of Christianity, it also is not a declaration of a new-found position of agreement based on shared Christian teaching and ideology. There is no mention of shared faith in creeds or teachings, no virgin birth, no resurrection, no divine redemption.

Rather, this is a statement of political purpose by an alliance of socially conservative activist who oppose abortion and marriage equality. Indeed, although the document speaks in lofty terms of Christian tradition and religious freedom, the only commitments it makes are to oppose legal abortion (some day down the road) and the immediate attack on the ability of gay people to avail themselves of civil equality.

This is, in short a political alliance. It is a pact and a threat.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From Where It’s At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

35 YEARS AGO: Gay Bar Shooting Spree Kills 2, Injures 6: 1980. Ronald Crumpley, 38,  a former Transit Authority policeman and son of a minister, spent the evening cruising the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in his father’s stolen blue Cadillac. Dressed in a dark wool topcoat, printed shirt, a vest and a black fedora sporting a red feather, he fired three shots from an automatic handgun at Sim’s Deli shortly before 11:00 p.m., wounding at least three people and shattering the front plate glass window. Minutes later, he drove to Christopher Street and stopped in front of two gay bars, Sneakers and Ramrod, which were next door to each other. Dan Hedges, 30, was in Sneakers and watched as the horror unfolded. “The man in the Cadillac waited about two or three minutes, drove around the block, returned, stepped out of the car calmly, walked up to the curb and shot a man standing on the curb waiting for a cab. The man fell to the ground, then he shot another guy who ran around the corner. He started spraying both bars through the plate-glass windows. Then he got back into the car and drove off.” Hedges scribbled the car’s license plate number on a dollar bill and gave it to police.

John Ganrecki, 27, was one of six who were injured. “I heard a noise up front. … It sounded like a string if firecrackers. People were falling on the floor screaming and yelling. My friend, Fred, said ‘Hit the floor! Hit the floor!’ … I was already on the floor, looking at my hand, and it was bleeding. It was like something in Al Capone; there was a row of bullet holes across the glass behind the bar.” Ronald Greenberg, 52, also survived the shooting. “It was a massacre, a bloodbath.”

After Crumpley drove off, he stopped again at 10th and Greenwich and fired eight more shots at another group of men. This time his shots missed, and as police cars approached he sped away. As many as 15 police cruisers chased Crumpley to Broadway and West 10th Street, where Crumpley abandoned the Cadillac. Officers found him trying to pull himself up underneath a parked van’s undercarriage.

All told, two were killed. Vernon Koenig, an organist at Greenwich Village’s St. Joseph’s church, died on the operating table at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Jorg Wenz, Ramrod’s 21-year-old doorman, died soon after surgery. Rene Malute, 23, was in intensive care, and five others were admitted in stable condition.

Crumpley was charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of illegal weapons. Police found four weapons: a .357 Magnu, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, a 9mm automatic pistol, and an Uzi. Crumpley told police that he attacked the bars and the deli because he hated homosexuals. “I want to kill them all,” he said. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” Lt. John Yuknes said, “He had a dislike for homosexuals, a rather intense one I would say, under the circumstances.”

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The next day, about a thousand people joined a solemn candlelight procession to mourn those killed in the shooting. Arthur Bennett, one of those marching, told reporters, “Everybody’s been almost waiting for something like this. It’s not because we wanted it to happen but because we feared it. There have been a lot of people down here getting beat up.”

During Crumpley’s trail, the prosecution presented 35 witnesses, and the defense five. At issue was Crumpley’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors contended the shootings were “deliberate and conscious.” Crumpley’s psychiatrist testified that Creumpley suffered from paranoia. Crumpley himself took the stand and said gay people were “agents of the devil” who were following him continuously for three years and were trying to convert him. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. In 2001, a judge turned down Crumpleys’s request to be moved to a less restrictive psychiatric facility.


American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. They had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops overwhelmingly decided to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll.

J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable consensus” across liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

Morris Kight

Morris Kight: 1919-2003. To some, he was a leading figure in the gay rights movement in Southern California: He founded the Gay Community Services Center (which later became the Los Angeles LGBT Center), and he was a principle organizer of Christopher Street West, Los Angeles’ gay pride parade, in 1970. To others, he was out of control egotistical gadfly, an unabashed radical who alienated many of those who would (and sometimes did, begrudgingly) work with him. His passion for gay rights — and human rights generally — was absolutely undeniable, and it was a passion that roughly matched his drive to occupy the center stage in everything he did.

Kight was born in conservative Comanche County, Texas, and grew up on the family farm. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1941 with a degree in personnel and public administration. He moved to New Mexico, where he became active in the local gay community. He also married, in 1950. The six-year union resulted in two daughters. In later years when Kight was an activist, he avoided mentioning his marriage, perhaps fearing that it would diminish his credibility as a gay rights leader. In 1958, Kight moved to Los Angeles, where he found a much more vibrant gay community. But his activism was first directed toward anti-war protests as the war in Vietnam escalated.

It wasn’t until the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 that Kight became active in gay rights, when he became one of the founders of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front. One of the GLF’s first activities was a protest against Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, which displayed a sign reading “Fagots [sic] Stay Out.” Kight and Troy Perry (see Jul 27) led a protest outside and a series of sit-ins inside. The Sheriff’s office refused to evict the protesters, and after three months, the owner symbolically relented and handed the signs over to Kight and other protesters. Bit once the media attention evaporated, the owner replaced the signs and even had the slogan printed on matchbook covers. (The sign didn’t come down for good until 1984, after the City of West Hollywood passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.)

That victory, such as it was, only whetted Kight’s appetite for more media attention. A few months later, a GLF member proposed that some two hundred gays and lesbians quietly move to tiny Alpine County, California, register to vote, and take control of local government. Kight dismissed the idea at first, until he realized he could garner a great deal of publicity by punking the media and its prevailing homophobia. He called a press conference to publicly announce that Alpine would become the new “gay Mecca” (see Oct 19), much to the consternation of Alpine residents as well as other gay rights leaders. (The GLF of Berkeley denounced the plan as “sexist,” “racist,” and “impractical,” something that GLFs generally had not been known to be worried about before.) The stunt quickly fizzled, and the publicity left a bad taste in the mouths of many other gay activists. But actually taking over Alpine County was hardly Kight’s point. As he explained to another gay activist at the time:

Alpine County takeover has really caused a ruckus. Why? GLF has done a lot of crazy things which deserved news before and received the silent treatment from the Establishment media. I believe the reason is that we have threatened straight America. We are taking over! We could take all the gay bars in town, and nothing would be said; but take a county with 300 people and straight America goes outa mind! If GLF wants news it has the tool. Anything which looks like a threat to straight society will get news. P.S. Alpine County is very cold in the winter. There may be places in Nevada or elsewhere with even fewer people and a nicer climate.

The following summer, Kight was a key organizer of Christopher Street West, the West Coast’s first gay pride parade, in 1970. The Los Angeles Police Commission denied the group a parade permit unless the group posted an exorbitant $1.5 million bond. Kight and Perry got the ACLU involved. Just before the parade was scheduled to begin on June 28, the California Supreme Court held that the GLF had a “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression” and ordered the commission to issue a parade permit constitutional. That parade was a huge success, as were the ones in 1971 and 1972. But by 1973, Kight, who was always a lightning rod for controversy, grew tired of the infighting and, in the words of Jim Kepner (see Feb 14) Kight “sabotaged it (the parade) in its third year,” and the parade was cancelled for 1973.

A personal turning point for Kight appears to have been the devastating Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans that killed 32 people (see Jun 24). With the Christopher Street West parade cancelled for 1973, Kight was in New York to participate in that city’s festivities when he received word of the fire. True to his instincts, Kight launched himself into publicity mode: “I notified the press that I was coming. When I got to Atlanta, the press was at the airport and I said it was a national day of mourning and they interviewed me, and so on. And then I went on to New Orleans and Troy [Perry] was there, along with some other people.” But what awaited him and other activists in New Orleans chilled everyone. The local police were callous about the victims, dismissing them as “thieves and queers.” Churches refused to hold funerals for the dead. It was up to Kight, Perry, and other activists to counsel families, arrange for funerals, and to denounce the police and fire officials to the press. Kight’s media chops paid off: “The Fire Marshall of New Orleans Parish called me and said, ‘We saw your press conference, and you’re absolutely right. We did say terrible things. We will meet with you anywhere you want. You set the location, and we will meet with you to adjust our differences.’ [And we said,] ‘Fine, let’s meet.’ And we adjusted it.” As for the whole experience, Kight later recalled, “It was a shattering experience. We were unbelievably inspired. We were unbelievably brave. We were pushed beyond ourselves.”

