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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
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Eighth Circuit stays Nebraska ruling

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2015

Washington Blade

Without explanation, the court announces in a two-page order it has stayed pending appeal a decision by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon against Nebraska’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, which was set to take effect at the start of next week.

The court has included Nebraska into the joint hearing they are having for rulings lifting bans in Arkansas, South Dakota and Missouri.

Directing the clerk to expedite briefing in the case, the court announces that oral arguments for all three lawsuits will take place in Omaha on May 12.

Which is between the time that the US Supreme Court will hear arguments (April 28) and the time that the high court issues its ruling in June.

MA GOP leadership supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2015

Among several amicus briefs being submitted to the Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality is one circulated and signed by Republicans and other conservatives. Among the fairly broad array of politicians, party activists, significant funders (including David Koch), and political thinkers, one group stands out.

From the first state to allow same-sex marriages, Massachusetts Republicans have had the longest opportunity to observe whether any feared repercussions came to pass. And they have overwhelmingly endorsed equality. Those signing include:

Governor Charlie Baker
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
Former Governor William Weld
Former Acting Governor Jane Swift
RNC Committeeman Ron Kaufman
Romney advisor Beth Myers
Former Senate Minority Leader Rich Tisei

Mark your calendar, we’re going to court

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2015

The Supreme Court of the United States has announce that it will hear arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee on April 28th at 10:00 am (EST).

We will want to pay close attention to the direction of the questions as that may give us a hint as to the outcome.

I’m still betting on a 6 to 3 positive ruling.

Alan Chambers responds to Ben Carson

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2015

By now you’ve probably heard the rantings of potential GOP presidential contender Ben Carson:

CUOMO: What if the people of the state vote for a law 100 to 0 that winds up infringing on the rights of a minority – like happened very often with slavery, like many would argue is happening now with people who are gay?

CARSON: AND our Constitution was followed and we corrected those things.

CUOMO: And isn’t that what’s happening now with same-sex marriage? It’s being corrected as a form of violation of equal protection.

CARSON: No. You can’t just say because it happened that way this time this is the same situation. It’s not the same situation.

CUOMO: Why not?

CARSON: Because people have no control over their race, for instance.

CUOMO: You think they have control over their sexuality?

CARSON: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You think being gay is a choice?

CARSON: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Why do you say that?

CARSON: Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out they’re gay. So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.

Carson has since backtracked, “apologized“, and gave the “there’s no proof anyone was born that way” lameass response.

But more interesting, and an indication of how far things have come in the past few years, Dr. Warren Throckmorton sought out an opinion from someone who had worked for years with those wishing to choose to be straight, former Exodus President Alan Chambers:

Any behavior is a choice. Sexual orientation, however, is not a choice. In 20+ years of working w/ gay and lesbian people I’ve never met one person who chose to be gay. At 43 years old, though faithfully and happily married to my wife for over 17 years and completely attracted to her, my own same-sex attractions have not diminished. Claiming orientation is a choice is archaic and causes great shame for the beautiful men, women, youth, and families who live this reality.

Alabama weddings screech to a halt

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2015

bamaThe members of the Alabama Supreme Court appear to think that the state is not subject to federal rulings and apparently believes that they, not the federal judicial system, are the final word on applying the Due Process and Equal Protections provisions of the US Constitution.

Some of the anti-gay probate judges, along with anti-gay activist groups, sued in state court to have same-sex marriages stopped. The state Supreme Court responded:

As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for “marriage” only between one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.

In other words, it doesn’t matter in the slightest that the Alabama law has been found by a federal judge to be a violation of the US Constitution. Nor does it matter that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals did not grant a stay, finding it unlikely that this ruling will be overturned. Nor is it relevant that the Supreme Court of the United States also refused to stay the ruling, making its intentions clear.

Nope. Neither Judge Granade nor the judges on the Eleventh Circuit Panel not the Justices of the Supreme Court know what is “in the United States Constitution”. No sirree. ‘Bama knows better.

So they’ve ordered the stop of all same-sex marriage licenses.

The named respondents are ordered to discontinue the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

And not just the specific counties sued.

Further, and pursuant to relator Judge Enslen’s request that this Court, “by any and all lawful means available to it,” ensure compliance with Alabama law with respect to the issuance of marriage licenses, each of the probate judges in this Stateother than the named respondents and Judge Davis are joined as respondents in the place of the “Judge Does” identified in the petition.

Now there is one possible exception. Because Judge Granade specifically ordered Mobile County Probate Judge Davis to issue marriage license to four couples, the Alabama Supreme Court has not yet ordered him to stop. Rather, they demand that he come back and tell them whether he thinks that Granade’s ruling only extends to those four couples. Cuz unlike their rulings, federal rulings are limited only to the specific appellants.

So all the counties have stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Including Mobile County which has closed its offices.

Of course no one, inside the state or outside, thinks this has anything to do with law, justice, or constitutionality. This is merely arrogance and animus on the Alabama court’s part.

Every now and again the good ol’ boys down there seem to need to remind the world that when it comes to matters of equality and civil rights, ‘Bama ain’t having it.

Slovenian Parliament votes for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2015

europe

dark green = marriage equality
light green = other partner recognition

From rvtlo.si (as translated by Google for those who don’t read Slovene)

Members with 51 votes in favor and 28 against endorsed the amendment of the Law on Marriage and Family Relations Act, which equates homosexual and heterosexual communities.

Amending Act, proposed by the United Left, was given the green light. Same-sex couples will be given the opportunity to marry and all rights and obligations arising therefrom, such as legal, economic and social – as it has so far had a marriage or cohabitation of two people of different sexes. Among them is the ability to adopt children.

Those who opposed the effort are promising a referendum. There does not yet appear to be clarity on the effective date of the act.

And Nebraska falls

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2015

US District Judge Joseph Bataillon has ruled that Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the US Constitution.

Nebraska’s “Defense of Marriage” Constitutional Amendment, Section 29, is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens. The State primarily offers as its rational basis for this gender-specific discrimination the encouragement of biological family units. The essence of this rationale has been rejected by most courts and by no less than the Supreme Court. With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children. Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.

For the majority of married couples, those without children in the home, marriage is a legal and emotional commitment to the welfare of their partner. The State clearly has the right to encourage couples to marry and provide support for one another. However, those laws must be enforced equally and without respect to gender.

It’s interesting that Judge Bataillon noted that the majority of married couples do not presently have children in the home. I hadn’t really thought of that.

The judge has given the state a week to appeal.

IT IS ORDERED that all relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this order will be effective on Monday, March 9, 2015, at 8:00 a.m. CDT

It is uncertain whether the Eighth Circuit will stay the ruling pending appeal. However, should they fail to do so, it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will issue a stay.

This leaves only North Dakota and Georgia without a federal ruling on the unconstitutionality of anti-gay marriage bans.

CA GOP recognizes Log Cabin

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2015

LCR

Log Cabin Republicans was founded in 1977 in Southern California to oppose a ballot initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians – and those who supported them – from holding the position of teacher in a California public school. Log Cabin was able to marshal support from what was called ‘country club Republicans’, and eventually, after former GOP Governor Ronald Reagan took a stance in opposition, the Briggs Initiative was defeated by a vote of 58% to 42%.

In the 38 years since that time, Log Cabin has had varying times of success. As the Republican Party turned more and more to social issues and adopted opposition to gay rights as a fundraising and voter rallying point, LCR took an an odd role. Candidates for offices often used the political shorthand of supporting or denouncing Log Cabin to publicly identify with either the right-wing social activist or the fiscal conservative wing of the party.

And Log Cabin grew. First within California and then, in the 90s, into a nationwide organization.

In the beginning, LCR’s position within the community was often welcomed and respected. As co-founders of California’s LIFE Lobby, which provided one of the first full-time gay lobbyists to a state legislature, Log Cabin utilized its perspective and partisan language to appeal to Republican legislators. And Log Cabin forged relationships within other growing national groups.

But over time, national groups began to see themselves as more aligned with progressive ideology and, rather than strictly advancing legislation that dealt with matters impacting gay people, instead saw their place as partners in a progressive movement. As this movement drifted further towards the left side of the Democratic Party, there was less and less commonality with Log Cabin and eventually the organization separated itself from the nominally non-partisan joint efforts.

Log Cabin turned, instead, to a tactic that had been used successfully by social conservatives in the past. They became grassroots activists. Turning to county central committees and structures within the GOP, they sought to influence and change the presumptions of ‘the base’.

