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Texas Judge issues form designed to insult gay citizens

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2015

depiazzaJudge James R. DePiazza of Denton County, Texas, isn’t so fond of the gay. And he’s quite happy to let the world know his view.

But Judge DePiazza also wants to continue conducting civil marriage ceremonies and knows that if he conducts opposite-sex marriages that he also must allow same-sex couples the same rights.

So he’s come up with a solution. He’ll offer marriages to same-sex couples, but they have to sign a form that they understand that he is contemptuous towards them and they damn well better not talk to him about it or take any pictures with him in it.

The Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges has legalized marriage in all 50 States regardless of gender. The result of this ruling has not changed Judge DePiazza’s personal convictions on marriage, but has changed the way he is now conducting ceremonies. Judge DePiazza will conduct a brief formal declaration of civil marriage ceremony. The ceremony will strictly be a witnessing to the individuals acknowledgement that they want to be married under the laws of this State and be bound to the marriage laws in the State of Texas. A declaration will be read by Judge DePiazza that both parties respond with affirmation.

Judge DePiazza prefers to NOT conduct same-sex ceremonies, but will not decline anyone who chooses to schedule with him.

Obviously this isn’t legal. And surely this judge knows that he’s asking for a lawsuit in federal court, where his chances are zero. Even in Texas.

So I think it’s really just Judge James R. DePiazza being an asshole.

Abetting kidnapping isn’t covered by Liberty University’s insurance policy

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2015

Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University added a law department in 2004 under the guidance of Mat Staver.

And it was while Staver was the Dean of the School of Law that he and fellow professor Rena Lindevaldsen orchestrated a plan by which Lisa Miller could kidnap Isabella Miller-Jenkins and flee to Nicaragua so as to thwart the legal rights of Miller’s former partner Janet Jenkins. Portions of the kidnapping was facilitated by a Liberty employee, and documents reveal that other staff members were aware of the plan.

So Janet Jenkins has sued the various schemers under RICO law, including Liberty University.

Liberty thought, oh that’s what insurance is for. But their provider saw things differently and refused to pay for their legal defense. So Liberty sued their insurance provider insisting that they cover the cost of the RICO defense.

A federal court found summary judgement for Liberty, ruling that the insurance must pay for the school’s defense. However, the insurer appealed and a three judge panel of the Fourth Circuit overruled the lower court decision and now Liberty’s defense will be on their own dime.

the Intentional and Criminal Acts Exclusion embraces claims “arising out of any intentional, dishonest, fraudulent, criminal, or malicious act or omission or any willful violation of law by the insured” and “precludes coverage for all insured persons under the policy regardless whether the person seeking coverage participated in any way in the intentional or criminal acts or omissions.” As we have emphasized, the Jenkins Complaint alleges Appellee’s liability for injuries arising from its direct involvement in conspiracies to commit kidnapping and racketeering, which carry criminal penalties. We conclude these claims clearly and unambiguously trigger the Intentional and Criminal Acts Exclusion.

I guess that the Law School didn’t read the fine print before it set about to conduct a kidnapping.

Make me a martyr, please

Timothy Kincaid

July 9th, 2015

toby willToby Will wasn’t happy with the Obergefell ruling and wrote a letter to the Stockton Record to say so.

The Word of God is going forth with striking clarity and Divine accuracy. Man’s rebellion, ungodliness, and unrighteousness in rejecting the truth in order that he may live according to the vile and sinful passions of his corrupt heart is going to be met with the wrath of God.

And in the letter he whined about how persecuted he will be for writing the letter and how much God loves him for it.

Whoever speaks out against this blatant debauchery and dares to take a stand for the truth, will find themselves standing alone. But those who are willing to stand alone for the truth will find that God stands with them.

That’s a pretty mean spirited and self congratulatory letter, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Such rants are expected after controversial decisions.

But what wasn’t ordinary was the signature:

Toby Will
Lieutenant, Stockton Police Dept.
Modesto

Normally the Record would not include a place of employment or title, but Will insisted. (News10)

Stockton Record editor Mike Klocke said the newspaper generally prints only a letter writer’s name and city of residence, but that Will was insistent that his Stockton police affiliation and title be included.

Klocke said the letter from Will was accompanied by a personal note suggesting he knew the letter would generate controversy and perhaps even threaten his job.

“As a lieutenant in a moderate-sized police agency, I would like to be one voice that makes it very clear I operate from a biblical world view, not a pop cultural one,” Klocke quoted from the note included with Will’s letter. The note continued, “Though this may have a negative impact on an otherwise impeccable police career, I earnestly request that you print what I write.”

And it may well have a negative impact.

Will’s insistence that as a lieutenant in Stockton’s police department he operates with a view that gay people are vile and debauched sends a fairly clear message that he cannot interact with the public with professionalism and fairness. And that rightly concerns his employer.

“He does not speak for the Police Department, and regarding his use of his police position, it is under administrative review,” department spokesman Officer Joe Silva said Wednesday. Silva could not discuss what that administrative review might lead to.

After reading the letter, Police Chief Eric Jones made a call to the San Joaquin Pride Center “to reassure them that Will does not speak for the Police Department,” Silva said.

Jones and his department have invested time and energy in building a good relationship with the LGBT community. His officers receive sensitivity training and the police force is responsive to the community’s concerns.

Will obviously knows this. And he obviously knows that he was not authorized to use his title or position at in the police department to write letters that members of the public will find insulting and threatening.

My only conclusion is that Toby Will is tired of his job and wants to go on the martyr circuit instead.

But so far, the community isn’t calling for his firing. And I hope that they don’t.

The best way to treat self-righteous would-be martyrs is not to fire them but to find them a job that best suits their temperament. And if it turns out that Will violated department policy by attaching his name to his hateful screed, I’m thinking a demotion and a desk in a corner, away from the public, filling out paperwork is appropriate. In triplicate. With a number 2 pencil. In fluorescent lighting.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 21

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Dallas Voice, July 20, 1984, page 2.

From The Dallas Voice, July 20, 1984, page 2. (Source.)

The Hideaway Club abruptly closed in 2009 after providing entertainment for Dallas’s gay community for more than twenty-five years:

Paul Minze, who leases the property at 4144 Buena Vista St. that’s home to Bill’s Hideaway, said the bar closed Friday, May 22 after longtime owner William “Bill” Munoz abruptly removed his liquor license from the wall and disappeared. Minze, who owns a real estate company, said Munoz first opened the bar in 1983. Minze took over the bar’s lease in 2007 and Munoz has subleased it from him ever since.

Minze said he’s now stuck with the lease and roughly 11 employees are without jobs.

“I still don’t know what the problem is, why he would do that without consulting me,” Minze said, adding that Munoz hasn’t returned his phone calls.

Attempts to revive the Hideaway were apparently unsuccessful. The location is now a doggy daycare.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“The Homosexual and the Beat Generation”: 1959. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1957), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) introduced Americans to the “Beat Generation,” a group, and then a movement, which began in New York’s Greenwhich Village and ended up relocating, for the most part, to San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, nurtured by City Lights bookstore, Cafe Trieste, and the Six Gallery. They were dubbed “Beatniks” by San Francisco columnist Herbert Caen who said they were as far out of the mainstream as Sputnik and suggested that these new bohemians, by their rebellion against social norms, possessed Communist sympathies The Beats probably reached their peak awareness among middle-Americans with the archetypal Beatnik character of Maynard G. Krebs (played by future Gilligan, Bob Denver) in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Goatees, berets, black sweaters, bongo drums, roll-your-own cigarettes (often with substances other than tobacco) and a general, overall rebellion against the straight-laced norms of the McCarthy-dominated fifties marked the Beats as both a dangerous and fascinating phenomenon.

Thanks to the Beats’ non-conformist attitudes, a number of gay artists were associated with the subculture. In addition to Ginsberg, there were the poets Robert Duncan (who had a brief affair with abstract impressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr.), Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer, (along with his partner, the abstract-impressionist artist Jess Collins). Naturally, gay people were become fascinated by this movement. In 1959, ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay-themed publication, capitalized with that growing fascination with a cover story on “The homosexual and the Beat Generation.” The author, Wallace de Ortega Maxey, was himself the embodiment of counter-culturalism. He was former priest and Archbishop of the American Old Catholic Church (an independent breakaway church) who seemed to collect consecrations from a bewildering number of pseudo-Catholic churches as well as the Episcopal Church, before abandoning independent Catholicism in 1954 and establishing the Liberal Universalist Church, first in Los Angeles in 1954, and then in Fresno. Maxey’s interests were quite small-c catholic, as an early Mattachine member and author of Man Is A Sexual Being in 1958. By the time Maxey wrote his article for ONE, San Francisco’s Beats found themselves being gawked at by tourists and bedeviled by wannabe weekend Beatniks. Maxey began his article by describing the difference between what he called the “real” Beats and these poseurs:

The Homosexual and the Beat Generation.This gang of “kix” hoodlums consist of heterosexuals in the larger number. They are those who like to “cash-in” on the daring and non-conforming Beats. Having money in their pockets, they think they can out-buy, out-bid and out-sex the Beats. The few homos in this tribe of week-enders are of the timid sort who can’t make it in their own everyday world and in despair hope to find “satisfaction” in the world of the beat generation. …

There is a distinction to be made between the beat-homo and the nonbeat. The beat-homo has no inhibitions. Within his own consciousness he has accepted himself and is completely integrated. He is not fighting himself, much less the rest of the world. This applies to the male as well as the female of the species. He doesn’t give one god damn what the world thinks about him. Like the rest of the beat generation he simply wants to be left alone. He has closed his mental door to the rat-race. He has cut himself off from the shams and shamans of the competitive world. He is usually of the aesthetic type, psychologically, not necessarily so physically.

I have seen some gangling seamen and longshoremen, truck drivers, woodsmen and cement-construction workers, that would surprise all hell out of you when you listen to their conversation. In their particular fields of interest and study they are extraordinarily well informed. There is one chap I am thinking of who has been a seaman all his life, who can keep you spell-bound when telling about the “history of erotica”. Another, a female, could write a book about the world’s historic prostitutes and how they have influenced political thought. Still another homo-beat has been in several mental institutions under observation, but can reel off anything you want to know about the religions of the Orient. Of course, I am speaking of the real Beats, the ones who have severed all ties with the square world, as far as it is humanly possible to do, and still live.

It has been said that Allen Ginsberg is the St. Peter of the beat generation. He has been quoted in the New York Post (3-13-59) as saying: “I sleep, with men and with women. I am neither queer nor not queer, nor am I bi-sexual. My name is Allen Ginsberg and I sleep with whoever I want.” It has been my experience in discussing life in general with a considerable number of Beats, that these words of Allen Ginsberg voice quite accurately the opinions of the majority of the real Beats.

Maxey went on to describe two “Beat-homos” that he had been counseling. The first was “Tom Doe,” who had been kicked out of the Army when they found out he was gay. Saddled with a less-than-honorable discharge, he had trouble finding steady work. He lost his home, turned to alcohol, and “ended up three months later on a pad in Beatnik-land.” After discovering Maxey’s book, Doe underwent counseling with Maxey, with some considerable success:

When finally he was able to stop his self·deception and admit to himself he was what he was, all other matters took their proper place. When this bug-a-boo was disposed of and he could see his “whole self”, not just the phantom side, it was not long before he had re-established himself. However, he still thinks of himself as a Beatnik and has never moved away from Beatnik-land. At present, after much struggling and hardship he owns and operates a “shop” making a moderate living off the “squares” that come to stare at the Beats.

