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No SCOTUS marriage announcement today

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2015

The Supreme Court met today to determine which cases they will accept this year. Among those in consideration were the marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) and Louisiana.

The Louisiana case (which was also heard this morning in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals) is one of the few since the Windsor case in which a federal judge has ruled against equality. The Sixth Circuit is the only appellate court, to date, to rule in favor of anti-gay bans on marriage.

There was some expectation that the Supreme Court would release it’s decision to hear one or all of these cases today. However, no such decision has been announced.

This does not mean that the court will not hear any of these cases. Further announcements will be made Monday and could be made any time before the end of the month. The possible outcomes of today’s deliberation could be:

  • That none of the cases are heard. This would leave the nation divided as to whether the US Constitution allows legislation and state constitutional provisions designed to disadvantage gay citizens and deny them equal status under the law. This is unlikely.
  • That one or all of the cases are heard. This would result in another argument before SCOTUS which would probably answer the question once and for all. Marriage equality supporters predict that the court would rule that anti-gay laws are disallowed by the either the Due Process or Equal Protections provision of the US Constitution (or both).
  • That the court reverses the ruling of the Sixth Circuit outright. While this is not terribly likely, it would be very fitting in that it would treat bigotry with the same measure of cavalier distain that it treated equality 44 years ago in the Baker case.

Fifth Circuit looks promising

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2015

Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing argument on three marriage equality cases, separately, one from each of Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. First in line was Robicheaux vs Caldwell, the case from Louisiana.

The Fifth Circuit panel consists of two Reagan appointees (Jerry Smith and Patrick Higginbotham) and an Obama appointee (James Graves). It was known, going in, that Smith was not sympathetic with the notion that gay people hold the same constitutional rights as heterosexuals and that Graves favored equality. The wild card was Higginbotham.

We cannot, of course, know the outcome until it is determined and announced. However observers are reporting good news from the Louisiana hearing. Higginbotham joined Graves in expressing skepticism towards the arguments presented by the state and those who were there are predicting victory.

UPDATE: the oral arguments have been made available here

Bill Donohue: Charlie Hebdo Had It Coming

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2015

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue — okay, who am I kidding; Donohue is the entire “league” — has decided to throw his two francs in on yesterday’s bombing:

Bill Donohue

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.

While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.

Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him. …Madison was right when he said, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power.”

Donohue threw in the obligatory bone that the violence in Paris “must be unequivocally condemned.” But then he adds, “But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.” So let’s do the math: 23 words to condemn the violence, 254 to justify it. That pretty much sums it up.

Marriage goes state-wide in Florida

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2015

marriage 2014

dark purple – marriage equality states
light purple – marriage in some counties, the state is still fighting
pink – we have won in federal court but the rulings are stayed on appeal to the Circuit court
orange – we have lost in federal court and are appealing to the Circuit court
red – we have lost in the Circuit court and are appealing to the Supreme Court

The stay has lifted across the state of Florida and all 67 counties have joined Miami-Dade in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Congratulations to all.

They’re Marrying In Miami

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2015

That’s Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge Sarah Zabel, lifting her stay of a July ruling finding Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. And so thirty-eight years after Anita Bryant raised her ugly puss and six years after 62% of Florida voters agreed to write shameful discrimination into their state constitution, the first same-sex marriages are taking place in Miami:

Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto are the first same-sex couple to marry in Florida (Source).

Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto are the first same-sex couple to marry in Florida (Source).

Weddings began around 1:30 p.m., less than three hours after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the legal stay she had placed on her sweeping July decision declaring the ban discriminatory.

Two of the six couples who had sued — Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove, and Jeff and Todd Delmay of Hollywood — were the first to be married, by Zabel herself.

Jeff and Todd Delmay become Florida's second same-sex couple to marry. (Source)

Jeff and Todd Delmay become Florida’s second same-sex couple to marry. (Source)

Judge Zabel overturned Florida’s ban as Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, which makes her ruling binding only in Miami-Dade. Her stay expired today. Tonight at midnight, Federal District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s stay of his ruling that Florida’s marriage equality ban was unconstitutional expires, which opens up same-sex marriage statewide tomorrow.

Congratulations Luxembourg

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2015

In June, the Luxembourg Parliament voted by a large margin in favor of marriage equality. Yesterday that law went into effect.

Heartfelt congratulations to the tiny nation and its people.

Judge clarifies Florida ruling; anti-gays remain dishonest

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2015

marriage 2014

In August of 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages violated the provisions of the US Constitution. He placed a stay on his ruling until appeals (and requests for further stays) could be filed with higher courts. No extended stays were granted and Judge Hinkle’s stay expires today on Monday, January 5th.

Washington County Clerk Lora Bell’s requested that Judge Hinkle direct her as to whether this ruling applies only to the plaintiffs, and the state Attorney General asked whether the ruling applied to all county clerks. Yesterday Judge Hinkle provided clarification regarding those to whom his ruling applied.

Hinkle’s order was slightly nuanced and illustrates the care that judges go through to apply not only the spirit of the law, but its technical structure and authorities. There are three major points in what he said

The technical response

In the absence of any request by any other plaintiff for a license, and in the absence of a certified class, no plaintiff now in this case has standing to seek a preliminary injunction requiring the Clerk to issue other licenses. The preliminary injunction now in effect thus does not require the Clerk to issue licenses to other applicants.

Because there were no other parties in the lawsuit and because it was not a class action lawsuit, the rules of the court do not compel this clerk to issue licenses to any other couples.

The real response

Then the judge followed with the clencher:

But as set out in the order that announced issuance of the preliminary injunction, the Constitution requires the Clerk to issue such licenses. As in any other instance involving parties not now before the court, the Clerk’s obligation to follow the law arises from sources other than the preliminary injunction.

In other words, Hinkle is saying, “I’m not the one compelling you to issue this license. The US Constitution compels you to do so. So hell yes! Follow the law!”

The threat

And he preceded this by “clarifying” what would happen to those county clerks who decided that Hinkle’s ruling doesn’t apply to them and that they could just ignore the US Constitution’s protections.

History records no shortage of instances when state officials defied federal court orders on issues of federal constitutional law. Happily, there are many more instances when responsible officials followed the law, like it or not. Reasonable people can debate whether the ruling in this case was correct and who it binds. There should be no debate, however, on the question whether a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case. And a clerk who chooses not to follow the ruling should take note: the governing statutes and rules of procedure allow individuals to intervene as plaintiffs in pending actions, allow certification of plaintiff and defendant classes, allow issuance of successive preliminary injunctions, and allow successful plaintiffs to recover costs and attorney’s fees.

Hinkle warned them that if they want to be obstructionist, additional plaintiffs could sue, the case could become a class action, it could be determined by preliminary injunction (almost immediately), and the cost of all of this will come out of that clerk’s budget. In synopsis, Hinkle said that his ruling may be followed by all courts to all same-sex couples. Further, while it could be technically ignored, this is merely a short-term defiance of the US Constitution and an expensive one, at that.

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a ‘proceed at your own risk’ statement, indicating that she will not be participating in any efforts to defy the judge:

Following significant public confusion about the federal-court injunction, the court today granted the clerk of court’s request for clarification. In the order, the court specified that the injunction does not require a clerk to issue licenses to same-sex couples other than the plaintiffs, but the court stated that “a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case.” Attorney General Bondi’s statement is as follows:

“This office has sought to minimize confusion and uncertainty, and we are glad the Court has provided additional guidance. My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”

The law firm advising the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers had, before the clarification, advised counties not to follow the ruling. Yesterday they issued an advisory opposite of their earlier opinion and recommended that clerks offer licenses. “Judge Hinkle’s order states that any clerk refusing to issue a license could be subject to civil damages and liability for the plaintiffs’ fees and costs,”

But the anti-gay activists are saying something quite else. Florida Family Policy Council (who’s sister group Florida Family Action filed a nutcase lawsuit trying to stop marriages) had this to say:

“Judge Hinkle’s ruling is being widely misinterpreted. It clearly says that only the clerk Washington County is required to issue a marriage license and only to the two persons in that case. Judge Hinkle has no jurisdiction outside of the Northern District of Florida to bind any clerk outside of North Florida. Clerk’s outside of North Florida are required to obey the current law and are still subject to all the penalties of a first-degree misdemeanor for violating it,” said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council.

Liberty Counsel proclaimed “Victory in Federal Court

In a highly anticipated ruling to clarify an August preliminary injunction in the federal case Brenner v. Scott, the district judge agreed with Liberty Counsel that the injunction does not require Florida clerks of court outside Washington County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on January 6. Indeed, the new order clarifies that the injunction is limited to the plaintiffs in the case, expressly holding, “The preliminary injunction now in effect thus does not require the [Washington County] Clerk to issue licenses to other applicants.”

Misinterpretation is definitely going on. But it isn’t by the Attorney General, the law firm advising the clerks, or the newspapers. To see this as a “victory” for anti-gay forces requires a special kind of blinders and more than a little willingness to deceive oneself and others.

