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Why not add Gypsies to the Pride Parade?

Timothy Kincaid

July 23rd, 2015

Suppose that the Roma community (better known as “Gypsies”*) approached the organizers of Gay Pride parades and proposed that the events be changed to the Gay and Gypsies Pride events. Like the gay community, they explain, Gypsies have been excluded and discriminated against and treated with contempt. Even the name “Gypsy” has become a pejorative term thrown around at people who are not Romani so as to insult them.

After all, it’s not like gays still need to fight for marriage or military or family rights. And there are so many commonalities between the two communities that it just makes sense that the parades, demonstrations, and festivals advocating for gay inclusion should now focus on Gypsy inclusion. And since we’ve accomplished so much, it’s the Gypsies’ time.

Now many of us can empathize with the plight of the Roma people. Theirs has been a long tough row to hoe. But as for changing Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride? I’m sure the answer would be a unanimous No. We have a sense of ownership and history and shared experiences and our remembrance of the Stonewall uprising has special meaning to us.

Nevertheless, many Roma people may feel that they are being rejected and disrespected and treated with contempt. Yet again, ugly anti-Gypsy animus has raised its head.

Now this is a very far-fetched scenario. The Roma are extremely unlikely to want to join up with the LGBT community and be equal partners at our festivals and parades.

But I propose this thought-exercise for a reason.

Currently before Congress is the Equality Act, which is designed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” Specifically, it seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 thusly:

TITLE II–INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN PLACES OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION
SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.

and

SEC. 202. All persons shall be entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, if such discrimination or segregation is or purports to be required by any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, or order of a State or any agency or political subdivision thereof.

The bill goes on to similarly revise Sections 301, 401, 410, 601, 701, 703, 704, 706, 717, and so on.

It would also add to the list of service providers prohibited from such discrimination:

(4) any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services;
(5) any train service, bus service, car service, taxi service, airline service, station, depot, or other place of or establishment that provides transportation service;

And clarifies that

A reference in this title to an establishment—
(1) shall be construed to include an individual whose operations affect commerce and who is a provider of a good, service, or program; and
(2) shall not be construed to be limited to a physical facility or place.

(In other words, this bill will specifically include unincorporated individuals who bake wedding cakes or arrange flowers from their home on a part-time basis.)

In addition to the above, the bill changes law relating to credit application and jury selection. But the primary provisions are the revision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This bill will be opposed. Under Congress’ current configuration, it has very little chance of passing.

Some will oppose the bill because they believe that homosexuality is a trait that should be discouraged and that anti-gay discrimination is advantageous to society. Some may oppose the bill out of unexamined discomfort, animus, bigotry, or prejudice. Some libertarian minded people may see this bill as a step too far, one which disregards the rights of the individual to autonomy and self-determination.

But I believe that there will be an opposition to this bill which will be – at least initially – misunderstood. I believe that a sizable portion of the African-American community will oppose this bill for reasons that may be mistaken as animus but which hold a different basis altogether.

For Black Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a near-sacred document. It has context and history and is closely tied in the minds of African Americans to slavery, Jim Crow laws, oppression, and anti-Black bigotry. The African American community has an emotional ownership in this piece of legislation.

And it may feel as though something is being taken from them, lack of respect is being shown for their history, and that gays are ‘latching-on’ to the Black Civil Rights Movement. A group that has not shared their history and which does not experience their lives is now saying “us, too”.

This is going to sit poorly with some African American leaders. Perhaps many of them. I think it even possible (though unlikely) that the Congressional Black Caucus may oppose this proposed revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And some in our community will be offended. They may be tempted to see it as yet another evidence of animus and anti-gay bigotry. Another “now that they got theirs” situation.

We should resist that temptation.

We should instead be respectful of the emotional ownership with which Black Americans hold this Act and the reasons behind it. Whether or not revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may be the best method through which to deal with anti-gay discrimination, let’s be careful to approach this bill with a recognition of the feelings and history of others.

After all, opposition to this bill by black leaders may be similar, in many ways, to how opposition would be within our community to revising Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride. Less animus than a sense of personal ownership.