And Log Cabin has made visibility within the party a priority, knowing that simply being in the room could change the rhetoric.

Some places they found harsh opposition. The Texas GOP has proudly waved its bigotry and homophobia like a banner. New England was much more welcoming.

In California, the group has had a mixed record. In some years, statewide candidates have been supportive, in others homophobia has ruled the day.

For many years there has been a battle within the state GOP for control of the party and its image. Some wanted the GOP to be a voice for fiscal conservatism and others wanted to champion theocracy. As the latter gained more influence, the party as a whole lost power.

The Legislature has seen a constant decline in GOP representatives as moderates and independents in the state have found the Party’s positions to be harsh and not reflective of their views. Currently Democrats have a super-majority in both the Assembly and the State Senate and the GOP holds no statewide elected office.

In this climate, the statewide party structure has not been historically supportive of the gay group. They have never been banned from visibility in state conventions – and one of the best attended social events has always been the Log Cabin party.

And in several counties, Log Cabin has had chartered recognition and gay Republicans pretty much keep the party going in some places. But access to statewide decision making has been limited.

However over the weekend there came an important change (LA Times)

The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.

This is more than just a polite acceptance. As an official part of the structure of the California Republican Party, Log Cabin gains rights and access on the same terms as other volunteer organizations. They now have a vote on the State Central Committee and a voice in establishing party policy.

This move did not come without opposition.

Some opponents said Log Cabin’s proposal was sneaked onto the convention agenda without notice, and that the group violates the party’s by-laws, which forbid the recognition of organizations focused on “lifestyle preferences.”

“The only thing I ask is this body stand on the rules we’ve supported for two decades that say there is a process to change the rules and the bylaws,” Assemblywoman Shannon Grove repeatedly pleaded during the hearing.

And Grove is correct. Anti-gay factions in the party had specifically changed language in the past to exclude the possibility of Log Cabin’s inclusion. This seems, however, to have been ignored by 75% of the delegates to the convention.

It is difficult to know exactly what this says about the future of the California Republican Party. Symbolically, this may send a message that the theocrats have finally lost. It may be the first step in the dismantling of bigotry and exclusion within the California Republican Party.

Or it may simply be a middle ground. This may be an indication that party members want a ‘balance’ that allows for gay people to be in the room but keeps policies and positions as hostile.

I’m inclined to see this as reflective of significant change. Because the vote was so large and because it was vehemently fought by the far right contingent, this seems to be to be a major gain for the party’s moderate faction.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, March 6

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA
Events This Weekend: Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, August 1974, page 75.

From David, August 1974, page 75.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Lewd Behavior Upon a Bed”: 1649. Court records from Puritan colonies indicate that authorities appeared to have been reluctant to prosecute crimes based on homosexuality, if the scarcity of such records is any indication. But court records also show that Plymouth Colony was considerably less reluctant, given that its court records report quite a handful of cases (for example, see Aug 6, Mar 1). The colony’s statute called for the death penalty for “buggery” and “sodomy,” which had the effect of only outlawing male homosexuality. As in England, female homosexuality was unmentioned. But that didn’t prevent the Plymouth Colony from prosecuting one case of lesbian behavior. The court records for Plymouth Colony recorded a very brief notation for March 6, 1649:

We present the wife of Hugh Norman, and Mary Hammon, both of Yarmouth, for lewd behavior each with the other upon a bed.

According to Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay/Lesbian Almanac:

Recent research by J.R. Roberts in the Plymouth manuscript records provides background information on Norman and Hammon. At the time of the above charges Mary Hammon was fifteen years old, and recently married. Sara Norman’s age is unknown, but she was apparently somewhat older, as he had been married in 1639. About the time of the court’s first charge, 1649, Hugh Norman, Sara’s husband, deserted his wife and children.

A marginal note in the Plymouth court record of March 6, 1649 reported that Mary Hammond was “cleared with admonition” — perhaps because of her youth. Sara Normon’s case was evidentially held over for later judgment.

…Patriarchal custom was evident in the fact that court records in this case referred to the “wife of Hugh Norman”; although Sara Norman was publicly charged with a serious crime, her whole name was used only once in the documents

On October 2, 1650, the court rendered its judgment on Sara Norman:

Whereas the wife of Hugh Norman, of Yarmouth, hath stood presented [in] divers Courts for misdemeanor and lewd behavior with Mary Hammon upon a bed, with divers lascivious speeches by her also spoken, but she could not appear by reason of some hindrances unto this Court, the said Court have therefore sentenced her, the said wife of Hugh Norman, for her wild behavior in the aforesaid particulars, to make a public acknowledgment, so far as conveniently may be, of her unchaste behavior, and have also warned her to take heed of such carriages for the future, lest her former carriage come in remembrance against her to make her punishment the greater.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper & Row, 1983): 92-93.]

Rudolph Schildkraut, who played the father in “God of Vengeance,” 1923.

Theater Owner, Producer, Cast of “God of Vengeance” Arrested: 1923. Yiddish theater was a lively component of New York’s cultural life in the first part of the twentieth century, even if it did mostly fly mostly under the radar of the city’s cognoscenti. Maybe that’s why the 1907 production of Sholem Asch’s Got Fun Nekome, with its story line about a family who lived above a brothel owned by the father and the budding lesbian relationship between his daughter and one of the prostitutes, managed to go off without a hitch. Not that there was no controversy. The Yiddish press was greatly concerned that the play’s “immoral” content would trigger an anti-Semitic backlash if its plot line was noticed by the wider English-speaking city. But no backlash materialized, and the play was a huge success. It went on to be translated into several languages and was well received throughout much of Europe over the next decade.

Sixteen years after its Yiddish premiere, the play returned to New York in an English translation of God of Vengeance. When it made its Broadway debut at the Apollo Theater, it featured the first lesbian love scene on the Great White Way. This time, it was noticed. A month later, detectives showed up backstage during a performance to inform the theater’s manager and producer that they and the entire cast had been indicted for presenting an obscene and immoral play. The complaint wasn’t that the play had a lesbian them — at least, not directly — but that the lesbian theme in a Jewish play libeled the Jewish religion and was anti-Semitic. The Judge agreed, calling the play a “desecration of the sacred scrolls of the Torah,” in reference to the scrolls the father in the play commissioned, in vain, to protect the purity of his daughter. The entire cast was found guilty, but only the Harry Weinberger, the producer, and Rudolph Schildkraut, who played the father, were fined $200 each. Everyone else was let go. The play, which had closed on the night of the indictment, has been revived several times over the years, mostly by Jewish and other repertory companies.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, March 5

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA
Events This Weekend: Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, August 2, 1976, page 43.

The Gilded Grape at 719 Eighth Avenue, just a few blocks off of Times Square, was one of many bars that was allegedly mob-owned, this one by Matthew “Matty The Horse” Ianniello, the one-time acting boss of the Genovese crime family, and his business partner, Carl Moskowitz. Whatever you might think of mob-owned gay bars, they knew how to throw a party and the Gilded Grape was tremendously popular, particularly among drag queens and transwomen. Ianniello and Moskowitz, who also owned the cruise bar Haymarket on the same block (see Jan 13), were eventually convicted for a skimming profits from several gay bars in the area. There’s a sushi restaurant where the Gilded Grape once stood.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Jenny Jones Show” Taping Leads to Murder: 1994. The nationally-syndicated Jenny Jones Show debuted in 1991 as a fairly serious but entertaining talk show along the lines of Oprah, but after a few years of seeing The Jerry Springer Show’s ratings shoot through the roof, Jones’s producers decided to give their show a harder edge. Several new features began making their appearances: paternity test results, feuding neighbors, out-of-control teens and secret crushes. That last feature was what drew Jonathan Schmitz to the Jenny Jones Chicago studio, where producers told him that he would learn the identity of a secret admirer. Naturally, he thought the admirer was a woman, and not 32-year-old neighbor Scott Amedure, who proceeded to tell the embarrassed 24-year-old Schmitz about a fantasy involving whipped cream, strawberries and champagne on national television.

Three days after the taping and back home in Orion, Michigan, Schmitz continued to seethe over the embarrassment. That day, he found an anonymous, sexually suggestive not on his door and assumed it came from Amedure. Schmitz bought a shotgun and ammunitions, went to Amedure’s home and fired two shots at close range into Amedure’s chest. Schmitz then left, drove to a gas station, called 911 from a pay phone and confessed.

