Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. (Photo by Pat Rocco, see Feb 9.)

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. Photo by Pat Rocco (Feb 9).

Who’s the grooviest guy in L.A.? “It’s about time we all settled this question, so let’s join in and find him,” proclaimed Sam Winston in kicking off The GROOVY GUY contest. Sponsored by the ADVOCATE and the HAYLOFT, the area-wide contest seeks to find the all-round attractive male from the standpoint of looks, build, and whatever else it takes to make The GROOVY GUY.

The final choice will take place at a gala pageant at the Hayloft on August 19. Any bar or combination of bars that wants to enter a candidate for the title may do so. Each entering bar may run a contest of its own or choose its entrant by any other method. They must make their choice by July 20, however. Each contestant will make appearances during August before the night of the pageant at the Hayloft and at his sponsoring bar. At the finals, each aspiring GROOVY GUY will parade before the judge twice once in a bathing suit and once in blue jeans and tee shirt.

The first contest in 1968 drew seven contestants and about 150 people to the Hayloft’s parking lot. (The bar itself was too small to handle the crowd.) Danny Combs won that year.The Advocate gushed:

Winner Danny Combs, who lives in Long Beach. is a fairly muscular young man with a 28-inch waist. He stands five feet nine inches and weighs 160 pounds. Other assets include blue-green eyes, a warm ready smile, and other things.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. A member of the audience won a color TV.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. A member of the audience won a color TV.

Combs was sponsored by The Patch, a bar that had undergone a bout of police harassment just two days earlier (Aug 17) and lived to tell about it. The 23-year-old model won a Groovy Guy Trophy and prizes including a trip to San Francisco with a night at the Ramrod, and a $25 gift certificate from a Los Angeles clothing store.

In 1969, the Los Angeles Advocate was renamed simply The Advocate and began national distribution. That year’s Groovy Guy contest was much larger, attracting 18 contestants and an audience of 1,500. That year was notable because organizers allowed same-sex dancing, which was still illegal at the time.  By 1971, the event was becoming so popular that other Groovy Guy contests started appearing in other cities across the U.S.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

In 1972, the contest was moved to the Grand Ballroom of the International Hotel in Century City. Organizers added the Mr. Congeniality Award in an attempt to recognize “the whole man” and not just his physical attributes. That was about as successful as you would imagine it to be. By then, Groovy Guy had gotten so big that it had become too much of a distraction for the tiny Advocate staff. That was the last year for Los Angeles’ Groovy Guy, but not for the gay male pageant. Two other local gay publications took it over for 1973 and renamed it the Groovy Stud Contest (1973), then the California Groovy Guy Contest (1974-1977), then the Data Boy Pageant (1978, 1979), then finally the Super-Men Pageant (1980-1987).

[Other sources: “Where the Acton Is! The Groovy Guy Contest!!” The Los Angeles Advocate (July 1968): 2.

“Groovy Guy Pageant Scores.” The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 3.

“Not Just a Body: Groovy Guy Contest to Stress ‘Whole Man’.” The Advocate (May 24, 1972): 7.]

Emphasis Mine

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva proclaimed his support for LGBT rights on Instagram after the Pulse gay night club massacre. He also posted another video adding his support for transgender rights. Meanwhile, fellow gymnastics teammate Sam Mikulak had suggested that maybe they could draw a larger audience if they competed shirtless. “People make fun of us for wearing tights,” he said. “But if they saw how yoked we are maybe that would make a difference.” Leyva tested that theory on Wednesday during the gymnastics gala, a non-competition event that is held simply for fun, when he stripped down about halfway through his parallel bars performance.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev decided to follow suit on the high bar.

Men’s swimming is eminently more watchable now that Olympic rules have compelled them to ditch the all-body suits of past Olympics. Mikulak’s suggestion ought to be adopted immediately, don’t you think?

