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The sweetest story

Timothy Kincaid

September 18th, 2014

There is nothing I don’t love about this story. (Des Moines Register)

For so long, their love was not public. But when the news broke about their Sept. 6 wedding, their story was spread across the Internet and social media. In one week, decades of silence ended. They had never before talked to anyone about their relationship.

“In all those 72 years, no one said anything about it, either negative or positive,” said Vivian, 91, sitting across the dining hall table from Nonie, 90, on Wednesday at a Davenport retirement community where they have lived since 1987.

Go read it.

Those Twitchy people sure are lovely, aren’t they?

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2014

Today I receive an odd Tweet directed at me.

That seemed a bit odd. I really had no idea what Mr. Jones was going on about. But then I got another tweet and this one gave me a clue:

It turns out that they were in response to a tweet I sent out last night while watching Dancing with the Stars.

As I said on another post, DWTS is developing the bad habit of casting the progeny or close family member of someone who has made a name for anti-gay activism. Maybe that’s getting the viewers they want, but I find it troubling.

Twitchy, Michelle Malkin’s right-wing social media activism site decided to write a piece using my tweet as their leaping off point. And boy did they leap.

haters gotta hate

After half a dozen tweets praising the Robertson child’s dancing, Twitchy picked back up with their indignation. And then they ran a bunch of comments from some mouthy teen – without mentioning that the first tweet and the string of abuse from the teen were not the same person. Not exactly admirable behavior.

And, fired up by the child’s immature insults, off went the twitchers is a deluge of abusive tweets. Towards me.

Now I’ve not encountered the Twitchy mob before. But I do have to say that from what I can tell they are a pretty disgusting bunch who lack even rudimentary reading comprehension skills. But maybe I’m biased.

Several just took the quick-and-easy personal insult ruite.

A few went with the gay insult – sadly they weren’t very clever

But that last fellow gets bonus points for using pink flowery wallpaper.

Some sought to give insights about hate

And quite a few assumed that they knew my party, ideology and faith and lectured me about tolerance

And the “real” definition of homophobia

But mostly they just demonstrated it for me

NOM exceeds its goal

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2014

TargetLogo
A month ago we told you about the ambitious efforts of the National Organization for Marriage to slap down mega-retailer Target over the company’s support for marriage equality. At the time, NOM had accomplished a significant portion of their lofty goal, getting 2,800 people to pledge to join a boycott on the store.

Now it appears that not only has NOM reached their goal of 2,800, but they’ve done so with such confidence that they’ve moved the goal-post. Now NOM, having achieved 2,856 signatories, is eagerly seeking 2,900!

I suppose a cynical person might be inclined to believe that the goal just automatically updates itself to the next 1,000 so as to let the next visitor to the site believe that their signature really matters. But, then again, a cynical person might also believe that NOM is a shell group that has no real grass roots, does nothing but attempt to get its name in media, and is nothing but a front for the nastier side of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But we’re not cynical here. No, we choose to believe that NOM is bravely marching forward to make tangible change at Target and that some day they just might have enough signatures to scare the retail giant. Maybe, just maybe, if they keep at it, Target’s response to NOM’s protest might not be to increase gay visibility in their marketing.

So buck up, Brian Brown. Maybe you’ll be relevant again in the US some day. And if not, you can always learn Russian.

Is Arizona Next?

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2014

Last Friday, Federal District Court Judge John W. Sedwick issued a partial ruling which ordered the state to recognize a gay couple’s marriage after one of the partners died last summer. The state is now required to list the couple as having been married on the death certificate.

The case involves more than a dozen gay and lesbian couples seeking to overturn Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage, and a ruling on the larger issue hasn’t come down. But Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog thinks this early ruling tells us that Judge Sedwick is about to strike Arizona’s ban:

Judge Sedwick, who usually sits in Anchorage, Alaska, but is doing temporary duty to handle civil cases in Phoenix, cited a string of other federal court rulings striking down state prohibitions on same -sex marriage, and he commented on “the absence of any persuasive case law to the contrary.” He then added that the surviving partner in this case “is likely to prevail” in his challenge before the judge.

Because that claim is part of a broader case before the judge, involving one lawsuit filed in January and a separate case filed in March and proceeding jointly before him, his remarks were a strong indication that a 2008 state constitutional amendment and two state laws against same-sex marriage probably are going to be nullified.

A huge factor weighing against Arizona’s ban is that it is in the Ninth Circuit, which requires the more demanding “heightened scrutiny” test. Judge Sedwick has already denied the state’s claim that it doesn’t apply for this case in last week’s ruling.


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The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 19

Jim Burroway

September 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1977, page 22.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1977, page 22.

A Washington, D.C. entertainment guide in 2004 described Mr. P’s as “the oldest gay bar in the Circle” attracted “one of the oldest crowds,” which the writer defined as “30-and-ups.” Bitch! It went on: “In the evenings, patrons spill out onto the patio and head upstairs to the 2nd bar… The (Sunday) barbecues on the back patio are a good chance to meet some of the locals.” There’s a Mediterranean restaurant there today.

Mayor Abe Aronovitz

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Miami Mayor Dismisses Constitutional Concerns Over Anti-Gay Drive: 1954. Miami’s ongoing media-driven hysteria over the discovery of gay people in their midsts (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7) and Sep 15) received further attention on the editorial page of The Miami News when staff writer Jane Woods highlighted the many battles between the combative mayor Abe Aronovitz and others on the City Commission and the local community:

Homosexuals brought the next trouble. In the pre-Kefauver days, says the Mayor, there were numerous bars in downtown Miami with gambling rooms upstairs or in the back. After open gambling was closed down, some of these bar operators turned these upstairs rooms into parlors, where homosexuals congregated, met each other, made love.

After Miami had a series of shocking crimes this summer, it was brought to the Mayor’s attention that many homosexuals took an intense pleasure in starting innocent young people off into an abnormal life. Many teen-age boys, to make money, had learned to feign abnormality to milk older homosexual men for all the money they could. Bar operators calculatingly making money from this traffic in human misery in the heart of downtown appalled him (Aronovitz), he says.

“The only effective step I knew to take was to bring the most intense public pressure to bear on Chief Headley (see Aug 26Aug 31, and Sep 1,) I have affection, and respect for Walter Headley and his ability. But I hoped that the men in the district, under him, directly able to do something about these bars, might be spurred into action if they felt the chief’s job as at stake. I knew they could, if they would, use technicalities of the law to force these places out of existence.

“What response do I get from my fellow commissioners? Mr. Hearn tells me that I am doing millions of dollars worth of harm by bad publicity, making it appear we are a houseful of perverts in Miami. Chief Quigg suggests that the intense police drive I advocate might violate constitutional rights of some men.”

Photo by Randolfe Wicker.

50 YEARS AGO: First Known Gay Rights Picket In America: 1964. For such a momentous occasion, one would think there’d be more written about it. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a whole lot. The picket took place in the middle of Manhattan, at the U.S. Army’s Whitehall Induction Center, in protest over the army’s failure to keep gay men’s draft records confidential. New York activist Randolfe Wicker (see Feb 3) organized it along with Craig Rodwell, who would go on to open the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, the first LGBT bookstore in the U.S. Another picketer was Renai Cafiero,who would go on to become  one of the first openly gay delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Other marchers included Nancy Garden and Jeff Poland of the New York League  for Sexual Freedom. Picket signs declared, “Homosexuals died for U.S., Too,” “Love and Let Love,” and “Army Invades Sexual Privacy.”  You can see Wicker’s original photos from that event here. If anyone knows a good source for more information on this, please let me know via email or in the comments below.

Totally straight.

An Ex-Gay Leader Walked Into A Bar: 2000. In 1998, the supposedly “ex-gay” John Paulk and his “ex-lesbian” wife Anne were the centerpieces of a massive publicity push by Focus On the Family to promote the pray-away-the-gay therapy offered by Exodus International. Paulk was the manager of Focus’s Homosexuality and Gender division, and he had also served as Board Chairman for Exodus since 1995. As part of their publicity campaign, the Paulks appeared on 60 Minutes and Oprah, as well as in full-page newspaper ads and on a 1998 cover of Newsweek. Their 1999 book, Love Won Out, became the title for a series of promotional ex-gay conferences put on jointly by Focus and Exodus.

On September 19, 2000, John Paulk traveled to Washington, D.C. on Focus business when he walked into a gay bar known as Mr. P’s in the heart of D.C.’s Dupont Circle gayborhood. In 2014, Paul described the pressures of living as an ex-gay spokesperson that led him to go to Mr. P’s that evening:

[E]ven as I pursued this career as a professional ex-gay man, and raised a family and loved my wife, I was in utter torment. I struggled off and on with addiction and wanting to take my life. I knew I was living on the inside as two people. I wanted to believe it was true so badly that not only did I lie to other people, I primarily lied to myself. I wanted my homosexuality to change, but the truth is: For all my public rhetoric, I was never one bit less gay. Behind closed doors, many of us in the “ex-gay” leadership at Focus on the Family would even admit this to each other — and we had this conversation many times: “We know our orientation hasn’t really changed. What has changed is our behavior. Our way of life. How we see ourselves. Our sexuality has not changed.”

But it only became harder to maintain the false veneer of heterosexuality, at home and at work. I was preaching to other adult gay and lesbian people a gospel that I no longer really believed in. More and more, when I’d have to get up and speak to crowds about my gay conversion, I felt like a wind-up toy. I’d go back to my hotel room, fall on the bed and start weeping. I thought, “If I have to go out and do that one more time, I will literally throw up.” I was in agony. I wasn’t easy to live with either. I was short with my children and took my anger and anxiety out on my devoted wife. I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Everything began to change in 2000, when I was photographed in a gay bar in Washington, DC. I had not gone into a gay bar since the late ‘80s, and I wasn’t looking for sex. I just wanted to be among my own kind, to feel at home, for a brief period.