Schmitz was arrested and charged with Amedure’s killing. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five to fifty years in prison. His conviction was overturned on appeal over errors in jury selection, but he was convicted again on retrial and given the same sentence. Amedure’s family sued Warner Bros. and the Jenny Jones Show over their ambush tactics and negligence. The jury awarded the Amedure family $2.5 million, but the Michigan Court of Appeals, citing the producers’ First Amendment rights, overturned the verdict on appeal.

The fateful episode was pulled from the schedule immediately after the shooting and has never aired on television. It has however become part of the public record and parts of it aired on Court TV during the trial.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)’s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

Three American Evangelical Activists Conduct Anti-Gay Conference in Uganda: 2009. Nine days earlier, BTB had become the first Western outlet to discover and report the shocking announcement that Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and a little-known staffer at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, Caleb Lee Brundidge, would join Holocaust revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for a three day anti-gay conference in Kampala. The day before the conference was to take place, Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi made an announcement before the House inviting members to a special breakfast to be held at the Parliament conference Hall on the morning of March 5, ahead of the actual conference itself scheduled to begin later that day at the Triangle Hotel.

By then, Lively was already known to regular BTB readers for his involvement with the international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls (not to be confused with an unrelated Family Research Council initiative by the same name) and for his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he wrote that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” Lively regularly described gays as sick and “followers of the Father of Lies.” Lively argued that “civilization and homosexuals” were engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations. When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder by Russian Evangelicals in Sacramento.

“Can anyone say AIDS?” Scott Lively calling AIDS a just punishment from God at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 7, 2009.

Lively’s incendiary rhetoric didn’t disappoint those who attended the Kampala conference. Claiming that he “(knew) more than almost anyone else in the world” about homosexuality,” Lively equated homosexuality with Nazism and fascism, blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people, charged that European and American gays were constantly on the lookout for children to molest, that the motivation of the gay agenda was to destroy Christian civilization, and that AIDS was a just punishment for being gay. That same day, Lively met with Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who was threatening to propose a new anti-gay law with stronger sanctions.

The conference ended, but its impact continued to reverberate throughout Ugandan society. In the weeks that followed, there were follow-up meetings and rallies, vigilante campaigns, rising violence and blackmail which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” in Uganda’s parliament in October, 2009. The bill, which included the death penalty for homosexuality under certain broad conditions, languished in and out of Parliament for the next several years, before being revived and passed just before Christmas in 2013. By then, the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” has been removed and replaced with a life sentence (as though spending a lifetime in the notorious Luzira prison were any better). But other criminal sanctions remained in what is now the Anti-Homosexuality Act: lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on February 24, 2014. Uganda’s constitutional court nullified the law on a technicality the following August.

Lively, who had bragged that his 2009 conference was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” is being sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda in U.S. Federal Court under the Alien Tort Act. The lawsuit alleges that alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law which caused harm to the LGBT community in Uganda.

Since February 24, 2009, BTB has followed every twist and turn of the events in Uganda. Our compilation, Slouching Toward Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate, is a timeline and index of the nearly 600 posts that we have written documenting the events in Uganda since then. You can also follow our Uganda tag for more recent events. The video below is a compilation of Lively’s fateful talk in Kampala and its aftermath.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Matt Lucas: 1974. The English Comedian, actor and screenwriter is best known for his work on the BBC television show Little Britain, a sketch comedy program he created with David Walliams which skewered daily British life. Lucas’s characters included the bizarre grammar school teacher Mr. Cleaves, the morbidly obese Bubbles DeVere, the possibly disabled Andy Pipkin, the 200-plus pound weight loss instructor Marjorie Dawes, a West Country teen named Vicky Pollard, and “the only gay in the village” Daffyd Thomas. Little Britain ran for three seasons beginning in 2003. Since then, Lucas’s appeared on several British comedies and he brought a rival of Little Britain to America on HBO as, well, Little Britain USA. He also appeared as Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland.

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, March 4

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA
Events This Weekend: Belgian LGBT Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

EMPHASIS MINE:
Fifty years ago today, the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. declared that “homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance, or other pathology in any sense,” making it the first gay rights group to take a stand against the recognized authorities in psychiatry (see below). Frank Kameney announced the resolution in the May issue of Eastern Mattachine Magazine:

EasternMattachine1965.05Who among us wants to live in constant self-doubt, wondering whether he is sick. just because of his homosexuality? Who wants to be kept in perpetual suspense regarding his status as a complete human being? Shall we leave it up to the psychiatrists, ministers, government, police — who are so often strangely bereft of the aura of insight, honesty, disinterested, omniscience, and goodness which they’re supposed to have?

No, the duty lies with the organizations which represent the homosexual. It is up to them to defend his interests in a positive fashion, by striving to obtain his civil rights and by offering the individual homosexual a constructive image of himself. It does not show integrity for an organization purporting to side with the homosexual to remain mute on a crucial matter like the question of whether or not homosexuality is an illness, an issue around which so many problems, both individual and collective, revolve. It would be self-defeating for a homophile group in its fight against unscrupulous and cold-hearted official prejudice to keep its opinions in abeyance, as some propose, until effective research has knocked down the straw man which incompetent scientists have set up. We cannot play the role of a passive battlefield, across which the “authorities” fight out the question of our sickness. In the last analysis, WE are the authorities, and it is up to us to take an active role in determining our own status and our own fate.

– Frank Kameny, “Positive Policy.” Eastern Mattachine Magazine 10, no. 4 (May 1965): 23-24.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine (Published by the Mattachine Society of New York), June 1965, page 26.

The Golden Calf was located just south of Thomas Circle and operated from 1963 to 1970. It was a popular meeting place for members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The entire 14th Street corridor has been redeveloped over the past few decades, with the entire block now taken up with high-rise apartment buildings, condos and offices.

The Arrow, Sydney, New South Wales, March 4, 1932, page 2 (Click to enlarge).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Wide Open Immorality Among Brisbane Perverts”: 1932. The Arrow, published in Sydney, New South Wales between 1906 and 1933, was a sporting weekly which often augmented its sports and racing coverage with attention-grabbing stories of a scandalous nature (see also Jan 8 and Dec 23). Think of it as sort of a cross between the Daily Racing Forum and National Enquirer. And in the 1930s, there was nothing more scandalous that the “Wide Open Immorality Among Brisbane Perverts” which screamed across page two on March 4, 1932. The immorality? “Weddings” — in scare quotes “Between men followed by ‘ceremonies’ that shock the world”:

THE growth of the pervert population of Brisbane, beautiful capital of Queensland, is astounding, and in the last year hundreds of these queer semi-feminine men have made the city their headquarters.

Now they have evolved into a cult, with two main sects, one on the north and the other on the south side of the town, with the river dividing them. And occasionally they meet at queer, indecent, degrading ceremonies when perverted lusts come into full play and shocking rituals are celebrated.

IN the last two weeks there have been two “weddings” — ghastly, horrifying spectacles of painted men and primping lads united in a sacrilegious blasphemy that they call the “bonds of matrimony.” Strangely enough, they conduct these luridly immoral gatherings absolutely free from police interference, while the fact that these orgies are held is no secret in Brisbane. Professional people have been invited as guests to witness the “weddings”—
astounding revelation that perversion of this rotten type is so openly accepted in Brisbane.

Nowhere else in the world — not even in Berlin, with its open homo-sexual clubs —- is there the open boast that there are these ceremonies or the widespread extension of this sordid cult of male perversion.

…Even the “honeymoon” is celebrated in public amid the plaudits of the rest of the painted men-dolls, dancing round in a hideous circle —- the whole scene resembling a nightmare of evil. The ages of these cult-fanatics and perverts seem to range about the same —- somewhere between 18 and 25. One young lad was initiated at the last “wedding” at South Brisbane last week —- by a public ceremony, in which he stripped like a bride, was clad in fancy raiment, and then his virtue taken from him — in perverted fashion —- while an orgy of lust broke out immediately afterwards.

This in Brisbane, in the year 1932! It is almost unbelievable, but true.

More likely unbelievable than true, The Arrow closed by demanding “Police action, speedily, please!”

