WITNESS: Texas State University Campus Sees Flyers Calling For “Arrest and Torture” of “Deviant University Leaders”

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2016

TSU Flyer

Second page of the flyer. Click to enlarge

Second page of the flyer. Click the image to enlarge. You can also see an image of the flyer’s third page here.

A flyer is circulating around Texas State University at San Marcos calling for tar-and-feather vigilante squads to “arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this Diversity Garbage.” According to Austin’s KXAN:

The next page of the flyer begins with “Diversity?” The writer calls for predators, like snakes and piranhas, to be placed in the Rio Grande River to stop illegal immigrants. The message goes on to say “why not re-purpose our nuclear site radiation trash into the Mexican facing side of the wall to at least sterilize all those who try to dig under or climb over.”

Students are asked in the flyer to clog school toilets to send a message to university leaders. “Here’s what I think of your ‘diversity’ ideology —- overflowing all over your floor,” states the flyer.

The last page delves further into the writer’s problem with diversity claiming it is a code word for “white genocide.” The message concludes saying “diversity is just another way of wanting someone else to give you something you don’t deserve — in this case by the color of your skin you are ‘entitled.’”

University police are investigating. A University spokesperson confirmed to the San Antonio Express that the flyers were ere hung up in “several” campus facilities and have been removed.

TSU president Denise M. Trauth issued a statement calling for “constructive dialogue” to “better understand that which causes divisions among us.”

TSU is located about halfway between Austin and San Antonio. Students had been protesting Trump’s election in a free speech zone on campus.

WITNESS: Michigan Junior High Students Formed “Wall” To Block Minorities

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2016

dewittjrhighStudents in DeWitt Junior High School, just north of Lansing, Michigan, formed a human wall to block minority students from getting to their destinations on Wednesday morning following the election:

DeWitt resident Corina Gonzalez told the State Journal that Maliah Gonzalez, her seventh-grade daughter, was targeted in the third incident.

“She attempted to get to her locker, and there were some boys blocking the locker,” she said. “And they were chanting things such as ‘Donald Trump for president; let’s build the wall; let’s make America great again; you need to go back to Mexico.'”

Corina Gonzalez said her daughter, who is Mexican-American, was with two or three Latino friends when the incident happened.

According to MLive:

Gonzalez says she met with school officials twice on Wednesday to discuss the incident involving her daughter, but is not happy with how the district has handled its investigation.

“You can never take back what’s been done to her. You can’t take back that she’s endured racism at the age of 12,” Gonzalez said.

During the meetings, Gonzalez says school officials confirmed they have identified some of the people who made racist comments to other students, but would not share with her what disciplinary actions have been taken.

Another parent of an Asian-America student reported that her daughter had been told that she should be deported. That parent told MLive that she hadn’t come come forward about her daughter’s experience because she didn’t think the school district would handle the situation properly. DeWitt Public Schools Superintendent John Deiter responded yesterday evening with a statement: “We plan to address them very specifically, and we will also address them broadly to prevent further incidents and to make sure that all of our students feel safe and accepted at school.”

White Nationalists Celebrate, KKK To Hold Trump Victory Parade in North Carolina

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2016

Screen shot of the KKK's "Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade" announcement. (No link)

Screen shot of the KKK’s “Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade” announcement. (No link/Click to enlarge)

On November 2, the KKK officially endorsed Donald Trump, making its official newspaper one of just a tiny handful of papers to endorse him. The Trump campaign swiftly disavowed the endorsement, after having learned a lessen last February when The Donald demurrred when he was asked about former KKK leader David Duke’s endorsement.

Nevertheless, Trump’s race-bating messages and anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim sentiments have made him the darling of white nationalist groups across the country. And since Trump’s surprise win on Tuesday night, white nationalists have been dizzy with excitement. Duke tweeted, “Donald J. Trump now has the chance to become one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived – we have the moral high ground.” And Andrew Anglin wrote in his neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, “This has been the best year and a half of my life. We have won so much. And it has led to the ultimate win. The battle is far from over. Much, much, much work to be done. But the White race is back in the game. And if we’re playing, no one can beat us..”

