The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 26

metrazol-adThe professional literature before 1980 is thoroughly infected with torturous descriptions of psychiatry’s barbarous attempts at “curing” homosexuality. Many accounts deal with the application of painful electric shock delivered via electrodes attached to sensitive regions of the body (Jan 18, Jan 20Mar 11, May 8Jun 3, Sep 6Oct 30Dec 8). But the imagination for new methods of torture didn’t end there. Dr. Newdigate M. Owensby, who practiced at Atlanta’s prestigious Medical Arts Building and founded the Brook Haven Manor Sanitarium outside of Atlanta, published a brief paper in the July 1940 edition of the prestigious Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease describing his own unique experiments to cure homosexuality.

He based his experiment on curing homosexuality on “the assumption that homosexuality and lesbianism are symptoms of an under developed schizophrenia.” Other psychiatrists had been experimenting with Metrazol-induced seizures for schizophrenia since 1934, and their logic, wierd as it may sound, went like this: people with epilepsy (which was considered a mental illness) almost never had schizophrenia (or so they thought), and people with schizophrenia almost never had epilepsy (or so they thought). And so maybe there was something in the epileptic seizure that either prevented or  cured schizophrenia, so they thought. And why why wouldn’t it, so they thought, since electric seizures induced by Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) was already known to be surprisingly effective for cases of severe depression. (ECT is still found to be useful today to treat severe depression.)

Owensby stretched that already thin line of thinking further: if homosexuality was a kind of an underdeveloped schizophrenia — where he got this belief, I have no idea — then why not try injecting his subjects with Metrazol to produce an epileptic-type grand mal seizure, and thus ridding his patients of that underdeveloped schizophrenia? Owensby extended his already-stretched theory even further by suggesting that Metrazol seizures might “liberate this previous fixation of the libido and the psychosexual energy becomes free once more to flow through regular physiological channels.” Again, who knows where he got that idea. But to give you an idea of what this kind of seizure looked like, here is a brief film clip unrelated to Owensby’s report from a few years earlier:

Ownesby provided six case studies of his experiments:

Case I.-A white male of 19 years had been arrested and sentenced to prison because of moral turpitude (homosexuality). He was paroled for treatment and promised a pardon if his perversion was corrected. The family history was not enlightening. Homosexual experiences began during his fourteenth year and continued thereafter. Feminine mannerisms were evident. Metrazol was administered until fifteen shocks were produced. All homosexual desires had disappeared after the ninth shock, but treatment was continued until all feminine mannerisms had been removed. Normal sex relations were established and eighteen months later there had been no return of homosexual tendencies. He was granted a pardon.

Case 2.-A white male aged thirty-four years. Had been a homosexual since his fifteenth year. He was frank enough to admit that the only reason for seeking treatment was fear of exposure and subsequent disgrace. All homosexual desires disappeared after seven grand mal attacks were induced by metrazol. He was married four months later. At the expiration of ten months he stated there had been no recurrence of homosexual desires or practices.

Case 3.-A white male aged forty-four years. Had been a homosexual since early youth. Most of his past life had been spent in penal institutions because of the opportunities to indulge his perversion. He seemed proud of the fact that he was a “man-woman”. Was constantly inebriated when out of prison. Metrazol was administered until ten grand mal attacks had occurred. He appeared to be regenerated after the ninth seizure. His common law wife states that, with the exception of an occasional overindulgence in alcohol, he has been a normal, hard working man for the past six months.

Case 4–A white male aged twenty-five years. Has been a homosexual since his fifteenth year. His mother was a neurotic. A sister had a manic depressive attack. A brother was an alcoholic. The patient was seclusive and spent most of his free time in his room. Would take an occasional trip to another city in order to satiate his homosexual desires. Was reluctant to discuss his perversion. Six grand mal attacks were induced by metrazol. Normal sex relations became established shortly thereafter and at the expiration of three months the patient claimed to be sexually healthy.

