Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:

Marriage in Mexico – update and Jalisco victory

Timothy Kincaid

January 26th, 2016

Map Mexico statesMexico’s same-sex marriage status is complicated.

Marriages occurring anywhere in the country are recognized throughout. So, since December 2009 when Mexico City legislators voted for marriage equality, same-sex couples could travel to the capital and have their relationship recognized upon their return.

However, other than in six states, locally conducted same-sex marriage is illegal. But these are not laws without a solution. A couple can go to court and request an amparo (a sort of civil rights ruling) which states that the law is unconstitutional and which would allow that couple (but only that couple) to marry.

The outcome is assured; the Supreme Court has established that all such efforts result in approval of the marriage. So any same-sex couple can marry in any state – though it takes a lawyer, about $1,000, and a month to go through the legal process.

Additionally, after five identical amparos have been granted in one state, precedent is set and that state then will recognize same-sex marriages without any need for additional amparos. So for about $5,000 per state (about $125,000 total) and less than a year, marriage equality could be universal across the nation. Considering that in the US the legal battle cost tens of millions of dollars, this is a bargain and activists are implementing a plan to grind through the ampero process.

Meanwhile states are individually chugging along towards equality, some through non-amparo means. Currently Mexico has six equality states (out of 31):

Quintana Roo (Cancun) – In December 2011, local officials realized that the law did not mention the gender of those seeking marriage and that there was no restriction on same-sex couples.

Coahuila – In September 2014, Coahuila became the first state to enact marriage equality by means of legislative vote.

Chihuahua (Juarez) – By mid 2013, the required five amparos had been issued. The state legislature did not act, and couples asked the Supreme Court to order the state to comply. So as to avoid such a ruling, in June 2015 the governor announced that the state would no longer enforce the unconstitutional law.

Guerrero (Acapulco) – also in June 2015, the governor of Guerrero announced that it would not enforce the marriage ban. This was proactive as the state had not processed five amparos. The governor has presented a bill to the state legislature to change the law.

Nayarit – In late December 2015, the legislature voted 26 to 1 in favor of marriage equality.

Jalisco (Guadalajara) – today. This one is a pinch more complicated. Whenever a state law is published in Mexico, opponents have 30 days to file an action of unconstitutionality with the federal courts. Jalisco had recently made an unrelated change in its marriage laws and had republished the marriage code. This opened a window in which activists could challenge the limitations as to gender. The Supreme Court heard the case and today ruled 11 to 0 that Jalisco’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

AHF exports opposition to PrEP to the UK

Timothy Kincaid

January 22nd, 2016

In the United Kingdom, PrEP is not yet available through the National Health Service, the nationally subsidized health care system. This means that those people choosing to protect themselves from potential HIV infection by use of pre-exposure prophylaxis must do so out-of-pocket.

The NHS is considering approval of Truvada for PrEP and the BBC ran a newsnight special about this consideration. Supporting making PrEP available was Dr Michael Brady from the Terrence Higgins Trust. And, as it appears that the only opponents to PrEP-based HIV prevention on the globe may be the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, speaking in keeping PrEP unavailable was Jed Kensley, senior director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Kensley presented absolutely no logic or justification for his position. He just stated it and then tried to talk about people using it contrary to the guidelines of the US FDA (which, as far as I know, does not dictate UK policy).

There is no reason for AHF to interfere in UK policy. Except to try and discourage any further acceptance of PrEP overseas which could, in turn, encourage use in the US.

And as much as AHF claims that it supports PrEP for those “who have multiple partners and never use condoms”, they went on BBC to support the NHS’ policy of providing PrEP to no one at all. Tis far better, in the minds of the directors of AHF, that those “who have multiple partners and never use condoms” in the UK continue at risk for seroconversion than that someone who uses condoms – well, most of the time – has the chance to protect themselves further.

The more I hear from AHF, the harder it is for me to believe that they want people to stay uninfected.

AHF files complaint against Gilead

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2016

michaelEarlier this month, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president Michael Weinstein issued a press release accusing Gilead of creating a direct-to-consumer advertisement which encouraged situational PrEP use in violation of FDA guidelines.

As we illustrated, it was filled with falsehoods and insinuation and made claims that even at the most casual glance proved to be false.

Well now AHF has gone one step further. They’ve issued a letter of complaint against the maker of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

On Thursday, AHF sent a letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, M.D., Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alerting him to the fact that Gilead financed a video ad campaign promoting situational use of its AIDS treatment, Truvada, for PrEP, misleading viewers into believing that Truvada is safe and effective for use on a situational basis, despite knowing that the drug is not FDA approved for such off-label use.

Box Turtle Bulletin, along with other sources, has debunked AHF’s claims. Frankly, it just wasn’t that hard.

So why does Weinstein and his organization continue a campaign of deception? I think there is a purpose behind the complaint.

As anyone who actually watched the video knows, it did not promote off-label use. And it wasn’t launched by Gilead. So that’s not the issue. AHF knows that their letter does not reveal any wrongdoing and I don’t think that’s their intent.

Rather I suspect that Weinstein is hoping that the theme of the video (“I like to party”) will frighten the FDA and will elicit a fear based response along the lines of “you can’t promote drug use!!!”

This isn’t about truthful marketing, it’s about punishing Gilead and hindering the advancement of Truvada as a tool against the spread of HIV. And if Weinstein can imply that Gilead tacitly supports the use of illicit drugs, that might be sufficient to push politicians to apply pressure.

So this is where Weinstein’s recommendations for punishing Gilead become interesting:

In contravention of statute and regulations, Gilead launched an ad campaign to mislead viewers into believing that Truvada is safe and effective for use on a situational basis despite knowing that the drug is not approved for such use. Consequently, the ad campaign constitutes impermissible off-label promotion, and we urge the FDA to take immediate action to (1) require Gilead to cease and desist all such off-label promotion; (2) require Gilead to publically [sic] correct the misinformation disseminated by the ad campaign; and (3) impose any sanctions permitted by law.

But Gilead hasn’t performed any off-label promotion which it can cease or desist. And sanctions would not hold up in any court. So what would this mean in practical terms?

A clue is found earlier in the press release:

Gilead, which we believe has been deliberately mounting an under-the-FDA-radar, guerilla-style marketing and media campaign for PrEP for the past three years by funding scores of community and AIDS groups across the nation to promote PrEP…”

AHF wants to put pressure on Gilead to cease funding other community and AIDS groups. Yes, it appears that Weinstein and AHF want to reduce the funds that community groups across the country use to fight transmission and treat those infected with HIV. That is unthinkable, but that is what they are asking.

And as despicable as this seems, it might not to be a novel attitude for AHF. They have been accused by many AIDS activists of a long pattern of seeking to diminish funding for other groups so as to funnel more funds, more program support, more connections, and more political power to AHF and Weinstein.

And as it is primarily community based HIV activists who are encouraging and driving the effort to get those persons at high risk for HIV transmission on the preventative drug regimen, these are the voices that Weinstein and AHF need most to silence in order for their campaign against PrEP-based HIV prevention to succeed. That these local activists are the front-line warriors in the fight against the HIV pandemic is immaterial, and the message seems clear: they must be taught that standing up against Weinstein and AHF comes with consequences.

I’m beginning to think that “vile” and “abhorrent” are adjectives that need a revival.

Featured Reports
Main Stories

The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 1

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GAY, October 25, 1971, page 13.

From GAY, October 25, 1971, page 13.

Gay rights advocate Jack Nicols (see Mar 16) and his parter Lige Clarke founded GAY in New York in 1969 as the first weekly newspaper for LGBT people sold on newsstands, with aspirations to become a nationally-distributed publication. In 1971, GAY gave its readers a rundown on gay establishments in New York and the West Coast, including these three bars in Hollywood:

OLIVER, 365 N. La Clenega Blvd . Delightful room serving cocktails and dinner from 4pm to 2am seven days a week. Menu is extensive and prices are stunningly below any other restaurant of its calibre in town. Atmosphere is that of quiet elegance.

SPOTLITE ROOM, 1601 N , Cahuenga Blvd. What can you say about a tradition? In this one’s case, it certainly is NOT dull! Don’t be deceived by its initial impression that it’s strictly a rough type bar! There is absolutely no telling who you’re liable to run into there. It is unique in Los Angeles.

LEMON TWIST LOUNGE, 6423 Yucca. This quiet place halted the trend that had gays deserting the downtown Hollywood area for the nicer, more sophisticated bistros of West Hollywood or the Valley. It has a pleasant decor and personable staff. It’s neither an entertainment center nor a sardine can, but a cozy, intimate place to socialize without all the gimmickry that seems so fashionable these days. GM, GF.

EMPHASIS MINE:

Cafe: 3 a.m.

Detectives from the vice squad
with weary sadistic eyes
spotting fairies.
Degenerates,
some folks say.

But God, Nature,
or somebody
made them that way.

Police lady or Lesbian
over there?
Where?

— Langston Hughes, inspired by a police raid on an African-American gay bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Los Angeles Police “Purity Squad” Raids Private Party: 1920. Angelinos awoke to an odd story in that day’s Los Angeles Times:

Twenty Los Angeles men, some said the be prominent in social and business circles, were arrested last night by the police at a stag party in the home of Former Mayor Harper and were booked on the charge of social vagrancy.

Seven of the men, including the host, Joseph Harper, 24 years old, are alleged by the officers making the raid to have been gowned in feminine apparel.

The house, at 1128 West Twenty-eighth street, was surrounded when the gaiety was at its height.

Just after the police had raided the residence, Ex-Mayor Harper and Mrs. Harper arrived home. They had returned, unexpectedly, from a trip to Bakersfield. Mrs. Harper was prostrated by the incident and became hysterical. Mr. Harper also was overcome with emotion.

…According to Police Sergeant Gifford and the officers of the “purity squad” who conducted the raid, a degenerate orgy was in progress when they entered the house.

Two naval petty officers and two unlisted sailors, whose names were withheld by the police were at the “party” in uniform, it is said.

The four naval personnel were the only ones accorded the courtesy of their names not being released to the press. For everyone else, The Times dutifully noted in the next two paragraphs party-goers’ names, addresses and occupations, with the first paragraph listing the six who were “all taking ‘female’ parts in the party,” and the second listing those who “remained in male attire.” The following day, The Times carried a much more lengthy account:

Two of the score of prisoners were released on bail yesterday, eight of them were ordered held without bail after they failed to pass the medical quarantine examination, and the other ten are being held in various tanks and cells, some still awaiting masculine clothes to take the place of the feminine finery which Purity Squad officers unceremoniously removed from them in the jail.

The ever-diligent Times then went on to list the names, addresses and occupations of everyone who “failed to pass the medical examination for infectious disease,” those who were released on bail, and those who remained in jail. Former Mayer Harper, whose son was released on a $500 bond, told reporters: “I believe absolutely in my son’s innocence. I wouldn’t say that the police are misrepresenting the facts, but I reserve for myself a few opinions along that line.” The Times, having gotten that quick statement out of the way, then went on to describe some of the more titillating details:

Central Police Station buzzed with activity all through the night and the day yesterday. Early in the morning, after Jailer Shand arrived, he and his assistants went upstairs to the big tank and began stripping eight of the “guests” of the female attire in which they had draped themselves.

The dresses, some of them very costly and elaborate, were unceremoniously packed into suit cases and marked as evidence. Some of the men were supplied with bathrobes and others had to content themselves with jail blankets.

The arresting officers yesterday related the details of the raid and the evidence they assert they have to substantiate their charges. News that the party was to take place Saturday night was received about two weeks ago, they stated. At that time, the officers say, there was another party at which some of the men arrested Saturday were present.

Arrangements were made to have some of the officers in the house. While the scheme of the operation was not disclosed, it was whispered yesterday that at least one of the purity squad’s experts was under a bed in one of the rooms, another one was among the original members of the party wearing a uniform, and a third member managed to get into the house at the last hour. The officers say liquor was served int he shape of punch, and that there was music and much hilarity.

