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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…”
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Rest in peace Lesley Gore

Timothy Kincaid

February 16th, 2015

lesleygoreAP

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who topped the charts in 1963 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hits “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” died Monday. She was 68.

Gore died of cancer at New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.

In addition, she was nominated for an Academy Award for “Out Here On My Own” from the film “Fame”, which she co-wrote with her brother Michael.

Alabama Presbyterians vote for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2015

Alabama Presyterians

In a rather timely decision, the central Alabama presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to endorse changes in the church rules that would allow them to conduct same-sex marriages. (AL.com)

The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, a central Alabama group of churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), voted 75-39 Thursday in favor of approving gay marriages.

They became one of about 38 presbyteries nationwide that have voted in favor of gay marriage, with 14 voting against. The change to the 1.8-million-member denomination’s official stance will become official if 86 of the 171 presbyteries vote in favor.

Now the Presbyterian Church is nowhere as dominant in Alabama as the Southern Baptists. But news like this does go a long way to dilute the But God Says! and Attack on Christianity! messages upon which anti-gay Christian rely so heavily.

Ironically, some of the supportive Presbyterians looked a bit askance at the impromptu ceremonies conducted this week.

Webster said he prefers that gay marriage in the church follow a protocol of the couple being members in a church and seeking pre-marital counseling before being married in a sacred ceremony in a church.

“It seemed frivolous and impetuous,” Webster said. “We would have dealt with it more seriously, with church members in the context of a church community. For us, it’s a worship service.”

And perhaps that’s one of the ways in which we know that society is on the road to full acceptance, when levels of establishment feel that you should follow the prescribed order, just like everyone else!

Mobile County Alabama ordered to issue marriage licenses

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2015

On Monday, Judge Carrie Grenade’s stay was lifted and marriage equality came to Alabama. But not to all of the state.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered (apparently on his own imagined authority) and order commanding probate judges to refuse service to same-sex couples. Some probate judges followed Moore’s order and flouted the law, issuing marriage licenses to opposite sex couples but not same sex couples. And some chose to not issue licenses to anyone, citing conflicting orders.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis was one who froze all marriage licenses. On Monday, he was sued by same-sex couples in Mobile County who wish to marry.

Today Judge Grenade specifically ordered Davis to open his office and issue marriage licenses to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. (AL.com)

A federal judge in Mobile on Thursday ordered Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to start granting marriage licenses to gay couples, and he immediately took steps to do just that.

Less clear is whether other probate judges, who are not defendants in either case considered Thursday, would alter their position in the face of a new ruling by Granade. Marshall, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said he believes most probate judges will take their cues from Granade’s new order. For those who continue to resist, he said, same-sex marriage advocates will file new lawsuits naming them as defendants.

This will, undoubtedly, result in most probate judges issuing licenses. But I suspect some will be recalcitrant and fight tooth and toenail.

Alabama Supremes’ response undermines Judge Roy Moore

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2015

In an article titled “Alabama Supreme Court punts on request for ‘clarification’ of Roy Moore’s marriage order”, AL.com reports that the Alabama Supreme Court has rejected a request.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a request by Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to clarify Chief Justice Roy Moore’s order instructing probate judges to ignore a federal court ruling allowing same-sex marriage.

And, indeed, they have. The jurists other than Moore (who recused himself) refused to provide any answer as to whether Davis and the other probate judges must follow Judge Grenade’s ruling and provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, AL.com’s next paragraph seems to contradict their headline.

The justices wrote that they do not have the authority to address the question.

That is not a neutral position. That is not a view that says, “Gee, we don’t know.”

The implications are clear and Davis, along with the other county officials, should be bright enough to see them. If the Alabama State Supreme Court does not have the authority to direct probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then surely the Chief Justice, acting alone, lacks any prerogative to do so.

Alabama probate judges block 50 “traditional” marriages per day

Timothy Kincaid

February 11th, 2015

In 2013 (the last year available) there were 37,789 marriage licenses issued. Which averages to about 150 licenses per business day. All of them “traditional” marriages between a man and a woman.

Currently, about 35% of Alabama residents live in counties in which the probate judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight. So some 50 or so ‘traditional’ marriage licenses are being denied per day.

For the life of me, I don’t see how this benefits anyone.

Alabama Governor not standing in the doorway

Timothy Kincaid

February 10th, 2015

Governor Bentley of Alabama opposes marriage equality. However, he too sees comparisons between the behavior of his state today and that of 50 years ago and he has no intention of taking up the mantle of former Alabama Governor George Wallace. (Talking Points Memo)

Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law.

The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.”

“I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m trying to move this state forward.”

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 16

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the International Gay Rodeo Association program, 1989, page 8.

From the International Gay Rodeo Association program, 1989, page 8.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Aversion Therapy for “Sexual Deviation”: 1973. Attempts to cure homosexuality have taken many forms, many of them cruel. Perhaps the cruelest might be the use of electric shock aversion therapy. This method was first described in the academic literature in 1935, and reports of its continued use persisted through the 1970’s and even later. Two of sixteen participants at a Brigham Young University program committed suicide in the mid-1970’s, and there are similar reports of suicide and long-term psychological and physical damage elsewhere.

There are literally hundreds of reports of various forms of aversion therapy in the literature between 1935 and 1980. In 1973, one such report appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology by two researchers from the University of Vermont. Dr. Harold Leitenberg and Ph.D candidate Edward J. Callahan wrote an article titled, “Aversion therapy for sexual deviation: Contingent shock and covert sensitization“, in which they described their experiments on six subjects:

Six subjects were selected from a group of 23 referrals during a 2-year period. Selection was made on the grounds of desire to undergo aversion therapy and the consistent occurrence of measurable erection during presentation of slides depicting their deviant form of arousal. Seven referrals decided agains treatment (two of these were court referred), two subjects dropped out during the first phase…

Treatment Procedures
Contingent shock: …Shock levels varying from “pain” to “tolerance” were then randomly selected for administration as part of a punishment procedure which made shock contingent upon erection. These shock levels ordinarily ranged from .5 milliampere to 4.5 milliampere, and shock duration was varied randomly from .1 second to .5 second. Erection was monitored by a penile strain gate. Five slides of deviant material and two heterosexually oriented slides were presented for 125 seconds apiece in each session while the subject was instructed to imaging whatever was sexually arousing with the person on the slide. An attempt was made to obtain slides appropriate to each person’s idiosyncratic sexual arousal. If during the “deviant” material slide, the penile circumference increase exceeded a level of 15% of full erection, shock was administered through electrodes on the first and third fingers on the subject’s right hand.