A few of the patrons there, employees at the Human Rights Campaign, recognized him immediately and watched as Paulk ordered a drink and struck up conversations with other bar patrons. One of the HRC staffers called Wayne Besen, who was also working at the HRC at the time and who had already written about the ex-gay movement. When Besen arrived twenty minutes later, he found Paulk on a barstool chatting with patrons. Besen confronted Paulk and tried to photograph him, but the bar’s bouncer, citing house rules prohibiting photography, stepped in and asked Besen to leave. Besen waited outside the bar, and when Paulk finally came out the front door, Besen snapped another photo as Paulk was leaving.

Fleeing Mr. P’s.

Besen immediately called several reporters. The first to express an interest was Southern Voice’s Joel Lawson, who broke the story two days later. In Paulk’s first public statement, he claimed that he only went to Mr. P’s to use the restroom. Besen countered, “I didn’t know that using the bathroom involved 40 minutes of socializing in a bar and offering drinks to strangers.” Paulk was called back to Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs where he was placed on probation and removed as Board Chair at Exodus International (although he remained a member of the board on probationary status). But he somehow managed to weather the controversy. Paulk remained in his position at Focus, and he continued to be the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.

In 2003, he finally decided to step down from Focus. He and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, where he started a catering business. While Anne continued to write books and speak at ex-gay conferences, John dropped out from the movement altogether. Over the past year, the two have gone their separate ways altogether. In April, John renounced his prior association with the ex-gay movement, saying “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated.” He followed that a week later with a formal apology: “I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past. Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused. From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.”

John and Anne’s divorce was finalized in June of 2013. Anne Paulk remains active in the ex-gay movement, after having helped to a break-away group of former Exodus ministries following Exodus president Alan Chambers’s acknowledgment that change in sexual orientation was not possible. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
80 YEARS AGO: Brian Epstein: 1934-1967. He was already well on the way to becoming a successful businessman as manager of the record departments at his father’s chain of radio and hi-fi stores in Liverpool, when he began to hear the buzz surrounding a local band. He decided to attend a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club and was blown away by what he heard. “I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humor on stage — and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.” The band called themselves the Beatles. Epstein signed on as their manager, and within five months he had paid Decca records out of his own pocket to record a studio demo. He shopped it around, but none of the major labels were interested until George Martin at EMI’s tiny Parlophone label heard them. He liked what he heard and signed the band. The rest, as they say, is history.

Epstein’s sexuality wasn’t generally known until several years after his death in 1967. The band, of course, figured it out right away, probably owing to Epstein’s interest in the band’s appearance on stage. Epstein is credited for creating the early Beatles’ look — the collarless suits and ties, the mod haircuts, the synchronized bow at the end of their performances. John Lennon was known to make a few sarcastic comments about Epstein’s sexuality, but the band mostly accepted him as one of their own. Rumors later swirled that Lennon and Epstein had an affair while vacationing in Barcelona in 1963, but Lennon denied it in a Playboy interview in 1980. “It was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship,” he said. Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, (Epstein had been Lennon’s best man when they married in 1962) have always maintained that the relationship was platonic.

After Epstein died in 1967 from an overdose of the barbiturate Carbitral, the band began its downward spiral. Much of that downfall was attributed to tensions between McCartney and Lennon, who argued over who should take over the band’s management. They were never able to come to an agreement, and the relationship between the two men continued to deteriorate.

Eighteen years after the Beatles broke up, they were among the earliest entrants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney credits Epstein for making the Beatles one of the most successful bands in the world. “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian,” he told a BBC documentary in 1997. Epstein was finally induced into the Hall’s Non-Performer’s Section in 2014.

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 downfall of Mars Hill Church and its macho pastor

Timothy Kincaid

September 18th, 2014

driscoll

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church is a mega-church with real machismo, where the men are men and the women are subservient. Mark Driscoll, the charismatic leader at Mars Hill has long been known by readers here at Box Turtle Bulletin to have contempt for “effeminate men” and the church has shown itself to be ignorant, at best, about the gay community, referring to it as “those who are infected with AIDS on the hill” and advocating for ex-gay efforts.

But perhaps less known, until recently, was Driscoll’s misogyny, abuse, and dictatorial approach to ministry. But eventually enough of those within his circle had experienced his abusive and controlling nature and his empire has now begun to crumble. And the catalyst was someone who is as extreme as Driscoll in her anti-gay positioning, radio host Janet Mefferd. (Seattle Times)

Driscoll’s heated November 2013 exchange with radio host Janet Mefferd would prove a crucial turning point in his explosive rise and recent fall, igniting a chain of events that would begin unraveling the Seattle megachurch he founded.

Mefferd had discovered that Driscoll had based about 14 pages of his latest book on another author’s ideas, without giving attribution. And when she pointed this out, Driscoll went on attack mode, accusing Mefferd of being rude and “not very Christ-like”.

That may have been his error – his posturing inviting inspection when his house wasn’t in order. A few people within conservative Christianity began looking into Driscoll’s book practice. And discovered that his theft of intellectual property wasn’t a isolated event.

Perhaps the greatest damage to Driscoll came when this caught the attention of Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who in some ways serves as the conscience of the evangelical community. While the original improprieties were discovered by others, Throckmorton brought them to the attention of the greater church community through blogging and authoring articles. And one particular revelation was shocking.

Real Marriage, part relationship advice, part sex manual, had enough shock value that it shouldn’t surprise that it sold well. And it did, surging to the Number One spot on the New York Times’ list of hardcover advice books. And in January 2012, Driscoll became a NYT Best Selling Author.

But it turns out that Driscoll and Mars Hill didn’t get there honestly. Instead, they hired a firm to make bogus purchases of the book so as to drive up the sales numbers. And, to fool the Times, the scheme involved large numbers of purchases from around the country using differing payment methods.

As disclosures about Driscoll’s practices came to light, more congregants and former congregants began to tell their stories about abuse and manipulation. On August 21, Dave Kraft, who had been on staff as Dricoll’s life coach, went public as to why he had left. He was joined by 21 other former pastors who presented a listing of complaints.

This – along with revelations about opinions he had expressed while using a pseudonym – compelled nine current pastors associated with Mars Hill to call on Driscoll to step down. (Daily Beast)

Then on Aug. 22, those pastors delivered a letter to their remaining fellow pastors asking Driscoll step down and enter a process of repentance and restoration. Instead of complying with the direction of his pastors, Driscoll announced to the church on Aug. 24 after his Sunday sermon that he would take “an extended focus break” in order to heal and allow the church to examine the allegations against him.

His Executive Elders, a tiny committee, then announced that they would investigate the accusations. Early indications suggest that they have every intention of vindicating Driscoll and maligning his accusers. And as for the nine pastors who called for Driscoll’s replacement – they’ve been fired.

Mars Hill’s attendance is down by about a third and there are consolidating congregations. One of the congregations which has been closed is the one which which claimed to be “serving and ministering to those who are infected with AIDS on the hill”.

This story is likely far from over.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 18

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, April 1957, page 2.

Finding books on homosexuality in the 1950s was just about impossible for most people. These just weren’t the kind of books one would have found at the book shop on Main Street. And if the local library had them, they would have likely been kept locked away and only the stern school-marmish librarian had the key. A few unconventional bookstores, like this one catering to the Greenwich Village arts crowd, found that they could fill the void and augment their business by advertising in alternative newspapers and magazines like ONE. I can’t find any information about the Village Theater Center Bookshop, except to note that it was located two blocks from where the seminal Stonewall Rebellion would take place in 1969, and one block from where the Oscar Wilde Book Shop would relocate itself in 1973.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Donald Webster Cory/Edward Sagarin: 1913-1986. He was once hailed as the “Father of the Homophile Movement,” with considerable justification. No one else can lay claim to inspiring so many gay men and women to join a homophile movement during the sexually-fearsome 1950s than this unlikely married Jewish perfume salesman from New York. Writing under the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory, he published The Homosexual In America: A Subjective Approach in 1951, and it would  become unquestionably the single most influential book in the early gay rights movement in America. It was the first major publication to provide an exhaustive overview of a kind of gay life that was largely underground and out of sight of ordinary Americans. He discussed gay bars, drag queens, relationships, and marriages — as convenience and as cover (including his own, to his wife Gertrude since 1936, although by all accounts they were devoted to each other throughout their lives). He even provided a lexicon of gay slang. But most importantly, he wrote of homosexuals as “an unrecognized minority” on par with other minorities who were struggling for recognition in America:

We homosexuals are a minority, but more than that, an intensified minority, with all of the problems that arise from being a separate group facing us that are faced by other groups, and with a variety of important problems that are unshared by most minorities. The ethnic groups can take refuge in the comfort and pride of their own, in the warmth of family and friends, in the acceptance of themselves among the most enlightened people around them. But not the homosexuals. Those closest to us, whose love we are in extreme need of, accept us for what we are not. Constantly and unceasingly we carry a mask, and without interruption we stand on guard lest our secret, which is our very essence, is betrayed.

But what really pushed the boundaries was his unequivocal call for the full integration of gay people in public life. “I am convinced,” he wrote, “and will presently attempt to demonstrate, that there is a permanent place in the scheme of things for the homosexual — a place that transcends the reaction to hostility and that will continue to contribute to social betterment after social acceptance.” He was also an early proponent of what we today would call multiculturalism, saying that the diversity of minorities — ethnic, religious, racial and sexual minorities — strengthens and enriches a democratic society. “[H]omosexuality — fortunately but unwittingly — must inevitably place a progressive role in the scheme of things,” he argued. “It will broaden the base for freedom of thought and communication, will be a banner-bearer in the struggle for liberalization of our sexual conventions, and will be a pillar of strength in the defense of our threatened democracy.”

But if one were to try to look back with perfect 20-20 hindsight, one might detect occasional flashes of conservatism in The Homosexual In America, but it’s hard to see it given the very conservative times in which the book appeared. He accepted without question the consensus in the psychological world that homosexuality came about as a result of a disturbed home life. But then so did a large number of other gay people, who believed what the professionals told them and accepted it without question. But what set Cory apart was his argument that the mental health professions were powerless to make straight the homosexual and, further, that there was no need to try. Homosexuals may have come from disturbed homes, he reasoned, but that didn’t mean that they were disturbed themselves. Whatever disturbances they did possess came from the stresses of coping with a majority that had no use for them.

An early advertisement for Donald Webster Cory’s “The Homosexual In America.” (Click to enlarge.)