Irrespective of the declarations by anti-gays, the end result will be that starting tomorrow on Tuesday, many counties will be granting marriage licenses to same sex couples. Others may not do so immediately, and they engage in a costly and futile legal entanglement before they, too, do so.

This doesn’t mean smooth sailing. Already some clerks have changed their policies to discontinue all marriage ceremonies conducted by the clerk or at the courthouse – be they same-sex or opposite-sex – based on their religious beliefs that whatever else you do, you must never treat your neighbor how you wish to be treated. But that is likely to be only a minor inconvenience as clergy step in to fill that role.

For all practical purposes, marriage equality has finally come to Florida.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 9

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2015

Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Marriage Appeal Petitions: Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court will meet in conference today to decide whether the grant certiorari to any of the four cases from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court will also consider a separate petition from Lambda Legal to hear its case from Louisiana which upheld that state’s marriage equality ban. Lambda Legal is asking for that case to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court even though the Fifth Circuit has not yet weighed in on the case. The Supreme Court will today decide whether it wants to hear any of these cases, reject any of them, or hold them to decide again at a later date. Any decisions could be announced either this afternoon or Monday morning.

FifthCircuitFifth Circuit to Hear Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi Marriage Cases: New Orleans, LA. The three cases on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ calendar this morning are:

  • Robicheaux vs Caldwell, the Louisiana case that upheld that state’s ban on same-sex marriage;
  • Campaign for Southern Equality v Bryant, the Mississippi case which declared that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional; and
  • DeLeon v Perry, the Texas case that found that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The court convenes at 9:00 a.m., which one hour allotted for each case (30 minutes for each side). The oral arguments will be recorded, and will likely be made available sometime later today.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From a flyer distributed in 1961.] (Source).

From a flyer distributed in 1961. (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

The Diplomat in 1959 (Source).

Drag performer David Hummell began his career in the 1950s. He remembered the Diplomat:

I later moved to Detroit and happened upon a gay bar (The Diplomat) that had just started the very first drag show in Detroit. There may have been touring shows like the Jewel Box Revue but this was the first club to house a drag show. I had just lost my job so I decided to work on an act. Being six foot two I was way too tall to pass as a real female so I concentrated on comedy routines. I had another friend, Joe Price, who also wanted to break in an act so we teamed up and called ourselves The Fono Fools. After playing a few gigs we went to The Diplomat and became part of their show. This was in the late 1950s…

The Dip, as the locals called it, was owned by Morrie Weisberg and “Fat Jack” Bookie Stewart, who was described as “a Mafia-type character who spoke through a hole in his throat.” He also performed in drag. The drag shows were so legendary that straight couples soon arrived to check out the entertainment. But whatever entertainment value a few cutting-edge straight people found there, the Dip remained firmly gay. It was popular with Detroit’s gay community when the city was still the sixth largest in the nation, and it was a beacon to gay people who traveled there from outlying areas such as Ann Arbor, Jackson, Pontiac and Flint. Today, the building is gone, and the hallowed ground is occupied by a Baptist church.

55 YEARS AGO: Homosexual Crackdown at the University of Michigan: 1960. The campus paper, the Michigan Daily, headlined its editorial “Homosexual Crackdown of Dubious Value,” and informed the student body that Ann Arbor police had been patrolling campus restrooms, arresting 34 men. The paper dubbed the arrests “seriously questionable with regard to methods, motives, legality and moral implications.” The paper also criticized the expenditure of public funds “to aggravate the psychological problem of the homosexual, first by enticement, then by arrest, arraignment, trial, and perhaps a prison sentence. This is neither a logical way to spend public funds nor a sensitive way to handle a public problem.” Staff writer Thomas Hayden found the police motives odd:

No major incident-such as an attack on a child-triggered it. The police themselves admit no organized ring exists. Since the state law against indecent conduct between males has been on the books for many years, the suddenly renewed enforcement for no specific reason seems curious. It leaves one to guess that an irrational force in Ann Arbor is overly interested in keeping the city “a decent place to live” and that the police, are hypersensitive with regard to the public image.

What’s revealing about the editorial, however, is that writer didn’t tackle the topic because he thought gay people should be left alone more or less like anyone else. Instead, he engaged a much order argument, saying that gay people weren’t criminals who were responsible for their actions, but were mentally ill and couldn’t help what they were doing:

The situation once more illustrates the cultural lag which puts the homosexual under the heading of “criminal” when he is most often an individual with serious psychological difficulties. …What must be questioned most basically is the state statute itself. It simply is not consistent with advances in modern psychiatry. It is based on an absurd conception of homosexuality as the immoral behavior of stable rational individuals. It makes little attempt to understand such individuals as anything other than criminals, and most frightening of all, it sentences them to state prisons where their environment is hardly conducive for cure.

This line of reasoning passed for an “enlightened” viewpoint in 1960, even among many gay people. It would still take a few more years before gay rights activists would directly challenge the homosexuality-as-illness explanation, and even then it was controversial (see Mar 4). Meanwhile, Michigan’s crackdown would have tragic results for those arrested. At least nine pleaded guilty after a judge threatened them with six months in prison if they insisted on a jury trial (see Mar 12), and one man who had been found guilty a week earlier committed suicide two days before he was due in court for sentencing (see Mar 13).

[Source: Hal Call. “Calling Shots.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 3 (March 1960): 18-19.]

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, January 8

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2015


The cover of Charlie Hebdo, November 3, 2011.

The cover of Charlie Hebdo, November 3, 2011.

charlie-hebdo-022The Prophet Muhammad was the “guest editor” of the November 3, 2011 issue of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine.  In this cartoon, Muhammad warns: “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing!” There were no sacred cows in the Charlie Hebdo offices, as you can see at right with its depiction of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or this one mocking Judaism. Or this one mocking François Hollande. or Nicolas Sarkozy. Or ultra-right nationalist Marine Le Pen. Or Miss France. Or McDonalds. Or Ebola. Or Christmas. Or the Pope. Or the Pope. Or the Pope. Or the Cardinals. Or the Pope. But only a one of those cartoons was used as justification for the murder of twelve people in Paris. Well, okay — perhaps more than one.

Charlie Hebdo is outrageous. Outrageously outrageous. Its cartoons have long provoked those whom it skewered, and in its refusal to respect taboos, Charlie Hebdo has struck a blow to those who would use taboos for censorious aims. Mark Ruben tells us what’s at stake:

Satire and ridicule are like carnival caricatures. They may exaggerate, but they strike a chord because their basis in fact resonates with a wide audience. Such is the case also with satire. Islamists cannot handle free thinking at the best of times, but ridicule is their kryptonite, for it shows that the would-be caliphs have no clothes.

Free speech can be a powerful tool, and so Western liberals should rally around Charlie Hebdo. To suggest that the satirical outlet brought violence upon itself is to suggest women wearing bikinis invite rape. Do not blame the victims, but rather the perpetrators. Recognize that free speech is under assault, and that it is a value worth protecting. Let us hope that no government or publisher responds to today’s violence with self-censorship, as some commentators and journalists have counseled under similar circumstances. If they do, the Islamists have won and all man’s progress since the Enlightenment is at peril.

Terror is an open admission of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Where persuasion and the moral force of argument is lost, terror seeks to impose those losing ideas through brute force. But while we’re on the topic, we should again return to the warning against condemning all Muslims for the actions of a few Islamists. After all, another serious incident occurred just yesterday when an IED was set off at the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP. No one was hurt, but police are looking for a balding white guy, about 40 years old, driving a “2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, August 1974, page 72.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, August 1974, page 72.

“Man haters” in Sydney. The Arrow from January 8, 1932. (Click to enlarge.)

“Man Haters” Hold Orgies In Sydney: 1932. The Arrow, a scandal/sporting broadsheet published in Sydney, New South Wales, regaled readers with an alledgedly eyewitness account of the annual crowning of the queen of a “kamp kult” (see Dec 23.) The scandalous hook, obviously, was the gender-bending men in glorious drag enacting an elaborate coronation, complete with actors playing the role of bishop and attendants played before an audience chattering “in the mincing tones that inverts adopt in familiar conversation.”

After the Christmas holidays had passed, The Arrow was at it again, and this time it was the lesbians’ turn. First, a introductory lesson for the Arrow’s readers was in order:

Lesbianism is the term applied to intercourse between two women,one being aggressive, and acting therole of a “husband,” tho other being the “wife.” The name is derived from the island of Lesbos, where a school of homosexuality among women was founded by Sappho, and which has flourished in comparative secrecy, since centuries B.C. Mother Grundy has been so ready to frown upon friendships of young; boys, that she has blinded herself to the stark instances of perverted love of girls, for older, and younger members of the fair sex.