The second example, that of “Jim Doe,” probably is a better portrayal of a true San Francisco “Beat-homo”:

As stated previously he contended homosexuality was not his problem. He freely and frankly admitted to such tendency. When we met he was quite outspoken and wasted no words in getting to the situation that was disturbing him. He lived with a man and a girl in Beatnik-land; was contemplating going to art school and was quite talented in music and painting. He had been successful to the extent of having sold two of his compositions and one oil painting for a quite tidy sum of money. He claimed that his social relations were excellent with the other Beatniks and that generally speaking they liked him. What was his problem? Doubt. Underneath all the social relationships there was ever present a constant fear of someone betraying him. Of misplaced confidence. He never completely trusted anyone. Basically, when he got right down to the subject he was so damn lonesome, at nights after social events he usually went home alone, locked himself in his room and cried.

Doubt was his problem. First, I learned that he really doubted himself. After considerable discussion with Jim, I came to the conclusion his acceptance of his homosexuality was not as he made it appear. From his reading of abnormal phychology he wondered about his sex. As he said to me, “Am I a man or a woman?” “Who really was my father?” (He had never been able to find a birth record.) “Have I ever loved anyone?” “Does anything have any real meaning — or is life just an illusion?” “Dare I really trust anyone, completely?” “Must I go through all my life in doubt?” “The only reason I’m a Beatnik is that none of them try to pry into my personal life … I can get along with the other Beatniks because they don’t ask ‘personal questions’ “.

Naturally it took considerable time and effort to bring about a change in his outlook on life. After exploring the various psychological “excuses” he presented for his condition, we assumed none were satisfactory by way of explanation. He had experienced a rotten home life in his youth. So have thousands of people. Examples were cited of heroic characters who began in pot-sheds. Switching to the existentialist treatment, in a few words I made it clear to him quoting from Jean-Paul Sartre: “Whereas the existentialist says that the coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is always the possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being a hero. What counts is the total commitment, and it is not by a particular case or particular action that you are committed altogether.”

…The final outcome in Jim Doe’s story is interesting. He met a girl named Dora, a confirmed Lesbian. They got married and now have two children, a boy and a girl. Jim still says he is an homosexual and Dora affirms she is still a Lesbian, and they both live in Beatnik-land.

Maxey observed that there were several general similarities between the Beat Generation and the so-called “Lost Generation,” the group of artists of the inter-war years which included Earnest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But…

I think the Lost Generation placed more emphasis on the social and civil liberties interests than the Beats are doing. I think the beat generation is more nude than the Lost Generation was. There is little to discover among the Beatniks. As a matter of fact, they have a certain amount of juvenile crudeness in their art work and writing, with exceptions of course. They, the Beats, are not forced to starve while many · of the Lost Generation were, during the long siege of the depression.

However, with all their vices and virtues if they can teach the world by example the evils of social conformity, I feel they will go down in history as having made a worthwhile contribution.

[Source: Wallace de Ortega Maxey. “The Homosexual and the Beat Generation” ONE 7, no. 7 (July 1959): 5-9. ]

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 20

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At (New York, NY), July 24, 1978, page 31.

From Where It’s At (New York, NY), July 24, 1978, page 31.

Yogi Bera once complained about a favorite restaurant in St. Louis got so popular that “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” A reviewer for a New York newspaper Gay Times complained that  G.G’s Barnum Room had also become way too popular:

ggsbarnumroompage2_2G.G. Knickerbocker’s, the bar that was so notorious for the wild drag trade there, went disco in a big way with G.G.’s Barnum Room. But perhaps in too big a way. Now that they had a big write-up in New York Magazine, the place (with a wide-open admission policy), seems to be overrun with tourists in polyester suits. It’s the place to go if your idea of a good time is having straight people gawk at you! The management seems so intent on exploiting gays to the limit that I fully expect them to offer chartered guided tours of the place to New Jersey ladies’ clubs, as the next logical step.

ggbarnum-ny-exterior-bwYou can see that New York Magazine write-up here. The “G.G.” referred to the Gilded Grape, a mob-owned gay bar which operated at 719 8th Avenue until 1977 (see Mar 5). It became G.G. Knickerbocker’s when it moved into the ground floor of the Knickerbocker Hotel. G.G.’s Barnum Room, located just off of Times Square, was one of the most extravagant discos in Manhattan. Named for the circus master P.T. Barnum, the Barnum Room featured what they called their Jungle Gym in the Sky: scantily-clad  scantily-clad trapeze artists swinging above the dancers’ heads. It also featured a cabaret room for drag shows. One such show inspired Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers to pen the Diana Ross anthem “I’m Coming Out” after seeing three different drag queens dressed as Ross one night. The Barnum Room lasted until November of 1980. The front entrance to the Barnum Room is now a parking ramp next to a Bobby Van’s Steak House.

Mattachine Missions and Purposes

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Mattachine Society Adopts Its First Mission and Purposes: 1951.In 1950, a group of seven men met at the home of Harry Hay (see Apr 7) in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles to found a new society for gay people they tentatively called “The Society of Fools” (see Nov 11). The following April, the group followed Hay’s suggestion to change its name to the Mattachine Society, after the medieval French secret societies of masked men whose anonymity empowered them to mock and criticize kings and other nobility. That same month, one of the newer members suggested that the group’s ideals be put down in in writing. They began drafting the Mattachine’s “Missions and Purposes,” and marked it “confidential” out of fear of attracting the attention of the police. Jim Gruber (see Aug 21), one of the founders, described the whole effort as “a dare” with serious potential consequences, as they saw it. Given the tenor of the times amid the McCarthy-inspired Lavender Scare, their fears weren’t out of line.  The members ratified the document on July 20. It read:

MISSIONS AND PURPOSES

of the

Mattachine Society.

TO UNIFY: While there are undoubtedly individual homosexuals who number many of their own people among their friends, thousands of homosexuals live out their lives bewildered, unhappy, alone, isolated from their own kind and unable to adjust to the dominant culture. Even those who have many homosexual friends are still cut off from the deep satisfactions man’s gregarious nature can achieve only when he is consciously part of a large, unified whole. A major purpose of the Mattachine Society is to provide a consensus of principle around which all of our people can rally and from which they can deprive a feeling of “belonging.”

TO EDUCATE: The total of information available on the subject of homosexuality is woefully meagre and utterly inconclusive. The Society organizes all available material and conducts extensive research itself — psychological, physiological, anthropological, and sociological — for the purpose of informing all interested homosexuals and for the purpose of informing and enlightening the public at large.

The Mattachine Soeity holds it as possible and desirable that a highly ethical, homosexual culture emerge as a consequence of its work, parallelling sic the emerging cultures of our fellow-minorities — the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples. The Society believes homosexuals can lead well-adjusted, wholesome and socially productive lives once ignorance and prejudice against them is successfully combatted and once homosexuals themselves feel they have a dignified and useful role to play in society. The Society, to these ends, is in the process of developing a homosexual ethic — disciplined, moral and socially responsible.

TO LEAD: It is not sufficient for an oppressed minority like the homosexuals merely to be conscious of belonging to a minority collective when, as is the situation at the present time, that collective is neither socially organic nor objective in its directions and activities — although this minimum is, in itself, a great step forward. It is necessary that the more far-seeing and socially conscious homosexuals provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviants if the first two missions (the unification and the education of the homosexual minority) are to be accomplished. Further, once unification and education have progressed it becomes imperative (to consolidate these gains) for the Society to push forward into the realm of political action to erase from our law books the discriminatory and oppressive legislation presently directed against the homosexual minority.

The Society, founded upon the highest ethical and social principles, serves as an example for homosexuals to follow and provides a dignified standard upon which the rest of society can base a more intelligent and accurate picture of the nature of homosexuality than currently obtains in the public mind. The Society provides the instrument necessary to work with civic-minded and socially valuable organizations and supplies the means for the assistance of our people who are victimized daily as a result of our oppression. Only a Society, providing an enlightened leadership, can rouse the homosexuals — one of the largest minorities in America today — to take the actions necessary to elevate themselves from the social ostracism an unsympathetic culture has perpetrated upon them.

[Sources: Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 (Los Angeles: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, 2011): 38-39.

Stuart Timmons. The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement Centenary edition (Brooklyn: White Crane Books, 2012): 170-172.]

KTLA_1947

Panel Discussion on Homosexuality Airs in L.A.: 1958. KTLA’s Crime Story was one of those very serious, topical panel discussion programs, airing in the graveyard time slot of 11:00 p.m. on Sunday nights just before station sign-off — back in the days when televisions would go off the air sometime around midnight. The program picked a topic each week, and moderator Sandy Howard would assemble a panel of “experts, which were typically from among the KTLA staff, since real experts weren’t eager to schlep to the studio late at night for a low-rated program. Topics for discussion included drugs, law enforcement, prison reform, international crime, and, on this night, homosexuality, which itself was a crime under California law.

In previous episodes where the subject was homosexuality, the tone was almost entirely negative and the opinions offered were ill-informed. But on this night, things were different. Sitting in for Howard was Bill Bradley, who this time included someone who actually knew something about the topic: Herbert Selwyn, attorney for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Mattachine Society. Also on the panel were two psychiatrists (both of them working for state penal systems), and a private detective and former L.A. policeman who also free-lanced for the scandal magazine Confidential — so you can imaging what his contribution would be.

After the announcer made clear that the opinions expressed on the program were not those of KTLA, Bradley asked the panel to define “sex crime.” Right off the bat, one of the two psychiatrists, Dr. Isidore Ziferstein of the Iowa State Penitentiary, declared that he didn’t consider sex acts between consenting adults to be criminal because no one was harmed — a radical idea in 1958. Fred Otash, the private detective, began explaining that California’s penal code defined “sex perversion” as including, more specifically, “copulation by mouth.” Ziferstein responded, “Yes, the penal code regarding sex acts would make nearly every American citizen a sex criminal.” The other psychiatrist, Dr. William Graves of San Quentin, agreed.

Bradley then asked whether all homosexual men — lesbians were never mentioned during the entire program — were sex criminals. Otash jumped in and said yes, according to the letter of the law, and rightly so, contending that homosexuals bred other homosexuals simply by contact. Because homosexuals could not keep to themselves, they “preyed on normal men” and made them gay. He then got tired of saying the word “homosexual,” over and over. “You may call them homosexuals, I call them ‘fags’,” he declared. That, for the most part, was the extent of his “expertise.”

Selwyn, confident that the two psychiatrists would answer the question of whether “normal men” could be turned so easily, turned the topic instead to the problem of police entrapment, which was rampant in Los Angeles. If a policeman could strike up a conversation with a gay man in a bar and get the man to suggest that they retire to his apartment, he was liable to find himself in handcuffs and facing a fifteen year sentence.

The program ended with the two psychiatrists agreeing that homosexuality should not be against the law, but they debated whether homosexuality was a neurosis or not. Ziferstien said that society wasn’t just anti-gay, but anti-sex, and that this produced an abundance of “sex deviates,” including homosexuals. Graves pushed back, and pointed out that because society was so anti-gay, it would be surprising if some gay people didn’t become in some way disturbed or distressed over the situation. In other words, Graves was explaining the concept of homophobia some ten years before the word itself was invented. By this point in the program, the panelists were regularly ignoring Otash as they lamented the way the law and society treated gay people. A review by ONE magazine, the nation’s first gay magazine, commented that viewers “may have been gratified, if surprised, by the unexpectedly friendly attitudes toward homosexuality expressed on the program. … The members of the qualified panel made effective, intelligent observations, and many positive and constructive points.”

[Sources: “Sten Russell” (Stella Rush) “TV: Crime Story.” ONE 6, no. 8 (September 1958): 26-28.

“Sten Russell” (Stella Rush). “Crime Story.” The Ladder 2, no 12. (September 1958): 11-14.]

Rep. Gerry Studds Censured: 1983. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure Reps. Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Daniel Crane (R-IL), both of whom admitted to having sexual affairs with pages. Crane admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old female page three years earlier, while Studds acknowledged a relationship with a 17-year-old male page ten years earlier. (Both pages were above the age of consent.) In Studds’s case, the page himself defended the relationship as consensual and not intimidating.