And now one Klan website has announced that it will be taking its victory lap to the streets:

Details on the rally celebrating Trump’s victory are scarce. It’s being held by The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is based in Pelham – a small, unincorporated community about 45 minutes north of Burlington, near the Virginia border.

…According to the group’s website, a North Carolina rally will be held Dec. 3. However, the KKK has not yet publicly announced a location or time for the rally.

The website refers to it as a “Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade” and announces in all-caps that “Trump’s race united my people.”

Family Research Council’s Kenneth Blackwell To Lead Trump’s Domestic Policy Transition Team

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2016

Kenneth BlackwellPolitico reports that it has obtained an organization chart outlining who’s doing what on Donald Trump’s transition team. According to Politico, Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and now the so-called Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council, is the man in charge of charge of Donald Trump’s domestic policy transition team. Blackwell lobbied against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and has described homosexuality as “a compulsion.” He also called it “a lifestyle choice” comparable to kleptomaniacs:

The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes

During the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit last September, Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs bragged about the FRC’s success in shaping the Republican Party’s platform, which has been described as “the Most Anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-Year History.” She also provided the FRC’s agenda for Trump’s first 100 days in office. That agenda includes rolling back President Barack Obama’s LGBT anti-discrimination protection measures, and to reverse U.S. foreign policies calling for the recognition of LGBT rights abroad.

True to Trump’s obsession with non-disclosure agreements, whatever Blackwell’s input on Trump’s domestic policy will be, it will remain strictly hush-hush:

Reached by the Enquirer on Thursday, Blackwell said he could not talk about his role and referred questions the Trump transition team.

“I’ve signed a non-disclosure statement that I do honor,” he said.

Newtown, Pa., School Plagued by Election-Related Bullying

Michael Airhart

November 10th, 2016

WPVI reports an outbreak of election-related bullying at Council Rock North High School in Newtown, Pa.

In an extraordinary letter to parents, superintendent Dr. Robert J. Fraser cites several incidents resulting from the election of Donald Trump. According to WPVI:

Fraser says someone drew three swastikas, wrote a derogatory comment about people who are gay, along with the words “I Love Trump,” on a paper found hanging in the girls’ restroom.

In another girls’ restroom, Fraser says someone wrote, “If Trump wins, watch out!” directly onto a toilet paper dispenser.

In a boys’ restroom, two swastikas were reportedly drawn directly onto a restroom stall.

Fraser says a Latina student found that a note had been placed in her backpack telling her to return to Mexico.

There is a related report of inappropriate comments being made to Latino students as well, Fraser says.

Fraser warns parents that such actions will not be tolerated, and that they were reported to local police for investigation.

“We are better than this, and ours is a community that must be based upon a mutual respect for ALL people, and ALL of Council Rock,” Fraser said.

Election Fallout: Racist Graffiti, School Bullying, and Car Theft

Michael Airhart

November 10th, 2016

CNN reports numerous incidents of prejudice-based violence as an outcome of Election Day 2016. Among the allegations:


New York University: “Trump!” written on a Muslim prayer-room door. The New York Police Department is investigating. Read more at NYU Local.

Maple Grove, Minn.: “Trump,” “Whites only,” and “White America” graffiti at a local high school. Read more at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Durham, N.C.: “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes,” was spray-painted by pro-Trump vandals on a wall, according to WNCN.

University of Louisiana: Pro-Trump vandals chalked the messages “Trump,” “Build wall” and “[Expletive deleted] your safe space” outside the Lafayette campus library. Campus police are investigating. The Vermilion student newspaper tweeted photos of the messages.

Philadelphia: Pro-Nazi graffiti appeared at several locations around Philadelphia. According to Anti-Defamation League regional director Nancy K. Baron-Baer said an incident at an abandoned storefront was isolated — for now — but CNN says that the words “Trump Rules,” “Trump Rules Black [expletive]” and the letter “T” were also spray-painted on three vehicles and a house.

Assault and car theft:

San Diego: Two men allegedly targeted a Muslim woman, made comments about Trump and Muslims, then grabbed her backpack and stole her car. Read more at NBC San Diego.

San Jose State University: A man yanked the head scarf off of a student — comparable to yanking the dress off of a Catholic nun — and then caused her to choke. Campus officials say they are investigating. Read more at The Mercury News.