In other news, the Chinese men’s team did this:

Today In History, 1969: Frank Kameny “Throws Down The Gauntlet” Over Security Clearance Denials

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Frank Kameny

Benning Wentworth was an electronics technician for a private research contractor for the U.S. Air Force when, in the spring of 1966, he was accused of homosexuality and his eleven-year security clearance was revoked. Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., and who himself had been fired by the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality, worked as Wentworth’s counsel in an appeal before the Industrial Security Clearance Review Office in the Department of Defense. The Pentagon justified its blanket denial of security clearances to gay people by claiming gays were subject to blackmail. Kameny pointed out the obvious flaw in that logic: Wentworth was out — he even appeared in a press conference about his hearing — and it’s impossible to blackmail someone over their homosexuality if the whole world knows about it. In his opening remarks, Kameny described a different unnamed person, known only as OSD 66-44, who was allowed to keep his clearance as long as he spent the rest of his life in the closet and pretended to be straight. But for Wentworth and others, that was not longer an option. The logic behind the two cases made no sense whatseover. Kameny declared:

The Department got its satisfaction out of OSD 66-44, whoever he may be. We hope he sleeps soundly these days, poor man. OSD 66-44 may have compromised. He may have knuckled under. He may have crawled. He may have groveled. He may have submitted to Departmental blackmail of the most contemptible kind.

We will not. We stand our ground.

We throw down the gauntlet, clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously.

We state for the world, as we have stated for the public, we state for the record and, if the Department forces us to carry the case that far, we state for the courts that Mr. Wentworth, being a healthy, unmarried, homosexual male, 35 years old, has lived, and does live a suitable homosexual life, in parallel with the suitable active heterosexual sexual life lived by 75 percent of our healthy, unmarried, heterosexual males holding security clearances; and he intends to continue to do so indefinitely into the future. And please underline starting with the word “and intends to do so into the future”. Underline that, please, Mr. Stenographer.

Despite the obvious problems with the Pentagon’s reasonings for withdrawing Wentworth’s clearance, Kameny lost that case. Wentworth and three others who also had their security clearances denied, filed suit in district court, then in Federal court. In 1973, a Federal District Judge ordered the Pentagon to restore Wentworth’s clearance.

Over the next three decades, the Pentagon and other agencies began to allow gay and lesbian Americans hold security clearances, but the policies were inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary. President Clinton signed Executive Order 12968 in 1995 (Aug 4) which finally prohibited all agencies from citing homosexuality as a reason for denying a security clearance once and for all.

You can read Kameny’s entire opening statement in the Wentworth case here.

[Additional source: Lillian Faderman. The Gay Revolution: The Story of Struggle (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015): 166-167.]

Toady In History, 1985: Congressman Hires Anti-Gay Extremist Paul Cameron As Advisor

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Paul Cameron

This Associated Press Report appeared in newspapers nationwide:

A Psychologist who believes homosexuals should be quarantined has been hired as an expert on AIDS by a congressman who sits on the House subcommittee overseeing research on the disease, a newspaper reported Sunday. Paul Cameron of Lincoln, Neb., was hired for a $2,000, one-month tenure to advise Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., on homosexuality and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the Register of Orange County reported. Cameron, who says the quarantine should be ordered to stop the spread of disease, has linked homosexuality to criminal behavior, including mass murder and child molestation. Dannemeyer, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health and environment, said he trust Camerin as an adviser even though the psychologist has been expelled from the American Psychological Association and repudiated by the Nebraska Psychological Association.

Not only was Cameron kicked out of the APA and censured by the NPA, he was also denounced by several other professional organizations for gross and unethical misrepresentations of legitimate scientific research. Cameron would go on to say that medical extermination of people with AIDS might be a legitimate consideration, and in 1999 he wrote admiringly of how the Nazi’s “dealt with” homosexuality. Dannemeyer’s record on LGBT issues was little better. In 1986, Dannemeyer was the only prominent politician to support Lyndon LaRouche’s Proposition 64 in California, which would have labeled AIDS a disease subject to quarantine (Nov 4). In 1989, Dannemeyer read into the Congressional Record Cameron’s graphic description of gay sex, “The Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do.” Dannemeyer left the House in 1992 to try to run for the Senate seat for California, but he lost in the primary.

