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:
Featured Reports
Main Stories

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 11

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

AlleyRoomFireThe Alley Room was part of a three-bar complex in Miami Beach. The main bar in front was the South Wind Lounge, with the Cub Room off to the side and the Alley Room in the back. The bar and a neighboring liquor store were gutted by a fire on June 2, 1975. The fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. and a dozen or so patrons and employees made it safely out as flames engulfed the building and shot through the roof, lighting the night sky throughout the area and attracting a crowd of spectators from nearby hotels and apartment buildings. “Miami Beach Fire Chief Albert Bishop said that the flames apparently were fed by the contents of hundreds of bottles of liquor which burst under the heat,” reported the Miami News. A hardware store and a bingo parlor on the same block sustained smoke damage. The liquor store was able to undergo repairs and get back into business, but the South Wind and Alley Room are now an empty lot.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Miami Police Detective Calls On City to “Face Pervert Problem”: 1954. The murder earlier this month of William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant (see Aug 3) blew open another round of frantic anti-gay hysteria in Miami, particularly after the Miami Daily News wrote that the murder revealed a hitherto-unknown “colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregating mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.”

Not to be outdone, the Miami Herald jumped into the fray with a front-page article by Miami police detective Chester Eldredge titled, “Official urges society to face pervert problem.” He wrote that Miami had been lucky, so far: “We are extremely fortunate that there have been no more violent crimes in Miami involving them. The sex pervert or deviate is an individual who has reached the age of reason, yet knowingly disregards the idea of reproduction. They compromise a group that ranges from relatively harmless homosexuals to the fierce sadist who horribly mutilates and tortures his victims.” He estimated that there were somewhere from five to eight thousand homosexuals in Miami, and urged the state to build more psychiatric hospitals “so they can be removed as a social blight and become useful citizens.”

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): p 3.]

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, August 10

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The MedicalStandard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

From The Medical Standard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

I think it’s awesome that Google has digitized so many medical and mental health journals from the nineteenth century and up to 1920, and put them online. It would be almost impossible for an armchair researcher like myself to dig up some of the historic stories that appear in the Daily Agendas like the one below from 1888. Just a few years ago, it would have required expensive travel to a major university library (favorites include the libraries at UC San Francisco, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and, oddly, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena). But here they are, available with just a few well-placed search terms in Google Books. Other valuable resources include Archive.org and the HathiTrust Digital Library. But not everything is online, and I still have a handy list I keep on my iPhone for whenever I find an opportunity to hit a library that I don’t often get to go to.

Today’s ad comes from The Medical Standard, a medical journal from Chicago,  from the same volume which brought us news of a transman in Iowa. The combination desk and surgical table reminds us how far we’ve come. In the August edition of the journal, Dr. J.A. McGaughy of Chicago reviewed the new piece of furniture, which he had been using for the past year “in various gynecological and general surgical procedures”:

This table presents the following advantages: It is peculiarly simple in construction; the ball-and-socket joint constitutes its chief mechanism; it can be changed with ease; it does not obtrude any suggestion of an operation as it presents the appearance of a neat writing desk when not in use; it is adapted to any operative procedure and is especially commended for the ease with which a Sims’ position can be obtained. The table has passed beyond the experimental stage. A year’s use has demonstrated its value. It is manufactured in Chicago.

The fact that McGaughy’s review appears to quote directly from the ad copy suggests that sponsored content is an old questionable practice that predates Buzzfeed by more than a century.

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Transman Discovered In Iowa Prison Hospital: 1888. A regular column in the nineteenth-century journal The Medical Standard included a roundup of items submitted by doctors from each of the 38 states, several territories and a number of Canadian provinces. Many of the notices amounted to little more than gossip: the practice of a “voodoo doctor” in Georgia, a doctor in Illinois who was charged with criminal assault “by a hysterical female,” a “magnetic healer” in Kentucky “who is is ‘curing’ hypochondriacs and hysterical females in great numbers at Bowling Green.” (Women were commonly diagnosed with “hysteria” in the nineteenth century; its cure was sometimes a hysterectomy.) Among those notices was this case from Iowa:

A case of sexual perversion has been discovered in the Ft. Madison penitentiary. A woman from her early youth had dressed in male attire, was universally regarded as a man, married and lived with a woman as a husband. She was recently arrested for horse-stealing and sent to the penitentiary; in the hospital of which her sex was discovered.

This is all I know about the man in question, although I’ll certainly keep my eyes open. The Ft. Madison penitentiary was established in 1839, seven years before Iowa’s statehood. The old facility, expanded several times over the years, is still in use today as the Iowa State Penitentiary, making it the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi, although that distinction is set to end in a few months when a new facility opens and the 175-year-old facility will finally be retired.

[Source: “State Items. Iowa.” The Medical Standard 4, no. 2 (August 1888): 60. Available online at Google Books here.]

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

50 YEARS AGO: Letter to a Probation Officer: 1965. Throughout much of the twentieth century, the mental health professions were exceptionally slow to come to grips with the distinction between sexual orientation (defined according to the gender one is attracted to) and gender identity (defined according to the gender in which one views oneself). Until relatively recently, it was broadly believed that every man who “wanted” to be a woman was gay, and that every gay man secretly wanted to be a woman. The magnitude of suffering inflicted on gay and transgender people due to this ignorance is incalculable; it is also illustrated by a letter that one psychiatrist, Rodolfo M. Bramanti, of the New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico, wrote to a probation officer. Bramanti published the letter in the August, 1965 edition of the journal Southwestern Medicine to discuss “some of the medical, legal and social problems that homosexuality creates”:

Dear Mr. M …… .

This letter is in reference to Mr. Peter M., a previous patient in this Unit, who was released on ….. , I have been quite concerned ever since in trying to secure the best solution to his problem, and, as I promised you in our telephone conversation, in the following I will try to discuss this case and summarize the conclusions at which I have arrived.

…I think he belongs to the group that modern psychiatry knows as sociopathic personality, sexual deviation (also called sexual perversion), in whom the only manifestations of the disorder are in the sexual sphere. The pervert suffers from an anomaly of the sexual drive and gets satisfaction either in some other activity than that of complete heterosexual intercourse, or, in some deviant activity, acts that are not accepted bv our morals, customs or laws.

Peter, as the generality of homosexuals, has a tendency to be immature in his reactions, is easily depressed and discouraged, frequently frustrated, emotionally unstable, dependent and self-indulgent, and involved in love affairs with other men which end in disappointments, frustrations and suicidal thoughts. These could have the appearance of psychotic symptoms, but, altogether, do not constitute the well-defined picture that characterizes the schizophrenic.

…The problem, as I see it from a practical standpoint, is that we are dealing with a youngster, who at the present time shows all the emotional feelings of a female, even though he has the complete appearance of a male. Due to his abnormal urges he has been indulging in homosexual relations and creating a difficult problem in his community.

Bramenti launched into a long and wide-ranging dissertation on the attitudes of society towards homosexuality, a dissertation that cites the Judeo-Christian tradition, the 19th century Napoleonic code (which dropped all sanctions against homosexuality), and, surprisingly, the rigidity of gender binaries, leading Bramanti to conclude that “our laws and the community attitudes in this respect are not only unscientific but unjust.”

Bramanti then discussed the range of therapeutic options available to Peter, and it is here that it becomes rather obvious to anyone reading it today that Peter’s problem wasn’t so much that he was a gay man in a homophobic society, but that she was a transgender person among professionals who hadn’t the slightest clue about what that distinction meant:

Peter came to this hospital with the idea that an operation could be performed to make him apparently, at least, more female_ In other words, he completely refused the idea to become a male: even more, he was disgusted, disappointed because his physical appearance did not fit with his female mind and he thought that medical science could convert him into what he has been longing to be.

Bramanti briefly describes the case of Christine Jorgensen (who Bramanti insists on calling “Chris Jorgenson”), the first celebrity transgender person to be written about in the popular press (see May 30). Bramanti considered the option of gender reassignment for Peter:

Can we advise such an operation in the case of Peter M … ? There are many factors to be considered. In fact, could we legally sanction such an operation? Should a surgeon agree to perform it? Is it justified from the religious point of view to try to transform what God decided? In the event that the operation is performed, should he be considered as a man or as a woman in spite of the fact that he will be lacking the male sexual characteristics as well as those of a female.

I feel that with all these drawbacks. we can hardly advise such a porcedure and, p;actically, we rule it out as a prospective solution of this problem.

Investigating the option of gender reassignment, in hindsight, appears to be the most logical course of action based on what we know today. Had Peter been under the care of a mental health professional who was knowledgable about gender identity issues, there may well have been a more positive outcome. But just when Bramanti brought up the most logical option, he retreated from a scientifically-valid position to an entirely religious-based one.

Bramanti then considered other therapeutic options for Peter: hormone treatments to “accentuate the masculine characteristics,” electroconvulsive therapy, and psychoanalysis, all of which he rejected because he believed they would fail to provided the hoped-for outcomes. Convinced as Bramanti was that he is dealing with a homosexual problem, he even quoted, in its entirety, Sigmund Freud’s famous letter to an American mother (see Apr 9), the very letter in which Freud said that homosexuality was “nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation.” That, apparently, didn’t phase Bramanti, who then considered an institution in California “that takes care of sexual perverts,” only to discover that they only handled people who were genuinely psychotic. He also considered “Labortherapy,” which, he said, “may also be, as you very well pointed out, good.” Bramanti contacted the head of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department, who told him that Peter “could have good chances for such a program, provided that he wear clothes according to his sex, which, as you know, the patient refuses to do.”

After considering that there is nothing that can be done clinically to “change Peter’s condition,” Bramanti made the following six recommendations, which, given the tortuous journey he took to getting to them, turned out to be somewhat-for-1965 enlightened:

1) Take an understanding attitude toward his sexual behavior by explaining to his family, his relatives and members of the community that Peter M. should be accepted the way that he is.

2) Alleviate his emotional tensions, his frustrations, anxieties and periods of depression. In this sense, psychotherapy, adjusting him to his inversion, is the type of therapy recommended, if financially feasible. Some psychopharmacologic agents could also help him in achieving this end.

3) Punishment is by no means indicated. The best thing one can do is treat him as politely as one would anyone else. He, on his part, of course, should be expected to abide by the ordinary rules of decency such as applied to relationship between men and women, namely, he should not seduce others nor force himself on people who are not interested in his company. He should not flaunt his desires in public by dressing in clothes of the opposite sex or otherwise and he should not embarrass those around him by making love or about it in public.

If he behaves himself and controls himself as discreetly as people with heterosexual desires are expected to do, his private life should be of no more concern to anyone else than should a normal person’s. Putting him in jail or in a hospital results only in providing him and the other inmates or patients with added opportunities for abnormal sexual activity.

4) Due to the tendencies of being immature in his reactions, easily depressed, discouraged and frequently frustrated, he could be a suicidal risk: therefore, close supervision by the Probation Officer is in order.

5) The tentative idea of placing him in Vocational Program for the purpose of training him as a beautician should be encouraged, if he would agree to dress as a man during the training period.

6) It is also felt that a priest could help by providing him with support.

[Source: Rodolfo M. Bramanti. “Letter to a probation officer on a case of homosexuality.” Southwestern Medicine 46, no. 8 (August 1965): 253-257.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Mark DotyMark Doty: 1953. “I’ve always been a poet who wrote about urban life because I love the layers and surprises and the jangly complexities of cities,” he once said. “I feel at home in cities, being a gay man. It’s a place of permission and possibility.” He is the author of several collections of poetry, notably his 1995 award-winning Atlantis, which was inspired by his partner’s death from AIDS the year before. 1997’s Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir also chronicles his partner’s diagnosis, illness and death, as well as Doty’s grief afterwards. Another memoir, Dog Years, is about two dogs that Doty had acquired as companions for his dying partner. The book is not only about the character of his dogs, and also about “everything we cannot talk about,” as one reviewer put it. In the end, the book was less about how Doty took care of his partner and the dogs, but of how the dogs took care of him. It is truly a dog-lover’s love song.

In 2008, he won the National Book Award with Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. His 2010 The Art of Description: World into Word is reflection not just on the art of writing, but also on the art of seeing what one wishes to write about. His latest book of poetry, Deep Lane: Poems, was published last April.

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan: 1963. The British transplant to America is an author, political commentator and a seminal blogger, having begun blogging before blogging was cool, with The Dish being one of the highest trafficked blogs on the net. Sullivan describes his views as politically conservative — he supports a flat tax, privatizing social security, and supports free markets in health care. If you read him with 1995 in mind, you’d pretty much agree: he’s conservative. And he has developed conservative arguments against the use of torture, his opposition to capital punishment, his concerns over the growing influence of “Christianism” (as he distinguishes it from Christianity) in American politics, his grudging support for Obamacare, and his strident advocacy for same-sex marriage.

Because conservatism has changed to such a radical extent in America, those positions have opened him up to accusations of being a raving liberal. He supported George W. Bush in 2000, but went with Kerry, reluctantly, in 2004 over disagreement with Bush’s conduct of the wars and his position on the Federal Marriage Amendment. In 2008, Sullivan enthusiastically supported Obama and developed a fixation on the weirdness that was Sarah Palin. He supported Obama again in 2012, and appears to have all but given up hope for a reformed GOP. In 2013, he took The Dish completely independent, financially and technically, from the Daily Beast. After thirteen years of relentless blogging, Sullivan finally put The Dish down earlier this year.

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, August 9

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, BelgiumKampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, SwedenMoscow, ID;  Reykjavik, IcelandWindsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Dallas Voice, July 27, 1984, page 2. (Source.)

From The Dallas Voice, July 27, 1984, page 2. (Source.)

You know La Wanda Page as the hallelujah-shouting Aunt Esther, sister to Fred Sanford’s dearly-departed wife, Elizabeth, in Sanford and Son, starring Red Foxx in the first title role. Before Foxx convinced Page to appear in Sanford and Son, Page had already made a name for herself as a stand-up comedian and for her raunchy, expletive-laden comedy albums for Laff Records. Billed as the Black Queen of Comedy, her take-no-prisoners style was a natural fit for gay audiences. (The night after she performed at Dallas’s Studio 4, she appeared at another Dallas gay club, the Unicorn.)

She also appeared in RuPaul’s first album, Supermodel of the World, including in the signature track “Supermodel (You Better Work).” She died in 2002 at the age of 81.

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a "Butch gal that had stars in her eyes."

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a “Butch gal that had stars in her eyes.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Provincetown Moves to Get Rid of the Gays: 1952. The following brief AP article appeared in papers nationwide:

Mass. Tourist Resort Acts to Halt Sex Perversion
Provincetown, Mass. — Selectmen of this Cape Cod mecca for summer tourists asked townspeople to support them in an attempt to rid the town of “a large homosexual element.”

The Selectmen’s action came after receipt of a letter from a summer visitor who said her two sons have become victims of a group whose meeting places, she said, are on the sand dunes in the daytime and at bars at night. She said she was leaving after 10 summers’ residence here.

There’s no mention of how the visitor’s sons became “victims” (or what they were doing in the bars at night). But at least now you know why there are no homosexuals in Provincetown anymore.