And here, an introductory lesson for contemporary readers is in order. “Mother Grundy” referred to an old woman, “as old as the hills,” as they said, who clung to old-fashioned forms of propriety and morality and was overly concerned with what other “respectable folk” might think. The Arrow then went on to describe a “ghastly” attack made at a New Year party when a young woman slahed her father with a can opener when he tried to drag her away “from the clutches of her female ‘husband’, a good looking girl sime years her senior with whome she was desperately in love.” The Arrow continued:

Fiona’s partner in life is Dolly, a fluffy, baby faced blonde, with winsome ways, a horror of lighting the bath heater, a dread of being left alone in case of burglars, and she has other feminine attributes which make her partner Mona feel all the more manly. Dolly stays at home to do the house work, and mend Mona’s clothes, and prepare the meals. In every respect she is a loving and dutiful wife. Her parents, simple folk, who live near Hornsby, rejoiced that their nineteen-year-old daughter had gone to stay with an old school chum till she found work. That was till her father herad rumors and got a tin opener slashing for his efforts to rescure her.

The Arrow claimed that early during the New Year’s party Dolly whispered to one of the guests (“six girls, all of whom arrived in taxis and were dressed as men”) that she was unhappy, fearful that Mona was seeing someone else and would “give me up if I go on moping.” Meanwhile the party continued, in a story line that probably tittilated just about every straight man’s fantasy:

The gramophone played gaily, but only records by male impersonators were heard. Ella Shields, and others famed for their skill in adopting male attire, and voice, kept everyone in gales of husky laughter with their bright songs. The talk turned to books, books in which Lesbianism was the theme. Edna was besieged with inquiries when she announced that she had found in a second hand shop “The Well of Loneliness,” Radclyffe Hall’s banned but beautifully written novel… During supper Mona flirted outrageously with Mavis, and Mavis’s “husband” Edna was too drunk to notice. Soon Mona and Mavis disappeared into the bedroom, and the door was shut lie hind them. Dolly, the little blonde, stared after them, tears filling her eyes. Repeated questions such as “Is there any more coffee, pey?” from Edna, and ‘Where DID Mona got that pretty blue shirt?” from Jessie, evoked no reply.

The hideous party continued. Soon the girls were fondling each other, and kissing desperate, sterile kisses in wild abandon. The noise grew louder as they sang, and jazzed, and the suggestion of “Let’s play strip poker,” was hailed with cries of “Yes, let’s! Where are the cards! Oh, Mona will find them!” Someone hammered on the bedroom door, until Mona came out, her tie awry, her sleek Eton crop ruffled, and her temper more so.

Mona joined the card game, and that’s when Dolly’s father showed up to spoil the fun. He demanded that Dolly return home. Dolly refused, grabed a can opener, sliced her father’s arm. Meanwhile the others packed Dolly’s suitcase and Mona demanded that Dolly leave. “I can’t have your father snooping about hero finding fault,” she supposedly said. “For God’s sake, get out, and don’t como into my ofllcc snivelling and asking for me, like you did last time. I won’t, take you back.”

Dolly went home with her father, the party disbanded, and the entire improbably story came to an equally unlikely end, more or less. But not without a bit more moralizing from The Arrow:

Strange how this Lesbian love is flourishing in Sydney. Blame the war, blame the way women are encouraged to flaunt -their enjoyment of masculine occupations and hobbies, blame modern freedom in allowing masculine women to entice feminine women away from the places where they may meet suitable husbands, to spend barren years in the society of a sexually-perverted girl-friend. In Berlin Lesbians have their own cafes and newspapers. How horrible if such a state of affairs should come about in Sydney!

Medical men realise that a certain proportion of truly homo-sexual women must be expected in every big city.

But parents should be wide-awake to the dangorous fascination that a vigorous, domineering woman may exercise over a clean-minded, sympathetic, and simple girl. Beware of these friendships between women which so often lead to perversion and mental derangements.

[Source: Aldson Mitchell “And Now Women Are Holding Orgies: Man Haters Hold Wirld Party in William Street Flat. Girls Dressed as Men — Tin Opener Attack.” The Arrow (Sydney, NSW, January 8, 1932): 5. Available online here.]

Two Men Arrested for “Abominable Act and Detestable Crime Against Nature”: 1962. Read that year again. It was in 1962, and not any number of centuries earlier, when Max Perkins and Robert McCorkle were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the charge that they “did unlawfully, willfully, maliciously and feloniously commit the abominable and detestable crime against nature with each other.” The North Carolina statute they were charged under was a 429-year-old law carried over from England which provided imprisonment of between five to sixty years, after having been modified in 1869 to remove the death penalty. McCorkle pleaded no contest and received the minimum sentence of 5 to 7 years. He served a portion of that sentence (I don’t know how long) and was released. Perkins, who was at the very least a cross dresser but more likely may have been transgender, pleaded innocent. The jury however found Perkins guilty, and the same judge who sentenced McCorkle earlier sentenced Perkins to 20 to 30 years in prison.

Perkins went to Federal Court, and on October 5, 1964, Federal Judge J. Braxton Craven ruled that Perkins was wrongly convicted. Craven found that if the statute outlawing the “detestable crime” was a new one, it would be unconstitutionally vague. But since it wasn’t, he held that the weight of historical interpretation and common law pointed to a much more specific crime. “It has been interpreted many times by the North Carolina Supreme Court,” Craven wrote. “Although the court has said it means much more than it meant at common law or at enactment during the reign of Henry VIII, its decisions have made equally clear that crime against nature does not embrace walking on the grass.” Based on those decisions, Craven found that the specific crime being outlawed was “buggery”; Perkins’s “detestable crime” was fellatio. He also found that Perkins’s excessive punishment, when compared to McCorkle’s, was obviously imposed because “his not guilty plea inconvenienced the court and that he was punished for it.” Further, he found that Perkins’s court-appointed counsel refused to mount a defense or call any of Perkins’s witnesses. Judge Craven ordered Perkins released before concluding his opinion:

Is it not time to redraft a criminal statute first enacted in 1533? And if so, cannot the criminal law draftsmen be helped by those best informed on the subject — medical doctors — in attempting to classify offenders? Is there any public purpose served by a possible sixty year maximum or even five year minimum imprisonment of the occasional or one-time homosexual without treatment, and if so, what is it? Are homosexuals twice as dangerous to society as second-degree murderers — as indicated by the maximum punishment for each offense? Is there a good reason why a person convicted of a single homosexual act with another adult may be imprisoned six times as long as an abortionist, thirty times as long as one who takes indecent liberties with children, thirty times as long as the drunk driver — even though serious personal injury and property damage results — twice as long as an armed bank robber, three times as long as a train robber, ten times as along as one who feloniously breaks and enters a store, and 730 times as long as the public drunk?

These questions, and others like them, need to be answered.

Judge Craven would go on to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1966 until his death in 1977. Perkins received a new trial and was found not guilty.

Graham Chapman: 1941-1989. When Graham was growing up, his favorite radio program was the surreal British sketch comedy program The Goon Show, which made Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers household names. Chapman acknowledged that it was a major influence on him: “From about the age of seven or eight I used to be an avid listener…. In fact, at that stage I wanted to be a Goon.” He never got that chance, but he did go on to become a part of the Goon Show’s obvious successor: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Chapman’s characters tended to epitomize the famous British Upper Lip, although those characters were often undone when their masks slipped to reveal a loony madness underneath. He also co-wrote the “Dead Parrot” sketch about a man who tries to return a dead Norwegian Blue Parrot to the pet shop, a sketch which is one of the Monty Python classics. Chapman played King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he played the title character in Life of Brian.

Chapman came out as gay just before Monty Python’s Flying Circus went on the air in 1969, and he was committed to his life-long partner, David Sherlock, since 1966. In 1972, he helped to co-found the publication Gay News in an effort to change the way gay people were perceived by the public. Chapman was a raging alcoholic through much of his career, but he went sober in 1977 following a drunken interview on British television. He died on October 4, 1989 of throat cancer, on the day before a planned twentieth anniversary celebration of the first Flying Circus broadcast. Fellow Python Terry Jones called it “the worst case of party-pooping in all history.” John Cleese delivered the eulogy: “Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch’, is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.”

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 7

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

I can’t find any information about Indianapolis’ Uptown Connection, but what was once the Uptown Connection is now Downtown Olly’s, a gay sports bar.

The “contrivance.”

A Sure-Fire Cure for Masturbation: 1899. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, non-procreative sexual activity was thought to be the root of all sorts of diseases, both mental and physical. As early as 1725, it was thought that semen was a product of the blood, and that wasting it for purely recreational purposes (or, in the case of nocturnal emissions, no purpose at all), were believed to be debilitating, particularly for young men and women (see Sep 16). That debilitation was confirmed, so they thought, by the fact that people were inordinately exhausted after so much excitation and expenditure. And it was that momentary “weakening” following the deed which was believed to be the very opportunity which diseases seized upon to enter the body and take root. The reasoning went this way: since weak people got sick, and sex made people weak, it’s only logical that sex, especially lots of sex, makes people sick.