(* use of the term Gypsy is not meant be offensive. Although some consider Gypsy to be a pejorative term, that is a term many Romi use for themselves and is used in law. In some ways it mirrors the word Gay and how it is used by society)

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 5

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smashing the Stained Glass Closet

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 4

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

There’s a Thai restaurant there today.

OpenMindTitle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

San Franciscans celebrate after Prop 8 is declared unconstitutional.

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

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

Judge Walker concluded:

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

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

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

Virgilio Piñera

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, August 3

Jim Burroway

August 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami News, August 9, 1954

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Was Simpson the ‘queen?’

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

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

“Oh, more than that.”

“A hundred?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castro

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

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

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick

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

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

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, August 2

Jim Burroway

August 2nd, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

From Northwest Gay Review, August 1974, page 24.

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

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

Doubted prostate massages would cure homosexuality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Saturated in Urningthum.

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

More fully American in Paris.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, August 1

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 31

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Willson (left) with Rock Hudson.

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

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

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

Barbara Gittings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian Roberts

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 30

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

A PLEA FROM AN INVERT

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Homo.

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

Sean Patrick Maloney

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 29

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2015

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 28

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 27

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 2.

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 2.

Hard to believe today, but there was a time when flavorless low-cal “lite” beers were all the rage. Stroh’s is gone, as are all of the participating bars except the Eagle, The Phase (a.k.a. Phase One, a long-running lesbian bar), and the Bachelor’s Mill (a long-standing club popular with African-American men).

TODAY IN HISTORY”
“The Well of Loneliness” Published: 1927. The lesbian love story was so controversial that three publishers turned it down. When it was finally published in England, it appeared in a plain, discreet black cover. It wasn’t particularly racy; the only sexual description consisted of the phrases, “she kissed her full on the lips,” and “that night, they were not divided.” By today’s standards, the book may seem tame, but in 1927 Radclyffe Hall’s novel caused a sensation in Britain. The publisher sent review copies to only a few select newspapers and magazines who he thought could handle the lesbian-themed content. Most reviewers praised the book for its courage or panned it for its dreariness. But only one found it objectionable. James Douglas at the Sunday Express responded by mounting a massive campaign against the novel. “I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel,” he wrote.

Despite most of the British press’s defending the book, the publisher soon landed in court on obscenity charges. Several authors came to his defense — E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and James Melville among them — but the judge declared the novel obscene. It wasn’t the story line he found objectionable; it was the novel’s plea for tolerance and acceptance that made it “more subtle, demoralizing, corrosive and corruptive than anything ever written.” He ruled that it would “deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences,” and ordered copies rounded up and burned.

A 1951 paperback edition.

The ban and the massive newspaper campaign against the book only served to increase the public’s curiosity and demand for the book, as these things do. And wherever there’s a demand, there’s a supply. And The Well’s supply was met by a publisher in France who shipped copies surreptitiously to newsstands throughout Britain. That had the effect of lowering British officials’ enthusiasm for banning other lesbian-themed novels that followed. A Home Office memo observed, “It is notorious that the prosecution of the Well Of Loneliness resulted in infinitely greater publicity about lesbianism than if there had been no prosecution.” But it wouldn’t be until 1949 when The Well could be published in Britain again — not because any laws had changed, but because the Home Office simply decided to look the other way. It has remained in continuous publication since then.

Surprisingly, the book’s appearance in the U.S. generated a different reaction. Sure, there were attempts to ban it in the U.S. Customs Court and in New York City, where police seized 865 copies from its American publisher’s offices, but both attempts came to naught. When the court cleared the novel of obscenity, the publisher responded by putting out a “victory” edition, and the ensuing publicity raised demand for the book here as it did in England. And despite it’s high price of $5 (about twice the cost of an average hardback novel), The Well would go through six printings and sell over 100,00 copies by the time it was cleared by the courts. The Well of Loneliness has been in continuous American publication since its 1928 debut, and it has served as an inspiration and comfort for countless women in the ensuing decades.

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Gay Liberation Front Organizes First Post-Stonewall March Against Police Harassment: 1969. In the days following the Stonewall rebellion on June 28, the Mattachine Society of New York sponsored several discussion groups to try to tap into the newly-energized gay community and figure out what their next steps should be. One problem that quickly emerged was that in the rebellious atmosphere of the late 1960s, most of the younger crowd was in no mood to sit around and hold endless planning meetings. They were looking for something to do now, and that something, in that place in time, meant taking things to the streets.