Covert Sensitization: This technique involves the presentation of verbal descriptions of “deviant” acts and the description of aversive consequences, such as nausea, vomiting, discovery by family, etc. … For example, a man might be asked to imagine going to the apartment of a homosexual contact, approaching the man’s bedroom, initiating sexual activity, feeling increasingly nauseous, and finally vomiting on the contact, on the sheets, and all over himself. A variation of this scene might involve the patient finding the homosexual contact rotting with syphilitic sores, or finding that the contact had diarrhea during the sexual encounter.

The subjects included two pedophiles and a young man arrested for indecent exposure. The other three were:

Subject 2
The patient was a 38-year-old depressed married man with a 13-year history of active homosexuality and depression. The patient sought behavioral treatment after 4 years of psychiatric counseling which had not alleviated either problem. He continued psychiatric counseling for the depression, with the stipulation that no sexual matters be discussed. His homosexual activity consisted of seeking. His homosexual activity consisted of seeking contacts 2-3 times a week, usually without success. …He sought treatment to reduce homosexual urges since he felt they led to frustration, depression, and an inability to concentrate on work.

The patient was a 38-year-old depressed married man with a 13-year history of active homosexuality and depression. The patient sought behavioral treatment after 4 years of psychiatric counseling which had not alleviated either problem. He continued psychiatric counseling for the depression, with the stipulation that no sexual matters be discussed. His homosexual activity consisted of seeking. His homosexual activity consisted of seeking contacts 2-3 times a week, usually without success. …He sought treatment to reduce homosexual urges since he felt they led to frustration, depression, and an inability to concentrate on work.

…The subject’s only homosexual contact during treatment occurred during a 2-week break in treatment in this phase. The patient reported an inability to reach climax during this contact. During a later talk to a former contact, the patient felt the symptoms of impending vomiting and left the situation. He later connected this feeling with experiences felt during treatment.

Subject 4
This was a 19-year-old homosexual with no prior sexual or dating experience with girls. … Sexual contacts [with other men] led to guilt feelings and vacillation over whether he wanted to learn to accept homosexuality or to change his pattern of sexual arousal. After discussing his dilemma with a few friends and relatives, he decided to seek treatment.

Phase 1: Contingent shock was administered for 10 sessions. Penile circumference changes were reduced during slides of males and females initially; however, this suppression during slides of females was only transient. There was an increase in average daily homosexual urges to slightly more than two per day and a slight increase in frequency of daily homosexual masturbation, while homosexual fantasies were slightly decreased. The patient was somewhat disturbed by the experience of shock, but was willing to undergo it in order to change his sexual arousal pattern. He had one homosexual contact late in this phase.

Phase 2: Covert sensitization was administered for seven sessions. Penile circumference changes to slides of men reduced greatly, and penile circumference changes to slides of women continued to increase. Rapid progress was reported by the subject in this phase. … After seven sessions, the subject reported he was progressing more quickly than he could stand “physically.” He felt his progress was strong enough to drop treatment and continue to make adjustment alone. After 3 months, however, he returned to treatment because of “unwanted” homosexual contact which unnerved him about the stability of his progress.

… An attempt was made to return the subject to contingent shock treatment. The subject became very upset by this and misapplied the electrodes during the first scheduled shock session in order to reduce the shock. At the next session, he explained that the felt shock had not helped him and that he did not want to go through the painful experience since he felt it had not therapeutic effect. At this stage, he said he would have to quit treatment rather than go through contingent shock again.

Subject 5
The patient was a 29-year-old married man referred after being apprehended by police while walking along a main street in women’s clothing. This was his first police contact in 17 years of cross-dressing, and no charges were pressed. His treatment was voluntary; his reported reason for wanting therapy was the desire to feel sexually “normal.” Although married, the patient reported intercourse occurred only twice a year.

…Treatment consisted of one phase of contingent shock and one phase of covert sensitization. There was rapid and substantial suppression of erection to transsexual fantasies during the first phase. (Note that measurement was taken without the shock electrodes attached.) Intercourse was reported to increase to once a week, although independent confirmation with his wife was impossible since the patient claimed that his wife was unaware of his transvestism, and he did not wish us to contact her. …

Calahan and Lienteberg concluded that ” both treatments combined led to a favorable outcome,” despite acknowledging the difficulty of independent verification.

By the time this paper appeared in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Callahan had already moved on to UCLA, where he became a Behavioral Modification supervisor for the Neorpsychiatric Institute, where five-year-old Kirk Murphy was treated by future anti-gay activist George Rekers for what was identified as Kirk’s “Gender Identity Disorder.” (There is no evidence that Callahan was involved with Kirk’s treatment.) He is currently at UC Davis. Leitenberg, who had founded the University of Vermint’s Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center in 1972, served as its director until his retirement in 2001.

[Source: Callahan, Edward J.; Leitenberg, Harold. “Aversion therapy for sexual deviation: Contingent shock and covert sensitization.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 81, no. 1 (February 1973): 60-73. Abstract available here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Katharine Cornell: 1893-1974. She shared the title of “The First Lady of the Theatre” with Helen Hayes; as good friends and colleagues, they each deferred the title to each other. While Hayes is probably more well known today, Cornell’s own acting and contributions to the theater are legendary. Part of her success can be attributed to her collaboration with her husband, Guthrie McClintic, a successful director and producer. Their marriage was both professional and one of convenience: Cornell was lesbian and McClintic was gay. She was a member of New York’s “sewing circles, with relationships with Tallulah Bankhead and Mercedes de Acosta, among others. Meanwhile, McClinctic directed Cornell in every play since their marriage.