Kight soon began to work both as an insider in addition to his more customary role as an outsider. He founded the Stonewall Democratic Club in 1975. In 1976, the reconstituted Christopher Street West welcomed him back as the official ringmaster for the event’s circus tent, and honored him as the first official grand marshal for the 1977 parade. Yet he still managed to piss off other gay activists if he felt he wasn’t getting his due. As Kepner remembered:

…[Kight] became very jealous of these newcomers who were daring to come in and join the movement without kissing the Pope’s toes. And some of these people began doing effective things, which he tried to sabotage. He still had a creative streak to him, but it became more destructive than creative, increasingly. And the movement has drawn in waves between being primarily a radical thrust and primarily a sort of establishment or P.R., or image-conscious thrust. And Morris has not been strong on the latter, although at times he has given in to it a bit. He tried his damnedest to sabotage and stop the first March on Washington in ’79, and at the last minute, when he saw it was actually going to happen, he began moving heaven and earth to become …one of the featured speakers. …And the L.A. Committee, about 90 strong, at one of the weekly meetings, voted unanimously—I had arrived late, and the issue was already on the floor, so I didn’t get into it—to threaten a boycott of the March if Morris were a keynoter.

In the early 1980s, Kight was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. He served for two decades, inaugurating the Crossroads Employment Agency specifically to help gay men and lesbians find work. He resigned in 2002 due to deteriorating health, including cancer, heart trouble and a series of strokes. He died on January 19, 2003 at a hospice of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which had donated its services in recognition of Kight’s activism. Kight was survived by his partner of twenty-five years, Roy Zucheran.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 18

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

Sporter’s was a friendly leather/levi/dive bar in Boston’s Beacon Hill. It’s not clear when Sporter’s opened, but I did find a reference in 1972 describing the establishment as a gay bar “of long standing.” The building now houses a restaurant/pub.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Marriage Equality: 2003. It’s over a decade since the Bay State became the first in the nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the sky still hasn’t fallen. Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and school children are still not being subjected to live gay sex demonstrations as part of their state-mandated curriculum. But gay couples can marry, and that was due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in 2003.

In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the court ruled 4-3 that the state could not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” The court gave the state legislature 180 days to “take any such action as it may deem appropriate” to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel tried to get the Federal Courts involved, but those efforts failed when the judge denied their request, the First Circuit Court of Appeals backed him up, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. After a long drawn-out battle in which the Massachusetts high court ruled in response to a question from the state Senate that civil unions would not satisfy the court’s ruling, the legislature ended up taking no action, neither blocking nor implementing the Goodridge decision. The state began marrying same-sex couples on May 17, 2004.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 17

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, May 1955, page 24.

From ONE, May 1955, page 24.

“The 41 Maricones …. Here are the maricones, so pretty and flirtatious.”

The Arrest of “The 41” in Mexico City: 1901. Getting to the bottom of what actually happened is tricky business. The only accounts of the raid conducted by Mexico City’s police on a private party come from a decidedly unapproving and often sensational press. We know virtually nothing of those who were arrested; we barely know some of the names. Their story was never told: they were never interviewed, and as far as I can tell there is not a single quote which can be reliably attributed to any of them. Whatever we may know of the scandal was clouded further by fictional accounts — the 41, as they were simply known, became the subject of a popular novel in 1906. But one thing is certain: the “Ball of the 41” became the scandal of the year, inspiring more than a month of headlines, sermons, editorials, and even a few corridos.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

Only a few details are solid. On Sunday, November 17, 1901, police raided a private party and arrested forty-one men, nineteen of them were dressed as women. Those in drag were publicly humiliated by being forced to sweep the streets — “women’s work.” The 41 were taken to an army barracks and inducted into the Mexican army. At least some of them were then put on a train to Veracruz, sent by ship to the Yucatán, and made to serve in the army as it was putting down a Mayan insurgency.

Those appear to be the bare facts, which, of course, weren’t enough to satisfy the nation’s newspapers. Here is how El Popular reported the story on November 20:

Last Sunday night, the police of the Eighth Precinct were informed that in the house located at number 4 La Paaz Street, a ball was being held without the corresponding permit. They immediately moved in to surprise the culprits, and after having encountered numerous difficulties in trying to get the partygoers to open up, the police broke into the house’s patio where they found 42 individuals who were dancing to the excessively loud music of a local street band.

When they noted the presence of the police, some of those who were dressed in women’s clothing attempted to flee in order to change out of the clothes of the opposite six; but as the police understood the gravity of the situation, they did not allow anyone to leave, and all 42 including those still dressed as women were taken to the station from which they were then sent to Belem Prison, charged with attacks on morality, and put at the disposition of the District Governor.

As a complement to the previous report, we will say that among those individuals dressed as women, several were recognized as dandies who are seen daily on Plateros Street.

These men wore elegant ladies’ gowns, wigs, false breasts, earrings, embroidered shoes, and a great deal of eye makeup and rouge on their faces.

Once the news hit the boulevards, all kinds of commentaries were made, and the conduct of those individuals was censured.

We will not provide our readers with further details because they are summarily disgusting.

It was said that many of those arrested came from highly respected families with ties to the government of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Some of the earliest newspaper reports, like this one, had it that 42 were arrested. That number later dropped to 41, which generated even more rumors. One had it that the elderly lady who owned the house was one of those arrested, and she was later released. Other, more sinister rumors had it that one of those arrested was one of Díaz’s nephews.

El Popular may have been reluctant to provide details, but in subsequent days it was happy to imagine the scene for its readers:

If only we had seen them in their resplendent hairdos, their fake cleavage, with their shiny sparkling earrings, with their falsies like the ones worn by anemic bimbos, with their corseted waists, their dancing-girl skirts like inverted tulips, their butterfly tights, their shoes fringed with crimped gold thread and colored glass beads, and all of them bedaubed in white powder and rouge, prancing about in the fandango with their perfumed and curly mustaches.

"The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán."

“The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán.”

On November 23, El País published this account of one group of prisoners being transferred to the train bound for Veracruz:

The men-only ball that was raided by the police continues provoking talk in all social circles, by virtue of the fact that many of those detained are perfectly well known, since among them are men who stroll day after day down the boulevards showing off their stylish and perfectly tailored suits and wearing sumptuous jewels.

As we stated in yesterday’s issue, 12 of those captured in the house on the fourth block of La Paz were sent to Veracruz along with seven thieves who were also conscripted into the armed services.

At 5:30 in the morning, the hour at which attendance is taken in the 24th Battalion (that is being remitted to the port of Veracruz), those called on first were the 12 individuals who had been at the famed ball, and after number 13, who was a pelado [a term for a rough, lower-class urban Mexican] was called, he replied on hearing his name, “Present, my Captain,but let me go on record as saying that I am being conscripted as a thief; but I’m not one of them,” and he pointed to the group of dancers.

This provoked the laughter of those present, because not even a thief was willing to be confused with the perfumed boys, as they are called by the soldiers from the barracks

A very amusing scene developed in the the barracks of the 24th Battalion when the repugnant ones arrived wearing their magnificent overcoats, along with hats and fine patent-leather shoes. The captain of the recruits made them all strip without delay, and then handed out the rough but honorable articles of clothing that are given to recruits.

With tears in their eyes, they stripped off all their clothes, some of them begging that they be allowed at least to keep their fine silk undergarments, a request that the captain denied, since, he told them, there they were just the same as everyone else. He didn’t even allow them to keep their socks, and they all began to cry as they put on the shoes that would replace their lovely patent leather ladies’ shoes.

The government paper, El Imparcial, took plains to deny that the army was foolish enough to send any girly-men to the front lines:

All of the prisoners have been sent to Yucatán, but not — as it has been said — to join the ranks of the valiant soldiers taking part in the campaign; they will be employed instead on such tasks as digging trenches, opening breaches, and raising temporary fortifications.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, it was the men in drag who occupied the attention of the press; through their manner of dress, they particularly transgressed the limits of what was tolerable in Mexican society. This brings up the two ways in which homosexuality has traditionally been viewed in Mexico: There are homosexuals, and then there are homosexuals. There are men who are attracted to other men (we understand this homosexuality as a sexual orientation), and there are men who, while identifying as men, are effeminate and, more specifically, adopted the “passive” role (a further transgression of the male gender role.) The second group, it might be said, are the real homosexuals according to traditional society; it was possible (and still is in some rural areas) for one man to have sex with another man and still be regarded as straight, as long as he is the one who retains his claim to masculinity by being the chingón (the one who does the deed) and not the chingado (the one to whom the deed is done), who has effectively surrendered his claims to masculinity.