Those beliefs were beginning to break down as the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, but not all medical practitioners were coming to their senses. On January 7, 1899, the Maryland Medical Journal reprinted part of a lecture by Dr. Jackson Piper in which he reflected on “gleanings in the course of a long practice.” The topics he touched on included the case of malarial fever, a strangulated hernia, chronic pneumonia, and his invention for preventing masturbation:

A Pad for the Treatment of Seminal Weakness.– For many years I have been using a contrivance for the cure of seminal emissions caused by masturbation. The success obtained has been so marked that I desire to call the attention of this association to it. It consists of a padded leather belt, which is fastened around the waist and held in position by a buckle in front. The padded side is, of course, next to the body, and the padding extends from either side of the spine to a short distance beyond the ossa ilii (the hips). From this waistband at the spine falls a perpendicular strap, which strap is made to move freely on the band by a loop made by the strap being doubled on itself. This strap, which I will call the perineal strap, is divided into two parts after it passes the perineum, which parts meet the waistband on either side of the abdomen, and each end is fastened to it by a buckle. These buckles are attached to loops which move easily over the waistband in front. The center or perineal strap is supplied with a pad to which is attached a loop on its back, so as to move easily over the perineal strap. The waistband should be’ two inches wide. The perineal band, one and one-half inches wide and its divisions after it leaves the perineum, would, of course, be
three-quarters of an inch each in width. The pad should be two inches wide by one and one-half inches long. Its upper or perineal surface must be padded firm and hard and made slightly concave. The length of the waistband and the perineal strap must be determined by actual measurement for the patient for whom it is made.

When in position the pad must fit over the perineum, just at the commencement of the scrotum and between this and the anus. The appliance must be worn continuously and well tightened to keep up a firm pressure by the pad on the perineum. Wherever the appliance hurts the patient the pressure must be eased by wads of raw cotton.

The object of this pressure is to cut off the blood supply to the penis, which supply is often of itself the incentive to self-indulgence, or, if the patient is asleep. this pressure prevents an involuntary emission. The pad also acts, by pressure, as a tonic on the already weakened vesiculae seminalis and the vas deferens, which together constitute the ejaculatory duct. This apparatus, simple in construction, simple in application and simple in action, does away with other treatment, save, possibly, the use of tonics and nervines, for a constitution already impaired. It absolutely destroys the consummation of erotic desires and tones up the parts and also imparts hope and will power to the patient. I have used it in many cases with perfect success. The apparatus should be worn for months — in fact, until the patient is cured and feels able to trust himself. I claim no originality here, having seen the invention in an ancient number of Braithwait’s “Retrospect.”

[Source: Jackson Piper. “Gleanings in the course of a long medical practice.” Maryland Medical Journal 41, no. 1 (January 7, 1899): 6-9. Available online via Google Books here.]

Four Men Plead Guilty to Homosexual Offenses: 1949. According to the Associated Press:

Columbia, Mo., Jan 7. (AP). Four men pleaded guilty yesterday to statutory charges and were placed on probation four years. They were Warren W. Heathman, itinerant agriculture instruction for the Veterans Administration at Rolla; Harry J. Sohn Jr., of Hannibal, former University of Missouri student; Willie D. Coots of Columbia, former clerk in a novelty shop, and Joe Byers, local grocer.

E.K. Johnston, former journalism professor at the university pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a similar charge and was placed on four-year probation. Yesterday’s action closed the cases resulting from an investigation last spring of homosexual activities at the university and elsewhere.

The prior spring, newspapers reported on a “homosexual ring” with “mad homosexual parties” taking place near the University of Missouri campus (see May 27). Professor E.K. Johnston’s 24-year teaching career was ruined when he and several others were arrested. Coots may have been Johnston’s partner at the time of the arrests, as reports at the time indicate that they had shared an apartment in Rolla “for the last 15 or 16 years.” Reports indicate that “at least of score” of other students and residents were “implicated in the ring,” but as far as I’ve been able to determine, no others were arrested.

114 Arrested in Miami Gay Club Raid: 1951. Numerous BTB Agendas have detailed a long-running anti-gay witch hunt that took place in Miami in 1954 through 1955, but in fact there is considerable evidence that police raids were a long-established practice throughout much of the decade. In 1951, for example, the Miami News reported on a massive police raid of the Latin American Center club at 228 NE 3rd street early Sunday morning:

An assortment of blonde wigs and women’s hats were discarded when the deputies moved in. There were indications that it was a gathering place for sex perverts.

None of those arrested will go to trial and they did not post bond. Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Jackson, who ordered the raid, said that the “nuisance value alone of a raid of this kind gives places of bad repute in Miami fair warning that we are after them from now on.”

He termed the club the “most notorious in Miami.” It was the largest single raid in Miami’s history. The patrons and operator Edward Kawas, 36, of 836 Wallace St., Coconut Grove, were taken over to county jail in the paddy wagon, which shuttled back and forth to accommodate the crowd.

The paper went on to report that the “young and well-dressed” patrons were “photographed, fingerprinted and interrogated.” It took deputies twelve hours to process everyone. The State Beverage District Supervisor said that an investigation would be launched to deprive the club of its liquor license. Jose Marela, identified as the “dean of the Miami consular corps,” reportedly complained about the club’s name because, as he said, there were no Latin American members.

Jann Wenner: 1946. He founded Rolling Stone in 1967 when he was just 21, after borrowing $7,500 from family members. In 1977 he founded Outside magazine, and in 1985 he bought a share of US. In 1995, he separated from his wife, Jane Wenner, to live with Matt Nye, a former model and fashion designer. Jann and Jane finally divorced in 2011. Jane is still vice president of Wenner Media. In addition to the three sons he had with Jane, Jann and Matt also have three children.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, January 6

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Palm Beach Post, February 10, 1950, page 23.

From The Palm Beach Post, February 10, 1950, page 23.

Bobbie Johnson, one of the performers at West Palm Beach's Melody Club.

Bobbie Johnson, one of the performers at West Palm Beach’s Melody Club.

It’s hard to believe, but drag shows were very popular at the more posh night clubs from West Palm Beach to Miami Beach. As the tourism trade resumed after World War II, drag shows became a popular form of entertainment, and local papers ran ads for the shows alongside other theater ads. And the ads weren’t coy — this one from West Palm Beach promised to be “the gayest show in town.” The papers even ran reviews, often laudatory. Jackie Jackson, a popular drag performer, recalled that he even got an official police escort to his performance at the 1948 policeman’s ball.

Jackie Jackson.

Jackie Jackson (Source).

That was sixty-five years ago. And while the well-heeled, the tourists, local politicians and visiting celebrities were raunching things up in the fancier night clubs, Miami police were rounding up drag queens in gay bars in the less glamorous parts of town (see Jan 7). Then, sixty-two years ago, Miami Beach banned all drag shows from within its city limits.

Of course, the crackdown was never about drag or drag performers. Sixty years ago, a young male airline steward was murdered by two young toughs (see Aug 3), and Miami’s mayor took the opportunity to launch a devastating anti-gay witch hunt that saw hundreds of people arrested and careers destroyed — and more violence against gay people (see below). Fifty-four years ago, the anti-gay witch hunt went statewide, with the infamous Johns committee looking for homosexuals in every schoolhouse (see Mar 22, May 25, Jun 3). Fifty-two years ago, the witch hunt shifted to college campuses (see Apr 24). Fifty-one years ago, that same committee published its infamous Purple Pamphlet, which called for mandatory psychiatric treatment of gay people — and which was so explicit that other Florida officials threatened to file obscenity charges if the state continued to distribute the report (see Mar 17). Thirty eight years ago, Anita Bryant launched a devastatingly vicious campaign with national impact that succeeded in convincing Miami-Dade voters to rescind a gay rights ordinance (see Jun 7), and a day later, Gov. Ruben Askew (D) signed an adoption ban into law (see Jun 8). Six years ago, 62% of Florida voters agreed to enshrine discrimination in their state constitution by adding what they envisioned as a permanent ban on same-sex marriage. And even just four years ago, a Florida Democratic operative gay-baited a political opponent as “Unmarried, unsure, unelectable … with a suspect commitment to family values.”

But also four years ago, Florida’s ban on adoption by gay parents was declared unconstitutional in state court, and just yesterday, same-sex couples began marrying in Miami-Dade. And today, a federal judge’s stay of his ruling that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional has expired, meaning that gay couples can marry state-wide. County clerks offices in all 67 counties are handing out marriage license, although at least fourteen of those counties have ended the practice of officiating all marriages just so they don’t have to marry the gay ones. Which just goes to show, it’s not the gays that are a threat to marriage, it’s straight people — or more specifically, straight clerks.

