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Uganda Parliament Speaker: Re-Approving Anti-Homosexuality Act “Is Going To Be Smooth”

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2014

A march took place in Kampala to present a petition to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga demanding the reintroduction of the recently nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act. Over the weekend, 207 Ugandan lawmakers signed a petition asking that Kadaga circumvent Parliamentary rules and call a snap vote to re-approve the AHA after the Constitutional Court nullified the law after parliament approved it in December without a constitutionally-mandated quorum. The first speaker in this raw NTV Uganda footage is unidentified, but the second is Kadaga, who told the crowd:

…thank the religious leaders, the young children, the public who are here, who have come to present a petition demanding that we re-table the Act. I just want to inform the public that I think that notwithstanding anything that happened, the public should be grateful to the members who have stood on the side of the family all this time and had the courage to sit and enact this law. And I want to assure you that now that we have the 207 signatures, the rest is going to be smooth.

The ruling National Resistance Movement’s Parliamentary caucus is set to meet with President Yoweri Museveni to map out a plan for the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s future.

NARTH Announces Rebranding Effort

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2014

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality announced yesterday that it will be rebranding itself as the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI), with NARTH functioning as a “separate Insitute” within ATCSI. According to an emailed announcement from NARTH President Christopher Rosik:

In recent years NARTH has been increasingly involved in legal and professional efforts to defend the rights of clients to pursue change-oriented psychological care as well as the rights of licensed mental health professionals to provide such care. In this context, it has been alarming to encounter frequent distortions and omissions pertaining to the scientific record regarding change in sexual orientation and the harms alleged to occur from professional assistance with such change.

In order to respond to these important developments more clearly in our mission, the NARTH board voted in January of this year to create a new organization, titled Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). NARTH will remain and function within ATCSI as a separate Institute that will continue to focus on matters pertaining to the psychological care of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors. Nothing in our mission changes, but we anticipate that our outreach will be significantly expanded.

You can see the ATSCI’s new web site here. NARTH styles itself a professional organization, but the ATSCI has a specific section for with religious outreach.

Faced with more state legislatures considering bans on change orientation therapy for minors, NARTH has been unsuccessful in its campaigns to stop those drives. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from newly-appointed NARTH board member David Pickup to overturn lower court rulings that upheld California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi admitted that about half of all clients are teens and they represent a growing customer base. NARTH has been operating for several years on a minuscule shoe-string budget. It’s hard to see how this latest move will have much of an impact.

BREAKING: Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Are Being Summarily Executed Following Kangaroo Court Trials!

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2014

Worried over a string of Federal Court decisions striking down marriage bans across the country, National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman told a reporter: “It’s like we’re in Stalinist Russia.”


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Regnerus Has a New “Study” Out. Good For Him.

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2014

I’m putting the word “study” in quotes because a blog post for the Witherspoon Institute doesn’t count as a published study, despite the Official Looking Chart that goes with it. In this blog post, Mark Regnerus says he created something called a Religion In America survey and found that churchgoing Christians (he doesn’t define what that means) who support marriage equality, when compared to churchgoing Christians who oppose it, are more likely to be open to saying that pornography is okay, premarital cohabitation is okay, no strings attached sex is okay, divorce is okay even if you have kids (for that question, he gives everyone an easy out for an abusive relationship), marriage infidelity is okay sometimes, polyamory is okay, and abortion is okay.

Regnerus’s implication is that all of these are Very Bad Things, and that people who support same-sex marriage are more likely to shrug their shoulders when asked about a range of Very Bad Things than those who oppose same-sex marriage. Gay and Lesbian Christians (notice here he drops “Churchgoing” — is this yet another apples to horse meat comparison that he’s so fond of?) are even more likely to say meh to those Very Bad Things. And for Gay and Lesbian non-Christians, the numbers are off the charts. Speaking of charts, he handily provides this one that others can pull out and repost, shorn of all context and the few caveats he bothers to throw in:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Like I said, this isn’t a study. It doesn’t have any of the hallmarks of a study, not even like those you’ll find in his deliberately flawed study that a low-ranked journal bent over backwards to publish for political reasons. He calls this Religion In America survey “a population-based sample, meaning that its results are nationally representative,” but he doesn’t describe how it came about. For a real study, you can’t just say that and leave it at that. He also doesn’t provide any of the standard tests to show which comparisons are statistically relevant in his chart. Even the lowest ranking journals would reject a study outright if it doesn’t include that critical information. And as I said, he doesn’t define some of his subpopulation categories, and we’ve already seen how he has exploited those definitions to force the results he wants to get. We have ample grounds to question whether he’s up to that old trick again. So until he publishes these results with at least a thin veneer of rigor, there really isn’t much to see here.

