Box Turtle Bulletin

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

Utah To Appeal Marriage Decision Directly To Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2014

After a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down Utah’s marriage equality ban as unconstitutional, the state’s Attorney General’s office had two options: they could either seek an en banc review by all twelve judges of the Tenth Circuit, or they could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Actually, they have three options: they could have decided not to appeal altogether, but they’ve never shown an inclination to consider that one.) Today, the  Attorney General’s office has announced its decision:

“To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United State Supreme Court in the coming weeks,” a news release said. “Attorney General Sean Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state. Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise.”

The Utah case now stands a very good chance of becoming the first marriage case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court since the high court last summer struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. That decision led to a wave of more than twenty court decisions since then striking down state marriage bans in more than twenty states.


Featured Reports
Main Stories

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 17

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

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 28, Mar 14, Apr 18, May 15, May 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.]

APA 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).

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

Catholic Church stops funding immigrants group

Timothy Kincaid

July 16th, 2014

Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project is an organization in Portland, Oregon, which advocates against the deportation of Latinos who are in the United States illegally and facilitates day employment for such persons. Their website lists various organization with which they ally, including National Day Labor Organizing Network and Oregon New Sanctuary Movement.

Not listed on their site is National Council of La Raza, a group which works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. However, NCLR does include Voz among their affiliates; the relationship is primarily that of NCLR providing financial support for the group.

Voz has also, until recently, received funding from Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a program of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But no more. Because NCLR supports Voz and because NCLR also supports marriage equality, the Catholic Church has discontinued funding from Voz. (AP)

Voz Workers’ Rights Education lost a $75,000 grant in June from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is the national anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said the group asked Voz to cut ties with the National Council of La Raza, a large Latino civil rights organization that endorses marriage equality, to be considered for the grant. Voz has been an affiliate of NCLR since 2009, primarily as a grantee.

After Voz refused to cut its ties, the organization “self-disqualified” itself from the funding process, McCloud said.

Yes, I know that this makes no sense whatsoever. One would think that the positions of Voz would be what matters, not whether the Catholic Church agrees with every policy of someone else who gives them money.

But the US Catholic Bishops have become so obsessed with their losing battle to deny civil marriage equality, that they have placed it as a higher priority than their own charitable endeavors. As for Voz, they were unwilling to become an anti-gay organization just to receive Catholic funds.

“Marriage equality is not the focus of our work; we focus on immigrant rights. But we work with everyone, we don’t discriminate,” Sosa said. “There may be gays and lesbians among our staff or workers, and we can’t turn our backs on them.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I suspect that most organizations who advocate for persons in the United States illegally are in some way affiliated with NCLR. If the Catholic Church applies this standard consistently, they may soon find that they have distanced themselves from all of their allies in their efforts to advance their immigration position.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 16

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

Houston’s Different Drum, often known simply as the Drum, started out in the early 1970s as an early leather/levi bar called the Locker. Before that, the building housed a dry cleaning business. In the late 1980s, the bar was known as Chutes, and was one of three bars raided by Houston police as their way of kicking off Pride week in 1987. The location today is home to Empire Cafe.

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.

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?

Croatia passes partnership law

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2014

Croatian coast
Things have been a bit of a roller coaster for the gay citizens of Croatia, the nation comprising much of the coastline across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

Last July Croatia joined the European Union, after passing a non-discrimination law. Almost immediately, a government commission proposed a referendum to ban marriage equality. And in December 2013, the electorate declared their support for discrimination by a two-thirds vote (though with a very low voter turnout).

But later that month the government proposed a ‘life partnership’ registry, and now that legislation has passed. (Ansamed)

La Croazia si è unita oggi ai Paesi che riconoscono le unioni civili tra le coppie dello stesso sesso, garantendo alle coppie gay e lesbiche tutti i diritti delle coppie sposate, con l’eccezione dell’adozione dei figli, e definendo queste unioni come una forma di vita famigliare.

Il Parlamento di Zagabria ha approvato oggi con 89 voti a favore, giunti dai banchi dei partiti di centro-sinistra e liberali che formano la coalizione di governo la Legge sulle unioni civili tra le coppie omosessuali, modellata in maggior parte su quella tedesca. Contro hanno votato 16 deputati di destra e centro-destra, che non si oppongono alla necessità di regolare le coppie omosessuali, ma considerano questa legge troppo liberale.

Google Translate:

Croatia has today joined the countries that recognize civil unions between same-sex couples, granting gay and lesbian couples all the rights of married couples, with the exception of the adoption of children, and defining these unions as a form of family life.

The Parliament in Zagreb today approved with 89 votes in favor, came from the banks of the parties of the center-left and liberals who form the ruling coalition the Law on civil unions between same-sex couples, modeled in most of the German. 16 deputies voted against right-wing and center-right, which is not opposed to the need to regulate same-sex couples, but consider this law too liberal.

One of the complications which the community had faced was a Constitutional requirement that the State ‘protect the family’. Lawmakers got around that problem by defining life partnerships to be a form of family.

Obama Administration to Argue Against State Marriage Bans Before Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2014

Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold lower court rulings which have struck down bans against same-sex marriage in more than twenty states:

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear any of those cases, the Justice Department will file a brief with the court that “will be in support of same-sex marriage,” Holder said in a rare interview, sitting down with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas.

Holder said the brief would be “consistent with the actions that we have taken over the past couple of years.” The Justice Department has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and its legal efforts to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples have been successful.

Holder called the battle for marriage equality “a defining civil rights challenge of our time.”

Last week, the Attorney General’s office for the state of Utah announced that it would take its appeal of a lower court ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban straight to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than ask for an en banc hearing before the entire Tenth Circuit. A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit in June upheld a Federal District Court’s ruling which declared Utah’s ban against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 15

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

gbg77-barint-p07-ballgame-1Milwaukee’s Ball Game opened in 1974, in a building that had been home to a procession of gay bars going back to the early 1960s. The Ball Game hosted a number of shows and special events, including drag shows and pageants. And as the name implies it also sponsored soft ball teams and other community activities.  By 2000, Milwaukee’s gay bar scene had moved out of the area and patronage at the Ball Game started to fall off. The bar finally closed in 2012.

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, was among the latter (see Feb 3). 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 raitings, partly due to Providence’s near bankruptcy in the wake of Cicilline’s eight years as mayor.

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 14

Jim Burroway

July 14th, 2014

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:
 15 YEARS AGO: 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.

My Mom: 1940. Happy Birthday Mom!

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.

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 13

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CATacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; 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 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 known as 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:
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.

30 YEARS AGO: “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?

We Had Issues

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2014

We're BackFor those of you just tuning in, our database server crashed Friday night, taking the entire site down for several hours. The host provider was able to get the site back up and running on a database backup taken very early Thursday morning, but that meant that we lost everything — posts and comments — from Thursday morning through Friday.

As of Saturday night, our host provider was able to get the database server back and running with, in their words, “all new parts.” It is now working off of the same database that was operating as of the moment the server crashed. Regular programming will resume soon.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 11

Jim Burroway

July 11th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Green Bay, WI; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; 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, May 1972, page 20-21.

From David, May 1972, page 20-21.

 
David, a photographic and lifestyle magazine based in Jacksonville, Florida, described Peaches’ Back Door in Atlanta this way in 1972:

PEACHES’ BACK DOOR in Atlanta continues to swing with lively go-go boys who really work out. In addition to the beautiful boy pictured above, Jim-Jim and Ernie stop all traffic with their wild routines. There’s practically nothing they won’t do up there on the go-go stands and they certainly get the attention. Owner John is especially proud of his Tricia Marie. Although Tricia has only been entertaining for three months, she was able to bring back the title of Miss Florida from the contest in Miami last month.