Cedric Adams

60 YEARS AGO: Minnesota’s Gay Community Responds To Father’s Letter: 1955. The previous Sunday, popular Minneapolis broadcaster and columnist Cedric Adams published a letter in The Minneapolis Star from a father who learned that his son was gay (see Feb 27). According to the father, his son had undergone therapy and “has been salvaged,” but that Minneapolis was still rife with homosexuals with police were doing nothing about it. Adams published the letter in order to, at the very least, “point a finger at the condition.” Two days later, he followed up with a selection of letters from the superintendent of the Minneapolis Police Department defending the department’s policies on policing gay bars (see Mar 1). Adams also published a few letters from readers which, while not exactly enlightened on the phenomenon of sexual orientation, were at least restrained — restrained for 1955 — for not calling for a massive crackdown of some sort which had been common in many other cities across the U.S.

That alone was remarkable — for 1955 — and the fact that it is remarkable for 1955 tells us how far we’ve come in the six decades since then. But what is truly remarkable is that Adams decided to give the last word on the subject to gay people themselves. This was his column for Friday, March 4:

THE HOMOSEXUAL PROBLEM, as touched off by the letter here from a Minneapolis father; sparked by an answer from Thomas Jones, superintendent of police in Minneapolis, and supplemented by an official suggestion from the University of Minnesota, has brought one of the greatest mail responses This Corner has had in several months. In order to be completely fair about the charges and the countercharges, perhaps we should give the homosexuals their chance. The following excerpts from letters are submitted without comment. The opinions expressed are those of the authors of the letters. Please bear that in mind.

“I AM SHOCKED that you, of all people, should stoop so low as to use a letter for a vicious and cowardly attack. Did the father in question ask his son who forced him to go to those bars? The boy was an incipient homosexual seeking his own kind. That son received his homosexual bent from one or both of two factor heredity or environment. The father should know he was responsible on both counts. Why did you pick on one minority for a scathing attack? Why not work toward a happy integration of all men into a society we can be proud of rather than striking at minorities on senseless grounds and forcing them underground?”

“I’VE BEEN A FAN of yours for 20 years, but all of that is shattered now. You have thrown ethics to the wind in attempting to editorialize on a subject about which obviously you know nothing. How can you call any situation alarming, shocking, a social danger, worthy of investigation? Homosexuality is as old as history itself. Many great men and women have been homosexuals and yet lived very useful and worthwhile lives by contributing some of the best works in art, literature and music. No man ought to pass judgment on another man’s way of living. If a man or a woman is born physically abnormal, why not try to help them? If they prefer to be with people of their own sex, why not leave them alone? I am really sincere when I say that I think both you and the Minneapolis father made a vicious attack on an innocent minority of our society. And you class them with thieves, dope addicts and other social misfits. You would have done better to study the situation before you attacked. Careless words, thoughtlessly spoken, can leave scars that never heal. It is so easy to hurt instead of help.”

“HOW STUPID, RIDICULOUS and narrow-minded can you get? It’s regrettable that so many so-called normal people know so little about homosexuals and their problems. I’ve been around for quite some time. And I have yet to find anyone who has been ‘taught’ to be a homosexual. One may be enlightened on the activities of a homosexual, but unless one has a natural inclination it’s doubtful he will become one. Either he w1ll be repulsed by the whole idea or he will experiment with it and if he finds it’s where he belongs, he’ll stay with it. No one taught me to be a homosexual. When I approached the age of 17, I realized what I was, accepted the fact and have been content with it ever since. My parents know that I am a homosexual. They’re completely understanding…

“FEW OF THE THOUSANDS of us In the city are mentally ill. Most of us know what we are and are content to be so. All we ask is to be understood and left alone. I have two suggestions for you and others similarly concerned. Read the book, ‘The Homosexual in America,’ by Donald Webster Corey (see Sep 18) or a magazine called, ‘One,’ published in Los Angeles (See Oct 15, Jan 13). Before the citizens in this area lose their minds worrying about their children becoming homosexuals, let them read the above material and do a little serious thinking. I don’t mean to imply that homosexuality is not a problem, but I do say the problem will not be solved by closing the places we frequent or by sending us off to mental institutions or a workhouse or a prison.”

“MAN TENDS TO IGNORE this problem in ignorance. The basic chemistry of the human mind and body are born in delicate balance, particularly in the formative years of youth. Disillusionment, emotional insecurity, domination or indifference of a parent tend to upset this balance. There is no sure cure for homosexuality. The taboos of society tend to restrain the victims to secret. Thus is delayed much needed help and perhaps sealing forever the door to a happy life. May I give this advice to parents: Get to your children early in life with the facts and pitfalls of life. Enlighten yourselves — that you may look down in mercy. The homosexual will probably remain until long after our generation is forgotten. If found among your loved ones, give help, aid, treatment. Do not cast them out. Their sorrow is already greater than any you can inflict.” (Parenthetical information added.)

This is a fascinating glimpse into how gay people in the upper Midwest saw themselves: a mix of proud self-acceptance with a heavy dose of internalized homophobia from society’s then-unchallenged message that homosexuality was, at minimum, a defect. It would also take another ten years — as you will see below — before gay activists begin to take a bold step to address that problem.

[Source: “In This Corner, with Cedric Adams.” Minneapolis Star (March 4, 1955). As reprinted in ONE magazine, 3, no. 4 (April 1955): 18-23.]

50 YEARS AGO: Mattachine Society of Washington DC Declares Homosexuality Is Not A Mental Illness: 1965. We often think of Stonewall and 1969 as marking the of the more assertive gay rights movement, shoving aside the prior generation’s timidity and accommodation. But as I’ve written before, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you really wanted to point to a pivotal year which truly marked the beginning of the beginning of a self-confident and assertive stance on gay rights, that year would be 1965, not 1969. That year, began with a San Francisco police raid on a New Years’ Day party (see Jan 1). The community’s reaction resulted in the appointment of the first ever police liaison to the gay community and forever changed that city’s politics. Then later that month, The Washington Post, published a five part series which was the first relatively judgment-free, balanced, mostly accurate and sympathetic portrayal of gay people in a major newspaper (see Jan 31). New York activist Randy Wicker had already organized America’s first public protest for gay rights in New York in 1964 (see Sep 29), and 1965 would usher in the first public protests for gay rights in front of Independence Hall (see Jul 4) in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C., (see Apr 17May 29Jun 26Jul 31Aug 28, and Oct 23).

March 4, 1965 marked another momentous step in the gay rights movement when  and Frank Kameny shepherded this resolution through the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.:

“The Mattachine Society of Washington takes the position that in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary, homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance, or other pathology in any sense, but is merely a preference, orientation, or propensity on par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality.”

This might seem obvious today, but in the 1960s this was still considered a radical step. The mental health community regarded homosexuality as a mental illness, and many in the gay community still acquiesced to that diagnosis. Or, if not that, they often still accommodated themselves to the idea that homosexuality was some kind of a defect or shortcoming or — as one letter writer in Minnesota wrote above in 1955 — something to be pitied.

Getting the MSW to approve this resolution took two years of cajoling and lobbying. Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) had been collecting studies and arguments against the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. At the urging of Frank Kameny (see May 21), Nichols presented a formal statement to the MSW board in Octiber 1963, arguing why it was imperative for the board to take a stand against the APA:

The mental attitude of our own people toward themselves that they are not well — that they are not whole, that they are LESS THAN COMPLETELY HEALTHY — is responsible for UNTILD NUMBERS OF PERSONAL TRAGEDIES AND WARPED LIVES. By failing to take a definite stand, a strong stand … I believe that you will not only weaken the movement ten-fold, but that you will fail in your duty to homosexuals who need more than anything else to see themselves in a better light. (Capitalizations in the original.)

The board rejected Nichols’s proposal, he, Kameny and MSW member Lilli Vincenz set about lobbying other members to support a resolution declaring that homosexuality wasn’t a disease. The counter-argument among activists was a rather simple one: Who would you believe? Credentialed doctors or amateur activists. As Kameny later recalled in 2008:

The decade-old gay movement of that time was really huge — there were actually five or six gay organizations in the entire country; that was it. Without being critical, that was a different cultural climate from the present; they were bland, defensive, and overly acquiescent to the so-called authorities and experts of the day.

That was not my personality. I insisted that we were the experts on ourselves as gay people, and on our homosexuality. So we set out trying, as best we could, to tackle what we saw as the problems besetting the gay community.