Kameny

Frank Kameny Becomes First Openly Gay Man to Speak Before a Congressional Committee: 1963. In yesterday’s episode, Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) had introduced legislation that singled out the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. to strip it of its financial solicitation permit that had been granted by city officials the year before under the Charitable Solicitations Act. Mattachine had qualified for the permit as an educational organization advocate for the end of laws against homosexuality and to advocate for laws to protect gay people from discrimination. The House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia had convened to hear testimony for Dowdy’s proposed legislation, but adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor just as Mattachine president Frank Kameny was about to speak.

When the subcommittee resumed, Dowdy declared that opposition to the bill that had been expressed the day before left him “shocked and speechless.” He then was joined by other committee members in demanding that Kameny turn over the Mattachine’s list of members, which Kameny refused to do. Dowdy then charged that the Mattachine Society, like the Communist Party, was a secret organization “dedicated to changing laws that were designed for the public good.” Kameny responded the Mattachine Society’s goal was, in fact, to legalize private acts between consenting adults. He also protested that the issue before the subcommittee was not the morality of homosexuality, but the right of the Society to advocate for gay people through “the legal exercise of its freedom of expression.” Dowdy exploded: “What kind of expression are you talking about? Are you taking about sexual expression?” He later added, “Down in my country if you call a man a queer or a fairy, the least you can expect is a black eye.” Kameny replied that even Texas had gay people. Dowdy retorted, “Maybe, but I never heard anyone brag about it.”

Kameny was joined by Monroe Freedman, a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s national policy, adopted six years earlier, placed the organization on record as supporting the constitutionality of sodomy laws, a position that it would maintain until 1967. Freedman emphasized that he didn’t necessarily support the Mattachine Society’s goals. “The issue,” he told the committee, “is not whether we agree with the aims of the Mattachine Society, but whether we are going to interfere with their right of free speech. The National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union is not concerned with the success of failure of the Society in presenting its views. It is concerned solely with its freedom of expression.” The committee then pressed Freedman for details of his own personal life and whether he was acting as the group’s lawyer. Seven times during the hearing he denied being a member or acting on behalf of the Society. Dowdy then asked Freedman whether his superiors at George Washington University knew he was defending the Society’s rights before the committee. “No,” Freedman replied after a long pause, “but I’m sure they will be before very much longer.”

Dowdy’s bill passed the House but died in the Senate. Kameny never turned over the Society’s membership list to Congress or anyone else, but he did relish the free publicity the hearings gave to his group, thanks to two days of coverage in Washington newspapers and a favorable editorial in the Washington Post.  As for Dowdy, he retired from Congress in 1973 following convictions on conspiracy, bribery and perjury charges.

Two posters: One with the "Gay Olympic Games" title intact, and one with the word "Olympic" blacked out.

Two posters: One with the “Gay Olympic Games” title intact, and one with the word “Olympic” blacked out.

USOC Blocks the Gay Olympics from Using the Word “Olympic”: 1982. Dr. Tom Waddell got the idea for the Gay Olympics while running across a gay bowling tournament on television. He envisioned a quadrennial sports festival open to all, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, age, or skill level. He and a few friends formed the United States Gay Olympic Committee in 1980 and began making plans. Their first challenge however would illustrate one of the key problems that would dog the committee for the next two years. They tried to incorporate as the Golden State Olympic Association, but the state of California said they couldn’t use the word “Olympic” in the name. They incorporated instead as San Francisco Arts and Athletics, Inc.

Waddell then sought permission from the United States Olympic Committee in 1981 to use the word “Olympic.” At about the same time, the USOC got wind of the group’s plans and sent a letter demanding that the group stop using the word. Waddell at first agreed to to the USOC’s demands, but changed his mind after attorneys from the ACLU told him the USOC was on shaky legal ground. He resumed calling the event the Gay Olympics, and even got San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein to proclaim August 28 to September 5 the “Gay Olympics Games Week.” The USOC sued, claiming trademark infringement, and on August 9, the judge issued an injunctions prohibiting the San Francisco group from using the word “Olympic.”

Waddell was incredulous. Before a gathering of reporters, he listed the many other Olympics that didn’t raise the USOC’s ire: the Special Olympics, Wheelchair Olympics, Junior Olympics, Police Olympics, Armchair Olympics, Explorer Scout Olympics, Xerox Olympics, Rat Olympics Armenian Olympic, and a Crab Cooking Olympics. “The bottom line is that if I’m a rat, a crab, a copying machine or an Armenian, I can have my own Olympics. If I’m gay, I can’t.” Others were similarly surprised. Sports Illustrated pointed out the irony that “the ancient Olympics, an all-male event in which participants competed in the nude, was staged by a society in which homosexuality flourished. ”

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games' swimming events.

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games’ swimming events.

The games opened officially as the Gay Games, but Congressman Phillip Burton and San Francisco Supervisor Doris Ward defined the court order during the opening ceremony and called the games the Gay Olympics. The games themselves were a success, with 1,300 athletes from 12 countries participating.

Meanwhile the lawsuit made its way through the court system. The Federal District Judge not only found for the USOC, but ordered the SFAA to pay the USOC’s court costs. When the SFAA came up short, the USOC placed a lien on Waddell’s House. The SFAA appealed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, ruling that the USOC’s trademark ownership trumped the Gay Games’ First Amendment rights to the word “Olympic.” The case finally made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on June 25, 1987, upheld the USOC’s trademark in a 7-2 decision, and ruled for the USOC on the SFAA’s Equal Protection claim in a 5-4 decision. Waddell died sixteen days later of AIDS. After he died, the USOC finally lifted its lien against his house.

Eileen Gray, with the Bibendum chair and the E1027 table.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Eileen Gray: 1878-1976. She was born the youngest of five children to an aristocratic family near Enniscorthy in southeastern Ireland. Her father was a painter who encouraged his children’s artistry and independence. Eileen studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, and in 1900 she went to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where she became enthralled with the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. She then moved to Paris to continue her studies and became immersed in lacquer design in particular, and in designing furnishings in general.

One of the many projects she collaborated on was the design of a modern home called E-1027. That 1924 project is where her most famous design, the E1027 table, emerged. It was also during this period when she mixed in lesbian company in Paris, while she herself was bisexual. But her life and her work was interrupted by World War II, and when she returned to Paris at war’s end, she led a mostly reclusive life. Much of her work was forgotten until 1968, when a magazine article revived interest in her work. The E1027 table, along with the Bibendum Chair and several other of her designs, went into production once again and became modern furniture classics. She died in Paris in 1976. In 2009, an armchair she designed between 1917 and 1919 was sold at auction for over $28 million, setting an auction record for 20th century decorative art.

Amanda Bearse: 1958. The director and comedienne is best known for her role as the highly annoying Marcy D’Arcy on Married… with Children, which ran on Fox between 1987 and 1997. She also appeared in a few films, including 1985’s Fright Night and 1995’s Here Come the Munsters. But it was during her time on Married… With Children that she was able to indulge her interest in TV and film directing. She wound up directing more than 30 episodes from 1991 to 1997, and she also directed episodes of more than a dozen other television sit-coms since then.

When she came out publicly in 1993 in an interview for The Advocate for National Coming Out Day, she became the first prime time actress to do so. She described it as a liberating experience. “I know that sounds sort of clichéd, but it really was very liberating. That one thing, that one big secret is out. For a lot of people, it was just a confirmation of what they thought about me. I mean, I look like the girl next door, but I was always kind of off-center.”

Michael Kors: 1959. The American designer of women’s sportswear launched his namesake line at the precocious age of 22 for Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and other top line department stores. In 1997, he became the creative director for the French fashion house Celine, but left six years later to focus on his own line, a move that has paid off handsomely. He dressed a trove of celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Catharine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Garner, Joan Allen, and Alicia Keys. Michelle Obama wore his black sleeveless dress for her official portrait as First Lady. He added menswear to his collection in 2002.

Kors had been a judge for the Bravo reality television series Project Runway, but he decided to leave after ten seasons. Kors married his partner, Lance LePere, in August 2011 in New York.

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, August 8

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page T17

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page T17

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Congress Holds Hearings on Mattachine Society: 1963. “If these people are a charitable organization promoting homosexuality, I’ve grown up in a wrong age,” Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) said as he opened a meeting of the House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia on a bill to strip the Mattachine Society of Washington of its fundraising permit. The permit had been award to the group by D.C. officials in August 1962 when the group demonstrated that it qualified for the permit under the Charitable Solicitations Act. MSW president Frank Kameny (see May 21), who was always on the lookout for chances to engage political leaders and government officials in the quest for equal rights for gay people, sent a statement to members of Congress announcing his group’s existence along with excerpts from the Society’s constitution. Noting that gays were barred from federal employment, military service and security-sensitive positions in the private sector, Kameny blasted federal laws as “archaic, unrealistic, and inconsistent with basic American principles. … Policies of repression, persecution, and exclusion will not prove to be workable ones in the case of this minority, any more than they have, throughout history, in the case of other minorities.”

Kameny’s letter ended with an offer to meet with members of Congress. Dowdy reacted in July by introducing a bill which specifically singled out the Mattachine Society for revocation of its permit. A second section of the bill prohibited future solicitation permits unless the District’s Commissioners determined that the “solicitation which would be authorized by such certificate would benefit or assist in promoting the health, welfare and morals of the District of Columbia.”

As Dowdy chaired the subcommittee’s hearing on August 8, city officials joined the District Republican Committee in opposing the first provision on constitutional grounds. They also opposed the second measure, but only on somewhat more practical grounds. “They worried that the required hearings on all permit applications would impose “a heavy and difficult burden” on the District, although District officials were quick to add that their opposition “is not be construed as approving homosexual practices.”

Dowdy found the objections inconceivable. “You contrast that with permitting the solicitation of funds for perversion and morality. Which is more important to the community?” Noting that Congress had passed laws designed to curb the Communist Party, he continued, “As far as I know, all the security risks that have deserted the United States have been homosexuals. Do you place them on a higher plane than communists?” Rep. Basil Whitener (D-NC) joined the fray, asking if the Commissioners “want to repeal the section of the Criminal Code dealing with sodomy.” Kameny was also there. He was just beginning to read a prepared statement when the hearing was suddenly adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor. His testimony would resume the following day.

a-liebenthal-wojnarowicz

David Wojnarowicz (see Sep 14)

25 YEARS AGO: David Wojnarowicz Successfully Sues the American Family Association: 1990. The University of Illinois art gallery hosted a retrospective of David Wojnarowicz’s collages called Sex Series, in which, interspersed among larger scenes depicting social control and violence, were smaller images of sexual activity. While the series was called, Sex Series, the sexual content was hardly the point. “The images I use are just naked bodies, sometimes engaged in explicit sex acts,” he explained. “I know that they are loaded images but I’m not just putting sex images on a wall, I’m surrounding them with information that reverberates against whatever the image sparks in people.”

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon's flyer. Click to enlarge.

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon’s flyer. Click to enlarge.

A $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts paid for part of the cost of the show’s catalogue. Shortly after the show closed, the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon sent out about 200,000 flyers to Congressional representatives, Christian radio stations, and AFA supporters, titled “Your Tax Dollars Helped Pay For These ‘Works of Art’,” with fourteen images identified as Wojnarowicz’s “works of art.” The “works” were actually small, selected details from the Sex Series, cut from the context of the larger images and the overall work. The flyer also included a small detail of another of Wojnarowicz’s 1979 collage Genet. That detail depicted Christ shooting up with a needle and tourniquet. To add to the mailing’s drama, the flyer was sealed in a separate envelope marked “Caution — Contains Extremely Offensive Material.”

In the process, Wildmon effectively became a collage artist in his own right, appropriating isolated details of images from Wojnarowicz’s works to create a separate work of his own. That was the basis Wojnarowicz’s lawsuit, charging Wildmon with slander and copyright infringement. In his court affidavit, Wojnarowicz charged that “the images represented in the Pamphlet to be my work have been so severely mutilated that I could not consider them my own.” He also told the Washington Post that the AFA had “creat(ed) pieces of their own. They’re not even my pieces, when they’ve gotten through with them.”

CheckIn David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association and Donald E. Wildmon, Federal District Judge William C. Connor ruled in Wojnarowicz’s favor. The Judge ordered the AFA to send a “corrective mailing,” as approved by the Court, to everyone the sent the original pamphlet to, explaining the misleading nature of the original mailing. But because Wojnarowicz was unable to demonstrate any financial repercussions stemming from the AFA’s mailing, the judge only awarded him damages of $1. It would be the first time that an artist successfully sued a right-wing organization. Wojnarowicz insisted on a hand-signed check from Don Wildmon personally, with the idea of using the check in a future collage. Wojnarowicz never found a suitable work for the check, but he never cashed it either. Today, that check is housed in the Special Collections of the Fales Library at New York University.

[Source: Richard Meyer. Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002): 255-261.]

Rudi Gernreich

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Rudi Gernreich: 1922-1985. The in Vienna, the only child of a well-to-do Jewish family, he was already drawn to fashion when, on a 1924 family trip to Italy, as he later remembered, “I trailed around after a lady who was obviously of ill repute. . . . Her attire was outrageous, and I was terribly attracted to her.” Back home, he was already spending a lot of time at his aunt’s dress shop, drawing designs and learning about fabrics. His father committed suicide in 1938, and when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, Rudi and his mother fled to California. At sixteen, he took a job in a mortuary, washing bodies. “I grew up overnight,” he later recalled. “I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy.”

He began studying art at Los Angeles City College and the Los Angeles Art Center School, but soon abandoned art for dance and joined Lester Horton’s dance troupe. He danced and made costumes for the company, while also freelancing as a fabric designer for Hoffman California Woolens. His work with the dance company would also be influential later, as it taught him about how clothing moves on a body.

It was at about this time that Gernreich entered a brief foray into gay rights. In 1950, he began a relationship with Harry Hay (see Apr 7). Gernreich had just been convicted in an entrapment case, and so he was eager to become one of the five founding members of the Mattachine Society later that year (see Nov 11). But Gernreich never came out publicly. In 1952, he met his partner, Oreste Pucciani, who was chairman of UCLA’s French Department (and who was instrumental in popularizing Sarte among American academics), and the two remained partners for the rest of Gernreich’s life. By 1953, Gernreich had dropped out of the Mattachine Society just as his fashion career started to take off.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich's favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich’s favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Gernreich’s approach to fashion can be seen as am unrelenting campaign to free women from the constraints of traditional sex roles as well as the literally constraints clothing placed on women’s bodies. He invented the idea of unisex clothing for men and women. He also designed the first t-shirt dresses, see-through blouses, and thong bathing suits. While most of his designs — their bright colors, their innovative fabrics and patterns, and their easy comfort — were highly influential trendsetters in the 1960s, his more famous designs were those which involved draping women in less rather than more. Writing for the New York Times, Christopher Petkanas remarked, “When Gernreich designed a mini, he meant it.” His 1964 inventions — a topless bathing suit he called a Monokini, and an unpadded see-through bra called the “no bra” — presaged the braless and topless women’s liberation movement almost a decade later. But they also looked downright Victorian when, twenty years later, he invented the Pubikini, with a low-cut “V” to reveal that down there. That came out just four weeks before he died of lung cancer. Pucciani, who survived him, created an endowment in Gernreich’s memory to the American Civil Liberties Union for the advancement of gay rights.