In 1975, Peaches closed and that space became famous disco, Backstreet (see Mar 3), which closed in 2004 to make way for a high rise condo development.

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. Born in Novosibirsk, he embarked on a very brief career as an actor, but went from there 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).

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 10

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2014

Kidnapped for Christ

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Television Premiere of “Kidnapped for Christ”: Showtime. This documentary reveals the shocking truth behind Escuela Caribe, a controversial Christian behavior modification program in the Dominican Republic for “troubled” American teens. When filmmaker Kate Logan first heard about the school as a young missionary, she decided to go and document what she thought would be a positive experience for the students. Instead, she found that students — or inmates, as the case may be — were subjected to intense forced labor, physical beatings and emotional abuse:

She meets Beth, a 15-year-old from Michigan who suffers panic attacks so debilitating that she had trouble staying in school all day. Instead of professional treatment, Beth is subjected to inappropriate and often painful punishments, including spankings and being confined to an isolation room. Tai, a 16-year-old Haitian-American girl from Boston, was sent to Escuela Caribe after acting out and experimenting with drugs to cope with childhood traumas, including rape. Tai opens up to Kate, telling her that what the school is doing is wrong and encourages her to expose the truth to the world.

DavidKate begins to realize that she has stumbled upon a much scarier story than she originally thought. This is solidified when she meets David, who was sent to the program shortly after coming out to his parents. David has been unable to communicate with anyone in the outside world since he was forcibly taken in the middle of the night by people his parents hired to transport him to the school. With Kate, he feels safe enough to reveal not only why he was sent there, but also how he has been plotting to escape. David begs Kate to find a way to tell his friends back home in Colorado what happened to him. Unbeknownst to the staff, he slips her a letter intended for his best friend Angie. The letter reveals the harsh realities this once promising honor student has been unwillingly subjected to as a direct result of his sexual orientation.

Kidnapped for Christ follows David as he plots his escape from Escuela Caribe. It premieres tonight on Showtime at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT, with a dozen more airings through August 13. Click here for more information and showtimes.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Green Bay, WI; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; 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 ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

From ONE magazine, February 1954, page 30.

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

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

Texas Editorial: “We’ll Take Gays Over the KKK”: 1985. It all began in 1984, when 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.

60 YEARS AGO: 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?

State Judge Strikes Down Colorado’s Marriage Ban, Stays Ruling

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2014

A state judge has declared Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree issued his ruling this afternoon, and accompanied that ruling with a stay pending appeal. He also declared Colorado’s civil unions law “further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples” and is not a constitutionally-acceptable substitute for marriage.

Judge Crabtree’s ruling (PDF: 156KB/49 pages) begins with a comprehensive 28-page summary of the various briefs and reply briefs before delving into addressing the questions before the court. Judge Crabtree found that “There is no question that the right to marry is a fundamental right.” He then went on to agree with the recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Utah case which struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage:

“The Court heartily endorses the recent holding by the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert that the marital right at issue was never framed as the “right to interracial marriage in Loving or the “prisoner’s right to marriage” in Turner or the “dead-beat dad’s” right to marriage in Zablocki. See Kitchen, 961 F.Supp.2d at 1200. Instead, the Supreme Court has repeatedly utilized the term “fundamental right to marry” without any limitations. The Court rejects the State’s attempt to too narrowly describe the marital right at issue to the right to marry a person of the same sex. The Court also concurs with the growing number of courts which have held that the fundamental right to marry includes the right to remain married.

The Court also concurs with the growing number of courts which have held that the fundamental right to marry includes the right to remain married.

He then addressed whether the state had a compelling interest in banning same-sex marriage:

The avowed State interest can be distilled down to encouraging procreation and marital commitment for the benefit of the children. The problem with this post-hoc explanation is that it utterly ignores those who are permitted to marry without the ability or desire to procreate. It is merely a pretext for discriminating against same-sex marriages.

This recently fabricated “state interest” is also belied by legislative history which accompanied the enactment of the 2000 amendments to C.R.S. § 14-2- 104. On February 21, 2000, at the second reading on HB 1249, Rep. Mark Paschall stated, “What we’re opening the door here to, and even though the issue is being framed around same sex relationships, we’re talking about opening the door to polygamy, polyandry, and polyamorous relationships.” Later in the debate, Rep. Paschall stated that “[t]his is going to allow incestuous relationships. We don’t want to be allowing any kind of solemnized relationship in the State of Colorado, and that’s what this is going to do.” Rep. Doug Dean stated, “[b]ut where I think it’s important for me as a legislator to say that we don’t want to recognize same-sex unions, same-sex marriages, because we believe that it contributes to the decay of society … it will be harmful to our state.” Out of more than a dozen comments on the bill, only one comment was made about marriage providing a stable environment for children to be brought into the world and raised. But that same senator, John Andrews completed his comments noting that, “marriage, as an institution, thousands of years old, I would argue, is strengthened, when we maintain that traditional definition.”

Likewise, when Amendment 43 was being submitted to the voters, the Amendment 43 Blue Book told voters that one reason to pass Amendment 43 was to “preserv[e] the commonly accepted definition of marriage. Marriage as an institution has historically consisted of one man and one woman.” …To the extent the State’s interest is in preserving the historical tradition of one-man one-woman marriage, it cannot survive any level of scrutiny.

…The Court holds that the State does not have a sufficiently important/compelling interest in forbidding same-sex marriages or nullifying Colorado residents’ valid out-of-state same-sex marriages. The Marriage Bans are unconstitutional because they violate plaintiffs’ due process rights.

Judge Crabtree also ruled that the marriage ban violated the equal protection clause for the same reasons. He then ruled on whether civil unions should survive “as a separate but equal institution.”

“The dissimilitude between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’ is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status.” In re Opinions of the Justices to the Senate, 802 N.E.2d at 570. The fact is that those in a civil union do not and cannot obtain the same benefits and protections of federal law as married couples including filing joint tax returns, Family Medical Leave Act benefits, and facing loss of social security and veterans benefits. If civil unions were somehow the equivalent of marriage, there would be no real need for this second tier relationship. The State paid only lip-service to the plaintiffs’ arguments that civil unions were not unlike the “separate but equal” black and white educational systems. …The Court finds that confining same-sex couples to civil unions is further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of the Marriage Bans.

During last month’s oral arguments, Judge Crabtree was pretty clear about his skepticism about the state’s arguments in support of the marriage ban:

During arguments last month, Suthers’ office defended the state’s ban on gay marriage, arguing that 15 state and federal judges who have struck down similar measures in other states were wrong.

But Crabtree mocked the state’s argument that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage protects the “nature of marriage” and the ability to produce children.

The judge also was skeptical of the state’s claim that previous judges had erred in their rulings.

“They all got it wrong?” Crabtree asked. “What am I supposed to do then when presented with this? Just punt?”

ENDA Is Toast

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2014

There’s really no other way to describe the current state of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Not that it was ever going to go anywhere in this Congress where the Republican Caucus in the GOP-led House had less than a zero percent chance of bringing it up for a vote after the Senate gave its rare bipartisan approval last November.

But ENDA has gotten even toastier lately, particularly after last month’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. That decision, which was a statutory one rather than a question of constitutionality, held that privately or closely-held for-profit corporations could opt out of providing birth control as part of its health care plan under the Affordability Care Act (ACA) if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. While the majority opinion said that their opinion applied only to birth control and nothing else, it failed to provide a coherent “stopping principle” to show exactly which legal precepts would limit the decision to birth control in the future. Most tellingly, Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, did provide an example of how race protections would remain in force, but declined to show how any anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity would survive.