In an odd turn two months later, the charges in the Harper raid were dropped due to “confusion” and the fact that an “important witness is said to have disappeared.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Langston Hughes: 1902-1967. He was one of the innovators of a new form of poetry: jazz poetry. Born in Joplin, Missouri, he moved to New York City to attend Columbia, but was more interested in the goings-on in Harlem. He traveled throughout the world, and while his writings reflect those travels, he remained rooted in the experience of the Harlem Renaissance. His 1934 collection of short stories, The Ways of White Folks: Stories, tells of the intersection of black and white, and his screen play for Way Down South came out in the same year as Gone With the Wind. He remained closeted for his entire life, although some say that if you ignore the pronouns you can see hints of homoeroticism in some of his poems. Other unpublished poems appear to have been written to a black male lover. Another short story, Blessed Assurance,” deals with a father’s anger over his son’s “queerness.” But his finances were always precarious, and he would not have been able to afford the fallout of openness about his sexuality. He died in 1967 after abdominal surgery, and his ashes are interred at the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 31

Jim Burroway

January 31st, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine, July 1965, page 25.

Nob Hill opened in the late 1940s as a formal dinner club, but by the early 1950s, the club’s owner, James Jones, realized that the lack of a gay bar for African-Americans presented a golden business opportunity. Nob Hill soon joined the ranks of the Capital’s very few gay bars and the only one that was African-American owned. It developed a reputation for its spectacular drag shows and its Sunday night Gospel concerts, and became an essential refuge for gay African-Americans in Columbia Heights. Nob Hill had a good run for the next half century before finally closing in 2004.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Randolphe Wicker Appears on the Les Crane Show: 1964. Randolfe Wicker (see Feb 3) was never afraid of drawing attention to himself as an out and proud gay man. In fact, he relished it. And when he moved to New York City and became involved in the local Mattachine Society chapter, he pushed for the group to become more visible and to publicize its activities. Some of the more conservative members of the group feared that he was pushing too hard and too fast. So Wicker got around the problem by starting a one-man group he called Homosexual League of New York. That way, if Mattachine members became too uncomfortable with his planned actions, he could just switch and do them under the guise of the alternative “group.” In 1962, he had already talked WBAI,  a listener-supported radio station, to air a 90 minute program with gay people on a panel (see Jul 15). That appearance led to listener complaints to the FCC, which finally ruled in favor of the station in 1964 (see Jan 23).

Just one week after the FCC’s ruling, Wicker found a somewhat larger audience when he appeared in WABC’s Les Crane Show to answer questions about homosexuality. True, the program aired at 1:00 a.m., and it took place about eight months before Crane’s show went nationwide, but Wicker’s appearance remains an important landmark in gay activism on the East Coast.

Washington Post Publishes “Those Others: A Report on Homosexuality”: 1965. We often talk about 1969,  the year of the Stonewall rebellion, as being the pivotal year in the history of the gay rights movement. We even divide our history into “pre-Stonewall” and “post-Stonewall” areas. But as I’ve been putting these posts together, I’ve come to the conclusion that if one had to pick just one single year in which things truly began to change for gay people, the year to really pay attention to would be 1965, as the events of that year laid the groundwork which allowed the transformation which took place after Stonewall possible. The year already started off with a bang when San Francisco police raided a New Years’ Day party attended by straight couples as well as gay (see Jan 1). For the first time, straight people witnessed first hand the police harassment that gay people experienced on a routine basis. That event would have a lasting impact on city politics. New York activist Randy Wicker had already organized America’s first public protest for gay rights in New York in 1964 (see Sep 19), and 1965 would usher in the first public protests for gay rights in front of Independence Hall (see Jul 4) in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C., (see Apr 17, May 29, Jun 26, Jul 31, Aug 28, and Oct 23).

Another important development came early in 1965, beginning on a Sunday morning, January 31, when Jean M. White, a staff reporter for The Washington Post, was able to accomplish a most remarkable thing. She published the first installment of a five part series titled, “Those Others: A Report on Homosexuality,” which was the first relatively judgment-free, balanced, mostly accurate and sympathetic overview in a major newspaper of what it meant to be gay in the 196os. The first installment began:

This series of articles would not have been written five years ago.

Then, a frank and open discussion of homosexuality would have been impossible. It was a topic not to be mentioned in polite society or public print because lit; could be distasteful, embarrassing and disturbing.

So, like mental illness and venereal disease earlier, homosexuality was stored out of sight in society’s attic, carefully hidden under a blanket of silence — except for snide jokes or oblique allusions.
Now, there is a growing awareness and concern about the problem of homosexuality — brought about in part by a more open and liberal public attitude toward sex in general.

In recent years, the subject has been debated debated in the British Parliament, discussed in statements by doctors, lawyers and churchmen and examined, if somewhat gingerly, in the public media.
The conspiracy of silence of the past nurtured myths, misconceptions, false stereotypes and feelings of disgust and revulsion. They still cloud any discussion of homosexuality. But more and more, recognition has come of a need to reappraise our laws — and our attitudes.

This series was quite unlike another series of articles published by The New York Times just two year earlier (see Dec 17). This Post series focused mainly on male homosexuals “because female homosexuality poses less of a social problem. The Lesbian has been treated more tolerantly by society and seldom comes into conflict with the law.” The first article of the series included a broad overview of the gay community — its organizations, magazines, and the difficulties both of life in the closet and outside of it. It also included a few vignettes of some of the individuals in the D.C. area. Twenty-five year old “David” represented one who lived more or less in the gay community, attending parties and having been a patient at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital “to try to change but ‘it didn’t take.” Another person described in the opening article was for some unknown reason unnamed, but an astute observer today would recognize him as Frank Kameny (see May 21), the late pioneering gay rights advocate:

The astronomer speaks articulately of civil rights and job discrimination and cites studies in anthropology and psychoanalytic theory. Seven years ago he lost his Government job because of a report that he was a homosexual.

“I decided then that I had run long enough,” ‘he recalls. “All of us have to make our own compromises in life. I decided not to hide any more.”

He fought his job dismissal in the courts. Since then he has appeared before a congressional subcommittee to speak for the local Mattachine Society and has defended homosexuality on radio and television programs.

After long months without work and then a temporary job as a technician, he finally was hired as a physicist a year ago by a private employer, who knows he is a homosexual.

This middle-class homosexual with college degrees deplores the perverts and -queens” and points out that heterosexuals also have their rapists, child molesters, sadists and neurotics. He sometimes drops in at a “gay” bar for conversation and a drink and attends the Mattachine meetings. He has sought a lasting relationship without success.

This is not the type of homosexual that the police generally meet. They know the homosexual as the predatory man who loiters in public men’s rooms. Or they see the man who compulsively seeks a quick partner in the park.

The opening installment of the article continued with a review of Kinsey’s 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and noted the early emerging debate about whether homosexuality was a mental illness. Four more installments in the series would be published over the next for days. Part two focused on the disagreements among psychologists about whether homosexuality can or ought to be “cured,” and it featured quotations from Sigmund Freud’s 1935 letter to an American mother discounting the possibility of changing her son’s sexuality (see Apr 9).  Part three introduced readers to the idea that gay people could be found throughout society and in all professions. Part four explored the legal difficulties that gay men experienced in a country where every state except Illinois and every territory and the District of Columbia criminalized gay relationships (including the North Carolina case where a man was sentenced to a minimum of twenty years — see Jan 8). Part five delved into the federal ban on hiring gay people for government jobs, and the efforts of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., to overturn that ban.

While the series was exceptionally balanced for 1965, it wasn’t entirely free of the typical hangups and prejudices of that era. For example, in Part 3, White wrote:

It is true, however, that homosexuals seem to cluster around certain “arty” professions —  the fashion industry, hairdressing, the theater and entertainment world. In fact, there seems to be some basis for the charge of “reverse discrimination” — that homosexuals hire their own kind and set up a “homosexual closed shop.”

But whatever faults may be found in the series by today’s standards, they pale when considering the abject invisibility that the gay community experienced in the 1960s. Which is why this series was so important. At that very moment, gay activists on the East Coast were already coming together to devising strategies for bringing the entire community out of the shadows.  Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), the Philadelphia-based gay rights advocate who edited the Daughters of Bilitis’s magazine The Ladder, praised it as “the most astute, as well as most extensive, coverage so far in U. S. papers. …The POST’s survey of the conflicting ‘expert’ views of homosexuality is one of the most comprehensive run-downs in print anywhere.”

Not only did most of the series appear in the front page of The Washington Post, but abbreviated versions of it appeared in several other newspapers around the country, including The Providence Sun-Journal in Rhode Island and The Chicago Sun-Times. It would wind up providing a well-timed introduction of gay people to the general public, ahead of a series of protests that would take place later that year.

[Sources: Jean M. White. “Those Others: A Report on Homosexuality.” Washington Post (February 1, 1965): A1.

Jean M. White. “Those Others — II. Scientists Disagree on Basic Nature of Homosexuality, Chance of Cure.” Washington Post (February 1, 1965): A1.

Jean M. White. “Those Others — III. Homosexuals Are in All Kinds of Jobs, Find Place in Many Levels of Society.” Washington Post (February 2, 1965): A1.

Jean M. White. “Those Others — IV. 49 States and the District Punish Overt Homosexual Acts as Crimes.” Washington Post (February 3, 1965): A1.

Jean M. White. “Those Others — V. Homosexuals’ Militancy Reflected in Attacks on Ouster in U.S. Jobs.” Washington Post (February 4, 1965): A1.

Barbara Gittings (as Gene Damon). “Cross-Currents.” The Ladder (April 1965): 19.]

“Suitcase Murderer” Found Guilty: 2005. Witnesses saw Josh Cottrell, 22, and Guinn “Ritchie” Phillips, 36, eating lunch at a restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on July 17, 2003. Seven days later, Phillips’s truck and other belongings were found abandoned in southern Indiana. The next day, two fishermen pulled a suitcase out of Rough River Lake, opened it, and found Phillips’s body inside. When police arrested Cottrell on June 27, they charged him with murder and announced they would seek the death penalty in the case. And by all rights he should have been convicted very easily: he confessed to bludgeoning Phillips to death and stuffing him into the suitcase. His own family members even testified that Cottrell planned to kill Philips because he was gay, and lured Phillips into his hotel room where the murder took place.

But in court, Cottrell deployed the gay panic defense. He testified that Phillips came to the motel room uninvited and tried to kiss him and force him into oral sex. Phillips panicked, he claimed, and bludgeoned him to death. His lawyers argued that Cottrell was within his rights to defend himself.

After deliberating for nine hours, the jury returned its verdict. They found Cottrell guilty. Of manslaughter, not murder. Phillips’s brother sized it up this way to a local newspaper: “I think they (the jury) were looking at my brother being a homosexual when they made their decision to pick the lesser charge.” The judge sentenced Cottrell to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed under the law.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Fred Karger: 1950. The political consultant and gay rights activist was largely responsible for drawing attention to the massive Mormon funding of the fight to strip LGBT Californians of their right to marry. Before becoming a gay rights advocate, he was a Republican political consultant at the Dolphin Group, where he worked in the Presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. In 2012, he decided to return to presidential politics, launching his own bid for the GOP presidential nomination. His campaign may have seemed quixotic, but Karger was serious about his goal to “open up” the Republican party and to send a message to young people to “stand up and be proud in a tough atmosphere.” He also achieved a notable first by becoming the first openly gay presidential candidate for a major political party in American history.

55 YEARS AGO: Your’s Truly: 1961.

Portia de Rossi: 1973. That’s her professional name. Another name she goes by is Portia Lee James DeGeneres. The Australian-born actress is best known for her roles as Nelle Porter on Ally McBeal and as Lindsay Bluth Fünke on Arrested Development. She married Ellen DeGeneres in 2008. While she still goes by Portia de Rossi as her professional name, she legally took DeGeneres as her last name on September 23, 2010. She became a US citizen in 2012.

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 Saturday, January 30

Jim Burroway

January 30th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 5.

Thanks to ongoing bar raids, entrapment operations and general police harassment, the risk of arrest was an ever-present worry in the gay community, making ads for bail bond agencies a not altogether uncommon feature in gay publications of the 1960s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Gay Man Falsely Arrested for “Sex Crime”: 1957. In 1955, a horrific crime took place, with the “sex slaying” of three teenage boys in Chicago.  Fourteen-year-old Robert Peterson and two of his friends, John Schuessler, 13, and John’s brother Anton, 11, had left the Peterson home on their bikes to see a move at a nearby theater one Sunday afternoon. They never returned home. Two days later, on October 18, 1955, police found their bodies on a horse bridal path in a forest preserve, nude and strangled. The Peterson-Schuessler murders sparked a media frenzy, and in the ensuing panic Chicago police conducted thousands of interviews of possible suspects. One suspect was Anton Schuesslelr, Sr., who was questioned by police, then put into a psychiatric institution and given electroshock therapy. He died of a heart attack just one month after his sons’ murders.