But let’s leave all of those methodological questions aside for the moment. And let’s be super-charitable and take it further: let’s accept, just for the sake of argument, that we are looking at a real-life version of the mythological Perfect Study, and that Regnerus has managed to precisely measure people’s attitudes toward some Very Bad Things. What does it tell us?

Regnerus has his take:

Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage look very much like the country as a whole—the population average (visible in the third column). That answers my original question. What would a pro-SSM Christian sexual morality look like? The national average—the norm—that’s what.

…I’m not suggesting any “slippery slope” sort of argument here, implying that a shift in one attitude will prompt lock-step adjustments in others. In reality, our moral systems concerning sex and sexuality tend rather to resemble personalized “tool kits” reflecting distinctive visions of the purpose of sex and significant relationships (and their proper timing), the meaning of things like marriage and gender roles, and basic ideas about rights, goods, and privacy. Americans construct them in quite distinct combinations, often cafeteria-style. Instead, the results might be better interpreted as a simple story of social learning from quite different reference groups — those sets of people we use as a standard of comparison for ourselves, regardless of whether we identify as a member of that group. Indeed, attitude shifts in this domain are probably far more about reference groups than about any sort of individual “evolution” or rational construction of personal values.

He says he’s not making a “slippery slope” argument, but the blog post’s title, “Tracking Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future,” does precisely that. And by taking approval or disapproval of same-sex marriage as the controlling variable, he implies that approval of marriage equality will lead to increased acceptance of a host of other Very Bad Things. It’s reminiscent of what The Weekly Standard’s Stanley Kurtz tried to claim in 2004 when he said that Registered Partnerships in Scandinavia (there was no same-sex marriage at the time) had already led to more divorces, fewer marriages and more out-of-wedlock children, while ignoring the fact that those trends were well in place long before the idea of recognizing same-sex relationships came along. In other words, same-sex marriage (or registered partnerships) was not a controlling variable for those other trends, and there’s no reason to believe it’s a controlling variable for Regnerus’s Very Bad Things here.

Regnerus disavows the “slippery slope” argument, but by using attitudes about same-sex marriage as the controlling variable, it’s going to be hard for other opponents of same-sex marriage to see him saying anything differently. And the argument that he does make — that people get their ideas from the people around them — merely explains how such a slippery slope scenario might work. So let’s not fool ourselves here: he is making the very argument he disavows, which he’s done before. When he published that so-called “gay parenting study” in 2012, he peppered it with a host of caveats:

The NFSS is not a longitudinal study, and therefore cannot attempt to broach questions of causation. … It does not evaluate the offspring of gay marriages, since the vast majority of its respondents came of age prior to the legalization of gay marriage in several states … American courts are finding arguments against gay marriage decreasingly persuasive. This study is intended to neither undermine nor affirm any legal rights concerning such.

But when Regnerus spoke to the press, he resolutely abandoned all of those caveats. My prediction: he’ll do the same with the slipper slope argument. My reaction: good luck with that. Marriage equality opponents have been flailing that dead horse for more than a decade, and there is zero evidence that it has moved the needle one iota in their direction.

So, to recap, Regnerus’s interprests his chart this way: if more and more people, including church-going Christians, continue to come around to supporting marriage equality, then more and more people, including church-going Christians, are going to begin supporting all of those other Very Bad Things. Support gay marriage, and you’re probably going to wind up supporting polygamy. Or anything-goes sex. Or the breakdown of the family through divorce. Or unlimited abortion. And so on.

I guess that’s one way to look at the results — if those results are actually legit. As I said, it’s impossible to assess that from his blog post, but also as I said, I’m willing to close my eyes for the moment and consider what these numbers might mean anyway. And so with all of my caveats firmly stated, it seems that there is a far more logical explanation for his findings:

Those who oppose marriage equality are much more likely to be the kinds of busybodies with Deeply Held Beliefs about how other people should live their lives. They may say they they oppose pre-marital sex, extra-martial sex, no-strings sex, and getting divorced despite having children — for other people — but they will wind up doing those many of those Very Bad Things themselves at rates rather similar to, and in some cases (divorce, for example) higher than many other people, despite what they may say in a survey.