Detective Charles Sapp handcuffs Thomas F. McDonald

60 YEARS AGO: Suspect Arrested In Miami “Hairdresser Murder” Case: 1955. Only a day had passed since Miami Beach police were called to an apartment on 82nd Street where William Bishop’s roommates discovered his dead body on the floor of an enclosed porch (see Jan 5). When police arrived, they examined his nude body with his hands tied behind his back, his ankles tied together, and a dish towel and handkerchief fashioned into a gag around his mouth. The Dade County sheriff’s legal-medical advisor told reporters that Bishop probably died from strangulation, but he wouldn’t be able to make a final determination until an autopsy was performed. A separate Associated Press report the next day would reveal that the autopsy showed that “Bishop died of strangulation and that he had been sexually abused.”

If this were Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday briefing reporters on the case, those would have been, in his words, “just the facts, ma’am.” But this murder had taken place against the backdrop of a long-running newspaper-driven anti-gay witchhunt (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16), and The Miami News was once again eager to fan the flames of anti-gay prejudice. They played this latest incident they way they played all of the other developments: to maximum effect. In yesterday’s report, Bishop was identified as a hairdresser — not just once but four times, including twice in the headlines, just in case anyone missed it. The reporter, Frank Fox, dutifully pointed out that the roommates were also a hairdresser and a florist, and they were “hysterical” — Fox used that word twice — when they called the police. Police allowed Fox a close-up look at the body so he could report, in detail, Bishop’s “silk dressing gown sash” which was used to tie Bishop’s hands together. Fox apparently was also given the run of the apartment. He described the full layout of the U-shaped apartment and “the reading matter about homosexuals” scattered about. Fox did leave it to the homicide detective to say openly what Fox and his Miami News readers already concluded: “It looks to me like a sadistic murder.”

William Bishop’s death looked like it was shaping up to being just one more crime that police and the public would refuse to take seriously. Which makes it all the more surprising when the following day, police announced the arrest of “a 21-year-old Korean War veteran” by the name of Thomas Francis McDonald. Miami News reporter Sanford Schnier described him as a veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, a private first class who served “11 months in Korea with the 71st Regiment, 7th Infantry (Hourglass) Division as a switchboard operator (with) several battle stars who, in effect, had little choice but to attack William Bishop. The story went like this:

McDonald, who has a wife and 6-month-old child, related this story: He left home several days ago feeling despondent over an argument with his wife and because of the recent deaths of his mother and father. He checked into the Tuscany Hotel in Hollywood, and came to Miami Beach Tuesday night. In a 74th Street bar he met Bishop. They played shuffleboard and had a few drinks, he said. Bishop invited him to his apartment and he accepted.

When they go there, McDonald stated, Bishop “tried to make some improper advances towards me. I hit him with my first three or four times, and he struck back and got me on the jaw twice. He fell when I hit him again.”

The, he said, he tied him up “Because I figured he might follow me,” and left the scene. He went back to Hollywood, checked out at 7:15 a.m. yesterday and came back to Miami, where he planned to check in.”

Asked by detectives if he knew Bishop was a homosexual, McDonald answered, “I never had any use for them and I still don’t.”

McDonald, 210 pounds and 5 feet, 11 inches tall, said he took Bishop’s gold watch, $5 in case, two shirts and a tan sport jacket, which he was wearing when arrested. McDonald admitted in his statement to Miami Beach police that ho took a ring from Bishop and hocked it later in the day at a Miami pawnshop for $35.

“I swear he was breathing when I left; you got to believe me,” he implored detectives.

That’s how the story ended on January 6: a burly Korean war vet and married father who attacked a silk dressing-gowned hairdresser. It would appear that, in The Miami News’ opinion, the case was more or less closed — except for the small matter of a dead body. The News dropped the story until May, when a judge ruled that McDonald was competent to stand trial and jury selection began. The story then fell back off of the paper’s pages, so I don’t have much information about what happened during the trial But on May 24, the paper’s late edition carried a very brief one-paragraph description of McDonald’s testimony:

Accused Testified in Murder Trial.
Thomas F. McDonald, accused of murdering William B. Bishop, took the stand in his own defense today and reiterated that Bishop was still alive when he left Bishop’s apartment at 235 82nd St., Miami Beach, the night of Jan 5. McDonald, a 21-year-old Korean veteran, told the court that he beat, bound and gagged the 29-year-old hairdresser because he was “acting like a mad dog.”

Later that day, the jury found McDonald guilty of murder, “and recommended mercy, thus saving him from death in the electric chair.” Fortunately, Florida law placed a limit to that mercy: a life sentence was the mandatory minimum. McDonald was formally sentenced to life on May 27.

Alan Chambers speaking at the Gay Christian Network conference in Orlando, Florida. L-R: GCN Executive Director Justin Lee, Alan Chambers, former ex-gay leaders John Smid, Wendy Gritter and Jeremy Marks.

Ex-Gay Leader: “99.9% Have Not Experienced A Change In Their Orientation”: 2012. Exodus International President Alan Chambesr appeared on a surprise panel at the Gay Christian Network’s annual conference in Orlando discussing the ethics and methods of the ex-gay movement. Early in the program, Chambers was asked about Exodus’ longstanding messaging which promised that participants in Exodus programs could experience a change in their sexual orientation. Chambers responded:

I think it’s a fair criticism from the past. … feel like I’ve been very upfront and clear, both in the media, at conferences, anytime I have the opportunity to write about it, about the fact that I believe the slogan “Change is Possible,” for those of us who are Christians we do understand that when you come into a relationship with Christ all sorts of things are possible.

The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think there is a gender issue there, there are some women who have challenged me and said that my orientation or my attractions have changed completely. Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know do still experience some level of same-sex attraction.

And so that’s something, I think, I can’t be any clearer about that. …I hope that we’re coming to a place where we are a much more honest group of people, that when we talk about “Change is Possible,” we are very, very clear about what change means in our lives.

That acknowledgement was a startling development, not so much for what Chambers said — he had beein saying something along those lines since at least 2007 — but for the depth with which he was willing to discuss this point. And those statements drawing away from the “change is possible” matra was followed by further actions. Later that month, Exodus dropped all Reparative Therapy books from its bookstore, canceled all but one of its Love One Out scheduled for that year, and began to speak out against other anti-gay activists. Those moves were met with increasing dissention among some of the more hard-core Exodus member ministries, many of which formed the rival Restored Hope Network. Many many defections followed. It all came to a head on June 19, 2013, when Exodus issued a lengthy apology “to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International.” Later that night during the opening session of what would become Exodus International’s final annual conference in Irvine, California, Chambers announced that Exodus would be closing its doors.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, January 5

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2015

10003701+2US+NEWS+GAYMARRIAGE-FLORIDA+6+FLMarriage Equality Arrives in Miami. This is going to be a pretty big week for Anita Bryant’s old stomping grounds. Same-sex marriage could start as early as today in Miami-Dade, where a stay in one of the state court cases challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage may be lifted. But even if that doesn’t happen, marriage licenses should be issued for same-sex couples statewide tomorrow when a Federal stay expires. All 67 counties in Florida will be compelled to issue licenses to any and all eligible same-sex couples who request one, although several of those counties have announced that they will no longer officiate any marriages, gay or straight. While Florida’s twice-divorced Attorney General Pam Bondi is appealing the federal case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, she has finally thrown up her hands in her efforts to get the current stay extended after failing to convince the 11th or the Supreme Court of the impending dangers to any of her marriages.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From TWN (The Weekly News, Miami), October 21, 1987, page 44.

Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” Published: 1948. The dry, scientific, statistics-laden Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was published by W.B. Saunders, a respected publisher of medical textbooks and journals who had no idea what they were getting into when they agreed to publish this book. Their experience was with a limited customer base where a run of 5,000 copies was considered a huge success. W.B. Saunders ended up publishing a quarter of a million copies during that first year instead.

The only person who wasn’t surprised by the runaway success of what became known simply as “The Kinsey Report” was Alfred Kinsey himself. He and his colleagues had spent the previous nine years interviewing nearly 12,000 people across the country, asking them questions covering more than five hundred details of their intimate, sexual lives. When the book was finally published, America was emerging from the frugality that marked the Great Depression and World War II, full of economic and cultural vitality and itching to settle down in their Levittown houses and start making thousands of babies. The Kinsey Reports quickly entered popular culture along with Tiki-chic, bachelor pads, and a huge post-war baby boom. Sex was breaking out all over, and “Kinsey” became a popular code-word for anything risqué. It also introduced millions of Americans to the notion that gay people — and a lot of other people as well — were have gay sex. Now more than sixty years later, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (and its companion volume, 1953’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female) are still the books that everyone loves — especially those who have never read them. They are also the books that social conservatives love to hate, blaming them for sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960′s. For more information about the book’s impact, you can check out our report, “According To The Kinsey Reports,” which was written on the occasion of the book’s sixtieth anniversary.