Over the next six years, The Homosexual in America went through seven hardcover printings, was re-issued as a mass market paperback in 1963, and was translated into Spanish and French. It inspired a movement and drew to it those who would shape that movement for the next two decades. Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who was instrumental in getting the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973, credited Cory’s book with inspiring her to become involved:

What got me started in the movement was a book I found in 1953, which had been published two years earlier. It was called The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach, by Donald Webster Cory. The book was fascinating because, now that I look back on it, Cory’s book was very much a call to arms. Cory said that we ought to be working to gain our equality and our civil rights. … At that time, it was a very challenging book because it was saying, in effect, that we could stand up and do something for ourselves and change our situation.

Cory continued writing for the pioneering homophile magazine ONE and served as a contributing editor for the magazine’s first three years. In one article for ONE, he spoke out against those who “pleaded for acceptance from the world at large” while at the same time expressing intolerance toward effeminate men, a position that resonates still today. He established the Cory Book Service, a book-of-the-month club that provided subscribers hard to find gay-themed books. He also was a sought-after lecturer in the U.S. and Europe.

Cory’s importance to the early homophile movement gave very few hints of how reactionary and hostile he would wind up being to the very movement he helped to inspire. But many began to notice something of a shift in 1963 when Cory co-authored The Homosexual and His Society with John LeRoy (pseudonym for Barry Sheer, a New York Mattachine member and Cory’s lover at the time). Cory still argued, forcefully, for the full acceptance of gay people in society, and he argued that the first duty of mental health professionals wasn’t to “cure” gay people, but to “eliminate the personal distress and anxieties that arise as a result of social hostility.” But he challenged those in the homophile movement who rejected the idea that gay people were emotionally disturbed, going so far as to argue that there was no such thing as a “well-adjusted homosexual.”  Cory repeated and reinforced that contradictory line in his 1964 book, The Lesbian In America. A reviewer in the Daughters of Bilitis’ newsletter, The Ladder, found him “inconsistent and unconvincing in labeling lesbians as basically disturbed (or sick?), as he does part of the time, and at the same time advocating an end to discrimination against them in government service, in the armed forces, and in society generally.”

A turning point for Cory would come in 1965 when he ran for president of the Mattachine Society of New York. In March of that year, the Washington, D.C. chapter, under the leadership of Frank Kameny, had adopted a formal position that “homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance or other pathology in any sense but is merely a preference, orientation or propensity on a par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality.” (See Mar 4.) Cory’s opponent, Dick Leitsch, wanted the New York chapter to adopt a similar resolution, calling illness question “the greatest obstacle in the path of the homosexual community’s fight for full citizenship in our Republic.” The vote for the chapter’s leadership position became a referendum on whether gay people were ill or not. Cory lost that election, but he also lost more than that. He lost the respect of his fellow activists. Kameny, in a letter just before the election, warned Cory of his increasing irrelevance:

You have become no longer the vigorous Father of the Homophile Movement, to be revered, respected and listened to, but the senile Grandfather of the Homophile Movement, to be humored and tolerated at best; to be ignored and disregarded usually; and to be ridiculed at worst.

Cory retreated from the homophile movement almost immediately, leaving behind the Donald Webster Cory pseudonym once and for all. As Edward Sagarin, he graduated from New York University’s sociology program in 1966. His dissertation was titled “Structure and Ideology in an Association of Deviants” — that association being the Mattachine Society — where he described, in the third person, his embittered version of events leading up to his defeat the previous year. “The Mattachine Society has little regard for the truth,” he wrote. “It is part of a movement that participates in blackmail.” Sagarin used that dissertation as the basis for a chapter in his 1969 book, Odd Man In: Societies of Deviants in America, in which he argued that Alcoholics Anonymous was the proper model for what a gay organization should be. While American readers had no clue about the connection between Sagarin and Cory, many in the homophile movement knew exactly who he was. But because of an unwritten code of honor that came about during the Lavender Scare of the 1950s, outing him was out of the question. A book reviewer for the Daughters of Bilitis’ The Ladder clearly chaffed at the restriction. “Could it be that he is one of the homosexuals who has surrendered … to the ‘sick sick sick school?”, she asked. “Right, but I assure you that if you knew who this man really is, then you’d wonder, really wonder, for he is as responsible for the founding of the homophile movement as any other single man.”

That code of honor finally broke down in 1974 when Sagarin attended the American Sociological Society’s annual convention and spoke on a panel titled, “Theoretical Perspectives on Homosexuality” to criticize the gay rights movement. Laud Humphreys, who founded the Sociologists’ Gay Caucus later that same year, sharply challenged Sagarin during the Q&A period while alternately calling him “Professor Sagarin” and “Mr. Cory” as feigned slips of the tongue. Humphreys then went in for the kill: “And where did you get your data?” Sagarin clenched his fists and said, “I am my data.” He then left the stage in tears, and from that point on he withdrew from discussing homosexuality altogether. He died of a heart attack on June 10, 1986.

Many have described Sagarin as a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde figure. As Donald Webster Cory, he remains a pioneer in the early gay rights movement. The year in which The Homosexual In America appeared, the country was in the grip of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red and Lavender Scares, and Cory’s treatise rang out as both a radical declaration for equality and a pioneering examination of contemporary gay society. The Homosexual In America today should occupy a prime spot in the gay rights canon. But as Edward Sagarin, he would become an intractable foe of the very movement he helped to inspire. For that, Kamany’s prediction came to fruition: the once-vigorous Father of the Homophile Movement is today disregarded and ignored.

[Sources: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987): 86, 88.

"Florence Conrad" (Florence Jaffy). Book Review: "The Lesbian In America." The Ladder 9, no. 1 (October 1964): 4-7.

Donald Webster Cory. The Homosexual In America: A Subjective Approach (New York: Greenberg Publisher, 1951).

Martin Duberman. "Donald Webster Cory: Father of the Homophile Movement." In The Martin Duberman Reader: The Essential Historical, Biographical, and Autobiographical Writings (New York: The New Press, 2013): 172-205.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 111-112.

James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 529-530.

Stephen O. Murray "Donald Webster Cory (1913-1986)" In Vern L. Bullough's (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 333-343.]

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?

Ugandan LGBT Activist Granted Asylum

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2014
John "Longjones" Abdallah Wambere

John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has tentatively approved a request for asylum from Ugandan LGBT activist John Abdallah Wambere. Wambere, who co-founded Spectrum Uganda fourteen years ago and is known by his nickname “Longjones,” filed the request last May, saying that he feared persecution if he were to return to Uganda. He also was potentially liable for prosecution under the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act which President Yoweri Museveni signed into law in February. The law has since been nullified by Uganda’s Constitutional Court on a technicality, but the generally dangerous anti-gay atmosphere remains. According to the Washington Blade:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in a letter dated Sept. 11 stated John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere’s asylum request “has been recommended for approval,” pending the results of a mandatory background check. “I am overwhelmed,” said Wambere in a press release from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a Boston-based LGBT legal advocacy group that represents him. “I must say that I am blessed, but there are many stories out there.”

…Wambere, 41, noted in his asylum petition that he has been threatened, evicted from his home and publicly outed as a gay man by several Ugandan newspapers.

Just a week after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law, the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper launched

Inside spread of Red Pepper, dated Saturday, March 1.

Inside spread of Red Pepper, dated Saturday, March 1. Wambere’s photo appeared at top left. (Click to enlarge.)

an anti-gay vigilante campaign. which included Wambere’s photo under a headline, “Ugandan Homos Cabinet List Leaks.” Since then, clients abandoned his travel agency, he had been questioned by relatives and shunned by neighbors, was evicted, was harassed on the street by strangers and received threatening anonymous phone calls.

Wambere appeared in the documentary Call Me Kuchu, which portrays the hardships experienced by LGBT Ugandans, including the brutal murder of LGBT activist David Kato in January 2011. He also appeared in the 2010 Current TV documentary Missionaries of Hate.

The Whole Twitterverse Is Watching

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2014

Last Thursday, a gay couple in Philadelphia was attacked by what was described as a “gang of eight to twelve” at about 11:00 p.m. A witness described the attackers as “tall, masculine-looking dudes,” about 30 or 31 in age. One of the victims — they have chosen to remain unidentified — was reportedly sent to the hospital with multiple fractures.

Sources tell NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group of two men and six women.

Witnesses say someone in the group asked, “Is this your f****** boyfriend?”

When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Police say one of the suspects then snatched a victim’s bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia police released a video of a group of people that they identified as suspects in the attack:

Within hours, Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member Greg Bennett tweeted two photos from the video to his 157,000 followers, along with another photo of a group of people dining at a restaurant that night that he thought looked like some of the suspects:

Bennet tweeted that “a friend of a friend of a friend saw my tweet… (and) sent me the pic. I wanted to get the word out.” And things quickly moved from there. Other tweeps identified the restaurant as La Viola, and saw some that some of the people in the photo had checked in at the restaurant that night on Face book.

A local reporter then tweeted that lawyers for people in the group had called police to make arrangements for them to come in. No arrests have been made yet, but Philly police say that this is how crimes will be solved in today’s social media culture:

NPR’s Melody Kramer has documented the timeline here.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, September 17

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), May 1974, page 11.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), May 1974, page 11.

Milwaukee’s The Ball Game opened in May 1974 in a building that had been home to gay bars going back to at least 1964. The new owners completely remodeled the place making it “a whole new ball game” and adopted the tag line, “where you’ll never strike out.” The Ball Game hosted a number of shows, drag contests, pageants, and, naturally, softball and other sports teams. It was one of Milwaukee’s longer running bars, but by the turn of the millennium the Ball Game’s location was no longer the center of gay nightlife. The Ball Game was finally called in August of 2012.

lachs01

TODAY IN HISTORY:
35 YEARS AGO: First Openly Gay Judge Appointed to the Bench: 1979. The news wires across the country buzzed with news that California’s Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Stephen M. Lachs, “an avowed homosexual“, as a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. He had searched as a Superior Court commissioner for nearly five years, while also serving as a board member fothe Los Angeles Gay Community Services Centre. Lachs recognized his appointment as “an important step” for gay rights. “There probably are millions of lesbians and gay men in the country who are performing their jobs very well and yet are in positions where they feel they cannot allow their sexual preference to be known. This is hopefully something we will tart seeing the end of.”