An early GLF meeting.

An early GLF meeting.

Meanwhile, a new force had emerged on the scene, the Gay Liberation Front, which was an ad-hoc movement that had emerged just three days after the riot. The GLF’s approach to things was truly radical. It eschewed leadership structures and defined all attempts of control. All decisions were made by consensus — often after paralyzing discussions, arguments and endless political analysis. But the GLF was anything but passive, and many credit it with preventing the momentum of Stonewall from dying out, as had happened so many times before when LGBT people had risen up against anti-gay oppression.

One of the GLF’s first public actions took place a month after Stonewall with a march to demand an end to discrimination and police harassment. A crowd of five hundred gathered for a rally at Washington Square. Martha Shelly, president of the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis and a GLF founding member, kicked things off: “Brothers and sisters, welcome to the city’s first gay power vigil. We’re tired of being harassed and persecuted. If a straight couple can hold hands in Washington Square, why can’t we? … We’re tired of straight people who are hung up on sex. Tired of flashlights and peeping-tom vigilantes. Tired of marriage laws that punish you for lifting your head off the pillow.”

After more speeches by Marty Robinson and a straight ally who called herself Sister Marlene, the crowd began marching, four abreast, to Sheridan Square, clapping and shouting “Gay Power!” and other slogans, bringing traffic on Sixth Avenue to a halt. When they arrived at Sheridan Square, there were more speeches, appeals for money, and a round of “We Shall Overcome.” Jonathan Black at The Village Voice observed that “gay power had surfaced … A mild protest, to be sure, but apparently only the beginning.”

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 90-91.

Jonathan Black. “Gay Power Hits Back.” The Village Voice (July 31, 1969): 1, 3, 28. Available online here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Martin Block: 1919-1995. His life was in books, from the early years in which he made deliveries for a book store in New York City, to working at a book store in Grand Central Terminal after a stint in the military, to becoming one of the owners of Studio Book Store after moving to Hollywood. That’s where, in 1950, that his friend Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8) invited him to join an organization that Rudi, Rudi’s lover Harry Hay (see Apr 7), and others were forming. Block remembered going to his first meeting of what would become the Mattachine Society:

Everybody was scared. I guess people were rather psychotic about it. But because of my background, this business of being afraid of the FBI or the police was a lot of shit to me at the time, as it is now. You see, my father was a socialist, and my mother was an anarchist. When the time came for the meeting, I think Rudi drive, and we took some sort of circuitous route to avoid being followed. Everybody was very worried about Mr. Hoover’s crazy FBI men. I don’t think anybody was interested in following us, but Rudi was fearful. The whole group was fearful…

Block listened to the discussions at that meeting, the talk about forming a new movement to advocate for gay people — and found that he disagreed with every word that was said. But he enjoyed the company, and decided to become a member. But after a few years, Block and several others became bored with the endless theorizing and helpless complaining. After one particularly dull meeting, Block, Dorr Legg (see Dec 15), Don Slater (see Aug 21), and Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) stayed late and talked about doing something besides talking, something that would be useful for gay people across the country. That something, they decided, would be a magazine they called ONE, from a quote by Thomas Carlyle, “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.” Block recalled that ONE’s mission would be a simple one:

We would not attempt to turn anyone in our direction. We weren’t going to go out and say you should be gay, but we said, “You can be proud of being gay.” You can be proud of being yourself. You could look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m me, and isn’t that nice?” That in itself was radical. Nobody put it in words, but that was the underlying thought and underlying feeling behind the magazine.

Block became ONE’s president and its first editor when the magazine debuted in January 1953. But because of demands at his bookstore and other family concerns, gave up his editorship in June and was removed as the organization’s president. He remained involved with ONE in various capacities through the 1950s. Later, he became a regular book reviewer for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Saturday Review, and the New York Times Book Review. After he closed his own bookstore in the late 1950s, Block became the manager for the book department at Robinson’s Department Store in Pasadena. He died in West Hollywood, California in 1995.

[Sources: Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 37-42.

C. Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009): 29-47.]