Conversely, those who support marriage equality are more likely to have a healthier, more laissez-faire attitude toward how other people order their lives, and they tend to be much less judgmental of other people. And gays and lesbians, who have experienced a lifetime of busybodies giving them unrealistic, unsolicited edicts in how to order their lives, are the most reluctant of all to turn around and do the same to others. And what about the Population Average? Well, nobody likes a busybody.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 12

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

The Arizona Gay News provided more details about the big weekend:

This city is putting the welcome mat out for all of its Gay brothers and sisters from Tucson. Plans for a Gay weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 12, 13 and 14, have just been completed. Spearheaded by the Ramrod’s congenial owner, Marty, all the Phoenix Gay Community have joined in a united effort to show their hospitality.

Plans have been made through the girls bike club, Riders of the Sun, to host their sisters from Tucson, and the Sons of Apollo [a gay male motorcycle club -- JB] will host their gay brothers. If you do not have any accommodations, bring a long a sleeping bag and your hosts will make the necessary arrangements.

Riders of the Sun were to sponsor a buffet at the Unlimited on Friday, and the Sons of Apollo planned on hosting another buffet on Saturday at the Ramrod. Brunch was planned for Sunday at the Nu-Towne Saloon. The Nu-Towne is still in business today, and is known for two things: it is Phoenix’s oldest continually-operating gay bar, and it’s Sunday grill and beer bust is still hugely popular. (The Ramrod was featured on Jan 29)

Click to view the full broadsheet.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
  Captain Nichols Hanged for “Buggery”: 1833. Yes, that was the actual British legal term for homosexual activity, and it was a capital offense until 1861, when the laws were finally relaxed to allow for life imprisonment. But that change came almost thirty years too late for Captain Henry Nichols. In 1833, the London Courier printed the following account:

Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, who was one of the unnatural gang to which the late Captain Beauclerk belonged, (and which latter gentleman put an end to his existence), was convicted on the clearest evidence at Croydon, on Saturday last, of the capital offence of Sodomy; the prisoner was perfectly calm and unmoved throughout the trial, and even when sentence of death was passed upon him. In performing the duty of passing sentence of death upon the prisoner, Mr. Justice Park told him that it would be inconsistent with that duty if he held out the slightest hope that the law would not be allowed to take its severest course. At 9 o’clock in the morning the sentence was carried into effect. The culprit, who was fifty years of age, was a fine looking man, and had served in the Peninsular war. He was connected with a highly respectable family; but, since his apprehension not a single member of it visited him.

You can also read a different account from another popular broadsheet by clicking the above image.

[via ExecutedToday.com, which goes to show that there really is a blog for everything.]

 60 YEARS AGO: Miami News Reports On Trial of Gay Informant: 1954. That summer, greater Miami was swept up by an unprecedented wave of media-driven anti-gay hysteria, triggered, in part, by the murder of a male Eastern Airlines flight attendant earlier in August (see Aug 3, Aug 11). Meanwhile, bars and beaches were being raided and gay men were  being convicted under Florida’s sodomy law. The Miami News on August 12 reported on one such case involving a gay man and a reputed police informant who was apparently himself gay. Because The News’s report leaves open far more questions than it answers, I will just repeat it in full.

Informant Escapes Jail Term in Pervert ‘Turnabout’ Trial.

By Larry Birger
Miami Daily News Staff Writer

A self-styled police informer escaped trial on sex charges today when a convicted homosexual refused to press a complaint which he had filed at the suggestion of City Judge Cecil C. Curry.

Odom’s photo from the Miami News

The case against truck driver Leonard M. Odom, 24, of 3523 SW 14th Ter., was dispatched so quickly that the name of the complainant’s attorney escaped reporters.

The convicted homosexual, Walter G. Quester, changed his mind and dropped charges against Odom of committing lewd and lascivious acts.

Judge Curry asked the unidentified attorney for Quester: “Why did you drop the charges?”

“I don’t know,” the lawyer replied. “I wasn’t here yesterday.”

The attorney was referring to the unusual court session at which the judge had turned on the chief witness against the defendant at Quester’s hearing on charges of lewd and lascivious acts.

On the basis of Odom’s testimony, concerning a “date” he claimed he’d had with Quester to get information for the police, Quester was convicted and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Then Curry told Odom, “It looks to me as if you’re just as guilty as the defendant.” He suggested to Quester that he file counter-charges against Odom, which was done.

Before today’s hearing Odom’s lawyer, Morey A. Rayman, said he would move that Curry disqualify himself as presiding judge on grounds he had prejudged the defendant.

This report raises all sorts of questions. Was Odom really working as a police informant? Or did he decide to try to claim that’s what he was doing in order to try to get out of being charged himself? What — or who — led Quester to drop the charges against Odom?  And with Odom’s name, address, and photo published in the paper, what happened to him after the trial was over?