Randy Shilts: 1951-1994. The pioneering gay journalist came out relatively early, while still in college at the age of 20, when he ran for student government with the slogan “Come Out for Shilts.” That was in 1971, when coming out was still something of a novelty. It also meant that when he graduated at the top of his class in 1975, he had trouble finding a job. After working freelance, including several articles he wrote for The Advocate which was then a Los Angeles-based monthly newspaper, Shilts was finally hired in 1981 by the San Francisco Chronicle as perhaps the first openly gay reporter in the American mainstream press. The following year, he published The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, the critically acclaimed biography of the slain San Francisco Supervisor and personal friend, Harvey Milk.

When he went to work for the Chronicle, he was given the gay beat. But this quickly proved to be no ordinary ghetto beat, because that very same year a new disease was stalking the gay community. Shilts would wind up devoting much of his career to covering the disease and its impact on medicine, politics, society and, specifically, the gay community itself. His second book, 1987’s And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic brought him international fame. While Shilts was praised for bringing attention to the AIDS crisis, he was also criticized for popularizing the mythology surrounding “patient zero,” an Air Canada flight attendant by the name of Gaëtan Dugas, who was unfairly portrayed as the central figure in bringing AIDS to America. Shilts’s book didn’t make that allegation directly, but Shilts’s naming Dugas as patient zero turned him into the book’s villain. In 2013, Shilts’s editor admitted that he convinced Shilts to make Dugas the “first AIDS monster” as an attention-getting literary device.

“We lowered ourselves to yellow journalism. My publicist told me, ‘Sex, death, glamour, and, best of all, he is a foreigner, that would be the icing on the cake,’” said Shilts’ editor, Michael Denneny, in an interview. “That was the only way we could get them to pay attention. … Randy hated the idea. It took me almost a week to argue him into it.”

It worked. When the book first came out, the New York Times, Newsweek and other publications said they weren’t interested in reviewing a book that criticized the Reagan administration’s and medical establishment’s response to the AIDS crisis. But when new publicity materials focused on Dugas as  “the Quebecois version of Typhoid Mary,” as Shilts called him, the New York Post jumped all over it with the headline, “The Man Who Gave Us AIDS.” And the Band Played On shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for five weeks, and was nominated for a National Book Award. Despite criticisms of its treatment of Dugas, And the Band Played On proved to be a monumentally important work. Before its release, AIDS activists and researchers struggled to draw attention to the growing epidemic. The book is credited for adding thousands to the growing AIDS activist movement, and it remains one of most essential documents of the early political history of the AIDS epidemic in America.

Shilt’s third book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, was released in 1993, just as the fight over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was heating up. But by then, Shilts was already ill from the disease he covered in And the Band Played On. In fact, he had been tested for HIV while writing And the Band Played On, but he declined to be told the result, concerned that knowing it would interfere with his objectivity. He became ill with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a common opportunistic disease, in 1992, and developed Kaposi’s sarcoma a year later. He dictated the last chapter of Conduct Unbecoming from his hospital bed, but he lived long enough to see that book make it to print and to see And the Band Played On made into an HBO movie. He died in 1994.

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 Friday, August 7

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

TODAY IN HISTORY:
J. Edgar Hoover Demands His Name Be Removed From Mattachine Mailing List: 1964. Frank Kameny was not one to shy away from directly confronting the powerful in Washington, D.C. (See May 21). He was also not one to shy away from publicity. Just the year before, Kameny became the first gay rights activist to appear before a Congressional committee (See Aug 8, Aug 9), where he refused to comply with a Congressman’s demands that he turn over the membership list of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. (MSW). Kameny took the opportunity to lambast Congressional efforts to strip his organization of its tax-exempt status and, further, to argue forcefully for the full equality for all gay and lesbian Americans.

Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny

One of MSW’s early efforts was to keep its own members informed of issues and events through a typewritten and mimeographed newsletter called The Gazette. The newsletter was also sent out to other interested and uninterested parties, including the Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, the President, the Attorney General and other members of the President’s cabinet, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. In July, an FBI agent wrote an internal member objecting to the Society’s adding Hoover to their mailing list without his consent. “This Society attempts to legalize the activities of homosexuals and carries on an active campaign to have these persons admitted to employment in the United States Government and elsewhere,” he wrote. “This material is disgusting and offensive and it is believed a vigorous objection to the addition of the Director to its mailing list should be made.” He recommended that two FBI agents contact Kameny and impress upon him “that Mr. Hoover objects to receiving this material and his name should immediately be removed from their mailing list.”

Hoover concurred with the recommendation with a handwritten notation at the end of the memo: “Right – H.” On August 6, the FBI contacted Kameny, and he and Gazette editor Robert King met with the agents at FBI headquarters. The agents told them that Hoover’s addition to the mailing list “was considered offensive” and demanded his name be removed. Kameny and King explained that they sent the newsletter to government officials as part of a larger educational effort. Kameny also pointed out that as an organization working for the civil rights of gays and lesbians, they “have a right to communicate with government officials.” But Kameny and King did agree to take the FBI’s request back to the MSW executive board. They also asked the agents to convey to Hoover an invitation to attend a homophile convention that was to be held in Washington later that year (see Oct 10, Oct 11). According to another FBI memo, “This invitation was emphatically and immediately declined.”

When the MSW executive board met and decided to accede to the FBI’s request, but on one condition: if the director personally assured MSW, in writing, that the FBI had destroyed all of its files about the MSW. Their decision was sent in a letter to the FBI on October 1. FBI agent M.A. Jones wrote in an internal memorandum, “This letter is a blatant attempt to open a controversy with the Bureau. Any further contact with them will be exploited to the Bureau’s disadvantage. It is apparent they are attempting to involve government officials in their program for recognition and any further contact by the Bureau will only serve their ulterior motives.” The FBI declined to respond to the letter, and Hoover continued to receive the Gazette.

[Source: Michael G. Long (ed.) Gay is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny (Syracuse, New York; Syracuse University Press: 2014): 75-76.

You can read a copy of the Gazette from the spring of 1964 here.]

Barbara Gittings (left) holds a Homophile Action League banner.

Barbara Gittings (left) holds a Homophile Action League banner.

Philadelphia’s Homophile Action League Founded: 1968. Five months had passed since Philadelphia police raided Rusty’s, a bar that was popular with local lesbians (see Mar 8). The Daughters of Bilites had organized a chapter in the City of Brotherly Love the year before, and chapter members were furious at their treatment during the raid. They were eager to directly confront the city’s political establishment, but the national organization’s rules dictated that the national board had to approve of all activities deemed “political,” especially if they involved protests. Ada Bello recalled, “It was difficult to get authorization from the administration of DOB. We couldn’t find the president — remember, it was before cell phones and email — and we felt that it was hampering our ability to react… And so we thought, ‘Why not start another organization — one whose middle name is Action!'” On August 7, 1968, the Philadelphia DOB chapter voted to dissolve itself and re-form as the Homophile Action League, or HAL. Bello and Carole Friedman announced the organization’s purpose in the first HAL newsletter:

This newly formed group, open to both men and women, has adopted the name “Homophile Action League,” and has as its main purpose “to strive to change society’s legal, social and scientific attitudes toward the homosexual in order to achieve justified recognition of the homosexual as a first class citizen and a first class human being. … “We are not a social group. We do not intend to concentrate our energies on “uplifting” the homosexual community, for such efforts would be sadly misplaced. It is our firm conviction that it is the heterosexual community which is badly in need of uplifting.

Pioneering gay rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who later joined HAL, recalled that “there hadn’t been any really concerted effort on the political scene until HAL was organized and began to attract some men.” HAL would become the main representative of the gay community to the city’s power brokers until the early 1970s, when it was displaced by the more aggressive Gay Liberation Front.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
James Randi: 1928. Known as “The Amazing Randi,” the Canadian-born magician turned debunker took up magic while spending thirteen months in a body cast following a bicycle accident. He dropped out of school at 17 to join the carnival circuit and performed as a psychic in Toronto nightclubs. But when he recognized that some of the tricks of the trade were being presented as supernatural, he decided to blow the lid off of the scams.

Among his earlier revelations was in the late 1960s, when he “wrote” a successful astrological column by cutting up other astrological columns and randomly assigning those predictions to astrological signs and dates. In 1972, Randi seized the skeptics’ spotlight by publicly challenging the claims of Uri Geller, a popular performer of the television talk show circuit, famous for supposedly bending spoons telepathically. Randi claimed Geller used standard magic tricks to perform his paranormal feats and demonstrated how Geller performed his stunts. Geller sued Randi for $15 million for defamation, and lost.

Randi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, later renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Over the years, he has tackled psychics, UFOs, faith healers, psychic surgeons, and other charlatans. In one bizarre episode, a believer in psychic phenomenon refused to be persuaded and tried to turn the tables on Randi. When Randi was demonstrating Geller’s spoon-bending tricks, an audience member shouted, “You’re a fraud because you’re pretending to do these things through trickery, but you’re actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it.” An atheist, Randi has a special empathy for victims of religious scams and faith healers, and was instrumental in exposing W.V. Grant, Earnest Angley, and Peter Popoff, who Randi exposed live on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show in 1986.

Randi became a U.S. citizen in 1987. Since then, he’s recovered from two major bouts with cancer, and in 2010 he came out as gay after seeing the 2008 biopic Milk. During an appearance at an annual skeptics’ convention in 2013, Randi announced that he and his partner of 27 years had just gotten married in Washington D.C.

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, August 6

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Plymouth Colony Convicts Two Men Of “Lewd Behavior and Unclean Carriage”: 1637. The crime wasn’t sodomy — that required proof of penetration — but it was shocking nevertheless. From the official record:

John Allexander & Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lewd behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another, which was proved both by witness & their own confession; the said Allexander [was] found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto. The said John Allexander was therefore censured [sentenced] by the Court to be severely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder with a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished [from] the government [territory] of New Plymouth, and if he be at any time found within the same, to be whipped out again by the appointment [order] of the next justice, etc., and so as oft as he shall be found within this government. Which penalty was accordingly inflicted.

Thomas Roberts was censured to be severley whipped, and to return to his master, Mr. Atwood, and serve out his time with him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands within this government, except he manifest better desert.

[Source: William B. Rubenstein. Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Law (New York: New Press, 1993): 47-53.]

Dr. Robert Macnish. Drawing by Daniel Maclise, 1835. (Source.)

Dr. Robert Macnish. Drawing by Daniel Maclise, 1835. (Source.)

A Case Of Adhesiveness “So Excessive, As To Amount To a Disease”: 1836. Today we recognize phrenology as a pseudoscience, but in the late 1700s the attempt to map various human characteristics to different regions of the brain was notable for two things: 1) it reflected a growing realization among scientists that all of those things associated with the mind — thoughts, feelings, and emotions — were actually products of the brain rather than the heart, eyes or gut; and 2) it reflected a growing understanding that the brain wasn’t just a lump of homogenous gelatinous tissue, but was organized in some kind of a structure with specialized functions taking place in different regions of the brain.

In these ways, phrenology set the stage for the later development of neuroscience and psychiatry. But until then, it also became the basis for some strange and sometimes dangerous beliefs, particularly the belief that the shape of a person’s skull could reveal that individual’s intelligence and character. In some cases, these beliefs took on racial and nationalistic tones, as the skulls of South Asians and Africans were compared with various European skulls and found to be deficient in the eyes of many phrenologists.

The theories behind phrenology were first articulated by the German physician Franz Joseph Gall, who described the process of reading the shape of an individual’s skull to ascertain that person’s strengths and weaknesses. Gall’s collaborator, Johann Spurzheim carried Gall’s theories to England and Scotland in a series of lectures. Scottish lawyer George Crombe, whose interest in phrenology was based on the desire to understand what made criminals criminal, brought those lectures to the general public’s attention when he founded the Phrenological Society in 1823. Between the Society’s Phrenological Journal and Crombe’s best-selling books, Elements of Phrenology (1824), and The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects (1828), he drew attention to the emerging science from both professionals as well as in the popular press.

Robert Macnish’s phrenology chart, from his 1837 book, An Introduction to Phrenology. (Click to enlarge.)

Among those drawn to the new “science” was a young Scottish surgeon, Dr. Robert Macnish. In 1837 he published An Introduction to Phrenology, which was both a paean to the “genius of Gall,” and a vigorous defense of Gall’s controversial theories. Macnish would wind up being a minor figure in phrenology, owing to his early death (unmarried) at the age of 38 that same year. But because Macnish provides us with the earliest description of what we would now recognize as homosexuality in a medical journal in 1836 — and we’ll get to that in a moment — his views on phrenology are particularly relevant. Macnish’s book, much like a catechism, is organized as a series of questions and answers. Here, in laying out the foundation of the theories of Phrenology, he explained how the brain was organized:

There is irresistible evidence to demonstrate that the brain is not a single organ, but in reality a congeries of organs, so intimately blended, however, as to appear one. Each of these is the seat of a particular mental faculty; so that, as the whole mind acts through the medium of the whole brain, so does each faculty of the mind act through the medium of a certain portion of the brain. Thus, there is a part appropriated to the faculty of Tune, another to that of Imitation, and so on through the whole series. The brain, in short, as Dr. Spurzheim observes, “is not a simple unit, but a collection of many peculiar instruments.”

These “instruments” were called “organs” or “faculties.” If a particular organ was especially well-developed, then the area of the skull corresponding to that organ would be enlarged, perhaps as a bulge or a lump. A deficiently developed organ would correspond to a smaller area, perhaps an indentation or a recessed area. By conducting a full “reading” in which precise measurements were made for each of the organs (Macnish listed 35 such organs; some phrenologists listed as many as 95), an individual’s entire intellectual, emotional and moral fitness could be determined.

Detail of Macnish’s phrenology chart, showing the locations of Amativeness (1), Philoprogenitiveness (2), and Adhesiveness (4).

Two particular organs hold special interest to those who would look for evidence of homosexuality in history, since that particular word did not yet exist (see May 6). To find the first organ of interest, reach back and place your fingers on your upper neck at the base of your scull. Now move outward toward your ears. Feel those two bumps on either side of your skull? Those constitute the organ of Amativeness, which — and I’ll bet you didn’t know this — is the source of your sex drive. Or as Macnish explained, “the seat of the amative propensity”:

This point is now universally admitted by physiologists, and is supported by so many facts that it can no longer be doubtful. The effects of cerebellar disease in calling the sexual feeling into vehement action, demonstrate conclusively that the latter has its seat in the particular part of brain alluded to. The great purpose served by Amativeness is the continuance of the species.

…(I)t is generally very full in those unfortunate females who walk the streets, and gain a livelihood by prostitution. In what are called “ladies’ men” the organ is small. These individuals feel towards women precisely as they would to one of their own sex. Women intuitively know this, and acquire a kind of easy familiarity with them which they do not attain with men of a warmer complexion.