 75 YEARS AGO: Troy Perry: 1940. At fifteen, he was already a Baptist preacher and a self-described “religious fanatic.” He married in 1959 and fathered two sons, but he was not faithful to his wife. He had a few gay dalliances on the side. When the elders at the church he was pastoring found out, they forced him to resign and he moved his family to Southern California and began preaching for the Church of God of Prophecy. While there, his wife found hidden in a mattress a copy of Donald Webster Cory’s groundbreaking The Homosexual In America (see Sep 18). That led to an immediate divorce and an apparent end to his preaching career.

After a stint in the army beginning in 1965, Perry felt called to offer a place for gay people to worship freely. In 1968, he placed an ad in The Advocate announcing a worship service designed for gays in Los Angeles, and twelve people turned up on that first Sunday (see Oct 6). That would be the genesis for the Metropolitan Community Church, the only Christian denomination founded specifically to address the spiritual needs of LGBT people. MCC now has 250 congregations in 23 countries around the world.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 26

Jim Burroway

July 26th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Baltimore, MD; Bangor, UK; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Monday).

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Great Northern Shindig Rodeo, Minneapolis, MN; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

md28720

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Homosexuality and Lesbianism Treated with Metrazol: 1940. The professional literature before 1980 festers with countless 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 (see, for example, 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 worked on “the assumption that homosexuality and lesbianism are symptoms of an under developed schizophrenia,” and this led him to try something new: injecting subjects with Metrazol, to produce an epileptic-type grand mal seizure. Other psychiatrists had been experimenting with Metrazol-induced seizures for schizophrenia since 1934, and their logic went like this: since epilepsy (which was considered a mental illness) and schizophrenia very rarely existed in the same individual, maybe inducing an artificial seizure might rid one of schizophrenia. Owensby extended his theory further, on the theory 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.” Who knows where he got that idea. But to give you an idea of what this seizure was like, here is a brief film clip (unrelated to Owensby’s report) of an unidentified patient experiencing a Metrazol-induced seizure:

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 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, would conclude that Metrazol shock therapy was ineffective in “curing” homosexuality.

But the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH) didn’t bother to read that memo. NARTH 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). ]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mel White: 1940. 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 Falwel (If I Should Die Before I Wake, 1986, and his autobiography, Strength for the Journey, 1987). After he married in 1962, he revealed to his wife that he had always been attracted to other men. As White wrote in his own 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. None of it 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, the 1994 autobiography in which White came out publicly as gay. In 1998, he 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 and written sixteen books, including nine best-sellers. 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.

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).

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 25

Jim Burroway

July 25th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Baltimore, MD; Bangor, UK; Deming, NM; Ft.Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, thru Friday); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Monday).

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Great Northern Shindig Rodeo, Minneapolis, MN; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Medical Review of Reviews, 1920.

From The Medical Review of Reviews, 1920.

Since 1913, it was illegal to label medicines with false therapeutic claims intended to defraud the purchaser. That standard however was almost impossible to prove in court, which meant that the drug industry continued to operate in a wild-west environment until 1938 when the FDA was finally given the power to ensure efficacy claims by drug manufacturers were true. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FDC) Act of 1938 marked the start of the modern drug regulation era.

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

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Australian Court Convicts Two Of “Most Disgusting and Abominable” Crime: 1808. 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 (even though Britain dropped its death penalty for sodomy in 1862). 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.

150 YEARS AGO: Dr. Barry’s Death Reveals a Lifelong Secret: 1865. Before Britain’s Inspector General of Military Hospitals 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 and feared surgeons in Victorian England, 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 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 upon his death, 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 the family may have had about what women were capable of achieving, society’s limitations said otherwise and women were barred from studying medicine. So Margaret became James Barry shortly after she, then he, beginning 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.

30 YEARS AGO: Rock Hudson’s AIDS Diagnosis Confirmed: 1985. 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 to promote Day’s new animal companion program on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Doris Day’s Best Friends, with Hudson as 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. 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. (By 1989, HPA-23 was found to be ineffective against AIDS.) Now a year later, he had 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.  “The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to walk into his room and read him the press release,” said Collart. “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.'”

At first, Collart 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 had received several blood transfusions. That would have been during the earliest days of what would soon become 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.