Today In History, 2013: Marriage Equality Arrives in New Zealand

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

On April 17, 2013, immediately after the New Zealand Parliament passed a bill granting marriage equality in a 77-44 vote, House members and visitors in the gallery sang “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional Maori love song. Poking at the ever-present rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis, Green MP Kevin Hague told reporters, “Hopefully it will push the Aussies into doing something.” His hopes went unfulfilled, but in August New Zealand became the thirteenth nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Born On This Day, 1934: Renée Richards

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Renee Richards

The Yale-trained eye surgeon, author and professional tennis player completed her transition to female in 1975. After transitioning, she moved to California and re-established a successful practice as an ophthalmologist while playing in amateur tennis tournaments. After a local reporter covering a tennis tournament revealed that she had transitioned, she decided to end her practice and become a tennis pro with the hopes of raising awareness for transgender people. When she tried to enter 1976 U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association suddenly came up with a previously unknown “born-women only” policy and demanded that Richard submit to chromosomal testing to confirm her eligibility to compete. She sued, and in 1977 she won the right to play as a woman.

1977 US Open Tennis ChampionshipThat year, she was a finalist in women’s doubles with Betty Ann Stuart at the U.S. Open, but lost in a close match to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stöve. Richards won the 35-and-over women’s singles. She continued playing until 1981, and she ranked as high as 20th overall in 1979. She later became Navratilova’s coach, but Richards would always be known more for her transitioning than for her tennis career.

But if transgender people were looking to Richards as an advocate for them, she would disappointed them again and again. In 1999, she told People magazine:

This route that I took was not easy. But the compulsion was so great, I couldn’t turn it off. You can’t turn it off by throwing away all of your women’s clothes or joining the Navy. I had to do it. I wish that there could have been an alternative way, but there wasn’t in 1975. If there was a drug that I could have taken that éwould have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was—as a totally intact person. Since there wasn’t, my alternative might have been suicide. …I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow.

In her 2007 autobiography, No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life, she describes the challenges and the freedom that came with her decision to transition, while expressing her frustration over the intense public scrutiny that concentrated so much attention on it. A New York Times profile revealed her to be “surprisingly conservative”: her idea of marriage “demands a man and a woman” (“It’s like a female plug and an electrical outlet,” she said), and she called the 2004 decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow transgender people to compete “a particularly stupid decision.” Her own lawsuit to play in the U.S. Open was different, she said, because at age forty, “I wasn’t going to overwhelm Chris Evert and Tracy Austin, who were 20 years old.” She reiterated those views in the 2011 documentary Renee,: “Transsexuals have every right to play, but maybe not on a professional level because it’s not a level playing field.” Having resumed her surgery practice after retiring from tennis, she continued practicing in Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., until her retirement in 2013.

Franklin Graham Crusade Splits Vancouver Christians

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

Franklin GrahamFranklin Graham is set to host a three-day crusade in Vancouver, BC., in March 2017. His incendiary remarks against gays, Muslims and others have prompted a group of five Evangelical and Catholic leaders to denounce Graham’s appearance. In a letter to crusade organizers who had extended an invitation to Vancouver-area Christian leaders to participate, the group outlined their concerns about Graham:

Letter to the Festival of Hope Leadership Committee
June 16, 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As members and fellow leaders of the Christian community in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, we feel it important to share our mutual concerns with you, the sponsoring committee of BC for the “Festival of Hope” event scheduled for March 2017. We are compelled to formally respond for endorsement by the Billy Graham Association and must unreservedly oppose the invitation of Reverend Franklin Graham.

Given that the express goal of this event is evangelism, with the commitment of new believers to Christ, we do not believe that Rev. Graham, with his expressed broader belief system, should be the exemplar that impresses itself upon these new believers. Moreover, we seek to share a joyful witness, distinguished by love, and therefore denounce the frequent incendiary and intolerant statement by Rev. Graham, which he unapologetically reiterates.Further, we do not support any words or actions that can needlessly create division among believers. Rev. Graham is a polarizing figure: many evangelical and church leaders in the United States have denounced Graham’s remarks. Finally, his ungracious and bigoted remarks have the potential to generate serious negative impact on the Christian witness in Vancouver. For these reasons we are unable to encourage such an event in its current form.