When Studds returned home to his district following his censure, he was met with standing ovations at his first town meeting. He would continue to be re-elected to Congress where he fought for AIDS funding, gays in the military, and marriage equality, right up until his retirement in 1997. When Studds died in 2006, his legally married husband was denied Studd’s pension, the same pension which was provided to all other surviving spouses of former members of Congress.

Roberta Achtenberg

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
65 YEARS AGO: Roberta Achtenberg: 1950. If he could help it, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) wasn’t about to let President Bill Clinton appoint her as Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. “She’s not your garden-variety lesbian,” he complained. “She’s a militant-activist-mean lesbian, working her whole career to advance the homosexual agenda. Now you think I’m going to sit still and let her be confirmed by the Senate? … If you want to call me a bigot, go ahead.” Helms was a bigot, and, garden-variety lesbian or not, she nevertheless became the first openly gay person to receive a Senate confirmation for an administration position (see May 7).

The daughter of immigrants grew up in Los Angeles and attended college at UCLA and UC Berkeley, before studying law at Hastings Law School in San Francisco and the University of Utah. She had married another male law student while at Berkeley, but the couple divorced amicably after Achtenberg figured out she was a lesbian.

Achtenberg quickly became concerned about the legal disadvantages that gays and lesbians experience, and as a member of the Anti-Sexism Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, she helped to write a manual to advise lawyers representing gay and lesbian clients. She also began working with the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, and then co-founded the Lesbian Rights Project, which later became the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In 1979, she met attorney Mary Morgan, who already had a well-established track record representing lesbian mothers in custody cases. By then, Achtenberg was out, and she was ready for politics. She ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat in the California State Assembly in 1988, and she succeeded in getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1989. When a little-known former Arkansas governor decided to run for president, Achtenberg joined the Clinton campaign and worked on the Democratic Party’s drafting committee.

When Clinton nominated Achtenberg for HUD Assistant Secretary, Conservative Christians were outraged. They accused Achtenberg of a “personal vendetta” against the Boy Scouts because she was one of fifty — fifty! — members of the San Francisco United Way board of directors who voted unanimously to deny funding to the Scouts because of their discriminatory anti-gay policies. The Christian Action Network circulated a videotape of Achtenberg and Morgan, showing them hugging each other, ever so briefly, during the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. Helms called that brief contact an “insane assault on family values.” Achtenberg was nevertheless confirmed in a 58-31 vote.

Achtenberg left HUD in 1995 to run for mayor of San Francisco, but lost. She served on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce until 2005, and she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Cal State in 2000, becoming chair in 2006. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 19

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, GermanyPride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Halifax, NS; Rochester, MN; San Diego, CA; Stuttgart, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Dallas Voice, July 13, 1984, page 6. (Source.)

From Dallas Voice, July 13, 1984, page 6. (Source.)

Dr. George F. Shrady

Dr. George F. Shrady

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Medical Journal Describes “Perverted Sexual Instinct”: 1884. One of the many startling things one encounters in nineteenth-century medical journals is the terminology writers deployed to describe something which heretofore had no name. The German word Homosexualität  had another decade to go before it made its way into the English language (see May 6), leaving Dr. George F. Shrady, editor of The Medical Record and one of the nation’s most prominent physicians, some difficulty in describing those whose inclinations were not toward procreation:

SIR THOMAS BROWN once wrote, platonically, that the act of procreation was “the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life. Nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination.” The physician learns, however, that man, so far from tending toward this ideal, is more apt to show instincts of a violently opposite character, and finds, far down beneath the surface of ordinary social life, currents of human passion and action that would shock and sicken the mind not accustomed to think everything pertaining to living creatures worthy of study. Science has indeed discovered that, amid the lowest forms of bestiality and sensuousness exhibited by debased men, there are phenomena which are truly pathological and which deserve the considerate attention and help of the physician.

That Shrady used the word “pathological” shows that already he had been influenced by various German authors — Carl Westphal (see Mar 23), Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (see Aug 28), Richard von Krafft-Ebing (Aug 14), to name a few — who had already made a name for themselves in the study of Homosexualität (or Urnings, a term that was more widely used in Germany). Before homosexuality became the subject of serious study, it had been written off as mere evil or vice. Viewing it as pathology at least invited society to consider that homosexuals weren’t criminals, but were somehow diseased or deformed, and were merely acting according to what came naturally to them. This framework was considered far more enlightened, because the proper response wouldn’t be punishment and scorn under this understanding, but treatment and pity, an arguable advancement in how gay people would be treated.

But what was the name of this condition? Westphal called it “Contrare Sexualempfindung” (contrary sexual instinct), while others employed various ideas of “inversion” (inverted sexual instinct, inversion of the genesic function, etc.). Early American writers tended to use the term “perverted sexual instinct” with “perverted” taking its original meaning as something which “has been corrupted or distorted from its original course, meaning, or state.” In the nineteenth century, all sorts of things could be “perverted,” including the understanding of religious doctrine (where the term actually originated), the application of economic incentives or the course of justice. It would only take another decade or so before “perverted sexual instinct” became shortened to “perversion,” and the “pervert” would become synonymous with gay people.

MedicalRecordAnd so this is the terminology that Shrady settled on: perverted sexual instinct. He reviewed the literature and found:

Up to that time (1883) only twenty-one cases were on record, three being reported by Americans, the rest mainly by Germans, and none at all by English observers. In a recent number of the Irrenfreund (vol. xxvi., No. I, 1884), Krafft-Ebing has reported six more cases. …In the reported cases of congenital perversion, the abnormal instinct begins oftenest as early as the eighth or ninth year, but shows itself at first, perhaps, only in an inclination to adopt the manners and practices of girls or women. The victims show the somatic basis of their trouble in various ways. There is often an hereditary psychopathic or neuropathic taint. Epilepsy is sometimes present. There are noticed in some cases, though not often, defects of the genital organs, such as hypospadias or epispadias, small or defective testicles. The hair on the face is sometimes thin, the voice almost always soft. The “Urnings” have a mincing gait, and sometimes the hips are broad like those of women. Exacerbations of the perverted feeling appear periodically. It may be accompanied with melancholia and end in insanity or suicide.

The mental peculiarities of these unfortunates have much in common. They are of the artistic, poetical. and imaginative temperament, often exhibiting a tendency to rather weak philosophizing. Sometimes they are of a vigorous understanding. In most cases there is great mental distress felt through a consciousness of their unnatural instincts. Two or three have, like Ulrichs, boldly defended their practices.

As for what to do about these individuals:

If congenital perverted sexual instinct is a pathological rather than a vicious condition, the query arises whether there is any remedy for it. The history of cases reported shows that sometimes the instinct is cultivated and intensified by bad surroundings in childhood, such as, for example, the exclusive society of women and immoral nurses. Excessive sexual indulgence seems to increase it, and we may question whether in a few cases the condition would have ever developed, were it not for an early abuse and misdirection of the sexual powers. In conditions of nervous exhaustion and weakness, the symptoms are exaggerated, and Krafft-Ebing, in his last communication, reports the case of a married man, previously healthy, who experienced an entire change in the sexual feeling, which lasted for twenty-five years. He was then cured by general faradization and other tonic measures.

Faradization refers to the use of electrical instruments to induce an electrical current or magnetic field in the vicinity of an afflicted body part or in general areas of the head or body.  (This is not the same as electric shock conversion therapy, which would come about much later (see Mar 11).) The late nineteenth century belief in the power of electricity and magnetism to cure all sorts of maladies gave rise to a thriving industry geared toward providing doctors with all sorts of “quack” instruments. Tonic measures, of course, refers to who knows what sort of snake oil which would may have been prescribed to restore masculine vigor to the unfortunate soul. (One wonders why NARTH hasn’t looked into these.) Shrady closes with this description:

In conclusion, we believe it to be demonstrated that conditions once considered criminal are really pathological, and come within the province of the physician. We have undertaken, therefore, the disagreeable task of laying some of the facts regarding sexual perversion before our readers. The profession can be trusted to sift the degrading and vicious from what is truly morbid.

We cannot do better than append the conclusions which Krafft-Ebing has reached upon this subject. He says: ” 1. There exists a congenital absence of sexual feeling toward the opposite sex, at times even disgust of sexual intercourse. 2. This defect occurs in a physically differentiated sexual type and with a normal development of the sexual organs. 3. Absence of the psychical qualities corresponding to the anatomical sexual type, but the feelings, thoughts, and actions of a perverted sexual instinct. 4. Abnormally early appearance of sexual desire. 5. Painful consciousness of the perverted sexual desire. 6. Sexual desire toward the same sex. 7. The sexual desire remains purely platonic or finds gratification in mutual onanism, or in feeling of the object of the affections. Often there is self-pollution, but for the want of something better. 8. There are symptoms of a morbid excitability of the sexual desires, together with an irritable weakness of the nervous symptoms, so that sensuous feelings, magnetic sensations, and even pollutions occur in simply touching the object of the affections. 9. The perverse sexual impulse is abnormally intense and rules all thought and sensation. The love of such individuals is excessive even to adoration, and is often followed by sorrow, melancholy, and jealousy. 10. People afflicted with this abnormity frequently possess an instinctive power to recognize one another.”

In this last conclusion we cannot agree. The power of mutual recognition is not instinctive but acquired.

Dr. Shrady’s credentials were very impressive when he wrote this article. He was president of the New York Pathological Society, a fellow of the American and New York Academies of Medicine, a member of the New York State Medical Society.  He had served as a consultant or resident physician for a number of prominent New York hospitals, and was he was a trustee of the Hudson State Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie. He gained national prominence in 1881 when, after President James Garfield was shot, Shrady was called in to consult on the various options for treatment and wrote the autopsy report following Garfield’s death. In 1885, Shrady was in the limelight again as General Ulysses S. Grant’s personal physician while the former president was dying of throat cancer.

[Source: George F. Shrady “Perverted sexual instinct.” Medical Record 26, no. 3 (July, 19, 1884): 70-71. Available online for free via Google Books here.]

President Clinton passes members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Ft. McNair before announcing his new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Clinton Unveils “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: 1993. “Let me say a few words now about this policy. It is not a perfect solution. It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone, and clearly not those who hold the most adamant opinions on either side of this issue.” With those words, President Bill Clinton unveiled a new policy on gays and lesbians in the military, which he called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”

This new policy was intended as a compromise posture, after his campaign promise to overturn the military’s blanket ban on gays and lesbians in the military ran into a buzz saw of opposition in Congress led by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. With the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress began the process of rushing through a federal law to reinforce the Pentagon’s then-existing policy of total exclusion. Clinton’s called for the new law’s repeal went nowhere, so on July 19, he proposed a compromise solution, at a speech at the National Defense University at Ft. McNair:

I have ordered Secretary Aspin to issue a directive consisting of these essential elements: One, service men and women will be judged based on their conduct, not their sexual orientation. Two, therefore the practice, now 6 months old, of not asking about sexual orientation in the enlistment procedure will continue. Three, an open statement by a service member that he or she is a homosexual will create a rebuttable presumption that he or she intends to engage in prohibited conduct, but the service member will be given an opportunity to refute that presumption; in other words, to demonstrate that he or she intends to live by the rules of conduct that apply in the military service. And four, all provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice will be enforced in an even-handed manner as regards both heterosexuals and homosexuals. And thanks to the policy provisions agreed to by the Joint Chiefs, there will be a decent regard to the legitimate privacy and associational rights of all service members.

Sen. Nunn and other opponents of lifting the ban altogether accepted this so-called compromise, and it would eventually make it into the Defense Appropriations Act of 1994 passed later that year. But in practice, the compromise fell apart. Service members were discharged based solely on evidence of sexual orientation, recruits were asked about their sexual orientation as part of their enlistment procedure, and any hint that a service member was gay — even if that hint did not come from the service member himself — resulted in an immediate investigation with the goal of discharge from the armed forces. Over the next eighteen years that the policy remained in effect, 14,346 soldiers, sailors and airmen/women were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until it was finally repealed in 2011.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 18

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Halifax, NS; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Rochester, MN; San Diego, CA; Stuttgart, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The  Alternative (Baton Rouge, LA), July 1981, page 5. (Source.)