It really is quite possible that there were two victims in the sordid mess, each one trying to make the best of a very bad, no-win situation. These are the kinds of stories that appear briefly in newspapers across the country and then, just as quickly, disappear. These are also the kinds of stories I would love to be able to track down. In searching Ancestry.com, there was a Walter G. Quester who died in 1987 in Broward County, Florida, and a Leonard M. Odom who died in Madison, Florida in 1997. Were these the guys mentioned in this article?

 “Gay Is Good” Adopted As National Homophile Slogan: 1968. The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), an umbrella group with representatives from twenty-six local and national gay rights organizations, was formed two years earlier, and from the very beginning they were hampered squabbles between the member groups. At the core, they were hampered by a lack of a unifying vision of where the gay community needed to concentrate its meager resources and energies. When they finally met in Chicago just a few weeks before the contentious Democratic National Convention, a whole host of fault lines had emerged: along generational lines with younger members being influenced by civil rights and anti-war protests, along gender lines as lesbians became increasingly impatient and distrustful as the dominant male leadership gave short shrift to their concerns, and along geographic lines between the more “militant” East Coast and the less confrontational West Coast factions.

Although the delegates failed to form a unified national organization, they did manage to accomplish two things. First, they passed “Homosexual Bill of Rights”, which was proposed by the Resolutions Committee chaired by Daughters of Bilitis president Shirley Willer (see Sep 26). The Homosexual Bill of Rights consisted of these five points:

  1. Private consensual sex between persons over the age of consent shall not be an offense.
  2. Solicitation for any sexual acts shall not be an offense except upon the filing of a complaint by the aggrieved party, not a police officer or agent.
  3. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not be a factor in the granting or renewing of federal security clearances or visas, or in the granting of citizenship.
  4. Service in and discharge from the Armed Forces and eligibility for veteran’s benefits shall be without reference to homosexuality.
  5. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not affect his eligibility for employment with federal, state, or local governments, or private employers.

Their second accomplishment would prove to be more enduring, when the convention formally adopted Frank Kameny’s “Gay is Good” slogan as the official slogan of the movement. The full resolution read:

BECAUSE many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups suffer from diminished self-esteem, doubts and uncertainties as to their personal worth, and from a pervasive false and unwarranted sense of an inferiority and undesirability of their homosexual condition, and from a negative approach to that condition; and

BECAUSE, therefore, many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups, are in need of psychological sustenance to bolster and to support a positive and affirmative attitude toward themselves and their homosexuality and to hae instilled into them a confident sense of the positive good and value of themselves and of their condition; and

BECAUSE it would seem to be very much a function of the North American Homophile Conference to attempt to replace a wishy-washy negativism toward homosexuality with a firm no-nonsense positivism, to attempt to establish in the homosexual community and its members feelings of pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, in being the homosexuals that they are and have a moral right to be (these feelings being essential to true human dignity), and to attempt to bring to bear a countervailing influence against negative attitudes toward homosexuality prevalent in the heterosexual community; and

BECAUSE the Negro community has approached similar problems and goals with some success by  the adoption of the motto or slogan: Black is Beautiful

RESOLVED: that it is hereby adopted as a slogan or motto for NACHO that

GAY IS GOOD

The vote was unanimous, perhaps the only point of unanimity in the convention. Kameny saw his slogan’s adoption as being a critical step toward changing the internal self-perceptions that many in the gay community had of themselves. Just a few years earlier, he persuaded his own group, the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., to pass a resolution declaring that homosexuality was not a mental illness (see Mar 4), a vote that was very controversial locally and nationally. This showed Kameny that if the gay community wanted psychiatry to stop regarding gay people as mentally ill, then gays and lesbians themselves would have to change how they saw themselves:

In order that we might hear something good to offset all this negativity, I came up with the slogan “Gay is good” in 1968, in parallel with the slogan “Black is beautiful” coined around the same time for similar psychological reasons. Upon careful analysis, it quickly became clear that as long as we were classified by organized psychiatry as being mentally ill or emotionally disturbed, we were never going to be granted any kind of remedy for the cultural ills besetting us. Society was not going to offer protection to a bunch of “loonies,” which is what psychiatry of that day made of us…

Psychiatry would eventually change its mind about five years later. For countless millions of gay people, it would take longer. But Kameny didn’t just fight to change how the laws pr psychiatry treated gay people. He fought so that gay people to see themselves as fully equal to everyone else as people. In 2007 when his papers and artifacts were accepted by the Smithsonian Institution, Frank reflected in an email to me:

I’ve said, for a long time, that if I’m remembered for only one thing, I would like it to be for having coined “Gay is Good.” But never did I expect that that would make its way to the Smithsonian. I feel deeply contented.