Bullying and intimidation:

Students at Royal Oak Middle School in Michigan chanted, “Build the wall! Build the wall!” in the school cafeteria, scaring Mexican-American classmates. The incident was caught on video and shared on Facebook. The school district superintendent said personnel are addressing the incident, but parents say the response is inadequate, according to The Detroit News.

Canisius College: Students posted images of an African-American doll hanged from a dorm curtain rod on social media. College President John J. Hurley said students have been suspended and may be expelled. Read more at the college website.

Redding, Calif.: A student at Shasta High School tweeted a video of himself handing “deportation” letters to classmates of different ethnicities. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, students at another Redding school expressed ethnic slurs and held up offensive signs directed at a predominantly Hispanic boys basketball team earlier this year.

Buzzfeed is keeping a running list of incidents, including unconfirmed reports from social media.

Medium and Quartz have additional roundups of social-media incident claims.


Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2016

rickyDuke. Coyote. Vato. Sonny. Drill Pipe. Hot Dog Man. Each nickname had a story behind it, and Ricky collected stores like he collected nicknames. Somewhat physically disabled for the past 40 years, most of his stories about himself involved ninja moves or a plot line from a Spaghetti Western. “Ricky!” his mother would exclaim, “You’d climb a tree to tell a lie!” On September 10, he celebrated his 65th birthday. He passed away five days later. He didn’t want a funeral so there wasn’t one. He was just gone and that was that. So long, Vato.

— — —

I remained offline for much of the past three months for several reasons: family stuff, the campaign season was seriously messing with my headspace, I just needed a break.

Also: sometime in late August, my host provider upgraded its version of PHP in an attempt to speed up this web site’s load times. Doing so seemed to fix that problem, but for whatever reason the template that powers the site’s design stopped working correctly, which led to a host of other problems. So during the downtime, I contacted a friend of mine to see about possibly moving the blog to another host server and beginning again with a whole new design. We decided we’d tackle it sometime after the election was over.

But who knew that the country would lose its collective mind and elect the most dangerous, unstable, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and authoritarian ticket in our nation’s history. We are in for a very ugly four years, and the ugliness began almost immediately Tuesday night with right-wing nationalists, now fully legitimized by the incoming administration, crawling out of the woodwork and staking their claim to the mainstream.

So we don’t have time to wait until this precious little web site is all prettied up and restored to full functioning. I’m bringing BTB out of hiatus, and beginning today you are likely to see a couple of new contributors to the blog. The immediate priority is not to look good, but to do the good work of confronting the mess that is now before us.

So that means that the Daily Agendas will remain on hiatus for the next several days while we sort out a new design that should appear perhaps this weekend or sometime next week. Once the new design is up and running with the bugs worked out, then the Daily Agendas will make their reappearance. Along the way, we will fix the Twitter and Facebook integration so you can follow us wherever you are.

Life goes on. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.


Jim Burroway

September 6th, 2016

We were not good people just now: me, Chris and his older brother, Ricky. We were watching Cheaters: other peoples’ humiliations packaged for our entertainment. We were laughing and we were not ashamed of it because it was good to laugh. Now we’re watching Jubal. I looked it up: Jubal “was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.” Also: “a steamy Western which stars Glenn Ford as an itinerant cowpoke.” Now, Ricky just dozed a bit, in and out of sleep, the chicken spaghetti laying heavily in his stomach. It was good to see him dozing. It was also good to see him eating. He doesn’t do that much. Small mercies. 

Chris and I are in Abilene watching a man who is dying. He doesn’t know it, but he’s teaching me something about grace. He’s not religious, he’s not well read, he’s had a rough life. If you wanted to talk to him about grace, you wouldn’t get very far before he starts telling you about the time he and his buddies in San Angelo skipped school to go all the way to Abilene to see Easy Rider, and then split a six pack for the drive back to San Angelo. (Or some such story. He always has a story.) He didn’t learn grace, he just has it. We argue over who gets the Coke and who gets the water. “Whichever one you want.”  “No, Ricky, I bought them: it’s whichever one you want.” See what I mean? He has it. I don’t. 