Cornell’s acclaimed Broadway roles include the title character of George Bernard Shaw’s Candide, Countess Ellen Olenska in The Age of Innocence, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street — and that’s just before the Great Depression. Her career continued unabated through the 1950s. Her appearance in the title role of 1936’s St. Joan won her a bevy of honorary degrees from several colleges and universities, and she won a Tony Award for Best Actress for Antony and Cleopatra in 1947. After McClintic died in 1961, Cornell decided to retire rather than work with another director. She restored the 300-year-old Association Hall on Martha’s Vineyard, which was later rename the Katharine Cornell Theater. She died of pneumonia in 1974, and was buried next to the theater named in her honor.

John Schlesinger: 1926-2003. The British director of film, stage, television and opera became one of the more influential figures in Britain’s post-war entertainment industry. He began acting in a small number of small parts in films shortly after leaving Oxford. In the mid-fifties, he began directing short documentaries for the BBC. His first feature film came in 1961 with Terminus, a documentary set on a London train station. It earned him a Venice Film Festival Gold Lion a British Academy Award. He then set about making fictional feature films beginning with the award-winning A Kind of Loving (1962), which was the sixth most popular movie in Britain that year. A string of films followed, many of which were set in “swinging London” of the 1960s, and which established Schlesinger as an influential part of the British New Wave.

His first American film, 1969’s Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, became the first and only X-rated film to win an Oscar. It actually won three: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. By today’s standards, the film is much less daring than its x-rating would suggest. The rating came from the story line in which Joe Buck (Voight), a Texas transplant, becomes a hustler soon after arriving in New York. He also begins a relationship of sorts with a con man by the name of “Ratso” Rizzo (Hoffman). MPAA pointed to the film’s “homosexual frame of reference” and its “possible influence upon youngsters” in giving it an X-rating. (It has been reclassified as an “R” with no edits to the original film.) In 1994, Midnight Cowboy was designated as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation by the U.S. National Film Registry. In 1970, Schlesinger was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Schlesinger went on to make a string of films, some portraying the underbelly of society, others focusing on unusual and often flawed characters, including Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), The Day of the Locust (1975), Marathon Man (1976), Yanks (1979), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), Pacific Heights (1990). In 1999’s The Next Best Thing, he paired Madonna and Rupert Everett for a one-night stand between a gay man and a straight woman.

Schlesinger lived quite openly with his partner, Michael Childers, since the late 1960s, although he didn’t publicly address his sexuality until 1991, when Sir Ian McKellen was attacked for being the first openly gay person to be knighted. Schlesinger was one of a dozen British gay and lesbian artists who signed a letter coming to McKellen’s defense.

In 1998, Schlesinger underwent a quadruple heart bypass, and then suffered a stroke in 2000. He remained in poor health until his death in 2003.

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, February 15

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Belgium Leatherpride, Antwerp, Belgium; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 59.

From David, May 1972, page 59.

As a rule, most of the businesses we feature here are defunct. The Baton Show Lounge in Chicago however is still in business, although it is located a few doors up from where it used to be. It’s been around since 1969, and is world famous for its legendary drag shows. So famous, in fact, that reservations are recommended on the weekends.

Jefferson Withers

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Writhing Bedfellows”: 1826. Few intimate letters between men survive from the early nineteenth century, which makes this one so remarkable. Back when the nation was young, Jefferson Withers, 22, wrote to his dear friend, James Hammond, 18, a letter which is both frank and playful — even “campy”:

Dear Jim:

I got your Letter this morning about 8 o’clock, from the hands of the Bearer . . . I was sick as the Devil, when the Gentleman entered the Room, and have been so during most of the day. About 1 o’clock I swallowed a huge mass of Epsom Salts — and it will not be hard to imagine that I have been at dirty work since. I feel partially relieved — enough to write a hasty dull letter.

I feel some inclination to learn whether you yet sleep in your Shirt-tail, and whether you yet have the extravagant delight of poking and punching a writhing Bedfellow with your long fleshen pole — the exquisite touches of which I have often had the honor of feeling? Let me say unto thee that unless thou changest former habits in this particular, thou wilt be represented by every future Chum as a nuisance. And, I pronounce it, with good reason too. Sir, you roughen the downy Slumbers of your Bedfellow — by such hostile — furious lunges as you are in the habit of making at him — when he is least prepared for defence against the crushing force of a Battering Ram. Without reformation my imagination depicts some awful results for which you will be held accountable — and therefore it is, that I earnestly recommend it. Indeed it is encouraging an assault and battery propensity, which needs correction — & uncorrected threatens devastation, horror & bloodshed, etc. …

[The letter goes on for two more pages on unrelated matters, then signs off–]

With great respect I am the old
Stud,
Jeff.

James Henry Hammond

Withers would later become a judge in South Carolina and delegate to the conferences that established a provisional government for the Confederacy. He also served as a Congressman for the Confederacy from South Carolina. Hammond became a Congressman, Senator and Governor of South Carolina, and one of the South’s more important advocate for slavery as a Christian institution, as a blessing and a moral good. the greatest of all the great blessings which a kind Providence has bestowed upon our glorious region.” Slavery was also, according to Hammond, “is not only not a sin but especially commanded by God through Moses and approved by Christ through His Apostles.” Hammond’s personal diaries revealed he made sexual advances on his three teenage nieces, and he detailed his sexual relationship with a slave who bore him several children, and his sexual exploitation of her twelve year old daughter who bore several more children. Neither Withers nor Hammond, from the standpoint of American history, come across as admirable people, yet Hammond has become a modern-day hero for David Barton and others who promote the “Christian Nation” view of American history.

But all of that came later. Meanwhile back in 1826, Hammond replied to Wither’s letter on June 3, although that letter is now lost. But Withers followed with another letter the following September (see Sep 24.)