[Sources: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987):89-91.

Frank Kameny. "How It All Started." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health 13, no. 2 (2009): 76-81.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Radclyffe Hall: 1880-1943. Influenced by the writings of Havelock Ellis, Radclyffe Hall described herself as a “congenital invert,” typically dressing in masculine clothing and living her lesbian on her sleeve. Her nickname, “John,” was bestowed on her by her first partner, the German singer Mabel Batten. When Batten died in 1916, Hall had already fallen in love with Batten’s cousin, the sculptor Una Troubridge, and the two of them would remain together for the rest of Hall’s life. Hall’s first novel, the long and dreary The Unlit Lamp, didn’t sell well. But her next books — a comedy titled The Forge, a more serious volume titled Unlit Lamp, and another comic novel A Saturday Life, established Hall as a novelist of serious talent.

Her lasting fame however would come with her 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness, the only one of her eight novels with an overt lesbian theme, although the subject had come up in some of her short stories. There was nothing sexually explicit about he novel, yet it became the subject of a sensational obscenity trial in Britain which resulted in all copies of the novel being ordered destroyed. Its publication in the U.S. came about only after a long court battle. After the fireworks were over, the New York Court of Special Sessions cleared the book for publication in 1929, and it has been continuously available in the U.S. ever since then.

Radclyffe Hall (right) with Una Troubridge

Hall and Troubridge were important figures in lesbian circles in London, Paris and elsewhere in Europe, where Hall would be easily recognized by her tailored jackets, ties, socks and close-cropped hair. Her appearance wasn’t particularly shocking in the 1920s, where androgynous appearance among women was considered tres chic. But as the decades wore on, it became her most consistent visual identity in keeping with her self-identification as a member of “the third sex.” Britain’s sensational press was only too happy to play up that image. During the height of the furor over the British obscenity trials, newspapers routinely published photos of her which depicted her in the most masculine way possible, often cropping the photo above her waist on the many occasions when she wore a skirt with a man’s jacket.

The Well of Loneliness would be the only source of information about lesbianism for many women right on through the 1960s. Hall herself said that she had received more than 10,000 letters about her novel, many of them thanking her from grateful lesbians. When she died in 1943 of colon cancer, The Well of Loneliness had been translated into fourteen languages and was selling more then 100,000 copies per year. Nineteen-fifties editions of The Ladder, the newsletter for the Daughters of Bilitis, often wrote of The Well of Loneliness in reverential tones, and many anonymous letters to the editor from across America citing the book as a lifeline for many women coming to terms with their own sexuality.

 Gladys Bentley: 1907-1960. The Harlem Renaissance blues singer was known as “Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs.” Her “sophisticated songs” were obscene parodies of famous blues standards and popular songs, which she sang in the speakeasies of Harlem, often while brazenly flirting with the women in the audience. She was famous for her powerful voice, her girlfriends, and her manner of dress, in  her signature tuxedo and top hat. In the 1930s, she headlined at Harlem’s Ubangi Club, an “exotic” (read: gay) club where she performed with a chorus line of drag queens as backup. She was successful enough to acquire a Park Avenue apartment, a fancy car, servants, and, she claimed at one time, a white wife in New Jersey.

But by 1937, the popularity of Harlem began to wane, so she moved to Los Angeles to be with her mother. She continued to carve out a place for herself there in the underground gay scene, performing at such popular lesbian bars as Joquins’ El Rancho in Los Angeles and Mona’s in San Francisco.

But when the straight-laced fifties came around, Bentley abandoned her trademark tuxedo, began wearing dresses, and, in a 1950 article for Ebony, claimed to have cured her lesbianism through hormone treatments. She also claimed that she married J. T. Gibson, a newspaper columnist, who later denied that they had ever met. She did marry a man who was sixteen years her junior, although they eventually divorced. In 1960, she was on the verge of being ordained a minister for the Temple of Love in Christ when she died of pneumonia at age 52.

Sometime in the 1950s, she appeared on Grocho Marx’s You Bet Your Life, in a dress.

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?