So already you can see that this is the first organ we would want to pay attention to.

Now, from Amativeness, run your fingers upward and inward toward the back center of your skull, at roughly a 45 degree angle. Feel where your skull sticks out furthest out the back? That is Philoprogenitiveness. Macnish wrote that its function was “(t)o bestow an ardent attachment to offspring, and children in general; and, according to some phrenologists, to weak and tender animals.” Phrenologists believed that Philoprogenitiveness was generally better developed in women than in men, as evidenced by their maternal instinct. Now move your fingers upward and outward. You may notice a pair of smaller bulges forming a kind of a corner of your skull. These two bulges collectively are the organ of Adhesiveness, and this is the second organ that we would want to pay close attention to. Macnish explained Adhesiveness this way:

(It) is that portion of the brain with which the feeling of attachment is connected. No faculty, save Destructiveness, is displayed more early than this: it is exhibited even by the infant in the nurse’s arms. When very strong, it gives ardent strength of attachment and warmth of friendship.

Does this faculty constitute love?

Not strictly speaking; for love, in the legitimate sense of the word, is a compound of Amativeness and Adhesiveness. Such is the love which the lover bears to his mistress, and the husband to his young wife. The attachment of a parent to his child, or of a brother to his sister, is not, in reality, love, but strong Adhesiveness—powerfully aided, in the former case, by Philoprogenitiveness.

Is this faculty more energetic in men or women?

Generally in the latter; although in men there are not wanting instances of the most violent attachments, even towards their own sex. Such is represented to have been the case with Pylades and Orestes, and with Damon and Pythias, whose attachment to each other (the result of excessive Adhesiveness) defied even death itself. What beautiful pictures of friendship between men, have been drawn by Homer, by Virgil, and by the sacred writers, in the instances of Achilles and Patroclus, of Nisus and Euryalus, and of Jonathan and David!

If an individual’s Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness and Adhesiveness were well-developed — and by that I mean if all of those bulges were prominent — then a happy and fulfilling family life was assured. But if, for example, a person’s Amativeness was deficient but his Adhesiveness was prominent, then you might have a situation that Macnish briefly described in the August 6, 1836 edition of the journal The Lancet. As far as I know, this single paragraph is the earliest description of romantic love between two men to appear in a English-language medical journal:

ADHESIVENESS. — I knew two gentlemen whose attachment to each other was so excessive, as to amount to a disease. When the one visited the other, they slept in the same bed, sat constantly alongside of each other at table, spoke in affectionate whispers, and were, in short, miserable when separated. The strength of their attachment was shown, by the uneasiness, amounting to jealousy, with which the one surveyed any thing approaching to tenderness and kindness, which the other might show to a third party. This violent excitement of adhesiveness continued for some years, but gradually exhausted itself, or at least abated to something like a natural or healthy feeling. Such attachments are, however, much more common among females than among the other sex. — Dr. Macnish.

Macnish wasn’t the only one to associate an overdeveloped Adhesiveness, when accompanied by an underdeveloped Amativeness, with what we would today recognize as homosexuality. Phrenology was immensely popular in the United States through much of the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, with Walt Whitman one of its devotes. In Democratic Vistas (1871), Whitman spoke of “adhesive love, at least rivaling the amative love.” In his introduction to his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855, he called phrenologists “the lawgiver of poets,” and he scattered phrenological terms and concepts throughout his poetry, like these lines from “Song of the Open Road”:

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

[Sources: George Crombe. Elements of Phrenology 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

George Crombe. The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects 7th ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

Robert Macnish. An Introduction to Phrenology 2nd ed. (Glasgow: John Symington & Co., 1837). Available online at Archive.org here.]

Bunny Breckenridge

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
John “Bunny” Breckinridge: 1903-1996. Independently wealthy, he was the great grandson of U.S. vice president John Breckinridge and the founder of Wells Fargo Back Lloyd Tevis. He was born in Paris and studied at Eton College and Oxford University. Gravitating toward acting, he performed in Shakespeare in England before moving to San Francisco in the late 1920s. He had all of the advantages that life could offer, but today the one thing he is the most known for would have to be his appearance as “The Ruler” in Ed Wood’s 1956 film Plan 9 From Outer Space. The film featured Los Angeles late-night television movie host Vampira and the narcotics-addled Bela Lugosi, the latter made possible by scenes spliced into the film which had been shot for another abandoned project shortly before Lugosi died. The film was so bad it remained unreleased until 1959 because distributor after distributor refused to take it on. Michael Medved named it “The Worst Film Ever” in his 1981 book, The Golden Turkey Awards. Despite, or perhaps because of, that nomination, Plan 9 has somehow managed to become a camp classic, although copious amounts of alcohol is generally considered a requirement to render the film tolerable.

Breckenridge lived the sort of life for whom the word “eccentric” was coined. He became a drag queen in Paris in 1927, where he married the daughter of a reputed French countess. The couple had a daugher, then divorced in 1929, and he moved to the U.S. Two decades later, as all of America was riveted over the news of Christine Jorensen’s gender re-assignment surgery (see May 30), Breckenridge decided to give it a whirl. He announced plans in 1954 to go to Denmark for the surgery so he could marry his then-boyfriend, but those plans fell apart when a Judge in San Francisco ordered him to make good on an earlier agreement to financially support his elderly blind mother. He then decided to go to Mexico for a less expensive operation, but a car accident scotched those plans. I’ll let Bill Murray, who played Breckenridge in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic Ed Wood, take it from there:

Shortly after the Plan 9’s release, Breckenridge was arrested for taking two underage boys on a trip to Las Vegas. That landed him in the Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for about a year. After his release, he returned to San Francisco and continued to appear in small local stage productions. He also continued to maintain another home in New Jersey. By the time he became famous again thanks to Burton’s Ed Wood, he was too ill to take part in any publicity events. He died four years later in a Monterey nursing home at the age of 93.

Here’s a clip of the real Bunny Breckenridge from Plan 9:

You can also torture yourself with the full movie here.

Andy Warhol: 1928-1987. He didn’t invent pop art, but it is more his brand than anyone else’s. Andrej Varhola was born to working class Lemko/Ukrainian immigrants in Pittsburgh, and attended an Eastern Rite Byzantine Catholic Church. Maybe it was the religious icons that filled the church which inspired him to make icons of ordinary things and extraordinary people. Brillo pads and soup cans were more than their mere packages after his treatment, electric chairs became sculptures of transcendent mystery, and Marylin Monroe and Jacqui Onassis became the Madonnas and St. Catherines of the modern era. Even the white-haired wig he wore later in life became an icon of his personality. “I love Los Angeles,” he once said. “I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Warhol’s personal life was as scandalous as his films and artwork. In 1968, he was shot by Valerie Solanas, a minor artist working off and on at Wahol’s studio The Factory, and very nearly died. But he would go on to live two more decades, and he remained a devout Catholic, attending Mass nearly daily. When he died after complications from gallbladder surgery, he was buried in Pittsburgh following a traditional Eastern Rite funeral. His will left virtually his entire estate for the establishment of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which is one of the the largest grant-making foundations for visual arts in the U.S. And if you ever visit Pittsburgh without stopping in to the Andy Warhol Museum, then I don’t even want to know you.

Angie Zapata: 1989-2008. She died too young at only eighteen when she was savagely beaten to death by Allen Andrade, first with his fists and then with a fire extinguisher to the head. They had met through a social networking site and spent three days together, including one sexual encounter, before Andrade found out that Angie was transgender. In his murder trial, Andrade’s lawyer posed the trans-panic defense, saying that Andrade beat Angie after she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman”. That, according to Andrade’s lawyer, was a “highly provoking act.” The jury didn’t buy it fortunately, and Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder with hate crime enhancements, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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 Wednesday, August 5

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, OR; Ferndale, MI (Trangender Pride); Kampala/Entebbe, Uganda; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the National Reno Gay Rodeo program, August 4-7, 1983, page 26.

From the National Reno Gay Rodeo souvenir program, August 4-7, 1983, page 26. (Source.)

The big rodeo in Reno wouldn’t have happened in 1983 if one anti-gay group had gotten its way:

A religious group calling itself the Pro-Family Christian Coalition last week lost its attempt to halt this weekend’s annual Gay Rodeo.

Calling the estimated 50,000 Gay spectators expected for the annual event a health crisis, the Coalition asked the Washoe County Commission to stop the four-day event scheduled August 4-7. But after hearing from the Reno District Attorney that the rodeo would have to be found to present a clear and present danger, the County Commission voted to take no action on the Coalition’s request.

While the Coalition claimed to have garnered 6,000 signatures on a petition published as a full page advertisement in several Reno newspapers, organizers of the rodeo received support from the county health department, the University of Nevada Health Department, the Reno Casino Dealers Association, and at least one daily newspaper.

The annual Gay Rodeo, Reno’s fourth largest event of the year, includes such traditional rodeo events as bull riding, square dancing, and a horse show.

— From The Washington Blade, August 5, 1983, page 9.

Smashing the Stained Glass Closet

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Rev. Gene Robinson Elected Episcopal Bishop: 2003. Overcoming eleventh-hour charges that he had sexually harassed a parishioner — charges which were withdrawn with regrets from the person making them — senior bishops at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention voted 62 to 43 with two abstentions to approve Rev. Gene Robinson’s election as bishop of New Hampshire. The election ended months of emotional debate, threats, and bizarre charges. One charge was that a web site run by a youth advocacy group that he supported had links to porn sites. The Boston Globe investigated and found that, yes, it was possible to find explicit photos if you kept clicking from that web site, but it would take seven clicks outside of it through several other web sites to get there.

At issue was the fact that Robinson was not celibate and had been living with his partner since 1988. During committee hearings leading up to his confirmation, Robinson said that his relationship with his partner was an essential element in his own spiritual life. “What I can tell you is that in my relationship with my partner, I am able to express the deep love that’s in my heart,” he explained. ”And in his unfailing and unquestioning love of me, I experience just a little bit of the kind of never-ending, never-failing love that God has for me. So it’s sacramental.”

When Robinson’s election was finally confirmed, about thirty delegates walked out, and opponents called the election “a step toward moral disintegration in America. Anglican leaders in Asia and Africa immediately denounced the decision and threatened schism. He was pointedly not invited to the 2008 Labemth Conference by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, but that didn’t stop a group of conservative bishops to hold an alternate conference in Jerusalem. Robinson formally retired in 2013.

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 4

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 8.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 8.

There’s a Thai restaurant there today.

OpenMindTitle

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York TV Station Airs “Introduction to the Problem of Homosexuality”: 1956. The pioneering WRCA-TV (now WNBC) aired an award-winning weekly panel discussion program called “The Open Mind”. The program, hosted by Richard Heffner, was not only well ahead of its time when it first went on the air in May 1956, it is still an acclaimed syndicated program on American Public Television, which Heffner hosted right up until his death in 2013. On August 4, 1956, Heffner hosted the first televised discussion on the East Coast on homosexuality. And fortunately, the Daughters of Bilitis’s magazine The Ladder featured a review of the program by Sten Russell (real name: Stella Rush). If it weren’t for her review, it might be difficult to reconstruct the discussions that took place that night.

According to Russell, the program featured attorney Florence Kelley, psychologist R.W. Laidlaw, and a clergyman by the name of Dr. August Swift. The program started on a relatively non-condemning note, although it wouldn’t take long for the prevailing prejudices about gay people to take root. When Heffner asked the panel whether homosexuality harmed society and should be punished by law, it was the clergyman who re-cast the question as to whether the law should concern itself with people who were not harming society. Kelley, the attorney, jumped in to counter that the law certainly should apply “when children were involved” — reflecting the common view that gays were child molesters — unless, she added, it was found that “homosexual offenders” could be treated. Laidlaw, the psychologist, said that of course they could be treated, to which Kelly retorted, “Yeah, anything can be treated… but how successfully?” Russell’s account indicated that the program continued along those lines:

The moderator asked if the homosexual could accept himself if society didn’t accept him. The conclusion was that it was very difficult, indeed. The moderator asked if there were cultural factors in the present making for more homosexuality. Miss Kelley asked if homosexuality were [sic] growing or just being more talked about. She cited Kinsey’s books as examples. The moderator said that the matter of national “security” had focused attention on this problem. He mentioned blackmail potential as part of the “security problem”.

Laidlaw said that a homosexual was not necessarily neurotic or psychotic, but that he was more likely to be in certain ways, due mainly to the pressures of public opinion which caused him to have to hide and cover up his actions and desires. Dean Swift was concerned as to the shock children experienced when approached by adult males. Laidlaw said that that depended on the predisposition of the child. Miss Kelley said that she was not worried about the “predisposition of the child,” but that the American Law Institute wished to protect any child from the traumatic shock of any sexual attack.

Despite the obvious prejudices, the program was (for 1956) relatively evenhanded and balanced — as balanced as a program like this could be where people were talking about another group of people who weren’t in the room. But even without the presence of a genuine gay person on the panel, the program proved controversial. New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman threatened to go to the FCC to have NBC affiliate WRCA’s broadcasting license revoked. That did nothing to deter Heffner or WRCA. They scheduled another program on homosexuality the nearly two months later (see Sep 29) followed by another in January.

[Source: Sten Russell (pseudo. of Stella Rush) “The Open Mind: A Review of Three Programs.” The Ladder 2, no. 2 (November 1957): 4-7, 22.]

20 YEARS AGO: Pres. Clinton Forbids Denying Security Clearances Due To Sexual Orientation: 1995. President Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order officially banning discrimination  in granting security clearances based on sexual orientation. For decades, federal agencies routinely denied security clearances to gay people on the assumption that all gay people were subject to blackmail or were mentally ill. A 1953 Executive Order signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower included “sexual perversion” as a basis for firing from the federal workforce (see Apr 27). That ban was lifted in 1975 (see Jul 3), but policies regarded security clearances remained vague. A GAO study found that eight government agencies had already stopped using homosexuality as a reason for denying clearances, including the Defense Department, State Department, the FBI and the Secret Service, but other agencies continued the practice. Clinton’s Order established uniform standards for granting security clearances, and it added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause. This Executive Order came two years after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was passed by Congress.

The Family “Research” Council’s Robert Maginnis denounced the move: “In all healthy societies, homosexuality is recognized as a pathology with very serious implications for a person’s behavior. … Even more importantly for security concerns, this is a behavior that is associated with a lot of anti-security markers such as drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity and violence.” FRC hasn’t changed much since then. Rep. Bob Dornan (R-CA), who was never at a loss for words when it came to outrageous statements, called gay people “promiscuous by definition,” and said that Clinton’s action was “something else he didn’t have to do that’s gotten in our face. I wouldn’t trust them with a $5 loan, let alone the nation’s secrets.”