Furthermore, Kameny was no ordinary activist. He was a scientist, with a Ph.D. in astronomy, and was perfectly capable of evaluating the statistical weaknesses and deviations from the scientific method that prevented much of the published studies of psychiatry from being taken seriously by anyone expecting any level of rigor. As Kameny explained in a letter to New York activist Randy Wicker (see Feb 3):

I think that the major thing wrong is that the professional people tend to make their judgments upon samples limited to those who came to their offices for assistance, and thus in the statistical sense, are sampling extremely poorly, and come out with results based on an atypical group. This is especially true o f the homosexual group.

There are other faults too, of course, and one of the primary ones is a seeming inability, on the part of many of the professional people, to pull themselves away from the value judgments of the society around them, With the tie-in of those judgments to classical religion, convention, mores, etc.; and to look upon the ideal as conformity to the purely statistical “norm” rather than as an “adjusted” conformity to one’s own self and one’s own individuality, as one who is, with the limited assumptions that anyone who is not like everyone else is abnormal (in the non-statistical, defective, emotion-laden sense). There is also a tendency to accept certain widespread phenomena (e.g., heterosexuality) as being so “natural” that they d0 not need exploration or research, that their origins do not need explaining, and that departures from them are automatically pathological…

Kameny and Nichols identified the APA’s stance as the single most important factor standing in the way of the gay community’s goal of equality. As he explained n a 1964 letter to the Dick Leitsch of the Mattachine Society of New York,

IF society calls homosexuality a sickness (and it does) then the entire validity of our entire position, of our demands for equality, of everything for which we stand rests upon our responding to that sickness allegation with a denial… I do repeat: A position denying that homosexuality is a sickness, disturbance, pathology, etc., etc. is the single MOST important position which can be taken, at the present time, by the homophile movement and its individual member organizations.  (Capitalizations in the original.)

Kameny not only argued that homosexuality was not an illness, but he also disputed the mental health profession’s authority to even make such a pronouncement in the first place. This was important because many other gay and lesbian activists insisted that the movement had to defer to the “experts” in order to be credible. Kameny’s retort was to the point: “We are the experts on ourselves, and we will tell the experts they have nothing to tell us.” As Kameny explained in 2008:

The (resolution’s) opening clause — “in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary” — functionally shifted the burden of proof from us to them. If those who believed that homosexuality was pathological had their evidence, let them present it. Until they presented it, it wasn’t pathological. They never did…

After two years of arguing and cajoling, Kameny, Nichols and Vincenz finally got the MSW board to agree to the resolution. Them, Kameny, along with several other activists in cluding Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31) and John Fryer (see Nov 7), began the eight-year task of getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

[Sources: Franklin E. Kameny. “Does research into homosexuality matter?” The Ladder 9, no. 8 (May 1965): 14-20.

Franklin E. Kameny. “How it all started.” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health 13, no. 2 (April 2009): 76-81. Remarks delivered at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., May 2008.

Michael G. Long. Gay is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014): 70-72, 88.]

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, March 3

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGEDNA is brought to you by:

From Contact (Houston, TX), June 1974, page 5.

From Contact (Houston, TX), June 1974, page 5.

On March 3, 1974, Houston’s Farmhouse was gutted by a four-alarm blaze. The fire came just six days before the club was set to re-open and show off its new renovation. That renovation became necessary after parts of the club were damaged in a smaller January 27 fire. Investigators didn’t think the earlier fire was arson, but they were reconsidering their earlier assessment now that there was no doubt about how this latest blaze started. Houston Fire Department spokesman Paul Carr said that this fire broke out in very specific “strategic” locations and two empty gas cans were found at the site. “We have a list of people who would have had motives for doing this, but so far no one has been charged or arrested,” he said.

The prior fire had been expensive. The owners spent $45,000 to remodel ($213,000 in today’s dollars), of which only $21,000 came from insurance. Emmet Newton, one of the Farmhouse’s three owners, said, “There have been three other fire bomb attempts, and this is the second time this building has been heavily damaged.” There were two smaller fires in 1973. “I wish somebody would stop this. It could have been murder this time.” Newton and Gene Howle, a second owner, use to own Houston’s Plantation Club until it was destroyed by arson four years earlier.

The owners vowed to rebuild, and estimated that it would probably take about six months before they could reopen. Instead, they chose to move three and a half miles away and open in a completely new location. This brief notice appeared in Houston’s gay newspaper, Contact just three months later:

After a lengthy wait, the much-heralded new Farmhouse will open this month. And it appears it has been worth waiting for. The new Farmhouse comes complete with four bars, multi-level dance floors, a swimming pool, and tons of other dandy things not to be believed. It occupies an entire city block, at 2710 Albany, and is inch-for-inch the biggest gay bar and entertainment complex in the country.

Marc Andre Raffalovich

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
120 YEARS AGO: The Usefulness of Homosexuals: 1895. Marc-André Raffalovich was a French poet and early theorist on homosexuality (see Sep 11). He was also among the early writers to introduce the very word “homosexuality” into the English language. He had begun writing about the subject in 1894, using the French word unisexualité, but when he contributed an English translation of a portion of his work for the March 1895 edition of the Journal of Comparative Neurology in 1895, he used the terms “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” as opposite but equal poles of human sexuality. That, in and of itself, makes this particular article noteworthy, as it appears to be the first time that homosexuality and heterosexuality were discussed as directly contrasting characteristics. He nevertheless also continued to use older terminology — “invert” and “uranism” (based on a German theory of a “female psyche in a male body” as an early formation for effeminate male homosexuality)  — and he appears to have coined a new term, “psychic hermaphroditism,” to describe bisexuality.

As for the inverts themselves:

It is difficult to do justice to the inverts; so also it would be difficult to do justice to the heterosexuals if we were to confine ourselves exclusively to their sexual life. Falsehood and sexuality are always so intimately associated because reality belies desire since expectation and realization are in glaring contradiction. If men were bold today, if they were not under the sway of an all-pervasive materialism, how differently would they think of sexuality!

…The day when the invert ceases to call for the indulgence of society, he will begin to justify himself in the eyes of truly superior men. Because heterosexuality is not suppressed homosexuality ought to be equally favored. Strange logic, if the repression of heterosexuality is one of the problems of the future, as I believe it to be.

Raffalovich saw two types of homosexuals: those who were born gay and those who “chose” their inversion. The former were worth studying, but the latter were mere criminals as far as he was concerned. Nevertheless, he was among the first to argue that homosexuality (and homosexual people) was morally neutral. But that didn’t mean he believed in homosexual emancipation. Instead, Raffalovich wrote that a homosexual, if he were “the superior being that he imagines himself and if he had any religion,” should pursue celibacy and dedicate himself to serving humanity:

The great men claimed for homosexuality have been great only because they have not allowed themselves to be overmastered by their sexuality. The grand inverts have been grand in spite of their inversion or because they raised themselves above it and so above humanity. The man without family, without wife, without children, who is kept by continence or by chastity from so many annoyances, vexations and falsehoods and whose heart is not barren and withered, may be a Michael Angelo or a Newton. (Newton is classed here only for his chastity).

…Well! since the invert is not burdened with maternity nor by all the vexations of the female sex, why not try to make him serve humanity? He has many defects and many vices inborn, but our civilization and our education do not and cannot improve his condition.

The bees and the ants have workers who do not reproduce. Is it possible, barely possible, to make some use of the uranists?

But as for changing and becoming heterosexuals, Raffalovich thought that would be impossible, and even dangerous.

So I protest that we should not make a practice of pitying the inverts as inverts. The enthusiastic uranists do not wish to change. With whom should they? The true homosexuals, those who have the passion of similarity, if they were women would love women; so also the true homosexual if he were a man would love a man. Let us pity humanity as a whole if we wish; let us pity it bitterly if we have no religion — but let us not pick out the inverts for the our utmost pity. I cannot repeat this admonition too often.

Raffalovich’s conflicted view of homosexuality betrayed his own conflicts with his sexuality. Three years earlier, he had met and fallen in love with his lifelong companion, the poet John Gray. Together, they developed a deep devotion to Catholicism, to which Raffalovich converted in 1896 and became a third order lay Dominican. Gray also converted and later became a priest (see below). After Gray’s ordination (with Raffalovich footing the bill), Raffalovich settled near Gray’s parish in Scotland where he continued to provide financial support and attended mass every morning. And while Gray served his parishioners, Raffalovich served humanity by hosting a salon and becoming a patron of the arts. Raffalovich and Gray remained devoted to each other (while living in separate households) for the rest of their lives until Raffalovich’s death in 1934, just four months before Gray’s.