The fact that the Hobby Lobby decision was a statutory rather than a constitutional one is critical. Hobby Lobby argued that there was a conflict between the ACA and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In hindsight, if the ACA had included a specific clause exempting it from the RFRA, there would not have been a case to take before the Supreme Court. But without such a clause, Hobby Lobby saw an opportunity.

So here’s the problem for ENDA. When the Supreme Court looks at conflicts between legislation brought by Congress, it looks at other laws to see how Congress viewed that legislation. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court looked at how Congress treated other abortion and birth control measures, some of which included religious exemptions, and concluded that Congress had effectively expanded the RFRA to cover the ACA even though the ACA itself had no specific religious exemption.

ENDA, in its current form, would make the situation much worse than what happened to the ACA. In order to get jittery representatives to sign on to ENDA, supporters included a religious-exemption clause in Section 6:

SEC. 6. EXEMPTION FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.

(a) In General.–This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.) pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a), 2000e-2(e)(2)) (referred to in this section as a “religious employer”).

(b) Prohibition on Certain Government Actions.–A religious employer’s exemption under this section shall not result in any action by a Federal agency, or any State or local agency that receives Federal funding or financial assistance, to penalize or withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation, contracts, grants, guarantees, tax-exempt status, or any benefits or exemptions from that employer, or to prohibit the employer’s participation in programs or activities sponsored by that Federal, State, or local agency. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to invalidate any other Federal, State, or local law (including a regulation) that otherwise applies to a religious employer exempt under this section.

Because ENDA contains an explicit LGBT-only religious exemption, the Supreme Court could, in following the Hobby Lobby precedent, look at that exemption in ENDA and conclude that Congress had effectively expanded the RFRA to cover a whole host of LGBT-rights regulations that have come about since the demise of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, including health care, hospital visitations, spousal benefits, and so forth. The possibilities for unintended consequences are enormous.

Arizona’s so-called “religious freedom” bill that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed last February focused attention on religious exemptions generally, including those in ENDA. But it wasn’t until the Supreme Court’s method for interpreting the RFRA in the Hobby Lobby case showed the unintended consequences of religious exemption clauses in unrelated legislation that LGBT organizations which had previously supported ENDA have now taken a second look.  Just yesterday, American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center, have issued a joint statement announcing they were withdrawing their support for ENDA. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force withdrew its support in a separate statement.

Their worry is not so much over ENDA itself — it was never  going to go anywhere in the House — but over a forthcoming executive order from President Obama that would extend anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity expression to federal contractors. The concern here is that the Obama administration may lift the language of the religious exemption clause from ENDA and graft it into his executive order, and thereby effectively eviscerate the order’s effectiveness for large numbers of LGBT people.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 9

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Green Bay, WI; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Staten Island, NY; Tacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; 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 ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

 

ONE, July 1958.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
A Day at the Beach: 1958. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Tucson, we just entered our rainy monsoon season. This is the time of the year when we don’t get to brag that it’s a “dry heat,” not when you have plenty of humidity to go along with your 100+ degree temperatures. It sounds to me like a good time to go to the beach:

I hadn’t gone near a gay beach for years when Marty and I drove out last summer to one of California’s most famous. It was a long pleasant drive out the Boulevard and it seemed that quite a few others were going our way — a red convertible with two sun-baked blonds; two sporty lesbians in an MG; a carload of screaming queens …

…Marty, who idealized homosexuals en masse much as intellectuals used to get dewy-eyed about the toiling masses, was awestruck at the sight, though it was familiar to him. “Look at that!” he said with a sweep of his bronzed arm. “Doesn’t the sight of that crowd thrill you? Right out in the open, hundreds of our people, peacefully enjoying themselves in public, no closed doors, no dim lights, no pretense.

“I often lie awake nights wondering how long it’ll take our group to become aware of itself — its strength and its rights. But I hardly ever appreciate just how many of us there really are except when I come here. Except for a few minutes on the Boulevard after the bars close, this is the only place where we ever ‘form a crowd,’ and there’s something exciting about seeing homosexuals as a crowd. I can’t explain how it stirs me, but I think beaches like this are a part of our liberation.”

Jim Kepner (see Feb 14), writing as “Frank Golovitz,” described the beach as one of the few public areas where gay people felt safe enough to let their guard down. Joe and Jim were there, “a look-alike, dress-alike couple… Happily married (seven years)” and “devout Mormons.” They never went to gay bars, and saw the beach as the one of the few “respectable places to meet other nice homosexuals.” Paul and Terry, two young engineers, were “busily directing the construction of the most elaborate sand castle I’d ever seen.” Jo Anne and Virginia were there with Jo Anne’s two kids they were raising together. Kepner later ran into Barry, Jo Ann’s ex-husband “of convenience,” who was “also a mine of assorted gossip.” He also met Ronnie Chase, “an angel-faced willowy young bank clerk” who defended their place in the sun when a straight couple showed up complaining about “damned queers taking over the place.”

GayBeach2“Well, go somewhere else if you don’t want to be contaminated,” he howled. “You’ve got fifty miles of beach around here and this is all we’ve got. So disappear!”

His antagonist managed one parting shot, unprintably suggesting that all homosexuals should be locked up and castrated.

Ronnie boiled all afternoon. “Did we hurt them? We don’t say anything about the way they behave on the beach. But just let one queen raise the pitch of her voice and it’s a public scandal!”

I suggested that he’d offended them — hardly good public relations.

I offended them? They offended us. Why always put the blame on this side? They started it. We weren’t doing anything to spoil their day, except existing. Let them go somewhere else. This is our beach. It’s small and crowded, but it’s ours.”

Gay BeachKepner didn’t say where the beach was located, except to say that it was “a long pleasant drive out the Boulevard.” That Boulevard was probably either Santa Monica Blvd, which ends at the Pacific Coast Highway just north of the Santa Monica Pier, or Olympic Blvd, which at the time veered northward at the pier to become the PCH. The area just south north of the pier along the PCH was known in the 1950s as “Queer Alley.” In 1955, public demands that police shut down Queer Alley resulted in three council members and the mayor of Santa Monica being voted out of office, only to have their replacements discover that they can’t exactly shut down a beach. A number of gay bars and a bath house were located along that stretch of the beach. Kepner ended his story by stopping in at one of those bars — “really a sort of extension of the beach” — before “wander[ing] down for a look at biceps-bumpers that were exhibiting their rippling muscles farther down the beach” — most likely a reference to Venice’s famed Muscle Beach, just a couple of miles away.

[Sources: Frank Golovitz (Jim Kepner). "Gay Beach." ONE 6, no. 7 (July 1958): 5-10. Kepner joined ONE magazine in 1952 and wrote under a half-dozen pseudonyms in addition to his own name in order to lend the appearance that ONE's staff was larger than it actually was.

Dal McIntire (pseud.) "Tangents: News and Views" ONE 3, no. 9 (September 1955): 8-11, describing the Queer Alley controversy in the Santa Monica municipal elections.]