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

5 YEARS AGO: California’s Prop 8 Declared Unconstitutional in Federal District Court: 2010. It’s hard to believe that only five years have passed since Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision declaring California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. So much has happened since then that it almost seems like a lifetime ago. While Judge Walker found that the ban against marriage equality merited strict scrutiny he held that it didn’t matter because Prop 8 couldn’t withstand any level of scrutiny under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. He also found that animus against a minority was a critical element to Prop 8’s passage:

Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society. … The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children exposed to the concept of same-sex marriages may become gay or lesbian. The reason children need to be protected from same-sex marriage was never articulated in official campaign advertisements. Nevertheless, the advertisements insinuated that learning about same-sex marriage could make a child gay or lesbian and that parents should dread having a gay or lesbian child.

Judge Walker concluded:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The case then went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which narrowed Judge Walker’s ruling considerably, holding that the key thing that made Prop 8 unconstitutional was that it took away a right from just one group of people who were already enjoying that right. According to the three judge Appeals panel, ” Withdrawing from a disfavored group the right to obtain a designation with significant societal consequences is different from declining to extend that designation in the first place, regardless of whether the right was withdrawn after a week, a year, or a decade. The action of changing something suggests a more deliberate purpose than does the inaction of leaving it as it is.”

The decision was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which took the case, heard oral arguments, and then on June 26, 2013, decided that Prop 8’s supporters didn’t have standing to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. That kicked the entire case back down and left Judge Walker’s ruling the final word on Prop 8. Two days later, gays were marrying again, after a nearly five year interruption to marriage equality.

Virgilio Piñera

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Virgilio Piñera: 1912-1979. Born the son of a civil servant father and teacher mother in Cárdenas, western Cuba, Piñera’s childhood was about as normal as anyone else’s, but with one exception: he loved to read. Favorites ranged from Proust and Kafka to Moby Dick and Charles Dickens, which hinted at the future author, playwright and poet’s ability to pair ordinary Cuban street slang with a more rarified Spanish. His family moved to Camagüey while he was in his early teens, and that’s where he began writing. His first published poem El Grito Mudo (The Mute Scream) appeared in a Cuban poetry anthology in 1936, and he wrote his first play Clamor en el Penal (Noise in the Penitentiary) the following year while studying at Havana University.

Piñera’s career was an exercise in provocation and controversy. His 1948 play Electra Garrigó, which blasted the values of Cuba’s upper clsase and elicited angry shouts from the audience, many of whom walked out. It also coincided with his exile to Buenos Aires, where he founded the literary journal Ciclón and collaborated with some of the more innovative and revolutionary writers in Latin America. Piñera returned to Cuba in 1958, just in time to see Batista flee and Castro ride triumphant into Havana. Piñera began working on the newspaper Revolución. His 1962 play, the mostly autobiographical Aire Frío (Cold Air), opened to wide acclaim in Cuba and Latin America.

The good times were short-lived. The Castro regime, influenced by the ideals behind Soviet Realism, started clamping down on artists whose work weren’t transparent and easily accessible, qualities that Piñera’s work clearly did not share. His homosexuality only added to his problems. He was arrested during the government’s campaign against the “three Ps” — prostitutes, pimps and “pájaros,” Cuban slang for faggots. He was released soon after, but for the rest of his life few would touch his work, aside from a brief respite in 1968 when a Cuban literary house honored him theprestigious Casa de las Américas awarded for his play Dos Viejos Pánicos (Two Elderly People in a Panic). He died in Havana in 1979 from a heart attack, largely forgotten and officially ignored. But as the centenary of his birth approached in 2012, the official Cuban newspaper Granma declared the year, “El Año Virgiliano” with an officially-sponsored symposium in Havana and the re-staging of Aire Frío and Dos Viejos Pánicos.

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, August 3

Jim Burroway

August 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), March 1976, page 8.

Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of the Dykes to Watch Out For cartoon books, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, described the first time she went to a gay bar:

The first gay bar I ever went to was Satan’s in Akron, Ohio. It was the summer of 1980. I went with a carload of friends from college, and it took us an hour and a half to drive there. No one questioned a three-hour round trip for the chance to be in a place full of gay people. It was a mixed space, half men, half women. I’m pretty sure that, at 19, I was underage, but they let me in. I stuck close to my friends, didn’t dance, just looked around at all these other queer people with amazement. There was something kind of melancholy about it, too—excited as I was to be there, it was pretty chintzy and tacky. Was I going to be spending the rest of my life in places like this?

The scariest part was figuring out how to get a drink. There was a thick throng around the bar itself. I had to let go of my individual self and become part of the mob, like finding myself in the middle of an indigenous ritual that I had to follow along convincingly with or else be killed. Somehow, I managed to order and pay for a Budweiser. I spent the rest of the night peeling the label off it and watching, watching, watching.

That chintzy and tacky bar is now a child care center.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Miami Murder Uncovers a “Colony of Homosexuals”: 1954. It’s funny what it took in 1954 for a major metropolitan area to discover that there were gay people in their midst. I say it’s funny, but it can only be funny today, sixty years later. It was certainly no laughing matter then. In the early morning hours of August 3, a young couple looking for a secluded spot along North Miami’s “lover’s lane” found the body of William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, lying in the middle of the roadway in a pool of blood. He had been shot on his right side, his head had severe lacerations and his right index finger had apparently been pierced by something. About 500 yards away, police found his 1950 cream-colored convertible, with the front seat spattered with blood and a .22 caliber shell on the floor. It appeared that after the assailant fled, Simpson managed to get out of the car and stagger to the road before collapsing and bleeding to death.

Miami News, August 9, 1954

Five days later, police formally charged two young men, Charles W. Lawrence, 19, and Lewis Richard Killen, 20, with first degree murder. The two didn’t just confess to the murder, they bragged about it. They had been rolling gay men in the area for several weeks. Lawrence would hitchhike and allow himself to be “picked up” by an unsuspecting mark, and Killen would follow in a green Chevy. After the mark pulled over to a secluded spot, they’d rob him. Ordinarily, they’d let the victim go, confident that he wouldn’t go to the police. But Lawrence carried a gun, and for some reason this time he pulled the trigger. One former high school buddy recalled that Lawrence “had an intense hatred of homosexuals.”

In the ensuing investigation, police appeared surprised and alarmed that there were so many gay men in the area. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Local papers had been reporting that Miami’s sheriff deputies and Miami Beach’s police department had conducted several bar and beach raids since the previous November, arresting gay men and charging them with “vagrancy.” When a young girl was murdered in July, police responded, illogically, with five nights of gay bar raids to “make things hot for sex perverts in Miami.” On July 18, the Miami Herald published a letter to the editor proposing a final solution to the problem: “Just execute them all.” But on the same day that Lawrence and Killen were charged, the Miami News‘s front page headline looked as though detectives had stumbled upon an entirely new discovery: “Pervert Colony Uncovered In Simpson Slaying Probe”. They obviously had a hard time understanding what local gays were telling them.

A colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregated mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a “queen,” was uncovered in the investigation of the murder of an Eastern Air Lines steward…. Peace Justice Edwin Lee Mason said today, “I certainly learned a lot during this investigation I never knew before.

“I not only was surprised at the number of homosexuals turned up in the murder investigation but I was amazed to find out that there were distinct classes, not only based on age groups, but also on the ages of the persons with whom they liked to consort and groups based on types of perversion.”

…”We learned — among other things — that Simpson was bisexual. We also learned that there was a nominal head of the colony — a queen.”

Investigators, following a line of thought that possibly the murder might have been for succession of the title, and that Simpson may have been the “ruler” of what the investigators then believed to be a quite small group of homosexuals in Miami asked one man, who made no secret of his leanings:

“Was Simpson the ‘queen?’

“No,” came the response. “The queen is –” Here the man named a person quite prominent in the community.

“How many of you are there,” an investigator said he asked. “Twenty –Forty?”

“Oh, more than that.”

“A hundred?”

“Make it closer to five hundred,” came the staggering reply.

Dade County’s population was around 700,000 in 1954. Yet for such a large city, tossing around a figure like five hundred, which was assuredly a significantly low-balled estimate, was nevertheless enough to throw Miami’s newspapers in a tizzy. On August 13, the News began a three-part series on homosexuality, with the first installment calling it “A Disease ‘Worse Than Alcohol’.” The following day, the News reported on “How L.A. Handles Its 150,000 Perverts”. “This thing is like cancer,” Los Angeles police chief Thad F. Brown told the News. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. We process about 150 homosexuals a month who are caught in the act.” The paper suggested a solution: “The police in Los Angeles have a policy of harassment.” As Brown explained, “We keep a constant check on bars and restaurants where they hang out. We try to get the licenses of the places catering to them.”

In the third installment of the series, the News warned about “Great Civilizations Plagued by Deviates” — Greece, Rome, and, naturally, Miami:

Police of several communities have watched with growing concern the gathering spots frequented by perverts and two departments have started all-out war against homosexuals. Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard says he will continue to harass homosexuals in Miami Beach. “I simply want them to get out of town,” said Shepard.

Sheriff Tom Kelly, who staged a big raid on homosexual gathering spots last Saturday, made a similar statement. “I will keep on harassing the homosexuals until they understand they’re not wanted in Dade County,” said Kelly.

The Miami police department has shown a reluctance to bother perverts. “If I ran all of the homosexuals out of town, members of some of the best families would lead the parade,” Police Chief Walter Headley once said.

A local attorney, E.F.P. Brigham, proposed legislation to deal with the problem:

If a sexual deviate is accused of molesting a child or any person for that matter, and manages to beat the charge in court, the state will still have the right to order a mental examination for the offender.

If the person is found to be a sexual psychopath (and that does not necessarily mean insane) the state will then have the right to institute civil action to put that person in an asylum for the rest of his or her life or until such time as a cure can be effected.

Miami was now in a full-blown panic, which would soon reach the statehouse in Tallahassee where it would rage well into the next decade. House speaker Ted David called for stronger criminal penalties for “confirmed sexual deviants… to meet the needs of Florida’s big cities.” Miami’s mayor, Abe Aronovitz, would make anti-gay campaigns a centerpiece of his administration.

And what about Killen and Lawrence, the two men who were charged with first degree murder? After claiming that they killed Simpson because he made sexual advances toward Lawrence, they were convicted of manslaughter in November and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Castro

Residents of San Francisco’s Castro Neighborhood Concerned Over New Arrivals: 1971. The neighborhood surrounding San Francisco’s Castro Theater located on its namesake street wasn’t always known as The Castro. For much of its history, local residents knew the area as Eureka Valley, a working class neighborhood which had been in decline for several years as families began packing up for the suburbs. Rents and real estate prices fell, opening the neighborhood to an influx of new residents, mostly gay people looking for something a little more appealing than the Tenderloin or the Haight. This led to open hostility between the working class descendants of Irish, German and Swedish immigrants and the very openly gay new arrivals.

This hostility figured in a number of conflicts, one of which occurred on August 3, 1971 when Bob Pettingill, a 39-year-old gay restaurateur (he had opened the Sausage Factory in 1968, and it is still in business today) and former SFPD motorcycle patrolman, was elected chairman of the Eureka Valley Police Community Relations Board. He won the position after housewife Benita St. Arnant, who called all the newly established gay bars in the neighborhood “a public outrage,” dropped out of the race. Pettingill promised to try to patch relations between “the community’s two life styles.” But California Highway Patrolman Frank Crotty was pessimistic: “They have their lives to live and we have ours,” adding that he and others in the neighborhood were” fed up with all the hand-holding in the streets. My wife and child can’t go outside without being scandalized.”

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick Arrested: 1982. It all started in July, when Michael Hardwick threw a beer bottle into a trash can outside of the Cove, an Atlanta gay bar where he worked. Atlanta police officer Keith Torick, who had been subject to numerous citizen complaints for his abusive and legally-questionable tactics, cited Hardwick for public drinking. That kicked off a long comedy of errors, beginning with Torick’s writing the wrong date on which Hardwick was to appear in court. When Hardwick failed to appear because of the error, Torick got a warrant for his arrest. Soon after, Hardwick went the courthouse, paid the $50 fine (which should have invalidated the warrant), and thought it was all taken care of. But for some reason, his payment wasn’t recorded correctly, and on August 3, that same Officer Torick showed up at Hardwick’s apartment at the highly unusual hour of 3:00 a.m. Torick entered the apartment (accounts differ on how he got in), and discovered Hardwick and another man engaged in oral sex, an act which Georgia’s sodomy law defined as a felony punishable with “imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.” Torick announced that the two were under arrest. Hardwick shot back, “What are you doing in my bedroom?”

The arrest was humiliating for the two men. Hardwick recalled that when the police officer brought them to the police station, he loudly made sure everyone there knew that he had arrested them for “cocksucking,” and that they should be able to find plenty of what they were looking for in Atlanta’s city jails. Hardwick posted bail within the hour, but was detained for twelve more hours near other criminals who had been told why he was there. Hardwick had never fought for gay rights before, but that moment changed him. “I realized that if there was anything I could do, even if it was just laying the foundation to change this horrendous law, that I would feel pretty bad about myself if I just walked away from it.”

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

After the local district attorney decided not to press charges, Hardwick decided to sue Georgia’s Attorney General Michael J. Bowers in federal court to overturn the state’s sodomy law. The ACLU agreed to take the case on Hardwick’s behalf. The case ultimately made it to the Supreme Court which, in a surprising move, overturned an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision and held Georgia’s sodomy law (see Jun 30). Surprising because the Court had built a solid case history upholding the rights to privacy for heterosexuals to engage in private, non-procreative, non-marital sexual behavior in the privacy of their bedrooms — under exactly the same terms as Hardwick’s case. But for gay people, that same right to privacy simply vanished. It wouldn’t be until 2003, when the Supreme Court would finally admit that Bowers v. Hardwick “was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today,” that sodomy laws were overturned nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas.

In 1998, Bowers resigned as Attorney General and ran for Governor. His race tanked after it emerged that the defender of the state’s morals had engaged in a decade-long affair in violation of Georgia’s similarly archaic adultery law. That same year, the Georgia Supreme Court declared the state’s sodomy law unconstitutional, because it infringed on a heterosexual man’s rights to privacy (see Nov 23).

Bowers later acknowledged only one regret in the case that bears his name: that his name didn’t appear second “because then it wouldn’t look like I’m the homosexual.” Hardwick died in 1991 in Gainesville, Florida, reportedly from complications from AIDS.

[Additional sources: William Eskridge, Jr. Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (New York: Viking, 2008): 231-233.

Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price. Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court (New York: Basic Books, 2001). 277-309.]

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, August 2

Jim Burroway

August 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Kingston, JamaicaLeeds, UK; Santa Ana, CA; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

Shelly's LegIn 1970, Shelly Bauman went to a Bastille Day Parade in Seattle’s Pioneer Square when an antique cannon was fired into the crowed. She lost part of her pelvis, a kidney, some of her intestines, and her left leg, which put an end to her exotic dancing career. She was in a coma for nearly a year, and in the hospital for another year. She sued, and used the settlement money to open Seattle’s first disco on November 13, 1973. Shelly’s Leg was also the city’s first unabashedly gay bar, with a giant sign greeting patrons as soon as they walked in announcing “Shelly’s Leg is a GAY BAR proved for Seattle’s gay community and their guests.” Seattle’s gay clubs until then had been quiet, dark affairs, trying their best to stay under the radar. The brashness of Shelly’s Leg ushered in a whole new era for Seattle’s gay community.