As long as there was at least some measure of deniability that one had surrendered their masculinity, then that masculinity (and hence, heterosexuality) remained intact in many peoples’ eyes. But deniability was crucial. A few newspapers tried to argue that the twenty-one how weren’t in drag were had been “tricked,” leaving readers to try to imagine who those “tricked” men couldn’t have known who they were dancing with. Other accounts, of course, found that impossible to believe. And it appears that it was that lack of deniability which ultimately doomed everyone to the same fate. While those who were in drag were the most remarked-upon players in the scandal, the whole affair today is known as the “the 41,” not just the nineteen.

Today, the number 41 has become slang for homosexuality or, more specifically, “faggot” or maricón. As the former revolutionary general and National Defense Secretary Francisco L. Urquizo explained in 1965, “The influence of this tradition is so strong that even officialdom ignores the number 41. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41; if this cannot be avoided, 40 bis is used. No hotel or hospital has a room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.” Some of the early LGBT advocacy groups in Mexico incorporated the number into their names, just as many similar groups in the U.S. have leveraged “Stonewall” as a shorthand for the struggle for gay rights.

[Sources: Robert McKee Irwin. “The Famous 41: The scandalous birth of modern Mexican homosexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6, no. 3 (2000): 353-376.

Robert McKee Irwin, Edward J. McCaughan, Michelle Rocio Nasser. The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).]

90 YEARS AGO: Rock Hudson: 1925-1985. In 1960, The Saturday Evening Post’s Pete Martin interviewed him in 1960 and asked the question that far more people were asking that we might realize:

“…Somewhere during this interview I have to write at least one paragraph in which I say that you were married and that you are not married any more. I’ll tell you this before you begin: I’ve read that your marriage was ‘made,’ not by you but by the same agent who is reported to have made a star of you.”

“I’m sure you did read that,” he said. “I read it too, and it made me feel like an idiot. She was my agent’s secretary. I met her in a supermarket. She introduced herself. Naturally I had talked to her many times on the phone. For a while we had a lot of trouble getting together. Either I had a date or she had one. We went together for a year and were married. But it didn’t work out. We stayed married only a couple of years. Last summer our divorce was final. Now I’m single again.”

…I said, “I’m interested in your present reaction to dames. You do date, don’t you?”

“Certainly,” he said. Only my dates don’t get into print. To get a date into print you have to appear in a public place like a night club. I don’t like night clubs.”

“What’s your idea of a date?”

“To take a girl for a sail or meet her at my house or somebody else’s house. What am I supposed to prove? There are times when I almost wish I made the scandal sheets.”

Even in 1960, the interest in Hudson’s love life went a bit beyond that experienced by other male sex symbols. What other subtext could possibly explain the question about whether his marriage to Phyllis Gates was “made” or not? Martin’s question came exceptionally close to exposing the secret that just about everyone in Hollywood knew, that Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson (see Jul 31), had prevailed on Hudson to marry Willson’s secretary after Hudson narrowly escaped having his secret exposed in Confidential magazine in 1955. The couple divorced in 1958, and Hudson never married again. His secret remained well-protected outside of Hollywood, even if gays in L.A. didn’t always respect it. Los Angeles-based ONE magazine, in a laudatory review of a book acknowledging Michelangelo’s homosexuality, suggested the book would make a great movie starring Rock Hudson. “That would be casting with a twist. Or two,” ONE commented with characteristic snark.

Hudson was just one product from Willson’s “Adonis factory,” so named for Willson’s uncanny ability to find (and often, bed) some of Hollywood’s hotest male stars. Willson took a not-so-smart Roy Fitzgerald out of the truck he was driving, fixed his teeth and his bad grammar, taught him to lower his voice and lose his sibilant lisp, along with how to move, shake hands, sit, dance, sing, ride horses, and even act. It took Hudson thirty eight takes before he could successfully deliver his only line in Warner Brother’s Fighter Squadron in 1948.

He got better from there. He received good reviews for his role in 1954’s Magnificant Obsession opposite Jane Wyman, and his popularity went through the roof with the 1956 release of Giant, which also featured Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. In the 1960s, he turned to romantic comedies, including three with Dorris Day: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers. As the sixties wore on, film offers declined and Hudson began transitioning to television. From 1971 to 1977, he played police commissioner Stewart McMillan in McMillan & Wife (“wife” was played by Susan Saint James).

In November 1981, Hudson suffered a serious heart attack, followed by quintuple bypass surgery. That didn’t surprise anyone because of his heavy drinking and smoking, but his unusually long recovery did. He remained in ill health while filming The Ambassador in 1983-1984, and health problems followed while filming the made-for-TV movie The Vegas Strip Wars in 1984. When he began appearing in a recurring role in the primetime soap Dynasty with his gaunt appearance, deteriorating speech and failing memory — he could no longer memorize his lines — rumors began to fly. First it was cancer, this publicists said, but others were whispering AIDS.

In July 1985, Hudson appearance on Doris Day’s talk show became instant news, thanks to his shocking appearance and incoherant speech. The following week, Hudson flew to Paris and checked into the hospital at the Pasteur Institute. The official version, at first, was that Hudson was “tired” and that a diagnosis wasn’t yet available. But reporters didn’t fail to notice that the Pasteur Institute was one of the world’s leading research institutions on AIDS and the destination for hundreds of American AIDS patients seeking treatments that were unavailable in the U.S, as you can see in this report:

Hudson’s publicists soon acknowledged most of what everyone else suspected: that Hudson was in Paris for experimental treatment for AIDS, which he attributed to multiple blood transfusions when he underwent bypass surgery. But even that story didn’t hold for long. People magazine published a story about Hudson’s disease, and featured comments from Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack, Joan Rivers, and Mamie van Doren, who said they knew about his homosexuality and supported him. His death on October 2, 1985, galvanized Hollywood, especially his life-long friend Elizabeth Taylor, who made AIDS fundraising not just a fashionable cause, but an urgent one for a nation that was still very uncomfortable about discussing the disease.

[Sources: Robert Hofler. The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson (New York: Carroll & Graff, 2005).

Peter Martin. “I call on Rock Hudson.” The Saturday Evening Post 233, no. 4 (July 23, 1960): 16ff.

Sal McIntire. “Tangents: Gutsy Scholar with a Shovel.” ONE 10, no. 11 (November 1962): 15-16.]

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 16

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2015



I can go years without remembering a dream.  A couple of months ago, I had one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was no ordinary dream. It was a three-parter, like three scenes of the same play. All three featured my Dad, who died more than thirty years ago while I was in college. Let me tell you about Part 1. Here, Dad isn’t just some ordinary guy from a modest Northeastern rural Ohio family, but a world-famous writer whose masterpiece got him exiled from his homeland (!). It begins at an airport. Dad and I had just gotten off the plane, arriving at his home country after the government announced it had lifted his banishment and would allow him to return. He brought me with him to introduce me to his family and show me his village. But he was very worried. He feared that his country’s invitation for him to return might have been a ruse. He feared being abducted, arrested or even assassinated. But he was determined to see it through. After we made our way through the airport, he stopped and pointed through the crowd to a set of glass exit doors beyond, doors which led out of the airport to an elevated pedestrian walkway beyond. He leaned in to me and said in a very urgent voice, “If anything’s going to happen, it’ll be after I go through those doors.” The next thing I knew, he took off ahead of me and through the doors.  I ran to catch up. Fortunately, our fears weren’t realized, and I joined him onto the tree-lined walkway out of the airport.

The dream segued into parts two and three, which took place in his village with friends and relatives. Those parts were similarly extraordinary, to me at least, and after I awoke, I spent a few minutes in bed feeling grateful for having had a chance to spend some time with Dad, even if it was only in a dream. Now I’m not one of those people who places a lot of stock in dreams. They aren’t messages from beyond, nor are they omens or predictions of things to come. Dreams are simply the product of one’s own mind. And if they reveal anything, it’s the state of one’s mind at the time of the dream. And clearly, the first part of the dream spoke to me as being about transitions, which have been much on my mind lately. In the next four to six months, I hope to undergo a pretty big one. Over the past year or more, I’ve been working incredibly long hours at my full-time job, and that has left very little time for much of anything outside of work. (The blog has obviously suffered as a result.) But if all goes well, I hope to be able to take early retirement next year, and I may be able to establish that 2016 retirement date in the next several weeks.