Case 5.-A white male aged twenty-six years. Married. Had indulged in active homosexuality since his seventeenth year. Appeared to be an ambulatory schizophrenic. His marriage had been arranged by a doting mother. Had never been self supporting. An obvious personality change followed the sixth induced grand mal attack. Whereas he had formerly been indifferent to his family and friends, he began to show interest and affection for them. He secured a position after returning home and became self supporting. Six months after receiving the metrazol treatment, he reported that he had continued to be free from all homosexual desires.

Case 6.-A white female aged twenty-four years. Name and address given were admittedly fictitious. Said to have been a lesbian since puberty. Promiscuous. Preferred the active role. Inclined to boast of her conquests. Inebriate for past four years. Ten grand mal seizures were induced by metrazol. Became infatuated with an intern after the treatment had been discontinued and frequently complained of nocturnal emissions. Remained institutionalized for six weeks after the last treatment and appeared to be healthy in every way. No subsequent reports.

The report’s weak findings are obvious: no measures of sexual orientation before or after, no long-term follow-up, widespread evidence of involuntary or coerced participation — not to mention a deeply flawed belief in the nature of homosexuality itself. What’s more, it’s easy to imagine that anyone being subjected to this kind of torture would say or do anything to make it stop. In fact, the use of Metrazol-induced seizures in other cases was finally halted when it was found to be both ineffective and terrifying to patients. The seizures could be so severe that some patients actually experienced spinal fractures. It was later discovered that repeated treatments could, in some cases, lead to lasting brain damage. Needless to say, there is no evidence whatsoever that this treatment had any kind of effect in changing anyone’s sexual orientation. Indeed, in June 1949, Dr. George N. Thompson, writing for the same journal, concluded that Metrazol shock therapy was utterly ineffective in curing homosexuality.

But the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH) didn’t bother to read that memo. They like to think of themselves as the scientific arm of the ex-gay movement, but when they issued their so-called “journal” in 2009 with a report which supposedly documents successful efforts to change sexual orientation, they included Owensby’s 1940 paper as a success story. Under the heading of “pharmacological interventions,” they write simply, “Owensby (1940) reported that six patients ceased all homosexual behavior after taking the drug Metrazol (pentetrazol).” They not only neglected to mention what Metrazol was all about — it wasn’t just some pill prescribed to patients — they also forgot to point out that the FDA revoked its approval of the drug in 1982.

[Sources: Newdigate M. Owensby. “Homosexuality and lesbianism treated with Metrazol.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 92, no. 1 (July 1940): 65-66.

George N. Thompson. “Electroshock and other therapeutic considerations in sexual psychopathy.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 109, no. 6 (June 1949): 531-539.

James E. Phelan, Neil Whitehead, Philip M. Sutton. “What the research shows: NARTH’s response to the APA claims on homosexuality.” Journal of Human Sexuality 1 (2009). ]

He had been an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Evangelical movement from the 1960s through the 1980s, working as a ghostwriter for Billy Graham (Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse, 1983), Pat Robertson (America’s Dates With Destiny, 1986), and Jerry Falwell (If I Should Die Before I Wake, 1986, and Falwell’s autobiography, Strength for the Journey, 1987). After marrying in 1962, While revealed to his wife that he had always been attracted to other men. As he wrote in his 1994 autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, he embarked on a more than two-decade long struggle to rid himself of the gay, including conventional psychotherapy, electric shock aversion therapy, and exorcism. Nothing worked, and after he tried to kill himself, he and his wife agreed to amicable divorce. She later wrote the foreword for Stranger at the Gate, in which he came out publicly as gay.

In 1998, White founded Soulforce, an organization which advocates for LGBT people through dialogue and other forms of nonviolent direct action in the mode of Mahatman Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2008, White and his partner, Gary Nixon, were the first same-sex couple to be legally married at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

White has long been involved in other secular areas as well. Since 1965, he has produced 53 film and television documentaries, mainly about spirituality, and he written sixteen books. In 2009, White appeared in the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race with his son, screenwriter/director/actor Mike White. His latest book, Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality, was published in 2012

The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 25

From Dallas Voice, June 8, 1984, page 16.

From Dallas Voice, June 8, 1984, page 16. (Source.)

New South Wales. View of Sydney, from the East Side of the Cove. No.2, by John Eyre, 1810

New South Wales. View of Sydney, from the East Side of the Cove. No.2, by John Eyre, 1810

On July 31 of that year, the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser offered this brief report:

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction.