Fifteen months later, Chicago police had another suspect, a “good-looking, mild-mannered” thirty-nine year old engineer, William Rexroad Brooke, who was working in Iran with an oil company. On January 30, a bewildered Brooke was arrested by eighteen police and detectives, with a swarm of reporters looking on, as he walked off a KLM airliner from Amsterdam. Brooke asked detective why he was being arrested. Told that he was wanted by Chicago police, reporters heard him say, “I don’t know what for.” He then asked reporters, “What is this all about?”

Newspapers blared the story the next day under huge headlines, along with details on the Chicago Police Department’s suspicions: Brooke had worked at a metal products firm near where the boys were found, his storage shed contained newspapers which included stories about the well-publicized murder, and his apartment was in “the general area” where they boys disappeared. More to the point, they found evidence that Brooke was gay, and that was enough to clinch the deal, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever connecting him to the crime. Brooke was indicted in absentia by a Cook County grand jury and a warrant was issued for his arrest. When Brooke made his trip back from Iran, his name showed up on the passenger list and police were notified. And soon, everyone around the country knew about Brooke’s story, thanks to front page headlines that were impossible to miss.

Easier to miss was a tiny, one-paragraph Associated Press report that appeared four days later buried in the inside pages of the few papers that cared to carry it:

Suspect Cleared in Boy Killings

CHICAGO, Feb 3 (AP) — Lie detector tests have cleared a 39-year-old efficiency expert of any connection in the 1955 sex slaying of an Evanston, Ill., Boy Scout, police say William Rexroad Brooke was absolved for the killing of Peter Gorham, 12, who was found shot to death Aug 14, 1955 near Muskegon, Mich., and he also has been cleared in the strangling of three boys found Oct 18, 1955, in Robinson Woods, northwest of Chicago.

Nearly forty years later, information from an FBI informant connected to the Chicago mob ultimately led to the trial and conviction of  Kenneth Hansen, a horse livery stable worker for a Chicago mobster, for the boys’ murders. Hansen was sentenced to between 200 and 300 years.

[Source: “Seized on Plane from Europe in ’55 Deaths of 3 Chicago Boys.” Mattachine Review 3, no. 3 (March 1957): 12-13.]

 Oregon Doctors Claim Gay Cure Breakthrough: 1958. The San Francisco Examiner provided the following report:

Doctors Claim Cure for Sex Criminals

CARMEL, JAN 30. — A medical team claimed here today that homosexuals and sex fiends can be tamed down into useful, law-abiding citizens by daily doses of simple synthetic hormones. The report came from Drs. William M. Laidlaw, Donald J. Moore and Carl G. Heller of the University of Oregon Medical School.

Doctor Heller told the annual meeting of the Western Section of the American Federation for Clinical Research that he and his colleagues experimented with 55 volunteer convicts serving terms in Oregon State Penitentiary for sex crimes.

After six to nine weeks of daily treatment with progesterone, a female sex hormone, or synthetic versions of it, every convict in the group was infertile, impotent and lost all sexual desire. They stayed that way as long as they got their daily hormone pills.

Doctor Heller said the convicts were happy about the results. He reported the Oregon State parole board is deeply interested in the experiment.

The suggestion has been made that many sexual deviants and sexual psychopaths could be released from prisons if continuing daily doses of the hormones were made a condition of parole.

Of course, the article itself clamed no such cure, only that “homosexuals and sex fiends” could be “tamed down.” They were simply “de-sexed,” as one critic of the procedure put it in a letter to the Mattachine Review. But a de-sexed homosexual was good enough as far as these doctors were concerned, given that they apparently couldn’t imagine a homosexual who was already a useful, law-abiding citizen rather than a “sex fiend.” As to whether the prisoners undergoing the experiment were truly happy with the result, their happiness was likely tied to their prospects for parole.

[Source: “Doctors Claim Cure for Sex Criminals.” San Francisco Examiner (January 31, 1958). As reprinted in the Mattachine Review, 4, no. 3 (March 1958): 13-14.]

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 Friday, January 29

Jim Burroway

January 29th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, November 11, 1978, page 32.

From This Week In Texas, November 11, 1978, page 32.

As of March 2013, the formerly sumptuous disco on Lubbock’s far north side was empty and available for lease.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Greg Louganis: 1960. During the 1976 Montreal Olympics, he came in second for the tower diving behind Italy’s Klaus Dibiasi. When Dibiasi retired two years later, Louganis won his first world title and was a favorite for the 1980 Olympics. Unfortunately, that was the Moscow Olympics, which the U.S. boycotted overt the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. But in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (which the Soviets boycotted in retaliation), Louganis won his gold metals in springboard and tower diving. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he hit his head on the springboard during preliminaries, resulting in a concussion. But he went on to earn a gold during the finals.

He came out as gay in 1995 — where else? — on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and his 1996 memoir, Breaking the Surface, detailed his trials of competing as a closeted gay man. He also announced his HIV status, upon which every sponsor but one — Speedo — dropped him like a hot potato. His book was the basis for a 1997 Showtime movie by the same name starring Mario Lopez. Louganis married his partner, paralegal Johnny Chaillot, in 2013.

Sara Gilbert: 1975. Kid sister of Melissa Gilbert, Sara is perhaps best known for her role as the sardonic Darlene Conner on the ABC sitcom Roseanne, who was far and away my favorite character on the series (aside, of course, from a minor character played by a very young George Clooney in the first four seasons). Later, Sara juggled her work in Rosanne with studies at Yale where she majored in art photography, with producers accommodating her academic schedule by shooting remote segments in New York. She had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory from 2007 to 2010, when she became the co-host and executive producer of The Talk. That same year, she came out as a lesbian. She and her former partner, TV producer Allison Adler, separated amicably in 2011 after a ten year relationship and two children. She married former 4 Non Blondes frontwoman Linda Perry in March of 2014, and they welcomed a baby boy into their family last February.

Adam Lambert: 1982. Critics agreed: he had the talent to win the eighth season of American Idol, but Christian conservatives, appalled by his open sexuality, thought otherwise and mounted a phone campaign to make sure the ‘mo didn’t win. He wound up coming in second place, but his career was set. (Trivia question: does anyone remember who came in first? No fair Googling.) His first studio album, For Your Entertainment, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Subsequent releases cemented his reputation, and in 2010 he became the only American Idol contestant, so far, to headline a worldwide concert tour in the year after appearing on Idol. He’s theatrical, androgynous, and unabashedly flamboyant — in the best, gayest sense of the word. His controversial American Music Awards performance — risqué in ways that was old hat for Madonna and Britney Spears — nearly got him banned from television. ABC relented, but would only allow him to appear on The View in a pre-recorded appearance. In 2012, Lambert began touring as the lead singer for Queen in several cities across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, while his album, Trespassing, reached number one on the Billboard 200. His latest release, The Original High, debuted last summer at number three on the Billboard 200.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, January 28

Jim Burroway

January 28th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, D.C.), June 1977, page 23.

The Windward Resort started life as a classic mid-century post-war motel on Florida’s famed A1A Highway, catering to families making the exotic trip to the palm-lined beaches of North Miami Beach. By the 1970s, newer and more fashionable options abounded all over South Florida, and the Windward Resort was catering to a much more niche clientele. The property is now the site of a twin high rise condo development where prices for the larger units top out at over $7 million.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Three Year Old Murdered for Being “Soft”: 2005. Ronnie A. Paris had a hard, short life at the hands of his abusive father. He was only one year old, in 2002, when he had been admitted to the hospital for malnourishment and a broken arm and leg. The Florida Department of Children and Family Services removed Ronnie from his home and placed him in protective custody. On December 14, 2004, five days after this third birthday, he was returned to his parents. Not too long after that, Ronnie began experiencing vomiting spells, some of which twice sent him to the hospital. He had never experienced such spells while in foster care. Then on January 22, he slipped into a coma while sleeping on the couch of a family friend as his parents attended Bible study. He died six days later from brain injuries.

Ronnie’s mother later told detectives that her husband, Ronnie B, Paris, Jr., had repeatedly beaten his son, slammed him into walls, and forced him to participate in father-son boxing matches until he would shake, cry, and wet himself. Ronnie’s father did all this because he though his son was gay, so he beat him to keep Ronnie from growing up “soft.” During the trial, the medical examiner testified that he found evidences fo three separate head injuries that caused internal bruising and trauma to the brain. He also testified that little Ronnie’s vomiting spells could also have been attributed to head trauma. After three hours of deliberation, jurors convicted Ronnie B. Paris, Jr. of second degree manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, to be followed by ten years of probation.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
115 years ago: Richmond Barthé: 1901-1989. Mississippi-born Richmond Barthé spent his formative years in New Orleans, where his parish priest, Father Harry Kane, encouraged his aesthetic development as a painter. But since he couldn’t enroll in art school during his teenage years because of segregation, he remained self-taught until Kane was able to get him enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago. During his senior year, Barthé discovered sculpting and never looked back. He moved to New York, won a Guggenheim fellowship (twice), and became a celebrated figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His work explored both race and eroticism. When crime in New York began rising after the war, Barthé moved to Jamaica. With crime rising there in the 1960s, he moved to Switzerland for five years, then to Pasadena. When he moved to an apartment above a garage, the city decided to name the street after him. There, he worked on his memoirs and editioned many of his most important works, with actor James Garner being among his most important patrons. He died in 1989.

Bobbi Campbell: 1952-1984. An early AIDS activist, Campbell was the 16th person in San Francisco to be diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma, one of the more common opportunistic infections associated with AIDS. He came by activism rather simply but boldly: by simply refused to hide his face, he became known as the “KS poster boy” in 1981 when he began writing a column for the San Francisco Sentinel (see Dec 10) He gained nationwide attention on August 8, 1983 when he appeared on the cover of Newsweek holding his partner. That same year, he co-founded the People with AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement, and helped establish the Denver Principles which rejected the notion that people with AIDS (PWA) were “victims” and demanded the inclusion of PWAs in all aspects of organized responses to the epidemic, including the right to make informed decisions with regard to their own care. He died of crypytococcal meningitis, a complication from AIDS, on August 15, 1984. A week later, about a thousand mourners turned out for a memorial on a closed off street in the Castro.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 27

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay glossy lifestyle magazine, July 1974, page 64.

From David, a Florida-based gay glossy lifestyle magazine, July 1974, page 64.

It’s a Subway shop today.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Rep. Dick Armey Calls Barney Frank “Barney Fag”: 1995. It’s not easy being the biggest ‘mo in the House. In an interview with a group of radio broadcasters, House majority leader Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), he discussed the acrimonious atmosphere in the House of Representatives, which was then under the leadership of Newt Gingrich. “Newt’s a very patient fellow and able to handle a harangue going on around him better than I,” Armey said. “I like peace and quiet, and I don’t have to listen to Barney Fag — Barney Frank — haranguing in my ear because I made a few bucks off a book I worked on.”

Armey apologized to Frank when word of his remarks got out, first in person and then again on the House floor. But not without a harangue: “I take this exception especially in light of the fact that I went to the press that had the tape and explained to them in the best humor I could that I had simply mispronounced a name and did not need any psychoanalysis about my subliminal or about my Freudian predilections.” He also castigated House Democrats for focusing on what he called a “mispronunciation.” Frank wasn’t inclined to accept the apology. “I don’t think it was on the tip of his tongue, but I do believe it was in the back of his mind,” said Frank. “There are a lot of ways to mispronounce my name. That is the least common.”

Alan Cumming

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Alan Cumming: 1965. Well let’s see. He was the M.C. in the 1993 London staging of Cabaret, the evil Boris Grishenko in Golden Eye, and he had roles in Eyes Wide Shut, the Spy Kids franchise, X2, and Gray Matters, among others. He earned two Emmy nominations for his guest role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife, and he produced the Independent Spirit Award-winning Sweet Land. Where the Scottish actor once described himself as a “frolicky pansexual sex symbol for the new millennium,” he now simply says he’s bisexual. On January 7, 2012, he married his husband Grant Shaffer in New York, on the fifth anniversary of their 2007 civil partnership in London. Earlier this year, he published his autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, a memoir of growing up the son of an abusive father.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 26

Jim Burroway

January 26th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, February 1953, page 23.