From The Alternative (Baton Rouge, LA), July 1981, page 5. (Source.)

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
65 YEARS AGO: Psychiatrist Denounces Anti-Gay Witchhunt: 1950. A Senate subcommittee under Joseph McCarthy investigating the federal employment of gay Americans was warned that five-month long witch hunt against homosexuals would have negative consequences on government functioning. “The immediate effect of the probe is to threaten the emotional security and mental health of many government employees, warned Dr. Henry P. Laughlin of the Washington Psychiatric Society. “This is indeed unfortunate, tending to lower the efficiency and work production of those who have some actual or imagined basis for concern, and especially for those people whose homosexual experiences have been isolated or of a token nature or perhaps never occurred.”

Laughlin however emphasized that he was only speaking for himself and not the Society, before continuing on a line rarely heard in 1950: “Sexual orientation doesn’t enter into a person’s ability or capacity to do work. I am sure that many persons in government, as well as in industry and other areas of endeavor, have made significant contributions, although their orientation happens to be homosexual.” Laughlin’s testimony would fall on deaf years. Tens of thousands of people would be hounded out of their jobs over the next several decades, whether they were gay, suspected of being gay, or simply accused of being gay for whatever reasons.

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

45 YEARS AGO: New York Police Raid After Hours Club, Mafia Owners Fail To Stoke Another “Stonewall”: 1970. The Stonewall rebellion a year earlier had changed a lot. The gay community was more organized and more assertive than ever before. But there were a few things that hadn’t changed: police continued to raid gay bars and clubs, nearly all of which continued to be mob-owned. The gay community often found itself fighting on two fronts: 1) against direct harassment by the police, and 2) from getting caught in the crossfire of a larger economic tug-of-war between organized crime and corrupt police officials.

Most people today are very well versed on the first battle, but we often forget how important that second one was at the time. In New York City in the late sixties and early seventies, that second battle often threatened to eclipse the first. A good illustration of that can be found in a police raid that took place at The Barn, an after-hours club in the early morning hours of July 18, 1970. LGBT activist Randy Wicker (see Feb 3) described what happened in his column in GAY, the nation’s first weekly gay newspaper:

Barn baloney bared: New York Police raided the Barn Sunday, July 18th, issued summonses to nine employees and sent dozens of patrons scrambling out of the back rooms and into the streets. Management mafiosi reportedly took to the streets also shouting “gay power” and urging the patrons to return apparently hoping to provoke a confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly thereafter and most of the patrons re-entered the club.

“These raids shouldn’t be conducted at all,” Marty Robinson, GAA (Gay Activists Alliance) Political Affairs Committee chairman, declared. “We don’t like these management people running around the street shouting ‘gay power’ to further their own ends. Gay people should not simply be pawns in a power struggle between the police and underworld elements. A conference with Police Commissioner Leary has been arranged to discuss this matter more fully.

The running battle between the mob and NYPD masked the fact that the current situation was actually mutually beneficial to both parties. Because of the state’s reluctance (and often, outright refusal) to issue liquor licenses to gay businessmen who wanted to open gay bars, the mob stepped in to fill the void by opening unlicensed bars. They made tons of money selling watered-down drinks at exorbitant prices, and they shared the wealth with police officers and officials who were paid to look the other way. Sometimes a payment was missed, sometimes it was shorted, or sometimes a dispute broke out over how much the mob should pay, and that’s when the police would suddenly turn up to conduct a raid. And while they were at it, police could boost their arrest numbers by hauling some of the bar patrons to the station house. It appears that no such arrests were made in the Barn raid, a restraint which may have helped to lower the temperature among the Barn’s patrons and foil the attempts by the club’s employees to exploit the situation. But police behavior toward the club’s patrons were, typically, hostile, both before and during the raid.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

Robinson and Jim Owles, GAA president, led a delegation to meet with Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary to discuss the problem of the mafia-owned bars as well as how the police treated gay people. As GAY reported on August 17:

Jim Owles, president of GAA, told Commissioner Leary that the homosexual community is achieving a new awareness of itself and its problems, partly as a result of its witnessing other minority group struggles and partly as a result of problem. with the police that the gay community continually faces. He charged that raids on after-hours gay bars were made at hours on weekend nights, with police by their mere presence intimidating scores of patrons. “They hang around, they check I.D .’s at random. they indulge in verbal abuse, they station one man at the door and a patrol car out front for several minutes.”

Recently at the Barn (an after-hours bar), Owles contended, a police raid created a very heated atmosphere and near violence. “We’re here to ask you what can be done. Your actions make it difficult for a civil rights organization such as ours that is trying to reform the establishment. When we work against a background of such police tactics, they tend to undermine our efforts and to drive the gay community into the hands of extremists,” Owles charged. Nevertheless, he explained, “we are not asking the police to close down after-hours bars.” He said GAA’s concern was that homosexual patrons should be left alone when police take action against such establishments.”

…Robinson pointed out that the syndicate owns legitimate bars, too. He said “We’re here about a social condition — syndicate control of gay bars and payoffs to police. The bars are run shabbily and are a bad influence on the young kids just coming out who patronize these places and who already don’t know what to make of themselves because of the way society receives them. Such gay bars shouldn’t be tolerated in these years. We can’t live with it. We want to see legitimate bars where there’s no guy at the door with a cigar in his face saying to kids, ‘Welcome to your life- this is it, your subculture, your subterranean existence.’ Commissioner, our desire now is that anyone who’s honest can get into business and stay in without a shakedown, and can get police protection. But we must have police protection for this to be possible.”

…Reinforcing Robinson’s earlier remarks, Owles told the police that successful bars not opened by the syndicate were quickly taken over by it. “In an era when homosexuals are seeking their civil rights, it’s a blatant insult to have to go to a bar taken over by the syndicate. This situation will blow up sooner or later,” he warned. “Hence GAA is pressing for an investigation of alleged collusion between the State Liquor Authority and organized crime. Meanwhile, whatever struggles there are between the police and the syndicate, we simply ask that homosexual patrons not be used as pawns in between.”

Leary countered that if the GAA or anyone in the gay community had specific evidence of official corruption, they should bring it to the police. Owles countered that this was a problem for the NYPD to solve, not his. “As far as a police investigation is concerned,” he said, “it would be most difficult for most homosexuals to appear in court to help you. Actual lives would be in danger.”

The previous April, The New York Times published a front-page article about police corruption using information supplied by two officers, Detective David Durk and Officer Frank Serpico. That article forced New York Mayor John Lindsay to appoint a five-member panel to investigate charges of police corruption. A year later, the commission issued a report saying that police corruption was endemic, and that the mayor and Leary, who by then was a former police commissioner, had failed to act.

[Sources: Kay Tobin. “Police Commissioner Howard Leary Meets with G.A.A.” GAY (August 17, 1970): 3, 12.

Randy Wicker. “The Wicker Basket” GAY (August 17, 1970): 8.]

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 17

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Halifax, NS; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Rochester, MN; San Diego, CA; Stuttgart, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

The Ambassador Lounge was part of the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Built in 1911, the single room occupancy hotel was an AIDS hospice during the 1980s when under the management of Hank Wilson. But by the late 1990s, the Ambassador had sharply deteriorated into a veritable urban slum. Housing activists applied legal pressure against the slumlord, who sold the building to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit that fixes up old buildings in the neighborhood. Repairs were completed in 2003, and the Ambassador now serves as low income housing. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old Ambassador Lounge is now an Indian restaurant.

Kenneth Wherry

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“They resign voluntarily, don’t they? That’s an admission of their guilt.”: 1950. Max Lerner, a columnist for the New York Post, began a series of articles on homosexuality in July, 1950, spurred on by the growing hysteria in government and the press over the presence of gay people in federal employment(see Feb 28Mar 14, Mar 21Mar 23Mar 24Apr 14Apr 26, May 5, May 15May 19, and Jun 15). On July 17, Lerner published his interview with Sen. Kenneth Wherry (R-NE), the GOP’s floor leader and whip, and a primary backer of the ongoing Senate investigations into gays and lesbian employees in the federal government. Two months earlier, Sen. Wherry had issued a report estimating 3,750 “perverts” were government employees. The interview revealed just how uninformed those crusaders against gays in the federal government really were:

I asked Senator Wherry whether the problem of homosexuals in the government was primarily a moral or a security issue. He answered that it was both, but security was uppermost in his mind. I asked whether he made a connection between homosexuals and Communists. “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives,” the Senator told me. “Mind you, I don’t say every homosexual is a subversive, and I don’t say every subversive is a homosexual. But a man of low morality is a menace in the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together.”

…I asked whether he would be content to get the homosexuals out of the “sensitive posts,” leaving alone those who have nothing to do with military security. There might be “associations,” he said, between men in the sensitive and the minor posts. “There should be no people of that type working in any position in the government.”

…I asked on what he based his view that homosexuals represent an unusual security risk. I cited a group of American psychiatrists who hold that a heterosexual with promiscuous morals may also be a security risk, that some men might be reckless gamblers or confirmed alcoholics and get themselves entangled or blackmailed. The Senator’s answer was firm: “You can stretch the security risk further if you want to,” he said, “but right now I want to start with the homosexuals. When we get through them, then we’ll see what comes next.”

This brought me to the question of definitions. “You must have a clear idea, Senator,” I said, “of what a homosexual is. It is a problem that has been troubling the psychiatrists and statisticians. Can you tell me what your idea is?”

“Quite simple,” answered the Senator. “A homosexual is a diseased man, an abnormal man.”

I persisted. “Do you mean one who has made a habit of homosexuality? Would you include someone who, perhaps in his teens, had some homosexual relations and had never had them since? Would you include those who are capable of both kinds of relations, some who may even be raising families?”

“You can handle it without requiring a definition,” the Senator answered. “I’m convinced in my own mind that any homosexual is a bad risk.”

“But how about those who get pushed out of their jobs when they are only in a minor post, when no security risk is involved, and when they are forced to resign for something they may have done years ago?”

“They resign voluntarily, don’t they?” asked the Senator. “That’s an admission of their guilt. That’s all I need. My feeling is that there will be very few people hurt.”

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 95-97.]

American Psychological Association Refuses To Meet With Gay Rights Groups: 1963. One of the top goals of the early gay rights movement was to get the mental health professions to remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. As long as homosexuality remained listed, governmental agencies and private companies had all the excuse they needed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker began publishing the results of a series of tests which demonstrated that gays and lesbians who weren’t patients of mental health professionals were indistinguishable from heterosexuals (see Aug 30). Before then, the mental health community thought that gays were mentally deficient because all of the prior research had only studied people who were confined to mental hospitals or were seen in clinical settings.

Despite the strength of this new evidence, it would still take many years for it to sink in. In 1963, the American Psychological Association was preparing to meet in Philadelphia for their annual convention. Leading gay activists, under the banner of the newly-formed East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) also planned to meet in Philadelphia at the same time, and they proposed a meeting with members of the APA. But the APA convention’s organizing committee declined the invitation. In a very brief letter to leading gay rights activist Frank Kameny and the Washington, D.C., Mattachine Society, the APA simply said, “This problem” — yes, the APA saw the meeting as a problem — “has already been considered by the Convention Committee and it was decided that it was not in the best interests of the APA to meet with you, nor to publicize your meetings.”

Another nine years would pass before Kameny and Daughters of Bilitis New York activist Barbara Gittings would appear with Dr. John E. Fryer (as “Dr. H. Anonymous.”) on a panel discussion on homosexuality with the American Psychiatric Association (the other APA, which is the keeper of the list of mental disorders known as the DSM) (see May 2). That appearance nearly a decade later would wind up being a key moment leading to the elimination of homosexuality as a mental illness (see Dec 15).