60 YEARS AGO: “Male Hairdresser” Found Murdered in Miami: 1955. Miami’s Miami’s four month-ling newspaper-driven anti-gay witch hunt (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16) seemed as though it might have been calming down as the new year began. But hopes in the beleaguered gay community that things might be getting back to normal were shattered when Miami Beach police were called to an apartment when a resident discovered that his roommate, 29-year-old William B. Bishop, had been murdered. The Miami News’ front page report was very nearly as hysterical as the phone call that Bishop’s roommate reportedly made to police when he discovered the body. According to The Miami News:

Bishop’s nude body was trussed with handkerchiefs, a silk dressing gown sash and an electric wire cord, and he had been wounded. The exact cause of his death was unknown hours after one of the nearly hysterical roommates notified police at 8:10 a.m. Beach detectives and sheriff’s office homicide investigators found the body on the terrazzo floor of a jalousied porch in the apartment at 235 82nd St. Bishop shared the living quarters with two friends.

“Edward Hedgepeth, left, and William H. Tower, roommates of slain William B. Bishop, are escorted to a telephone by Officer C.E. Hobson of Miami Beach. The two said they slept undisturbed while Bishop was dying on apartment porch. — Miami Daily News photo by Spencer.

The Miami News didn’t identify Bishop as gay, but it may as well have. Not only was he identified as a “male beautician” in the headline, but his two room mates were also identified by name and professions: another hairdresser and a florist. The florist, William H. Tower, 22, told detectives that he went to bed at 6:30 p.m. the night before while the other roommate, Edward B. Hedgepeth, 27, went to bed at about 11 p.m. Neither of them heard anything unusual overnight. When Tower got up the next morning, he found Bishop on the porch.

Detectives apparently regarded the crime scene as quite a spectacle, and they invited reporters onto the porch to get a closer look at the body. The Miami News happily supplied the details:

Bishop’s hands were tied behind him with a man’s handkerchief and the dressing gown sash, which were twisted together. The wrists and ankles were bound together with the electric extension cord, and a dish towel and another handkerchief were knotted around the face as a gag. … John Berdeaux, sheriff’s homicide investigator, said: “It looks to me like a sadistic murder.”

The police also appeared to have allowed reporters to go through the apartment as well:

A desk in the apartment was littered with reading matter about homosexuals, including the book, “Strange Loves,” by Dr. LaForest Potter. The book was described on the jacket as a study in sexual abnormality.”

Reporters also drew parallels to another unrelated murder which had occurred the summer before of a “Coral Gables schoolboy (who) was found dead in a tree near his home… The youth had been bound with rope to a pole held between forks in a tree.” After noting that that crime was still unsolved (in fact, investigators weren’t even sure whether that death was a murder or suicide), the reporters apparently ran out of anti-gay stereotypes to exploit, and so the article came to an end.

The article ended, but south Florida’s gay community feared that their nightmare was about to repeat itself all over again. After all, it was the murder of a gay airline steward the previous summer (see Aug 3) that had served as the pretext for a wave of police harassment and arrests that would last more or less through December.

The Brunswick Four: Adrienne Potts, Pat Murhpy, Sue Wells, Heather Elizabeth.

The Brunswick Four: Adrienne Potts, Pat Murhpy, Sue Wells, Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth.

The Brunswick Four Arrested in Toronto: 1974. It was amateur night at the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto, things were already getting off to a bad start for four friends. Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth were sitting at a table when a man joined them, uninvited. At first things were friendly, but it quickly turned sour when the man became belligerent and insulting. When the four rebuffed his sexual advances, he got angry, poured beer over Potts’s head, and left the table. The women complained to management, who promised that the man would be made to leave.

With everyone in the tavern witnesses to the incident, Adrienne and Pat decided to make the best of things and take the stage to sing their rendition of “I Enjoy Being a Dyke,” a take-off from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Flower Drum Song tune “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” Their lyrics went:

When I see a man who’s sexist
And who does something I don’t like
I just tell hem that he can fuck off
I enjoy being a Dyke
I’ve always been an uppity woman
I refuse to run — I stand and strike
Cuz I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m angry
And I enjoy being a Dyke.

Despite the crowd’s enthusiastic response, the manager became incensed and cut the microphone mid-song. He also demanded that all four women leave. With the support of other patrons, the women challenged the manager, especially when they noticed that the man who had started whole mess was still there. The women refused to leave until the tavern’s manager explained himself. He refused, and called the police.

Eight officers quickly arrived, dragged the women out of the bar, and took them to the police station. The four were harassed, but not charged. Instead, they were forcibly thrown out of the Division 14 station. They returned to the tavern in search of witnesses, where they were met by policemen and bouncers.

Three of the four were thrown into an unmarked car and taken back to the station. (Sue Wells was not taken in because there was no room in the car, even though she demanded to be taken with the others.) Back at the station, the three endured five hours of harassment.  Officers’ remarks were of the crudest sort: “Did you ever put your finger in a Dyke?” one was heard asking another. The three were finally charged with creating a disturbance, and Elizabeth was given an additional charge of obstructing the police.

Pat Murphy was also a member of Toronto Gay Action, which made sure there was plenty of publicity surrounding the arrest. The group became known as the Brunswick Four, and Judy Lamarsh, former Secretary of State for Canada, defended the women free of charge. Later that summer, Murphy and Elizabeth were acquitted (the obstruction charge against Elizabeth was dropped), and Potts was given three months probation after the judge ruled that she was responsible for the entire disturbance.

After the trial, Potts, Murphy and Beyer compelled the Crown to charge the arresting officers with assault after collecting extensive evidence in the form of doctors’ notes and photographs of their bruising. But the police officers had exchanged hats and badge numbers before entering the tavern, which prevented the women from making positive identifications. Murphy, Potts and Beyer refused to participate in the trial, calling it a scam and a miscarriage of justice. The officers were acquitted and Murphy was sentenced to thirty days in jail for contempt of court for refusing to rise for a recess. Despite the unsatisfactory outcomes, the incident is regarded by many as Canada’s Stonewall for inspiring a more outspoken and confrontational gay rights movement in Canada.

[Sources: “Uppity Women.” The Body Politic (March 1974): 1.

“Partial Win for Brunswick 4.” The Body Politic (July 1974): 6.

85 YEARS AGO: Kay Lahusen: 1930. Her life partner, pioneering lesbian rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), was probably more famous, but Kay Lahusen was an equal partner in the couple’s active participation in the early gay rights movement. She had been raised in Cincinnati by her Christian Science grandparents, and she encountered her first crisis over her sexuality while still in high school when she fell in love with another girl and developed what she thought was “the world’s greatest friendship.” But that friendship also stirred feelings of love, desire, and sex, “just like straight people feel. I have to tell you, I had a breakdown over this revelation.” She went to bed and stayed there for two weeks. When her grandparents called a Christian Science practitioner to the house to pray over her, Lahusen decided that she had no choice but to figure out how to pull herself up and deal with the situation head-on. “I just decided that I was right and the world was wrong, and that there couldn’t be anything wrong with this kind of love.”

After a difficult breakup with that same girlfriend in college, she moved to Boston to work in the Christian Science Monitor’s reference library, where she observed that “they filed homosexuality under ‘vice’.” In 1961, she read Voyage from Lesbos: the Psychoanalysis of a Female Homosexual by New York psychiatrist Richard Robertiello, she contacted the author and asked where she could learn more about other lesbians. He told her about the Daughters of Bilitis and gave her a copy of the group’s magazine The Ladder. “So I wrote to DOB in New York and who got my letter but Barbara.” Gittings, who had organized the first DOB chapter in the East Cost when she established the New York chapter, invited Lahusen to a DOB meeting. Barbara herself was out of town, but Kay met four others at that small get-together. A short time later, Kay met Barbara at a DOB picnic in Rhode Island. “When I met Barbara at the picnic, I thought she was a very interesting person. I was quite taken with her.” That meeting marked the start of a powerful lifelong personal and political partnership

Photo of Lilli Vincenz, by Kay Lahusen, on the January 1966 cover of The Ladder

Together, they established a much more politically active wing of the Daughters of Bilitis, and their strong push for visibility came to epitomize the East Coast approach to gay advocacy. When Barbara began editing The Ladder in 1962, she pushed the magazine into a much bolder direction. She quickly replaced the magazine’s hand-drawn covers with photos of real lesbians, photos which were often supplied by Kay — credited as “Kay Tobin” because, she said, “Lahusen is too hard to pronounce.” By then, Lahusen was becoming “the first gay photojournalist” by photographing an increasing number of gay rights pickets on the East Coast.

Kay Lahusen, walking a picket line in front of Independence Hall in 1969, just a few days after the Stonewall rebellion.

It was those pickets, including at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), the White House (see Apr 17 and May 29), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), the Pentagon (see Jul 31) and the State Department (see Aug 28), which became a source of growing tension between the East and West Coast branches of the DOB. Lahusen and Gittings, along with other East Coast gay rights activists like Frank Kameny (see May 21) and Randolphe Wicker, believed that a more direct and confrontational approach was needed if anything was truly going to change, and they were increasingly frustrated by the cautious and accommodating approach advocated by West Coast leaders. When the national DOB became paralyzed over how to respond to a police raid on a lesbian bar in Philadelphia (see Mar 8), Lahusen and Gittings decided it was time to move on.