When this ad appeared in ONE’s second issue in February, 1953, Long Beach’s Rendezvous Club earned the distinction of being the first business to advertise in the first nationally distributed gay magazine.

The November 1955 edition of ONE which caught the FBI’s attention.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: FBI Investigates ONE Magazine: 1956. Since its debut in January of 1952 as North America’s first nationally distributed gay publication, ONE magazine, had been testing the boundaries of acceptability simply by daring to publish something positive and supportive about homosexuality. In 1954, ONE ran afoul of the U.S. Post Office (ironically, with its October issue with the cover reading, “You Can’t Print It!”), which confiscated much of that month’s mailing and claimed it violated the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” material through the mail. ONE sued and it would eventually lead to the first positive gay rights ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court when the court reversed lower court rulings declaring the magazine obscene (see Jan 13).

But that ruling was still two years away when ONE again caught the attention of federal authorities when an article in the November 1955 issue by “David L. Freeman” asked, “How Much Do We Know About the Homosexual Male?” The author sketched a broad outline of gay culture, which he said ranged from the “Revolutionaries” on the far left and the “Tories” on the right. “The Revolutionaries,” he wrote, “can be found swishing down Hollywood Boulevard or Constitution Avenue. They have rejected society, because society has rejected them. …The Revolutionaries can also be found (if their orientation is intellectual) among the ranks of the social workers, the labor leaders, the left-wing political or religious organizations.” As for the “Tories”:

The Tories are the elegant ones who have decided to express their social hostility by being more correct than the foremost representatives of the dominant (and dominating) culture. They work for TIME magazine or the NEW YORKER. They are in the diplomatic service; they occupy key positions with oil companies or the FBI (it’s true!).

FBI Assistant Director’s handwritten note on the bottom: “I think we should take this crowd on and make them ‘put up or shut up’.” Hoover added: “I concur.” (Click to enlarge.)

That last charge — that there are gay people in “key positions” in the FBI hit a very raw nerve that reached all the way up to the director’s office. A memo from the Los Angeles field office, dated January 26, 1956, described the article in the November issue and quoted the sentence about occupying “key positions” in the FBI. The memo incorrectly identified ONE as a publication of the Mattachine Society (it was independent), which the FBI had investigated in 1953. After concluding that there “was no internal security interest,” the FBI closed that investigation at the end of that year. The memo concluded, “In view of the nature of this publication, it is believed ‘One’ should not be dignified by a reply to the completely baseless and unfounded writings as noted above.”

Clyde Tolson, the FBI’s Associate Director and J. Edgar Hoover’s right hand man (and closeted lover), disagreed, writing on the bottom of the memo, “I think we should take this crowd on and make them ‘put up or shut up’.” Hoover added his agreement: “I concur.” Clyde’s line — to “put up or shut up” — would re-appear in documents throughout the rest of the FBI’s investigation of ONE, beginning with Hoover’s order issued to Los Angeles the very next day:

Bureau has received anonymously a copy of November 1956, issue of this magazine containing an article “how much do we know about the homosexual male?” by Freeman, Circulation Manager.

Article indicated that “The Tories” composed one of the three main groups of homosexual society, and the article continued, “They work for TIME magazine or the NEW YORKER. They work for TIME magazine or the NEW YORKER. They are in the diplomatic service; they occupy key positions with oil companies or the FBI (it’s true!).”

On the basis information available, [redacted] not identifiable Bufiles. You are instructed to have two mature and experienced Agents contact [redacted] in the immediate future and tell him the Bureau will not countenance such baseless charges appearing in this magazine and for him to either “put hup or shut up.” Suair-tel results of your contact to reach the Bureau by February 1956.

HOOVER

A week later, two FBI agents carried out Hoover’s order and visited ONE’s office on February 2. There, they found Dorr Legg (who went by “William Lambert”, see Dec 15), and sent this report back to Washington along with their recommendation.

FBI memo reporting on an interview with ONE’s William Lambert (Dorr Legg), with Tolson’s handwritten note ordering a further investigation. (Click to enlarge.)

Los Angeles Airtel February 2, 1956, sets forth results of interview with William Lambert, Chairman of the Board of “One.” This interview shows that Lambert is strictly no good, and he left the impression with interviewing Agents that he had either edited or written the article appearing in the November, 1955, issue of this magazine alleging that homosexuals occupied key positions in the FBI.

Lambert was advised in no uncertain terms that the Bureau would not tolerate such baseless statements appearing in this magazine and for him either to put up or shut up. Lambert one point said, “Our attorney ([redacted, but most certainly ONE’s attorney Eric Julber] of Beverly Hills) had approved everything that goes into the magazine.” Los Angeles files on [redacted] of Beverly Hills, California, reflects he has appeared on platform with Communist Party members, and he has written editorials for a college paper defending the American Youth for Democracy (AYD). The AYD has been designated by the Attorney General pursuant to Executive Order 104501. In addition [redacted] was in contact with [redacted] of the Soviet Vice-Consulate in Los Angeles in 1946, and he told him he should see [redacted] later and an automobile registered to [redacted] was observed parked in the vicinity of a CP meeting being held in Los Angeles in 1948.

In view of the unsavory nature of this entire crowd, it is believed we should not contact [redacted] as it is not beyond the realm of possibility that this outfit, through [redacted], would endeavor to embarrass the Bureau. In any interview with [redacted] we do not have the element of surprise, and, of course, we would necessarily be taking a chance of the interview being recorded. It is noted Lambert had apparently considered taping the interview had with him, however the Agents were circumspect and it is not believed the interview was recorded.

The memo recommended that “no further action be taken.” But Tolson intervened again, in a handwritten note on the bottom of the memo: “I don’t agree. I think we should open an investigation on [redacted] and get a line on Lambert.”

For the next five months, the FBI set out investigating ONE and everyone associated with it. The first roadblock they ran into was untangling everyone’s pseudonyms. Later memos revealed more details about the Agents’ interview with Lambert, including the fact that Lambert refused to identify the article’s stated author, “David Freemen.” Freeeman’s real name was Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24), one of the Mattachine Foundation’s founders who had briefly been a member of the American Communist Party after he was honorably discharged from the army after World War II. Rowland had already been thrown out of the Mattachine Society over the new conservative leadership’s nervousness over Rowland’s background. But as of the end of February, the FBI hadn’t discovered Rowland’s identity. Hoover grew inpatient. In a memo to the head of the Los Angeles office dated March 2, he complained:

Investigation conducted by your office this far as failed to develop the information desired by the bureau. You are instructed to immediately take necessary positive investigative steps to further identify William Lambert and especially [list of names redacted] as well as other persons connected with this publication as set forth in Bulet. to your office 2-15-56.

You are instructed to afford this matter your personal attention, coordinate all the investigations, and you should submit the results to the Bureau, Attention Crime Records Section, no later than March 22, 1956.

Hoover

ONE’s FBI file grew to over 100 pages, in addition to every back issue of ONE the agents could get a hold of. Over time, agents were able to collect information on Lambert and Julber using “confidential techniques,” including surreptitious photographs, riffling through insurance and voting records, and talking with neighbors. They were also finally able to identify Rowland as the article’s author, while noting that he “is an expelled Communist Party member and still exhibits much CP thinking, which is reflected in his writings.” They also noted that Rowland had resigned from ONE in February, and they couldn’t find much damaging information that could be used against the others. Agents then considered whether they could get ONE shut down for mailing “pornographic materials” across state lines, but decided that they were restrained from doing so while ONE’s case against the Post Office was still on appeal. With no further information available, the FBI finally agreed to place ONE on “pending inactive status” until ONE’s appeals were exhausted.

[Sources: “David F. Freeman” (Chuck Rowland) “How much do we know about the homosexual male?” ONE 3, no 11 (November 1955): 4-6.

Declassified FBI files of ONE magazine and the Mattachine Society. Available online from the FBI’s “Vault” page here (PDF: 5.2MB/97 pages) and here (PDF: 2.6MB/97 pages)] The main page for the Mattachine Society’s files is here.]

Government Payments to Maggie Gallagher, Other Columnists Revealed: 2005. Howard Kurtz revealed in a Washington Post story that the Bush Administration had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to two columnists in a “pay-to-sway” scandal to promote the administration’s policies. In one case, it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Education paid columnist Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote and talk up the No Child Left Behind Initiative and to encourage other journalists and columnists to write favorable articles on the law. It was also revealed that Maggie Gallagher had accepted $41,500 to promote the Bush Administration’s marriage initiative, which called for abstinence education and premarital counseling. Gallagher responded in a rather creative way: first by defending her role in the contract (“I’m a marriage expert. I get paid to write, edit, research and educate on marriage. If a scholar or expert gets paid to do some work for the government, should he or she disclose that if he writes a paper, essay or op-ed on the same or similar subject? If this is the ethical standard, it is an entirely new standard.”), then by acknowledging that she should have disclosed the contract when she wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. “But the real truth is that it never occurred to me. … I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.” Nice work if you can get it.

Armstrong was dropped by from syndication by the Tribune Company. Today, he’s the business manager, advisor, and unofficial campaign jefe for Ben Carson’s bid for the GOP Presidential nomination. Gallagher continued writing for Town Hall as though nothing had happened. She went on to found the National Organization for Marriage in 2007 and remained its president until 2010. She also founded Culture War Victory Fund in 2011. She retired of her syndicated column in 2013.

5 YEARS AGO: David Kato Murdered: 2011. It seems like yesterday, it seems like a lifetime ago. But it was five years ago today when Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato was brutally murdered in his home. The murder took place almost four months after his photo appeared on the front page of a local tabloid as one of Uganda’s “top homos” with the tag, “Hang Them!” And the murder took place less than a month after a Ugandan Court issued a permanent ruling baring that tabloid from outing gay people on its pages. The police, before they even had a suspect, were quick to deny that homophobia had anything to do with his murder, and they maintained that position after they settled on a suspect and obtained a “confession.” To seal the deal, the alleged murderer was quickly found guilty and sentenced — in proceedings so rushed that his own lawyer didn’t know he was appearing in court. But LGBT advocates in Uganda know the real score and aren’t buying the government line. On this anniversary, it’s important to pause and remember that there are martyrs for gay rights: Harvey Milk, David Kato, and many others, known and unknown.

In honor of Kato’s memory, the David Kato Vision and Voice Award has been established to recognize those who demonstrate “courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particularly in environments where these individuals face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.” It is awarded annually on December 10, Human Rights Day.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Ellen DeGeneres: 1958. She made her own bit of history in 1997 during the fourth season of her sitcom, Ellen, when she came out publicly as a lesbian on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her character soon came out on her sitcom, and that coming out episode was one of the highest rated episodes of her series. That episode won her her first Emmy, but the show’s popularity dropped soon afterward and was cancelled. Ellen withdrew from television and returned to her roots in stand-up comedy (and taking on a voice-acting stint for the 2003 film Finding Nemo) before re-establishing herself as a popular talk show host on Emmy-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she often talks about her wife, Portia de Rossi. Her show is very popular with housewives and not a few gay men, with her popularity undoubtedly helped along with segments like this:

In 2008 at the age of fifty, Degeneres became the spokesperson for Cover Girl cosmetics. In 2012, she became the spokesperson for J.C. Penney, much to the consternation of the American Family Association, whose astroturf front organization One Million Moms is all kinds of upset because her mere presence is an affront to their manufactured moms. In 2012, Degeneres was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. And here’s some news for fans of HGTV: Ellen’s Design Challenge, a kind of a Project Runway for furniture designers, began its second season last week.

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 Monday, January 25

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Great Plains Regional Gay Rodeo program, August 14-17, 1986, page 12. (Source.)

From the Great Plains Regional Gay Rodeo program (Oklahoma City, OK), August 14-17, 1986, page 12. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Alice Mitchell Kills Freda Ward: 1892. Freda Ward was the socialite daughter of a wealthy planter and merchant. Alice Mitchell was the daughter of a retired furniture dealer. Both were well known about town, daughters of two of the best families of Memphis, Tennessee. Alice would later say that as far as she could remember, she had an “extraordinary love” for Freda. The letters the exchanged revealed, as one newspaper put it, “that Alice loved Freda as man loves woman, and Freda loved Alice as woman regards man.” According to one newspaper account,

“Twice Alice went to visit Freda’s family, during which time the two girls, as witnesses attested, showed ‘disgusting tenderness’ for each other. They were seen to swing together in a hammock by the hour, hugging and kissing each other — they hugged and kissed ad nauseum”.