[Source: Martin Duberman. “‘Writhing Bedfellows': 1826.” Journal of Homosexuality 6, no. 1 (1981): 85-101. Available online here.]

Homosexual Drives As Menstrual Cycles: 1950. This was a time when Congress was preoccupied with two color-coded scares: The Red Menace of imaginary communists hiding in every cupboard and The Pink Menace of homosexuals working in federal offices. Congressman Arthur L. Miller (R-Nebr) was particularly incensed over the latter. He was also a doctor and a surgeon, which made this speech during a committee hearing particularly strange:

Some of these people are dangerous. They will go to any limit. These homosexuals have strong emotions. They are not to be trusted and when blackmail threatens they are a dangerous group. … It is found that the cycle of these individuals’ homosexual desires follow the cycle closely patterned to the menstrual period of women. There may be three or four days in each month that this homosexual’s instincts break down and drive the individual into abnormal fields of sexual practice.

Episcopal Church Allows Ordination of Gay Deacons: 1996. An Episcopal Church court threw out a heresy charge and ruled that Bishop Walter C. Righter did not violate the church’s core doctrine when he ordained openly gay Barry Stopfel as a deacon, the rank below that of a priest, in the Dioceses of Newark in 1990.

Phyllis Lyon and and Del Marton

California State Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriages: 2008. In a 4-3 decision, the California State Supreme Court ruled:

“[T]he language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In addition, because the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples imposed by section 308.5 can have no constitutionally permissible effect in light of the constitutional conclusions set forth in this opinion, that provision cannot stand.”

The decision took effect on June 16, 2008, when gay rights pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s 55-year relationship was solemnized by the first official same-sex wedding in San Francisco. But two weeks earlier, California’s Secretary of State reported that marriage equality opponents had turned in enough signatures to place a proposed amendment banning same-sex marriages on the November ballot. Prop 8 passed, but was later declared unconstitutional in Federal Court. That decision is now working its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel has upheld the lower court’s ruling but narrowed its reasoning. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to rule on the merits because the appellants lacked standing. That sent the case all the way back to the Federal District Court which declared Prop 8 unconstitutional in the first place, making that original decision the one that stuck.

Jasper Johns’s “Map,” 1961 (Click to enlarge.)

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jasper Johns: 1930. He probably best known for his 1955 painting Flag, which is, just as its name implies, simply a painting of an American Flag. His focus on the mundane as subjects have led some to consider him a pop artist with an abstract impressionist streak, but it’s probably more accurate to see him as a ne0-Dadaist. Flag exemplifies that movement by taking an object or a popular image imbued with intense meaning and removing it from its context and thereby reducing it to a simple abstract design. Map (1961) does the same thing. It’s an ordinary map of the United States portrayed in an abstract impressionist style which reduces the iconic image to a series of color splotches and shapes. Flags, maps, stenciled words and numbers — all of these mundane yet symbolic images were subjects for Johns’s paintings.

Jasper Johns receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johns was born in South Carolina and studied for three semesters at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York to study briefly at the Parson’s School of Design in 1949. After a stint in the military during the Korean War, Johns returned to New York where he met Robert Rauschenberg and they became lovers for eight years. It was through his connection with Rauschenberg that Johns was discovered by the art world. When prominent gallery owner visited Rauschenberg’s studio in 1958 and saw Johns’s work, he offered Johns a show on the spot. At that debut show, the Museum of Modern Art anointed Johns as a major figure in the art world by purchasing three of his paintings. By the 1980s, John’s paintings fetched higher prices than any other living artist in history. In 2011, Johns was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, making him the first painter to receive the award since 1977.

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 Valentine’s Day

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:

Dinner

So, what are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Events This Weekend: Belgium Leatherpride, Antwerp, Belgium; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), February 1972, page 14.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), February 1972, page 14.

EMPHASIS MINE:
I’m not much of a poetry guy, but I’ve always found this Valentine’s Day poem rather haunting. It comes to us from the February, 1962 issue of ONE magazine.

John, Passing

Steve, you say your name is, from Columbus, somewhere,
Going through New York on your way to somewhere else.
Oh New York is my home, I offer, smiling secretly
At the handsome aspirant who is really no longer
An aspirant but — John, passing — in one of his legion disguises.

Only last week you were Tim from Maine’s lumbering woods
Ending your vacation days here — Steve, you say.
Oh, yes. You’ve chosen that temporary name, John, passing.

But before we start, and you leave, admiring the neatness of my petite bedroom,
Let me make another plea as I did when you, John, passing, were here as Milo,
A hundred Bobs, Franks, Georges, Bills and one Sylvester ago.

Stay.
John, passing.
Stay.
So I may stop days and weeks searching you,
Finding the many different names you answer to and faces you wear.
So we can weld an iron home from this swirling world
And fend from reality’s cruel sunlight
So loneliness’ deep ulcers can have end and justification in you
And what’s left of this savagely confused pattern can bring a happier existence.

Pause.
You needn’t answer.
I’m sorry.
I’ve embarrassed you.
Steve you say your name is.
We’d better get on before you’re late for your train.

– Vincent Synge

TODAY IN HISTORY:
San Francisco Establishes Domestic Partnership Registry: 1991. The idea had been tossed around since 1979, when gay rights activist Tom Brougham proposed a new category of relationship called “domestic partnership.” His cause was taken up in 1982 by San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, who had taken the seat of slain Supervisor Harvey Milk. Britt’s bill authorizing domestic partnerships was vetoed that year by Mayor Dianne Feinstein, It would be passed again in 1989, but that law was repealed by a voter initiative in 1990. Fortunately, that same year city voters approved Proposition K which established a modified version of domestic partnerships which allowed same-sex and opposite-sex couples to register. Fittingly, on February 14, 1991, the brand new registry was established in San Francisco allowing partners to register. San Francisco however wasn’t the first city to provide domestic partnerships. That honor went to West Hollywood in 1985.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Jim Kepner: 1923-1997. There’s no telling exactly when Kepner was born. His mother found him wrapped in newspapers under an oleander bush in an empty lot in Galveston, Texas in late September of 1923. They guessed he was about eight months old, give or take. He never knew exactly how old he really was. I asked around trying to get more clues, but Paul Cain, author of Leading the Parade: Conversations with America’s Most Influential Lesbians and Gay Men checked his notes and didn’t have anthing either. He then suggested, “If you just want to pick a day in February, maybe you could pick Feb 14 — Jim really was a sweetheart!”