How can someone in so much pain refuse to complain? How can someone suffer for, what? — one year, maybe two, and not say anything? How can someone spin out yet another of his tall tales — he has a million of them; he can’t tell a story without stretching it past its breaking point — and end it with his trademark, “If I’m lying’, I’m dyin’!” — except this time he adds with a sly smile, “well, I am pretty sick” — while sweat drips from his brow? I will remember him as he has lived and as he’s still living now, and that will always be a good thing.

Another Temporary Hiatus

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2016

Sorry for this blog going so quiet this week.  There’s a lot going on right now in the our household, and it’s only going to get worse now that a family member has entered hospice care. This suspension will likely last at least another week or so. I’ll keep you posted. 

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2016

Second Story, Monterey, CA

From Vector (San Francisco, CA), May 1971, page 58.

This is another one of those anonymous bars that faded into history with barely a trace. The theater was built in 1917 and christened the Strand. In the 1940s, the Strand  became the Rio, and then later the Regency until a fire in 2007 devastated the block across the street, putting about twenty businesses out of commission. By then, the Regency was already shuttered and derelict. In 2013, local investors bought the building and renovated it into business spaces and apartments, joining a series of multi-million dollar investments which rejuvenated the entire downtown. The location today houses a brewery/restaurant. Its “About Us” page gives a very brief history of the Regency, but it glosses over at least one of its upper-floor tenants:

The building was initially constructed in 1916 for the Monterey Elks Club that occupied the upper levels, with the Strand Theater and two retail stores on the ground floor. The Elks outgrew the location in 1964 and the upper floors were used by the Monterey Chess Club until 2003. The ground floor theater operation continued from 1916 as the Regency, Rio, and again the Regency Theater until 2005.

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2016

Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, just after saying "I Do."

Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, just after saying “I Do.”

45 YEARS AGO: Jack Baker (Mar 10) and Michael McConnell (May 19) first tried to get a marriage license a year earlier in Minneapolis (May 18). They were not only denied their license, but Michael McConnell lost his job at the University of Minnesota when news of their application hit the news. Baker and McConnell sued in state court, but that would potentially keep things tied up for years. The pair came up with an alternate solution. In August of 1971, McConnell legally adopted Baker in an arrangement that would allow them at least some of the benefits of marriage (inheritance, medical decision-making, and even reduced tuition for Baker who a student at U.M.), but they were still denied their ultimate goal.

But there was one other crucial thing they got out of that adoption: Jack Baker had a new legal and gender-neutral name, Pat Lyn McConnell. And with that, they went to the Blue Earth County courthouse in Makato, Minnesota and applied for a marriage license. They got it on August 16, 1971. They asked a Methodist minister to perform the wedding, and he agreed. They even went through the lengthy pre-marital counseling that was required for any couple about to marry in the Methodist Church. But one day before the wedding was to take place, the minister got the jitters and backed out.

With little time left, they turned to a friend, Pastor Roger Lynn, who had volunteered with the couple in Minneapolis’s LGBT community center. Lynn immediately agreed, since the Methodist Church had no rules specifically banning same-sex couples from marrying. “The Methodist church has always taken a strong stand on social issues,” he said. “I expected that the progressive side of the church would support me.” Baker and McConnell arranged for a friend who worked at a local TV station to film the ceremony.

Lynn pronounced the couple “husband and husband,” and the two kissed. From then on, as far as they were concerned, they were legally and really married. Once news of the marriage got out, things got rocky. A retired Baptist minister waged an unsuccessful campaign to get Baker expelled from the University of Minnesota’s Law School, saying that Baker was “unfit to enforce the lawÃ¥ because he is himself an avowed law breaker.” (Gay relationships had been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in 1967, but those convicted were still liable for up to one year in jail.) Hennepin County Attorney George M. Scott referred Rev. Lynn’s actions to a Grand Jury in early 1972, but the Grand Jury refused to indict him. He was however fired from his job and formally reprimanded by his presiding Bishop.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Baker and McConnell’s challenge to Hennepin County’s original 1970 denial of their marriage license. The Court declined to hear Baker v. Nelson “for want of a substantial federal question.” McConnell and Baker however contend that the license they did get from Blue Earth County was perfectly legal and remained in effect, although the I.R.S. didn’t see it that way. They filed joint returns for 1972 and 1973 with no problems. But in 1974, an I.R.S. official rejected their joint returned, changed their status to single and recalculated their taxes for them. By doing so, it meant that they two weren’t liable for the so-called “marriage penalty” and had overpaid their taxes by $309 (nearly $1,500 in today’s money). The couple refused to accept the refund. Baker told a reporter, “We realize that the legal position we take necessarily requires us to pay about $150 each year in taxes as a married couple over and above what would be expected if we filed as singles. However, we also recognize that privileges and responsibilities go hand in hand. Hence, we accept the good with the bad.”