Ugandan Leaders to Strategize Ways to Re-Enact Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2014

Daily Monitor reports that the Parliamentary caucus of the National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s ruling party, will meet today to discuss the way forward for re-enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was nullified by the Constitutional Court just days before President Yoweri Museveni was to attend a White House dinner in Washington, D.C. Museveni has confirmed that he will attend the meeting, according to MP David Bahati, who sponsored the original bill in 2009. According to Daily Monitor, there is a great deal of impatience among some of the MPs to get the law back on the books:

These MPs want Parliament to put on hold the handling of the ongoing Budget process and first ensure the restoration of the anti-gays law. There is also a request to the Speaker for the suspension of the House rules of procedure to allow the Bill to be passed without going through all the lengthy phases.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kampala Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has reportedly given his support for the act.

Kampala is rife with rumors about how and why the AHA came to be struck down, especially since Ugandan courts are not known for acting with the kind of speed the Constitutional Court acted. The Ugandan magazine The Independent has a lengthy report outlining why they believe the law was nullified and Museveni’s options going forward. It’s hard to know how much stock to place in this report. None of the article’s sources are identified, and the point where the Independent discusses the judiciary’s independence — “No judge who opposes gay rights is ever appointed, according to those familiar with the process” — seems very unlikely. But it does show the kinds of rumors that are floating around Kampala.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, August 11

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2014

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:
 60 YEARS AGO: 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 Eldridge 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 Sunday, August 10

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; New Westminster, BC; Reykjavik, Iceland; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

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, and even then it would be hit-or-miss whether that library would allow access to them. But here they are, available with just a few well-placed search terms in Google Books. Other valuable resources have been Archive.org and the HathiTrust Digital Library.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 9

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

A Very Special Pride Mention Goes Out To: Entebbe, Uganda. 

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, August 19, 1982, page 29.

From the Advocate, August 19, 1982, page 29.

The first games were held in San Francisco in 1982. They were originally to be titled the Gay Olympic Games, but the U.S. Olympic Committee sued and won a court order on August 9 (see below) blocking the games’ use of the word “Olympic.” Organizers spent the next three weeks furiously striking the word “Olympics” from their printed materials, making the events simply the Gay Games. They’ve been the Gay Games ever since. The Ninth Gay Games kick off today in Cleveland, Ohio, with track and field events also taking place in nearby Akron.

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 World “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.”

55 YEARS AGO: 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?

Uganda’s Attorney General Files Notice of Appeal to Supreme Court to Reinstate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2014

Nicholas Opiyo, one of the attorneys for the ten petitioners who succeeded on convincing Uganda’s Constitutional Court to nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act on procedural grounds last Fiday, has tweeteed that the Attorney General of Uganda has made good on his vow to appeal the ruling to the country’s Supreme Court:

Opiyo spoke to TIME magazine about what has and hasn’t changed since the Anti-Homosexuality Act was struck down:

Nothing has changed much. The deep sense of homophobia in Uganda remains unchanged. In any case, it’s only been made worse by this ruling, because the debate has been reopened in a more bitter and fierce manner than we’ve seen before. To be positive, certain incidental things that are good will happen because of the ruling. First, individuals and organizations that have been facing arrest, intimidation or investigation will now have all those cases against them dropped, because the very foundation for these cases has now been declared unlawful. Organizations that have been closed under the [Anti-Homosexuality Act] will now have their operations resume without the fear of the law constricting their work. Even if parliament is resolved, as they are now, to reintroduce the law … they will at least pay attention, some attention to the issues that we have raised in our petition, and perhaps have a somewhat watered down or even—I’m hoping—progressive law in that regard.

This law was one of a couple of instances of morality politics coming into play in Uganda. What do you think the draw is to laws like this in Uganda and across Africa?

There has been a growing influence of American evangelical ideologies in the policies of government in Uganda. The examples are plenty in Uganda—in the HIV/AIDS campaign, Uganda was praised for its response to the HIV/AIDS campaign because it had the message for condom use. When the Christian evangelists got a foothold in influencing government, the policies changed from condom use to abstinence and being faithful. Condoms were “by-the-way;” that was the influence of what we call in Uganda people who are saved. If you look at the laws that have passed since then, whether it is a media law or an NGO law, it has a strong element of public morality. That’s new, what seems to be in my view, a moralization of the legislation process. They have a strong foothold in government mainly because the Pentecostal movement is a big movement. They have numbers, they have young people, and they have a huge following. Politicians like numbers.