We Two Boys Together Clinging, 1961.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
David Hockney: 1937. The British artist was born with synesthesia — his brain “sees” colors whenever he hears music. Those colors guide him when he designs stage sets for operatic and ballet productions. In addition to set design, he is a renowned painter, print maker and photographer. While still a student at the Royal College of Art, Hockney’s exhibition Young Contemporaries in 1961, marked British Pop Art’s arrival. Later that year, he sold two of his prints to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. That same year, he also read the poems of Walt Whitman, which inspired Hockney to paint several paintings on the themes of love and homosexuality, including We Two Boys Together Clinging, where the title and some of the text in the painting are lines from the Whitman’s poem of the same name. By the mid 1960s, Hockney moved to Los Angeles, where he made an entire series of paintings of swimming pools rendered in vibrant colors.

In more recent years, Hockney has been exploring the limits of scale. His “A Bigger Grand Canyon” (1998) is actually a series of 60 paintings which, when combined together, produce one enormous painting of 6 3/4 feet by 24 feet. That painting was bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $4.6 million. In 2007, he produced Bigger Trees Near Warter, a series of fifty separate canvases which combine to form a 15 feet by forty feet painting. He donated those canvases to the Tate Gallery in London. “I thought if I’m going to give something to the Tate, I want to give them something really good. It’s going to be here for a while.” He described it as a duty of successful artists to donate some of their work. He had turned down several requests to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, explaining politely that he was too busy painting her country. But he relented in 2012 while watching the Thames River pageant for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on television. He created a digital painting on his iPad and donated a printed copy to the Royal Collection.

David Hockney with Bigger Trees Near Warter

 

Kelly McGillis: 1957. When the other gay star of Top Gun came out of the closet in 2009, she said that coming to terms with her sexual orientation had been a long, ongoing process since she was twelve, when she was convinced that God was punishing her. She now says that it’s much easier to become spiritual now that she knows that “God is okay with you being gay.” She graduated from Julliard’s Drama School in 1983 and began landing acting roles right away. Her breakout role was as an Amish mother in 1985′s Witness with Harrison Ford, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. In 1986, she was the flight instructor, Charlie, in Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. She continued acting in films and television throughout the 1990s before taking a break in 2001. She resumed acting in 2004, and in 2008 she guest starred on Showtime’s The L Word, where she played a closeted Army colonel. In 2010, McGilllis entered into a civil union with her partner, but they separated a year later.

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?

Black, Gay College Wrestler Becomes the Face of HIV Criminalization

Randy Potts

July 8th, 2014
"Tiger Mandingo" on Instagram

“Tiger Mandingo” on Instagram

Steven Thrasher in Buzzfeed reports on a young HIV-positive college student in Missouri, Michael Johnson, who went by the name “Tiger Mandingo” and was arrested last October for

“recklessly infecting another with HIV” and four counts of “attempting to recklessly infect another with HIV,” felonies in the state of Missouri.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and his case won’t be in court until March of 2015. HIV criminalization is at the center of a politically-charged debate; recently, the AMA adopted a resolution “supporting the modernization of HIV related criminal laws.” Thrasher reports that

Johnson has been incarcerated during a hopeful time for people who believe that, as Medical Director of Corrections Medicine for St. Louis County Department of Health Dr. Fred Rottnek wrote to BuzzFeed, “HIV criminalization does not produce positive health outcomes for individuals or populations.” In May, Iowa modified its laws that criminalize transmitting HIV. This June, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association adopted a resolution against such laws. Also in June, the Iowa Supreme Court threw out the conviction and lifetime sex-offender status of Nick Rhoades, the subject of a 2013 ProPublica investigation co-published with BuzzFeed.

But Johnson is unlikely to benefit from any of this. He won’t be the poster child for repealing HIV laws. No national groups have taken up his cause. Akil Patterson, the sports advocate, is politically connected in African-American, LGBT, and sports circles. But he said he “can’t get anyone to touch this case with a fucking 10-foot pole.”

And, unlike Rhoades, Johnson is not being charged with having had sex with a condom, nor does he have the benefit (as the judge sentencing Rhoades put it) to not “look like our usual criminals.”

Read the full article, “How College Wrestling Star “Tiger Mandingo” Became An HIV Scapegoat,” here.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 8

Jim Burroway

July 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special SF travel section, page 25.

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special SF travel section, page 25.

 
The Rendezvous on San Francisco’s Sutter Street seems to have begun sometime in the 1960s. There are multiple mentions that the Grateful Dead had played there a few times in 1967. The club moved to Polk Street in the 1980s and remained there until it closed in 2005.

Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke. Photo by Kay Lahuse.

Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke. Photo by Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: First Gay-Authored Account of Sonewall Rebellion Published: 1969. Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and Lige Clarke had cut their activists’ teeth as members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.. Nichols helped to organize the the first White House protest in 1965 (see Apr 17), while Clarke lettered nine of the ten picket signs. Nichols and Clarke moved to New York in 1968, where the couple became regular columnists for the straight, unabashedly-pornographic Screw magazine. Their column, “The Homosexual Citizen,”  was the first regular LGBT column to appear regularly in a non-LGBT publication, and it made them arguably the most visible gay couple in the country.

Nichols and Clarke devoted their July 8 column to a description of the Stonewall riots, which had occured the week before. “Last week’s riots in Greenwich Village,” they wrote, “have set standards for the rest of the nation’s homosexuals to follow.” They also reported that the Electric Circus, a popular and hip night club, took the unusual step of publicly inviting gay people to dance with their straight patrons on the dance floor. “If you’re tired of raids, Mafia control, and checks at the door, join us for a beautiful evening on Sunday night, July 6.” According to Nichols and Clark, “for the first time in New York’s history, a huge club was experimenting with social integration between heterosexuals and homosexuals.” Nichols and Clarke went, and found “a groovy crowd. … hip moustaches, long hair, and hundreds of handsome young men. The acid-rock band blared forth a medley fo fast tunes.” They found that the Electric Circus’s experiment was successful, mostly, with the exception of one “uncool creep” who was shouting “Goddamn faggots” as he was hustled out of the club. The closed their column with the following “call to arms,” which Nichols later attributed solely to Clarke:

The revolution in Sheridan Square must step beyond its present boundaries. The homosexual revolution is only part of a larger revolution sweeping through all segments of society. We hope that “Gay Power” will not become a call for separation, but for sexual integration, and that the young activists will read, study, and make themselves acquainted with all of the facts that will help them carry the sexual revolt triumphantly into the councils of the U.S. government, into the anti-homosexual churches, into the offices of anti-homosexual psychiatrists, into the city government, and into the state legislatures which make our manner of love-making a crime. It is time to push the homosexual revolution to its logical conclusion. We must crush tyranny wherever it exists and join forces with those who would assist in the utter destruction of the puritanical, repressive, anti-sexual Establishment.

[Sources: Charles Kaiser. The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America 2007 ed. (New York: Grove Press, 2007): 201-202.

James T. Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press , 2001) 28-29.]

Austria Decriminalizes Homosexuality: 1971. On July 8, 1971 an amendment to the Austrian criminal code was signed which abolished the criminalization of consensual homosexual contact. Austria’s code had criminalized both male and female same-sex contact under its “crimes against nature” clause. With the new law, male homosexual contacts with a young man under 18, male (same-sex) prostitution, and “advertising” or “encouraging” homosexuality were still criminal after that date. The latter provisions were abolished during the early 1980s to make HIV-prevention easier. The age of consent remained 18 until 2002, when it was held unconstitutional by the Austrian Constitutional Court. It age of consent is now 14 to 16, depending on the age of both parties, and consistent with the age of consent for opposite-sex couples.