He also recognized that his appointment on the bench might be controversial. “I feel that it could present problems. Judges come up for reelection and surely it could be an issue. I wold hope that when I stand for re-election, (voters) would consider my work on the bench.” His hope was well-founded, and he remained on the bench until his retirement in 1999.

Reagan

President Reagan Mentions AIDS for the First Time: 1985. According to urban legend, President Ronald Reagan never mentioned AIDS during his presidency. Or, according to another version of urban legend, he he did mention it, but not until 1987. The truth is that Reagan didn’t talk much about AIDS during his administration after so many thousands had suffered such early and agonizing deaths — in sharp contrast to the government’s vigorous and immediate response when 34 military veterans (and presumably not homosexual ones) died from Legionellosis — Legionaries Disease — at an American Legion convention in 1975. And the truth is that it was on this date in 1985 when Reagan finally mentioned AIDS, four years and some 12,000 deaths after first reports of the disease in 1981. The brief mention came at a news conference when a reporter asked about the budget allocation for research:

Q: Mr. President, the Nation’s best-known AIDS scientist says the time has come now to boost existing research into what he called a minor moonshot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the Nation’s health workers and even its schoolchildren. Would you support a massive government research program against AIDS like the one that President Nixon launched against cancer?

President Reagan: I have been supporting it for more than 4 years now. It’s been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for ’86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.

A reporter also asked whether he would send his children, if they were younger, to a school with a child who has AIDS. He responded:

It is true that some medical sources had said that this cannot be communicated in any way other than the ones we already know and which would not involve a child being in the school. And yet medicine has not come forth unequivocally and said, ‘This we know for a fact, that it is safe.’ And until they do, I think we just have to do the best we can with this problem. I can understand both sides of it.

The mother of Ryan White, the 13-year-old teen with AIDS who was forced to attend classes via telephone because his Kokomo, Indiana school district prohibited him from going to school, was disappointed that Reagan didn’t take the opportunity to tell parents they shouldn’t fear that their children could catch AIDS through casual contact. And Rep. Gary Studds (D-MA) disputed Reagan’s statement that AIDS research was a top priority:

“… The president said last night it is one of the top priorities of the last four years,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in an interview Wednesday. “Under those circumstances, it is more than a little difficult to imagine why he has never mentioned it once before in public.”

…At his news conference Tuesday night, Reagan, responding to reporters’ questions, said more than $500 million had been spent to try to find ways of combatting AIDS, a fatal virus which attacks the body’s ability to fight disease. But Studds said Reagan’s requests to Congress for fiscal years 1982 through 1986 were far less than that amount, and the money was appropriated only because Congress went beyond administration requests. “The administration’s request for the five fiscal years in question, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’85 and ’86, adds up to $213.5 million,” Studds said. “The way I read that, it’s less than ‘over half a billion’ by a substantial amount.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Roddy McDowall: 1928-1998. The child actor began appearing in British films at the age of ten, but the bombing of London during World War II interrupted his career when McDowall was among thousands of British children sent to the safety of America. A year later, his role as Huw Morgan in How Green Was My Valley made him a household name. He followed that success with 1943′s Lassie Come Home, where he met lifelong friend Elizabeth Taylor. That same year, he appeared as the son of Wyoming ranchers who was given a colt to raise in My Friend Flicka of the two films, McDowall later recalled, “I really liked Lassie, but that horse, Flicka, was a nasty animal with a terrible disposition. All the Flickas – all six of them – were awful.”

“Nuthin’ like an invigorating swim to build a man’s appetite. So, it was off to raid the icebox for Tab and Roddy. As luck would have it, Mrs. McDowall had a delicious chocolate cake, hot dog sandwiches ready.” — a publicity still for the June 1963 issue of Calling All Girls. (Click to enlarge)

By his late teens, McDowall began the tricky transition from teen idol to adult actor. He did this by leaving Hollywood and going to New York to study acting. After winning a Tony award for Best Supporting Actor as Tarquin in Jean Anouilh’s The Fighting Cock, he returned to Hollywood. In 1963, he played Octavian in Cleopatra for which he was an early favorite for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, he was disqualified when Fox studios mistakenly submitted his nomination under the Best Actor category. He most famous role is one in which no one sees his face — under heavy makeup as Cornelius in four of the five original Planet of the Apes
films. But that didn’t prevent him from being one of Hollywood’s more recognizable faces, thanks to television appearances including The Twilight Zone, The Carol Burnett Show, Columbo, Hollywood Squares, and as “The Bookworm” in the 1960s camp classic Batman.

McDowall never married, and died of lung cancer in 1998. Like most actors of his generation, he also never came out. He was probably one of Hollywood’s most trusted celebrities; he was known among his friends as a man of kindness and who could keep a secret (his disdain for Flicka notwithstanding). Besides one rumor of his having a relationship with Montgomery Clift, the nicest man in Hollywood managed to avoid the most intrusive (and career-limiting) aspects of the rumor mill during his lifetime

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?

Dancing with the Stars features Duck Dynasty progeny

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2014

mirrorballI enjoy watching ABC’s Dancing With The Stars or, as I call it, Dancing With The Hasbeens. Sports figures join 1980′s TV actors and the occasional political hack to learn new dance steps each week and earn votes from viewers. One of the more amusing aspects of the show is its effort to draw in as many diverse viewers as possible. Race car drivers (several, now), telenova stars, comedians, fashion designers, you name it, they appear as “stars”.

Mostly it’s harmless fun and at the end of a long day you can stare at the tube and watch the pretty people in colorful clothes move around to music without much mental strain.

But there are also a few things about the show which annoy me. Increasingly, each season, regular judge Bruno Tonioli has become more and more of a stereotype of a prancing, mincing, shrieking queen that fit better in a bad 70′s movie. He purses his lips and flails his arms and makes coy suggestions to every male contestant – which is not only grating but a distraction from his legitimate purpose as a dance judge.

And then there’s the gratuitous ploy for politically conservative viewers.

Now I have no problem with watching Tom Delay dance. It’s actually kind of nice to see conservative folk in a setting other than one in which we disagree politically. It reminds us that we truly are mostly the same.

But in recent seasons, it seems that the show has decided that it has to provide a “balance” to Bruno’s glitter parade by not merely including conservative figures, but looking for someone with a connection to true homophobia. Not necessarily the person most known for their anti-gay activism, but a close family member.

In Fall 2010, and back for Fall 2012, was Bristol Palin.

Bristol isn’t exactly a sweet girl – or so her social media comments would suggest – but I don’t have much objection to her. However, there is no category in which she is a “star”. She was selected merely because of her mother. And one of her mother’s (many) polarizing issues was her anti-gay activism.

Candace Cameron Bure, Spring 2014, was a bit more troubling. Candace is a “star” in her own right, and is known for playing DJ Tanner on Full House from 1987 to 1995. However, Bure is better known as being Kirk Cameron’s sister. And currently Kirk Cameron is most visible as a conservative Christian activist whose most notable recent appearance was a guest spot on Piers Morgan’s show where he called homosexuality unnatural and described same-sex marriage as “destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization”.

And while that could be coincidental, Bure’s weekly effort to work “faith” or “family” into her weekly on-screen moments could not be ignored as anything other than a way of letting the family values types know that they could vote for someone who shared their values.

And now Dancing With the Stars has pulled out all stops. The one person most associated with anti-gay statements and blatant homophobia in the country at present is likely Phil Robertson. The patriarch on the Duck Dynasty show has spouted such thoughtful contributions as the idea that sinful behavior starts with homosexuality and morphs to bestiality.

Last week he had this to say on Tony Perkin’s talk show about his anti-gay rants:

You know if you just look at the physiological downside to immorality, I mean a great question to ask is, “Why is it that all these just ah, is it coincidental that viewing all of the immoral conduct that America’s now participating in”, I’ve asked a lot of people, “Do you think it’s a coincidence that all of these debilitating and, belittley, it can cause death diseases follow that kind of conduct?”

God said, “one woman, one man” and then everybody said, “that’s old hat, that’s that old Bible stuff.”, but I’m thinking, “Well, let’s see now, But I’m thinking, well let’s see now, a clean guy — a disease-free guy and a disease-free woman — they marry and they keep their sex between the two of them. Uh, they’re not going to get chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and syphilis, and AIDS. It’s, it’s safe.”

Well, to me, either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or, it’s God saying, “There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.” I’m leaning towards there’s a penalty toward it.

In keeping with their pattern, Dancing With The Stars decided to include Phil Robertson’s granddaughter, Sadie Robertson, on the show.

Now, I’m not overly distraught over Duck Dynasty. And I have no idea as to Sadie’s views or Sadie’s activism. She may be a lovely young woman.

But from the few episodes I’ve seen of Duck Dynasty, Sadie is barely visible. Certainly not enough to become a viewership draw in her own right. Rather DWTS has included her due to her association with her family – one embroiled in controversy over a long and loud pattern of anti-gay obsession.

Individually, I have no objection to Bristol Palin, Candace Cameron Bure, or Sadie Robertson. But I am discomforted by the pattern that appears to be emerging. It would seem that if one wants to be on Dancing with the Stars, your chances are best when you have a highly visible, fiercely anti-gay, close family member.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, September 16

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907.

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907.

From the ad copy: “It gives a long and pounding stroke, medium and side stroke, short and rubbing motion.”

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
100 YEARS AGO: The Severe Effects of Masturbation: 1914. Non-procreative sex has long been seen as a terrible problem in Western society. Biblical prohibitions against adultery, onanism (masturbation), and lying with a man as one lies with a woman are obvious sources for that disdain of sex for sex’s sake. Add to that the scourge of the clap (gonorrhea) and, worse, the pox (syphilis), both of which were incurable for several centuries and only reinforced the perceived dangers of all forms of non-procreative sex, including masturbation. Today, we see the manual method as being perhaps the safest of safe-sex practices, but until the first third of the twentieth century, that idea was far from acceptable, even among a number of medical authorities. And believe it or not, those who warned against the health dangers of masturbation had science — well, proto-science, anyway — to back them up.