Alice was ashamed of doing this in public, but Freda upbraided her for this.” Their relationship grew. Alice proposed marriage, but it appears that Freda either refused the offer or was prevented from accepting it by her family. As Freda was about to leave Memphis to board a steamboat to her family’s home town in Arkansas, Alice waylaid her and killed her on the streets of Memphis. As she later explained:

“I was in love with Freda. I could not live without her. Long ago we made a compact that if we were ever separated we should ill each other. When I found that Josie had forbidden Freda to have nothing more to do with me, I saw nothing else to do but to kill her. I took father’s razor, but told no one what I was going to do.

Newspapers around the country followed every detail of the case and trial. And since this occurred at about the time psychologists and medical professionals were beginning to understand homosexuality and lesbianism as something other than simply criminal acts, the Mitchell-Ward case was dissected in the nation’s medical journals as well. The Memphis Medical Monthly carried an extensive report of the trial in which Mitchell was judged insane.

Other medical journals weighed in on the exact nature of her insanity. It was a common nineteenth century belief that insanity was the result of “degeneracy,” which was a body of beliefs that held that human beings, through the natural course of evolution, would naturally produce children who “de-generated” some of their parent’s characteristics in an imperfect form — think of a xerox copy of a xerox copy. With ordinary evolution, these inferior copies would be disadvantaged and their genes would die out. But Degeneration Theory held that the advances and “luxuries” of modern society protected these lesser individuals and allowed them to bear further de-generated offspring (see Sep 9 for a discussion of Degeneration Theory). Degeneracy didn’t always yield blemished children: geniuses were also held as examples of a kind of positive “de-generation” (because they deviated from the norm), although evidences of their degeneracy were often found in various personality quirks or other eccentricities.

Yet it was an extraordinarily short trip from “de-generation” to degeneracy, and the Mitchell-Ward case become, literally, a textbook example. Even two decades later, as in the following passage from 1914 by Douglas C. McMurtrie from the American Journal of Urology. Citing other psychologists and sexologists who observed that “congenital sexual inversion is widespread in America, homosexual women being frequently found in societies and clubs,” McMurtrie then recalled the still talked-about Mitchell-Ward case from two decades earlier, plancing great importance on Mitchell’s mother’s mental state:

One of the most widely known cases of violent crimes due to sexual inversion in the female occurred in Memphis, Tenn., approximately in 1891, though the exact date is unknown to me. The facts were typical of sexually inverted affection and are of considerable interest. They have been reported by Comstock. [Here, he quotes a brief account of the crime by T. Griswold Comstock for the New York Medical Times in 1893]

… In accounting for the deed, Comstock, while diagnosing Alice Mitchell as a sexual “pervert,” considers her insane. It appears that her mother in her first confinement had child-bed fever and puerperal insanity, and was confined in an asylum, and that before the birth of Alice she was deranged, and this aberration continued until some time after labor. Although no actual determination was made of Alice’s mental state it was decided she was insane.

This may have been the case. In the light of present knowledge regarding this sexual anomaly, however, it may be said that no more insanity might have been involved in this crime of homosexual jealousy than is involved in analogous crimes of heterosexual jealousy which come constantly before the courts.

A full account of the case of Alice Mitchell giving the facts as proved in court and the various testimony of the medical witnesses is given in the Memphis Medical Monthly. The article also contains a report of the direct examination of the defendant. It is noteworthy that in none of the medical evidence was there any mention of there having been a sexual condition chiefly accountable for the crime.

In fact, if there is anything noteworthy about this affair, it is the fact that it wasn’t the nature of the love interest which proved to be the mark of Mitchell’s insanity during her trial, even though the lesbian aspects of their relationship were very widely reported. (Indeed, it was the main reason the case was such a sensation in the popular press.) Instead, she was judged insane because her mother was judged insane. She was the unfortunate degenerated offspring of a degenerated mother, and Mitchell’s degeneracy was seen as a more generalized sort which had little to do with her sexuality. The homosexuality of gay men, on the other hand, was often regarded as degeneracy sui generis, with one Texas physician in 1893 advocating castration for those judged to be afflicted with this “trait” so that it could not be passed on to future generations — to “nip it in the bud,” so to speak.

Degeneration theory, which provided a theoretical basis for eugenics, would eventually die with the worst excesses of the eugenics movement. People with physical, mental, emotional or other anomalies — whether those anomalies were in the direction of weakness or strength — would soon lose the tag of “degenerate.” Everyone except for gay people. For them, the last remnant of this discarded theory would live on as the name commonly used against them — degenerates — until well into the late twentieth century. And in some circles, still today.

[Sources: Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 53-58.

Douglas C. McMurtrie. “Notes on the psychology of sex.” American Journal of Urology 10, no. 9 (September 1914): 432-436. Available online via Google Books here.

F. E. Daniel “Castration of sexual perverts.” Texas Medical Journal 9, no. 6 (December 1893): 255-271

“Murder In Cold Blood: Memphis Startled by a Most Sickening Tragedy.” The Day (New London, CT., January 26, 1892): 1. Available online via Google News Archive here.

“An Odor of Blood: The Details of Freda Ward’s Murder Retold.” Aurora (IL) Daily Express (February 25, 1892): 2. Available online via Google News Archive here.

“Misfit Affection: Strange Case of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward.” Warsaw (IN) Daily Times (July 19, 1892): 1. Available online via Google News Archive here.

“Loved Like A Man: Developments in the Freda Ward Murder Case.” Warsaw (IN) Daily Times (July 20, 1892): 1. Available online via Google News Archive here.]

Oklahoma High School Students Form Klan Chapters: 1978. An estimated 112 to 132 high school students, mostly freshmen and sophomores at two high schools in northwestern Oklahoma City and the surrounding suburbs, joined teen chapters of the Ku Klux Kan. The purpose of those chapters, according to newspaper accounts, was to wage “a campaign of terror against homosexuals.” One unidentified youth said, “We are not just against blacks like the old Klan. We are against gays and the clubs that support them and are going to try to shut them down because this activity is morally and socially wrong.” Putnam City Hugh School was located just a few short miles several of Oklahoma City’s gay bars, and the boys claimed credit for an attack on patrons leaving one such establishment the previous November in which several people were injured and cars were vandalized.

Fear of homosexuals wasn’t isolated to a few high schools in the suburbs. Just a few days earlier, Rep. John Monks (D-Muskogee) had introduced a bill that he called the “Teacher Fitness Statute” in the state House of representatives. The bill would would allow public schools to fire or refuse to hire anyone who engaged in “public homosexuality activity,” which the proposed broadly defined to also include not just sexual activity, but also “advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting public or private homosexual activities in a manner that creates a substantial risk that such conduct will come to the attention of schoolchildren or school employees.” Which meant that straight teachers could be deemed unfit to teach if they said or did anything which might be construed as supporting gay rights — or, one might imaging, speaking out against an anti-gay KKK chapter in schools.

But school officials were skeptical of that the reports of student KKK chapters were true. Putnam City High School’s principal said that the news accounts could be the work of “one young man” who “has made accusations and wants publicity.” The principal of Putnam City West High School promised, “We won’t have the Klan on campus if I have any say-so.”

But an anonymous Klan spokesperson told the Oklahoma City Times, which broke the story, that the Klan had been going on “very quietly” in the Putnam City school district. One of the teens told the paper that that the chapters “have gotten instruction sheets and lots of information on the Klan from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, even on making the robes and hats.” Another said that he joined the Klan “as a joke that kind of started making sense.” As for the Klan chapter’s membership, another boy said, “The only people we won’t let in are girls, blacks, Jews or dope smokers. And we might consider Catholics if the time comes.”

As for the Teacher Fitness Statue, it would sail through the state House and Senate in lopsided votes just a few weeks later (see Feb 21). The U.S. Supreme Court finally let stand an Appeals Court ruling striking the law down as unconstitutional in 1986 (see Mar 26).

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, January 24

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, D.C.), September 1977, page 4. (Personal collection)

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 26.

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 26. (Personal collection)

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), Winter 1974, page 16.

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), Winter 1974, page 16. (Source)

Roman baths (and Greek baths before them) weren’t just places where people went to bathe. The were where the cultural and political life of the community took place. It was only natural, after all. With soap being a rare and expensive luxury, the process of bathing was time consuming, so conversations became a natural part of the experience. Over time, bathhouses (or thermae, as they were called) became more elaborate, typically with at least three pools (with hot, cold, and lukewarm water), and often featured steam and dry saunas. As the process of bathing became more elaborate, it also became much more social. Some thermae increased their social importance by adding exercise rooms, libraries, rooms for poetry readings, and small cafes. Emperors and politicians knew that building elaborate thermae was one way of gaining favor with the masses, and much of the water carried in Rome’s famed aqueducts went to supply the public baths. All of this made Rome unusually clean, with daily bathing commonplace. Which is why the baths were the epitome of clean living.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), January 1975, page 21.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), January 1975, page 21. (Source)

Which is, I’m sure, why the idea of a Roman bathhouse inspired so many gay bathhouses across the continent. Here are just a few examples, from Washington, D.C. (top), Van Nuys and Los Angeles (above center), Toronto (above right) and Rochester, New York. And I guess they were onto something. Just as the bathhouses of ancient Rome and Egypt became important social spaces for the people of that era, so, too, were they vital social spaces for gay men in a time when congregating elsewhere often proved dangerous. Not that bathhouses were particularly safe. They were often raided as well, including the Toronto Roman Bath’s successor, Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, in 1981 (see Feb 5). That raid, in which police also hit three other bathhouses on the same night, became something of a smaller Stonewall for Toronto, prompting the gay community there to organize, get involved in local politics, and ultimately help to shape a better climate for gay people across Canada.

Jerry Thacker

Jerry Thacker

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Gay Plague” Conservative Withdraws from Bush’s AIDS Panel: 2003. Could there possibly have been a more inappropriate pick for President George W. Bush’s AIDS advisory panel than Jerry Thacker? One might have imagined that the nominee who contracted the AIDS virus after his wife was infected by a blood transfusion might have been a good choice. But Thacker, a former Bob Jones University graduate and faculty member, had a web site where he presented his messages on AIDS prevention and caring for people with AIDS. Among his topics was a talk that he advertised, titled, “Help for Homosexuals,” in which he claimed to offer (via archive.org):

A message on the nature of homosexuality and how Christ can rescue the homosexual. Includes statistics on homosexual behavior, tips for ministry to those practicing this “deathstyle” and information on the homosexual movement and its political agenda.

Thacker also referred to AIDS as the “gay plague.” The web site was quickly scrubbed soon after the offending comments were discovered, but the damage was done. LGBT and HIV/AIDS advocates were furious. Carl Schmid, a Log Cabin Republican member and a board member for the Human Rights Campaign, had worked in Bush’s 2000 Presidential campaign. He said, “We need to have a scientific-based approach to the problems of HIV-AIDS and not this radical agenda he’s pushing.” Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-ND) also denounced the nomination: “Thacker’s characterization of AIDS as the gay plague and his offensive public statements about homosexuality indicate a disturbing bias that is completely at odds with the role the advisory commission should play.” But the panel’s co-chair, Tom Coburn (who would later become Republican Senator from Oklahoma), professed ignorance of Thacker’s opinions and claimed that Thacker’s views on homosexuality were irrelevant to the panel’s work.

A week after Thacker’s nomination, he withdrew is name from consideration. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer moved quickly to distance the administration from the controversy: “Those words are as wrong as they are inappropriate. And they are not shared by the President. That remark is far removed from what the president believes.” Thacker blamed his nomination’s failure on “gay radicals” in an interview two weeks later: “The primary tactic used by gay radicals is intimidation. They’re going to be in your face and they’re going to be noisy.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus, the Emperor Hadrian: 76-138. Regarded as the third of the Five Good Emperors, he became emperor in 117 just as the Roman Empire was in its prime. Peace, for the most part, was at hand, which allowed the Emperor to travel to nearly every one of the Empire’s provinces. He endeared himself as the “people’s emperor,” traveling with his troops and eating the same rations. He embark on a massive public works campaign, building roads, temples, public baths, libraries, monuments and fortifications along the frontiers, including the massive Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. He was a strong patron of the arts, he wrote poetry in Latin and Greek, he reformed the legal code with respect to slavery, and he rebuilt the Pantheon with the dome that stands to this day.