Seattle_alaskanWayViaduct_fireHeadlineDecember1975In December 1975, an oil tanker on the Alaskan Way Viaduct above the bar collided with the guardrail and exploded, pouring flaming gasoline onto a passing freight train and thirty cars parked in front of Shelly’s Leg below. The club’s windows were blown out and the DJ’s booth destroyed. No one was hurt, but business fell off. Shelly’s Leg closed a little more than a year later. Bauman, whose entire life consisted of one tragedy after another, died in 2010 at the age of 63.

Doubted prostate massages would cure homosexuality.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
(How) Should Homosexuals Be Treated?: 1913. Columbia University’s Abraham A. Brill, as the English translator of Sigmund Freud’s writings, had singlehandedly introduced Americans to Freud’s teachings and became known as the father of American psychoanalysis. The August 2, 1913 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association published a talk that Brill gave at the AMA’s annual convention in Minneapolis in June, exploring the question of how homosexuals can be “treated” to ameliorate their condition. He began his talk by discussing how his encounters with homosexuals shaped his understanding of them:

Of the abnormal sexual manifestations that one encounters none, perhaps, is so enigmatical and to the average person so abhorrent as homosexuality. I have discussed this subject with many broad-minded, intelligent professional men and laymen and have been surprised to hear how utterly disgusted they become at the very mention of the name and how little they understand the whole problem. Yet I must confess that only a few years ago I entertained similar feelings and opinions regarding this subject. I can well recall my first scientific encounter with the problem. Ten years ago, when I met a homosexual who was a patient in the Central Islip State Hospital. Since then I have devoted a great deal of time to the study of this complicated phenomenon, and it is therefore no wonder that my ideas have undergone a marked change. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, I have met and studied a large number of homosexuals and have been convinced that a great injustice is done to a large class of human beings, most of whom are far from being the degenerates they are commonly believed to be.

After laying out what was then considered to be the most advanced medical and psychiatric knowledge about homosexuality, he then described physicians who were offering quack advice on how to treat homosexuality:

…I can never comprehend why physicians invariably resort to bladder washing and rectal massage when they are consulted by homosexuals, unless it be to kill the homosexual cells in the prostateso that their place may be taken by heterosexual cells, as one physician expressed himself when one of my patients asked him how massage of the prostate would cure his inversion. It is an unfortunate fact that such ridiculous ideas are often heard in the discussion of psychosexual disturbances. Only a few months ago a patient told me that he was told by two physicians that his hope for a cure lay in castration.

Castration may cure homosexuality — and all other sexuality with it — but quite a number of gay men will tell you that prostate massages would have little curative effect. Brill added, “Investigators agree that homosexuality is no sign of mental or physical degeneration.” And he agreed with those views, but he described three cases in which he claimed to have “cured” homosexuals anyway, after only six to ten months of psychoanalysis, which isn’t surprising given Brill’s admiration for Freud’s theories. But in the discussion that followed, Dr. D’Orsay Hecht of Chicago noted the incongruity:

Dr. D’Orsay Hecht: Why fix what’s not broken?

I was also impressed with the effort of Dr. Brill to correct homosexuality by decrying it. But if in the eye of the specialist homosexuality is but a contravention, socially speaking, and if it has just as much right to a hearing from the point of view of a sexual act as has heterosexuality, I really cannot see why the homosexual should care to be delivered from his homosexuality, except that he feels disgraced by it. Then again, a large number of homosexuals are in no way abhorrent of themselves in respect to their natures; they seem to be perfectly happy and perfectly well adjusted, probably in a restricted sense, and these patients probably are not worth while treating as Dr. Brill treats them. If we accept homosexuality as a condition which has as much right to exist as heterosexuality, why should we address ourselves to the duty of treating it?

Brill chose not to answer the question, electing instead to focus his rebuttal comments to other questions raised during the session.

[Source: A.A. Brill. “The conception of homosexuality.” Journal of the American Medical Association 61, no. 5 (August 2, 1913): 335-340.]

 

Reagan Bans AIDS Discrimination: 1988. Acting on a recommendation from a 13-member President’s Commission On the HIV Epidemic, President Ronald Reagan ordered a ban on discrimination against federal workers with AIDS. His actions, however drew sharp criticism from AIDS activists for not acting on many of the other recommendations from his commission, which also urged federal legislation to protect HIV-positive workers outside of the federal government. The President instead urged a voluntary approach and asked “businesses, unions and schools to examine and consider adopting” similar policies. Acting on a few other recommendations, Reagan also ordered the FDA to notify those who received blood transfusions to advise them to take an HIV test, promised to help accelerate the development of AIDS medications, and ordered another round of studies on the Commission’s 500 other recommendations. Meanwhile, Vice President George Bush, who was running for President, had already endorsed the commission’s recommendations which included a spending increase of $3.1 billion to combat the disease.

Dr. Frank Lilly, the commission’s only openly gay member, criticized Reagan’s limited action on just a tiny handful of the commission’s recommendations. “We’ve got a blueprint for a national policy on AIDS,” he said. “It’s a piece of whole cloth. You can’t pick and choose your own menu from it.” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who had led the charge in Congress to increase the federal government’s response to the epidemic, accused Reagan of stalling: “This administration has done its best to avoid making even a single helpful AIDS decision in the eight years of the Reagan presidency,” he said. “They handpick a commission, and then don`t even have the courage to accept its recommendations… What we need is leadership, and while Dr. (Surgeon General C. Everett) Koop and (HIV Commission chairman) Adm. (James) Watkins have given that, once again the President is hiding.”

Saturated in Urningthum.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
170 YEARS AGO: Lord Ronald Gower: 1845-1916. Professionally, he was a sculptor and politician, creator of the statue of Shakespeare and four of his characters which stands in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Liberal member of Parliament from 1867-1874. Personally, well, he never married, for reasons that were obvious to everyone who knew him. His friend, Oscar Wilde, used Gower as the model for the hedonistic esthete, Lord Henry Wotton, in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Gower shared Wotton’s (and Wilde’s) enthusiasm for the Esthetic movement, whose rallying cry was “art for art’s sake,” reflecting the belief that beauty itself was the only worthwhile guiding principle. Everything about Gower reflected those beliefs: his friends, his decorative tastes, his sculptural projects and his clothing, although his reputation as a dandy did little to impress Henry James who deemed him “not so handsome as his name.” John Addington Symonds said Gower “saturates one’s spirit in Urningthum (homosexuality) of the rankest most diabolical kind.” Gower’s most significant lover was the handsome young journalist Frank Hird, whom Gower adopted as his son, leading Wilde to quip, “Gower may be seen, but not Hird.” The happy couple remained together until Gower died in 1916 at the age of 70.

More fully American in Paris.

James Baldwin: 1924-1987. He was born to poverty in Harlem, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a mother with, as he put it, “the exasperating and mysterious habit of having babies.” As he grew older, his father groomed him for the family business of saving souls, but when Baldwin turned seventeen, he left the business and his home and journeyed to an entirely different world in the Village. He began writing book reviews for the New York Times, focusing on books about “the Negro problem, which the color of my skin made me automatically an expert.” Some of his essays led to a few fellowships which allowed him to leave New York for France, where he stayed for the next six years and would spend the better part of his life.

While in Europe, Baldwin learned two surprising things: 1) that he was never before more thoroughly an American as he was the moment he landed on French soil, and 2) “I was forced to admit something I had always hidden from myself, which the American Negro has had to hide from himself as the price of his public progress; that I hated and feared white people.” And from working through those two issues, he came to a profound realization: “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.” He also worked through his ambivalence of what it was to be an American. “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Baldwin’s first novel, 1953’s semi-autobiographical Go Tell It on the Mountain, written during his first sojourn to France, became an instant American classic. His first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son came out two years later. Despite his success, his publisher turned down his third novel, Giovanni’s Room. The problem wasthat Baldwin, this time, had tried to break two barriers. The first was that Baldwin’s characters were all white, but  Baldwin was an established Negro writer, or so his publisher argued. This book, they feared, would alienate his audience and ruin his career. “They would not, in short, publish it, as a favor to me. I conveyed my gratitude, perhaps a shade too sharply, borrowed money from a friend, and myself and my lover took the boat to France.”

Of course, Giovanni’s Room broke a second barrier; the two main protagonists were gay lovers. And yet the themes were similar to those confronted in Baldwin’s two earlier works. Just as Baldwin had to escape New York so he could work out the alienation he felt for the land that he loved, the American “David” in Giovanni’s Room had also found himself in Paris, torn between the expectations of marriage to his fiancé and the love that he felt for his Italian lover. Other novels — 1962’s Another Country and 1968’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone — also dealt unflinchingly with gay and bisexual themes. In an essay that was included in the 1961 collection Nobody Knows My Name, he tackled the argument that homosexuality was somehow unnatural:

…To ask whether or not homosexuality is natural is really like asking whether or not it was natural for Socrates to swallow hemlock, whether or not it was natural for St. Paul to suffer for the Gospel, whether or not it was natural for the Germans to send upwards of six million people to an extremely twentieth-century death. It does not seem to me that nature helps us very much when we need illumination in human affairs. I am certainly convinced that it is one of the greatest impulses of mankind to arrive at something higher than a natural state. How to be natural does not seem to me to be a problem — quite the contrary. The greatest problem is how to be — in the best sense of that kaleidoscopic word — a man.

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, August 1

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Charleston, SC; Dover, DE; Essen, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UKSanta Ana, CA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Washington Blade, July 10, 1981, page A-11.

From The Washington Blade, July 10, 1981, page A-11.

The Chesapeake House opened in 1974 as a female strip club, but the business quickly changed when:

According to legend, one night the owner John Rock got in a conversation with a Marine who came in, and convinced him to strip and dance. The response apparently was such that Rock realized that there was money to be made and time might be right for the city’s first male strip club, and soon thereafter converted it to an all-male venue.

In 1979, Lee Eugene Madsen,  a Navy yeoman working for Strategic Warning Staff at the Pentagon, met an undercover FBI agent posing as a KGB agent at the Chesapeake House and tried to sell him Top Secret documents. That incident led the FBI, CIA and local police to started monitoring the Chesapeake House and other 9th Street gay bars, looking for Soviet agents and underage rentboy rings. One such surveillance operation at the Chesapeake House in 1980 netted a Congressman: the ultra-conservative Rep. Bob Bauman (R-MD), who arrested for soliciting sex from a sixteen-year-old stripper who used a fake ID to land a gig at the club (see Oct 3). Bauman at the time was president of the American Conservative Union and had racked up quite an anti-gay voting record in Congress. The arrest ended Bauman’s promising career in politics; he lost hid bid for re-election a month later. The club lasted until 1992, when the entire block was razed to make way for a high rise office building.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
50 YEARS AGO: Washington Post Reveals Civil Service Offering Disability Retirement for “Alcoholics and Homosexuals”: 1965. Jerry Kluttz, writing for the Washington Post’s “Federal Diary” column, revealed that more than fifty alcoholic Federal employees, who would have normally been fired, were instead placed on retirement “for physical disability” over the past year, in which Kluttz described as “a more liberal approach to their problems.” He noted that the disability program was also available for gay employees:

It is also possible for homosexuals to be given disability retirements; not because they are sex deviates but in spite of it. Their disabilities must qualify them for retirement and the disabilities may or may not have had some connection with or contributed to their sex behavior.

The longtime Government policy to fire overt homosexuals remains unchanged under the policy that their conduct tends to discredit the Federal service. Known homosexuals would probably be ousted before the could be retired on either physical or mental disabilities.

Fired employees, however, have the year following their dismissal to file for disability retirement, and several sex deviates have taken advantage of this provision.

Kluttz didn’t have a breakdown on the number of gay people who filed for disability retirement, but overall more than 17,000 employees out of 50,000 who were retired in the previous year were ruled disabled. The civil service had previously ruled “unconventional sex behavior” as willful misconduct, and were thus ineligible for disability retirements under federal law. But with the commission’s new openness to extend disability retirement benefits for those suffering from mental illnesses, gay employees were increasingly falling under that category in accordance with the APA’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

[Source: Jerry Kluttz. “The Federal Diary: Disability Retiring Given Alcoholics and Homosexuals.” The Washington Post (August 1, 1965): B1.]

Rep. Jim Kolbe Comes Out: 1996. On July 12, 342 Congressional representatives rushed to pass the so-called Defense of Marriage Act into law. The three openly gay representatives, Steve Gunderson (R-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), and Gerry Studds (D-MA) spoke passionately against the bill, making their status as gay men relevant to the debate. Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Mark Foley (R-FL), who were closeted, quietly voted for the bill. Almost immediately after the vote, San Fransisco activist Michael Petrelis began an email campaign to urge other activists, journalists and publications to reveal the two congressmen’s secrets. The Advocate had a policy against outing public officials, but since they were following up prior reports and rumors from other media, they felt that if those reports could be independently verified through three different sources, the next step would be to approach the lawmakers and ask if they were gay. They were verified, and The Advocate asked Kolbe and Foley to ask them to explain their votes and their sexual orientation. The Advocate continued:

Both men objected to the latter line of questioning. “Even members of Congress should be allowed to have personal lives,” Kolbe, 54, said in a telephone interview. “The issue of my sexuality has nothing to do with the votes I cast in Congress or my work for the constituents of Arizona’s fifth congressional district.” Upon reflection, however, Kolbe decided to come out soon after talking to The Advocate, saying the magazine’s questioning of him was a chief factor. Foley, in written answers to The Advocate‘s questions, stated his belief that “a lawmaker’s sexual orientation is…irrelevant.”

Kolbe decided to beat The Advocate to the punch (Foley wouldn’t come out until 2006, when he resigned after sexually suggestive Instant Messages between him and a 16-year-old page). On August 1, Kolbe revealed that he was indeed gay. ”That I am a gay person has never affected the way that I legislate,” he said in a statement. ”The fact that I am gay has never, nor will it ever, change my commitment to represent all the people of Arizona’s Fifth District,” which included most of Tucson and the southeastern corner of the state. Rep. Frank came to Kolbe’s defense. ”In general, Kolbe has voted against bigotry and discrimination,” he said, ”so his overall record is intellectually honest on this issue.” Petrellis reacted positively to the outing as well. “I think it’s a terrific development that we now have an equal number of openly gay G.O.P. members of Congress.”

Kolbe was reelected to his seat in 1998, and in 2000, he became the first openly gay person to address the Republican National Convention. His speech was about free trade and he didn’t come within ten miles of addressing gay rights, but the Texas delegation protested by bowing their heads, purportedly in prayer. (Ohio anti-gay activist Phil Burress called for Kolbe’s arrest on sodomy charges.) Meanwhile, Kolbe continued to defend his vote for DOMA on states rights grounds. “My vote on the Defense of Marriage Act was cast because of my view that states should be allowed to make that decision, about whether or not they would recognize gay marriages,” he said. “Certainly, I believe that states should have the right, as Vermont did, to provide for protections for such unions.” He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006. By the time he was wrapping up his congressional service in 2006, Kolbe telling local audiences in Tucson that “in a few years,” same-sex marriage would be normal and uncontroversial. He retired in 2007.