It’s appropriate for Dad to appear in this dream, as he has a lot to do with my pending retirement. He often talked about what he wanted to do when he retired. Part of his plan was to sell everything and live in an R.V., and become the beach bum he always wanted to be. The other part of his plan was for his four sons to move to different, interesting parts of the country so he could pull into their driveways and plug in for a few weeks. (I did my part; I moved to Tucson). But he died at 48, and he never got to see retirement. I’ll be 55 soon, and I’m not guaranteed a 56. So he is why I’ve been saving for this day since my early twenties.

As excited as I am at the prospect, I also have to admit that it’s pretty scary — the idea that I will no longer be working, will no longer have a paycheck, and will *really* be on my own in ways I’ve never been before. It’s actually quite daunting, even though I’ve been preparing for this for thirty years.  And yet, I have so many plans and so many things I want to do. Among them, I want to re-energize this blog and take it places it (and I) have never gone before. There are so many stories out there, which means there are so many things I want to experience, so many people I want to talk to, and so many things I want to be able to tell you about. And in the next several months, I should have the freedom to do all that. Meanwhile, Dad’s words to me in that dream have become something of a personal motto lately because if anything’s going to happen, it’ll be after I go through those doors.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Dallas Voice, November 9, 1984, page2 12-13. (Source.)

From Dallas Voice, November 9, 1984, page2 12-13. (Source.)

10 YEARS AGO: Box Turtle Bulletin Goes Live: 2005. It’s ironic, in a way, that when I first brought BTB to life ten years ago, I had no intention for it to become a blog. In fact, I said so right there: “This isn’t a blog.” My vision back then was to have a more or less static web site with long-form articles exploring the many ways anti-gay activists were blatantly misrepresenting social science research to further their aims. That was a pretty big deal ten years ago, because anti-gay individuals (like Paul Cameron, James Dobson and Timothy Daley), and organizations like the Family “Research” Council and Focus On the Family had long ago discovered that if they put out a lot of propaganda with scholarly-looking footnotes citing articles in professional journals, they could pretty much say whatever they wanted, confident in the knowledge that nobody was going to bother spending countless hours looking up those footnotes and discovering that what they were saying was absolutely not true at all.

I was that nobody, and the exercise of looking up those footnotes was an important part of my own coming out five years earlier because I, as someone who valued science, had at one time believed that what they worked so hard to research and document in footnotes had to have been true. Obviously, discovering that virtually everything they said was a lie outraged me on many levels. Not only because they were supposedly godly people who valued truth, but it outraged me as a scientist, as someone who considers data integrity as sacrosanct. What they were doing we would call fraud or malpractice in any other profession. If engineers treated their data the way these anti-gay activists did, we’d see sewage coming out of our water taps, planes falling out of the sky, nuclear power plants exploding, and bridges collapsing left and right. If we ran science the way they did, doctors would still be treating diseases with Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment.

But more important than all that — beyond the ethics of how you treat other people’s data — was the overarching ethics was how you treat other people. These activists were causing real damage to families, communities and to the world at large, while presenting themselves as scholarly experts whose only concern was what the data was supposedly telling them.

And so those abuses of social science research were at the heart of what I wanted to get at, and this web site had a terrific start in exposing some of the most egregious abuses. (This exposé helped to thwart a Bush nominee for Surgeon General. And more recently, BTB was the first web site to expose Dr. Mark Regnerus’s fraudulent study.)

And so here’s the thing. When a web site starts to gain readers, and those readers and writer (and later, writers) start to interact, then it’s no longer just a web site under the control of the site’s publisher. Instead, it becomes a community, and that community is what informs where the web site goes from there. And so somewhere along the way, BTB became a blog. Not because I wanted it to become one, but because somehow that’s just what happened. Meanwhile, we branched out quite a bit, particularly with our reporting on the unfolding events in Uganda following the calamitous 2009 conference in Kampala put on by three American anti-gay extremists (BTB was the first western outlet to report on that conference more than a week before it took place) which led to the introduction of the so-called “Kill-the-Gays” Anti-Homosexuality Bill in that nation’s parliament.  We also brought you the tragic story of five-year-old Kirk Murphy, who was treated at UCLA for “cross-gender disturbance” — their term for effeminate homosexuality — by a young grad student who would later become an prominent and infamous anti-gay activist. This story, and many others like it told elsewhere on the inter webs, have provided the powerful incentives for several state legislatures to prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapies for non-adult patients.

Since starting this web site, our opponents have been forced to change their tactics. They no longer expend as much energy misrepresenting social science research as they once did, simply because there are now too many people — like those of us here at BTB, and others as well — who are onto them and can call them out. It helped, too, that researchers themselves have been more willing to speak up when they’ve seen their research misrepresented. Some tried to give their own brand of social science one last shot, but that also failed. Miserably. So miserably that our opponents quickly abandoned that approach. So anti-gay activists were forced to shift their tactics. They’ve also been losing. There’s that too. BTB didn’t cause all of that to happen, or even most of it, not by a long shot. But we did play our part in the small ways that we could, and I take some measure of personal satisfaction in that.

So where does BTB go from here? If I tried to guess, my guess would probably be as accurate as the first time I tried to predict what this thing would be. But I do plan to rejuvenate the site– to blow the stink off, as my grandmother would have put it. The site’s coding needs a complete overhaul — it’s hopelessly antiquated — but more to the point, the blog’s editorial direction will almost certainly change. So much has changed in the past ten years, in the progress of our community, as well as for me personally. This site will need reflect all that. But I also don’t want to forget why BTB came into being in the first place, because some things still haven’t changed. Not enough, anyway, and certainly not everywhere.

Paula Vogel: 1951. “I only write about things that directly impact my life.” Vogel says. “If people get upset, it’s because the play is working.” It certainly worked for How I Learned to Drive, which explores control and manipulation through the issues of misogyny, pedophilia and incest through the relatively simple metaphor of driving. She won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for it.

Her first major play, The Baltimore Waltz was a comedy about AIDS, in 1990, when AIDS still couldn’t be joked about much. Hot’N Throbbing (1994) looks at the intersection of porn and domestic violence, while The Mineola Twins (1999) portrays women’s experience over the previous thirty years through the eyes of identical twins. The plays are deadly serious, though many of them are also comedies or at least incorporate comedy in them. They are also, as theater theorist Jill Dolan wrote, “at once creative, highly imaginative, and brutally honest.”

Vogel says that her family, especially her brother who died of AIDS in 1988, play a very important role in her plays. “In every play, there are a couple of places where I send a message to my late brother Carl. Just a little something in the atmosphere of every play to try and change the homophobia in our world.” She is also a teacher, having led the graduate playwriting program at Brown University. In 2004, she married Brown University professor and researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling in Massachusetts. In 2008, she left Brown to chair the playwriting department at Yale. She stepped down from that position in 2012.

Glenn Burke: 1952-1995. He was known as “the guy who invented the high five,” when in a game in 1977, Burke was standing on deck as fellow Dodger Dusty Baker was rounding third and headed for home after hitting a home run. As Baker crossed home plate, Burke raised his had. Baker responded by raising his also, and when the two slapped hands, history was made. Believe it or not. And to make the scene complete, Burke then stepped up to the plate and hit a home run of his own.

Burke made another kind of history, after a fashion: he is believed to be the first gay ballplayer who was out to his team mates. According to his 1995 autobiography, Out at Home, Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis offered to pay for his honeymoon if Burke agreed to find a girlfriend and get married. Burke said no. He also angered manager Tommy Lasorda by hanging out with Lasorda’s estranged gay son. The Dodgers soon traded him to the Oakland A’s, where manager Billy Martin called him a faggot in front of his teammates. Burke retired in 1979.

In 1982, Burke became the first former professional league player to come out as gay. He was a hero in his adopted community in San Francisco’s Castro, but without baseball his life soon spiraled downhill. He struggled with drug addiction, and for a while became homeless. He spent several months in prison for grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. His final months were spent with his sister before succumbing to AIDS in 1995 at the age of 42.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 15

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2015


Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Winter Pride); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; International Gay Rodeo Association Annual Convention, St. Petersburg, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Dallas Voice, November 9, 1984, page 16.