The two are still together, living a quiet, happily married life in Minneapolis.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2016

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), May 1982, page 45. (Source.)

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), May 1982, page 45. (Source.)

Today In History, 1954: “Perverts Vanish” From Miami

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2016

Did anyone think to look in South Beach?

By now, the media-driven anti-gay hysteria gripping Miami for the past month (Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice), Aug 14, Aug 15, Aug 16, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1) began taking on a Keystone Kops mentality. On August 26, Miami mayor Abe Aronovitz blasted City Manager E.A. Evans and Police Chief Walter Headley — who were both out of town on vacation — for “coddling homosexuals” in the city, and said that he would give Evans just one week rom the time he returns to “clean out certain pervert nests in Miami proper.” Evans returned on August 31 and met with Aronovitz, promising to “put pervert hangouts out of business by tomorrow.” Tomorrow came yesterday, and Evans was forced to clarify that no, they weren’t going to put anyone out of town that day, but that what he was really going to do was meet with Chief Headley to come up with a plan. Headley, for his part, threw up his hands, saying that he was hamstrung by the law. “We can’t put those places out of business unless someone passes a law that it’s illegal to serve homosexuals,” he told a reporter for The Miami News. His detective, Benjamin Palmer, suggested that maybe there was another way to get rid of all the homosexuals. “Practically all of the homosexuals work in Miami. If people wouldn’t hire them, they’d go away.”

That long review of increasingly comical events brings us to today, because it turns out that while Chief Headly didn’t have a new plan up his sleeve, he could at least put into practice the plan they always had: try another round of pointless police checks at known gay bars. They did exactly that later that evening, and on September 2, City Manager Evans claimed success. As The Miami News reported:

Miami’s many perverts have been chased “underground or out of town,” City Manager E.A. Evans declared today. Evants said his edict to the Police Department to harass bar owners catering to these characters had resulted from their disappearance from downtown streets.

“They have just disappeared,” said Evans. “Extra men have been added to police details and a check reveals only a few customers at bars where the homosexuals gather.”

Evans admitted that giving the city’s gay community a week’s notice through public arguments in the newspapers probably tipped them off to the coming raids, but he promised that the patrols weren’t “just for a few days. This is a long range proposition.” Neighboring Miami Beach’s Police Chief Romeo Shepard, who had long taken a much harder line on gay bars and the beaches, reacted to his larger neighbor’s crackdown. “We don’t want Miami’s homosexuals running over here. We’re making special plans to keep them out.”

Miami’s crackdown continued that night, but the results were paltry. The following day, The Miami News reported that four bartenders were arrested for liquor law violations — two for serving minors, one for “serving a drunk,” and one for having a “noisy juke box” — along with a 20-year-old Marine who as found drunk and turned over to military authorities and another man arrested at Bayfront Park. Meanwhile, police complained that they didn’t have enough laws to keep gay people in check. Chief Headley repeated his call for  a new law “forbidding them to congregate or buy drinks.” But they did claim success in one area. Police told The News that “the notorious Moulin Rouge bar, formerly the Singing Bar, was closed down some time ago, and its new operators reportedly plan to reopen the place for ‘normal’ trade.” Other bars cited that night included the Champagne Girl (559 W. Flagler Street, for having a “noisy juke box”), Samba Bar (249 N.E. First Street, for “serving a drunk”) and Vic’s Bar and Restaurant (39 N.E. Second Street, for serving a minor).