Murder Suspect Goes Free Because Gays Fear Coming Out of the Closet: 1977. The Associated Press reported:

(San Francisco) Police say a suspect in 14 homosexual murders has not been charged because three survivors of his knife attacks, including a “well-known entertainer” and a diplomat, won’t “come out of the closet” and testify against him. For the past year, police have been questioning a young man they call “The Doodler” about the 14 slayings and three assaults that occurred in San Francisco’s gay community between January 1974 and September 1975, Inspector Rotea Gilford said Thursday.

Interest in the case surfaced again this week after two Redondo Beach, Calif., men were arrested in Riverside for questioning about as many as 28 slayings linked to homosexual encounters.

The suspect here, his name not released, has talked freely with police but has not admitted the slayings, Gilford said. He said police are “fairly certain” they have the right man, but need the testimony of survivors who may be able to identify “The Doodler.”

In the attacks, the murderer met other men at a number of after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Francisco. He usually sketched them men before having sex with them and then stabbing them. Police believe the man committed the murders after feeling shame over his homosexual experiences.

Gilford said the three survivors include the entertainer, the diplomat and a man who left San Francisco and won’t answer letters or phone calls at his new express. “My feeling is that they don’t want to be exposed,” he said.

Harvey Milk, an advocate for homosexual rights, said of the victims who refuse to speak up, “I can understand their position. I respect the pressure society has put on them. Milk said many homosexuals may keep their sexual preference a secret because they fear losing their jobs. “They have to stay in the closet,” he said.

Another spokesman for the gay community, teacher Hank Wilson, said the case represents society’s “double standards” in dealing with crimes involving homosexuals. “You never year about the heterosexual murderer who had killed 12 women after raping them,” he said.

With no witnesses willing to identify him, “The Doodler” was never brought to justice.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Philip Johnson: 1906-2005. He was only twenty-four years old and fresh out of Harvard when he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He would have been regarded as a great visionary even if that had been his only accomplishment. But Johnson wanted more, and in his travels to Europe he became exposed to such masters of modernism as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius. Johnson’s 1932 MOMA show, “The International Style: Architecture Since 1922,” introduced modern architecture to the American public, and Johnson became an evangelist for the International Style. Johnson’s travels to Europe also exposed him to the early ideology of Hitler’s National Socialism, which Johnson also eagerly embraced. He remained enamored with Nazism until Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, when he toured that conquered country at Hitler’s invitation. As Johnson later said, “I have no excuse [for] such utter, unbelievable stupidity. … I don’t know how you expiate guilt.”

Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Fortunately for Johnson, there would be a second chapter to his life. After the war, he designed his 1949 masterpiece Glass House as his own private residence in New Canaan, Connecticut. That design put him at the forefront of modernist architecture in America. In the 1950s, he teamed up with his mentor Meis van der Rohe to design the Seagram Building in New York. The steel-and-glass design would define the essential elements of American skyscrapers for the next sixty years. Johnson’s minimalist steel and glass design would also be the defining feature of his Chrystal Cathedral, which he designed for televangelist Robert Schuller in Garden Grove, California (and which was sold sold in a bankruptcy transaction to the Orange County diocese of the Catholic Church in 2011 for $57.5 million. After renovations for liturgical purposes, the building will become Christ Cathedral, the diocese’s official seat.).

From the sublime to the ridiculous: the AT&T Building, 1984.

By the 1980s, Johnson had decided that minimalism had boxed him into a corner, if you will excuse the pun. So in a fit of iconoclasm, he abandoned his minimalist signature by placing a garish Chippendale corbel on top of the AT&T building in New York, thus heralding the utterly lamentable post-modernist geegaws that are the bane of every tacky strip mall in North America. Johnson’s latest design is considerably more redeeming. It is also for the largest LGBT congregation in America, Dallas’s Cathedral of Hope, whose Interfaith Peace Chapel opened to the public in 2010. Johnson didn’t live to see it come to fruition. He died in his sleep at Glass House in 2005, survived by his partner of 45 years.

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 7

Jim Burroway

July 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Midnight Rider, July 4, 1980, page 24.

From Midnight Rider, July 4, 1980, page 24.

 
Mary’s of Houston, Texas held a “Get Out of Jail Free” party on Monday, July 7 as an act of defiance against the Houston Police Department, which had raided the bar on June 24. Sue Cummings wrote about the raid the week earlier:

I wrapped up the Wilde ‘n Stein radio show Thursday night with, “I’m off to San Antonio for the State Democratic Convention,” but. .. going home via Westheimer took me past Mary’s. There I saw the police loading bar patrons into a van. The first thing I did was the 100-yard dash to a public phone and 25¢ later KPFT and Ray Hill had the news.

I returned to find Jim Farmer, owner and Grand Marshal of the Gay Pride Week Parade with his hands against the side of the van. There were uniformed officers of the vice squad and also plainclothes policemen trying to pass for gay. Guns tucked in the small of their back, badges at their waist, they had dressed in out-of-date hippie gear. The billy clubs were out as they confiscated leather vests, caps, belts, and wristlets studded with metal and hung with chain.

It was not the Stonewall. All these men with their “deadly weapons” did not resist. They went quietly; some joked to keep the morale up. Two groups of onlookers gathered — one near Montrose Boulevard and the other at Waugh Drive. I asked a young man standing to my left “how many are in the van?” but he didn’t know. He told me they would not let him enter the bar. One by one a policeman placed men in the backseat of a blue cruiser parked on Waugh until there were five. Shortly after that myself, Sharon Taylor, and David, the young man I had spoken with were also arrested.

When Sharon, Officer Krol, and I arrived at the station the men were lined up against a long white wall. We were placed in an office across the hall from Andy Mills, manager and leader of the Montrose Singers, Family, Tavern Guild, etc. A vice officer pokes his head into the office and says, “You mean they have dykes down there too?” Sharon is refused permission to use the bathroom.

From where we sit in the booking room we can see the men being processed. They are brought in from the tank — a dark, crowded cell used for holding — searched, and photographed. Some are ridiculed. Then they are told the amount of their bail. Now I am being frisked. “No purse?” Now I am being booked. “Were you arrested at that place on Westheimer? Don’t you know that’s a queer bar?” Sharon and I are handcuffed for the trip upstairs. But first we pass a sign that says: HPOA EATS CRAP.

6th Floor-Women’s Unit. We are turned over to a policewoman and allowed to use the telephone. It is 4 AM. Then on to cell 7 where a nylon stocking hangs from a steel bar above my head. It is sunrise and we wait for court to begin. Sixty-one people wait for someone to pay their bail. Next year, Sharon suggests, we should put a Gay Pride billboard down by the police station.

Mary’s opened in 1970, and remained in business until 2009. To learn more about Mary’s see April 26.

[Source: Susan Cummings. "The Night They Raided Mary's." Midnight Runner (June 24, 1980): 14.]

Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, on vacation.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Hoover’s Homosexuality Denied …Again: 1975. J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ 48-year chief, was dogged by rumors of his homosexuality and a suspected longtime affair with his assistant Clyde Tolson, but those rumors were put down as quickly as they arose. When Hoover died in 1972 he left his estate to Tolson, who moved into Hoover’s house. When Tolson died in April of 1975, speculation arose again over what everyone acknowledged as an extraordinarily close relationship with Hoover. In July, the subject came up again on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, according to this UPI article:

Rumors that the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual “absolutely could not be true,” according to a former top FBI official.

William A. Sullivan, who retired Saturday as assistant FBI director, made the statement in response to a reporter’s question on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Hoover never married and maintained a lifetime friendship with his top assistant, Clyde Tolson, who died earlier this year.

CBS reporter Fred Graham told Sullivan it was “common knowledge that there were allegations that J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual.”