And so I shall.

Kepner may have been abandoned because of his deformed leg and club foot, which despite corrective surgery and physical therapy, gave him a limp for the rest of his life. That limp, more than his attempt to classify himself as a Conscientious Objector, probably kept him out of the draft during World War II. That he was open about his homosexuality may have played a part also. In 1942, he moved with his father to San Francisco, where he discovered the underground gay scene. He also began searching for books and other material on homosexuality. Over the years, that search would lead him to compile one of the largest archives of LGBT literature in the U.S.

Between 1943 and 1951, he moved to Los Angeles, New York, Miami, back to San Francisco, then back to Los Angeles. Like a lot of young idealists of his day, he became involved with the Communist party while the U.S. was still allied with the Soviet Union, but was kicked out when his homosexuality became known. Upon returning to L.A., Kepner became involved with the Mattachine Society. Soon after, he met up with other former Mattachine members who had just launched ONE, the first nationally-distributed gay magazine (see Oct 15).

Kepner’s first article in ONE appeared in March, 1954, titled “The Importance of Being Different” under the pseudonym of Lyn Pedersen. His debut article went to the very heart of a critical debate taking place in the gay community. Mattachine founder Harry Hay, for example (see Apr 7), argued that gay people were a distinct cultural minority, while others like Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) argued that the only difference between gay people and straight people was who they went to bed with. Kepner threw his support with Hay, announcing “Vive la Différence!” But he also urged readers not to let the controversy split the nascent movement. “What can a Society accomplish if half of it feels its object is to convince the world we’re just like everyone else and the other half feels homosexuals are variants in the full sense of the term and have every right to be? … Only by allowing the free action of individual groups within the structure of an elastic society can such diverse philosophies work together.”

By the fall of 1954, Kepner was working more or less full time at ONE, although he didn’t draw a salary until 1957. Kepner continued writing under his own name as well as several pseudonyms, mainly as a marketing ploy to mask the fact that ONE had such a tiny staff. Meanwhile, ONE had also established an educational branch, the ONE Institute, in addition to the publication arm of ONE magazine. The competing goals, education versus publication, put a strain on the organization’s meager resources and energies. Kepner finally resigned from ONE in 1960, frustrated by the infighting and what he saw as lax management in the organization.

Kepner stayed out of gay advocacy until the mid sixties. In 1966, he became the secretary of the Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile, and edited ten issues of their newsletter. He also began publishing his own magazine, Pursuit & Symposium, which focused on gay history. He mortgaged his house to fund it. After two years, the magazine failed and he lost his house. In 1967, he helped to organize a rally in response to the LAPD raid on the Black Cat bar (see Jan 1), where he declared that “the nameless love would never again shut up.” Out of that rally came a new gay rights group, PRIDE (Personal Rights in Defense and Education), and Kepner served as the editor for the group’s newsletter. In October, that newsletter would become The Los Angeles Advocate, then later simply The Advocate. Kepner remained a regular with The Advocate through 1976, and contributed sporadically afterwards. Kepner also helped to form the Society of Pat Rocco Enlightened Enthusiasts (SPREE), a group of film enthusiasts and fans of Pat Rocco (see Feb 9), and Kepner is credited with convincing the Park Theatre’s (straight) owners to program for gay audiences. In 1969, he became an active member of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front, and he served on the Christopher Street West committee from 1970 to 1977. He was a founder of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, and would come to work as a member of their paid staff for their education program from 1978 to 1980.

Jim Kepner with his archives

Beginning in 1971, Kepner made his vast collection of gay documents and memorabilia available to the public. In 1975, he dubbed his collection the Western Gay Archives, then renamed them again in 1984 as the International Gay and Lesbian Archives. By then, the collection consisted of 25,000 books and thousands of other items. In 1994, Kepner’s collection was merged with ONE’s archives at the University of Southern California. That archive today is known as the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. If you ever have a chance to stop in, I heartily recommend it. Kepner died in 1997, at about the age of 74. A month later, his anthology, Rough News, Daring Views: 1950s’ Pioneer Gay Press Journalism, was published by Haworth Press.

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The Best Worst Graphic Ever

Rob Tisinai

February 13th, 2015

I recently saw an anti-gay graphic on JoeMyGod that excels so thoroughly at destroying its own message it feels like the best worst graphic ever.  I’m an instructional designer and a big part of my job is creating direct, clear, effective messaging, so I felt compelled, almost as a professional exercise, to analyze what makes it so perfectly disastrous. This is probably just for my fellow geeks, nerds, and dorks, but have a look at this masterpiece. Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama county update

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2015

As of last count, in Alabama

47 counties are observing marriage equality
6 are issuing no marriage licenses to anyone
8 are issuing only to opposite-sex couples
5 are unreachable for inquiry

The equality counties are interspersed throughout the state, so few couples wishing to marry are inconvenienced with not more than a short drive.

The Daily Agenda for Friday the 13th

Jim Burroway

February 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA: Events This Weekend: Belgium Leatherpride, Antwerp, Belgium; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, July 2, 1977, page 30.

From This Week In Texas, July 2, 1977, page 30.