Before the mid-1800′s when germ theory began to take root, the mechanisms by which syphilis and gonorrhea were spread were poorly understood. People could only go by what they saw, and what they saw was that those who were more likely to contract these diseases were those who had a lot of sex. And in a time when people didn’t talk about the deed, those who “had a lot of sex” were those who were rather infamously having a lot of sex — those who were patronizing prostitutes, but also young men with, shall we say, time on their hands. And what happens when time is up? Two things: seed is spilt and exhaustion sets in, at least momentarily. And it was the second thing, that momentary “weakening,” which was believed to be the very opportunity which diseases seized upon to enter the body and take root. The reasoning went like this: since weak people got sick, and sex made people weak, it’s only logical that sex, especially lots of sex, made people sick.

Now for women – who were already the “weaker sex” – it was easy to believe that an excessive number of orgasms alone left them vulnerable to disease But what about men? Well, that momentary exhaustion following orgasm — that afterglow, we call it today — wasn’t the only problem. According to medical science — science!, mind you — that very loss of semen added another dimension of vulnerability to those otherwise virile, hearty men. That belief was expressed in a book published in the early 1700s by an unknown London doctor and clergyman. The title was, quite simply, was Onania; or, the Heinous SIN of Self-Pollution, and All its Frightful Confequences, in both SEXES, Confider’d. With Spiritual and Phyfical Advice to Thofe, who have already injur’d themfelves by this abominable Practice. And feafonable Admonition to the Youth of the Nation, (of both SEXES) and thofe whofe Tuition they are under, whether Parents, Guardians, Mafters, or Miftreffes.

The title page alone will leave you spent.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, the loss of semen — it turns out that spilling that vital seed willy-nilly placed an inordinate strain on the blood supply:

The blood is made into Seed, which is further elaborated and purify’d in the Epidydimides, from whence by the Vafa deferensin, it is carried into the Veficulæ Seminales, where it is laid up till by contractions of thofe Veficulæ, it is carried through the Proftate into the Urethra, and forc’d through the Capuit Galinaginis, which hinders the voluntary running of it. The oftner these Veficulæ Seminales are emptied, the more is made for the Tefticles, and consequently the greater Confumption of the fineft and moft Balfamick part of the Blood.

Blood was well-recognized as, well, the lifeblood of the human body. When blood was spilled, life was in danger, and it often ended. And so it stood to reason that if the “finest Baslamic part of the Blood” was used to replenish the supply of semen, then male vigor was threatened any time that precious supply was squandered. Do it too often, and life itself was in peril.

Silly, isn’t it? But once an idea takes root, it often remains stubbornly planted long after the germ of its genesis is long forgotten. So let’s fast forward some two hundred years. The microscope confirmed the role of germs and viruses in causing diseases, and antiseptics made hospitals places where people recovered, not places where they went to die. As for beliefs about non-procreative sex, many in the medical profession began to understand that the spilling of a little seed here and there wasn’t something to get too worked up about. But it took a long time for that knowledge to become universal, even among medical professionals. And part of the reason for it is that now the feared harms of masturbation were no longer just physical, but generational, thanks to Degeneration Theory (see Sep 9 for an introduction). Now masturbation’s not just physically harmful, but its assault on the nervous system causes mental and emotional harms which then became embedded in the offsprings’ hereditary make-up and were then passed down through the generations. So the theory went.

“The results of masturbation”: the Blum is off.

By 1914, Degeneration Theory had mostly run its course, but its ghosts still ran heavy in medicine and the social sciences. For evidence of that, you need look no further than the September 1914 issue of the American Journal of Urology featured the last of a four part series on the deleterious effects of masturbation by Dr. Victor Blum, of the Vienna General Polyclinic. In his final installment, titled simply “Results of Masturbation,” he posed the question: “Is masturbation a primary affection, or is it the result of a special neuropathic disposition?” An answer of “neither” was quickly ruled out:

It is denied by some authors that the act of masturbation is essentially different from the normal satisfaction of the sexual needs. Both arise from the same source, the human sexual instinct; both are physiologically and mechanically very similar actions; and yet clinical experience teaches that masturbation has an entirely different effect upon the nervous system from natural coitus. We have considered this question thoroughly elsewhere, and came to the conclusion, that habitual masturbation in some way represents an injury, in spite of the apparent identity of the two actions in their individual acts, because it is an abnormality of the sexual life.

The severe effects of masturbation, however, only occur when the injury affects an originally non-resistant nervous system, that is, when the unnatural sexual life is added as a specific agent to a nervous constitution.

When masturbation leads to severe nervous disorders in otherwise quite normally constituted men, we must suppose the cause of this to be the immoderate sexual activity in early youth, a time when the sensitive organism cannot bear without injury the repeated severe shocks to the nervous system resulting from the sexual acts and perhaps also from the frequent seminal losses.

As you may have guessed, these breathtaking conclusions were not arrived at by anything remotely resembling the Scientific Method. No experiments, no studies, no controls, no analysis. Just one declarative statement following upon another. And while Degeneration Theory did add an additional concern to the effects of masturbation, there still lurked the primordial belief that semen loss was still an issue. Blum himself dismissed it, but the journal’s editor, William J. Robinson, felt compelled to interject with a parenthetical paragraph to re-introduce the eighteenth-century “fact”:

It is my positive conviction that in some people the mere withdrawal of a certain amount of semen can have a disastrous effect on the economy. … For as soon as the seminal vesicles and the testicles are emptied of their reserve semen, the latter at once begin to elaborate new semen, and in the process of elaboration valuable vital material is withdrawn from the economy, material which evidently is of great importance to the brain and spinal cord-in short, to the entire nervous system.

Didn’t we just read something very similar to that from two hundred years earlier? The only difference here is that masturbation didn’t exhaust the blood supply, but the central nervous system’s “economy”. Robinson then bowed out and let Blum resume his conjectures:

The principal injurious effect manifested is upon the nervous system, from the early suffered and frequently repeated severe shocks of the sexual act, and upon the general health, since in every sexual activity a cooperation of other organs is unavoidable. Thus we see disturbances occur in the circulatory and respiratory systems and in the functions of the visceral organs. The results of onanism upon the individual organs we have already reported in the chapter on sexual neurasthenia. The relations between masturbation and mental and psychic changes in the youthful masturbator have also been treated in that chapter.

If the reader has any doubts, Blum closes with the case of a twenty-year-old “unfortunate, who made his confession in the form of a letter”:

“My present state is a sad one. Unfounded fears, quick exhaustion of the entire body, especially of the hands and feet; poor memory, anger at the least trifle and especially pleasure in quarreling. I am fond of seeking lonely places, where I can sit all day and meditate on my lost happiness of youth. I should be happy to wander, if I could only go far, far away from Vienna.

“I get up in the morning more tired than when I went to bed, and have a morbid sleepiness so that I often sleep during my office hours. My complaints are: pain in urinating, pain in the feet and hands, then also in the hips and the head. The way in which I seek satisfaction is to rub the penis so long or to move to and fro so long on the bed until the pleasure comes, often in the reclining position, often in the standing during the day three or four times and alas! oftener sometimes. The penis will not relax until the semen is emptied, which causes terrible pains. When the semen has been evacuated I am weak and cannot recover for twenty to thirty minutes, while the heart beats strongly and I have difficulty in breathing. Afterwards I can urinate only with difficulty, often with tears in my eyes.

“…To conclude, I fear that the end of these sad youthful errors will be madness; as the books all say at the end, there is no hope for me, and the madhouse threatens me. I have come to this supposition by reading the so-called popular scientific books — thus incurable! Especially the book entitled ‘Masturbation and its Terrible Results,’ let no other thoughts arise in me than those of the madhouse.”

So let that be a warning to you.

[Sources: Anonymous. Onania: or, the Heinous Sin... 9th ed. (London: Fliz. Rumball: 1723). Available online here.

Victor Blum. "Results of masturbation." American Journal of Urology 10, no. 9 (September 1914): 410-414. Available online here.]

Billy Glover (left) with his one-time partner and lifelong friend, Melvin Cain.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Billy Glover: 1932. There aren’t many people still around who were part of the homophile movement of the late 1950s. Those few who are, are a tremendous treasure to the LGBT community. A native of Bossier City, Louisiana and an alumnus of Louisiana State University (where he says he had “more fun than learning”), Billy Glover was drafted in the army in 1955, only to be discharged in 1956 for “acting up” — his words — with another man after learning that he wouldn’t get to go to Germany after training at Fort Benjamin Harrison.

He moved to Los Angeles, where he saw ONE magazine at local newsstands. Intrigued, he decided one day to show up at ONE’s office, where he met Jim Kepner, one of the magazine’s principal writers. Kepner advised him to go to the Mattachine convention in Denver. That experience led Glover to decide to work full time for the movement. He spent a few weeks working for Hal Call (see Sep 20) in San Francisco before returning to ONE in Los Angeles. He worked first as a volunteer, then as the organization’s first paid employee after Kepner left in 1960. Glover’s role, at first, was mostly as a gofer. He helped to distribute copies of ONE to local newsstands and package the magazines in their brown paper wrappers for mailing to subscribers. He did much of the bookkeeping, and in 1962 held the title of Secretary of Social Services.

By 1964, infighting was mounting within ONE, Inc., largely due to two powerful personalities who saw ONE’s future in two entirely different ways. Dorr Legg (see Dec 15), envisioned the organization’s main mission as educational. He established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies, the organization’s educational arm which became the first institution to provide LGBT studies in the U.S. (even going so far as to gain accreditation with the State of California.) Don Slater (see Aug 21), ONE magazine’s editor, also saw the organization’s main mission as educational, but believed that the magazine, along with the organization’s vast archives (Slater was also ONE’s archivist), was the best way to further that mission. The split came to a head during a rancorous board meeting in January, 1964, when Slater pressed the board to elect Glover to fill a vacancy. Legg and his faction opposed the nomination, and balloting went into the night and well into the next day. The debacle led two board members to resign in disgust, and allegations of vote rigging made the legitimacy of two more members’ positions questionable. Nevertheless, the group held together, tenuously, until April, 1965, when Legg, with his allegedly “packed” board’s backing, effectively fired much of ONE’s editorial staff – at least those who hadn’t resigned in anger.