Not gay: Michael Johnston and his mother in a 1998 television commercial.

Ex-Gay Leader Experiences “Moral Fall”: 2003. Michael Johnston was literally the poster boy of the ex-gay movement. Five years earlier, he was one of the stars of a high profile national print and television ad campaign claiming that gays could change their sexual orientation (see Jul 13). Johnston, who is HIV-positive, appeared with his mother in a controversial print ad under the headline “From innocence to AIDS.” He and his mother also appeared in a television commercial, in which she said, “My son Michael found out the truth — he could walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late — he has AIDS.” Johnston founded Kerusso Ministries in Newport News, Virginia, started a program called the National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, and he was featured in the widely-distributed ex-gay propaganda video, It’s Not Gay.

But all that ended when it was revealed that while Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, privately he was engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. One man said that he had met Johnston, who called himself Sean, in a gay chat room in 2001 and had a six month relationship with him. “What we did was unsafe,” the man said, “I brought it up all the time, but [Johnston] didn’t seem to think it mattered. He would have these parties, get a hotel room, get online and invite tons of people — he just wouldn’t care.” When the story came to light, Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky. He soon became director of Donor and Media Relations and became part of Pure Life’s speaker’s team. Meanwhile, his propaganda video is still for sale at the American Family Association.

Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were tje first to marry in Minneapolis.

Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were tje first to marry in Minneapolis.

 Marriage Equality Begins in Minnesota and Rhode Island: 2013. After successful legislative campaigns, Minnesota and Rhode Island became the twelth and thirteen states, (in addition to the the District of Columbia), to provide marriage equality for its residents. Marriage equality went into effect in both states effective midnight on the morning of August 1. In Minnesota, couples lined up to marry in Minneapolis, St. Paul and elsewhere across the state at the stroke of midnight. Three of those lucky couples received free Betty Crocker wedding cakes from General Mills, which is based in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley.

Rep. Frank Ferri, lead sponsor of the marriage equalit bill in the Rhode Island House, marries his partner Tony Caparco.

Rep. Frank Ferri, lead sponsor of the marriage equalit bill in the Rhode Island House, marries his partner Tony Caparco.

Rhode Island didn’t see quite the huge rush of couples seeking to get married right away as Minnesota did. With the rest of the northeastern United States and Canada having offered same-sex marriages for a number of years, there were already thousands of legally married same-sex couples residing in the Ocean State. So when their local clerks offices started opening between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., couples arrived at a much more liesurely pace. Some got marriage licenses so they could marry at a later date, some held wedding ceremonies later that day, and others filled out the paperwork to convert their civil unions into marriages.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
85 YEARS AGO: Lionel Bart: 1930-1999. His professional songwriting career began in the 1950s when he began churning out pop hits for several British singers. But he is best known as the author for the book, music and lyrics for the smash 1960 London musical Oliver!, based on the Charles Dickens novel. When the show opened on Broadway two years later, it earned him a Tony for Best Original Score. In 1963, he wrote the theme song for the the James Bond film From Russia With Love. Bart’s style — and lifestyle — came to epitomize early 1960s Britain, palling around with Noel Coward, Brian Epstein, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, and even Princess Margaret, who called him a “silly bugger” for squandering his money.

Bart continued writing for the West End, scoring respectable successes with Blitz! (1962) and Maggie May (1964), but Twang! (1965) was a horrible flop, and La Strada (1960) closed on Broadway after only one performance. By then, he has broke and in serious decline due to alcoholism and LSD. By 1972, he was bankrupt and slid further into drinking and depression. He sobered up in the early 1990s, but between his diabetes and nearly-destroyed liver, his health was permanently damaged. He died in 1999 after a long battle with cancer.

Yves Saint Laurent: 1936-2008. One of the greatest names in fashion got his start at another storied fashion house, Christian Dior. In 1957, Dior was so impressed with Saint Laurent’s designs that Dior named Saint Laurent to succeed him as designer. When Dior died suddenly later that year, Saint Laurent became the head designer at the House of Dior at the age of 21. Saint Laurent’s 1958 collection is credited for saving the firm. In 1958 and 1959, the forms owner, Marcel Boussac, reportedly pressured the French government not to draft Saint Laurent into the army to fight in the Algerian War of Independence, but after the critically panned 1960 season, Saint Laurent suddenly found himself without a job, conscripted and undergoing combat training.

This would be Saint Laurent’s low point. Hazed by fellow soldiers, he lasted only 20 days in the military before he was sent to a military hospital due to stress. While there, he was placed under sedation and given psychoactive drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. Years later, he would point to this period as the genesis for his later problems with drinking and drug addictions.

After he was released later that year, Saint Laurnet and his partner, Pierre Bergé, founded their own fashion house under Saint Laurent’s name. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Saint Laurent would set several fashion trends: safari jackets, tall thigh-high boots, and the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women. He was also the first major French designer to come out with a full ready-to-wear line, and he was the first designer to feature non-Caucasian models on his runway. His personal life also indulged in several 1960s and 1970s trends: partying at Regine’s and Studio 54, drinking and snorting cocaine. He nevertheless maintained a hectic schedule of designing two full haute couture and ready-to-wear lines each year even though, because of his drug use, he could barely walk down the runway at the end of some of his shows. After 1987, he began turning his design work over to his assistants. He retired completely in 2002 and died in 2008 of brain cancer in Paris.

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?6

The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 31

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Charleston, SC; Dover, DE; Essen, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, Thru Friday 7/31); Santa Ana, CA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), July 30, 1982, page 12. (Source.)

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), July 30, 1982, page 12. (Source.)

Photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen (see Jan 5. Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 50 YEARS AGO: First Gay Rights Protest at the Pentagon: 1965. That year marked several important milestones in the history of organized gay protest. The year of gay protests actually got a head start in 1964 when Randophe Wicker (see Feb 3) led a small band of activists protesting in front of a New York City army induction center (see Sep 19).  In April of 1965, gay rights advocates held the first White House protests demanding equal treatment in federal employment and other areas of discrimination (see Apr 17),  A string of other protests followed, at the United Nations (see Apr 18), another one at the White House (see May 29), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), and, on this date in history, the Pentagon.

Participants at the Pentagon picket included gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny (see May 21), Barbara Gittings (whose birthday is also today; see below), Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and eight others. CBS cameras were on the scene to capture it, and a report on the protest was featured on the local affiliate’s evening news. But another 46 years would pass before the military ban on gays serving openly would finally be out the door.

Henry Willson (left) with Rock Hudson.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Henry Willson: 1911-1978. The future Hollywood agent was born for show business; his father was vice president of the Columbia Phonograph Company and president of Columbia Gramophone Manufacturing Co. Alarmed at his son’s interest in tap dance, he sent Henry to a boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina where he thought rough sports, rock climbing and backpacking would straighten his son out. Needless to day, it didn’t. In 1933, Henry moved to Hollywood and became a talent scout for Hollywood mogul David O. Selznick, discovering Lana Turner (although not at a drug store counter, as legend had it), Joan Fontaine and Natalie Wood.

But his real claim to fame was his uncanny knack for finding (and often, allegedly, bedding) the hottest beefcake stars of the 1950s. His “Adonis factory” transformed Robert Moseley into Guy Madison, Francis Cuthbert into Rory Calhoun, Merle Johnson into Troy Donahue, Arthur Kelm into Tab Hunter, Robert Wagner into, well, Robert Wagner, and most famously, Roy Fitzgerald into Rock Hudson. That minor detail about some of them lacking discernable talent proved to be of little hinderance to breaking into show business. Willson pesonally coached his charges in how to act, how to behave, and how to butch it up if they were lacking in that particular area. He staged “dates” for his gay stars when needed, and he even talked Hudson into a three year marriage to his secretary when rumors began to become a little too active.

While most of his male clients were heterosexual, the disproportionate number of gay male leads in his stable led many to assume that all of his clients were gay. And as Willson’s own homosexualit was public knowledge, many of his clients, gay and straight, began distancing themselves from him as he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and also as he became increasingly paranoid and fat. His influenced waned through the 1960s, and by 1974 he became a ward of the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, where he died of cirrhosis of the liver. With nothing left of his estate, he was buried in an unmarked grave in North Hollywood. In 2005, Willson became the subject of Robert Hofler’s endlessly entertaining biography, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson.

Barbara Gittings

 Barbara Gittings: 1932-2007. Her friend and fellow gay rights activist Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) called her “the Grand Mother of Lesbian and Gay Liberation.” That’s not much of exaggeration considering all she had accomplished for the LGBT community. Her quest for equality and dignity began when she flunked out of her freshman year at Northwestern University because she spent too much time in the library trying to understand what it meant to be a lesbian. Her mission since then was to tear down what she called “the shroud of invisibility” that facilitated the ongoing criminal persecution of homosexuality as well as its being regarded as a mental illness. She organized the New York chapter of the Daughters of Billitis in 1958, and she gained a national platform within the gay and lesbian community as the editor of the pioneering lesbian journal The Ladder in the mid-1960s.

No Limits: Barbara Gittings picketing the White House, 1965.

In 1963, she met Frank Kameny, the pioneering gay rights activist based in Washington, D.C. (see May 21). He was, as she described him, “the first gay person I met who took firm, uncompromising positions about homosexuality and homosexuals’ right to be considered fully on a par with heterosexuals.” Together, they formed a collaboration that would transform the gay rights movement from one of timidity and defensiveness to bold action and determined demands for equality. Those actions included the first ever gay rights protests in front of the White House, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and the Pentagon, all beginning in 1965. The move was audacious — the Daughters of Bilitis officially opposed picketing at the time, and they would force her removal as editor of The Ladder in 1966 over the issue — but Gittings pressed forward, convinced that invisibility would fall only when gays and lesbians themselves took the steps to boldly step out of the shadows.

Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John E. Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous” at the 1972 APA panel on homosexuality.

The pair’s greatest accomplishment came in the campaign to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971 Kameny and Gittings organized an exhibit at the APA convention in Washington, D.C.. While there, they attended a panel discussion on homosexuality, and were outraged to discover that there were no gay psychiatrists on the panel. Kameny grabbed the microphone and demanded that the APA hear from gays themselves. The following year they were invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Psychiatry, Friend or Foe to Homosexuals? A Dialogue.” Gittings convinced Dr. John E. Fryer, a gay psychiatrist to take part. But he would do so only on the condition that his participation remain anonymous, and that he could wear a disguise and use microphone to alter his voice. “Dr. H. Anonymous’s” participation created a sensation at the convention as he described how he was forced to be closeted while practicing psychiatry (see May 2). Gittings, in turn, read aloud letters from other gay psychiatrists who refused to participate out of fear of professional ostracism. The following year, homosexuality was removed from the APA’s list of mental disorders, and Gittings celebrated by being photographed with newspaper headlines, “Twenty Million Homosexuals Gain Instant Cure.”

In the 1970s, Gittings’ passion returned to where she first tried to find information about what it means to be a lesbian, the library. She helped to found the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force. That’s where she got the idea for a gay kissing booth at the ALA’s 1971 convention in Dallas. “We needed to get an audience,” she remembered. “So we decided… let’s show gay love live. We were offering free—mind you, free—same-sex kisses and hugs. Let me tell you, the aisles were mobbed, but no one came into the booth to get a free hug. So we hugged and kissed each other. It was shown twice on the evening news, once again in the morning. It put us on the map.” She continued, “You know that kissing booth wasn’t only a public stunt. It gave the message that gay people should not be held to double standards of privacy. We should be able to show our affections.”

She died in 2007 after a long battle with breast cancer. She is survived by Kay Tobin Lahusen (see Jan 5), a fellow gay rights advocate and her partner of 46 years. You can see a personal remembrance of Barbara Gittings by Jack Nichols here.

Ian Roberts

50 YEARS AGO: Ian Roberts: 1965. The hunky Australian made headlines in 1995 when, as a playor for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles rugby club, he came out as gay. He came out in a big way: by posing nude for the first issue of Blue magazine. Public reaction was mostly positive, and his teammates were supportive. He sat out the 1996 season due to injuries, and signed with the North Queensland Cowboys in 1997. He retired from regular play in 1998 after his injuries kept piling up. That same year, he began studying acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. He had a brief cameo in the 2005 Australian film Little Fish, and he took the role of Riley, a Henchman of Lex Luthor in 2006’s Superman Returns. He’s also appeared in the 2009 Australian mini-series Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, and in the ABC1 drama The Cut. In 2012, he appeared in his first starring role, as a gay characer, in the indy film Saltwater.

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 30

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Charleston, SC; Dover, DE; Essen, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, Thru Friday 7/31); Santa Ana, CA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Great Plains Rodeo souvenir program, August 1-2, 1992, page 20. Source.)

From the souvenir program for the Great Plains Regional Rodeo, Wichita, KS, August 1-2, 1992, page 20. (Source.)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
A Plea From An Invert: 1919. Through the early part of the twentieth century, American medical and psychological writers began taking an increasing interest in homosexuality (or “sexual inversion,” “contrary sexual feeling,” “perverted sexual instinct,” or any number of other terms which they had yet to settle on). It was rare, however, to hear from “inverts” themselves. The July 1919 issue of the Journal of Urology and Sexology carried one interesting letter to the editor that gives some indication of the frustration that many felt due to the severe societal disapproval that was prevalent a the time:

A PLEA FROM AN INVERT

To the Editor:

A plea to be heard before it is too late — will you not listen and perhaps advise me? If you only knew how I need help!

I am a misfit. I am a young man who has never cared for any women. Am I to blame because God has given me a feminine nature? Why should I be shunned by all people, loathed by them!

I am clean and refined, am well educated in the fine arts and have high ideals concerning all things. And yet men who are covered with filthy sores from evil living, who have never had a decent thought or ideal in their lives, sneer at me. I am an outcast; I am lower than the lowest!

What few who are kind to me are women who have praised me for my high ideal concerning life.

Because the custom is not that two men shall marry, is it so wrong? If I love and respect a friend and he loves me, is it not as pure a marriage as between a man and woman; and far more equal?

I wish I had a friend to go and live with, to work out our ideals, and to grow in every way. Yet this has made me accursed among men; I am damned to a living hell!

Must I — who have denied myself almost too much, to become worthy of the highest friendship — must I forever walk alone?

Is there aught but beauty in the love of Marius and Cornelius in “Marius the Epicurian” by Walter Pater? Is Marius to be considered vile, because he had that “feminine refinement” that made him idealize life, that led him finally to the Christian faith and martyrdom?

I am alone and tired. Is it not a sad thing that I and many other young men who are worthy of much, should have but one hope — that Death shall come soon!

I need advice. If some young man among your readers might write to me! Do you not think we would save each other?

You must not believe me physically or mentally deficient — though I am near to suicide I

–Homo.

[Source: Anonymous. Letter to the editor: “A plea from an invert.” American Journal of Urology and Sexology 15, no. 7 (July 1919): 336. Available online via Google Books here.]