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 Thursday, July 16

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, GermanyCalabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Halifax, NS; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Rochester, MN; San Diego, CA; Stuttgart, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 5, 1981, page T5.

From The Advocate, March 5, 1971, page T5.

1992_Factor_VIII-large[1]

TODAY IN HISTORY:
CDC Identifies Haitians, People with Hemophilia as Being at Risk for AIDS: 1982. A little more than a year had passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued its first alerts on a new syndrome affecting the immune systems of gay men on the East and West Coasts (see Jun 5, Jul 3). The syndrome still didn’t have an official name, but the popular press was beginning to call it Gay-Related Immune Deficinecy (GRID) or more simply as the “gay cancer,” for the rare form of skin cancer that often stalked people with this puzzling condition. The CDC, for its part, simply referred to the two main opportunistic infections that afflected those with this immune deficiency: the hitherto rare Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia (PCP) and that “gay cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). By the end of the year, the CDC noticed similar conditions among intravenous drug users. This relegated the disease to two “guilty” groups: gays and drug addicts.

1983-12-17-SMH-AIDS-scare-kills-off-Haitis-tourist-industry-620x874[1]But that would change. On July 9, the CDC issued a report identifying CDC and KAS among recent Haitian immigrants in the U.S. The report described twenty patients ranging from twenty-two to forty-three years old, three of them women. They had all been born in Haiti and living in the Miami-Dade area for anywhere from one month to seven years. Ten more patients from Haiti were found in Brooklyn, and three others were in California, Georgia and New Jersey. “None of the 23 Haitian males questioned reported homosexual activity, and only 1 of 26 gave a history of IV drug abuse — substantially lower than the prevalence reported for heterosexual patients of other racial/ethnic groups who had Kaposi’s sarcoma or opportunistic infections. … It is not clear whether this outbreak is related to similar outbreaks among homosexual males, IV drug abusers, and others, but the clinical and immunologic pictures appear quite similar. CDC is currently collaborating with local investigators to define this problem and identify risk factors.” By the end of the year, Haiti’s growing tourism industry would collapse.

So now the at-risk populations were homosexuals, drug users, and Haitian immigrants — three marginalized groups which most people found difficult to identify with. (French researchers were finding the syndrome among a much more diverse group of paitents, including African immigrants and residents, but that news hadn’t made it to the New World yet.) Meanwhile the ink was barely dry on that CDC report when, just a week later, the CDC issued another report identifying the same syndrome among three people with Hemophilia A who were being treated with Factor VIII, a blood-clotting protein that was extracted from donated blood plasma. This gave the CDC its first solid clue about how the new syndrome might be transmitted:

The clinical and immunologic features these three patients share are strikingly similar to those recently observed among certain individuals from the following groups: homosexual males, heterosexuals who abuse IV drugs, and Haitians who recently entered the United States.(1-3) Although the cause of the severe immune dysfunction is unknown, the occurrence among the three hemophiliac cases suggests the possible transmission of an agent through blood products.

That clue would be reinforced five months later when the CDC, having adopted the “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” as the official name for the condition just a few months earlier, reported on a 20-month-old infant who experienced an immune deficiency following a transfusion. It would also mark AIDS’ transition from being a disease contracted solely by suspect groups to one that ordinary “innocent” Americans could get.

Reinaldo Arenas

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Reinaldo Arenas: 1943-1990. His background would have made him  tailor-made for Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Cuba. Arenas was born to a destitute family in the rural Oriente province, Castro’s native province and the cradle of the revolution that Arenas joined as a teenager. Arenas moved to Havana in 1961, and became a researcher at the José Martí National Library from 1963 to 1966. His 1965 semi-autobiographical novel, Singing from the Well, was the first novel of his five-part Pentagonia (The Five Agonies) series, which he described as “the secret history of Cuba.” Singing From the Well was awarded a first honorable mention by a committee of Cuban writers, and the Prix Medici in France four years later.

Singing From the Well would be Arenas’s only novel to be published in Cuba, and it would never be reprinted there beyond its initial printing of 2,000 copies because of Arenas’s open homosexuality. Cuba’s benefactor, the Soviet Union, saw homosexuality as a product of a decadent capitalist society, ideas which easily took root in Cuba which already had its own entrenched homophobic qualities. Castro regarded regarded homosexuality as a bourgeois decadence (“In the country, there are no homosexuals,” he once said), and declared that “we would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant.” New laws were passed and concentration camps were opened to house Cuba’s homosexuals, particularly effeminate men, who were believed to have violated the ideal of Cuba’s “new man.” Those prison camps were supposed to turn these men into the New Man through forced labor, scarce food, shaved heads, and physical mistreatment.

Arenas avoided that fate and managed to find work as a journalist and editor for the literary magazine La Caceta de Cuba, although he was prohibited from publishing abroad while the government refused to publish his books at home. His second novel, Hallucinations, published abroad in 1968, violated that ban. In 1970, Arenas was officially branded a “social misfit” and sentenced to a labor camp to cut sugar cane. When he still managed to get his works smuggled out of Cuba and published abroad, the Cuban government sent him to the notorious El Morro Prison from 1974 to 1976 for being a “counterrevolutionary.” Arenas continued writing, both in and out of prison. He wrote Farewell to the Sea three times because the authorities kept confiscating it. He dedicated his epic poem, El Central, to “my dear friend R., who made me a present of 87 sheets of blank paper.” He tried to escape Cuba, but the attempt ending in failure and more imprisonment. He was finally able to escape during the 1980 Mariel boatlift thanks to a bureaucratic snafu.

On arriving in the United States, he settled to New York and launched a frenzied period of writing: novels, short stories, poetry, essays, and newspaper articles. The two decade saw the publication of the rest of Pentagonia, with The Palace of the White Skunks (1982), Farewell to the Sea (1987), The Color of Summer, (1990), and The Assault (1992). The last major work he wrote was his autobiography, Before Night Falls, which was posthumously published in 1992. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author, praised Before Night Falls and Arena’s uncompromisingly frank — some may say explicit — depiction of his homosexuality in defiance of the homophobia of his Spanish-speaking audience: “This is one of the most moving testimonies that has ever been written in our language about oppression and rebellion, but few will dare to acknowledge this fact since the book, although one reads it with an uncontrollable appetite, has the perverse power of leaving its readers uncomfortable”

Weak with AIDS, without health insurance and living in poverty ever since leaving Cuba, Arenas killed himself in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment on December 7, 1990. He titled his final poem Self-Epitaph:

A bad poet in love with the moon,
he counted terror as his only fortune:
and it was enough because, being no saint,
he knew that life is risk or abstinence,
that every great ambition is great insanity
and the most sordid horror has its charm.

He lived for life’s sake, which means seeing death
as a daily occurrence on which we wager
a splendid body or our entire lot.
He knew the best things are those we abandon
— precisely because we are leaving.
The everyday becomes’ hateful,
there’ s just one place to live, the impossible.
He knew imprisonment offenses
typical of human baseness;
but was always escorted by a certain stoicism
that helped him walk the tightrope
or enjoy the morning’s glory,
And when he tottered, a window would appear
for him to jump toward infinity.

He wanted no ceremony, speech, mourning or cry,
no sandy mound where his skeleton be laid to rest
(not even after death he wished to live in peace).
He ordered that his ashes be scattered at sea
where they would be in constant flow.
He hasn’t lost the habit of dreaming:
he hopes some adolescent will plunge into his waters.

Tony Kushner: 1956. He is most acclaimed for his Pulitzer prize-winning play, Angels In America, the seven-hour epic about the AIDS crises in the Ed Koch-era of New York. Kushner wrote the play for eight actors, but stipulated that each of the actors was to play multiple roles (including multiple genders) throughout the production. When he adapted the play for an HBO miniseries starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, the same construct was applied. In addition to the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Kushner won the Tony Awards for Best Play in 1993 and 1994 (Angels In America is actually in two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, each having its own separate Broadway debut.)

After the turn of the new millennium, Kushner began writing for film, co-writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Munich. Most recently, he was the screenwriter for Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, for which Kushner won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a Writers Guild award for best adapted screenplay. In 2013, Kushner was one of twenty-four recipients for the National Medal of Arts and Humanities from President Barack Obama.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 15

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, GermanyCalabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Halifax, NS; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Rochester, MN; San Diego, CA; Stuttgart, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Dallas Voice, July 13, 1984, page 12. (Source.)

From The Dallas Voice, July 13, 1984, page 12. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York’s WBAI Radio Broadcasts Talk Show Featuring Eight Gay Men: 1962. There had long been an inherent tension among the various local chapters of the Mattachine Society between those who, because of their experience with the McCarthy-led Lavendar Scare witchhunt in the early 1950s, feared public scrutiny and exposure, and those who argued for greater visibility. Randy Wicker (see Feb 3) was among the latter. To get around some of the group’s objections, Wicker established a separate entity he called the Homosexual League of New York, an organization that consisted solely of himself, and which gave him the freedom to act independently while giving others a sense that there was an organization behind him.

Earlier in 1962 WBAI, New York’s listener-supported progressive Pacifica radio station, aired an hour-long special, “The Homosexual In America.” It featured a panel of psychiatrists who described gay people as sick and in need of a cure — a cure that they could provide with just a few hours of therapy. Wicker was insensed, not only at the ignorance of these so-called “experts,” but also because, once again, there was a panel of straight people talking about gay people with nary a gay person in sight.

Wicker marched into the WBAI studios and confronted Dick Elman, the station’s public affairs director. “Why do you have these people on that don’t know a damn thing about homosexuality? They don’t live it and breathe it the way I do. … I spend my whole life in gay society.”  Wicker demanded equal time and Elman agreed, provided Wicker found other gay people willing to go on the air as part of a panel.  When plans for the program were announced, the New York Journal-American went ballistic. Jack O’Brian, the paper’s radio-TV columnist, wrote that the station should change its callsign to WSICK for agreeing to air an “arrogant card-carrying swish. …We’ve heard of silly situations in broadcasting, but FM station WBAI wins our top prize for scraping the sockly barrel-bottom.”

WBAI went ahead despite the controversy and the program, titled “Live and Let Live,” featured Wicker and seven other gay men talking for ninety minutes about what it was like to be gay.  They talked about their difficulties in maintaining careers, the problems of police harassment, and the social responsibility of gays and straights alike. The program’s host guided the programs with questions to the panel. “Is there harassment?” he asked. One panelist described some of the police harassment he had expeirenced, when one officer “roared up, jumped out of the car, grabbed me, and started giving me this big thing about ‘What are you doing here, you know there are a lot of queers aroudn this neighborhood.’ He said, ‘You know, there’s only one thing worse than a queer, and that’s a nigger’.”

The following morning, The New York Times’s Jack Gould called the program “the most extensive consideration of the subject to be heard on American radio” — a statement that betrays his own unawareness of several similar programs which had already aired on radio and television in San Francisco and Los Angeles years earlier. Nevertheless, he wrote that “it succeeded, one would think in encouraging a wider understanding of the homosexual’s attitudes and problems.” Newsweek called the program “96 minutes of intriguing, if intellectually inconclusive listening.” A group of listeners lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and challenge the station’s broadcast license. When the FCC recognized the broadcast as a legitimate exercise in free speech, it signaled to other radio and television stations that homosexuality was an acceptable topic for broadcast (see Jan 23).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Samuel Reber, Jr.: 1903-1971. He was a well-regarded American diplomat who spent twenty-seven years in the Foreign Service. During World War II, Reber scored a significant diplomatic success by getting Vichy France to agree that French colonies and possessions, ships and planes in the Caribbean would not be used by the Axis powers, an agreement which underscored Vichy’s weakness as a French power. Reber then joined the Allied Control Commission in Italy, and from there he served as the U.S. representative to the Allied French government in 1944. By 1946, he was a political adviser to the U.S. delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Paris, in 1947 he was director of the State Department’s Office of European Affairs, and in 1950 he joined in the Allied High Commission as an adviser for the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.