MP Fox Odoi Oywelowo, one of the ten named petitioners to Uganda’s Constitutional Court, has criticized AHA supporters for petitioning Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to circumvent Parliament’s rules again and call for a snap vote on the law without formally reintroducing it in Parliament and following the normal procedures for passing a bill:

A day earlier, well-respected journalist Andrew Mwenda, who was also one of the petitioners, appeared on an NTV Uganda talk show to talk about the Anti-Homosexuality Act in a global context:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, reports that the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom and the U.S. are resuming foreign aid to Uganda. And just four days after the court nullified the law, President Barack Obama and the First Lady welcomed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for a White House dinner during a three-day summit of 50 African heads of state in Washington, D.C. The photo of the three, which was released by the State Department, drew criticisms from human rights advocates:

“Rolling out the literal red carpet for some of Africa’s longest serving dictators that clearly do not respect the fundamental human rights of their citizens will always paint an unfortunate picture of the U.S. and our relationship with the continent,” Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights told the Washington Blade on Thursday. “It provides easy ammunition to critics who claim the U.S. is only interested in working with those who lend a hand in the fight against terrorism, like Uganda, or those who sit on vast oil reserves, as in Nigeria.”

Nikki Mawanda, a transgender advocate from Uganda who is currently seeking asylum in the U.S., also questioned Obama’s decision to invite Museveni to the White House. “It’s basically beyond proper,” Mawanda told the Blade on Thursday. “It shows us the president is very comfortable with what Museveni is doing and basically they can sit and mingle.”

Also attending the White House dinner were:

  • Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who signed a similarly draconian anti-gay law last January.
  • Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who once threatened to “cut off the head” of any LGBT person he found in his country.
  • Cameroonian President Paul Biya and his wife. Cameroon has conducted several roundups of LGBT people over the past several years. Eric Ohena Lembemb, an LGBT rights advocate, was found tortured and murdered in his home in 2013.
  • Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Maurtiania imposes the death penalty for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, August 8

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

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 the House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia opened hearings 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. Mattachine president Frank Kameny (see May 21) then sent a statement to members of Congress 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, instead, introduced a bill in July which specifically singled out the Mattachine Society for revocation of its permit. A second section of the bill would provide that no solicitation permits could be issued 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.”

During the subcommittee’s hearing on August 8, city officials joined the District Republican Committee in opposing the measure on constitutional grounds. Dowdy was indignant at the opposition. “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)

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?

Ugandan MPs Petition To Swiftly Re-Approve Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2014

Daily Monitor is reporting that more than 150 members of Parliament have signed their names to a petition demanding that Parliament re-approve the Anti-Homosexuality Act after a Constitutional Court nullified the law last week:

By yesterday evening, the drive had garnered the support of 158 MPs.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr (David) Bahati (the bill’s original sponsor) said he would again take the lead in presenting the Bill, reiterating that it is the shield for the Ugandan society from practices that are a threat to children, family values and posterity.

“We want to rectify the procedural issue that court pointed out. MPs are making a statement that the when the foundation of this nation is destroyed, the representatives of the people cannot stand by and look on. What happened on Friday was an empty victory .We are going to rectify what the court decided,” Mr Bahati said.

Kawempe North MP Latif Sebaggala, the brainchild of the drive to collect signatures, yesterday indicated that a committee will be formed next Tuesday to chart a way forward on how the Bill will be re-introduced.

Ordinarily, a bill would have to be introduced in Parliament and follow the original route of three readings, a committee report, and a statement of financial impact from the government. Pink News reports that MP’s are planning to short-circuit that process:

MP David Bahati, who tabled the original bill, previously said that rules could be flouted in an emergency.

He said: “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.

“Whether it’s tomorrow or a week or a month, we will take whatever time is required to make sure that the future of our children is protected, the family is protected, and the sovereignty nation of the protected.

“The issues of technicalities is not a big deal to anybody. But the big deal… is that homosexuality is not a human right here in Uganda.”

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 7

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the journal Medical Era, Chicago, 1901.

From the journal Medical Era, Chicago, 1901.

How’s that for a Throwback Thursday?

TODAY IN HISTORY:
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 would, in turn, be 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.

Christian Chávez: 1983. Fans of Mexican telenovelas will recognize him as Giovanni Méndez López in the 2004-2006 series Rebelde. The plot centered around a group of high school students at a private boarding school in Mexico City who formed a pop band. Several cast members including Chávez went on to form a real two-time Latin Grammy nominated band known as RBD.

In March 2007, a magazine published photos of Chávez getting married to his Canadian boyfriend. He promptly acknowledged his homosexuality, asking his fans for their understanding and acceptance. But in true pop music fashion, Chávez and his husband divorced in 2009 after an apparently stormy two years, complete with rumors of domestic violence.