From Dallas Voice, November 9, 1984, page 16.

Frank Kameny (center) marching with members of the Washington Mattachine Society in 1970.

First Official Meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society: 1961. On this date in history, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny (see May 21)  and a handful of others held the first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society. The Washington Mattachines, unlike other Mattachine Societies elsewhere in the country, brought a new, aggressive approach to the fight for gay rights. Frank Kameny later reflected on the society’s founding in an essay he contributed to Eric Marcus’s Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History:

Meanwhile, other things were going on with Mattachine. The national structure of Mattachine collapsed in March of that year. The San Francisco Mattachine had cut loose all the other affiliates and wished them well, urging them to change their names and to keep on working. The Denver group became The Neighbors and disappeared. The New York group retained its name and incorporated as a nose-thumbing gesture to San Francisco. It be came the Mattachine Society, Incorporated, of New York versus the Mattachine Society in San Francisco. It was all very petty.

…That following November, on November 15, 1961, we had our first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine. I was the organizer and founder. We did all the things that an organization does when it gets going. We took out a back account, got a post-office box, wrote our constitution, elected our officers, set up our meeting structure, and chose a name. I opted against using the Mattachine name, but I was outvoted. I wanted something that was more explicit and expressive, but wouldn’t have used the word gay then. While it was an in-group word, it hadn’t yet gone public.

Kameny, then 36, was joined by 23-year-old Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and at least three others Earl Aiken’s apartment on Harvard Street, N.W. Three months earlier, Kameny had held a preliminary meeting at the Hay Adams Hotel, where he recognized Louis Fouchette, the head of the Perversion Section of the D.C. Police Department’s Morals Division, who thought he had infiltrated the meeting undetected.  Kameny called Fouchette out.

His cover blown, Fouchette left the meeting, but his presence there was just one indication how much work the nascent group had ahead of it. One of the first provisions the new group adopted in its bylaws was one requiring everyone to go by a pseudonym whenever they were being identified publicly. This requirement was adopted in order to protect members’ privacy, many of whom worked for the Federal Government which had a longstanding policy of firing anyone suspected of being gay. Only Kameny used his real name, mainly because he was already well known among federal officials and he knew he would never again work for the U.S. government.

Now the movement of those days was very unassertive, apologetic, and defensive. I don’t say this critically, and not necessarily derogatorily, but it was a different era. First of all, up to this time, homosexuality had never been publicly discussed. Let me give you an illustration of that. As you’re aware, the question of queers int he government was very much part of the grist of the mill for McCarthy in his hearings in the early 1950s. When McCarthy was riding high, I was still in graduate school at Harvard. I read the Boston Herald every day. I read the New York Times every Sunday. I listened to the radio all the time. I read Time magazine weekly. Yet I did not learn until somewhere around 1958 or 1959 that homosexuality had been a theme of those hearings because it was not widely reported.: the word homosexual was not fit to print or discuss or be heard. Virtually from one end of the decade to the other, outside the medical books, there was nothing anywhere on the subject. It was blanked out, blacked out. It wasn’t there!

Because there was no publicity, there was no way of getting to people. The people in the small movement at that time were only talking to themselves. There was absolutely nothing whatsoever that anybody heard at that time, anywhere that was other than negative! Nothing! We were sick; we were sinners; we were perverts. And so the movement, predictably, in retrospect, did not take strong positions. It gave a hearing to everybody, saying, “As long as it deals with homosexuality, all views must be heard, even those that are the most harshly and viciously condemnatory to homosexuals. We have to defer to the experts.” My answer to that was, “Drivel! We are the experts on ourselves, and we will tell the experts they have nothing to tell us!” Giving all views a fair hearing didn’t suit my personality. And the Mattachine Society of Washington was formed around my personality.

So we at the Washington Mattachine characterized ourselves within the movement as an activist militant organization. Those were very dirty words in those days in the movement, such as it was. You weren’t supposed to be militant. And we were, both in our actions and our goals. Our statement of purposes set out our goals, which were generally to achieve equality for homosexuals and homosexuality against heterosexuals and heterosexuality. Equality was the primary issue.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 14

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2015
Raoul Dufy, La Rue Pavoisé, (le 14 juillet au Havre), 1906, Paris.

Raoul Dufy, La Rue Pavoisé, (le 14 juillet au Havre), 1906, Paris.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Winter Pride); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; International Gay Rodeo Association Annual Convention, St. Petersburg, FL.

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From ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

From ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

Google Translate says Coup de Frein means “slowdown.” This web site, when run through Google Translate, says the Montmartre district of Paris’s 18th arrondissement, where the Coup de Frein was located, had been a gay neighborhood with several clubs and cabarets since at least the interwar period. The Coup de Frein was a bar and restaurant which catered to a gay clientele. An advertisement in the French gay magazine Futur promised “privacy” and “mirth,” and promised that Coup de Frein was “the only place in Paris where one is really ‘us’.” The location today — assuming the numbering hasn’t changed — appears to be private residences across the street from the Hotel Le Relais.

Adolf Brand: 1874-1945. The German editor, photographer, poet, anarchist and activist was born not quite a century before his time. Beginning in 1896, he published Der Eigene (There is no good English equivalent; Der Eigene is often translated as The Unique, The Special One, or The Self-Owned), the world’s first gay journal. The first issue declared, “This journal is dedicated to eigen people, such people as are proud of their Eigenheit and wish to maintain it at any price.” The phrase “Eigen people” may have meant anarchists, at least at first; Brand’s journal was more of an anarchist journal than a pro-gay one, reflecting Brand’s own anarchist views at the time. But Der Eigene became explicitly homosexual in 1898, and remained so until 1932.

Brand’s brand of gay activism was revolutionary. In contrast to the better known activism of Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14), Brand angrily rejected the medical model and scientific approach of Germany’s sexologists, saying that their research “took away all beauty from eroticism.” Brand established the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of Eigens) in 1903 as a counterweight to Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. It also served a secondary purpose. With Der Eigene under constant threat of prosecution for obscenity — Brand successfully fought off charges in court that same year — Gemeinschaft der Eigenen became a kind of a closed readers’ circle, with Der Eigene becoming a private in-house publication. In 1905, when Der Eigene was officially recognized as an “artistic journal,” it became somewhat less vulnerable to censors and could be circulated more freely.

Brand’s militancy led him to conduct what was perhaps the world’s first “outing” campaign. In 1907, just as the massive Harden-Eulenburg affair was scandalizing the German political establishment (see Feb 12), Brand published a pamphlet accusing German Chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bülow of having a homosexual relationship with Privy Councilor Max Scheefer, which therefore morally obligated the Chancellor to oppose Germany’s Paragraph 175 outlawing homosexual relatinships between men. According to Brand, Bülow and Scheefer were seen kissing at all-male parties hosted by Phillip, Prince of Eulenburg. Bülow sued Brand for criminal libel, and Brand was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.

Brand served two years in the German army during World War I, during which he married Elise Behrendt, a nurse who apparently loved him despite his homosexuality. After the war, Der Eigene was overshadowed by other gay publications during the relatively gay-friendly atmosphere of the Weimar era. In many ways, Brand’s brand of activism was out of step with 1920s Germany. Brand’s embrace of pederasty, extramarital bisexuality, and the supposed superiority of “friend-love” as the pinacle of masculinity were rejected in favor of Hirschfeld’s view that homosexuality was an inborn analogue to heterosexuality.

Brand’s elevation of manly friendship and the glorification of the nude body has led to accusations that Brand was himself a proto-faschist. Certainly, it’s easy to see parallels between Brand’s promotion of male bonding with the Nazis’ ideals of national manliness, but Brand himself, ever the anarchist, saw the dangers that Nazism posed. He wrote in 1931 that the Nazis “already had the hangman’s rope in their pockets.”

Der Eigene was shut down in 1932 just as the Nazis were coming into power. The police raided his home several times, seizing his books, journals, and photographs. He was never arrested, but he was financially ruined. “I have been plundered of everything,” he wrote to the Sexological Society in London. “I have nothing left to sell and am financially ruined. I no longer know from what I and mine can continue to live. For my whole life’s work is now destroyed. And most of my followers don’t have even the courage to write me a letter, not to mention support my work with any kind of payment.” Brand was forced to sell his home, and he and his wife moved to a one room flat where they were both killed during alllied bombing on February 2, 1945.

[Source: Hubert Kennedy. “Adolf Brand.” (undated).]