ONE-1960.02

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
 55 YEARS AGO: Magazine cover provokes outrage: 1960. Fifty-five years ago, ONE magazine published yet another issue, just like it always did every month. This one, as issues go, was rather ordinary: A couple of poems, two short stories, an article about the organization of families, another one asking “Can we be worthy of a free erotic life?”, a scathing book review of Edmund Bergler’s 1000 Homosexuals (Bergler, a homo-obsessed psychoanalyst, was delightful combination of Paul Cameron and Scott Lively of his day), an advice column by psychologist Blanche Baker titled “Toward Understanding,” a brief commentary on England’s long-running debate over the Wolfenden Report’s recommendation that Parliament rescind the nation’s sodomy laws (see Sep 4), and a few letters to the editor. It was a decent issue, but mostly unremarkable. But the following month, one reader felt compelled to complain about that issue:

Dear ONE:

Good grief, Charley Brown! The cover of the February issue is simply TOO MUCH! For months now , with a snarl on my lips and no joy in my heart, I have been looking at those effeminate line drawings, girlish youths and that awful photograph of a nelly cop an ONE cover without so much as a line of protest to you. Looking back I can’t find anything like a real male figure all the way back to that sailor drawing in ’57. And now these weird creatures! They’re enough to steam a saint!

ONE, May 1957.

ONE, May 1957.

I know that many people have a positive predilection for effeminancy, as opposed to true femininity. I don’t have such a feeling; in fact an overdose of male girlishness gives me the vapors. If real male art is hard to come by couldn’t you canvass friends? Nobody wants ONE to ape the muscle mags with sweaty weightlifters all over the place, but this shouldn’t deny us the opportunity of seeing on occasional attractive man in your pages.

One last item: I think all this grotesquely womanish art is bad psychologically for those of your readers who are battling to free themselves from self-identication with the popularly-held homosexaul stereotype. Please help them remember once in a while that the average person with homosexual preferences looks, and is, as male as the next guy.

ONE, February 1958.

ONE, February 1958.

The Daughters of Bilitis insisted that women wear proper skirts instead of jeans or slacks at DoB events. Police often entered lesbian bars to make sure women wore blouses with the buttons on the left instead of the right. Men had fewer  imposed fewer dress code restrictions (outside of drag, anyway), but they were no less scrutinized and judged if they otherwise fell afoul of gender norms. And many of those judgments often came from gay men and women toward other gay men and women, in many cases just as harshly as those coming from the police or others outside the gay community.

Those who violated those gender norms — and those norms were much more restrictive fifty-five years ago — were seen as garish neon signs that drew far too much unwanted attention. A man who was romantically inclined towards other men was already violating far more gender norms than anyone could count. And in 1960, the last thing most of such men (and women) wanted to see was other people whose gender-role variance they perceived as being  more visible than their own.

Grant Wood, self-portrait, 1932.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Grant Wood: 1891-1942. Born a few miles outside of Anamosa, Iowa, the great expanse of the upper great plains and the solid simplicity of its people would always be near to his heart. He studied at the Art Institute in Chicago, and from 1920 to 1928, he made four trips to Europe where he studied Impressionism and Post-Impressionist styles of painting, but his heat never strayed far Iowa, nor did his style stray from simplicity and directness which are the bedrock of Iowa’s people. His style became known as Regionalism, which depicted rural American themes in a style which recalled the severe Calvinism of Northern Renaissance paintings.

American Gothic, 1930.

This is best exemplified in his iconic 1930 painting American Gothic, perhaps among the best known, best loved, and best parodied of American paintings. Art critics, at least those who assumed the painting was meant to be satire of small-town life, praised it. When a copy was printed in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, locals denounced their depiction as “pinched, grim-faced, puritanical Bible-thumpers.” Wood himself defended the painting as simply a a depiction of the American pioneer spirit. He also became a vocal critic of modernist trends and the dominance of the East coast art world. No other American artist before or since has earned such national fame without ever showing his work in New York.

In 1932, he founded the Stone City Art Colony to help other artists get through the Great Depression, and from 1934 to 1941 he taught at the University of Iowa’s School of Art, where his teaching career was very nearly derailed over accusations that Wood was gay. The only report that contains the complete details of those accusations was buried in a time capsule of the Art and Art History Building in 1934, and the details will remain hidden until the cornerstone is opened some twenty years from now. New allegations arose in 1941 when university colleagues, most of whom embraced the European trends that Wood so clearly disdained, tried to get Wood removed from the faculty. Their accusations centered around a very brief marriage that ended in divorce in 1938 and the handsome young roommates who lived in his home. When a reporter from Time came sniffing, the university president managed to get the story spiked, and reorganized the Art Department so that Wood would be placed in an entirely separate division and away from his detractors. But before Wood could resume teaching, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in February 12, 1942.

Most biographies which have come out since Wood’s death have either avoided his homosexuality or dismissed it. Tripp Evans’s 2010 Grant Wood: A Life changes that by delving into previously unreleased documents and taking a closer look at Wood’s highly symbolic paintings, some of which toy with cross-gender depictions.

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

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Dangerous Medical Experimentation on Teens

Rob Tisinai

February 12th, 2015

Laurie Higgins is the “Cultural Analyst” for the Illinois Family Institute, and she’s quite agitated about the state’s attempt to ban conversion therapy for teens.

…they want minors to be prohibited from even hearing any ideas that may be linked to their unchosen same-sex attraction, because such ideas undermine the unproven, non-factual, self-serving assumptions of homosexual activists and their highly politicized, Leftist mental health community allies.

Such a tizzy. Though I’m not sure exactly what it means. But Laurie clearly thinks it’s a bad idea.

The sponsors of this bill have marshalled an unimpressive array of claims from mental “health” organizations, all of which are loaded with biased and ambiguous language in support of an astoundingly totalitarian bill. If we have any really good critical thinkers and debaters in Springfield, they should be able to shred this bill in a floor debate.

Not just regular totalitarian, like in North Korea or the Soviet Union, but astoundingly so.

Now you might think Laurie is about to shred the bill with facts and careful analysis. But that’s not her style. Laurie would rather just ask questions of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kelly Cassidy. I’ve seen this just askin’ strategy before. It’s lazy and dishonest. Lazy, because it doesn’t require any evidence or even decent reasoning just to ask a question. Dishonest, because it leaves a gullible reader thinking a point’s been made even though nothing’s actually been said. The reader just fills in the missing answers with whatever the author insinuates.