[Source: Raffalovich, Marc Andre “Uranism, congenital sexual inversion.” Journal of Comparative Neurology 5, no. 1 (March 1895): 33-65. Available online via Google Books here.]

Statistics on Homosexuality Convictions: 1914. The American Journal of Urology had become increasingly focused on sexual matters as the new century progressed, so much so that in April 1914 the journal would modify its name to American Journal of Urology and Sexology. In the last month under the old title, Douglas C. McMurtrie, who wrote a regular column called “Department of Sexology,” listed the following statistics on convictions for “Crimes Against Nature”:

STATISTICS regarding all crimes in the United States are miserably defective and the results attending an effort to determine the frequency of the offence of sodomy, generally designated as an “offence against nature” is unsatisfactory. We find, however, that on June 80, 1904, there were in American penal institutions 376 prisoners committed for this crime. These prisoners comprised 15.5% of those committed for offences against chastity. Of the total 375 were male and 1 female.

The distribution by states was as follows: New Hampshire, 1; Massachusetts, 20; Connecticut, 7; New York, 62; New Jersey, 12; Pennsylvania, 52; Maryland, 8; Virginia, 3; West Virginia, 1; North Carolina, 4; South Carolina, 1; Georgia, 1; Florida, 3; Ohio, 22; Indiana, 6; Illinois, 20; Michigan, 11; Wisconsin, 6; Minnesota, 8; Iowa, 2; Missouri, 11; North Dakota, 2; Nebraska, 2; Kansas, 4; Kentucky, 6; Tennessee, 5; Alabama, 3; Mississippi, 6; Louisiana, 3; Texas, 29; Montana, 4; Wyoming, 2; Colorado, 5; Arizona, 1; Utah, 2; Idaho, 2 ; Washington, 8; Oregon, 1; California, 30. It will be seen that the frequency of conviction varies greatly in different localities.

In the figures of crime given for the state of Indiana, which are probably the most complete available, the offence in question is not mentioned. In the Indianapolis police court, however there were two cases of sodomy in 1910 and ten in 1911.

[Source: Douglas C. McMurtrie. “Statistics of Sodomy” American Journal of Urology 10, no. 3 (March 1914): 146. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mlle de Raucourt: 1756-1815. Born Françoise Marie-Antoinette Saucerotte but known popularly simply as Mademoiselle de Raucourt, the French actress and a favorite of Queen Marie-Antoinette was famous for her incredibly beauty and her singing talents, and infamous for her entirely open affairs with men and women. Her affair with the Marquis de Bièvres proved financially profitable: he gave her £12,000 and made her financially independent. She then became infatuated with the opera singer Sophie Arnould in an affair that ended badly. Two men represented the women in a duel. Raucourt then began an affair with Jeanne-Françoise Souque, and the couple lived so lavishly that they soon became bankrupt and fled to Germany to get away from their creditors. They were able to return to France a few months later with the help of the French Prince de Ligne.

When Raucourt returned to France and resumed performing at the Comédie-Française, she caught the attention of Queen Marie-Antoinette, who became her patron. But being an open lesbian and a favorite of the Court in pre-revolutionary France would soon prove precarious. Libelous pamphlets began appearing charging that Raucourt participated in all-female orgies. The pamphlets also claimed that she was the leader of la Secte Anandryne, an allegedly secret society of man-hating lesbians which, in reality, never existed. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, she remained faithful to her royal benefactors and was imprisoned in 1793 for lack of loyalty to the Revolution. When the Revolution in turn was overthrown in 1794 by the Directory, she was released and named the director of the Théâtre Louvois. In 1803, Napoleon named her director of the imperial theaters in newly-conquered Italy.

Raucourt retired in 1814, and died on January 15, 1815 at the age of 58. When the priest refuse to allow her body to enter the church for a requiem mass, the crowd of mourners, numbering 15,000, rioted and forced the church doors open and demanded the service take place. After the funeral, her brother organized a lifetime income for her partner, Henriette Simonnot de Ponty, whom Raucourt had met while in prison.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, March 2

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From  (Long Beach), September 12, 1980, page 13.

From (Long Beach), September 12, 1980, page 13.

The Red Mill was one of those many bars that have come and gone with little trace of its existence. I was able to find one brief mention of it from 1975: “Thirteen drunk Long Beach police officers enter the Red Mill gay bar after midnight, creating a disturbance. Three officers are fired for conduct unbecoming an officer.” As for the bar itself, it was completely wiped by redevelopment. That portion of Locust avenue was turned into a pedestrian promenade, and a Renaissance Hotel has been built in its place.

Dr. Fritz de Quervain

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Swiss Doctor Recommends Castrating Homosexuals: 1929. An article appearing in the German-language Swiss Medical Weekly by the famed Swiss surgeon Johann Friedrich (Fritz) de Quervain was reviewed a couple months later in the American Urologic and Cutaneous Review:

Results of Castration in Sexual Abnormalities. — F. de Quervain (Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift, March 2, 1929) reports the resutls of observations made upon some thirty-two patient, twenty-seven men and women in whom castration had been carried out in an attempt to relieve some sexual annormality. The libido was diminished more or less in every case. Out of eight cases of perverse sexual practices, cure was secured in five cases. Psychic disturbances (depression, epileptic and schizophrenic disturbances) of transient nature were observed in nine cases; vaso motor disturbances, similar to those of the menopause, were seen in seven cases. The castrate body type developed in only seven cases. Twenty-three of the patients expressed themselves as very well satisfied with the results of the operation. The operation is indicated in cases of persistent exhibitionis, rape and homosexuality.

[Source: “Results of castration in sexual abnormalities.” Urologic and Cutaneous Review 33, no. 5 (May 1929): 351.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Gray: 1866-1934. A poet of the Aesthetic movement, Gray was a friend of Oscar Wilde, who some say used Gray as his inspiration for the title character in The Picture of  Dorian Gray. Like many in the Aesthetic movement (Wilde included), Gray was drawn to Roman Catholicism. He converted in 1890, lapsed, then re-embraced Catholicism in 1895 before issuing his 1896 volume Spiritual Poems: Chiefly Done Out in Several Languages. It included eleven original poems, plus twenty-nine translations of other Catholic and Protestant spiritual poets. In 1898, he went to Rome to study for the priesthood, and he was ordained in 1901. He served is a priest in Edinburgh, and was supported in his endeavors by his life partner Marc-André Raffalovich, a successful poet and early defender of homosexuality who had joined the Dominicans in 1896. The two lived near each other until Raffalovich died suddenly in 1934. Gray was devastated, and became ill and died just four months later.

Matthew Mitcham: 1988. The Queensland, Australia native and Olympic gold medalist received the highest single dive score in Olympic history in the 10m platform in 2008. His performance prevented a Chinese gold medal sweep in diving, and he became the first Australian male to win Olympic gold in diving since 1924. Australia’s post office acted very quickly on the historic win, issuing a 50 cent stamp with his image just one day after his victory. But despite his achievement, his gold medal didn’t translate into sponsorship gold. While lesser athletes snapped up lucrative deals, Mitcham struggled to find a single sponsor before finally landing a contract in 2009 with an Australian telecom. It’s widely believed that his open homosexuality played a role in holding back the rush of sponsors.

In 2011, he suffered a string of injuries which hindered his training for the 2012 games in London, where he finished 13th in the 10m platform semifinals, just one place away from qualifying for the finals. His autobiography, Twists and Turns, was published in Australia and 2012 and internationally the following year.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 1

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA: Events This Weekend: Pride, Cape Town, South Africa; National Student Pride, London, UK; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), March 1974, page 13.

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), March 1974, page 13.

Lionel Dean (center) and friends, about 1899. (Source)

Lionel Dean (center) and friends, about 1899. (Source)

Brooklyn hipsters may think they invented something new with the whole lumbersexual thing, but as with all trends, the gays got there first. More than 40 years ago, the lumberjack motif defined Portland’s newest gay bar on the ground floor of the historic Washington Hotel. Before the Axe Handle, another lumber-themed gay bar, Timber Topper, operated in that space from 1970 until the Axe Handle bowed in. Long before that, the hotel’s saloon was operated, Lionel Dean, an architect who designed the hotel in 1911 and who was arrested in late 1912 during the first days of the Portland Vice Scandal. That vice was homosexual activity, and more than fifty men were implicated before the scandal was over, although most of them were acquitted for lack of evidence. (At least seven pleaded guilty or were otherwise convicted.) Dean wound up moving to New York, where he took up residence with another man, and where he died in 1938.