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2016

Evelyn Hooker

(d. 1996) Dr. Hooker, the psychologist who is widely credited for establishing that gay people are not inherently mentally ill, knew what it meant to overcome long odds. Born the sixth of nine children in North Platte, Nebraska, she had to overcome uncountable barriers to women in academia and psychology throughout the first half of the 20th century. In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, one of her students introduced her to other members of the gay community and challenged her to study “people like him” — homosexuals who were neither troubled by their homosexuality and who had none of the features commonly associated with mental illness. Among those she came to know was noted author Christopher Isherwood, who rented a guest house from her. “She never treated us like some strange tribe,” he recalled later, “so we told her things we never told anyone before.” Hooker quickly became convinced that most gay men were socially well-adjusted, quite unlike the homosexuals that had been written about in the scientific literature until then. By 1953 — at the peak of the McCarthy “lavender scare” period — she decided that this could be proven through psychological testing.

For her groundbreaking study, she gathered two groups of men. The first were gay men, many of them members of the local Mattachine Society, and the second were heterosexual men. She administered three sets of psychological tests, and presented the 60 unmarked sets of data to a team of three expert evaluators. The independent evaluators were unable to tell the difference between the members of the two groups. When she presented her paper, “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual“, at the 1956 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago (Aug 30), her results were met with incredulity. It was a well-established orthodoxy in psychology that all gays were mentally ill, and that the disturbances would have been obvious in the test results. But until Hooker’s study was published, there was no scientific data available about non-imprisoned, non-patient homosexuals. For the first time, Hooker’s peer-reviewed study — it would soon appear in the March 1957 edition of the Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment — would prove that there were well-adjusted, normal and healthy gay men, and lots of them.

Hooker’s research into the subject didn’t end with just that single paper. In 1958, her paper “Male Homosexuality in the Rorschach” challenged whether the Rorschach inkblot test could weed out gays from straights as claimed by its backers. In 1959, she published “What Is A Criterion?”, in which she again reiterated that the three most popular tests then in use for personality assessments were incapable of picking gay men out of a crowd, despite claims to the contrary. She argued that part of the problem was that “we need to get beyond the fact that the individual is homosexual, to the kind of homosexual that he is,” adding:

It will have become evident by this time that I am not greatly disturbed by the fact that projective techniques diagnosing homosexuality are not demonstrably valid means for diagnosing homosexuality. In fact, I am rather encouraged by this because I hope it will force us to re-examine the much over-simplified picture we have had and encourage us to remind ourselves that the first goal of science is understanding, with prediction and control as secondary to it.

Her 1969 paper, “Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and non-patient samples,” refused the widely accepted claim that parents were the cause of their children’s homosexuality.  That same year, she chaired the National Institute of Mental Health’s Task Force on Homosexuality, which recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and its removal from the APA’s list of mental disorders. The APA finally acted on that recommendation in 1973, but it would take another thirty years before the U.S. Supreme Court would finally eliminate the remaining sodomy laws across the nation.

In 1991, the American Psychological Association honored Dr. Hooker with its Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest, saying: “Her research, leadership, mentorship, and tireless advocacy for an accurate scientific view of homosexuality for more than three decades has been an outstanding contribution to psychology in the public interest.” She died in 1996.

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

Evelyn Hooker. “What is a criterion?” Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment 23, no. 3 (September 1959): 278-281.

Evelyn Hooker. “Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and nonpatient samples.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 33, no. 2 (April 1969): 140-142.

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

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2016

6a00e54ed2b7aa883301bb087d3737970d-200wi(d. 2015) The Buffalo, New York, native enlisted in the Army in 1942 at the age of seventeen and fought in the 87th Infantry. He was taken prisoner by the Nazis in France and sent to a prisoner of war camp near Leukenwald, Germany. His tortures began before he left France: he was kept in a sealed box car for days without food and water, licking frost from the box car’s nail heads to survive. His starvation continued in the camp, and his weight dropped to 80 pounds. Despite his frailty, he was made to work on a farm. One day, a Polish captive saw McNeil staring at food intended for the animals and threw him a potato when a guard was looking away. McNeil silently thanked the Pole, who made the sign of the cross in return.