“I wonder, “Graham asked, “can you tell me if that was investigated by any security agency, and can you tell me whether or not the FBI knows whether or not that’s true — was true?”

Sullivan replied: “I think that that is a — that question there is so ridiculous, about the homosexuality of J. Edgar Hoover, that I will just not give any credit to it, because I think it — it just absolutely cannot be true. I don’t believe.”

Graham: “But are you telling me that it was never checked out?”

Sullivan: “Certainly not. It was not checked out. It was so ridiculous that you could not check out something like that.”

George Cukor, on The Philadelphia Story set with Katharine Hepburn.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
115 YEARS AGO: George Cukor: 1899-1983. A glance through his filmography shows that Hollywood would not have been Hollywood without George Cukor’s directing many of its landmark films with RKO and MGM.  In 1931, he made his solo directorial debut with Paramount with Tarnished Lady starring Tallulah Bankhead, and went on to work on twenty-six films over the next ten years including, notably, A Bill of Divorcement (1932, debuting Katharine Hepburn), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), Camille (1936), The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Gaslight (1944), Adam’s Rib (1949), Born Yesterday (1950), A Star is Born (1954), and My Fair Lady(1964). Cukor had been hired by his mentor, David O. Selznick, to direct Gone With The Wind even before the book was published. But Cukor was fired three weeks into filming after expressing dissatisfaction with the script. (A replacement director was also dissatisfied with it and quit, prompting a complete re-write of the film.)

Cukor had a reputation as a “woman’s director” for his ability to coax great performances from his actresses. He hated the title, perhaps seeing it as a dig at his open secret: just about everyone in Hollywood knew he was gay. He luxurious home was host to weekly Sunday afternoon pool parties attended by closeted celebrities and their guests. Hollywood was — and still is — a very small company town, and word had a way of getting around. Producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz said, “In a way, George Cukor was the first great female director of Hollywood.” But the quality of Cukor’s work belied those who dismissed him because he wasn’t a typical macho director. Twenty-one actors and actresses working under Cukor received Oscar nominations; three actors and two actresses came up winners. Cukor himself earned five Best Direction nominations, finally winning an Oscar for My Fair Lady.

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 6

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany;  Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BCSurrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974.

 
The Shadows, located on the edge of downtown Buffalo, suffered an suspected arson fire in late June, 1974. According to initial reports in The Fifth Freedom, a Buffalo gay newspaper, “Damage to the building and contents ran to $107,000 and the owners reportedly have no intention to rebuild.” But two weeks later, The Fifth Freedom reported that The Shadows would re-open after all. “One of the most popular bars in the area, appealing most recently to the Lesbian community, The Shadows has been receiving much community support and encouragement as a result of its recent fire. Many of the patrons have been assisting in the massive rebuilding campaign involved in getting it back on its feet. The projected reopening is sometime in early August.” On July 23, The Fifth Freedom announced that the reopening had been pushed back to September and the community was invited to help with the rebuilding. That’s the last mention of the Shadows I’ve found in back issues of The Fifth Freedom, although that may be due to a gap in available newspapers from October through December of 1974. No ads appeared for the Shadows in 1975.

None of the previous ads for the Shadows ever gave a street address. They simply referenced the corner of Delaware and Virginia. Three of the corners of that intersection today are parking lots, while the fourth is occupied by a mid-century office building.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees are Stinging Mad”: 1969. Coverage of the Stonewall rebellion in New York’s news media was quite scant. The New York Times buried its first day’s coverage with a very small article on page 33. The New York Daily News placed its first small story on page thirty. But on July 6, the Daily News returned to the subject again to give the story the paper’s trademarked sensationalized treatment:

Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad

By JERRY LISKER

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. “We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over,” lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

“We’ve had all we can take from the Gestapo,” the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. “We’re putting our foot down once and for all.” The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

Girls. Lisping. Queens. Bleached blonde revolt. The mocking, denigrating descriptions carried throughout the article:

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn’t protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn’t want him to see her this way, she wept.

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

The Village Voice, which was supposed to be the more liberal, counter-cultural paper, was only somewhat more considerate in its choice of language when its coverage hit the streets three days earlier (see Jul 3). But at least the Voice’s Lucian Truscott IV was able to capture the riot’s importance: “The forces of faggotry, spurred by a Friday night raid on one of the city’s largest, most popular, and longest lived gay bars, the Stonewall Inn, rallied Saturday night in an unprecedented protest against the raid and continued Sunday night to assert presence, possibility, and pride until the early hours of Monday morning.” Disrespectful language aside, Truscott’s account would become the story of record, while Lisker’s article would be forever remembered for the kind of universal contempt directed toward gay people that gave rise to the rebellion in the first place. Lisker went on to become the sports reporter for the Daily News, New York Post, and Fox Sports. He died in 1993.

Jérôme Duquesnoy (left), Piete, 1654 (right).

Jérôme Duquesnoy (left), Piete, 1654 (right).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jérôme Duquesnoy: 1602-1654. The Flemish artist was, in his day, regarded as one of the finest sculptors of the seventeenth century. In 1644, Duquesnoy was commissioned to create statues for the nave of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, and the following year he was appointed “architecte, statuaire et sculpteur de la Cour” to Archduke Leopold William, Regent of the Netherlands. it was during the time where he produced some of his most famous works, many of which depicted strong, muscled male figures in the Hellenic tradition. In 1651, he became Court Architect and Sculptor, and in 1654 he went to Ghent to fulfill several commissions when he was accused of indecencies with his assistants. The Privy Council of Ghent convicted Duquesnoy of sodomy and sentenced him to death. He was bound to a stake in the Grain Market in the center of the city, strangled, and his body reduced to ashes. His reputation was destroyed and his memory repressed. It has only been recently that critical attention has returned to his work.

Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin: 1925-2007. I vividly remember the moment I figured out that Merv Griffin was gay. It was sometime in the mid to late 1970s. I was in high school, off on summer break. I walked into the TV room. No one else was in there, but the TV was turned to The Merv Griffin Show. I think it was a special of some kind — Fourth of July, maybe. There were a bunch of male Polynesian dancers on stage. But these were’t your typical just-off-the-islands Polynesian dancers. These were, like, from the islands of West Hollywood — muscular, buff, defined, hot!. I was transfixed, although I knew I shouldn’t be. The dancers finished their particularly athletic-style of Polynesian dancing and left the stage to a standing ovation from the mostly-older, mostly-female audience. Griffin walked out and started bantering with the ladies in the front row, as he often did. This time, it was about the dancers, about how good they were, about how good-looking they were, about how ohmygod how hot they were. This went on and on and on. It’s like he couldn’t stop talking about them. And that’s when it hit me.

Ohmygodohmogodohmogodohmygod!!!!,” I exclaimed to — thank God — no one in the room. “Merv Griffin is GAY!” Nothing would ever convince me otherwise, not matter how many times he was photographed supposedly canoodling with Eva Gabor.

Like that other famously closeted Las Vegas celebrity Liberace, Merv Griffin entered show business early as a child prodigy on the piano. He started singing on the radio at age 19 in 1944. Avoiding the draft because of a heart murmur, Griffin, earned enough to start his own record label the following year, and began touring. His first hit, a novelty tune called “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” reached number on in 1950.