On Monday the Court assembled, and proceeded to the trial of

Richard Moxworthy, charged with the commission of an offence, of the most disgusting and abominable kind.

In support of the accusation many witnesses were called, the most favorable of whom went considerably to strengthen the material circumstances of the charge; which after a long and painful investigation, left not on the minds of the Court a doubt of actual guilt.

John Hopkins, his accomplice in the crime, was also indicted on the charge, and found guilty

Australian gay rights activist, journalist, artist and historian Bob Hay delved into the story and uncovered (PDF: 398KB/10 pages) the events that led up to the trial:

Not so lucky were Dubliner, Richard Moxworthy and Bristol-born John Hopkins who came into Sydney on board the US ship Hero on July 10, 1808. Moxworthy was second mate on this privateer and trader and was aged 42. Hopkins was only 16. The two were caught having sex when the ship was somewhere off Mexico. They were immediately relieved of duty and placed in irons until the Hero arrived in Sydney.

It’s not clear why the Australian Court felt that it had jurisdiction over a crime that happened on an American vessel, but New South Wales was a penal colony at the time and I guess that’s what you do: you take criminals to prison. Australia’s law mirrored English law, which included the “abominable crime” as a capital offense all the way up until the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Sydney Gazette doesn’t explicitly report that Moxworthy and Hopkins were sentenced to death, but that’s a reasonable conclusion, especially considering a brief notice that appeared two weeks later:

His honor the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to extend the Royal Clemency to the two persons who were convicted capitally before the last Court of Criminal Jurisdiction.

Hay picks up the story from there:

After receiving a Conditional Pardon, Moxworthy again went to sea, this time as coxswain of the government sloop Blanche. Hopkins was not so successful: on April 26, 1822 the Sydney Gazette carried an advertisement offering £10 reward for the capture of John Hopkins who had absconded from his parole and was wanted for “diverse and other robberies”. There is no evidence that he was ever captured and that is the last we have heard of him.

Before Dr. James Barry’s death, he left strict instructions that no one was to change him out of the clothes in which he died. But the charwoman sent to prepare his corpse had no room for such nonsense. And so when she pulled his nightshirt up to wash his body, she screamed: “The devil! It’s a woman!”

Dr Barry, while alive, was known as a fierce and demanding doctor, and in the process became one of the most highly respected surgeons in Victorian England. As Britain’s Inspector General of Military Hospitals he was feared for his combative temper and fierce determination. He famously got in a bitter argument with Florence Nightingale, who called him a “brute” and “the most hardened creature I ever met throughout the Army.” As Inspector General, he fought for better food, hygiene, sanitation and proper medical care for soldiers and for the humanitarian treatment of prisoners. His reforms undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. He became the top-ranking doctor in the British Army, where despite his argumentative personality, he was also reputed to have an very good bedside manner. Many who knew him also remarked on his high, soft voice and his diminutive stature — he stood barely five feet tall on special stacked-soled shoes. His black manservant, who joined Barry’s employment in South Africa and would remain with him for the next fifty years, was entrusted with the task of laying out six small towels every morning that Barry used to conceal his curves and broaden his shoulders.

Despite the charwoman’s discovery, his secret remained tightly held and he was buried under the only name he had gone by since his early twenties. It wouldn’t be until the 1950s, when his British Army records were unsealed, that it was revealed that Barry had been born in Ireland as Margaret Buckley to a forward thinking family who were staunch supporters of women’s rights. But whatever ideals about women’s rights the family may have held, society’s limitations said otherwise: women were barred from studying medicine. So Margaret became James Barry shortly after she, then he, began training to become a doctor. And in every respect, he remained a man in what was very much a man’s world until the day he died.

Barry’s life and career is the subject of Rachel Holmes’s 2007 book, The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England’s Most Eminent Surgeon.

Rock Hudson, Doris Day

Rock Hudson with Doris Day, in a television appearance that touched off national speculation about Hudson’s health.