Beginning in 1948, Reber faced his greatest diplomatic challenge working t for an Austrian peace treaty while enduring years of threats and insults from the Soviet Union. His work ultimately laid the groundwork for an independent Austria remaining outside of the Soviet block. But the treaty guaranteeing that independence wouldn’t come about until two years after Reber was forced out of the State Department in 1953. That’s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare — and the accompanying Lavender Scare — was in full force in the U.S. Senate. McCarthy charged that the upper ranks of the State Department were filled with communists and homosexuals, prompting a wide-ranging witch hunt within the department. Reber was called in for a polygraph test and interviews on March 17 and 19, 1953. That investigation uncovered “a lot of admissions” about homosexuality. When McCarthy threatened to reveal allegations of Reber’s homosexuality, Reber promptly announced his retirement in May 1953, effective July 15 when he turned 50.

But because of Reber’s high profile, the reasons for his resignation quickly became well known in diplomatic and political circles. In 1954, McCarthy would use Reber’s resignation against his brother, Major General Miles Reber, who was called to testify on the first day of the Army-McCarthy hearings. According to Time magazine:

Returning to twist the dirk already thrust into the Reber brothers, McCarthy asked General Reber: “Are you aware of the fact that your brother was allowed to resign when charges that he was a bad security risk were made against him as a result of the investigation of this committee?” Jenkins roared in protest. McClellan roared in protest. McCarthy talked on, stuck to his question. General Reber sat in silence, gripping the edges of the witness table until his knuckles showed white. Finally, McCarthy, having made his point over radio and television, dismissed the entire question as unimportant, and grandly said he would withdraw it.

But West Pointer Reber would not have it so. In a voice thick with emotion, he asked to be allowed to answer the “very serious charge” made against his brother. After another long argument, Reber said simply: “. . . As I understand my brother’s case, he retired, as he is entitled to do by law, upon reaching the age of 50 … I know nothing about any security case involving him.” With a sigh of relief, Chairman Mundt dismissed Reber, thanking him for his frank manner—a remark to which McCarthy, who seemed determined to resent any civility, made a formal objection.

David Cicilline

David Cicilline: 1961. When he was elected mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, in a landslide in 2002, David Cicilline became the first openly gay man to become mayor of a state capital. He held that position until 2011, when he went to Congress to represent Rhode Island in the U.S. House of Representatives after a surprisingly close race against his Republican opponent in what was supposed to be a safe Democratic seat. When he joined Congress, he became one of four openly gay representatives in the House. Cicilline was re-elected in 2012, despite falling approval ratings which wer  partly due to Providence’s near bankruptcy in the wake of Cicilline’s eight years as mayor.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 14

Jim Burroway

July 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Robert Nugent

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Vatican Orders Priest and Nun To Halt Pro-Gay Ministry: 1999. New Ways Ministry, founded in 1977 by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, was (and still is) “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.” The ministry’s name was inspired by a 1976 pastoral letter by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero of Brooklyn which, while emphasizing “chastity is a virtue which liberates the human person,” nevertheless “pledge[d] our willingness to help you bear your burdens, to try to find new ways to communicate the truth of Christ because we believe it will make you free.”

Free from what, exactly, the letter didn’t say. (This was before the religious ex-gay movement was founded in 1976.) But Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent saw that the clearest path to freedom was to create wider acceptance for gay and lesbian Catholics within the Catholic Church. Sr. Gramick came by her advocacy for gay people a few years earlier while working on her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she befriended a gay man and began ministering to those who had left the Church because of its stance toward gay people. Fr. Nugent had been involved with pastoral ministry and counseling to gay Catholics since 1971. When Fr. Nugent and Sr. Gramick co-founded New Ways Ministry at Mt. Rainier, MD., it attracted almost immediate attention from the Church’s hierarchy. In 1984, Archbishop of Washington James Cardinal Hickey’s criticisms of New Way Ministry led the Vatican to order Fr. Nugent’s and Sr. Gramick’s resignation. They complied, but continued speaking and writing about gay and lesbian issues within the church.

On July 14, 1999, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a “Notification regarding Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent“, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which is charged with enforcing adherence to Catholic doctrines. The CDF, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI), “permanently prohibited” Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.”

Fr. Nugent responded with a lengthy statement describing his experience with Vatican officials during the previous two decades. That prompted a further order from the Vatican prohibiting him from speaking any further “about the Notification itself, about the ecclesiastical processes that led to it or about the issue of homosexuality.” Fr. Nugent then decided to return to parish-based ministry.

But Sr. Gramick refused to complying with the silencing. “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” She then transferred from the School Sisters of Notre Dame to the Sisters of Loretto, where she has continued her work for social justice and outreach to LGBT people. In 2004, Sr. Gramick became the subject of a powerful documentary film, In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith, directed by Albert Maysles of Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter fame. New Ways Ministry continues its work of independent advocacy on for LGBT Catholics.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Arthur Laurents: 1917-2011. The three-time Tony Award winning playwright, director and screenwriter started out by writing scripts for radio shows and training films for the U.S. Army during World War II. One photograph of GIs in the South Pacific jungle inspired him to write Home of the Brave about anti-Semitism in the military. The play opened on Broadway in 1945 and ran for sixty nine performances. (When the play was adapted for the 1949 film, the topic switched from anti-Semitic to anti-black bigotry.) That first run wasn’t a long one, but its controversial subject would come back to haunt him later when he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was placed on the infamous entertainment blacklist during the McCarthy red scare.

His tenure on the list was relatively brief, and by the mid-1950s, Laurents was in Broadway and Hollywood’s good graces again. Good thing, because he went on to write West Side Story and Gypsy, and the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope. He also wrote the scripts for the films The Way We Were and The Turning Point, and directed the 1983 stage production of La Cage Aux Folles. Laurents died in 2011 in New York of pneumonia at the age of 93. His partner of more than fifty years, Tom Hatcher, had preceded him in 2006. In honor of Laurents’s career, the lights on Broadway were dimmed at 8:00 p.m. the following night.

Charles Pierce

Charles Pierce: 1926-1999. The self-styled “male actress” was very clear about what he was and what he was not. “You can call me an impersonator, an impressionist, a mimic, or a comic in a dress. But not a drag queen! A drag queen is someone who dresses up and goes to a ball! I’m an entertainer.” And what an entertainer he was. His impersonations included Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Carol Channing, who said “He did Carol Channing better than I did. He titled his 1990 show, “The Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen: All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing… All Dead.”

Pierce began his male actress career after another drag performer, who impersonated Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead, rejected Pierce’s suggestions on how to improve his act. Pierce then decided he could do a better job. In some of the clubs in the early fifties, Pierce performed while wearing a tuxedo because of laws banning cross-dressing, but by the time he moved to San Francisco and was a regular performer at the Gilded Cage, he was performing in ever more elaborate costume. Eventually, he caught the attention of Hollywood producers and got guest roles in movies and television, including a guest stint on Designing Women where he impersonated Joan Collins and Bette Davis. He died in 1999, following a long battle with cancer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUB9FIAKEi0

75 YEARS AGO: My Mom: 1940. Happy Birthday Mom!

 55 YEARS AGO: Jane Lynch: 1960. Nobody does bitter sarcasm like Jane Lynch. Since 2009, she has played the role of Sue Sylvester on Glee, where her Emmy-, People’s Choice- and Golden Globe-winning performance is the only rational reason why anyone would want to watch Glee (in my opinion at least). She has also appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and had a recurring role in The L Word. In 2010, Lynch married clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Embry in Sunderland Massachusetts — you can see their video for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project here — but the couple divorced in January 2014.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 13

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

Chicago’s Twenty-One Club, opened in 1961, was raided by police in September 1969, just a few months after Stonewall. According to a brief article written by Bill Kelley for Mattachine Midwest:

The first raid of the current series occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 20, when the 21 Club was hit and 12 persons were arrested and charged with public indecency. (Public indecency is defined as lewd fondling on the body in public, and Chicago police routinely apply the law to cover homosexual dancing and even two men with arms over each other’s shoulders. Allegations of lewd fondling are always thrown in, but the real police target is harmless activity on a par with accepted heterosexual behavior.)

As usual, nothing was going on, but the time had come, so the 21 club was raided and innocent victims grabbed. Woody, the owner, was taken in and quite generously bailed out the patrons. He contacted MM, gave us details of the event and took an MM referral attorney. Moreover, Woody has helped raise funds for the legal defense of the patrons ( a benefit cocktail party was being held on Sunday, Oct. 21, as this went to press).

At some point, Club 21 became Legacy 21. It was still in business in 2001 when the Chicago Tribune published this brief profile which noted that the bar was the oldest gay bar still operating. I haven’t been able to track down when the club finally closed, but by 2012 it was boarded up tight, its large yellow sign was still hanging out front.

vere

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 205 YEARS AGO: Gay Pub Raided in London: 1810. From The Times of London:

The existence of a Club, or Society, for the purpose so detestable and repugnant to the common feelings of our nature, that by no word can it be described without committing an outrage upon decency, has for some time been suspected by the Magistrates of Bow-street; who cautiously concealing the odious secret, abstained from taking any steps on the information they had received, until an opportunity should offer of surprising the whole gang. About 11 o’clock last Sunday evening, three separate parties of the patrole, attended by constables, were detached from Bow-street on this service. … The enterprise was completely successful. — We regret most deeply, that the information given at the office was found to be so accurate, that the Officers felt themselves justified in seizing no fewer than 23 individuals, at a public-house, called the White Swan, in Vere-street, Clare-market.

Two men were found guilty of sodomy and were hanged. Six more were found guilty of attempted sodomy and were made to stand at the pillory. The crowds who turned out for the pillory were particularly violent, throwing rotten fish, dead cats, “cannonballs” made of mud, and vegetables at the convicted men. The men were severely injured and barely survived their allotted time at the pillory.

“Brothers” Debuts: 1984. The first American television program featuring a gay lead character finally debuted on Showtime. The show, set in Philadelphia, centered around the three Waters brothers: Lou was a typical blue-collar construction foreman, Joe was a retired placekicker for the Philadelphia Eagles and owner of a sports bar, and Cliff, who in the first episode left his bride at the altar and came out to his family as a gay man. ABC and NBC had already turned down the series out of fear of portraying homosexuality on prime time, but when Showtime decided to begin producing original television series, they saw Brothers as the perfect fit. After a successful first season, Showtime decided to pick up the series for a second season. Showtime also offer the series for syndication to over-the-air broadcast stations, and the fledgling Fox network decided to jump on that deal. Brother would go on for a full five seasons and 115 episodes.

Anti-Gay Groups Kick Off Nationwide Ex-Gay Advertising Campaign: 1998. The campaign attracted so much attention that the Family Research Council’s Bob Knight hailed it as “the “Normandy landing in the larger cultural wars.” Fifteen anti-gay organizations, including the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and Coral Ridge Ministries, launched a national million-dollar advertising campaign, with newspaper ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today featuring “ex-lesbian” Anne Paulk under the headline, “I’m living proof that the Truth can set you free.” The campaign also included a television commercial featuring ex-gay and HIV-positive Michael Johnston who, with his mother by his side, proclaimed that he was now free from the “homosexual lifestyle.”

The ads quickly generated widespread media attention. Segments on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Nightline, CBS’s 60 Minutes and Oprah were devoted to the topic, Anne and John Paulk made the cover of Newsweek under the question, “Gay for life?” The ex-gay movement finally found its moment under the sun. But more significantly, the larger anti-gay political movement had yet another weapon to use against the gay community. As the argument went, if gay people could choose to become straight, then they didn’t need protections or guarantees of equality under the law. One underlying argument went even further: that there was no such thing as homosexuals; they were just heterosexuals with homosexual problems.