Merv Griffin, Nancy Reagan

He got a few minor film roles, but found television more to his liking. He hosted a number of game shows from the 50s until the early 60s, when he switched to producing them rather than hosting. He guest hosted the Tonight Show before Johnny Carson took over, then launched his own syndicated talk show in 1965. Griffin would continue to host various talk shows for the next two decades. He was known, and praised by critics, for taking on controversial topics with controversial guests, a trait that got him fired from a talk show gig at CBS in 1969. He was fired on a Friday. He responded the following Monday by hosting a new talk show, produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises, without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, his production company would produced some of the most successful shows on television: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and Dance Fever. His real estate operations owned the Beverly Hilton, and the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. By 2003, Griffin was a veritable Hollywood mogul, said to be worth around $1.2 billion dollars.

That Appalachian high school kid who saw Merv Griffin gushing over his Polynesian dancers wasn’t the only to figure out that he was gay. Rumors had long circulated about his sexuality. Those rumors burst into the open in 1991, when Dance Fever host Deney Terrio sued him for sexual harassment. That same year, Griffin’s longtime bodyguard, horse trainer and driver Brent Plot filed a $200 million palimony suit. Griffin evaded questions from the press and both suits were ultimately dismissed. Michelangelo Signorile alluded to Griffin in his 1993 book Queer in America, where he described an unnamed Hollywood “Mogul” who fired men from his company for being openly gay.

When Griffin died in 2007, his secret might have died with him. But Ray Richmond’s obituary in the Hollywood Reporter, said everything that needed to be said in the headline: “Merv Griffin Died a Closeted Homosexual.” Reuters then picked it up, as Richmond pondered the legacy that might have been:

Merv Griffin and Eva GaborWhat a powerful message Griffin might have sent had he squired his male companions around town rather than Eva Gabor, his longtime good friend and platonic public pal. Imagine the amount of good Merv could have done as a well-respected, hugely successful, beloved and uncloseted gay man in embodying a positive image. …

If you’re Griffin, why would you think a judgmental culture would be any more tolerant as you grew into middle and old age? Even in the capital of entertainment — in a business where homosexuality isn’t exactly a rare phenomenon — it’s still spoken of in hushed tones or, more often, not at all. And Merv’s brush with tabloid scandal no doubt only drove him further into the closet.

While it would seem everything has changed today, little actually has. You can count on the fingers of one hand, or at most two, the number of high-powered stars, executives and public figures who have come out. Those who don’t can’t really be faulted, as rarely do honesty and full disclosure prove a boon to one’s showbiz livelihood.

But Signorile saw it differently:

merv_griffin_2First off, Griffin’s closet kept him shockingly silent while he had access to the president of the United States as his own people were dying. This man was intimate with the Reagans (and Nancy Reagan in particular) during the height of the AIDS epidemic in 80s, with few treatments available and fear-mongering having gripped the media. …

Secondly, Griffin’s closet had him engaging in workplace sexual harassment, something that, as I showed in my 1993 book Queer in America, is common among closeted powerful men, who often are simply seeking outlets for sex….

Finally, Griffin’s closet had him firing gay men who’d actually made it up through the ranks of his own company, simply because they were openly gay. There is a story in Queer in America about a man identified as “The Mogul” who did just that. I can now reveal that The Mogul is Merv Griffin. Open homosexuality is a threat to the closeted, and powerful people in the closet like Merv Griffin will often do whatever it takes to squash those who are open and who might advocate that all among the powerful should come out.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 5

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany; Lethbridge, AB; Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BC; Sundsvall, Sweden; Surrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Parleé, July 1975, page 31.

 
Fire Island was long a refuge for gay people throughout much of the twentieth century. It was a place they could go, away from the oppressive atmosphere of constant harassment, where they could, for the most part, let their guard down. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Monster, in Cherry Grove, was one of the more popular spots. The Fire Island branch of the Monster Bar on New York’s Sheridan Square, the Fire Island version featured a clam bar on the top deck with incredible ocean views, and a ground floor disco and bar, and was popular with Fire Island residents and mainlanders alike. It closed sometime in the early 1990s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
15 YEARS AGO: PFC Barry Winchell Murdered: 1999. He had enlisted in the Army in 1997 and was transferred to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in 1999 where he was assigned to the 2/502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division. He learned to fire a .50-caliber machine gun so well that he became the best marksman in his company. He hoped one day to become a helicopter pilot, but that dream was cut short, brutally, on July 5, 1999 when he was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat as he was sleeping in his cot in the barracks. Pvt. Calvin Glover, 18, was arrested and charged with Winchell’s murder after admitting to the beating. While in custody, he made several disparaging remarks about blacks and gays to another prisoner.

In fact, there is little reason to believe that PFC Winchell. In the ensuing investigation, Sgt. Eric Dubielak, Winchell’s commanding officer, testified that he knew that Winchell had been experiencing daily harassment from fellow soldiers over rumors of his perceived homosexuality, rumors that had been spread by Winchell’s roommate, Spc. Justin Fisher, when Winchell began dating a transgender woman from Nashville. But Dubielak never intervened, nor did any of the other superior officers who admitted that they were aware of the abuse. “Nothing was done, sir,” said Sgt. Michael Kleifgen, who told of one fruitless effort to complain to the post’s inspector general when a master sergeant referred to Winchell as “that faggot.” But when asked why he himself didn’t order his platoon members to stop harassing Winchell, Kleifgen responded, “Everybody was having fun.” As for Winchell himself, he didn’t lodge a formal complaint, and for good reason. Doing so would have likely put him afoul of the “Don’t Tell” part of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” given his superior officers’ demonstrated inability to distinguish between sexual orientation and gender identity.

Glover was eventually court-martialed and given a lifetime sentence. He is still behind bars. Fisher, who had goaded Glover into attacking Winchell and participated in an attempted cover-up, was sentenced to 12½ years in prison and was released in 2006. But Ft. Campbell’s commanding officer at the time of the murder, Major General Robert T. Clark, refused to take responsibility for the anti-gay/trans climate under his command. Furthermore, the Defense Department under President George W. Bush exonerated Clark of any wrongdoing, and he was promoted to Lieutenant General in 2003. The year 2003 also saw the release of the Peabody Award-winning film for Showtime, Soldier’s Girl, which portrayed the romance between Winchell and Calpernia Addams which led up to Winchell’s murder.

Sylvester Graham

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
220 YEARS AGO: Sylvester Graham: 1794-1851. The guy who invented the graham crackers you loved so much as a kid did it because he was only looking out for your best interests. His namesake invention was designed to keep you from masturbating. It obviously didn’t work. I can tell just by looking at you:

This general mental decay continues with the continued abuses, till the wretched transgressor sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant glassy eye, and livid, shriveled countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered, perhaps, with suppurating blisters and running sores — denote a premature old age — a blighted body — and a ruined soul! — and he drags out the remnant of his loathsome existence, in exclusive devotion to his horridly abominable sensuality.

And…

The sight becomes feeble, obscure, cloudy, confused, and often is entirely lost — and utter blindness fills the rest of life with darkness and unavailing regret.

Besides the whole wanking-is-bad thing, most of Sylvester Graham’s then-radical ideas would barely merit a shrug among the Birkenstock-clad, hemp bag-toting shoppers at Trader Joe’s. Organic foods? Check. Exercise freak? Check. Vegetarianism? Why, he helped to found the American Vegetarian Society in 1850. He also advocated frequent bathing and daily tooth-brushing — all fundamental components of hygiene today but very rare practices in the early part of the nineteenth century. Other crazy ideas included fresh air, clean drinking water, and fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables. Given how commonplace these ideas are today, it’s hard to imagine how dangerous the people of New England saw Graham’s teaching back then.