115 YEARS AGO: Aaron Copland: 1900-1990. Born in Brooklyn to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Copland composed some of the most quintessentially American classical music. Appalachian Spring celebrated American pioneers; Billy the Kid set the open prairie to music;  Rodeo sells beef on television (“It’s what’s for dinner”); and Fanfare for the Common Man was, briefly, the theme music for Rick Perry’s ill-fated presidential run, which was ironic that a rabidly anti-gay politician would turn to such patriotic music that was composed by a relatively openly gay man.

Copland’s childhood was a rather typical one for an immigrant family in New York City. His father, who had no musical interest, owned a small department store. It was his mother, brothers and sisters — he was the youngest of five — who were musically inclined. His oldest brother played violin, and a sister gave him his first piano lessons and exposed him to opera. From the age of thirteen, he began formal music lessons. By age fifteen, he decided to become a composer. From 1921 to 1924, Copland went to Paris for further study at the Fontainebleau School of Music. In 1925, he returned to the U.S., and with two Guggenheim Fellowships in 1925 and 1926, he was able to rent a studio apartment where he lived for the next thirty years. He met Alfreid Stieglitz, who introduced him to many of the leading artists of the day: Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe, and Walker Evans, whose photos inspired Copland’s opera The Tender Land.

Stieglitz’s determination that American artists should reflect “the ideas of American Democracy” had a profound effect on Copland. It also represent a severe challenge. American classical music composers looked to Europe as a model for music composition. All that American had was popular music, folk music and jazz. The challenge for Copland was to show how these so-called “lower” forms of music could be in integral part of classical music. He joined five other like-minded composers to form what was called the “commando unit,” who collaborated in joint concerts to promote their new approach.

Once the depression hit, Copland expanded his horizons again through travels to Europe, Africa and Mexico. When Hitler and Mussolini attacked Spain in 1936, Copland, along with many other artists, were sympathetic to the Spanish Republicans, and many of them had joined the Communist Party. Copland himself didn’t join — he was committed to his refusal to join any party — but he did sympathize with leftist political movements, including his support for the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election, and for Henry A. Wallace’s presidential bid on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948.

This period of political turmoil coincided with some of Copland’s most famous work. In 1939, he completed his first two Hollywood film scores, for Of Mice and Men and Our Town. That same year, he debuted his highly successful ballet Billy the Kid. He followed that with two more acclaimed ballets, Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944), which featured the melody of an old Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” A Lincoln Portrait and Fanfare for the Common Man, both debuted in 1942 as American was entering World War II, have become American patriotic standards.

But the McCarthy era of the 1950s proved difficult. A Lincoln Portrait had been on the program for Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural concert, but it was withdrawn over controversy over Copland’s earlier sympathies with leftist politics. That same year, he was called to testify before Congress, where he insisted that he had never joined the Communist Party. Ignored during the controversy was Copland’s deeply patriotic music, a neglect which outraged many American musicians.

During the 1950s, Copland’s pace in composition fell off as new avant garde musical trends became fashionable in the music world. But he continued to influence other American composers, most principally his friend and student, protégé Leonard Bernstein. By the 1960s, Copland had more or less given up composing and took up conducting. He wasn’t crazy about the idea, but, as he said, “It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet.” This career change saw him conducting some of American’s great orchestras recording a major part of his canon for posterity. His health deteriorated through the 1980s and he died in 1990 from Alzheimer’s and resipitory failure.

Albrecht Becker, abt 1930.

Albrecht Becker: 1906-2002. Albrecht Becker was an actor and production designer who lived with his parter of ten yeas in Würzburg in Bavaria. In 1935, he came under the notice of the Gestapo when they were investigating another Würzburg resident, Dr. Leopold Obermayer, a Swiss national who was both Jewish and gay. During the course of the Gestapo’s investigation, they found several photos of young men, including Albert Becker, in Obermeyer’s possession. Obermeyer was sent to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he ultimately perished. Becker was also tried under Germany’s notorious Paragraph 175 and sentenced to a three year term in Nürnburg Prison. In 1940, he joined the German army and sent directly to the Eastern front where soldiers weren’t expected to survive.

But survive he did, and he was able to return to Germany and work in the film industry after the war. He became an internationally recognized photographer, production designer and actor for German television. His story is one of six personal histories recounted in the 2000 documentary, Paragraph 175, about the Nazi persecution of gay men. He died in 2002 in Hamburg at the age of 95.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 13

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Winter Pride); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; International Gay Rodeo Association Annual Convention, St. Petersburg, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where it's At, September 1, 1975, page 57.

From Where it’s At (New York, NY), September 1, 1975, page 57.


Marriages Between Women: 1902. The November 1902 issue of the journal Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” is an archaic nineteenth-century term for a psychiatrist) included this brief notice:

MARRIAGES BETWEEN WOMEN.– Two recent cases of marriages between women have been disclosed by the death of the alleged “husband”. (“George” Greene, a well- known citizen of Ettrick, Va.,) who died at the age of 75. The wife called in assistance to prepare the body, when deceased was discovered to be a woman. “He” had been born in England, but came to the United States when a child. “He” early exhibited proclivities for male attire to which the family soon became accustomed. “He” worked for several years as a man and married (at the age of 40) a widow. The couple maintained their relationship without discovery until Greene’s death, at the age of 75.

“William” C. Howard died in Canandaigua, New York, at the age of 50. The refusal of the “widow” and “children” to permit an undertaker to prepare the body for burial led to a coroner’s inquest, which disclosed the fact that “William” was a woman. “William” had early manifested male proclivities. “His” family had been unable to induce “him” to adopt female attire. When a girl on “his” father’s farm “he” donned male attire and took up masculine occupation, taking care of horses and cattle and doing chores. The family ceased to remonstrate with her, at length growing accustomed to her male attire and often joking about the attentions she paid her own sex. She escorted girls to parties and spent money on them freely. Finally she “married” a woman named Dwyer and later adopted two children. The couple took a farm near Canandaigua and settled down quietly.

There was nothing especially feminine in either Greene or Howard; while Howard’s ancestral family knew the real condition of things, they do not seem to have looked upon the relationship as at all abnormal. This would appear to indicate that the relatives of inverts have a certain tolerance for homosexuality. The influence of training at the indifferent periods in the development of homosexuality is suggested by the Howard case. The donning of male attire for convenient purposes may have stimulated a potential inversion previously latent.

[Source: Charles H. Hughes. “Marriages between women.” Alienist and Neurologist 23, no. 4 (November 1902): 498-500.]

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, November 12

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Winter Pride); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; International Gay Rodeo Association Annual Convention, St. Petersburg, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page B-19.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page B-19.

The Deer Park Lodge opened in 1981 at an old lodge on the historic National Pike (U.S. Route 40, which was later bypassed by I-70) about midway between Hagerstown and Frederick. The old lodge was built sometime in the 193o’s as a hunting lodge and later became a restaurant known for its “great stakes.” After it re-opened in 1981 under new ownership, the Deer Park Lodge became the largest gay venue in western Maryland. The venue changed hands sometime around 2010 and, while it’s still a gay establishment, it is now simply called The Lodge.

The November 1954 issue of ONE.

Miami’s Anti-Gay Mayor Writes To Gay Magazine: 1954. Miami’s witch hunt against gay people wasn’t just the subject of headlines in South Florida (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14Aug 15, Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6 and Oct 20). ONE magazine, the pioneering Los Angeles-based gay magazine was paying close attention and relaying events to its national audience. In its November 1954 cover story, Jim Kepner (writing as Lyn Pederson) brought ONE’s readers up to date with a complete chronology beginning with the murder of a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, William T. Simpson and the police’s discovery of a gay community  with a “nominal head of the colony — a queen” (see Aug 3). Kepner mocked the investigation: “Pulling two and twaddle together, detectives guessed if Simpson hadn’t been the queen, perhaps he’d been a sort of royal pretender, killed by his rival.” But after recounting all of the events that followed, Kepner warned that what was happening in Miami was no laughing matter:

The Miami story illustrates what trumped up hysteria can do in a few weeks to any city in the United States. Corrupt politicians and opportunistic demagogues can endanger any community that permits itself to be herded into pogrom. …And one begins to realize that by all the requirements, the fantastically large minority of homosexuals is perhaps the top candidate for any new and large scale witch hunt In America.

Now that homosexuality has become mentionable in polite society, the social balance can be seen quickly shifting as society tries to decide what new attitude it must take to the problem. It seems certain to this author that the shift will be fast, and the new attitude drastic, and that it will determine in large part the extent to which this nation remains a free and open society.