Thomas Eakins

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Thomas Eakins: 1844-1916. 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 and 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 truthfulness, which in turn was the underpinning of the realist style in which he worked. That insistence on truthfulness 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

J. Warren Kerrigan: 1879-1947. While little-known today, Kerrigan had been a very popular silent film star, appearing in films for Essanay, Biograph, and later Universal. He typically played a leading role as a modern, well-dressed man-about town, and his films were enourmously 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 nearly killed his career in 1917 over a glib remark about his refusal to enlist in World War I. He resisted enlisting because he didn’t want to leave his mother alone. But that’s not what he told a Denver reporter. 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, saying 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,” rather than those who were capable “of adding to the beauty of the world.”

It took six years and a bold move by director James Cruze to salvage his reputation when Cruze, surprising everyone, cast Kerrigan for the lead role in the Paramount western epic The Covered Wagon, which became the most popular film in North America that year. The Covered Wagon’s massive scale and budget — the silent feature was filmed on location over several months at a cost of $783,000 — set a new benchmark for filmaking. That success opened the doors to five more reasonably successful films for Kerrigan in the next year, ending in the swashbuckling 1924 film Captain Blood. Those films, along with his cautious investments and his eschewing the lavish Hollywood lifestyle, meant that his financial future was secure. He retired from filmmaking and lived quietly with his devoted partner of forty years until Kerrigan died in 1947 at the age of 67.

Gareth Thomas: 1974. 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 I’ll just quote from Wikipedia, which says:

He was the most capped Welsh rugby union player, with 100 test match appearances 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.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 24

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Baltimore, MD; Bangor, UK; Deming, NM; Ft.Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, thru Friday); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Monday).

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Great Northern Shindig Rodeo, Minneapolis, MN; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1977, page 6.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1977, page 6.

 

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were married at midnight at Niagara Falls.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 New Yorkers Begin Marrying: 2011. Shortly after the stroke of midnight, Niagara Falls mayor Paul Dyster pronounced Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd spouses for life as the world-famous falls in the background were lit in rainbow hues.

At about the same time, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings presided over the wedding of Dale Getto and Barb Lavin in the Common Council’s chambers. And with that, New Yorkers began to celebrate the arrival of marriage equality in the Empire State. On this date, New York became the most populous state in the union providing marriage equality for all of its citizens.

Dale Getto and Barb Laven married in Albany shortly after midnight.

When New York City officials announced that they would open their doors on Sunday for the first day of marriage equality, they worried that high demand would overload city clerk’s offices throughout the city. To manage the demand, they had established a lottery for 764 slots. But on Thursday before the big day, officials announced that they would be able to issue licenses for all 823 couples who applied for the slots. New York law provides for a 24-hour waiting period after obtaining a license before they can marry, but judges from around the state volunteered to be available at registrars’ offices to offer that exemption.

Baron Smith

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury: 1951. 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 stepped down from 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 is stepping down as chairman this year, following controversy over the Agency’s handling of the massive flooding that took place in Somerset earlier this year.

Gus Van Sant: 1952. 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 being introduced to avant-garde films. Since avant-garde films were never much of a money-maker, Van Sant became 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, set the stage for his move into the mainstream. Good Will Hunting, starring and 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 left everyone scratching their heads. Since then, he has returned to art-house films, including Elephant (a fictional film inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting) earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. He returned to the mainstream again in 2008 with his biopic Milk about the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Again, Van Sant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. (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)

 50 YEARS GO: Kirk Andrew Murphy: 1965-2003. For more than four decades, Kirk was known only as “Kraig,” but under that pseudonym he was well known among behavioral therapists who were trying to prevent homosexuality and transgender identities in very young children. 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 at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She listened to his spiel about the dangers of effeminate boys growing up to become homosexual, and she worried that her own young son was headed for trouble. So a month before his fifth birthday, she 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 “Kyle” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, where he described “Kyle’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 years old. His is still deeply missed by his mother, brother, sister and friends.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 23

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Baltimore, MD; Bangor, UK; Deming, NM; Ft.Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride, thru Friday); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Monday).

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Great Northern Shindig Rodeo, Minneapolis, MN; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 24, 1972, page 18.