After leaving DOB, they began working with other men and women on the East Coast through a host of other organizations, including the Homophile Action League, the East Coast Homophile Organization (ECHO), the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) and, after Stonewall, the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA). They also played key roles in the drive to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Kay’s activism continued into the 1980s when, after becoming a realtor, she organized a group of agents to march in New York’s Gay Pride Parade. Kay and Barbara remained together for 46 years, until Barbara’s death from breast cancer in 2007. Key currently lives in an assistance living facility in Pennsylvania.

[Source: Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).]

Alvin Ailey, Jr.: 1931-1989. It can be said that Alvin Ailey single handedly elevated African-American dance from popular steps to modern art. It’s hard to imagine African-American modern dance without his Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, even though he was always proud of the fact that his dance company was integrated. Ailey combined modern dance with classical styles, bringing together a long, unbroken leg line (“a ballet bottom”) and a dramatically expressive upper torso (“a modern top”). “What I like is the line and technical range that classical ballet gives to the body. But I still want to project to the audience the expressiveness that only modern dance offers, especially for the inner kinds of things,” he once explained. His signature work, Revelations, drew on his memories of his early childhood in Texas, combining elements of blues, spirituals, and gospel music with a thoroughly modern choreography. His 1970 American Ballet Theatre commission, The River, had the ABT’s ballet company employing classical dance styles with the music of Duke Ellington.

Ailey relative openness about his sexuality was the source of continued tensions between him and his mother. When he was dying of AIDS in 1989, he asked his doctor to announce that he had died of a blood disorder to spare his mother the social stigma of dying from AIDS. Considering the many barriers that Ailey smashed to smithereens during the course of his career in dance, his final act stands as a sad anomaly. And yet his work endures. His dance troupe carries on his legacy through performances, commissions and in providing higher education to dance students through The Ailey School.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, January 4

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 4.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), January 1972, page 4.

Dallas’s Bayou Club originally opened in January 1970 in a small location on Rawlins Street in the Oak Cliff neighborhood (I’m still looking for that address). It wasn’t very popular at first, not until a straight man wakined in and was shocked to see men dancing with men. He wrote a letter to the Dallas Times-Herald asking whether such goings-on was legal. The Landing’s co-owner, Frank Caven later recalled, “That was like $10,000 worth of free publicity. … From then on, it was wall-to-wall bodies.” The Bayou was a huge success.

Almost years later, Caven sold the club, and the new owners moved it to massive new digs of about 23,000 square feet in what was then a kind of a no-man’s land near downtown Dallas, at the corner of Pearl Street and Silver Springs Road. Re-christened Bayou Landing, it held its grand opening on January 4, 1972. The local gay rag, Our Community excitedly described the brand new venue:

On entering the stunning foyer, you will be warmly greeted by a staff member. But this is an open bar, no membership card required. From there you enter the main room brilliantly decorated in red, white, and blue. A handsome bartender will be glad to serve you a drink and you will enjoy dancing on the large dance floor. Several levels with tables and chairs overlook the fun. There is a stage on which the Bayou Review will perform. Bayou Review? Another drag show? No, a “camp review” by professional entertainers. The show will be bathed with all kinds of theatrical lighting. And, there are, not one but several, movie screens and a projector for the showing of camp movies.

Continuing your journey through this gay wonderland, you will next enter the butch game room with pool tables, game tables, and other games. This room as a balcony on all sides – for spectators, or whatever.

Then there is the Tiki Room, a bit of South Sea Island Paradise. Here you may order sandwiches, snacks, or just sit and talk. Or would you like to join the gang around the piano and sing?

But if you are real hungry, you visit the Tiffany Room and dine in the comfort of Louis XVth tables and chairs. The well equipped kitchen could serve a French army, so the mind delights in anticipation of the delicious food Chef Bob has planned for us! Want to give a, private party? That too can be arranged. There is a private dinning room that seats 30.

Is this enough? Yes, but there is more still. The Steam Bath. This will open the 5th of January and will have private rooms, a group therapy room, showers, sauna, steam heat – the works. The entrance will be guarded by closed circuit TV, and electronic steel doors for quiet and security. You will find this a wonderful place to exercise, unwind, and relax.

In this one location, one can find so much to do and enjoy that it should appeal to everyone – the young, the not-so-young, the liberated, the closet set, those who enjoy good drinks, excellent food, and good companionship, all in a pleasant atmosphere. On top of that there is plenty of free parking with a uniformed guard for your safety and the safety of your car.

On Sunday afternoons, the Landing featured 10¢ draft beers and 50¢ fried chicken dinners. One former D.J. remembered:

The Wednesday & Sunday shows at the Landing were directed by Jennifer George, and featured Tiffany Jones (famous for her numbers done as a roller skating nun), Carmelita and Ernestine: AKA Randy Zachary — one of the funniest spontaneous performers I’ve ever seen. (Jerry Vanover [Remember his “Stand By Your Man”?] was the star of the show in Dallas and came to the Houston club for guest shots.)

One of many unforgettable things about the Bayou Landing? The big hand-drawn sign on the front of the counter at the door, announcing “This Is A Gay Bar!”. And going on to make it clear that anyone not comfortable with that who made it past that point would be removed from the club if they did anything inside to upset the regular clientele.

When the disco era took hold, Bayou Landing was the premiere discotheque until Caben opened the Old Plantation and grabbed the limelight in the late ’70s. I don’t know when the Bayou finally closed down, but the building was razed around 2001. By then, what had been a sketchy neighborhood on the edge of downtown had become the southern anchor of Dallas’s hot new Uptown area.

20 YEARS AGO: Gay Man Stabbed to Death in Texas: 1995. Fred Mangione, 46, and his longtime partner, Kenneth Stern, 42, popped in to Dolly’s Place in Katy, Texas for drinks. The two had known each other for sixteen years, and had lived in the Houston area for the past ten, where they worked in the restaurant industry and shared their home with their two ailing mothers. That night, they had had a quite day with “the Moms,” strolled through a nearly empty local mall, and made plans to spend Valentine’s Day together by themselves in Disney World before deciding to grab a couple of drinks. They were regulars at Dolly’s Place, and felt comfortable with the place:

In this anonymous suburb west of Houston, where one fast-food restaurant blends into another, Stern and Mangione had managed an unusual popularity. At Community Bank, at the pancake house, at Dolly’s, where they were the designated gay couple among a largely heterosexual clientele, their appearance usually was greeted with cries of, “Here come Kenny and Fred!”

“People come into your life and they touch you,” said Suzie Andrews, 33, an office manager who had known the couple for several years. “They showed us a great deal. We were even aware at the time of how much they were showing us — the longevity of their relationship, how much love and togetherness they shared. They were like an old married couple.”

When Mangione started selling some Avon products to some of the bar patrons, someone yelled out that someone should “whip those fags.” A short time later, Daniel Bean, 19, and his half-brother Ronald Henry Gauthier, 21, who were visiting from Montana and were in the bar that night having drinks, talked to the man and appeared to have talked him down. Witnesses later said that Gauthier told the man they were going to mess with the “fags.” They then struck up a friendly conversation with Mangione and Stern. When Mangione and Stern decided to go to a convenience store for cigarettes, the brothers asked to tag along.

When the four return, Stern walked into the bar first, assuming the others were following behind. Instead, Gauthier walked in and began beating Stern. Bean then walked in and threw a dear-gutting knife with a six inch blade, covered in blood, onto the bar and joined the beating. Other patrons pulled the brothers off Stern. Wondering where Mangione was, Stern and the patrons ran outside to discover Mangione lying on the floor of a van covered in blood, the result of some 35 stab wounds.

When police arrived and arrested the brothers, they told police that they had just “fucked up a fag.” “It’s very obvious the victim was targeted because of the fact that he was homosexual,” sheriff’s Capt. Don McWilliams said. “They demonstrated no remorse at all over this.”. The two also bragged about being members of the German Peace Corps, a neo-nazi group based in California. Gauther would later deny being a member of the group during the trial, but Bean had the group’s initials tatooed on his arm.

Kenneth Stern holds a cross necklace given to him by his partner, Fred Mangione. (via)

Three years before Matthew Shepard’s death, Fred Mangione’s murder became among the earliest anti-gay hate crime murders to gain national attention. His murder also pulled the local community together, with a prayer vigil at Dolly’s Place and a well attended funeral. Community members also packed to court room to demand that Bean and Gauthier bond, then set at $200,000, was not reduced further. The judge decided, instead, to hold the pair without bond. After the trial, Bean was sentenced to life for stabbing Mangione. Gauthier was given only 10 years probation. Jurors told reporters that the prosecution failed to convince them that Gauthier was involved with the stabbing.