Antonous

Here’s a little-known note: Hadrian popularized beards. Before his time, Romans were clean shaven. Hadrian’s beard was inspired by his love of all things Greek: philosophy, literature, culture, and a particular young man, his love Antinous. When Antinous drowned in the Nile, Hadrian, it was said, “wept for him like a woman.” Hadrian struck coins in Antinous’s likeness and had him deified — unprecedented acts for one who was not an emperor. He founded the Egyptian city of Antinopolis in his lover’s memory, commissioned busts and statues in his likeness, built temples to him throughout his empire, and held festivals in his honor. The Cult of Antinous became very popular, particularly with a certain class of men in the empire.

Hardian did marry, to fulfill one expectation of being an Emperor, but the marriage was childless. In 136, he adopted a consul, Lucius Ceinius Commodus, that he tapped to be his successor, but Commodus died two years later. Hadrian then formally adopted Antonius Pius, on the stipulation that Antonius would adopt Marcus Aurelius and thus secure the succession of the Fourth and Fifth Good Emperors.

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 Saturday, January 23

Jim Burroway

January 23rd, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, December 19, 1973, page 6.

From the Advocate, December 19, 1973, page 6.

While we tend to think of bathhouses as mostly sexual venues — and they were — they were also important social spaces for a community that was still largely underground and without safe places to gather. And so in that light, it’s not entirely surprising that the Club Baths chain, which at its peak boasted 500,000 members at 42 locations across North America, held a convention in 1974 in Miami, complete with a Mr. Club Baths contest. Houstonians were excited to learn that fellow Texan Bruce Eden took home the top honors:

Bruce EdenOn the right is model Bruce Eden. He’s the young Houstonian who earned another honor for both himself and Houston when he was elected Mr. Club Bath International at the CBC convention in Miami. Bruce was selected from dozens of contestants from coast to coast and points beyond.

— From Contact (Houston, TX), April 1974, page 4.

Eden grew up on a ranch in San Diego, Texas near Laredo. He settled near Austin, where he became something of a minor local celebrity in the gay community. He was also active in rodeos, gay and straight, having participated in events since the age of nine. He passed away of AIDS sometime before 1992. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association has named its sportsmanship award in his honor.

Top left: From This Week In Texas, April 3, 1976; Top right: with Michael Andrews, Miss Gay America 1976, This Week in Texas, May 7, 1977. Bottom left: From This Week In Texas, January 28, 1977. Bottom right: from First Hand Events magazine of the International Gay Rodeo Association, 1989.

Top left: From This Week In Texas, April 3, 1976; Top right: with Michael Andrews, Miss Gay America 1976, This Week in Texas, May 7, 1977. Bottom left: From This Week In Texas, January 28, 1977. Bottom right: from First Hand Events magazine of the International Gay Rodeo Association, 1989.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Suicide in St. Louis: 1892. When I wrote about this suicide in 2012, I knew neither the date nor the name of the man in question. All I had was a written description of a man whose desperation over an unrequited (or a no longer requited) love led to his untimely and sad end. Charles H Hughes, editor of the Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was an early term for psychiatrist) gave a talk before the Section of Mental and Nervous Diseases at the Pan-American Medical Congress in 1893 on “Erotopathia” — among the many early terms given to homosexuality before the word “homosexual” entered the English language — in which he gave the following account:

In February of the past year (1892), a quiet, cultured and gentlemanly appearing young man committed suicide by shooting himself at his room in a hotel in St. Louis. A combination of causes probably led to the despondency which ended in the rash act. Pecuniary embarrassment may have been one of them, but the chief cause, as elicited at the Coroner’s inquest, as testified by the male friend of whom he was enamored, was that he had a morbid attachment for that friend. He wrote long letters to him teeming with endearing words. They had roomed together, but at the time of the tragedy they were rooming apart. This was his second attempt at suicide. At the time of his death he carried a locket about his neck containing the picture of the man be loved. He was an educated professional man, kindhearted and of good address.

The following letters, written in a neat hand shortly prior to, and about the time of, his death, serve to show the erotopathic condition of this young man’s mind. They reveal the ardent feeling of the anxious, disappointed lover, much the same feeling as one madly in love might normally have for his heart’s idol of the other sex, but never but unnaturally and abnormally for one’s own sex, with homicidal and suicidal impulses of maddened desperation added.

My Dear Friend: — Are you ill, angry or merely careless? I looked for my usual Thursday’s letter Saturday morning. It came not. I then felt sure you would write me on Sunday. I watched for the postman. No letter. He has been here this A. M. and still no letter. It makes me not only unhappy, but very anxious — unhappy since I am deprived of all that is left me to care for or look forward to; unhappy in the thought that I have displeased you; in suspense and anxiety lest some bodily ailment has seized that goodly frame and rendered you unable to communicate with me. If I do not hear from you in a day or so I shall be frantic and unfit for anything. I sent the stud on Thursday, which must have reached you Saturday, and not later than Monday, in which case I should have heard from you by this time.”

My Dear Friend: — I have just returned from the Cathedral, where Bishop Tuttle preached. My mind is not in a very receptive frame, so I can hardly tell anything he said. The pass was all a myth. The only pass I have is one into eternity. I even sold my dress suit and my old clothes to raise the funds to get here on. I came, intending to first kill you, then myself. I shall only make an end of my own miserable existence. My Jove for you has been my ruin. I can no more live a life apart from you than I can fly. The past month has been the test and I cannot do it. There is but one thing which could save me, and that is to pass the remainder of my life in your presence. I shall do that anyhow, for to die in your arms relieves death of half its terrors. I wish it would come to me naturally and you would have nothing to dishonor or grieve you. It is cruel in me to do this act, for it will blight your life. I should be more cruel to myself to try and live without you. You have done all but the one right and effective thing to save and make me, but it has all failed. I would gladly beg, steal, do anything — forego riches, forget friends, home, kindred, but for a life of blissful association with you. My office and outfit are all intact and you can realize something on those things. Mr. C—- H—-, XI6 M—- Avenue, will see to the things. I appreciate all you did, and the effort and sacrifice you made for me. It was not in the right direction.

“This letter to you is all I leave behind. I cannot write anything to my parents. The blow will probably kill my mother. I shudder to think of it. We might have been happy together had it not been for W—-. The W—-, your brother’s family, your other rich friends, your high social and business standing, your high ideas of morality, which you never filled — but ’tis too late, the end must come. I don’t see why God did not let me die that Saturday night. I suppose there was some purpose waiting till you had made the outlay and sacrificed so much. You see, the end is all the same. Good-by, dear I—-, I won’t wish you happiness; you will never have that again and you will follow in my footsteps sometime. Men of our natures and sins must have their punishment, and ours comes in a terrible shape. You are mine in the light of heaven and no family ties can claim you from me in death. I pity you, but oh, to be free from all this agony of separation, suspense, doubt, is so welcome. May God deal with me according to my weakness. Keep my stud as long as you live. send my watch and ring to my mother. Let my last rites be attended by as little expense as possible. A pauper cannot expect to repose in a metallic casket. I am going to bed, to sleep and gain nerve to face my fate. I have felt it must be, and since I have known you, I knew you were to be the last straw. I have Joved you better than you have ever loved or will ever be loved again. Think kindly of that love sometimes. I am unworthy, but my love for you is worth a thought. Pray for my soul. Amen.”

Much more than a sentiment of warm friendship for one’s benefactor is breathed in these epistles of passion, desperation and love, with its sequel of chagrin and suicide, without remorse for, or full appreciation of, the unnatural character of his perverted love. Though his Christian training had taught him to regard his unnatural passion as a sin.

This is why I love BTB readers. Soon after this appeared on a 2012 Daily Agenda, BTB reader John Manion wrote to me after having sleuthed out the following information:

I noticed your St Louis suicide story, it sure caught my interest and I wanted to know a little more about those involved. I am into genealogy and I took it as a challenge to find out their names. I found more than I expected and got a little carried away, but, I am stopping here. I am forwarding the items to BTB. The following is from online sources (genealogybank.com, ancestry.com, google books, etc)

Dr Hughes lived in St. Louis and may have seen the letters firsthand. He states in your column that Breedlove and Judson roomed together for a while, which is something I do not think I have seen in the news, so maybe he talked with some of the people involved. There is a sketch of Dr Breedlove.

The date of the death was reported in the newspapers of the day as happening in the morning of Feb 23 1892 in St Louis at the Hurst’s Hotel. Between 8 and 8:30. The story was in many papers from coast to coast. The man who died was Dr. Charles Breedlove, a young dentist of age 28, born in 1864, a graduate of the University of Maryland. He was single. Dr Breedlove was the last of 4 children his parents had, the other 3 all died in early life and his family hails from the south. Of course, the family was completely surprised but supportive of their son, but did not know he was unhappy. His body was sent home to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where his family lived. His father was a medical doctor. His parents died in 1906, within a few months of each other. Charles Breedlove’s friends from Baltimore thought he was not sad and certainly slandered by Prof Judson.

The man he wrote the letters to was Isaac Judson, born in 1853. They had met in Sept of 1891 and became fast friends. He was 38 and single. He was a Yale graduate and spoke at his commencement ceremonies during his graduation. His dad went to Yale too and both were members of Skull & Bones. He was a professor of Greek and Latin at the St Louis High School. His family hails from the Northeast. He was suspended from teaching for a few days until a special committee could review the case. They exonerated him from any blame in the situation and allowed him to continue his profession “without prejudice”. After the suicide he stayed in St Louis until at least 1920, working as the Head Assistant in the School. He was always single up to the 1920 census, his last one. After that he returned to New York, and died there in 1926. His funeral notice does not mention family members. He was the youngest of 4 children, with one surviving brother.

Breedlove waited for him to arrive at the hotel, walk into the room, handed him a letter. Judson was reading it and behind him Breedlove shot himself in the head. Breedlove was wearing a charm around his neck, when opened was a picture of Judson. Breedlove’s letters gave the story a life it would not have had. His family and friends believed Prof Judson, had he cared enough, would have kept the letters private. That may not have been an option, as at least one other letter was found by the medical examiner.

Judson consulted a Dr Ware (he is a dentist!!) about the feelings Charles was having, and Judson didn’t understand what was going on. Judson “seemed horrified” as Dr Ware explained what it means. Judson told Dr Ware he had “never before heard of such a thing”. Judson “then resolved to throw Breedlove aside, and asked me the best way to do it.”

Dr Ware continued “Breedlove came to me once for treatment. When he offered to pay me I declined to take his money…..a few days later…we went to the theater together. I did not like the man from the start.”

Poor guy!

Prof Judson had a roommate. This is the one Breedlove was “intensely jealous” of, Prof Herbert A Wheeler, of Washington University of St Louis. His statement is Judson was introduced to Dr Breedlove last September by a mutual friend. “the two soon grew to be fast friends and frequent visits were made by them to one another’s boarding houses.”

Professor Wheeler was born in Brooklyn in 1859 Wheeler graduated in 1880 from the Columbia College School of Mines. Herbert A Wheeler got married at age 66. It was his first marriage. He did not have any children listed at age 71, the 1930 census. He died in March 11 1950 in St Louis County. He was the youngest of 5 children.

Judson taught school in Brooklyn, from 1877 to 1880.

John also sent a wealth of newspaper clippings and other documents, and he created a public family tree page at Ancestry.com in order to make this information accessible for other historians and genealogists.

[Original source: Charles H. Hughes. “Erotopathia — Morbid eroticism.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available via Google Books here.]

TIME Film Review Blasts “Victim” As “A Plea for Perversion”: 1962. The British Film Victim featured a plot steeped in homosexual blackmail. Starring Dirk Bogarde (see Mar 28) as a lawyer seeking to break up a blackmail ring after his gay client commits suicide, the 1961 film brought to mass audiences a key danger that gay people faced: “A law which sends homosexuals to prison is a charter for blackmail.” The film had been released in Britain in August of 1961, but because was barred from U.S. theaters because the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America’s (MPPDA) standards prohibited films with homosexual content.