As a group, and individually, we consistently support and engage in co-operative initiatives (such as More than Gold) that work in the spirit of Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one”, including evangelism. Should you wish, we could suggest alternative speakers to consider. We would welcome any initiatives to create a more diverse, inclusive, vibrant, and affirming Christian message, representative of the Vancouver faith community.

Wishing you peace and grace,

Marjeta Bobnar — Coordinator, Ecumenical and Interfath Relations, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Tom Cooper — President, City in Focus
Tim Dickau — Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
Tim Kuepfer — Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church
Ken Shigematsu — Senior Pastor, Tenth Church

According to the Vancouver Sun:

While the opposition statement was signed by Catholic ecumenical relations official Bobnar, Paul Schratz confirmed the archdiocese also formally declined an invitation to take part in the Festival of Hope.

“Initially we were supportive of next year’s event, since it was intended to draw a large number of people to hear the gospel and grow closer to Jesus,” said Schratz, spokesman for the archdiocese, which includes more than 400,000 Catholics.

“While we obviously acknowledge Mr. Graham’s zeal in preaching the Gospel we had second thoughts about participating when we noted that American evangelicals … were criticizing Mr. Franklin for … stances that didn’t promote religious tolerance,” says Paul Schratz of the Catholic archdiocese.

“While we obviously acknowledge Mr. Graham’s zeal in preaching the Gospel we had second thoughts about participating when we noted that American evangelicals, whom we were trying to work with on this event, were criticizing Mr. Franklin for various comments and stances that didn’t promote religious tolerance.”

These faith leaders represent a rather small slice of Vancouver’s Christian community. Several other large megachurches and major congregations are supporting Graham’s crusade:

Some of the large, often ethnically mixed evangelical congregations in Metro Vancouver that are endorsing Graham’s crusade include Willingdon Church, Westside Church, Coastal Church, Broadway Church, Glad Tidings Church, Holy Trinity Church and Richmond Pentecostal Church.

…Rev. George Wong, head pastor at Evangelical Chinese Bible Church in Burnaby, one of many congregations training volunteers to work at Graham’s crusade, said “the last thing we want to do is promote hate.”

Graham “is not coming to Vancouver to preach against homosexuality, but to preach the gospel,” Wong said.

…In North Vancouver, another endorser of the Festival of Hope, Valley Church Pastor Owen Scott, declined to comment on the controversy other than to say, “I know Franklin is not the same as his dad. His dad is a pretty gracious person.”

Schadenfreude Alert

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

Tony Perkins, president of the Family “Research” Council, ordinarily lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and commutes to Washington, D.C. But this month, he was doing what just about everyone in the Capitol has done during the month of August ever since the city was founded: he’s taking the month off on vacation, and staying back home in Louisiana. While he was away, he left former FFRC vice president and now Breitbart blogger Ken Klukowski in charge of Perkins’s podcast. Also, while he was away and back home in Louisiana, the state was hit with horrific flooding in a disaster that has claimed a dozen lives and that many are comparing to Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, Perkins was a guest on his own podcast to get listeners caught up to date on what he’s been up to this week:

This is a flood, I would have to say, of near-Biblical proportions. … This is unlike anything we’ve seen before. In fact, we had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. …We had about ten feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, our cars… we have a few of our cars flooded. … This has effected probably eighty percent of our community.

Back in Louisiana, Perkins has also been acting as pastor at a local Baptist church. It also has been flooded. So what kind of a lesson from God does Perkins and Klukowski draw from this disaster? They get to rejoice that God considers them “worthy of suffering for His sake.” Seriously.