Early gay publications were noticeably male-centric. One notable exception was the Daughters of Bilitis’s The Ladder, which featured almost no advertising. So finding ads for businesses catering to lesbians is extremely difficult. Here’s one for a club called Bacchanal in Los Angeles. The location is now a restaurant and bar called The Dark Room.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Charlotte Saunders Cushman: 1816-1876. The American stage actress began her career as an opera singer at the age of thirteen, following the death of her father. She had learned to sing from a friend of her father, who was also a foreman at a Boston piano factory, and she is said to have possessed a remarkable contralto range. But when her singing voice suddenly failed due to strain, she switched gears and became a noted drama actress, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. She and her sister, Susan Webb Cushman, became famous for playing Romeo and Juliet together, with Charlotte playing the role of Romeo to Susan’s Juliet.

In 1848 while in Europe, Charlotte met journalist and sometime actress Matilda Hays, and they began a ten year affair during which they became known for dressing alike. Charlotte retired from the stage in 1852 and the couple moved to Rome, where they immersed themselves in an expatriate community consisting mainly of lesbian artists. Hays and Cushman split in 1857, and Cushman became involved with the sculptor Emma Stebbins (see Sep 1). Cushman returned to the U.S. for a tour, and before returning to Italy in 1861 she was offered a farewell performance of the title role of Hamlet in Washington, D.C., the first of at least seven different so-called farewell performances over the next seven years. Her final final performance on the stage wouldn’t be until May of 1875 at Boston’s Globe Theater, nine months before she died at the age of 59 of pneumonia.

Edward Prime-Stevenson (a.k.a. “Xavier Mayne”): 1858-1942. Trained as a lawyer though he never practiced, Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson was known as a very cosmopolitan man of letters, befitting one who was born into a wealthy and cultured family. A master of nine languages, he wrote poetry, short fiction, magazine serials and travel essays for Harpers and The New York Independent before settling on music criticism. Early in his career, he wrote two books for boys: White Cockades: An Incident of the “Forty-Five” (1887), a historical fiction about a young Prince Pretender, and Left to Themselves: Being the Ordeal of Philip and Gerald (1891).

It was at about that time that he began dividing his time between the U.S. and Europe, and by the time the century turned, he was spending most of his time, never quite settled, in a regular circuit that consisted of stays in London, Paris, Budapest, Florence, and Rome. His beloved mother had died and left him an independently wealthy man, and his great love, Henry Harkness Flager, the son of a railroad magnate, had dumped him to marry a woman. As Stevenson let it be known in a few of his letters, he found America too oppressive for one such as he.

While in Naples in 1906, he published his “little psychological romance,” Imre: A Memorandum, under the pen name of Xavier Mayne. Imre, about a young Hungarian military officer’s relationship with another man, and was notable for two reasons. Not only was it the first American novel to deal openly and sympathetically with homosexuality, but it did so with a story line with a happily-ever-after ending.

Stevenson, again as Xavier Mayne, followed that with another book, The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life, which he published privately in Rome in 1908. (“Intersex” was often used to refer to gay men or women under the idea that they were members of the “intermediate sex”. “Simisexual” was an all-Latin form of the word “homosexual,” which scandalized some scholars for its hybridization — some said bastardization — of Greek and Latin roots.) This 646-page opus, dedicated to the memory of the German writer Richard von Krafft-Ebing, covered an incredible array of topics: homosexuality in the ancient world and among primitive peoples, animal studies, gay geniuses, literature, ancient and modern legal codes, male prostitution, blackmail, violence, and contemporary anecdotes, gossip and scandals. It is considered the first great defense of homosexuality in the English language, as in this passage (where he uses Krafft-Ebing’s “Uranian” to refer to gay men):

Happiest of all, surely, are those Uranians, ever numerous who have no wish nor need to fly society — or themselves. Knowing what they are, understanding the natural, the moral strength of their position as homosexuals; sure of right on their side, even if it be never accorded to them in the lands where they must live; fortunate in either due self-control or private freedom — day by day, they go on through their lives, self-respecting and respected, in relative peace

From 1913, Stevenson published Her Enemy, Some Friends — and Other Personages, a collection of short stories, many of them with overtly gay themes. This time, he published it under his own name. He stayed busy through the 1920s and 1930s, but by then he was writing mostly about music. When World War II broke out, he retreated to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died in 1942.

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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