The rumors had been swirling for some time, long before Rock Hudson entered a Paris hospital for what was clearly a very serious illness. He had appeared on July 16 at a news conference in Carmel, California, alongside his 1959 Pillow Talk costar, Dorris Day, to promote Doris Day’s Best Friends, a new animal companion program on the Christian Broadcasting Network. Hudson had agreed to be her first guest. Hudson was so late for the press conference that by the time he got there, a lot of the reporters had already left. Those who stayed were shocked by what they saw: sunken cheeks, poor complexion, unsteady on his feet, his speech barely intelligible and his clothing several sizes too large for his now skeletal body. Day embraced her former co-star, and they somehow made it through the press conference. Hudson taped the show a few days later, although he was so weak they had to stop several times.

A few days later, Hudson flew to Paris where he was no stranger to the medical establishment there. Back in the states in 1984, he had a scratch on his neck that wouldn’t heal, so he went to a doctor. The doctor told him that was no scratch, but Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare form of skin cancer and a common opportunistic infection among AIDS patients. Hudson went to Paris to receive treatment with HPA-23, an experimental drug unavailable in the U.S. which was supposed to inhibit an enzyme that allows the AIDS virus to multiply. (HPA-23 was found to be ineffective against AIDS in 1989.) Now a year later, he made arrangements to return for another appointment with Dr. Dominique Dormont, the specialist who had treated him the year before. The appointment was set for July 22, but Hudson collapsed in his room at the Ritz the day before. The hotel summoned a doctor, who assumed that Hudson was experiencing heart problems and rushed him to the American Hospital of Paris. The doctors there, ignorant of his AIDS condition, noticed that his liver function was poor and suspected some kind of liver disease. This led Hudson’s publicist, Yanou Collart, to tell reporters that he was suffering from liver cancer.

Rock Hudson's return to Los Angeles

Rock Hudson’s return to Los Angeles.

When Dr. Dormont finally arrived at the hospital, he determined that Hudson was too weak to undergo any more HPA-23 treatments. Hudson decided to return to Los Angeles as soon as possible. He also decided to announce that he had AIDS.  Collart remembered, “The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to walk into his room and read him the press release. I’ll never forget the look on his face. How can I explain it? Very few people knew he was gay. In his eyes was the realization that he was destroying his own image. After I read it, he said simply, ‘That’s it, it has to be done.'”

Collart’s statement acknowledged Hudson’s disease, but not his sexuality. “He’s lucid. He’s talking, He’s joking… He’s feeling much better and in quite good spirits,” Collart said. “He doesn’t have any idea now how he contracted AIDS. … Nobody around him has AIDS.” In 1981, Hudson had undergone open heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, near West Hollywood, where he received several blood transfusions. That would have been during the earliest days of what would soon be understood to be a major blood-borne epidemic. This meant that his sexuality may have been coincidental to his AIDS, but nobody really knew, then or now. But at the time, that explanation provided a path to plausible deniability.

And so the dancing around his sexuality would continue for another three weeks. Finally, and with Hudson’s blessing, close friends Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack and Mamie Van Doren acknowledged Hudson’s sexuality in a supportive article in People magazine. Messages of support and a procession of visitors followed: Morgan Fairchild, Joan Rivers, Nancy Walker, Tony Perkins, Carol Burnett, and, of course, Elizabeth Taylor. Hudson’s death less than three months later provoked another wave of sympathy and galvanized much of Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor’s prodding, to undertake the task of reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Rock Hudson (left) and Lee Garlington in 1963. The two broke up in 1965.

Rock Hudson (left) and Lee Garlington in 1963. The couple broke up in 1965.

On October 28, 1966, the FBI forwarded the following memorandum to Marvin Watson, special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson:

October 28, 1966.

Memorandum.

Rock Hudson has not been the subject of an FBI investigation. During 1965, however, a confidential informant reported that several years ago while he was in New York he had an “affair” with movie star Rock Hudson. The informant stated that from personal knowledge he knew that Rock Hudson was a homosexual. The belief was expressed that by “personal knowledge” the informant meant he had personally indulged in homosexual acts with Hudson or had witnessed or received the information from individuals who had done so.

On another occasion, information was received by the Los Angeles Office of the FBI that it was common knowledge in the motion picture industry that Rock Hudson was suspected of having homosexual tendencies.