Graham was born in Suffield, Connecticut, the seventeenth child of a minister. He was ill during most of his young life, which may be why he had such a driving passion to discover the secrets of good health. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1826, but decided to become a clergymen-physician at a time when a lack of medical training wasn’t much of an impediment to entering the profession. At about that time, he came to believe — with good reason — that bakers were poisoning the general public by using finely ground processed flour which was bleached with alum and chlorine, a common practice to make bread whiter in color, and therefore more appealing to a growing middle class who came to regard darker shades of bread suitable only for country rubes. White bread — and the softer the better — became a status symbol, and the complicated processes for making it meant that it was no longer homemade, but purchased from a baker.

In 1829, Graham invented what came to be known as Graham bread, a firm dark bread using unsifted course-ground flour, which he regarded as much healthier than the commercially-bought white bread. He also urged his followers to avoid meat, spices, coffee, tea, and alcohol. He argued that there was a strong link between diet and overall health, which is true, although it was a radical idea at the time. But he went further, drawing a strong link between diet and morality. For example, spicy foods might lead to a spicy temperament, leaving one open to the temptations of drinking, gambling, prostitution, and venereal excesses, especially self-pollution, as it was called in his day:

Among the causes of extensive and excessive self-pollution, at such places and elsewhere, as I have already stated, the most important ones are—

1. Improper diet — the free use of flesh, with more or less of stimulating seasonings and condiments, together with coffee, tea, rich pastry, and compounded and concentrated forms of food; and too often, chewing and smoking tobacco, and drinking wine and other intoxicating liquors; — all of which unduly stimulate and irritate the nervous system, heat the blood, and early develope a preternatural sensibility and prurience of the genital organs.

2. Excesses in quantity of aliment. …Subsisting as most children do, on a variety of dishes, variously and often viciously prepared — too generally warm, and requiring little mastication, they are sure to eat too rapidly, and swallow, in a very imperfectly masticated condition, far too great a quantity of food. This not only produces permanent injury in the digestive organs, but the whole constitution is much impaired by it, and the sexual appetite rapidly developed and strengthened.

3. A want of proper exercise to promote the equal distribution of the blood, and develope and invigorate the several organs and parts of the system, and firmly establish the healthy condition and conduct of the constitution. Their sedentary and inactive, and too generally indolent habits, lead to sluggishness of capillary circulation, and an undue detention of blood in the vessels of the abdomen and lower parts of the body, including the genital organs; by which means the parts become heated and debilitated, and thus again, a preternatural sensibility and excitability are augmented in the organs of generation…

There’s more, but you get the drift. Following his advice would save children from growing up “with a body full of disease, and with a mind in ruins, the loathsome habit still tyrannizing over him, with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness.” Of all of the sexual excesses, Graham regarded masturbation as the worst. But he considered as dangerous any sexual act undertaken more often than necessary because of the “violent paroxysms” that accompanied an orgasm:

The convulsive paroxysms attending venereal indulgence, are connected with the most intense excitement, and cause the most powerful agitation to the whole system that it is ever subject to. The brain, stomach, heart, lungs, liver, skin, and the other organs, feel it sweeping over them with the tremendous violence of a tornado. The powerfully excited and convulsed heart drives the blood, in fearful congestion, to the principal viscera, producing oppression, irritation, debility, rupture, inflammation, and sometimes disorganization; — and this violent paroxysm is generally succeeded by great exhaustion, relaxation. These excesses, too frequently repeated, cannot fail to produce the most terrible effects.

That’s hot. And so even among the married, he suggested:

As a general rule, it may be said to the healthy and robust, it were better for you not to exceed, in the frequency of your indulgences, the number of months in the year; and you cannot habitually exceed the number of weeks in the year, without in some degree impairing your constitutional powers, shortening your lives, and increasing your liability to disease and suffering.

Graham published a number of his lectures in A Lecture To Young Men On Chastity, A Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making, and Lectures on the Science of Human Life. His followers, calling themselves Grahamites, established the Graham Journal of Health and Longevity to promote his ideas beyond the Northeast. Graham societies flourished in Boston, New York and on the campuses of Oberlin, Wesleyan and Williams Colleges. At Oberlin, the Graham diet was made mandatory between 1837 and 1841, until a rebellion by students and teachers forced the college to back down. Graham’s supporters included Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson (who called Graham “the poet of bran and pumpkins”), Horace Greeley, and Joseph Smith, who would go on to found the Mormon Church.

He also had his detractors. One New York journalist warned that “this wild Fanaticism will sweep through the land overthrowing every social comfort, every physical enjoyment, every pleasure that springs from sense and refers to sense.” A New England newspaper referred to Graham as “Dr. Bran, the philosopher of sawdust pudding.” Rancorous arguments raged back and forth in the pages of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (the forerunner to the New England Journal of Medicine). One set of articles charged “Grahamism a Cause of Insanity,” while another countered, “Grahamism Not a Cause of Insanity.” According to newspaper accounts, women fainted when he lectured on the evils of sexual incontinence and the wearing of corsets. Bakers and butchers, fearing a loss of business if his ideas caught on, regularly threatened to riot and break up his lectures.

Over time, Graham was eventually dismissed as a crackpot and he fell out of favor. Undoubtedly, the apostle of longevity’s reputation was further dented when he died at age 57. But many of his ideas managed to live on in several new religious movements. In addition to the Latter Day Saints, his theories informed the dietary practices of Christian Science and Seventh-Day Adventism. They also were a profound influence on John Harvey Kellogg, who created a breakfast cereal he called “granola,” based on Graham’s bread recipe and designed to address many of the same sexual concerns.

s'moreIronically, Graham’s thin, coarse Graham bread eventually became a cracker which, by 1900, was sold by the same commercial backers he so reviled. To add insult to injury, the National Biscuit Company (later, Nabisco) added sugar and white flour to the recipe. Later, they began marketing a version that included an evil spice, cinnamon. Next thing you know, you were combining Graham crackers, Hershey bars and roasted marshmallows to make s’mores around the campfire when you were a kid. Good lord, no wonder you’re such a mess!

[All quotations are from: Sylvester Graham. A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity, 4th ed. (Boston: George W. Light, 1838). Available online via Google Books here.]

Jean Cocteau. Photo by Man Ray, 1922.

125 YEARS AGO: Jean Cocteau: 1889-1963. Most artists work in just one or two mediums; Cocteau — poet, novelist, author of plays, ballets and operas; clothing designer, interior designer, graphic designer, painter, illustrator, filmmaker and actor — excelled in just about everything he did. His reputation was cemented in 1917 when, as part if Ballets Russes, he collaborated with Pablo Picaso and Eric Satie for the ballet Parade. The title of his 1929 novel Les Enfants Terrible, about two siblings who create a game out of hurting each other’s feelings, has become a shorthand expression to describe those who go out of their way to shock others. His 1940 play, Le Bel Indifférent, created for his life-long friend Edith Piaf, enjoyed enormous acclaim. His films, which included Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), La Belle et la Bête (a very pre-Disney Beauty and the Beast, 1946), and Orpheus (1949), are credited for introducing the avant-garde into French cinema.

His circle of friends and collaborators included such belle époque luminaries as Marcel Proust, André Gide, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Sergei Diaghilev and Raymond Radigue. His personal life was similarly varied, which included an affair with Princess Natalie Paley (which ended when Paley aborted her pregnancy with Cocteau’s child) and long term relationships with actors Jean Marais and Édouard Dermit, the latter of whom Cocteau formally adopted. Cocteau died on October 11, 1963, of heart failure, shortly after recording a radio tribute in honor of his beloved Piaf, who had also passed away that same morning.

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

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

Newer Posts | Older Posts