The MPPDA changed its code five weeks later (see  Oct 3), and Victim saw its U.S. premiere on February 5, 1962. In a film review two weeks later, Time made it clear that they didn’t like it one bit:

Victim has a neat plot, deft direction by Basil Dearden, and the sort of grum good manners one expects of the British in these trying situations. It also has a careful performance by Bogarde, and it pursues with eloquence and conviction the case against an antiquated statute.

But what seems at first an attack on extortion seems at last a coyly sensational exploitation of homosexuality as a theme —and, what’s more offensive, an implicit approval of homosexuality as a practice.

Almost all the deviates in the film are fine fellows—well dressed, well spoken, sensitive, kind. The only one who acts like an overt invert turns out to be a detective.

Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an ass, a dolt or a sadist. Nowhere does the film suggest that homosexuality is a serious (but often curable) neurosis that attacks the biological basis of life itself. “I can’t help the way I am,” says one of the sodomites in this movie. “Nature played me a dirty trick.” And the scriptwriters, whose psychiatric information is clearly coeval with the statute they dispute, accept this sick-silly self-delusion as a medical fact.

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 Friday, January 22

Jim Burroway

January 22nd, 2016

EMPHASIS MINE:
The Russian biologist Ilya Mechnikoff of the Pasteur Institute of Paris tackled a raging controversy in 1907:

Ilya_MechnikovA large number of people, amongst them even men of science, regard as immoral any attempt to prevent to spread of venereal diseases. Recently, in connection with the investigations in the action mercurial ointment as a means of preventing syphilis, members of the Faculty of Medicine in France made a public protest, declaring that it would be “immoral to let people think that they could indulge in sexual vice without danger,” and that it was “wrong to give the public a means of protection in debauch.” None the less, other men of science, equally serious, were convinced that they were performing an absolutely moral work in attempting to find a prophylactic against syphilis which would preserve many people, including children and other innocent persons who, if no preventive measures existed, would suffer from the terrible disease. Such examples show the reader what confusion exists in the problem of morality…

…In the question of the prevention of syphilis, the moral problem is still more easy to settle. … The certainty of safety from this disease might render extra-conjugal relations more frequent, but if we compare the evil which might come from that with the immense benefit gained in preventing so many innocent persons from becoming diseased, it is easy to see which side the scale dips. The indignation of those who protest against the discovery of preventive measures can never either arrest the zeal of the investigators or hinder the use of the measures. This example again shows that reasoning is necessary in the solution of most moral questions.

— Dr. Elie Metchnikoff (sic). The Prolongation of Life. Trans. P. Chalmers Mitchel (New York: GP Putnam’s Sons, 1910 edition): 302 and 304.

Some questions never stay answered. The objections to preventing syphillis a hundred years ago echo again today with anti-gay activists’ objections to the HPV vaccine or some of the objections raised by others to PrEP. Metchnikoff, by the way, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his discovery of phagocytes and their role in the immune system.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, April 29, 1974, page 27.

The Bike Stop would later open another location at 381 3rd Avenue. That one became known as the Bike Stop East, and the 75th Street location became the Bike Stop West. The bar manager, known as “the Emerald Queen” for the emerald rings he wore, claimed to be Tab Hunter’s half brother. The Bike Stop East today is a sushi bar. I’m not sure what’s going on with the original location.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Bicycle in the Treatment of Homosexuality: 1892. In the late 1800s, the entire country was swept up in a massive bicycling craze. Today, we tend to think of bicycling today as a hobby or recreation, at least outside of a few densly-populated urban centers. But in the late 1800s, people quickly discovered what today’s urban dwellers already know: it was an amazingly practical, efficient, cheap and speedy way of getting around. Before the bike came along, transportation was either by horse (cumbersome and expensive) or by foot (slow). By 1885, over 400 bicycle factories were working non-stop to keep up with demand. That year alone, Americans bought 2 million bikes, one for every 27 people in the country.

Bicycling also had the added benefit of being healthy exercise. And so it should come as no surprise that it would inspire doctors to find novel prescriptions for their patients’ ailments. Dr. Graeme M. Hammond of New York City wrote to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease about the new contraption’s ability to calm his patient’s nervous disorders. He presented thirteen cases, which included “one of sexual perversion, and the thirteenth case was one of abnormally developed sexual appetite”:

Dr. Graeme Hammond

Dr. Graeme Hammond

CASES XII. and XIII. both suffered from abnormal sexual appetites. Case XII. a young man, twenty-four years of age, had observed for the past year a gradually increasing desire for members of his own sex. He had been able to control his appetite so far, but was fearful lest it should finally overcome him and lead him to perpetrate acts which were naturally abhorrent to him. Case XIII. was a man, thirty years of age, whose naturally vigorous sexual appetite had been fed by indulgence, till it seemed as if the gratification of his desires was his only object in life.

I have observed during my twenty years experience among athletes, that physical fatigue is antagonistic to the sexual appetite, and that men who devote their lives to the cultivation of their physical strength are seldom, if ever, immoderate sexually, and during the periods of active training are often abstemious simply from lack of desire. Energy, which, in others might be expended sexually, is in them consumed by hard physical work. It has, therefore, been my custom in those cases, in whom I have considered it advisable to diminish or to abolish the sexual appetite, to prescribe severe and fatiguing exercise in conjunction with suitable medicinal treatment. I have found nothing more serviceable than the bicycle to accomplish this object. It should be used daily, preferably in the afternoon, and the patient should be directed to ride long distances at a rapid rate of speed, not carrying it to such an extent as to produce exhaustion, yet sufficiently so to induce well-marked fatigue.

Both of these patients have repeatedly told me that a hard ride would invariably abolish all sexual desire, even if the appetite was at its strongest just before the ride was taken. Of course, medicinal treatment was administered in both instances; but there can be no doubt that their recovery was hastened and facilitated by the hard physical labor they were subjected to by the use of the bicycle.

Paging NARTH…

[Source: Graeme Hammond. “The bicycle in the treatment of nervous diseases.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 17, no. 1 ( January 1892): 36-46.]

100 YEARS AGO: V.D. As Retribution for Illicit Intercourse: 1916. Today’s history item goes to show that the more things change, the more things stay the same. Through much of the first decades of the AIDS crisis, moralistic preachers, pundits and politicians described the fatal disease as divine punishment for what they saw as illicit behavior. In 1983, for example, New York Post Columnist Pat Buchanan wrote, “The poor homosexuals… they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.” (See May 24)

Winfield Scott Hall

Winfield Scott Hall

It’s that phrase — “awful retribution” — which is as ignorant is it is memorable, even some three decades later. But it’s hardly original. In 1916, Dr. Winfield Scott Hall, professor of physiology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, published a book, Sexual Knowledge, “for the instruction of young people, young wives and young husbands… on the best way and the best time to impart sexual knowledge to boys and girls.” The book was published under a copyright held by The International Bible House, and it proved to be as ignorant and moralizing as anything Buchanan has ever written. The concern then, of course, wasn’t AIDS, but gonorrhea and syphilis, two sexually transmitted diseases for which there were no easy cures. And so avoiding them in the first place was an important priority. Condoms were known to as an effective barrier to transmission, and there were a variety of other remedies which were marketed as prophylactics. But Hall, in Sexual Knowledge, wrote that the only true prevention was adherence to marriage vows:

Nature has devised a retribution for illicit intercourse in the form of venereal disease. If the parties observe fidelity to their marriage vows, venereal disease is experienced in wedlock only on very rare occasions, and then through some accidental infection, as from contact with some public utensil, as a public water closet, a public towel, or a drinking cup. So rare is this unfortunate accident, however, that we may say that intercourse in undefiled wedlock results normally in pleasure and gratification to both parties; while intercourse out of wedlock, or illicit intercourse, is destined, as a rule, to be visited with retribution.

Mind you, this was a professor at Northwestern University’s medical school, one of the largest and most prestigious institutions in the Midwest. Dr. William J. Robinson, who was a physician, sexologist, birth control advocate, and editor of the American Journal of Urology and Sexology, exploded with fury in the January 1916 edition of his journal. Quoting the first sentence from the passage above, Robinson raged:

William J. Robinson

William J. Robinson

I wish I possessed a pen sufficiently sharp and vitriolic and a vocabulary sufficiently rich and varied, to characterize properly this sentence, to brand it as it deserves to be branded.

…It isn’t sufficient to characterize it merely as a stupid falsehood; the injury of such statements is much greater than one would casually conceive; they have a further reaching significance in the fact that they tend to loose, illogical thinking and lead to false ideas about Nature in general. Coming from a scientist such a statement is nothing less than a crime. Just think of what the sentence means: in order to discourage men from illicit sexual relations or to punish them for having indulged in ante-matrimonial or extra-matrimonial relations, Nature has designedly, purposely, created the gonococcus and the spirocheta pallida. So thoughtful, so solicitous is Nature about Man’s morality, so deeply interested is she that men should live in strictly monogamic marriage only (which, by the way, everybody except a Professor of Physiology knows is an institution of only comparatively recent origin), that she has deliberately and purposely devised a retribution in the form of gonorrhea and syphilis for all those who dare to indulge in illicit, i. e., natural sex relations! Any union sanctioned by priest or magistrate is to be blessed, happy and free from any disease or disharmony, any union not s0 sanctioned is to be punished by venereal disease. And this is Nature’s deliberate retribution, and so says a scientist, a Professor of Physiology, who is supposed to instruct and develop the thinking powers of the young!

Venereal disease is Nature’s retribution for illicit intercourse. And what is measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria a retribution for? What is consumption, cancer, heart disease, Bright’s disease, a retribution for?

Robertson was just getting warmed up. To drive home the sheer ridiculousness of Hall’s “retribution” thesis, Robertson demanded that Hall’s statement be brought to its most logical conclusion:

I believe in logic to a finish. If it be reprehensible to teach people the use of venereal prophylactics because such knowledge circumvents Nature and destroys the deterrent effect of venereal disease, then it is also reprehensible, nay even criminal, to treat venereal disease, and every venereal specialist is a criminal, because by his skill in curing venereal disease, which is the direct result of illicit intercourse, he circumvents Nature, minimizes the stings of the punishment and thus directly encourages immorality. I am not joking. I am simply logical. And if we believe that Nature has devised venereal disease as a retribution for illicit intercourse, then it stands to reason that any attempt to cure venereal disease, to free men from Nature’s punishment, is a sin against Nature.

Here is the situation. A man knows that there is such a thing as venereal disease; still, prompted by the imperiousness of his instinct, he takes the risk with the conscious or unconscious thought that if he is unfortunate enough to contract the disease he will go to a specialist who will cure it. But suppose there were no such a thing as a venereal specialist? Suppose the treatment of venereal disease were made a criminal offence? Can’t you see that the fear of venereal disease would exert its deterrent effect in a thousand times stronger measure than it does now? If a man were sure that if he contracted gonorrhea or syphilis or chancroids, that he would have to carry the disease for the rest of his life, that not only would there be no hope of any cure, but that he would get no relief, don’t you agree with me that such a man would hesitate much more than he does now, before subjecting himself to the risk of venereal infection? Of course you do. Q. E. D.

We thus reach the logical, the unassailable conclusion that if Nature devised venereal disease as a retribution for illicit intercourse, then it is not only criminal to teach the use of venereal prophylactics, as is now done so commonly in the armies and navies of the world, including those of the United States, but it is just as criminal, in fact more so, to treat venereal disease in any form. If a man wants to be a criminal and wants to break Nature’s laws against illicit intercourse, then let him bear the full consequences, and every man who wants to save him from Nature’s punishment, or wants to cure him after he has been punished, is accessory to the crime.

How does Professor Hall and those who believe with him like this logically unassailable conclusion?

[Sources: Winfield Scott Hall. Sexual Knowledge (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co., 1916): 129-130. The passage can be read online via Google Books here.

William J. Robinson. “Venereal disease as a retribution for illicit intercourse.” American Journal of Urology and Sexology 12, no. 1 (January 1916): 24-29. Robinson’s article can be read online via Google Books here.]

Portrait of Francis Bacon, 1617, by Frans Pourbus the younger.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sir Francis Bacon: 1561-1626. The philosopher, essayist, author, jurist, statement and scientist is known as the creator of empiricism, which insisted that knowledge must come from direct experience and evidence rather than traditions, intuitions or religious beliefs. Bacon further honed those theories into a disciplined approach to scientific method which became known as the Baconan methond or, more simply, the scientific method.