It is to be noted in May, 1961, a confidential source in New York also stated that Hudson definitely was a homosexual.

Our files contain no additional pertinent information identifiable with Mr. Hudson.

The fingerprint files of the Identification Division of the FBI contain no arrest data identifiable with Mr. Hudson based upon background information submitted in connection with this name check request.

NOTE: Per request of Mrs. Mildred Stegall, White House Staff.

Thomas Eakins

(d. 1916) Born and raised in Philadelphia, he studied drawing and anatomy at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and anatomy and dissection at Jefferson Medical College. His interest in the human body led him to briefly consider a career as a surgeon, but after studying art in Paris, he took his interest in the human anatomy in a very different direction. He became one of the finest painters of the human form. As for the particular human form he found fascinating, he made that clear while still a student in Paris:

“I can conceive of few circumstances wherein I would have to paint a woman naked, but if I did I would not mutilate her for double the money. She is the most beautiful thing there is — except a naked man, but I never yet saw a study of one exhibited… It would be a godsend to see a fine man model painted in the studio with the bare walls, alongside of the smiling smirking goddesses of waxy complexion amidst the delicious arsenic green trees and gentle wax flowers & purling streams running melodious up & down the hills especially up. I hate affectation.”

Salutat, 1898.

Eakins saw nudity as the essence of truth, which, in turn, was the underpinning of the realist style in which he worked. That insistence on truth got him into trouble. In 1886, he was forced to resign from the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy after he removed the loincloth of a male model in a class which included female students. Despite the public outcry, several students left the Academy in protest over Eakins’s departure. They formed the Art Students’ League of Philadelphia, and enlisted Eakins as their instructor. He also taught at several other institutions, but his teaching career ended by 1898, just three years after being dismissed from the Drexel Institute for, again, using a fully nude male model.

Eakins married Susan Hannah MacDowell, one of his students, in 1884. Their marriage was childless, but they both shared a love of painting (Susan was a skilled artist in her own right) and photography, which Eakins had taken up in the 1880s. Amid further controversy, his photography often involved nude subjects (including a full-frontal nude photo of his friend and fellow Philadelphia, Walt Whitman), as works of art themselves, or as studies for his paintings. His entire body of work can be seen as a yearning for freedom — from what or for what, we can only guess. But looking at the obvious homoeroticism of his art, that guess is not a difficult one to make.

J. Warren Kerrigan

(d. 1947) While little-known today, Kerrigan had been a very popular silent film star for the early film studios Essanay, Biograph, and later Universal. He typically played a leading role as a modern, well-dressed man-about town, and his films were enormously successful. Photoplay magazine named him the most popular male star among its readers in 1914, the same year he became the first movie star to publish his autobiography. In 1916, the magazine Motion Picture Classic declared him the most popular star in the world.

He killed his career in 1917 over a glib remark about his refusal to enlist in World War I. He didn’t want to enlist because he didn’t want to leave his mother alone. He also didn’t want to leave behind his partner, actor and silent film director James Vincent, who lived at home with Kerrigan’s mother. When reporters pestered him over why he didn’t enlist, neither of the true answers were acceptable. Unfortunately, the answer he gave a Denver reporter was just about as disastrous as either of the real reasons he had:

… I think that first they should take the great mass of men who aren’t good for anything else, or are only good for the lower grades of work. Actors, musicians, great writers, artists of every kind — isn’t it a pity when people are sacrificed who are capable of such things — of adding to the beauty of the world.

Maybe he was tired — it was at the end of a four-month long publicity tour — or maybe he was just tired of dodging the question. At any rate, his answer was a public relations disaster, and his career was dead.

At least that’s how it looked for the next six years. In 1923, director James Cruze made a bold and surprising move by casting Kerrigan for the lead role in the Paramount western epic The Covered Wagon. The silent feature’s epic scale and outlandish budget for its day — it was filmed on location over several months at a cost of $783,000 ($11 million today) — set a new benchmark for filmmaking made it the most popular release that year. That success opened the doors to five less successful roles for Kerrigan the next year, ending in the swashbuckling 1924 film Captain Blood. By then, it was obvious that his reputation still hadn’t recovered. But with fresh money in the bank, coupled with his cautious investments and eschewing the lavish Hollywood lifestyle, his financial future was secure. He retired from filmmaking and lived quietly with Vincent until Kerrigan died in 1947 at the age of 67.