If Miami had caught the attention of ONE, it can also be said that ONE also caught Miami’s attention as well. The Miami News published a front-page article in August on “how Los Angeles handles its 150,000 perverts.”: “In California the homosexuals have… established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a ‘normal’ group.” On November 4, ONE wrote a letter to Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, who was leading the anti-gay witch hunt. We don’t know what that letter said, but Aronovitz replied on November 12. Based on the Mayor’s reply, it appears that at least one of ONE’s objectives was to take Aronovitz to task for his proposal to try to shut down the city’s gay bars (see Sep 15Sep 19Oct 6 and Oct 20). Whatever other objections ONE may have raised, Aronovitz’s reply remained limited to just that one item. That reply was printed in ONE’s January 1955 issue:

Mayor Aronovitz’s letter and ONE’s response (ONE, January 1955, page 36).

November 12, 1954.

One, Inc .
232 South Hill Street
Los Angeles 12 , California

Attn: Mr. Marvin Cutler , Secretary
Bureau of Public Information


In reply to your letter of November 9th, this is to advise that I have never advocated harassing homosexuals or other deviates. I have always insisted that the lowest form of human being is the individual who while operating a public business violates many laws and caters to homosexuals for the purpose of taking advantage of other human beings.

Miami is not required to provide a haven for the homosexuals and deviates of the nation and therefore, if you will keep informing the nation of this fact, I will be much obliged.

Yours very truly,
Abe Aronowitz,

ONE recounted several statements that Aroniwitz had uttered over the past several months and concluded, “The editors of ONE feel that the above statement by the Mayor of Miami is slightly at odds with statements attributed to him by the MIAMI DAILY NEWS.” As for providing a haven for the homosexuals of the nation, ONE curtly observed: “Editorially, we might also point out to the Mayor of Miami that it is quite possible that some of the homosexuals in Miami might have been born there.”

[Sources: Lyn Pedersen. “Miami Hurricane.” ONE 2, no. 11 (November 1954): 4-8.

Unsigned. Letter from Mayor Abe Aronowitz. ONE 3, no. 1 (January 1955): 36.]

Gay Liberation Front Protests Time Magazine: 1969. The cover story of Time magazine two weeks earlier (see Oct 31) continued to weigh heavily on the minds of New York’s gay activists. The article said a few nice things about gays — it included a few comments from New York Mattachine member Dick Leitsch and Washington Mattachine founder Frank Kameny to represent gay people. But it also included quotes by Dr. Charles Socarides and a man he claimed to have cured. (Socarides would go on to co-found NARTH in 1993.) Those views and the article might have been acceptable if it had appeared just a year earlier, but in November of 1969, just four months after the Stonewall Rebellion, members of the Gay Liberation Front saw no need to sit by while so-called “experts” cast judgments on their mental health and moral beliefs. Many in GLF were particularly angry because they had cooperated with the writer, only to find the article emphasizing the old tired stereotypes, particularly of gay men.

On November 12, members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Daughters of Bilitis picketed the Time-Life building and handed out leaflets to passers-by. They read, “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, Time has attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its own narrow, out-dated, warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.” But due partly to the cold and snowy weather, the protest didn’t attract much attention, save for some jeers from construction workers across the street and a very brief mention during the eleven o’clock news on the ABC affiliate.

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 97-98.]

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2015

World War I Navy recruitment poster attributed to P.N. Leyendecker (Click to enlarge.)

Today is Veterans Day, the day set aside to honor all armed forces veterans — all of them, including LGBT veterans. The chosen date, November 11, marks the date and time of the armistice which ended the Great War, 11/11 at 11:00 a.m. The date was originally known as Armistice Day in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

An advertisement for Cannon Towels during World War II. (Click to enlarge.)

In 1938, Congress made Armistice day a permanent annual holiday as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” After the end of the Second World War, Armistice day was expanded to honor all veterans, not just those of World War I. Congress officially changed the name of Armistice day in 1954 to Veterans Day.

Many other countries continue to observe this date as either Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, where observances combine the recognition of living veterans with commemorations of those who died (more akin to our observance of Memorial Day in late May). In many British Commonwealth countries, Remembrance Day is also known as Poppies Day, after the red poppies in the poem “In Flanders Fields” which bloomed on some of the worst battlefields of Flanders. The poppies’  brilliant red color is symbolic of the blood that was spilled.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Winter Pride); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; International Gay Rodeo Association Annual Convention, St. Petersburg, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a bank clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At her death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

What became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

Two days later, another story appeared in local papers:

Woman Laid to Rest in Attire of Man

Trinidad, Colo., Nov 13 — In compliance with a request made a few days before her death, the remains of Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years wore male attire without her sex being discovered, were laid to rest yesterday in the Catholic cemetery garbed in male attire. Two sisters of charity and two strange women were the only attendants at the simple services held i the chapel of the undertaking company.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.]

An exceptionally rare photo of early members of the Mattachine Foundation. Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left, Apr 7), then (l-r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings (Oct 21), Rudi Gernreich (Aug 8), Stan Witt, Bob Hull (May 31), Chuck Rowland (in glasses, Aug 24), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber (Aug 21). (Click to enlarge.)

65 YEARS AGO: First Meeting of the “Society of Fools” (Mattachine Foundation): 1950. Harry Hay (see Apr 7) had been kicking around the idea for several years. In 1948, he attended a party near the University of Southern California attended by gay men who supported the presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace. Sometime during the evening, a discussion ensued of Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which had been published earlier that year (see Jan 5). Someone brought up the Kinsey statistic that said that 37% had experienced at least one homosexual encounter and that 10% were more or less gay. To Harry, who had cut his teeth as a Communist and labor organizer, this seemed like an extraordinarily large number of people just waiting to be organized. That night, he he began drafting a five-page proposal, “The Call,” which envisioned an organization for the “androgynes of the world.” His first effort, Bachelors for Wallace, didn’t get anywhere. His second attempt, to form a Kinsey discussion group, also fizzled.

But the third time was the charm. Hay continued revising “The Call,” which by 1950 envisioned an International Bachelors Fraternal orders for Peace and Social Dignity:

We, the androgynes of the world, have formed this responsible corporate body to demonstrate by our efforts that our psychology and psychological handicaps need be no deterrent in integrating 10 percent of the world’s population toward the constructive social progress of mankind.

In July, 1950, Hay met Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), a professional dancer and soon-to-be famous fashion designer from Austria. Gernreich read “The Call” and told Hay, “It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen and I’m with you one hundred percent.” They took another stab at organizing a homosexual organization by distributing sixty copies of “The Call” at a gay beach below the Palisades. That, too, ended in failure. Gernreich then encouraged Hay to approach Bob Hull (see May 31), a student in Gernreich’s music class, and Hull’s friend and former lover, Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24).  Hull then shared the idea with his then-current boyfriend, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21).

On November 11, the five met at Hay’s home on Red Hill in Silver Lake and formed the “Society of Fools,” with lofty ambitions. Hay’s forward-thinking contribution was to envision the group as a means of unifying “an oppressed cultural minority.” To Hay, being gay was more than just having sex. It was a way of life, with unique cultural aspects akin to an ethnic minority. Not everyone saw things that way. Jennings, for example, opposed the idea, contending that gay people were just exactly like everyone else except for who they wanted to have sex with. There was nothing special about being gay itself, and the issue wasn’t cultural liberation for gay people. For him, the real issue was sexual freedom for everyone regardless of whether they were gay or straight. This controversy would carry on for much of the next two decades. But the real underlying importance of the new group, as Rowland later explained, went much deeper.

“To me, the gay culture idea was the cornerstone of the Mattachine. …we wanted to change the laws, and that was and is a worthy objective. But changing laws  laws is almost meaningless unless one changes the hearts of men, both homosexual and heterosexual, and the heart change is, to me, what the Mattachine was all about.”

The new society, initially, was in danger of going the way of the earlier attempts at organizing as they struggled to find new members. People would show up for a meeting but fail to return. April of 1951 would bring a turnabout in the young group’s fortunes when Konrad Stevens and James Gruber (see Aug 21) joined and brought with them a new sense of urgency. Gruber also suggested the group rename itself the Mattachine Foundation, in honor of the medieval masque troops known as “matachines” (originally spelled with one “t”), whose role it was to stand up and speak truth to power without regard to direct consequences. Hay loved the idea, Jennings scoffed and thought it was silly, but the group decided to accept Gruber’s suggestion, and for the next three years, they were the Mattachine Foundation.