Slater saw that as more evidence that Legg was determined to shut down the magazine and transfer all of the organization’s resources to his fledgling Institute. The following Saturday night, Slater, Glover, and Slater’s partner, Tony Reyes, entered ONE’s darkened offices, packed up the magazine’s assets and archives, and moved the operation, lock stock and barrel, to a new location “for the protection of the property of the corporation.” For three months, confused subscribers received two competing issues of ONE in the mail, one published by ONE, Inc., and the other by Slater’s The Tangent Group, named for a popular column in ONE. In the ensuring court battle, ONE, Inc. was allowed to keep its name. But, partly because ONE’s governance was in shambles, the Tangent Group was allowed to keep its assets.

Glover stayed with Slater and the Tangents Group, which later incorporated as the Homosexual Information Center with Glover as its president. He worked on the committee which organized the 1966 protest, known as “the motorcade,” which protested the exclusion of gays from the military, and he was part of the 1969 protest against The Los Angeles Times over its refusal to print an advertisement because it contained the word “homosexual” (see Nov 5) Glover returned to Louisiana in 1989 for family reasons, although he remained active in HIC.

Glover was never much of a leader, per se, in the gay rights movement. Instead, he has been just one of its many foot soldiers who happened to play some rather pivotal roles when called upon to do so. That seems to be the particular example he has set, and it is the advice that he passes on to others: when you have a cause you believe in, get involved:

You don’t have to know anything at first. You don’t even have to become a “leader” or “expert” but just being there to help and support each other is the main benefit to you and the cause. And when you look back years later, as I have, you will see that by luck you seemed destined to do what you have done, and you can have no regrets for what you didn’t risk doing since you took a chance and followed what seemed like a dream. As one of ONE’s founders said in the fifties, to actually someday see people like us marching down Hollywood Boulevard proudly and to have lived to see that day multiplied around the nation is enough.

Billy turns 82 today, and is living in his old family home on Bossier City where he’s still active online with his prolific and informative emails, some of which ends up on his blog.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, September 15

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Passes Anti-Gay Ordinance, Launches “Super-Secret Inquiry”: 1954. The Miami City Commission took a somewhat comical turn in responding to the newspaper-driven anti-gay hysteria campaign (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, and Sep 7) when it unanimously voted to earmark $5,000 — that’s $43,000 in today’s money — so that city manager Arthur Evans could launch what was described by The Miami News as a “super-secret investigation of morals and gambling conditions in Miami.” The Commission also voted 4-1 to approve an ordinance which made it a violation for persons of the same sex to “embrace, caress or dance in public or to adopt mannerisms or facial makeup or dress of the opposite sex.” The News didn’t indicate what the penalty for violating the ordinance would be.

Earlier that week, Miami’s mayor Abe Aronovitz announced that he was drawing up an ordinance which would prohibit Miami bar owners from selling liquor or bear “to known sex perverts” and direct the offending bars be referred to the State Beverage Department with a recommendation that their licenses be revoked. In announcing that proposal, Aronovitz said, “I think it is a far greater menace to sell liquor to perverts than to minors.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Ann Bannon: 1932. Born Ann Weldy, the future “Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction” experienced her first stirrings over her sexuality while a sister at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the early 1950s. Noticing that a younger sorority sister was being flirtatious with an older one, she felt both awkward and fascinated. “I saw a lot of it happening and I didn’t know what to make of it. I don’t even know how to put it—I was absolutely consumed with it, it was an extraordinary thing.”

She nevertheless married after graduating in 1954 — becoming Ann Holmquist in the process — and soon became the mother of two children. But she clearly couldn’t put her sorority experience out of her mind. She had read two lesbian novels: Radclyffe Hall’s dismal 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness — practically required reading for every lesbian in the 1950s — and Vin Paker’s Spring Fire from 1952. Because Spring Fire was set in a boarding school, Bannon could more easily identify with that story line. She also decided to try her hand at fiction writing. She wrote to Packer — real name Marijane Meaker — asking for advice on how to get published. To her surprise, Meaker answered with an invitation to meet in Greenwich Village. There, the young mother could see “Emerald City, Wonderland, and Brigadoon combined —- a place where gay people could walk the crooked streets hand in hand.”

Odd Girl Out, first edition cover, 1957.

Ann Weldy Hulmquist then took the pen name of Ann Bannon, wrote Odd Girl Out based on her own sorority experience, and saw her book published by Gold Medal Books in 1957. It became the second best selling original paperback that year. Between 1957 and 1962, she wrote four others — I Am a Woman, Women in the Shadows, Journey to a Woman, and Beebo Brinker. But with the completion of her fifth novel, Bannon decided that her writing career had run its course. She went back to college to earn a master’s and a doctorate in linguistics, and became a professor and, later, an associate dean at Cal State in Sacramento. She remained largely unrecognized, although her novels were rediscovered and re-issued several times over the years. Occasionally, one of the university librarians would bump into her and comment on a new edition the library received, or a student would find out who she was.

It wasn’t until her difficult marriage ended in a bitter divorce in the 1980s and she retired in the late 1990s, that she finally began to realize how important those little mass market paperbacks were to generations of lesbians who had little other media or literary representations to draw on. As Bannon recalled in 2002:

To the persistent surprise of many of us, and of the critics who found us such an easy target years ago, the books by, of and for women found a life of their own. They — and we — may still not be regarded as conventionally acceptable ‘nice’ literature, as it were — but I have come to value that historical judgment. We wrote the stories no one else could tell. And in so doing, we captured a slice of life in a particular time and place that still resonates for members of our community.

In 1997, her work was included in Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, a collection of authors who had made the deepest impact on the lives and identities of gays and lesbians, which was used as a college textbook for LGBT studies across the country. In 2004, three of her novels were translated into an award-winning play titled “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles,” which had two successful runs in New York in 2007 and 2008. The second run was staged with Lily Tomlin and her partner Jane Wagner as executive producers. In 2008, Bannon was given the Pioneer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation. She still tours the country, visiting paperback-collecting and pulp fiction conventions, and she is often invited to speak at colleges and universities. You can find out more at her web site.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, September 14

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VTNags Head (Outer Banks), NC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

“No establishment shall make facilities available for the purpose of sexual activities where anal intercourse, vaginal intercourse, or fellatio take place. Such facilities shall constitute a threat to the public health.” So reads the New York state code in Section 24-2.2. The code was adopted in the early 1990s over the objections of HIV/AIDS advocates. New York City had been closing down bathhouses since the mid-1980s. But the Wall Street Sauna somehow managed to escape all of those efforts until 2004, when a New York Appeals Court sided with the City and ordered the Sauna closed.

The Sauna’s opened in 1974, and its location one 1 Maiden Lane just four blocks from the New York Stock Exchange made it instantly popular with area businessmen. An article for the Village Voice in 1976 described the Sauna as “where businessmen get their rocks off during the lunch hour (it’s called “funch”).” After the AIDS crisis led to the shuttering of other bathhouses and sex clubs, the Wall Street Sauna soldiered on with the owners insisting, implausibly, that men were not using their facility for sex. Finally the New York Heath Department ordered the Sauna closed in February, 2004, but part of the sauna reopened a week later after the owners agreed to a court order that all sexual activity would be prohibited. But health inspector reported seeing sexual behavior in April, and the city appealed the lower court’s ruling. On July 8, the state appeals court sided with the city and ordered the Sauna closed once and for all.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Disgusting Depravity: 1822. The following notice appeared in the September 14, 1822 edition of The Times of London:

DISGUSTING DEPRAVITY — On Monday last Benjamin Candler, late valet to the Duke of Newcastle, was committed to Lincoln Castle by Sir R. Heron, Bart., charged with an unnatural offence. On the same day was committed to the same place by the Alderman of Grantham, William Arden, Esq., of Great Pultney-street, Golden-square, London, charged with the same offence; and on Tuesday was committed to the Castle , by the Alderman of Grantham, John Doughty, of Grantham, joiner, charged with the same. A discovery of the abominable intercourse which had been carried on it, it is stated, was made through the circumstance of a letter from Rantham, intended for the valet at Clumber, but accidentally not addressed on the outside, falling into the hands of the Duke of Newcastle. His Grace, on discovering the nature of the contents, proceeded with due caution for furthering the purposes of justice, and the consequence has been the commitment of the above persons to Lincoln Castle for trial at the next assizes. The person committed as an Esquire, was apprehended in London after the first examination of the others at Grantham, and was brought down in safe custody in one of the mail coaches on Sunday morning. We understand that he had apartments at Grantham during the last hunting season.

The “unnatural offence” was a capital crime, and the three men were hanged at Lincoln Castle on March 21, 1823.

25 YEARS AGO: ACT UP Protests At NY Stock Exchange: 1989. Chaining themselves to a banister at the New York Stock Exchange and unfurling a sign reading “SELL WELLCOME,” five AIDS activists protested the price set by Burroughs Wellcome for AZT, the only drug that had been approved in the U.S. to fight AIDS. Burroughs Wellcome had been charging from $7,000 to $8,000 per year for the drug, which was far beyond the ability for many people to pay. Four days later, Burroughs Wellcome announced a twenty percent reduction in the wholesale price of the drug. A spokesman denied that the announcement was connected to the high profile protest.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
60 YEARS AGO: David Wojnarowicz: 1954-1992. In November of 2010, G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, made the executive decision to remove a short silent film A Fire in My Belly by David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” The film, which included a twelve-second scene of ants crawling over a crucifix, was denounced by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue as anti-Catholic “hate speech.” Clough removed the video after complaints from soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), but he neglected to consult co-curator, gay activist and art historian Jonathan David Katz, about the decision. “It was an incredibly stupid decision. I am flabbergasted that they rose to the bait so readily,” he said in an interview after the video was removed. The irony, which was not lost on anyone, is that the whole point of “Hide/Seek” was to highlight the role of sexual difference in American portraiture, including the effects of marginalization (hence, the “hide”). Katz saw history repeating itself:

In 1989 Senator Jesse Helms demonized Robert Mapplethorpe’s sexuality, and by extension, his art, and with little effort pulled a cowering art world to its knees. His weapon was threatening to disrupt the already pitiful federal support for the arts. And once again, that same weapon is being brandished, and once again we cower.