Focus On the Family, in particular, was eager to exploit the growing public awareness of the ex-gay movement. That same year, Focus, in partnership with Exodus International, launched a series of one-day conferences across the country. Titled “Love Won Out,” the conferences were part road show and part infomercial for ex-gay ministries. Featuring John Paulk (who was also a Focus employee and conference coordinator), fellow Focus employees Melissa Fryrear and Mike Haley; Exodus’s Bob Davies and Joe Dallas (and later, Alan Chambers); NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi; and Nancy Hesche, actress Anne Hesche’s mother, the conferences introduced thousands, mostly parents of gay children, to the movement. Many conferences attracted an attendance of more than two thousand, with a half a dozen conferences taking place every year across North America.

But all was not well behind the movement’s facade. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed John Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C. where he had spent a couple of hours chatting up customers (see Sep 19). 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 Paulk managed to weather the controversy, remaining in his position at Focus, and continuing in his role as the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.

Michael Johnston and his mother in a television commercial.

In 2003, it was revealed that while Michael Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, he was privately engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky.

So, where are they today? In 2012, Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” He then repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights. In 2013, he issued a formal apology for the harms done by Exodus International to its clients and shut down Exodus altogether.

John Paulk left Focus on the Family in 2o03, and he and his wife moved to Portland Oregon where he started a catering business. Anne continue to write books and speak on the ex-gay circuit. In 2013, John recanted his ex-gay beliefs and issued a formal apology. Meanwhile, Anne helped to form Restored Hope Network, a more hardline break-away group of former Exodus ministries. She now serves on the board of directors of RHN. The Paulks have divorced.

Johnston continues as director of donor and media relations at Pure Life Ministries, where his is also available as a public speaker (PDF: 93 KB/3 pages).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Robert Gant: 1968. He was Ben Bruckner in the American version of “Queer as Folk.” His HIV-positive character gave the series an opportunity to explore anti-AIDS hysteria and stigma, both outside and inside the gay community. He has had numerous television guest roles, and he acted and produced in Save Me, the film staring Chad Allen about the ex-gay movement. Gant and Allen, along with Christopher Racster, are partners in the production company Mythgarden. He is active in LGBT elder issues, supporting SAGE (Senior Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and GLEH (Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing).

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 12

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Bristol, UK; Budapest, Hungary; Chelmsford, UK; Ibiza, Spain; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Prince George, BC; Saarbrücken, Germany; San Luis Obispo, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Parleé (Long Island, NY), July 1975, page 7.

From Parleé (Long Island, NY), July 1975, page 7.

There’s not much information available about the Between Us Lounge, except that it appears to have been a lesbian bar alongside a canal, where, according to rumor, “one night someone staggered out the door and accidentally fell in the canal.”

Van Cliburn’s historic performance at the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, 19589

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Van Cliburn: 1934-2013. In 1958, the Soviet Union, flush with the technological success of Sputnik, inaugurated the first International Tchaikovsky Competition to showcase the Soviet’s cultural superiority. But twenty-four year old Van Cliburn’s astounding performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 resulted in a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. With an American clearly the crowd favorite to take what was supposed to have been a Soviet showcase, the judges reportedly sought Khrushchev permission. “Is he the best? Then give him the prize!” so the story goes. Cliburn returned to the U.S. to a hero’s welcome, becoming the first and only classical musician to be treated to a New York ticker-tape parade. His 1958 Grammy-winning recording of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto became the first classical album to go platinum and was the best-selling classical album for more than a decade. It would eventually go on to go triple platinum and is still available for download in the internet age.

Van Cliburn’s return to Moscow, 2011

In 1962, he became the artistic adviser for his own namesake competition, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held every four years in Ft. Worth, Texas. His own competition now rivals the Tchaikovsky in international stature. He continued performing and recording through the 1960s and 1970s, but after the deaths of his father and manager, he took a hiatus from public life. He came out of retirement in 1987 to perform at the White House for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhael Gorbachev. In 2011, Van Cliburn returned to the XCI Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, where he served as an honorary juror and was treated like a rock star. He died in 2013 at his Ft. Worth home of bone cancer at the age of 78. His funeral was held at the gay-friendly Broadway Baptist Church, and his obituary listed his sole survivor as “his friend of longstanding, Thomas L. Smith.”

40 YEARS AGO: Cheyenne Jackson: 1975. He was named for show business, named by his father after a 1950s Western television series. He is a talented actor and singer, working on stage, film and television. His biggest film role to date was as gay 9/11 hero Mark Bingham in the 2006 Oscar nominated United 93, though he was not yet out yet. Publicly at least. He came out to his parents at the age of 19. His conservative Christian family — including his brother who pastors a large evangelical church and often appears on Pat Robertson’s CBN — encouraged him to enroll in an Exodus International program, but he quietly refused. Fortunately, his family has mostly come around since then.

Jackson came out publicly in 2008, in an interview with the New York Times. That same year, he appeared in a New York production of Damn Yankees with Jane Krakowski and Sean Hayes. In 2009, he opened on Broadway in a revival of Finian’s Rainbows. He has also had recurring roles on television with NBC’s 30 Rock and Fox’s Glee. In 2008, he released a CD with Michael Feinstein, The Power Of Two, which was based on their critically-acclaimed night club act that led to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. Jackson followed that with another acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert with the New York Pops in  Cheyenne Jackson’s Cocktail Hour: Music of the Mad Men Era, a show that he reprised on New Year’s Eve of 2012 at the Kennedy Center. He released his second album I’m Blue, Skies in 2013.

He is an avid LGBT rights supporter and an ambassador for amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), and in 2011, he appeared in the New York stage reading of Dustin Lance Black’s play, 8, based on on the Proposition 8 trial transcript. In 2011, he married his husband, physicist Monte Lapka, after New York legalized same-sex marriage. The couple had been together since 1999, but they wound up divorcing in 2013. He married actor Jason Landau the following year.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 11

Jim Burroway

July 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Bristol, UK; Budapest, Hungary; Chelmsford, UK; Green Bay, WI; Ibiza, Spain; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Naples, Italy; Prince George, BC; Saarbrücken, Germany; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, August 1974, page 58.

The Florida-based gay photographic and lifestyle magazine David described Annie’s Odds and Ends this way: “Annie’s Odds ‘n’ Ends at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and 12th Ave, caters to the female set and keeps a clean, congenial atmosphere for the girls to relax in and meet new friends. No hassles here. Dance, play pool and enjoy yourself is the order of the day.” The building is still there and is home to a sports bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Twenty-Six Oklahoma City Teachers Forced to Resign: 1966. Oklahoma County Attorney Curtis Harris revealed that 26 teachers and school administrators in Oklahoma City have resigned following a six month investigation into “alleged homosexual activity.” Harris said that his office was being “pressured” by prominent citizens to cut back on his investigation, but he was defiant. “It won’t work,” he said. “The investigation will continue.” He did say though that his investigation of late had been hampered when his assistant, investigator Albert J. Hock, suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

Alex Higdon, Executive Assistant for Oklahoma City schools had a different set of figures, saying that as far as he knew only twelve had resigned, “but of course we may not have known about it when they resigned.” He also said that the school board conducted its own investigations rather than work in tandem with the County Attorney. “If evidence substantiates the charges, the person is asked to resign,” he said.

[Source: UPI. “26 Resign in Teacher Deviate Quiz.” The Washington Post (July 12, 1966): A3.]

Denis Lemon

Denis Lemon

Editor of “Gay News” Convicted of Blasphemy: 1977. In the United Kingdom, private citizens can, with the permission of the court, initiate a private prosecution for criminal offenses if public prosecutors decline to do so. Mary Whitehouse, co-founder of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, had appointed herself the guardian of the nation’s morals in 1963. She began her campaign by directing her ire at the BBC for allowing the words “bloody” and “bum” to be uttered over the airwaves. At one point she declared that the BBC’s director-general was “the one man who more than anybody else who had been responsible for the moral collapse in the country.” In 1976, the NVALA announced plans to revive prosecutions under Britain’s archaic blasphemy laws, which hadn’t seen a successful prosecution since 1921. Most people thought the law was effectively dead, including just about everyone in the legal system.

In June of that year, the London-based Gay News published a poem by James Kirkup titled “The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name.” Kirkup’s poetry had appeared in the paper before, but this one, about a Roman centurion who had sex with Jesus after the crucifixion and which described Jesus as having had sex with a number of other male figures before his death, caught Whitehouse’s attention sometime in November. After failing to get the backing of church leaders for a blasphemy trial, she applied for permission to prosecute Gay News and its editor, Denis Lemon, for blasphemy. Permission was granted, and the trial began on July 4, 1977 in Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) before Judge Alan King-Hamilton.

Mary Whitehouse, Judge Alan King-Hamilton

Mary Whitehouse, Judge Alan King-Hamilton

Over the course of the week, the Judge ruled on a number of motions that systematically stacked the entire proceedings against Gay News and Lemon. He disallowed expert witnesses in literature and theology, and he even prohibited Lemon from explaining why he published the poem. The judge later wrote in his autobiography that during the trial he felt “half-conscious of being guided by some superhuman inspiration.” His inspiration left the defense with only two witnesses, a novelist and journalist, and their testimony was limited to the good character of the paper. On Monday, July, Lemon and his paper were found guilty. The next day, the Judge fined Gay News Ltd £1,000 and ordered it to pay four-fifths of Whitehouse’s legal bills, which came to another £7,763. Lemon was personally fined £500 and given a suspended sentence of nine months’ imprisonment. Lemon appealed, and the Appeals Court tossed out his suspended sentence, but kept the rest of the verdict and fines intact. Lemon then appealed to the House of Lords, but lost.

Fortunately for Gay News, the whole episode resulted millions of pounds of free publicity and little financial cost, thanks to the donations which poured in to the Gay News Fighting Fund, a separate trust fund set up specifically to fight the charges. Gay News‘ readership ended up growing from 8000 to 40,000. but it ended up folding anyway in 1983 due to other financial pressures separate from the blasphemy trial. The blasphemy law was finally abolished in 2008, although it remains a criminal offense in Northern Ireland.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Dorothy Wilde: 1895-1941. She was born in London three months after her uncle Oscar Wilde’s arrest for homosexuality. Known as Dolly, she inherited much from her uncle: her good looks, her cutting wit, her charms, her poise, and her artful turn of a phrase. Those talents held her in good stead in the salons of Paris between the wars. She first traveled to France in 1914 to serve as an ambulance driver during World War I, where she had an affair with another ambulance driver, Standard Oil heiress Marion “Joe” Carstairs, who after the war become a renowned speedboat racer (“the fastest woman on water”).

Her longest relationship though began in 1927 and lasted until her death, with the American writer Natalie Clifford Barney. Dolly was a gifted storyteller and writer, but she never pursued a career in writing. Her drinking and addiction to heroin may have gotten in the way. In 1939, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but refused surgery. The next year when Germany invaded France, Dolly fled to London, where she died in 1941 of “causes unascertainable,” a possible allusion to a drug overdose or to alternative treatments she sought for her cancer.

Tab Hunter: 1931. Born Arthur Gelien in New York, he was given his stage name by his first agent. His good looks quickly made him a teen idol in the 1950s as he appeared in more than forty films throughout his career. That career was threatened however when, in 1955, Confidential magazine reported Hunter’s 1950 arrest in an innuendo-laden article, but Hunter’s studio-arranged “romances” with Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds succeeded in rescuing his reputation. In his 2005 memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Hunter talks about his relationships with Anthony Perkins, Rudolph Nureyev and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, along with many anecdotes about the stars that he met: Roddy McDowell, Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Mitchum, Fred Astaire, Linda Darnell. But by 1959, his career was on the downhill slope towards spaghetti westerns and dinner theater.

His career was revived when he co-starred with Divine in John Water’s Polyester and my favorite, Lust In the Dust, making him a new kind of icon. “Making out with Divine, that’s beyond the bravery of coming out,” he said. “But he had a sense of humor about the glamour he was caught in. He’s a great sport, and a great star.” He described his work with John Waters and Divine as “a high point in my professional life.” He now lives near Santa Barbara with his longtime partner of more than thirty years.