Sean Patrick Maloney

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sean Patrick Maloney: 1966. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1988, Maloney spent a year volunteering with the Jesuits in the slums of Chimbote, Peru. He then returned to get his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia’s School of Law in 1992. He entered politics in 1991, working for Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, and he returned to work on his re-election campaign in 1996. After that campaign, he was offered a position in the White House staff, where he was senior advisor and White House Staff Secretary from 1999 to 2000. When Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in Wyoming, Maloney was one of two officials sent by President Clinton to represent him at the funeral. One newspaper noted that Maloney was “the highest ranking openly homosexual man on the White House staff.”

After 2000, he became a senior attorney at the law firm which represented the Shepard family. He returned to politics in 2006, first as a member of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration, then in Gov. David Paterson’s administration after Spitzer’s resignation as the result of a prostitution scandal. In 2012, Maloney ran for New York’s 18th Congressional district and won, defeating Rep. Nan Hayworth, making Maloney one of six openly gay and bisexual members of Congress. Maloney and his partner, Randy Florke, together since 1992, are raising three adoptive children. Despite New York becoming a marriage equality state in 2011, the two had chosen not to marry because their marriage would not have been recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 of DOMA was declared unconstitutional in 2013, and Maloney and Florke married last June in Cold Spring, New York, making Maloney only the second member of Congress to legally marry his same-sex partner.

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 Wednesday, July 29

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Brighton, UK; Charleston, SC; Dover, DE; Essen, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, Thru Friday 7/31); Santa Ana, CA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, MT; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas November 11, 1978, page 35.

From This Week In Texas November 11, 1978, page 35.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“My Daughter Is a Lesbian!”: 1958. Stonewall was still eleven years away. The first Christopher Street Liberation Day march occurred a year after that. And it was two years after that when Jeanne Manford marched with her son during that year’s CSLD parade with a sign reading “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” In 1958, visibility remained perhaps the single greatest hurdle for gay people. due to the dangers of being out — police raids (see Aug 14), arrest (see Jun 23), loss of employment (see Mar 22, Dec 20), commitment to a psychiatric hospital (see Apr 14, Jul 26), murder (see Aug 3) — being visible was simply not an option for most people. There were few visible examples of gay people, and almost no visible examples of family members who accepted and supported their gay relatives.

Actually, there were few visible examples of gay people accepting themselves. More often than not, they saw themselves as freaks, perverts, deviants, delinquents, degenerates, sick — not just because society said so, but also because the “experts” said so, from all the respected professional organizations, prestigious universities and the most trusted hospitals. When Frank Kameny dared to challenge psychatry’s verdict that gay people were mentally ill in 1965 (see May 11), the push-back was enourmous, much of it coming from within the gay community. The reaction could be summed up this way: who died and made you an expert on homosexuality? What credentials do you have to challenge those who have spent an entire lifetime studying the “problem.” Kameny’s answer was simple: “We are the true authorities on homosexuality, whether we are accepted as such or not.”

But in the 1950s, getting gays and lesbians to accept themselves was still the biggest challenge facing the homophile organizations, and an essay that appeared in the July 1958 issue of The Ladder, the official newsletter of the Daughers of Bilitis, shows just what a challenge that was. It was by a mother of a lesbian — and what a mother she was. I wonder, were accepting mothers more common than self-accepting lesbian daughters? I don’t know, but this one certainly gave all lesbians, their mothers, and anyone else who cared to butt in a good piece of her mind.

And yet, she also had to counter a lot of misinformation that a lot of people shared, including a lot of gay people. To counter the assumption that her daughter would live a life of lonely spinsterhood, she described her daugheter’s “congenial, intelligent, loving and kind ‘mate’.” Against the prevailing view that mothers were responsible for their child’s sexuality, she defended herself by pointing to her daughter’s morality (“she could not be cheap and promiscuous”) and her good citizenship. And to counter society’s assumptions that a faithful heterosexual marriage was every woman’s birthright, she offered the example of her own sad marriage. In all, this isn’t so much a portrait of a mother and her lesbian daughter, but a counter-narrative to the prevailing opinions of gay people at that time. The essay’s defensiveness isn’t what we would recognize as a proclamation of pride, but when you consider how oppresive the dominant assumptions were at that time, Mrs. Doris Lyles had to start somewhere.

My daughter is a Lesbian. By all measures of accepted society, that is a pretty blunt statement. If I were an average mother, I wouldn’t even bring this assertion out and view it furtively, even when alone. Nevertheless, I do not think I would come under what one would call average, and I say this in a far from self-satisfied manner. However, I do not believe in hiding truth under our stilted, self-imposed laws of society. Many people today are frustrated and under mental treatment because of these frustrations, simply because they refuse to face the truth and prefer to delude themselves in so many ways.

My daughter from small girlhood seemed to be a little different from the average child. For one thing, she was above average mentally and had very strong will power and determination that even in childhood seemed to brook no interference. Frankly, I believe that if I had been a dictatorial, demanding mother whose child had to bend to her ego and demands, I might have had a pretty serious case of delinquency to contend with today, instead of an intelligent, serious-minded daughter who holds a fine position in a respected professional field, lives what is for her a full, rounded-out life of contentment and security, with no frustrations or problems, at least none that amount to much.

I will be very frank in saying that I am lucky in that she found a congenial, intelligent, loving and kind “mate” in this association of which I am aware but do not understand completely as a normal mother and wife. I do not like that word “normal” applied here, for there are no two more normal persons alive than my daughter and her charming associate.

In finding out about my daughter’s preferences, I had one very firm belief. I knew she would find someone of kindred tastes and lead a very circumspect life no matter what path she chose, for I knew my child and understood she could not be cheap and promiscuous, whether Lesbian or heterosexual. This thought was a great comfort and from the beginning I knew she would need love, appreciation and understanding from me; not censure, shame or withdrawal. One thing I have done to an extent most people would feel was too much to the extreme: I have left her to her own devices and now, in her middle twenties, she leads her own life completely and when she wishes to come to me, for whatever period of time she chooses, she knows she is welcome and won’t be importuned to “come oftener” and “stay longer”. As a child, I led a sheltered life in which my mother dominated all my moves and actions. When she passed away, I was at completely loose ends and made a very foolish marriage which would not have happened had I been free to follow my owm course in life. This had made me wary of being possessive and trying to shape and run the lives of others. As a consequence, I think I have my daughter’s love and loyalty — even to a greater degree than most mothers who make demands and expect them to be carried out.

With the background of theatrical people during my childhood, I learned rather early that all of us, men or women, did not come within the realm of “norms.” Maybe this is why my daughter’s fate didn’t seem so terrible to me. I could think of a great many worse things, such as the unhappy twenty years of marriage I had shed at the time I learned of my daughter’s “difference”. I spent those years with a man who was a congenital liar, who preferred a lie when the truth would have served him better, and who couldn’t leave town for a week’s trip as a Salesman who travelled without having his quota of affairs with anyone — waitresses, nurses, — he seemed to prefer uniforms. It was a question of keeping my marriage together by not digging too deeply in the barrel, and keeping my temper, but definitely losing my self-respect. This I believe is a fate far worse for a girl. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I should use every means within my power to help my daughter in her situation, but frankly I do not believe she needs help from me or anyone else. If ever the time should come when she feels the need for advice or counsel, I only hope I will be able to advise her wisely, but certainly not against what she believes with all her being to be her path in life.

We preach freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even though reams and reams have been written on the subject, there are very few who will admit belief in freedom of love.

[Source: Mrs. Doris Lyles. “My Daughter Is a Lesbian.” The Ladder 2, no. 10 (July 1958):4-5.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Tim Gunn: 1953. His role on Project Runway is that of a fashion professor and mentor, in line with his previous life as a member of the faculty at Parson The New School for Design, where he served as the fashion design chair before moving to Liz Claiborne in 2007 to work as their chief creative officer. Meanwhile, he’s been “making it work” at the Lifetime reality series which just started its thirtheenth season last week. He is an animal rights advocate and speaks out against the use of fur in fashion. He also made an “It Gets Better” video, motivated by his own suicide attempt when he was seventeen. He’s  been a rather private person, not given to opening his life to public scrutiny. But that began to change in 2006 when, in an interview with Instinct, Gunn said that he hadn’t been in a relationship since the early 1980s, after the end of a six-year relationship with the love of his life, whom he still loves today. He’s been celibate ever since then. In 2012, he wrote a short essay, Shaken, Not Stirred (available only as a Kindle Single) in which he described growing up with a rigid, controlling FBI-agent father who was J. Edgar Hoover’s ghostwriter.

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 Tuesday, July 28

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), January 1989, page 44.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), January 1989, page 44.

On Sept 12, 1985, about fifteen agents from a drug-enforcement task force along with a contingent from the Chicago Police Department raided Carol’s Speakeasy with arrest warrants for two employees. Only one of them was there at the time, but police ordered all 45 patrons to lie on the floor for up to two hours while they questioned them, hurled insults and photographed them. No drugs or weapons were found, and only one customer was arrested, for resisting arrest, and that charge was later dropped. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit on behalf of the patrons, and in 1989 the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois agreed to settle. The state and city admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $227,000 to the bar patrons, return all documents and photographs taken during the raid, and to erase any records of those who were detained during the raid. That raid would be the last major raid against a gay bar in Chicago.

The “Mother of All Drag Queens,” Mother Carol (a.k.a. Richard Farnham) opened Carol’s Speakeasy, on October 13, 1978. He died almost a year later, but the bar kept going under new ownership. For more than a decade, Carol’s Speakeasy was one of Chicago’s most popular gay bars, which its reputation extending through much of the upper Midwest. On Friday night, July 5, 1991, 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger went to Carol’s Speakeasy for a few drinks, where he met a tall, blonde and friendly out-of-towner. The two talked, kissed, danced, laughed, and generally had a good time. Later that night, Weinberger accepted 31-year-old Jeffrey Dahmer’s invitation to spend the rest of the weekend with him in Milwaukee. Weinberger became Dahmer’s fifteenth victim. After killing two more over the next two weeks, Dahmer was arrested on July 22. Carol’s Speakeasy closed the following year and the building has been vacant ever since.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Illinois Becomes First State to Rescind Sodomy Law: 1961. In 1955, the Illinois General Assembly inaugurated the gargantuan task of overhauling its criminal code. Since its last major revision in 1874, the code had accumulated a patchwork of conflicting and confusing statues, some of which made no sense in the 20th century. Horse thieves, for example, were punished with a minimum penalty of three years in prison, but the maximum penalty for auto theft was only one year.

Over the ensuing six years, an eighteen-member joint committee of the Chicago and Illinois Bar Associations combed through the 148 chapters and 832 sections of the old statute books, using the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide. The ALI had put together its Model Penal Code because a number of states were planning to revise their criminal codes over the next decade, and the 1956 Model Code recommended the elimination of all prohibitions against consensual sexual activity between consenting adults, including those which criminalized homosexual activity and relationships. Because the Model Penal Code also touched on a plethora of other criminal statues, it’s likely that most Illinois lawmakers didn’t realize that they were repealing their anti-sodomy law by adopting the omnibus legislation. Nevertheless, the code was adopted and signed into law by Gov. Otto Kerner, and the anti-sodomy law’s repeal became effective on January 1, 1962.

That didn’t mean however that eliminating the state’s anti-sodomy law was entirely by mistake. A booklet describing the new code prepared for Chicago Police by Claude R. Sowele, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s law school, commented, “The Law should not be cluttered with matters of morality so long as they do not endanger the community. Morality should be left to the church, community and the individual’s own conscience.” While Illinois became the first state to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, the change in the state’s criminal code had few practical benefits for the state’s LGBT population, as police raids and harassment on other pretexts (or no pretext even, other than the opportunity to milk the gay community of more bribes) would continue without letup for another two decades.

Chart

For the next ten years, Illinois would remain the only state in the union to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships. In 1971, Connecticut finally rescinded its sodomy law, followed by Colorado and Oregon (1972), Hawaii and North Dakota (1973), Ohio (1974), New Hampshire and New Mexico (1975). The big year was 1976, when California, Indiana, Maine, Washington and West Virginia stopped criminalizing homosexuality. By the time Lawrence v. Texas struck down all sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had eliminated their anti-gay statutes, either by legislative action or by state court decisions. Progress towards equality in the U.S. has only accelerated since then. It took forty-two years to get rid of all of the sodomy laws across America. But it only took us eleven years since Massachusetts instituted marriage equality in 2004 (see May 17) until all Americans gained the right to marry the person they love last June.

England, Wales Rescinds Gross Indecency Law: 1967. On July 28, 1967, Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal Assent to the Sexual Offenses Bill, which marked a significant overhaul of Britain’s laws regulating sexual practices between consenting adults. The Royal Assent was the last act in a long, tortuous path toward finally getting rid of the Gross Indecency statute that had ensnared so many victims like the famous playwright Oscar Wilde and WWII code-breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing. The law penalized male homosexuality with up to two years in prison; consensual sexual acts between lesbians was not illegal, largely because the phenomenon was unknown when the Gross Indecency statute was last amended in the nineteenth century.

On July 4, Parliament voted 99-14 to approve the Sexual Offenses Bill in a free non-party vote by a tiny percentage of the more than 600-member chamber. The vote took place after an acrimonious eight-hour all-night debate. Home Secretary Roy Jenkins took pains to reassure members that “this is not a vote of confidence in, or congratulations for, homosexuality.” Supporters said that the bill would eliminate one of the most frequent causes of espionage: blackmail of gay diplomats and other officials.

But Labor member Peter Mahon summed up the feelings of those who opposed repeal. “It is by no means unnatural to have a feeling of absolute revulsion against a bill of this kind. Without any lack of charity I say without equivocation it was a bad bill to begin with, it is a bad bill now and will be a bad bill until the end of time. It will be a bad bill throughout eternity because homosexual acts are a perversion of natural function.” Conservative member Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles warned darkly that “decent and reasonable” people of Britain would react violently when they realized what Parliament had done. “It will only encourage our enemies and those who disparage us, and it can only dismay our friends,” he declared. Another Tory MP, Sir Cyril Osborne, said that many people were tired of democracy being made safe for “pimps, prostitutes, spivs and pansies — and now for queers.”

The law then went to the House of Lords, which gave its approval to the measure on July 21. Lord Arran, the Conservative Whip and longtime supporter of repeal, quoted Oscar Wilde in closing the debate. “We shall win in the end, but the road will be long and red with monstrous martyrdoms.” Lord Arran’s subsequent statement then reflected the ambiguity most politicians felt who supported the bill: “I ask one thing. I ask those who have, as it were, been in bondage for whom the prison doors are now opened to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity. This is no occasion for jubilation and certainly not for celebrations. Homosexuals must continue to remember that while there may be nothing bad in being homosexual, there is certainly nothing good.”

(In a related note, Wikipedia has this anecdote about Lord Arran: “Arran was the sponsor in the House of Lords of Leo Abse’s 1967 private member’s bill which decriminalised homosexuality between two consenting adult males. He also sponsored a bill for the protection of badgers. He was once asked why the badger bill had not received enough support to pass whereas decriminalising homosexuality had. ‘Not many badgers in the House of Lords,’ he replied.”)

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