Nicknamed “Alfie,” the Welsh rugby player was the first professional rugby union player to announce publicly that he was gay. He told The Daily Mail, “I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player, first and foremost I am a man.” I think he succeeded. Since I don’t know squat about rugby, it would be disasterous if I were to try to fake it. So  I’ll take the cheap and easy way out by quoting shamelessly from Wikipedia:

With 100 test match appearances he was the most capped Welsh rugby union player until he was overtaken by Stephen Jones in September 2011. He is currently ranked 12th among international try scorers and is the second highest Wales try scorer behind Shane Williams. He also won 4 rugby league caps for Wales, scoring 3 tries.He played rugby union for Bridgend, Cardiff, the Celtic Warriors, Toulouse, Cardiff Blues and Wales as a fullback, wing or centre. In 2010 he moved to rugby league, playing for the Crusaders RL in the Super League, and for Wales.

He broke his arm during a match in July 2011. After failing to recover in time for the Rugby League Four Nations Tournament in October, he announced his retirement.

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 24

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1986, page 12. (Source.)

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1986, page 12. (Source.)

Baron Smith

In 1984, just one year after being elected as Member of the British Parliament on the Labour ticket, Smith became the first MP to come out as gay at his own choosing. There had been a few other MP’s who had been involuntarily outed, typically as a result of a scandal. But Smith did so voluntarily, during a pro-gay rally in Rugby, Warwickshire, protesting a proposed ban on gay employees by the town council. Smith did came out during his self-introduction at the rally: “”Good afternoon, I’m Chris Smith, I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. I’m gay, and so for that matter are about a hundred other members of the House of Commons, but they won’t tell you openly.”

That revelation did little to impede his political progress. Smith became Labour opposition whip in 1986, shadow Treasury minister in 1987, shadow environment minister in 1992, shadow secretary for National Heritage in 1994, and shadow secretary for Social Security in 1995. When Labour won the general election in 1997, Smith served as Tony Blair’s first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport through 2001, making him the first openly gay Cabinet Minister. He left the House of Commons at the 2005 general election, and was rewarded for his services with a life peerage in the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury. In 2008, he was appointed chairman of the Environment Agency. He stepped down in 2014, and in 2015 he accepted an appointment as Master of Penbroke College, Cambridge. He also became chairman trustees of the Cambridge Union Society that same year.

 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Sant’s traveling salesman father moved the family around through much of his childhood. One thing remained constant though, and it was the young Van Sant’s interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. He enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study painting, but he switched to cinema after discovering avant-garde films. Since avant-garde films were never much of a money-maker, Van Sant wound up being very familiar with some of the more derelict areas along Hollywood Boulevard, and 1985’s Mala Noche, the story of a doomed love affair between a gay store clerk and a Mexican immigrant, was the first of many films touching on the fringes of society. 1989’s Drugstore Cowboy and 1991’s My Own Private Idaho became signature films which established Van Sant as a director to be taken seriously.

His 1993 flop, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, very nearly unraveled his career, but 1995’s To Die For (starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix), his first major studio production for Columbia, catapulted him into the mainstream. Good Will Hunting, which starred and was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, earned Van Sant a Best Director Oscar nomination. His remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was considerably less successful. His decision to re-create Hitchcock’s film shot-for-shot in color instead of black and white looked more alike a parlor trick than a serious artistic decision. He then turned to art-house films, including Elephant (a fictional film inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting) which earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. He returned to the mainstream again in 2008 with his biopic Milk, starring Sean Penn as the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and featuring a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (Jun 10). Again, Van Sant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, although he lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.

Kirk, at the age of 4 years and 6 months, just a few months before entering treatment at UCLA’s Feminine Boy Project (Photo courtesy of the family)

(d. 2003) For more than four decades, Kirk well known among behavioral therapists who were trying to prevent homosexuality and transgender identities in very young children. His identity wasn’t known; they only knew him by his pseudonym “Kraig.”