Yevgeny Kharitonov: 1941-1981. The Novosibirsk native embarked on a very brief career as an actor before switching to playwriting. Although none of his works were published in his lifetime by the Soviet press, he is now recognized as a founder of modern Russian gay literature. His sexuality, which was criminalized at the time, mirrored the Soviet experience in which the mere existence of a lot of people was grounds for state repression. His dissident writing and his sexuality made him a double target, and he was placed under close surveillance by the KBG. When he was called to the KGB for his first “interview,” he fainted. When he died of a heart attack in 1981, many believed that his death was hastened over the pressure of official scrutiny. When he died, he was carrying a manuscript for “Under House Arrest,” which scattered and blew down the street when he collapsed. Other versions of the manuscript survived and was published several years after his death.

Kharitonov claimed his sexuality as a gift that gave him special insight into the human condition. In his brief gay manifesto, The Leaflet, Kharitonov compares the repression that gay people experienced in Russian society to the anti-Semitism experienced by Russia’s Jews. He also saw the artistry of Russia’s Jews and gays as being the product of that repression. “The best flower of our shallow people is called like no other to dance the dance of impossible love and to sing of it sweetly.”

Vito Russo: 1946-1990. He was an LGBT activist and film historian, best known as the author of the 1981 book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. The book was the result of a live lecture with film clips that he had presented at colleges, universities and small art-house cinemas throughout the 1970s. His concern over how LGBT people were presented in the popular media led to his becoming a co-founder for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). He became involved as a gay rights activist immediately following the Stonewall uprising — in fact, he was among the crowd as the rebellion broke out. He went on to become a leading figure in the Gay Activists Alliance, one of the early pro-gay groups to form in New York City in Stonewall’s wake. In the 1980s, he became involved in ACT-UP as a result of increasing frustration over city, state, and federal government inaction and footdragging in the face of a mounting AIDS epidemic.

He died in from AIDS in 1990 but his work continued to gain a wider audience when HBO created a documentary film version of The Celluloid Closet narrated by Lilly Tomlin. In 2011 a family-authorized biography by Michael Shiavi, Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press. In 2013, HBO returned with another feature about Russo, this time a documentary titled simply Vito.

Esera Tuaolo: 1968. The Samoan from Hawaii was an NFL defensive lineman for nine years, beginning with the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. After a stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997, he went to Atlanta, where he reached the Super Bowl in 1999. He ended his career the following season with the Carolina Panthers. In 2002, he announced that he is gay on HBO’s Real Sports, making him the third NFL player to come out (after David Kopay and Roy Simmons). In 2006, he released his autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL, and he has actively campaigned on ending homophobia in sports. In 2010, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge with his boyfriend, but those charges were dropped with his boyfriend saying it was all a misunderstanding.

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 Friday, July 10

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Bristol, UK; Budapest, Hungary; Chelmsford, UK; Green Bay, WI; Ibiza, Spain; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Naples, Italy; Prince George, BC; Saarbrücken, Germany; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From In Step (Milwaukee, WI), June 26, 1986, page 23.

From In Step (Milwaukee, WI), June 26, 1986, page 23.

Sheboygan’s only “real” gay bar seems to have lasted less than a year. The building now houses a pub.

The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1766.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Discovery of a Very Extraordinary Nature: 1766. The following story was reported in the July 1766 issue of London’s Gentleman’s Magazine for July 10:

A discovery of a very extraordinary nature was made at Poplar, where two women had lived together for six and thirty years, as man and wife, and kept a public house, without ever being suspected; but the wife happening to fall sick, and die, a few years before she expired, revealed the secret to her relations, made her will, and left legacies to the amount of half what she thought they were worth. On application to the pretended, she at first endeavoured to support her assumed character, but being closely pressed, she at length owed the fact, accommodated all matters amicably, put off the male, and put on the female character, in which she appeared to be a sensible well-bred woman, though in her male character she had always affected the plain plodding alehouse-keeper. It is said they had acquired in business money to the amount of £3000. Both had been crossed in love when young, and had chosen this method to avoid further importunities.

[Source: “Historical Chronicle: July 10.” The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1766): 339. Available online via Google Books here.]

Randol Mill Park

30 YEARS AGO: Texas Editorial: “We’ll Take Gays Over the KKK”: 1985. In 1984, the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington was having a problem at Randol Mill Park. It seems that the popular park had become a well-known venue for men (often heterosexually married men) to solicit sex with other men. After a year’s worth of stepped up patrolling and enforcement by Arlington police, the Mid-Cities Daily News reported, “We have not heard nearly as much about the problem as last year.” But for whatever reason, the Klan was still excited over queers in the park. The Klan’s “exalted cyclops” of the Ft. Worth kalvern, Bill Walton, announced that his group would be holding a picnic at the park to send a message that gays weren’t welcome. The Daily News responded, “Given the choice between sharing a park with homosexuals or a bunch of white-sheeted, racist, hate-peddling losers, we think we would prefer the homosexuals.”

Well sure, given the choice.

When the Klan held their picnic three days later — sans white sheets — Scott Patrick, the exalted cyclops of the Garland klavern, sounded disappointed with what he found — or didn’t find. “I expected the situation to be a little more blatant. I’m sure all the publicity kept it out.” With none of those dreaded homosexuals in sight, Walton was left with no option but to complain about other groups. “Would you believe I actually had a Jew ask if a Jew could come to one of our meetings,” he told a reporter. “I said ‘no.’ A Jew would have about as much chance of attending as a nigger. You’ve got to admit they aren’t as intelligent as we are.”

Marcel Proust

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Marcel Proust: 1871-1922. He is best known for just one work, the monumental seven-volume novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, known in English as In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past. But that alone has secured his reputation as one of the greatest authors of all time.

Proust’s father was a prominent surgeon and his mother was the well-read daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from Alsace. He was born in Paris just two months after the Franco-Prussian War and during the bloody suppression of the French Commune. Food and fuel shortages during the uprising contributed to widespread hunger and worry, both of which greatly affected Proust’s mother when he was born. He was described as a sickly child, and wasn’t expected to survive infancy. He had his first serious asthma attack at the age of nine, and continuing illnesses often interrupted his education. Nevertheless, he excelled in literature and was awarded with numerous honors in school. He was published in several literary magazines in 1890 and 1891, and he co-founded a literary review in 1892. His asthma rendered him something of a solitary figure, and he was eternally devoted to and, in many ways, dependent on his mother. He lived in the family apartment with his parents until 1905, when his mother died and left him bereft. (His father had died two years earlier.)

Marcel_Proust_Lucien_Daudet

Marcel Proust (seated), with Robert de Flers and and Lucien Daudet, 1892.

Proust’s pursuit of male companionship began rather early in life. At Lycée Condorcet, Proust made friends with Jacques Bizet, the son of the famous composer, and Daniel Halévy, the composer’s nephew. At age seventeen, Proust fell in love with Bizet, but his mother, suspecting that the two had become lovers, forbade her son from seeing him. In 1891, Proust met Oscar Wilde and invited the famous British writer to dine with him and his parents. In a possibly apocryphal story, Wilde’s sensitivities were offended by the Proust’s heavy, dark Victorian furniture and left, saying “How ugly is everything here.” Whether the story is true or not, Proust would later, unsympathetically, allude to Wilde’s fall in Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. In 1892, Proust sat for a photo with the playwright Robert de Flers and Lucien Daudet, whose reputation was that of “a handsome young man, curled, well-dressed, pomaded, painted and powdered.” Proust’s mother was scandalized by the photo, his right arm resting on Proust’s shoulder, and forbade Proust from circulating copies of it. That, too, would appear in Jean Santeuil, a novel which wouldn’t see the light of day until it was published posthumously in 1952.

Proust pursued a number of relationships with other men, although he was eager to avoid the tag of “homosexual” himself. In a letter to the André Gide, the gay author who had published his groundbreaking defense of homosexuality in 1911, Proust said that he could write very extensively about homosexuality, as long as he didn’t ascribe it to himself. In fact, homosexuality appears as a recurring theme throughout À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, especially in the later volumes, where Proust shows himself unusually knowledgeable about the difficulties of being a closeted gay man.

After his mother died in 1905, Proust was bereft, mourning her for the rest of his life. He moved from his parents’ apartment, taking much of the heavy furnishings with him, and moved to another apartment where he lined his bedroom with cork to shut out the noise, and hung heavy curtains that were never opened. And that’s when he set about writing the epic novel that would define his entire career. By 1912, his manuscript ran 1,200 pages and he began looking for a publisher.

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), 1913

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), 1912

After being turned down by three publishing houses, Proust resorted to self-publishing the first volume, Swann’s Way, in 1913. At the time, it was advertised as the first installment of a three-volume novel. The second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, was ready for 1914, but it was delayed five years because of the war. That gave Proust plenty of time to revise and expand the entire series. When In the Shadow was finally published, it was awarded the Prix Goncourt that year. The third volume, The Guertmantes Way (1920/1921) came out in two installments, as did the fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah (1921).

Between 1919 and 1922, Proust worked incessantly on the remaining volumes, rarely leaving his cork-lined bedroom. He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess in 1922, just after the second installment of Sodom and Gomorrah was published. That would be the last volume that Proust would oversee publication. His brother would oversee the publication of the rest of Proust’s great opus over the next five years. The fifth volume, The Prisoner, came out in 1923. Proust had written it during the publication hiatus during the war, along with the sixth volume, The Fugitive, which came out in 1925. From an editorial standpoint, The Fugitive proved to be the most troublesome, appearing as it did without Proust’s final revisions and corrections. Three later editions, one in 1954 and two others in 1987, incorporated corrections later found in the  Bibliothèque Nationale and in papers found by a relative. The final volume, Finding Time Again, which Proust had mostly written when he was writing the first volume, was published in 1927.

À la Recherche du Temps Perdu saw its first English translations between 1922 and 1930,  by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, who gave the work the English title Remembrance of Things Past, a phrase taken from one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. When the Modern Library released an updated translation 1992, it gave the title as In Search of Lost Time, which more closely captures the original French. Penguin Classics is in the process of producing a new, revised translation, with the final volume expected to be released in 2018. Two recent biographies had rounded out our understanding of Proust: Edmund White’s Marcel Proust: A Life (2009) and William C. Carter’s identically titled Marcel Proust: A Life which was released by Yale University Press in 2013.

Jerry Herman: 1931. The American composer and lyricists is best known for his scores for the Broadway hits Hello Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966) and La Cage aux Folles (1983). The latter earned Herman a Tony for best musical. His most famous song, “Hello Dolly!”, knocked the Beatles from #1 in 1964 when Louis Armstrong recorded it. “When they passed out talent,” Carol Channing said, “Jerry stood in line twice.”A 2008 PBS documentary about him reported that Herman was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985 when that diagnosis was an automatic death sentence. He was lucky, and is among of the fortunate few to live to see the lifesaving “cocktail” become available in 1995. The AIDS epidemic wiped out half the original La Cage aux Folles chorus before the show’s final run, but the show’s signature anthem “I Am What I Am” can still bring audiences to their feet with its call for dignity and integrity in the face of bigotry and fear.

Neil Tennant: 1954. With bandmate Chris Lowe, he was one half of the electronic dance duo Pet Shop Boys. Their first single, “West End Girls,” was actually recorded twice. The first version was released in 1984 and became a club hit in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. (Go figure.) After the duo signed with EMI, they re-recorded the song, and it became a 1986 number one hit in the U.S. and the U.K. Tennant was coy about rumors over his sexuality throughout the 1980s, but he finally came out in a 1994 interview with a UK gay magazine. Pet Shop Boys are still going strong. On March 14, 2011, they released a double CD of the complete three-act ballet score for The Most Incredible Thing with the Wrocław Score Orchestra. Their latest studio album, Electric, which features the single “Axis,” came out in 2013.

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

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

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