[Sources: James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 113-120.

C. Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009): 16-19.]

Six Year Old Child Has An Odd Trait: 1960. That headline was given for a column titled “Child Care” by Dr. Milton I. Levine and Jean H. Seligmann, in which a mother writes in about her cross-dressing son. Naturally, it’s the parents’ fault:

(Q) “My son is 6 year old and has a peculiar trait which has me very worried. He likes to dress up on girls’ or women’s clothing. I have two older daughters aged 9½ and 11 and he loves to wear their clothes whenever he gets the chance. He says theirs are much nicer than his. One day I found him in one of my dresses walking around in my high-heeled shoes. I am terribly frightened that he may be abnormal when he is older. What can I do? He seems normal otherwise and plays equally well with both boys and girls. He sees his father a little in the evenings and his father is home every weekend.”

Mrs. T.R.D.

(A) The desire to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex is fairly common in young children, but is a tendency which should not be encouraged. Sometimes this activity continues on into adult life when it becomes more and more difficult to change.

Although a child or adult prefers the clothes of the opposite sex, this does not necessarily mean that the person is a homosexual. As a mater of fact, in the vast majority of cases studied these children grew up with normal sex desires. But undoubtedly there are some who do become homosexual.

We do not know enough about your home environment or the manner in which your son has been brought up to say just why he likes to dress in female attire, but there are a number of possible causes. Sometimes boys feel their parents really wanted a girl and they try to act or look like one. Boys who live in a home atmosphere which is largely feminine may want to dress like women. (We know of instances where boys have been allowed to dress like girls without any objection from their parents.) If a boy is too close to his mother, or if he hasn’t enough contact with his father, he may want to dress like a woman to be like his mother.

Be sure your son feels the importance of being a boy. He should know that both you and his father wanted a son and are happy he is a boy. He should be discouraged from wearing girls’ clothes but not teased or laughed at. He should get a great deal more attention from his father who should encourage him in male interests. He should look more and more to his father as his model.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 10

Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2015

Sir Francis Galton

Homosexuality and the Social Hygiene Movement: 1917. The theories behind the Eugenics movement were formulated by Sir Francis Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin. Drawing on Darwin’s theories of evolution, Galton sought to create a practical application of those theories in his 1883 book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, in which he suggested that, through carefully considered interventions, the human condition could be improved. He coined a word for these theories, Eugenics, from the Greek words for “good” and “born,” and he emphasized the inheritability of positive and negative traits, both through genetics and through environmental factors. In addition to Eugenics, which took a more narrow genetic human-husbandry approach to improving the population, his ideas also launched a broader “social hygiene” movement which had many positive influences: the regulation and eventual abolition of child labor, mandatory and free primary and (eventually) secondary education, workplace health and safety rules, anti-tenement ordinances, pre-natal care, food safety regulations, immunizations, sanitation, and birth control — although the latter, in some of its manifestations, also had its negative qualities as well, particularly where forced sterilization of “undesired” population groups were concerned.

Eugenics was the dark side of the social hygiene movement, as was its “racial hygiene” component which simply provided a weak scientific gloss over longstanding prejudices and racial policies against “race-mixing.” While not everyone involved in social hygiene programs were eugenicists, there were a great degree of crossed influences between the two areas, and the boundaries between them weren’t very clear. Indeed, few at the time thought that the boundaries needed to be clear; Eugenics didn’t become a toxic topic until the Nazis took those ideas to their more extreme yet logical conclusions.

Dr. William Alanson White

An interesting example of less toxic forms of social hygiene theories can be found in a textbook published in November 1917 by William Alanson White, a professor of nervous and mental diseases at Georgetown University and superintendent at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane. In The Principles of Mental Hygiene, he touched on a large number of topics, including homosexuality. That passage is particularly striking because of the way White described homosexuality according to its impact on “the herd.”


This social group, like the others, is a complex and heterogeneous one and one, too, that we have only recently come to study scientifically. Perhaps no group of individuals have suffered from less understanding, have been treated with greater lack of consideration, than this group. The antipathic emotions have held almost complete sway and so have made the scientific approach to the problem practically impossible. The history of society’s attitude towards the homosexual is much the same as the history of its attitude towards the prostitute except that it has, if possible, been more completely dominated by the antipathic emotions.

Homosexuality has come of late to have a much broader meaning than that usually connoted by the popular speech. It means that degree of attraction for the same sex which turns the individual aside on the path towards a heterosexual goal and therefore away from those activities which naturally lead to procreation and are therefore race-preservative. The term by no means necessarily connotes actual concrete acts of sexual perversion. In this large sense it is readily seen why it should be tabooed by the herd. Its tendency is destructive to the interests of the herd as a biological unit and therefore the reaction against it. The reaction of hate and its congeners is the instinctive way of self-protection and must necessarily precede any judicial, intelligent attitude based upon scientific knowledge which can only come in the course of development when instinct shall have been controlled and directed by reason.

As already intimated, the homosexual group is a large and complex one and we are only beginning to be able to approach its problems with a clear scientific vision, but as we are able to do this we come more and more to an appreciation of how widely this particular type of inefficiency is distributed. Again, therefore, we come to appreciate the emphasis which I have all along put upon the necessity for studying the individual in order that he may be dealt with for what he is rather than perfunctorily classified with this or that social group just because, and for no other reason, the accident of circumstance has found him momentarily identified with it. Distinct homosexual types are found among the insane, the criminal, the feeble-minded, the epileptic, the vagrant, etc., etc., so that we must come to realize that it is a type of reaction, not a label to distinguish a given individual from all others, and try in our investigations to evaluate the part it has played in the social inadequacy of the particular individual under consideration.

Viewed in this way it becomes a problem like all the others and the objects of treatment come out clearly instead of being befogged by a haze of emotion.

The homosexual reaction should be corrected if possible. Psychotherapy is the most hopeful way of approach. Failing this the individual should be taught to use his energies as best he can based upon an understanding of himself. The ideal, next to cure, would be a direction of the energies into socially useful channels, which direction would at the same time afford an adequate fulfilment (sic) of the individual.

Homosexuality, in the broad sense here used, is found as a type of reaction in a great many conditions which constitute or lead to social inadequacy. It, therefore, offers a natural barrier to procreation of the socially inadequate classes the immense value of which, to the herd, has not been appreciated. It is, so to speak, a natural means of sterilization.

[Source: William A. White. The Principles of Mental Hygiene (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917): 208-211. The book is available in PDF and EPUB versions for free via Google Books here.]

Phyllis Lyon: 1924. The Oklahoma native earned a degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1946 and worked as a reporter for a California paper before moving to Seattle to work at a trade magazine in 1950. That’s where she met the love of her life, Del Martin (see May 5). They became a couple in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together. “We really only had problems our first year together,” she later told The Washington Post. “Del would leave her shoes in the middle of the room, and I’d throw them out the window.” Del responded “You’d have an argument with me and try to storm out the door. I had to teach you to fight back.”

Their life together was all about fighting back. In 1955 Phyllis and Del, along with six other women, formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the U.S. (see Oct 19). Phyllis was the first editor of the DOB’s groundbreaking newsletter, The Ladder from 1956 to 1960, when Del took over. Pseudonyms were common then, and Phillis edited The Ladder as “Ann Ferguson” for the first few months, but she killed her alter ego in an editorial encouraging readers not to hide (see Jan 20). By October 1957, they had 400 subscribers across the country. In 1964, Phyllis and Del helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, bringing together national religious leaders and gay and lesbian activists for a national discussion of gay rights. Phyllis became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of the National Organization for Women in 1973. Phyllis and Del were also active in San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club.

On February 12, 2004, Phyllis and Del married for the first time when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples. That marriage lasted until August 12, but not because the couple split up. That was when the California Supreme Court voided several thousand marriage licenses given to same-sex couples. Del and Phyllis were deeply dissapointed. “Del is 83 years old and I am 79,” Phyllis said at the time. “After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.”

Phyllis Lyon (right) and Del Martin (left) married in San Francisco in 2008, just a few months before voters approved Proposition 8.

But they had the luxury of just enough time. They were married again on June 16, 2008 after the California Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage was against the state constitution. Del and Phyllis were given the honor of being the first same-sex couple to be married, and they wore the same outfits in which they were first married in 2004. Del passed away two months later, on August 27, 2008.

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

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

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