The sad truth remains that millions of Louisianans have lost their homes. Many have lost everything they own and many more now have to start over a second time in just a little over a decade. Some have even lost their lives. It strikes me as small-minded to take any sliver of joy over anyone else’s misfortune when it comes on a scale like this. But I have to admit it: I can’t help but to feel a small bit of schadenfreude when I think of just this one individual. I don’t think it’s anything to be proud of, but, okay, what the hell…

Tech Companies Team Up Against LGBT Discrimination Measure

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

In May, House Republican Leadership broke their own House rules in order to preserve a provision in the 2016 Defense Authorization Bill which overturns President Obama’s executive order requiring federal contractors to maintain anti-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The Senate has also passed a similar version of the defense bill, and those differences now need to be reconciled with the House version. This week, a consortium of tech and telecom companies — with members including Comcast, Apple, Microsoft, and Google, — have issued a statement urging Congress to remove the provision that would allow LGBT discrimination among federal contractors:

“The technology industry is the nation’s most innovative sector precisely because it values and embraces a talented and diverse workforce,” said TechNet president Linda Moore. “Unfortunately, Section 1094 undermines these values by placing prejudice and fear above inclusion and diversity, which is bad for our employees and bad for business.”

“To ensure that our nation’s economy remains robust and innovative, we must support the best and brightest people.

While Section 1094 might intend to promote religious freedom and liberty, in reality it sanctions discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which has no place in our country.”

…”LGBT Tech supports TechNet in the request to remove any language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Chris Wood, executive director of the LGBT Tech Partnership. “While freedom of religious expression is a bedrock of our values in the Untied States, too often, especially recently, it has been used as a cover for sanctioning discrimination. As we witnessed in Indiana, and other state, these efforts are often supported by anti-LGBT groups and result from significant antiLGBT animus. As written, section 1094 of H.R. 4909 opens the door to discrimination, reinforcing a divide with fear and prejudice instead of inclusion and diversity.”

The letter from TechNet was sent to members of the House-Senate conference committee which will hammer out the final bill.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

During its heyday, this Boston club had something for everyone: a jazz club, a cruise bar, one dance floor for rockers, another for disco, and a roof top deck with food and a view of Fenway Park. The club closed in 1988 after about fifteen years in business in the aftermath of a police bribery scandal. Documentary filmmaker Vincent-Louis Apruzzese said:

“It was a big story at the time, and is probably the reason it closed. The owner videotaped policemen taking bribes at the club. I asked for the footage, and it does exist, but is in court records now. I spoke to a security person there and there was an elevator with a video camera in it, and he said if we had seen the stuff that they deleted over the years, we’d have quite a movie. That was because I guess a lot of people would sneak into the elevator to do drugs and have sex, and they had no idea that they were being videotaped. They had cameras in the elevator, in the office, and a couple of other places.”

…Apruzzese, who grew up in Everett, remembers going to the club at a very young age. “It was sometime around 1977-78. I was very young and definitely not of age, but I was an oddball at the time. I had dyed hair, and people thought I was some kind of odd lesbian. I was so young, that I looked androgynous; but I still had this masculine edge. I wore earrings, and no one was wearing earrings. The 1270 wasn’t the first club I ever went to, but was the one I liked the most. And I think I liked it because a lot of the people that went there were outcasts, even a lot of the other bars wouldn’t let them in; so they appreciated it.”

The 1270, for some, was literally a life saver, providing refuge for gays and lesbians from the occasional gay-bashing baseball fans leaving Fenway. Today, it’s the gentrified Baseball Tavern, catering to many of those same Red Sox fans, and tourists.

Emphasis Mine

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

Bryant bombs in Boston; GCN vandalized

BOSTON — Anita Bryant failed to perform in Boston September 1 when Democratic US Senatorial candidate Howard Phillips called off a fundraiser staring the anti-gay crusader. Phillips claimed to have cancelled the concert due to threats of violence from “militant homosexuals,” but failed to mention that only 78 tickets had been sold for the event.

Advertisements in Boston newspapers appeared with Bryant’s face partly covered by the caption, “Cancelled Due To Threats Of Violence.”

Bryant did arrive in the city to plug Phillips in a news conference however. Two thousand people flooded Copley Square in protest. Addressing the crowd, former Superior Court Judge Robert Bonin called the cancelation “a typical demagogic trick. Politics is the only profession where mediocrities can gain the world’s attention by slander.” The demonstration took place without incident.

TBP Caption: "What A Dump!" Staff of Boston's GCN faced this mess after the latest vandalism.

TBP Caption: “What A Dump! Staff of Boston’s GCN faced this mess after the latest vandalism.”