The seeds for “Kraig’s” fame were planted in the summer of 1970, when Kirk’s mother saw a television program featuring famed sexologist Dr. Richard Green describing a new federally-funded treatment program, called the Feminine Boy Project, at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. After hearing his spiel about the dangers of effeminate boys growing up to become homosexual, she became worried that her son was headed for trouble. So a month before his fifth birthday, she took him to UCLA where Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. Ten months later, five-year-old Kirk was declared to be rid of his “severe gender identity disturbance,” and Kirk’s case would help Rekers earn his Ph.D. in 1972.

Two years later, Rekers published his case report of “Kraig” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, where he described “Kraig’s” treatment and the astounding “success.” This was the first time anyone had reported curing a young child’s budding homosexuality or transgenderism — no one was ever quite sure what it was they though they saw in Kirk — and that paper became one of the more widely-cited papers in the late 1970s. Kirk’s case launched Rekers’s career, first as an acclaimed or controversial young psychologist (depending on one’s point of view at the time), and later as a significant anti-gay activist when he co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983. Throughout Rekers’s career he would write at least twenty papers describing Kirk’s case as an example of the power of his treatment program to prevent homosexuality and transgender identity in very young children. The most recent publication touting “Kraig’s” supposedly successful cure appeared in a 2009 book promoted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), where Rekers served on its Scientific Advisory Committee. Of course, all of that was before Rekers was discovered returning from a European vacation in the company of a male escort in 2010.

But it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the truth about “Kraig” would finally emerge. Our award winning original BTB investigation revealed that Kirk’s therapy was highly abusive; that contrary to Rekers’s persistent reports, Kirk was not straight; that Kirk struggled all his life with the shame that his treatment at UCLA had been instilled in him; and that his struggle finally ended with his suicide in December of 2003. If Kirk were alive today, he would be fifty-one years old. His is still deeply missed by his mother, brother, sister and friends.

Clinton Pays Private Visit With Pulse Families, Pays Respects To Victims

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2016

hillary_pulsex750Hillary Clinton was in Orlando yesterday where she met privately with families and friends of the Pulse gay night club massacre. The meeting occurred just before a larger roundtable meeting with city leaders and representatives from the LGBT and religious communities. According to the Washington Post:

“I’m really here to listen to what your experiences have been,” Clinton said during the meeting.

She noted that the attack on the gay club highlights the dangers that LGBT people in America face, including higher risk for hate crimes.

“We need to acknowledge and be very clear who this attack targeted,” Clinton said. “The Latino LGBT community by any measure was the community that was the most severely impacted by this terrible attack.”

“It is still dangerous to be LGBT in America,” Clinton added. “It is an unfortunate fact but one that needs to be said.”

The Post reported that Patty Sheehan, an Orlando city commissioner who is also a lesbian, thanked Clinton “for not politicizing it and for waiting until we were ready.” According to WESH TV, a mother and a survivor echoed that appreciation:

She never wanted to use me or my son for her political gain,” said Christine Leinonen whose son was killed in the June shooting.

“She just allowed us to tell our story and I thought that was really powerful and impactful,” said Brandon Wolf, a survivor.

During the private meeting, Sheehan warned against blaming the Muslim community for the gunman’s actions:

“Hating a Muslim person is the same as hating a gay person,” Sheehan said, growing emotional. “We cannot allow this country to become a country of hatred and division.”

“We have got to stop this kind of rhetoric. We are better together,” she added.

The Orlando Sentinel reported about the later roundtable meeting with community leaders:

…Clinton pledged to “promote the kinds of changes that will prevent this from happening to other people, other families and other communities.”

“We have to be willing to stand as one and demand changes from lawmakers at the federal, state and local level … We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Clinton…

(Orlando Mayor Buddy) Dyer, who led the meeting alongside Clinton, said he would not wade into policy but called for unity and inclusiveness.

“We need to better understand how we come together, that we are stronger when we appreciate the similarities that we have and don’t focus on the differences,” Dyer said.

After the roundtable meeting, Clinton made an unannounced visit to an impromptu memorial outside the shuttered night club:

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Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.