That single gesture would have a profound impact on McNeill’s spirituality. After the war, he graduated magna com laude from Canisius College in Buffalo and entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1948. He was ordained a priest in 1959 by Cardinal Spellman. In 1961, he continued his studies at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, where he earned his doctorate in philosophy in 1964. It’s also where he fell in love with another man for the first time. “The experience of the joy and peace that comes with that — it was a clear indication to me that homosexual love was in itself a good love and could be a holy love,” he later said in the 2011 biographical documentary, Taking a Chance on God.

After receiving his doctorate, he returned to the U.S. and joined the faculty of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, where he met Fr. Daniel Berrigan. The year before, Berrigan had founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship which would go on to organize protests against the war in Vietnam. McNeill soon began joining Berrigan in those protests.

By 1970, McNeill found what would ultimately prove to be his life’s calling, when he became involved with DignityUSA, an organization for LGBT Catholics that had been founded in San Diego the year before. McNeil founded the New York chapter in 1972, saying Mass, hearing confessions, and ministering to the needs of gay Catholics who struggled with self-loathing and depression.

Fr. McNeill, second from right, marching with a contingent of DignityUSA.

Fr. McNeill, second from right, marching with a contingent of DignityUSA.

In 1976, McNeill published The Church and the Homosexual, which was the first extended work by a scholar and theologian to challenge the church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality. The book argued that loving same-sex relationships were just as moral and godly as heterosexual relationships, and it argued for a change in church teachings and attitudes toward gay and lesbian Catholics. Before the book appeared in print, it was extensively vetted by a panel of theologians and received an imprimatur from the Vatican and the blessing of McNeill’s Jesuit superiors.

The Church and the Homosexual was translated into several languages, and it quickly picked up critics along the way. Meanwhile, McNeill publicly came out of the closet during an interview about the book with Tom Brokaw, who asked if he was gay. By 1977, the Vatican withdrew its imprimatur, and ordered McNeill not to write or speak publicly about homosexuality. McNeill, thinking that the church needed time to work through the issue, complied, although he continued his pastoral work with LGBT Catholics.

McNeill obeyed the order for the next nine years, until the AIDS crisis prompted him to reconsider. McNeill and Fr. Mychal Judge (May 11) founded an AIDS ministry to serve gay Catholics and the homeless in Harlem. Then in 1986, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI) issued its letter On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, which labeled homosexuality “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” McNeil broke his silence and condemned the letter in statements issued to The New York Times and The National Catholic Reporter. As McNeill later wrote:

The Vatican document went so far in its hatred of all things gay as to assert that if homosexuals continue to claim “unthinkable” civil rights, then they should not be surprised by the violence inflicted upon them by gay-bashers and have only themselves to blame. This statement has been interpreted in some quarters as encouraging violence against gay people. Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter even suggested that it is gay activists and the professionals who try to help gays achieve self-acceptance who are responsible for the AIDS epidemic: “Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remained undeterred and refused to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.”

In my more than twenty years’ experience of pastoral care with thousands of gay Catholics and other Christians, the gay men most likely to act out their sexual needs in an unsafe, compulsive way and, therefore, to expose themselves to the HIV virus, are precisely those persons who have internalized the self-hatred that their religions impose on them. They are precisely the ones who, while they find it impossible to suppress and deny their sexual needs totally, cannot enter into a healthy and committed intimacy with anyone because of this self-hatred.

Cardinal Ratzinger responded by ordering McNeill into silence once more, and to end his pastoral work with gays and lesbians. McNeill refused, and in 1987 he was expelled from the Jesuits on Vatican orders. McNeill said this expulsion, while painful, was also liberating. That year, he was name grand marshall of the New York City gay pride parade. “Our primary task these days as gay people is to learn how to celebrate life in the face of death,” he told The New York Times.

McNeill continued his work with the LGBT community, work that now included psychotherapy after picking up a degree at the Institutes of Religion and Health in New York. He also continued writing: Taking a Chance on God: Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Lovers, Families and Friends (1988), Freedom, Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians and Everybody Else (1995), and the autobiographical, Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair: My Spiritual Journey (1998). In 2008, McNeill married his partner of thirty-three years, Charles Chiarelli, in Toronto. McNeill passed away in 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale.

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