Untitled (One Day This Kid…), 1990. Click to enlarge.

Wojnarowicz, who at 37 died of AIDS in 1992, wasn’t one to cower, although he certainly had the kind of life experiences which might have encouraged him to do so. Born in Red Bank, New Jersey he grew up with an exceptionally cruel and abusive father. After his parents divorced, he and his siblings were bounced back and forth between parents — at one point, his father kidnapped them and took them to Rural Michigan — until they finally ended up with their mother in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. By the time he was sixteen, he ran away from home and was living on the streets. He supported himself through prostitution and became fascinated with the social outcasts he met in abandoned warehouses and on street corners. His graffiti soon morphed into elaborate paintings on the walls of abandoned buildings. At one point, he spent some time in Paris with his sister, where he became more serious about photography and painting. When he returned to New York, his unique brand of confrontational street art found an audience alongside other underground artists like Keith Haring (who Wojnarowicz didn’t get along with).

Wojnarowicz had a combustible personality. When one gallery damaged one of his paintings and refused to repair it, Wojnarowicz retaliated by taking a tire iron to the gallery’s pristine white walls. In 1989, Wojnarowicz wrote a blistering essay, “Postcards form America: X-rays from Hell,” which blasted several public figures, Cardinal O’Connor in particular (“this fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas”). The essay appeared in an exhibition catalogue, prompting the National Endowment for the Arts to rescind its funding for the show. This made Wojnarowicz the newest bogeyman for the religious right. But when the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon copied, distorted, and disseminated Wojnariwicz’s image in a pamphlet as part of a campaign against the NEA, Wojnarowicz sued the AFA and won a historic Supreme Court case which is forever enshrined as David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association (see Apr 8).

Which, of course, makes the Smithsonian’s actions in 2010 all the more relevant. Here is the version of A Fire in My Belly which led the Smithsonian to crumple like a bad suit against Donohue’s charges of blasphemy. This same video was also projected onto the exterior walls of the National Portrait Gallery during a protest over the Smithsonian’s censorship.

YouTube Preview Image

David Wojnarowicz’s life is chronicled in Cynthia Carr’s definitive biography Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz, which was released in 2012.

Another one for his fans.

Ben Cohen: 1978. The former England Rugby Union player for Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks, Cohen was already a well-liked gay icon before retiring from professional rugby in 2011. He often speaks highly of his gay following, a fan base which he has rewarded by almost never wearing a shirt. In 2010, he released this video as part of the “It Gets Better” project and, since retiring, he has devoted his time to the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which he established as the world’s first foundation dedicated to combating anti-gay bulling and homophobia. He was inspired by two things in his life: his father was killed when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked, and Cohen’s clinical deafness (he has about a 33% hearing loss in each ear) has made him keenly aware of how being different can make someone stand out.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 13

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Charlottesville, VA; Chula Vista, CA; Greensboro, NC; Pride Humboldt/Eureka CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Nags Head (Outer Banks), NC; Savannah, GA; Spartansburg, SC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From 1965 to 1968, Houston had a gay newspaper called the Albatross. In its issue published on October 1, 1965, the Albatross welcomed a new advertiser from Lake Charles, Louisiana:

Lounging around the Calcasieu at THE GASLIGHT with genial hostess, Georgia, and associates, Rene and Giselle doing a good Saturday biz. A new sponsor of THE ALBATROSS, The Gaslight bows into this issue with their ad and invites all of their friends of other towns and cities to stop in for hospitality cognizicant (sic) of fair Lake Charles. Your reporter truly enjoyed the flavor of drinks… atmosphere… and well-rounded personalities who makeup (sic) the GASLIGHT! Come see Georgia!

The Gaslight didn’t seem to last very long. Its advertisements were gone by 1968. The building today houses a hair salon.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 “Inter Christianos Non Nominandum”: 1892. Talking about homosexuality in the nineteenth century was extremely difficult for one simple reason: if you wanted to talk about it in English, words literally failed. There was no such word as “homosexuality” or anything else resembling it in the English language. Sure, words like “buggery” and “sodomy” were available, but they suggested a criminal or sinful view of homosexuality. And because the emerging medical and psychological professions wanted to approach the subject from an objective, scientific standpoint (or, more precisely, a nineteenth-century approximation of an objective, scientific standpoint), they avoided those words as much as possible. The problem though was that there were no other words to turn to. Where English failed, sometimes Latin would suffice: “peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nominandum, or “that horrible crime not to be named among Christians.” But even that was unacceptable, since it still referred to that thing as a “horrible crime.” What they really wanted was something that would uphold the illness model that was beginning to gain acceptance among the more enlightened elements of learned society. But nothing came, at least not in English (see May 6). And so or the better part of a century, it remained unnamed — or at best, awkwardly named — among clinicians, doctors, sociologists or anthropologists either.

During a meeting of the Medical Society of Virginia held at Allegheny Springs on September 13, 1892, Dr. Irving C. Rosse, professor of Nervous Diseases at Georgetown University took his stab at this problem during his lecture, “Sexual Hypochondriasis and Perversion of the Genesic [procreative] Instinct.” Those listed perversions included many things, including what he called, “the superannuated subjects of spermatorrhœa (nocturnal emission) and venereal excesses now relegated to quacks and the advertisements of religious newspapers.” It was those quacks and advertisements which, he felt was the real cause of the “sexual hypochondria” he was seeing. Through much of the nineteenth century, non-procreative sex (and any discharge of semen in non-procreative activity, including nocturnal emissions) was widely believed to be the cause of all sorts of mental and physical ills. These beliefs came from many sources (see Mar 4, Jul 5Oct 16, for example), but in the minds of many in the medical and mental health fields, those beliefs were confirmed by observing that a lot of people in insane asylums masturbated. Because this belief was so widespread, doctors saw all kinds of people in their offices who feared that they may go mad unless their impulses were cured (see Sep 16, for example).

Hence the unnecessary “sexual hypochondria” that Rosse believed was increasing in the population, which he blamed on ignorance and sexual superstitions that plagued society. Rosse contended that leaving the entire field of discussion to nonscientists set a dangerous course. “The Manœuvers of either sex to produce the venereal orgasm independently of the conditions of normal coitus, and known comprehensively as genital abuse, merit the scientific study of the psychiatrist and neurologist, owing to the prevalence and spread of sexual crime and the fact that legal medicine calls for clearer knowledge upon this point.” Rosse tried to add to that “clearer knowledge,” although he too was hobbled by a number of superstitions that were accepted as scientific fact. He described several case studies, personal observations and newspaper accounts, including several accounts of homosexuality among various tribes, cultures, a few infamous clubs in New York City. He even described two male elephants in a zoo which he observed caressing each other in a manner “prohibited by the rules of at least one Christian denomination.” But Rosse lamented that medical professions, who were “clearly the only persons qualified to give trustworthy information in regard to sexual matters,” were hobbled by their timidity in addressing the topic in plain English.

So squeamish are some English-speaking people on this point that they have no terms to designate the “nameless crime” that moves in the dark. Many of the Continental writers, however, make no attempt to hide the matter under a symbolic veil, and deal with it in terms as naked and unequivocal as those used by the old historians, from whom hundreds of citations might be made, and this too without incurring the reproach of pedantry.

In fact, it would be Continental writers who would eventually provide the English language with the words that we would eventually use to talk about all sorts of sexual matters. The German word “Homosexualität” finally made its English appearance at around 1894, but it was slow to catch on as the anglicized “homosexuality” (see May 6). Rosse pointed to other words which he felt might be useful: “irrumation” and “fellatrice,” as he rendered them in a quasi-English form. I don’t know whether he paused during his talk to define them, but when Rosse’s lecture was published in the November 1892 edition of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, he helpfully provided these definitions in the footnotes:

These terms not being Englished the following definitions are given:
Irrumare: penem in os arrigere.

Fellatrix: dicitur ea quæ vel labris vel lingua perfricandi atque exsugendi officium peni præstat.

That’s right, like the peccatum illud horribile, Rosse reverted to Latin for his definitions of what we now know as active and passive fellatio. Rosse’s protestations notwithstanding, the lifting of the symbolic veil among English language writers would have to wait another generation before sexuality would cease to be inter christianos non nominandum.

[Source. Irvine C. Rosse. "Sexual hypochondriasis and perversion of the genesic instinct." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 17, no. 11 (November 1892): 795-811. You can find contemporary discussions of his lectures published in other medical journals here, here and here.]

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that's how they rolled.

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that’s how they rolled.

 FBI Memorandum Calls for Information on Gay Government Employees: 1951. As Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) twinned Red and Lavender Scares continued to wreck havoc with thousands of innocent lives across America, Herbert Hoover’s FBI was determined not to be left behind in the contest to see who could be more anti-Communist or anti-homosexual. On September 13, 1951, the FBI issued another of its many regular Bureau Bulletins to its field offices with that week’s set of instructions. Bulletin Number 38 touched on a number of topics: the interstate transportation of stolen cattle, new rules on intra-bureau correspondence, changes to travel regulations, charges for long distance calls, a request to provide information “on any Communist Party member or sympathizer (who) is contemplating travel abroad,” and a lengthy request for information on any known or suspected homosexuals among government employees:

(F) SEX DEVIATES IN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SERVICE — The Seat of Government has been receiving an increasing number of reports, arrest records, and allegations concerning present and past employees of the United States Government, who assertedly are sex deviates. The Bureau has no investigative jurisdiction over sex deviates, but when an allegation is received that a present or former civilian employee of any branch of the United States Government is a sex deviate, such information is furnished to the Un1ted States Civil Service Commission. If the person is presently employed by the United States Government, the employing agency is likewise furnished a summary of the information. Information concerning members of the National Military Establishment 1s furnished to the Intelligence Unit of that particular agency.