The danger with this strategy, though, is that we can demolish simply by answering the questions. So let’s give that a try. Before we begin, though, let’s establish one thing. There is no evidence conversion therapy works, and a good bit of evidence that it can be harmful, so let’s call it what it is: dangerous medical experimentation on teens. That’s what it is, and that’s what we should always call it. Now, with that out of the way, first question: Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 12

Jim Burroway

February 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA: Events This Weekend: Belgium Leatherpride, Antwerp, Belgium; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), February 11, 1983, page 24.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), February 11, 1983, page 24.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Premiere of “Making Love”: 1982. Starring Michael Ontkean, Charlie’s Angels star Kate Jackson, and Harry Hamlin, Making Love opened in theaters as the first mainstream film to tackle homosexuality in a nonjudgmental way. That’s not to say that the story wasn’t without drama when Zach (Ontkean) and Claire (Jackson) dealt with a crumbling marriage as Zach struggled to deal with his attractions to other men. When he meets gay novelist Bart McGuire (Hamlin), their professional relationship (Zach was a doctor, Bart a patient who was in for a check-up) turned into a lunch date, then a dinner date, and then a full-fledged relationship, which over time, ends in a divorce for Zach and Claire. Claire handles the news badly, but over time comes to understand that gay people can live happy lives. The film’s happily-ever-after ending had the cautious feel of a made-for-TV movie, which critics hated. Gay critics, however, were overjoyed that the film was a positive portrayal where the gay characters didn’t all die in the end.

In real life however, the film demonstrated one significant difficulty in making mainstream movies about gay men: it seemed to confirm the fear that taking such a role would be career killers. Tom Berenger, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, William Hurt and Peter Strauss were all approached to play Zach; they all turned the role down. After the film’s release Ontkean and Hamlin had trouble living the film down. Hamlin’s promising career stalled for the next four years until he landed a role in NBC’s L.A. Law. Ontkean tried to prevent clips of his role from appearing in Vito Russo’s 1996 documentary The Celluloid Closet.

San Francisco Mayor Orders Issuance of Same-Sex Marriage Licenses: 2004. It was a stunning announcement, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared that the California Constitution’s equal protection clause gave him the authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Between February 12 and March 11, 2004, an estimated 4,000 joyous couples lined up at City Hall to take part in what was quickly dubbed “The Winter of Love.” But the weddings came to an abrupt halt when the California Supreme Court declared that the mayor lacked the authority to bypass state law. All of those marriage licenses were voided, and same-sex marriage would remain unavailable until 2008 when the state Supreme Court found that “equal respect and dignity” of marriage is a “basic civil right” for all couples in California, gay or straight. That finding was overturned by California voters when they approved Prop 8 in 2008, which itself was ruled unconstitutional in 2010. That ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012, and a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court by anti-gay activists was rejected due to lack of standing in 2013.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Philipp zu Eulenburg: 1847-1921. A close, personal friend of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Eulenburg had a tremendous influence over the younger Kaiser, and over Germany’s politics in general. Like virtually everyone else in positions of influence, Eulenburg married a Swedish countess in his twenties. Together they had eight children. But also like many others of similar outlook, his marriage did little to discourage his many liaisons with others in the Kaiser’s inner circle.

In 1900, Eulenburg’s brother was exposed as a homosexual. The Kaiser demanded that Eulenburg cut all contact with his brother, a demand that Eulenburg refused, though that refusal appears not to have affected Eulenburg’s career. That same year, Eulenburg was given the title of prince in recognition of Eulenburg’s valuable counsel and friendship to the Kaiser. That counsel included urging the Kaiser to exercise a more autocratic rule independent of the Reichstag. Eulenburg also retained his post as Ambassador to Austria-Hungary, which he had held since 1893.

But holding such a powerful and influential position in the Kaiser’s court made Eulenburg a political target. In 1902, Eulenburg resigned his Ambassadorship and withdrew from politics, pleading exhaustion, although we now know that the real reason was blackmail. That was at about the same time the Germany was rocked by revelations that German industrialist Friedrick Krupp was frolicking with young men in Capri and Berlin (see Sep 17). Eulenburg returned to the Court in 1906, where he again drew the ire of critics of the Kaiser’s increasingly autocratic rule and expansionist foreign policy. Eulenburg’s timing for his return wasn’t good. Between 1906 and 1907, six military officers committed suicide after being blackmailed, and dozens of soldiers and officers had faced courts marshall for homosexuality.

Maximillian Harden, publisher of Die Zukunft, struck the first blow agaisnt Eulenburg by outing him in an article printed in April of 1907. Harden also outed General Kuno von Moltke in the same article. At the Kaiser’s urging, Eulenburg and Moltke denied the report and charged Harden with libel. Moltke’s trial came in 1907. It didn’t go well for Moltke. His former wife, a soldier, and even sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14) testified against him. The court declared that Molte indeed was gay and cleared Harden of libel. The Kaiser voided the verdict and demanded a new trial, which found Harden guilty. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment.

But the details from the first trial both shocked and disgusted Germany. When Eulenburg’s perjury trial came around in 1908 — he was charged for denying his homosexuality during the Moltke trial — the prosecution had lined up hundreds of witnesses. Forty-one testified against Eulenburg, including several who described watching him through a keyhole. Eulenburg collapsed in the courtroom early in the trial, and proceedings were suspended while he underwent medical treatment. It  resumed later that year with Eulenburg on a stretcher, but was suspended again due to his poor health. The case remained in limbo until the destruction of the German Empire in 1918, and it never resumed after that. Eulenburg remained in retirement, with no further contact with the Kaiser, until Eulenburg’s death in 1921 at the age of 74.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, February 11

Jim Burroway

February 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Belgium Leatherpride, Antwerp, Belgium; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 7.