So 428 S.W. 12th Street in Portland likely had an extraordinarily long history as a gathering place for Oregon homosexuals, lumberjack and otherwise. But you wouldn’t know it today. The hotel is now the Washington Plaza Apartments and the former tavern is an artisanal (of course) ice cream parlor.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Trial for “Lude & Sodomiticall Practices: 1642. The Plymouth Colony Court heard a case brought against Edward Michell and Edward Preston for “lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy.” The precise wording was important: sodomy itself was punishable by death, but practices which fell short of sodomy itself (which required proof of penetration and emission), were deemed merely “sodomitical” or sodomy-like. According to surviving records:

Edward Michell, for his lude & sodomiticall practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lude carriages with Lydia Hatch, is censured to be presently whipped at Plymouth, at the public place, and once more at Bamestable, in convenient time, in the presence of Mr. Freeman and the committees of the said town.

Edward Preston, for his lude practices tending to sodomy with Edward Michell, and pressing John Keene thereunto (if he would have yielded), is also censured [sentenced] to be forthwith whipped at Plymouth, and once more at Bamestable (when Edward Michell is whipped), in the presence of Mr. Freeman & the committees of the same town.

John Keene, because he resisted the temptation, & used means to discover it, is appointed to stand by whilst Michell and Preston are whipped, though in some thing he was faulty.

Former Dutch New Netherland Colony Adopts Duke of York’s Civil Law: 1655. The English had conquered the Dutch New Netherland Colony (parts of present-day Connecticut, New York, New Jersey Delaware and Pennsylvania) in 1664, whereupon the colony became the personal proprietary colony of the Duke of York, who would later become King James II, the last Catholic king of Britain. James was commander of the Royal Navy during the Second Anglo-Dutch War which would continue for another three years. As a reward for his service, James’s brother, King Charles II, had granted James the American territory between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers.

The Dutch would later get their revenge when James was overthrown by William of Orange and Mary, James’s own daughter, in what became known as the Glorious Revolution, but that would come more than two decades later. In the meantime, there was the question of what to do with the new formerly Dutch colony’s legal code.

That question was settled on March 1, 1665, when representatives from several towns in the new colony met at Hempstead, Long Island, to approve a new code of laws drawn up by the Duke’s representatives. These new laws listed eleven capital offenses: blasphemy, premeditated murder, murder of a defenseless victim, (4) conspiracy to murder, bestiality, sodomy, man-stealing (kidnapping), perjury to take a life, treason, insurrection, and children over sixteen smiting their parents. The section on Sodomy quoted Leviticus:

If any man lyeth with mankind as he lyeth with a woman, they shall be put to Death, unless the one party were Forced or be under fourteen Years of age, in which Case he shall be punished at the Discretion of the Court of Assizes.

The law went into effect that year in New York and New Jersey, and in Pennsylvania Colony ten years later.

New Haven Colony Passes Sodomy Law: 1656. When the New Haven Colony, in what is now Connecticut, its legislation was unique in the English-speaking world for mandating the death penalty for women as well as men for acts “against nature,” as well as for masturbation and anal sex among heterosexual couples. The act, which quoted Leviticus and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, read as follows:

If any man lyeth with mankinde, as a man lyeth with a woman, both of them have Committed abomination, they both shall surely be put to death. Levit. 20. 13. And if any woman change the naturall use, into that which is against nature, as Rom. 1. 26. she shall be liable to the same Sentence, and punishment, or If any person, or persons, shall Commit any other kinde of unnaturall and shamefull filthines, called in Scripture the going after strange flesh, or other flesh then God alloweth, by canall knowledge of another vessel then God in nature hath appointed to becomp one flesh, whether it be by abusing the contrary part of a grown woman, or Child of either sex, or unripe vessel of a Girle, wherein the naturall use of the woman is left, which God hath ordained for the propagation of posterity, and Sodomiticall filthinesse (tending to the destruction of the race of mankind) is committed by a kind of Rape, nature being forced, though the will were inticed, every such person shall be put to death. Or if any man shall act upon himself, and in the sight of others spill his owne seed, by example, or counsel, or both, corrupting or tempting others to doe the like, which tends to the sin of Sodomy, if it be not one kind of it; or shall defile, or corrupt himself and others, by any kind of sinfull filthinesse, he shall be punished according to the nature of the offence; or if the case considered with the aggravating circumstances, shall according to the mind of God revealed in his word require it, he shall be put to death, as the Court of Magistrates shall determine.

New Haven Colony also applied the death penalty for adultery. This law remained in effect for the next ten years, until 1665 when New Haven Colony joined Connecticut and came under Connecticut law, which specified the death penalty for “man lying with man” only. That and adultery.

60 YEARS AGO: Minnesotans Respond To A Father’s Letter: 1955. Two days earlier, popular Minneapolis broadcaster and columnist Cedric Adams published what must have been a shocking letter in The Minneapolis Star from a father who learned that his son was gay (see Feb 27). According to the father, his son had undergone therapy and “has been salvaged” — according to the father. Also, according to the father, Minneapolis was rife with homosexuals and the police were doing nothing to close down their bars. Adams published the letter in order to, at the very least, “point a finger at the condition.”

Indeed it did, and the letter became the subject of three more columns over the following week. On March 1, Adams returned to the subject, publishing a number of letters that he received from outraged citizens in the Twin Cities area. His column for the day went like this:

A father’s letter printed here Sunday having to do with a homosexual problem of his 20-year-old son has produced a wave of reaction, some from the public, some from the University of Minnesota and some from our own Minneapolis police department. While the situation is still fresh, This Corner wants to extend to Thomas R. Jones, superintendent of the Minneapolis police department, an opportunity to discuss some of the charges made by the father of the son involved. I ran that letter on Sunday for two reasons: I think the situation needs some airing and I was convinced that this father, and perhaps many others, need a little straightening out on the whole problem. Superintendent Jones did exactly what I hoped he would do. He took the bull by the horns and in a very straightforward manner did his best to pinpoint the mistakes of the parent involved. I spent two hours with Chief Jones In his office yesterday and came out with this statement trom him:

“THE OBVIOUS INDICTMENT of the police department in your Sunday column is unjustified and without basis of fact. You omitted the names of the bars because of the possibility of damage suits against your newspaper. The writer of the letter you published had no evidence which would be admissible in a court of law to prove the accusation and inferences made in his letter. Police officers are also bound by that same restriction and cannot name individuals or establishments or make arrests of either unless they are in possession of provable facts which would be admissible in court to prove that a crime has been committed…

“THE ACT OF HOMOSEXUALITY is defined as sodomy In our state statutes and is a felony. Both parties involved are equally guilty in the eyes of the law and can be sentenced to a term in the state penitentiary. However, one may not accuse another of such activity unless he is in possession of such facts that would prove the commission of the crime. This applies to any law violation and you’d be doing a public service by bringing this, to the attention of your readers. Police officers cannot name individuals or establishments or make arrests until they can prove a crime has been committed. A group of suspected homosexuals frequenting a bar does not constitute a violation of the law. There’s no evidence that a crime has been committed. Now, take the father’s statement that the police have done nothing to curb the situation. That’s a complete misstatement of fact. Only last week a night club was told to discontinue an act because the police department strongly suspicioned that objectionable individuals made up a majority of the show. We do not want that kind of attraction. An identical case was similarly disposed of two years ago…

“THE FATHER WHO WROTE the letter didn’t even suggest that he ever made an attempt to bring his suspicions or complaints to the proper authorities — his police department. He states that his privately hired ‘private eye’ saw police officers in two of the spots he visited while making his investigation. The duty incumbent on every citizen to bring cases of law violations to the attention of the proper authorities is even more binding on parties holding special police commissions, such as private detectives. They take an oath to enforce the law and to assist law enforcement bodies in every instance of law violation that comes to their attention. It’s the duty of our police officers to patrol bars, to look for law violations, but the mere presence of a group of homosexuals in any bar is not evidence of violation of the law…

“I CAN’T HELP WONDER whether the father of the son in question had ever taken the time or trouble to caution or advise his son about some of the sins or pitfalls of the world in which we live. It’s my suspicion that he, like so many others, is trying to excuse his dereliction of family duty by trying to place the responsibility for his son’s yielding to temptation on the police department. This neglect of family duty, in my opinion, is the greatest single cause of juvenile delinquency. Why haven’t this father and you and your column and the newspaper you refer to as a ‘family gazette’ taken a more active stand in endeavoring to give our city enough police officers to carry out the many duties and responsibilities expected of them instead of waiting for lightning to strike home before doing something about it. We have a vice squad of five men to patrol a city of more than half a million. Our whole department has fewer officers per thousand population than the average for all cities in the United States over 10,000 population. Minneapolis has the lowest incident of homosexuality of any city of its size in the country. Don’t let your readers get the wrong impression from letters which do not present the facts.”