All of the police departments throughout the country were notified in the May, 1950,issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and again by letter dated July 26, 1950, to place a notation on the arrest fingerprint card that the subject was an employee of the Federal Government. They were also requested to set forth the name of the Department or Agency and the position occupied. Hence, it will be unnecessary to solicit this information from the police departments. Normally, a fingerprint card with the above-described data on it will suffice if the fingerprint card has been furnished to the Bureau’s Identification Division.

Whenever information is received in the field, either from the police, a complainant, or through any other sources of information, it w111 be necessary to consolidate the information and transmit it to the Bureau by letter captioned as above. This letter should include (1) the name of the alleged sex deviate as well as the name of any other alleged deviates with whom he associated, (2) the date and place that the alleged act of sexual perversion occurred, (3) the identity of the individual’s United States Government employment, (4) any other pertinent facts, including the [illegible] where the person 1s arrested.

Your letter should specifically point out the source of the information, whether or not that information should be treated as confidential, or whether the name of the source may be used by the Bureau in disseminating the information to the United States Civil Service Commission and the employing agency.

Whenever information of this nature is received during the course of a regular Bureau investigation, such should, of course, be incorporated in the regular investigative report and it will be unnecessary to furnish the information to the Bureau by supplemental cover letter.

With specific reference to Loyalty of Government Employees cases, it has been the Bureau policy to accept information of a derogatory nature relating to the character and personal habits of an employee if volunteered. Such information has been reflected in an investigative report as information volunteered and no attempt has been made to develop this data by supplemental inquiry. This policy is now changed to the following extent: when information is received during the course of a full field loyalty investigation or a preliminary inquiry indicating the person under investigation is a sex deviate, this allegation should be completely and fully developed and the facts reported. This procedure must be placed in effect immediately and followed closely.

[Source: "FBI records regarding Sex Offenders Foreign Intelligence; Sex Degenerates and Sex Offenders; Sex Perverts in Government Service, 1950 - 1966." Response to a Freedom of Information Act request from GovernmentAttic.org (Dated May 6, 2009, posted Aug 21, 2009): 28-29. Posted online here (PDF: 2MB/42 pages).]

 30 YEARS AGO: Broward County Fires Employee with AIDS: 1984. In January 1984, Todd Shuttleworth learned that he had AIDS. Eight months later, he was fired from his job as budget analyst for Broward County, Florida. News reports at that time indicate that it was already well known that AIDS could not be casually transmitted, but his boss, John Canada, defended the firing, saying, “We just couldn’t take the chance of anything happening to employees or to anyone visiting the office.” The following January, Broward County fired a second employee, mail clerk Donald Fanus. County Administrator Floyd Johnson defended that firing on the same grounds: “I have wrestled with it. I have a responsibility to protect all of Broward County’s workforce, and the general public that is served by the workforce.”

Fanus, who had developed Kaposi’s sarcoma, declined to appeal his firing, but Shuttleworth chose to fight. As he explained in a 1986 op-ed published in the Sun-Sentinel, he had nothing to lose:

Every young gay who learns to accept him or herself has more guts, courage and moral strength that all the Bible-thumping bigots and fag-bashing punks combined.

One does not choose to be gay or, I presume, “choose” to be straight. But there are many choices that have been made by many people during the AIDS crisis. Broward County officials chose to ignore their own doctor`s advice and decided to fire me. They chose not to bother to contact the acknowledged AIDS experts at the AIDS clinic in Miami, at the Centers for Disease Control, or at state or national public health departments. They denied my request for a hearing to present medical and scientific evidence to show that my dismissal was based on their irrational fear rather than rational decision-making, or the facts.

A few months ago, when the Human Relations Board first ruled that my firing as a budget analyst due to AIDS was unwarranted, County Administrator Floyd Johnson responded by saying that he had always tried to be fair to employees with AIDS. The choices he`s made in this effort included immediately terminating my health insurance and firing me without severance pay. The educational benefits I needed to complete the few hours left for my master`s degree were discontinued and it took my former employers more than a year to replace a lost paycheck despite numerous letters and phone calls and an obviously desperate need.

My life insurance was cut off and I was informed by the insurance company that in order to be eligible for extended coverage my former employer would have to initiate the required paperwork. Twenty-six months, and several phone calls and letters later, my former employers never displayed the common decency of even acknowledging my request. Only recently, nearly a year after the Human Relations Board first ruled against the county and county officials were forced to change their AIDS policy, did I receive an offer of back pay and reinstatement.

Surely that is not fair.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Shuttleworth sued the county, which was the only known public employer in a major metropolitan area to declare an official policy to fire people with AIDS. Nancy Langer, spokesperson for Lambda Legal, remarked, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a government being so stupid as to put down in black and white a policy of discrimination.” Noel Pfeffer, Broward’s deputy general council and author of the policy, countered, “The chances of transmission to other county employees appear to be somewhat remote. On the other hand, you’re not transmitting a common cold.”

More than two years later, and just before the case was to go to trial, Broward County offered Shuttleworth his job back. But the window to accept the offer was exceptionally brief. Shuttleworth was in San Francisco undergoing treatment, and could not make it back to Fort Lauderdale in time to answer the offer. ACLU lawyer Larry Corman told reporters that the job offer shows that the county realizes it made a mistake. “Everybody recognizes the county is acknowledging that Todd doesn`t represent a health risk to the people with whom he has casual contact,” he said. “I will never understand why it took so long for them to recognize this and try to minimize their losses.” But the county’s attorney, Gordon Rogers, admitted that the offer was a cynical ploy to “(cut) off any obligations to him” for any future insurance claims. With his AIDS being a pre-existing condition, he would not have been reinstated.

In December 1986, just three days before Shuttleworth’s $15 million lawsuit was to go to trial, he and Broward county settled out of court. Shuttleworth got his job back along with $190,000 in compensation, medical costs and legal  fees. Broward county refused to admit wrongdoing, but agreed to follow federal regulations barring discrimination in future cases. Unfortunately, Shuttleworth’s health had deteriorated in the intervening two years. After a week at work, he became ill again and returned to San Francisco for treatment. On July 25, 1987, Shuttleworth died at the age of 34.

 Jerry Falwell Blames Gays For 9/11: 2001. The ashes were still smoldering at the site of the World Trade Center, the western facade of the Pentagon, and an abandoned strip mine in rural Pennsylvania. The relatives, friends and co-workers of three thousand dead were still grappling with their loss, and three hundred million Americans were still numb from shock. The search for victims had just barely begun, the search for heroes led to the first responders in New York and Washington, D.C. and the 33 brave passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, and the search for the guilty case a glare on Islamists extremists. At least that’s the reaction of normal people. For others obsessed with a wider net of enemies, that wasn’t enough. On Thursday, September 13, 2001, Jerry Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, and together they accused a wide assortment of enemies responsible for the worst tragedy to strike American soil since Pearl Harbor:

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Falwell: What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

Robertson: Well Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

Falwell: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

Robertson: Oh, yes.

Falwell: And I know I’ll hear from them for this but throwing God out successfully with the help of the court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools… The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, “you helped this happen.”

Robertson: Well I totally concur.

The next day, Falwell reportedly apologized in a phone call to CNN, but it wasn’t much of an apology. “I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize,” he told CNN, before citing scripture to back up what he originally said. “I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says ‘living by God’s principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,” he said.

Robert Indiana

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Robert Indiana: 1928. His original name is Robert Clark, the adopted son of an oil company manager and his wife in New Castle, Indiana. Young Robert was moved around Indiana 21 times in his first seventeen years of life. After serving three years in the military, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949 to 1953, then at Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh College of Art from 1953 to 1954.

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (Source)

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (source)

He then returned to New York and began making creating his iconic paintings and sculptures, often consisting of numbers and short words like EAT (often paired with DIE) and HUG. His EAT/DIE series (1962) was inspired by the last word spoken to him by his mother shortly before she died. By then, he had already adopted the surname of Indiana to better reflect the Americanness of his work. In 1964, he received a commission from the Museum of Modern Art for a Christmas Card design. His design featured the words “Love is God.” Playing off of the word LOVE, Indiana created a series of images that resulted in his most popular image of all: The four red block letters against a blue and green background, with each letter taking up an entire quadrant and the O on the top right quadrant tilted.

LOVE struck a resonant chord with the emerging youth culture of the mid-1960s, becoming one of the most widely copied images of all time. The image graced bumper stickers, tee-shirts, key chains, coffee cups, towels, jewelry and just about anything else a logo could be stamped, silkscreened or printed on. Unfortunately, Indiana failed to copyright his signature design, and so he didn’t profit from its popularity, although he did receive a $1,000 commission to create a version for a U.S. postage stamp. When the stamp came out in 1973, it became the most popular stamp ever issued by the U.S. post office.

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

The art establishment turned its collective nose up at Indiana, more so because of the popular success of LOVE rather than the actual artistic merit of his wider work. In 1978, he moved to an old abandoned Oddfellows Hall in Vinalhaven, Maine, where he set up a home and studio and continued painting and creating sculptures. Being openly gay in rural Maine didn’t endear him to locals, and he often found the front plate glass windows in the old Oddfellows Hall broken out. He eventually boarded them up. After 9/11 in 2001, he painted images of American flags on the plywood. He also painted a series he called the Peace Paintings, which were exhibited in New York in 2004.

In 2008, Indiana returned to his LOVE design and created HOPE, and donated the proceeds from its reproductions to then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. HOPE raised more than a million dollars. For Valentine’s Day 2011, he created a special Google Doodle based on LOVE. That same year, as 12-foot LOVE sculture sold at auction for $4.1 million.

 Randy Jones: 1952. The Village People’s original cowboy, Jones grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where he was the founder of his high school’s drama club. It was his exposure to theater which gave Jones a leg up with Jacques Morali decided to hastily assemble a permanent group of singers to tour in support pf a surprise hit for what was, until then, a non-existant band of disco singers. Until then, the Village People were simply Victor Willis (the cop) and five dancers in costumes. Jones replaced Dave Forrest in 1978 (two others were replaced with more seasoned performers at the same time) and the Village People was born. Jones remained with the Village People from 1978 to 1980, and then rejoined the group in 1987 through 1991. Since then he has recorded several solo albums and continues to perform in New York and elsewhere. In 2013, Jones married his podner of 29 years, Will Grega, in New York City.

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