Two days later the offices of Boston’s Gay Community News were forcibly entered and ransacked for the fifth time in the past year. Desks and file cabinets were forced open and their contents dumped on the floor. The vandalism followed a week of phone threats of violence in the wake of Bryant’s visit. Boston police continue their investigation.

[Source: The Body Politic (Toronto, ON, October, 1978): 17.]

Today In History, 1978: Boston Police Beat, Arrest Gay Youths

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

Boston Police Commissioner Joseph M. Jordan

Boston Police Commissioner Joseph M. Jordan

Problems between the Boston Police Department and the gay community had been growing for months. Several complaints each week were lodged with the Gay Community News about police inaction in dealing with crimes against gay victims and open police harassment of gays and lesbians throughout Boston. On August 18, three gay teens, two of them in drag, were walking to a Beacon Hill apartment when they heard screams coming from the Arlington Street T station. Two men came out of the station and ran to their cars. When Larry Brown called out their license plate numbers to his friends,the two men chased them down, beat and kicked them, and shouted, “This is for Anita Bryant.”

When a police car arrived, the three youths learned that the two men who had beaten them were actually Boston police officers: John Gillespie and Thomas Clifford. Patrol officers arrested the victims, with Gillespie and Clifford going free. On the way back to the station, the arresting officers threatened to dump the youths “in the Charles River or the Blue Hills” because “queers have no right to live.”

After Massachusetts State Rep. Barney Frank demanded an investigation, the BPD’s Internal Affairs Division began looking into the incident. They found Clifford and Gillespie guilty of physically and verbally abusing the three men, failing to submit incident reports, and submitting false statements to their commanders and to IAD. Lt. Ralph Maglio was also found guilty of neglecting his responsibilities as a duty supervisor and of making false statements to IAD.

Boston Police Commissioner Joseph M. Jordan suspended Clifford and Gillespie for three months without pay. Maglio received a one week suspension without pay. Jordon’s action made it the first time Boston police officers had ever been disciplined for abusing gay people. Rep. Frank praised the Commissioner’s actions. “I think it’s terrific. It should have a tremendous effect, because it shows that the Commissioner will not tolerate abuse even if the victim is a runaway gay teenager in drag.”

[Sources: “Boston Police Trial.” GPU News (Milwaukee, WI, October 1978): 14.

“Boston Suspensions.” GPU News (November 1978): 14.

“‘Fag-beating’ Cops Get First-Ever Suspensions.” The Body Politic (Toronto, ON, November 1978): 17.]

Today In History, 1990: President George H.W. Bush Signs the Ryan White CARE Act

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

American Foundation for AIDS Research Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

American Foundation for AIDS Research Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

Since the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, the nation’s response to the deadly disease was chronically slow and woefully underfunded. Much of the resistance to increased funding stemmed from open hostility to the disease’s two main risk groups; gay men and intravenous drug users. If there was any sympathy toward the disease, it was reserved almost exclusively for hemophiliacs who were infected by tainted blood products. They were deemed the only “innocent” victims of the disease, and Indiana teenager Ryan White was their most visible symbol. By 1990, the first of the most meaningful treatments, AZT, was available (Mar 19), but its $10,000 per year price tag (over $21,000 in today’s dollars) made it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest patients.

In hearings held in early 1990, the House Budget Committee heard testimony in Los Angeles and San Francisco about the challenges in providing care. Mervyn Silverman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) warned that up to one million HIV-positive Americans were at risk of becoming ill with full-blown AIDS. Others declared that it was finally time to treat AIDS like any other natural disaster. By the spring, members of the House and Senate were gearing up to prepare major legislation to help pay for treatment. The legislation would provide block grants to states to provide testing, counseling and early low-cost treatment to those with HIV and who had no other means to pay for it. It also would provide additional finds for urban centers where health care systems were already strained by the epidemic, and provide medical care for expectant mothers with HIV.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Different versions of the legislation passed the House and Senate, but they were far apart in the specifics. When the final version was hammered out in conference, it went back to both chambers for approval. During the House debate, the Bush White House signaled its opposition to the bill, saying “The bill’s narrow approach, dealing with a specific disease, sets a dangerous precedent, inviting treatment of other diseases through similar arrangements.” By then, the bill had been named the Ryan White CARE Act after the teen who died the previous April. His mother, Jeanne White, testified on Capital Hill in support of the bill.