In 2013, Los Angeles Real Estate Agent Ben Kruger, who had been dating Chávez for at least a year, called 911 and obtained a restraining order after reporting that Chávez had tried to kill him with a knife during a domestic altercation. The ensuing publicity led to Univision’s decision to scuttle a planned talk show that Chávez was to host. Later that year, Chávez tweeted photos and posted on YouTube in which he said that he had attempted suicide. Soon after, Kruger released details about their relationship which included drug abuse, violence, suicide attempts and financial problems.

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 6

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
eb92466a-2e7c-4249-b111-fb3f78dd3470Six Marriage Cases at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: Cincinnati, OH. A three-judge pane of the Sixth Circuit Court will hear six — count ‘em, six! — marriage appeals today in a marathon session. All four states in the Sixth Circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — have marriage cases on appeals, and the Sixth Circuit apparently decided it was more efficient to give all six cases to the same three-judge panel since they all would likely touch on many of the same legal principles. Those cases will go before Federal Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey (a Clinton appointee), Jeffrey S. Sutton, and Deborah L. Cook (both are George W. Bush appointees).

The biggest case is the one from Michigan, where that state’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional in March. That ruling was doubly satisfying because of Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman’s thorough thrashing of Mark Regnerus’s discredited Witherspoon-funded“study” which purported to show that children of gay couples fared worse than other children. That $700,0000 study was supposed to be marriage equality opponents’ ace in the hole, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Oral arguments for DeBoer v. Snyder are scheduled for one hour, with thirty minutes allotted for each side.

Next up will be the two Ohio cases, Obergefell v. Himes and Henry v. Himes, which have been consolidated for the appeal. In the cases, the State of Ohio is appealing two lower court decisions requiring Ohio to recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death and birth certificates. Each side has been allotted thirty minutes. After that, the panel will hear the two consolidated cases from Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, which found Kentucky’s ban on recognizing or allowing same-sex marriages unconstitutional. For those cases, the panel has allowed fifteen minutes per side. And finally, the panel will hear Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam, which also required Tennessee to recognize out-of-state marriages. Those two sides were also allotted fifteen minutes each. All of this gets underway at 1:00 p.m. EDT at the Potter Stewart Federal Courthouse in Cincinnati.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

Indy’s self-described “hottest bar” in 1982 is still hopping today as Downtown Olly’s a gay bar with drag shows by the Ollywood Divas.

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.]

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 exist back then (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!

Dr. Robert Macnish

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.” When Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855, he called phrenologists “the lawgiver of poets” in his introduction, 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 Tuesday, August 5

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, June 1977, page 13.

From GPU News, June 1977, page 13.

You’ll have to click on the image to read the details. It was a short cruise, running from 9:00 p.m. to midnight with music, dancing, and a cash bar. The Quad Cities actually consists of five cities straddling the banks of the Mississippi. Davenport, Iowa, with Rock Island and Moline in Illinois, were the original “Tri Cities” in the early twentieth century. East Moline grew in the 1930s to rival Moline, and the moniker stretched to encompass the Quad Cities. But it would not stretch again, despite an Alcoa plant bringing massive growth to Bettendorf, Iowa, after the war. By then, the area was so well known as the Quad Cities that efforts by the area’s media to popularize “the Quint Cities” failed to take hold.

This ad brought back some really great memories for me. I grew up quite literally on the banks of the Ohio River, which would have been off of our back yard if it weren’t for the levee. When I was in high school, the lone bridge in town that crossed the river to Kentucky was closed for a couple of years’ worth of reconstruction. Ten minute commutes now took more than an hour as the next nearest bridge was nearly 30 miles away. The state of Ohio provided an auto ferry and a stern-wheeler passenger ferry to try to restore at at least a minimum of transportation links to jobs and hospitals. For our Junior/Senior Prom, the high school rented the passenger ferry for the night’s after-party and set up a casino (with monopoly money), and a bar (with fruit drinks and pop — we called soft drinks “pop”). I didn’t go to the prom (go figure!) but I joined my friends at the after-prom for a cruise that left the Court Street Landing at midnight and returned at 5:00 a.m. What a great time we had, “gambling,” “drinking,” and watching the water glint in the moonlight off the ferry’s stern wheel as we churned our way upriver to Greenup Dam before turning back. The bridge repairs were completed a year later and the ferries were gone, and that night, you could see a line of tail lights trailing up the road to Tower Hill in Kentucky, Ohioans rushing to reclaim their favorite “parking” spots.

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 life 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).

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