Bacon’s career began in law, first as a barrister and then as a member of Parliament, where he became known as a reformer and an advocate against religious persecution. But his career stalled under Queen Elizabeth I, and he found himself mired in debt. When James I ascended to the thrown, Bacon’s prospects improved. He also, at the age of 48, finally married Alice Barnham. His close relationship with the gay James I was fruitful, as Bacon was awarded the office of Solicitor General, then Attorney General, then Lord High Chancellor, the highest post in government aside from the King himself, all within a decade. But his public career ended in 1621 when after falling into debt, he was charged by Parliament with 23 counts of corruption. He was fined £40,000 and sent to the Tower of London at the king’s pleasure. Again, his closeness with the King came in handy as he was released days later with James I covering the fine.

During Bacon’s downfall, there was considerable speculation about his private life and his love for “very effeminate-faced youth,” and Welsh male servants. The Puritan MP Sir Simonds D’Ewes wrote in his diary on the very day of Bacon’s censure by Parliament:

The favour he had with the beloved Marquis of Buckingham emboldened him, as I learned in discourse from a gentleman of his bedchamber, who told me he was sure his lord should never fall as long as the said Marquis continued in favour. His most abominable and darling sinne I should rather burie in silence, than mencion it, were it not a most admirable instance, how men are enslaved by wickedness, & held captive by the devill. For wheeras presentlie upon his censure at this time his ambition was moderated, his pride humbled, and the meanes of his former injustice and corruption removed; yet would he not relinquish the practice of his most horrible & secret sinne of sodomie, keeping still one Godrick, a verie effeminate faced youth, to bee his catamite and bedfellow, although hee had discharged the most of his other household sevants: which was the moore to bee admired, because men generallie after his fall begann to discourse of that his unnaturall crime, which hee had practiced manie yeares, deserting the bedd of his Ladie, which hee accounted, as the Italians and the Turkes doe, a poore & meane pleasure in respect of the other; & it was thought by some, that hee should have been tried at the barre of justice for it, & have satisfied the law most severe against that horrible villanie with the price of his bloud; which caused some bold and forward man to write these verses following in a whole sheete of paper, & to cast it down in some part of Yorkehouse in the strand, wheere Viscount St. Alban yet lay:

Within this sty a *hogg doth ly,
That must be hang’d for Sodomy.

(*alluding both to his sirname of Bacon, & to that swinish abominable sinne.)

But hee never came to anye publicke triall for this crime; nor did ever, that I could heare, forbeare his old custome of making his servants his bedfellowes, soe to avoid the scandall was raised of him, though hee lived many yeares after his fall in his lodgings in Grayes Inne in Holbourne, in great want & penurie.

With his career in government over, Bacon turned to writing and conducting scientific research. He wrote New Atlantis, a utopian fiction which set out his ideals about the best way to organize society; Novum Organum, in which he discussed the organization of knowledge; and The Advancement of Learning, where he argued for empirical research instead of supposition and superstition. In 1626, his commitment to empiricism may have been a factor in his death. To test whether freezing meat would preserve it, he went out in a blizzard and stuffed a dead chicken with snow. As he wrote while on what would turn out to be his death bed, “As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three.” He died of pneumonia a month later on April 9, 1626.

 Elaine Noble: 1944. Before Harvey Milk won political office in San Francisco, there was Elaine Noble in Boston. She won her Massachusetts state House of Representatives seat in 1974, becoming the first non-incumbent “avowed homosexual” to be elected to public office. It was a nasty campaign from beginning to end: her windows were shot out, her car was vandalized, and windows were smashed at her campaign headquarters. As she later recalled, “I was elected in a largely Irish-Catholic town. I was elected in spite of being gay. In the height of desegregation in Boston, I was riding on the buses with children of color. The gay community was just as racist as the straight community. So I had a lot of issues around race… There was a level of animosity in all strata of society against homosexuality.”

Despite that animosity, she won 59% of the vote. She did it by focusing on the things people in her district cared about: crime, health care, housing for the district’s many elderly residents, and the neglect in city services.

But the harassment continued after she took office. “One day, I was walking to the State House and there was a guy, 85 years old, and he walked up and said, ”Rep. Noble.’ And I reached up to shake his hand and he spit on me. And then I turned around and he started doing his diatribe. I walked all the way home, showered and changed my clothes. So, even walking to work or riding my bike to work was not terribly safe.”

She not only had to deal with obscene profanities, she once found human feces left in her desk. But when she stood for re-election two years later, she won with almost 90% of the vote. In 1977, she was part of the first delegation of gay men and lesbians invited to the Jimmy Carter White House to discuss issues important to the LGBT community (see Mar 26). Being such an important “first” took its toll on her though, and she decided against running for re-election in 1978:

My phone was ringing constantly from people all over the country who had very frightened voices. There were people all over the country calling and asking if I would come and speak. They’d say, “Well, you have a responsibility to a bigger constituency.” I was pulled in a thousand different ways. It was not going to have a happy ending and I was smart enough to know that. I thought, “Well, I’ve done my best. It’s time for me to move on to the next step in my own life. I’ve paid my dues.”

Since then, with the exception of an occasional interview, she has mostly been living a considerably quieter private life.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, January 21

Jim Burroway

January 21st, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From California Scene, Fall 1973, page 36.

From California Scene, Fall 1973, page 36.

The Clubhouse was located within walking distance of Pasadena City College and the California Institute of Technology (and it was within a half mile of the Fuller Theological Seminary, where future anti-gay activists Paul Cameron and George Rekers would teach at the seminary’s School of Psychology a few years later). I can’t tell if the original building is the same one as the one standing at that address today. But if it is, the Clubhouse’s address now looks like it’s occupied by a vintage lighting store.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
50 YEARS AGO: Time Magazine’s “The Homosexual In America”: 1966. An relatively small, unsigned two-page article which, given that it appeared in a popular magazine, shows us how gay people really were viewed in the U.S. in the mid-1960s:

It used to be “the abominable crime not to be mentioned.” Today it is not only mentioned: it is freely discussed and widely analyzed. Yet the general attitude is, if anything, more uncertain than before. Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity — but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him.

In the second paragraph, Time provides some examples of that ambivalence that straight society had toward gay people:

The latest Rock Hudson movie explicitly jokes about it, Doubleday Book Shops run smirking ads for The Gay Cookbook, and newsstands make room for “beefcake” magazines of male nudes.

It’s hard to know whether Time indulged in some gay-baiting with Rock Hudson, but that line almost certainly raised a few eyebrows in Hollywood. The article went on:

But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts. Women and homosexual men work together designing, marketing, retailing, and wrapping it all up in fashion magazines. The interior decorator and the stockbroker’s wife conspire over curtains. And the symbiosis is not limited to working hours. For many a woman with a busy or absent husband, the presentable homosexual is in demand as an escort — witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm’s length. …

On Broadway, it would be difficult to find a production without homosexuals playing important parts, either onstage or off. And in Hollywood, says Broadway Producer David Merrick, “you have to scrape them off the ceiling.” … [I]n the theater, dance and music world, deviates are so widespread that the sometimes seem to be running a kind of closed shop.

As the article continues, the ugliness grows. Time cited a Los Angeles psychiatrist who declared homosexuals “failed artists, and their special creative gift a myth.” Time held gay people responsible for plays depicting “the degradation of women and the derision of normal sex. … They represent a kind of inverted romance, since homosexual situations as such can never be made romantic for normal audiences.” And Time projected its obsessions with sex onto gay people:

Even in ordinary conversation, most homosexuals will sooner or later attack the ‘things that normal men take seriously.’ It does not mean that homosexuals do not and cannot talk seriously; but there is often a subtle sea change in the conversation: sex (unspoken) pervades the atmosphere.

It was at this point when Time turned to the notorious psychologist of the 1950s, Edmund Bergler, who, though dead for four years, supplied the following from a book he wrote ten years earlier:

The late Dr. Edmund Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals, including inner depression and guilt, irrational jealousy and a megalomaniac conviction that homosexual trends are universal. Though Bergler conceded that homosexuals are not responsible for their inner conflicts, he found that the conflicts “sap so much of their inner energy that the shell is a mixture of superciliousness, face aggression and whimpering. Like all psychic masochists, they are subservient when confronted by a stronger person, merciless when in power, unscrupulous about trampling on a weaker person.”

It was all there: gay people were “not like everybody else. They were “anxiously camouflaged,” “catty,” “megalomaniacal,” “supercilious,” “conspiring,” “wimpy,” “camp,” “psychic masochists,” “irrationally jealous,” “beset by inner depression and guilt,” “pathetic,” suffering from “a disabling fear of the opposite sex,” trapped in “a case of arrested development,” “subservient around strangers,” “merciless around those weaker than them,” “antagonistic toward heterosexuals,” “mocking of heterosexuals,” “inferior to heterosexuals” and, yes, conspiring over curtains while also nursing their “constant tendency to prowl or ‘cruise’ in search of new partners” while “refus(ing) to accept the full responsibilities of life.” And Time’s concluding remarks were nearly indistinguishable from what we regularly hear today from the likes of Peter LaBarbera, Bryan Fischer, Scott Lively, or the minions at the Family “Research” Council:

Lack of procreation or of marriage vows is not the issue; even Roman Catholic authorities hold that an illicit heterosexual affair has a degree of “authentication,” while a homosexual relationship involves only “negation.” Roman Catholic thought generally agrees that homosexuality is of and in itself wrong because, as New York’s Msgr. Thomas McGovern says, it is “inordinate, having no direction toward a proper aim.” Even in purely nonreligious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of sexual faculty and, in the worlds of one Catholic educator, of “human construction.” It is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste — and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.

The gay community’s reaction was biting. An unsigned commentary in the Daughters of Bilitis’ The Ladder (possibly by pioneering activist Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who was the magazine’s editor at the time) read, in part:

In its final frenzied paragraph TIME shows its Catholic petticoats, TIME rolls religious, psychiatric, and plain bourgeois prejudice into one big mudball which it slings about, hoping to blacken homosexuality forever… TIME calls homosexuality “a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, 11 Ditto for TIME’s essay on the subject.

The Ladder also quoted from a New York psychologist, Fritz Fluckiger, who had spoken at a DOB meeting: “They are famous for having a large research staff — and indeed, they have found every single cliche you can think of, to put in that essay.”

The following month, Gittings’s partner, Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5), writing as Kay Tobin, quoted Dr. Isadore Ruben, publisher of Sexology magazine, who said that Time ordinarily prides itself in being up-to-date on whatever it covers. “But if this is so, then I am forced to conclude that if they are not ignorant, the editors of this essay are intellectually dishonest, motivated by prejudice, and guilty of deliberate omission and distortion.” That same issue also published three letters which had been sent to Time’s editor that the magazine declined to publish. Naturally, it was the letter from Frank Kameny (see May 21, founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C) which was the most forceful:

Instead of a mature, fair, objective assessment of the issue of homosexuality, divorced from ancient prejudices, pre- (sic) and misconceptions, and intolerances, we have a venomous, petulant polemic, suitable for a second-rate conservative publication.

From its stereotyping of “the homosexual” in the same invalid fashion as that in which others type “the Negro” or “the Jew,” to its choice as a major “authority” of a man (Bergler) whose views are discredited and disavowed even by his own professional colleagues, TIME has remained in the millenia-old intellectual and emotional rut on this question.

Instead of making a skeptical examination of the claims of modern psychiatry and finding that they are based upon shabby, slipshod science, including poor sampling techniques, built-in conclusions, and armchair theorizing about the nature of homosexuality, TIME swallows these claims hook, line, and sinker.

…The concluding three sentences are an unwarrantedly vicious attack upon a sincere effort to improve the status of a maligned and persecuted group of people and to gain for them the dignity to which all human beings have the right to aspire. Those sentences are the voice of a closed mind, of a mind which clearly has pre-judged, is not open to change, and is therefore in the most fundamental sense, prejudiced.

[Sources: Unsigned. “The homosexual in America” Time (January 21, 1966): 40-41. Available online with subscription here.

Unsigned. Column: “Cross-currents.” The Ladder 10, no. 6 (March 1966): 18.

Kay Tobin. “A rebuke for TIME’s pernicious prejudice.” The Ladder 10, no. 7 (April 1966): 20-22.

Franklin E. Kameny. From “Letters TIME didn’t print.” The Ladder 10, no. 7 (April 1966): 22-23.]

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?

Newer Posts | Older Posts