North Carolina bigot Jesse Helms led the opposition in the Senate, but his filibuster threat was thwarted when the bill arrived on the Senate floor with sixty-six co-sponsors, more than enough to end debate. Both houses voted overwhelmingly for the bill’s final passage in voice votes between July 31 and August 4. Sensing that any White House veto would be quickly overridden, President Bush quietly signed it on Saturday, August 18.

Born On This Day, 1906: Marcel Carné

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

(d. 1996) A major figure in poetic realism, French filmmaker Marcel Carné began working in silent film as a camera assistant. In the mid-1930s, he went to England to work on Alexander Korda’s Knight Without Armour (1937) while also directing Jenny (1936), which was the start of Carné longtime collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. Carné had the misfortune of being in France during Germany’s invasion, where he continued working in Vichy.

Filmmaking is always a complicated enterprise. Doing it in wartime under a repressive dictatorial regime added another set of difficulties when Carné began work on what became his most highly acclaimed film, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise). He had to work around Vichy restrictions, shooting the film in two parts to comply with Vichy’s 90-minute limit. Starving extras made off with food before banquet scenes were shot. Some of those extras were Resistance fighters, who used the cover of daylight filming to allow them to meet together. Set designer Alexandre Trauner and music composer Joseph Kosma, both Jews, had to work in secrecy. The main quarter-mile long set was destroyed during a storm, electricity was as intermittent as the funding, film stock was rationed, key personnel were reassigned to other projects by authorities, and production was suspended following the Allied landing at Normandy. After Paris was liberated in 1944, production resumed, but one of the actors was sentenced to death by the Resistance for collaborating with the Nazis; all of his scenes had to be re-shot with a replacement. When Children of Paradise was finally released as a single three-hour film (and without an intermission), it became an instant success, remaining at the Madeleine Theater for the next 54 weeks.

Children of Paradise would be Carné’s high water mark. Riding on the its success, Carné’s next film, Les Portes de la Nuit was given the largest budget in the history of French film. It flopped, and it would be Carné’s last collaboration with Prévert. In the 1950s, Carné was eclipsed by the French New Wave, and his films, except for 1958’s Les Tricheurs, were typically panned by critics. Openly gay, Carné often cast his partner, Roland Lesaffre, in many of his films. Carné made his last film in 1976. But Children of Paradise was never forgotten. It was voted Best Film Ever in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in 1995, and it was restored and re-released on Blu-ray in 2012.

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

August 17th, 2016

From The Los Angeles Advocate, July 1968, page 19.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, July 1968, page 19.

Patch manager Lee "The Blond Darling" Glaze

Patch manager Lee “The Blond Darling” Glaze

The Patch opened on April 7, 1968 on the Pacific Coast Highway in the Wilmington area of southern Los Angeles next to Long Beach. It quickly became one of the more popular gay night spots in the Los Angeles area thanks to its live music and a policy that allowed men to dance together. Soon after, the police commission called the owners and set a series of demands: no minors, no drag, no groping, only one person at a time in the restrooms, and no male-male dancing. The Patch agreed, as a price for staying in business, but when that business quickly fell off, they resumed allowing dancing. When the police commission objected, the Patch vowed to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. The commission backed down, but LAPD found other ways to harasses the bar: arbitrarily ticketing parked cars, refusing to arrest area teens who threatened patrons. The local PTA got wind of the Patch’s existence and circulated a petition to close the bar down. Even the local musician’s union showed up to cause trouble, despite the bar’s hiring a union band and paying above scale. Manager Lee Glaze was undeterred:

“John Q. Public has to wake up to the fact that he has to accept us, he says, “We exist. Straights have to learn to live with it. We know that we’re not acceptable anywhere but in our own society. We have to have a place to go. If they close up our clubs, we’ll all have to take to the streets.”

[Source: “‘Patch’ Fights Three-Way Battle. The Los Angeles Advocate (August 1968): 3, 25.]

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