Before San Francisco’s Eureka Valley rebranded itself for the Castro Theater that remains its most prominent landmark, gay life in San Francisco centered on Polk Street, particularly the area between Geary and Union known locally as Polk Gulch or Polk Strasse. California Hall, at Polk and Turk, saw an important event in San Francisco gay history when police raided a New Years Day Mardi Gras ball sponsored by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. The ensuing uproar forever changed LGBT politics in the city. Polk Street was also the location for San Francisco’s first Gay Pride parade in 1972. The Town Squire, a clothing store that opened in 1960, was just one of scores of popular businesses catering to the gay trade. By the late 1970s, gay life shifted to the Castro, and Polk Street became known more for its hustlers, sex workers and transgender refugees. In recent years, the entire area has undergone massive gentrfication, pushing out all of the old queer places and queer people. The storefront today is home to a computer repair business, with swank new condos rising up from above it.

A couple walks past police officers to attend the New Year’s Mardi Gras ball.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
SF Judge Acquits Four From New Years Day Raid: 1965. On New Years Day, San Francisco police raided a ball hosted by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, a coalition of of gay and straight people of faith in the Bay area (see Jan 1). The raid took place despite negotiations between ball organizers and the SFPD which resulted in an empty promise by SFBD not to harass attendees or arrest anyone arriving at the ball in costume, including those in drag. Instead, police snapped photos of everyone trying to enter the building and later demanded entrance. Three CRH lawyers explained that the party was a private party under California law and that police could not enter without buying tickets or showing a warrant. The lawyers were arrested, along with a ticket-taker, and charged with obstructing an officer.

Trial for the four began on February 8 with Marshall Krause, an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, demanding that the police state in detail what the four did to interfere with the officers. Three inspectors and one officer were called to the stand and questioned extensively. According to the testimony, the officers had, in fact, gained entrance to the hall, but were stopped inside when the four asked for search warrants as required under the Constitution. When asked why police were taking pictures of guests arriving at the ball even though no crime had occurred, one official replied that police “wanted pictures of these people because some of them might be connected to national security.” He also claimed that the more than two dozen officers and two photographers were necessary “just to inspect the premises.” On February 11, their testimony ended, and Krause moved that the case be dismissed because the prosecution’s contention that the charges against the defendants lacked merit. Judge Leo Friedman agreed, and directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts.

The raid and resulting acquittals would be a major turning point for the gay rights movement in San Francisco. City officials, embarrassed by the obvious police misconduct, responded by designating officer Elliot Blackstone as the first liaison between the department and the LGBT community. One of the lawyers who had been arrested and charged, Herb Donaldson, would go on to become San Francisco’s first openly gay judge. Two years later, the Los Angeles Advocate would contrast the differing political climates for the gay community in Los Angeles to San Francisco and credit the “unbelievably inept harassment of a big New Year’s Eve Ball a few years ago” for “triggering the homosexual resurgence, and the organizations were quick to capitalize on the police bungling.”

[Sources: Kay Tobin. “After the ball…” The Ladder 9, no. 5 (February 1965): 4-5.

Unsigned. “Cross currents.” The Ladder 9, no. 9 (June 1965): 14-16.

Unsigned. Editorial: “Politics by the bay.” The Los Angeles Advocate 1, no. 4 (December 1967): 6.]

Time magazine, Feb 9,1976.

Newspapers Pull “Doonesbury” Over Gay Character: 1976. Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, which had been in syndication for little over five years, had gained a reputation for taking on a host of controversial subjects: sex, drugs, the Vietnam War, race, women’s lib, Watergate, you name it. In 1975, Trudeau won a Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning, making Doonesbury the first regular comic strip to be so honored. Trudeau was, you might say, the Jon Stewart of his day. President Gerald Ford, who was often skewered in Doonesbury, remarked, “There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington—the electronic media, the print media and Doonesbury, and not necessarily in that order.” On February 9, 1976, Time magazine put the cast of Doonesbury on its front cover, and noting, “The panels are so volatile that half a dozen editors regularly run the strip on the editorial page.”

As if to prove that volatility, just two days later newspaper editors across the country were confronted with what to do with that day’s latest Doonesbury installment. The strip was, by today’s standards, pretty innocuous: a simple conversation between Walden College law student Joanie Caucus and classmate Andy Lippincott, with whom Joanie has developed a crush. Andy sits down with her and explains the situation: he’s gay.

That panel sent dozens of newspaper editors over the cliff. At least three major newspapers — The Columbus (Ohio) Citizen-Journal, The Cleveland Press and The Houston Post — and an unknown number of smaller ones suspended the strip. Thomas Boardmen of The Cleveland Press tried to put a thoughtful, but ultimately self-contradictory spin on their decision: “The subject of homosexuality is one of the most important issues facing our society today and it deserves special treatment. We are not shying away from it but we do not believe that it is proper for the comic page.” Charles Egger, editor of the Citizen-Journal, faintly echoed his Cleveland counterpart: “We felt the subject matter was not appropriate for the comic page.” After the Citizen-Journal’s switchboard was flooded with thousands of complaints, the paper offered to mail copies of the deleted strip to those who requested it. In Houston, Post editors also called the strip “inappropriate on a comic page,” but a local radio station responded by reading it over the air, as did member of the Gay Activist Alliance at the University of Houston when anyone called their office number. “We’ve been getting about 50 calls a day,” said an unnamed GAA spokesman. All three papers resumed publishing the strip by the following Monday.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Tammy Baldwin: 1962. Her political career began in 1986 when she won a seat to the Dane County (Madison, Wisconsin) Board of Supervisors. In 1992, she won a race for the Wisconsin State Assembly by defeating two other candidates while garnering 59% of the vote. She was one of only six openly gay politicians nationwide to win a general election that year, and she was the first openly lesbian Assembly member. When Congressman Scott Klug announced his retirement in 1998, Baldwin ran for that seat and won, making her the first woman to be sent to Congress from Wisconsin, and the first person to enter Congress as an openly gay representative. She would go on to represent the 2nd District for seven terms. In 2013, she became the first openly gay Senator in history after defeating former Gov. Tommy Thompson to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.

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

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

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