The next day, Adams published another letter from a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota:

“GENERALLY SPEAKING, FATHERS and mothers are always’ well-advised to take to a school counselor students who experience behavior and emotional problems. The teacher, the counselor, and the parent have much in common and can be of help to each other. If the boy, referred to in the letter of Feb. 27, is a student in any Minnesota college or university, I am certain that even now the appropriate college counselor would be very pleased to discuss the matter with the father and mother and that much good would result if the parents of this or any boy would take advantage of this available assistance. — E. G. Williamson, dean of student affairs and professor of psychology, University of Minnesota.

These two columns represents a historically interesting turn. Considering the times — 1955, just five years after the initiation of the Lavender Scare — the father’s letter didn’t generate a state of general panic demanding that the authorities do something immediately. Instead, Adams posted a series of letters from readers calling the father to task. The letter writers didn’t betray any evidence of enlightenment toward gay people — their motivation appears to have been to rush to defend the reputation of Minneapolis and its people (“Minneapolis has the lowest incident of homosexuality of any city of its size in the country”). But in the context of the times, they do show a remarkable restraint in their reactions upon learning that there are homosexuals in the city.

But the real surprising turn would come in another three days when Adams would feature another round of letters, this time from gay people themselves.

[Source: “In This Corner, with Cedric Adams.” Minneapolis Star (March 1, 1955). As reprinted in The Mattachine Review, 1, no. 3 (May-June 1955): 24-30.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mercedes de Acosta: 1893-1968. Born in New York City to Cuban and Spanish immigrants, de Acosta went on to publish a novel and three volumes of poetry, and she saw four of her plays produced. But none of them were successful. De Acosta instead became on early example of achieving fame for being famous, thanks to her many lesbian affairs with Broadway and Hollywood celebrities despite a more-or-less arranged marriage to painter Aram Poole from 1920 to 1935.

Lovers included the Russian-born silent film star Alla Nazimova (see Jun 3), the dancer Isadora Duncan, and Broadway actress Eva Le Gallienne. De Acosta’s five-year relationship with Le Gallienne started the same year as de Acosta’s marriage. De Acosta wrote two plays for Le Gallienne, both of which flopped, which led to their breakup. She met Greta Garbo in 1929, and the two almost immediately began an intense and stormy relationship. They split in 1932 and de Acosta began seeing Marlene Dietrich. That relationship lasted for the rest of the decade, even as de Acosta and Garbo continued to see each other from time to time and remained, at the very least, close friends over the next thirty years.

Following the war, de Acosta moved to Paris, where she sat out the 1950s and the McCarthy Red- and Lavender Scare. She returned to New York in 1960, broke and in poor health, and published her memoir Here Lies the Heart, to generally good reviews. De Acosta was candid-for-1960 about her relationships while carefully avoiding anything of a sexual nature. Nevertheless Garbo was appalled and ended all contact with de Acosta once and for all. Other critics were shocked and accused de Acosta of exaggeration, but her long-time friend Alice B. Toklas (See Apr 30) came to her defense. “Say what you will about Mercedes, she’s had the most important women of the twentieth century.” De Acosta died in poverty in 1968, and was buried in Washington Heights in New York City.

Bryan Batt: 1963. He’s best known for playing Sal Romano, the married but glass-closeted art director at the Sterling Cooper ad agency for the first three seasons of AMC’s Mad Men. He also played gay roles in Kiss Me, Guido, Jeffrey, and the stage version of La Cage aux Folles. Jeffrey came out while he was playing a male (straight) lead on the Broadway version of Sunset Blvd. He was worried that coming out then would ruin his career, “but now I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It’s normal to be gay.” When he’s not acting, Batt is in New Orleans with his partner of 25 years where they own a home decorating store.

Don Lemon: 1966. The host of the weekend prime-time CNN Newsroom, Don Lemon joined CNN in 2006, reporting from Chicago as then-Sen. Barack Obama was beginning his long trek to the White House. Since then, his on-the-scene reporting has included the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse, the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Massachusetts. He won the Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the Washington, D.C. snipers, and an Emmy for a special report on Chicago-area real estate. In 2009, Ebony named him as one of the Ebony Power 150, and in 2011 he was the keynote speaker fort he National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association national convention. That was after he came out as gay in his 2011 memoir, Transparent.

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, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Pride, Cape Town, South Africa; National Student Pride, London, UK; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From In Step, (Milwaukee, WI), February 23, 1984, page 11.

From In Step, (Milwaukee, WI), February 23, 1984, page 11.

The Finale opened in June 1975 as a friendly neighborhood bar that wound up drawing from across the city. It was known for its costume parties, which helped keep customers in the bar until closing time rather than bar-hopping around town. The Finale’s finale occurred in January 1986 after a fire gutted the bar. The building is still there, considerably spiffied up and housing a chic cafe.

In Step published these photos of that 1984 Hawaiian Shirt party:

Source. Click to enlarge.

Source. Click to enlarge.

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

TODAY IN HISTORY:
65 YEARS AGO: State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals: 1950. That revelation didn’t cause much of a stir that day since Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy’s testimony came right before Secretary of State Acheson Dean Acheson’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee where he was pelted with questions about Alger Hiss. One month earlier, Hiss had been convicted of perjury when answering questions under oath about allegations that he had passed along secret government papers to a Soviet courier. The charges and Hiss’s conviction were highly controversial, and Acheson had told reporters,”I do not intend to turn my back on Alger Hiss.” Hiss’s conviction that year sealed Richard Nixon’s reputation as an anti-Communist fighter — Nixon as Congressman had chaired the House committee that brought the allegations against Hiss to light — and Sen. Joseph McCarthy gave his famous speech in Wheeling two weeks later that launched his own career as a red scare warrior.

But Peurifoy’s little-notice testimony would plant the seeds for what would later become known as the Lavender scare, although what he was trying to do was counter McCarthy’s charge in Wheeling that he had a list of 57 names “that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party.” (Some sources put that number at 205; no audio recording or transcription of the Wheeling speech survives.) Peurifoy told the Senate committee said that the State Department had already gotten rid of 202 employees since 1947 who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go “for moral weakness … Most of them were homosexual. In fact, I would say all of them were.”

Until the end of February, the nascent scare was still mostly red. Peurifoy’s testimony was almost a footnote in the papers, occupying little more than a couple of paragraphs in the larger story about Acheson’s testimony. But in the days and weeks that followed, Peurifoy’s 91 homosexuals would catch the attention of newspaper editors and columnists, and McCarthy and his supporters would quickly incorporate lavender into the budding red scare.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824-1882. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

Pedro Zamora: 1972 (Feb 29) -1994. When MTV debuted The Real World in 1992, it gave us so-called reality television as we know it today — so-called because it’s hard to see how putting eight attractive young people in a hip loft-like apartment with television crews, hidden cameras, and make-work jobs could be considered “reality.” But in 1994, things really did start getting real when Pedro Zamora, the Cuban-American gay man revealed that he was HIV positive to his housemates by showing them his scrapbook of his four years as an AIDS educator and advocate. In fact, it was this vocation which inspired him to audition for The Real World’s third season. As the season progressed, housemates (and viewers) became more aware of the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, attended some of Pedro’s AIDS education lectures, celebrated with him as he and his partner exchanged vows during a commitment ceremony, and watched as he dealt with his own deteriorating health as the season progressed.

Taping ended in June 19, 1994 and the first episodes aired a week later. As the season aired, Pedro’s declining health prevented him from participating in any publicity appearances. In August, he checked into St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. There he was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, one of the many opportunistic infections that many people with AIDS suffered, which causes fatigue, headaches and confusion. After three weeks, he was flown home to Miami to be with his family. He died on November 11, 1994, a day after the final episode of The Real World aired. President Bill Clinton praised Pedro, saying that because of his example, “no one in America can say they’ve never known someone who is living with AIDS.”

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

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

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