Gauthier’s sentence was met with outrage from the Houston Gay Political Caucus, and Stern expressed his concern that Gauthier would live with his mother in the subdivision right next to Stern’s. “For the rest of my life,” he said, “I have to watch what he does.”

5 YEARS AGO: HIV Travel Ban Lifted: 2010. One of the late Sen. Jesse Helm’s (R-NC) last legacies finally fell into the trash heap of history when the ban against people with HIV from entering the United States was finally lifted. The ban had been in place since 1987, when the former Senator from Anti-Gay USA added an amendment added to a 1987 appropriations bill which required that HIV/AIDS be included on the list of excludable diseases for immigration. When HHS moved to remove AIDS from the list in 1993, Congress retaliated by approving a measure that made the HIV/AIDS immigration and travel ban law. That law remained in place until 2008, when President George W. Bush signed the sweeping President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) into law. The law, which vastly expanded U.S. aid to combat HIV/AIDS overseas, also included a provision repealing Helms’s 1993 amendment. The Bush administration initiated the cumbersome and time-consuming rule-change process in order to lift the administrative application of the ban. That process was completed nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term.

Marsden Hartley: 1877-1943. He was born Edmund Hartley, the youngest of nine children in Lewiston, Maine. His mother died when he was eight and his father married Martha Marsden four years later. Edmund adopted his step-mother’s maiden name as his first name while in his twenties, after having studied art at the Cleveland School of Art, the New York School of Art, and the National Academy of Design. In 1909, he landed his first major exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in New York, followed by a second exhibition in 1912.

That same year, Marsden took his obligatory trip to Paris and Germany, where he met Gertrude Stein (see Feb 3), Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, and Charles Demuth (see Nov 8). Hartley remained in Germany after the outbreak of World War I, returning only after the death of a young German soldier, Karl von Freyburg. Hartley’s famous Portrait of a German Officer (1914) includes a full range of German military insignia and banners, along with von Freyburg’s initials, regiment number (4), and his age (24). Harley painted a series of what he called the War Motifs, which were intended to reflect his revulsion of the war. But his usage of German imagery proved highly unpopular with American collectors and critics.

Marsden Hartley, Madawaska Acadian Light Heavy (1940), a portrait of a wrester.

By 1919, Hartley moved away from abstract impressionism in favor of landscapes, still lifes and figure studies. By the 1930s, is figure studies turned decidedly masculine. In 1938, he painted Adelard the Drowned, Master of the “Phantom”, inspired by the death of a close friend, Alty Mason. (The nature of their relationship isn’t clear.) The painting features his friend’s unbuttoned shirt, hairy chest, and a single white flower placed at his left ear. A year later, Hartley placed Mason in Christ Held by Half-Naked Men, as a kind of an all-male pietà. But most of his work remained concentrated in landscapes set in Maine and Nova Scotia, where he remained for much of his life. Recognition and fame eluded Marsden during his lifetime. Not until twenty years after his death in 1943 did the New York Times recognize his portraits as “the boldest paintings of male figures in the history of American art.” In 2003, another Times critic drew a more direct observation: “Hartley painted what Whitman, the pre-eminent poet of the physical, hailed as the body electric.”

 55  YEARS AGO: Michael Stipe: 1960. Stipe met bandmate Peter Buck at a record store in Athens, Georgia, that Peter managed. “He was a striking-looking guy and he also bought weird records, which not everyone in the store did.” Buck later recalled. They formed R.E.M. with Bill Berry and Mike Mills, and with Stipe as lead singer. The band’s first album, Murmer (1983), found critical success, even though critics couldn’t make out the lyrics due to Stipe’s mumbling. His vocal styling continued on their second album Reckoning (1984), by which time Stipe’s mumbling became fodder for parodies. Stipe answered his critics: “It’s just the way I sing. If I tried to control it, it would be pretty false.”

In 1985, R.E.M. finally began to hit their musical stride when Stipe decided to enunciate more clearly for Fables of the Reconstruction. The clearer singing began to reveal an earnest, albeit nonlinear, writing style in his lyrics. That nonlinearity extends to his personal life as well: he doesn’t consider himself gay. “I don’t,” he reiterated in 2005. “I think there’s a line drawn between gay and queer, and for me, queer describes something that’s more inclusive of the grey areas.” In a 2011 interview, Stipe said that he was “around 80-20″ gay, but still prefers to identify as queer. “A lot of younger people have a much more it-is-what-it-is approach to sexuality. The black and white binary approach just does not work. So you find the terms that make you most comfortable.” R.E.M announced their retirement as a band in September 2011.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, January 3

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Out ( a Washington, D.C. magazine, not to be confused with the nationally-distributed glossy),May 21, 1981, page 21.

From Out ( a Washington, D.C. magazine, not to be confused with the nationally-distributed glossy),May 21, 1981, page 21.

Addressing “A Horror of Everything Related to the Homosexual Tendency”: 1899. In 1897, British sexologist Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) published the first installment of his six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Volume 1 was subtitled Sexual Inversion (as homosexuality was more often called in the English language at that time), with some of the material the product of a collaboration with early gay rights advocate John Addington Symonds (see Oct 5). Two years later, Sexual Inversion was still making waves for being the first scientific book to discuss homosexuality in a humane and nonjudgmental way. Ellis argued against the contemporary attitudes about homosexuality being abnormal, criminal, or immoral, and presented it instead as a variation in a broad spectrum of sexual expressions. Ellis concluded that it was useless to try to change sexual orientation, and he advocated for the abolishment of Britain’s anti-gay laws like the “gross indecency” law under which Oscar Wilde was prosecuted in 1895.

Most books about homosexuality at the turn of the century were severely restricted in their distribution. Sexual Inversion was first published in German in 1896 because Ellis feared it would be censored in England. Since several other books on sexuality had already been published there, German had become the lingua franca, so to speak, of sexuality research. When the first English edition was published in London in 1897, its distribution was restricted to the professional trade. In the January 1899 edition of the International Journal of Ethics, a writer by the name of H. Sturt reviewed Ellis’s book, calling it “a solid and valuable contribution to psychology” and commending Ellis for “give(ing) the impression that he is a genuine scientific man doing his best to illustrate an obscure… province of human nature.”  Sturt, then argued that the restrictions placed on Sexual Inversion’s distribution was a misguided policy:

There are some who would raise the general question whether a subject like the present can fitly be made the matter of a published treatise. Many excellent persons have a horror of everything related to the homosexual tendency. Their feelings command our respect, and yet it seems better to have the subject brought out publicly. That all sorts of immature and half-educated people should read Mr. Ellis’s book is, of course, most undesirable. But in view of the prevalence of sexual inversion it is necessary that every schoolmaster, every criminal lawyer, we had almost said every head of a family, should be acquainted with its phenomena. Were the subject better understood, mistakes would be avoided that have ruined thousands of lives.

[Source; Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper & Row, 1983): pp 296-297.]

Murder, she wrote.

Phyllis Lyon Kills Ann Ferguson: 1957. When the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing The Ladder in October 1956, it’s masthead identified its first editor as Ann Ferguson. In the second issue, Ferguson penned a short article addressing the first problem they encountered in publishing what would become the nation’s first magazine for lesbians. As Ferguson explained it, too many people feared “that names on our mailing list may fall into the wrong hands, or that by indicating interest in this magazine a person will automatically be labeled a homosexual.” She assured readers that subscribers included all kinds of people, including lawyers, social workers, psychiatrists, business, and other professionals. She also assured readers that “Daughters of Bilitis is not outside the law — we advocate no illegal actions by anyone.”

Ferguson revealed that the organization had obtained legal council and would file for incorporation under the laws of California. She also explained a recent Supreme Court decision which upheld the rights of citizens to refuse to reveal to Congressional committees the names on subscription lists or lists of purchases. So in addition to the organization’s own bylaws prohibiting the disclosure of The Ladder’s subscription lists, “the decision also guarantees that your name is safe!”

Ferguson had been at the helm for only thee months when the January 1957 issue included this startling announcement:

I confess. I killed Ann Ferguson. Premeditatedly and with malice aforethought. We ran an article in the November issue of THE LADDER entitled “Your Name is Safe”.” Ann Ferguson wrote that article. Her words were true, her conclusions logical and documented — yet she was not practising what she preached.

Somehow it didn’t seem right,

She spent some time considering the situation. Then came to a conclusion. At the November public discussion meeting of the Daughters of Bilitis we got up — Ann Ferguson and I — and did away with Ann. Now there is only Phyllis Lyon.

Seriously, my pseudonym was taken in the first place without much thought. Somehow, it seemed the thing to do. But all it did was create problems. If you’re going to write under a pseudonym then you should go by that name in personal contacts. But everybody connected with the Daughters of Bilitis already knew me as Phyllis and the attempt to call me Ann confused everyone, including me.

I’m sure that I’m not placing myself in any jeopardy by using my real name — and I’m only simplifying matters and practising what I preach.

Phyllis Lyon (see Nov 10) with her partner Del Martin (see May 5) were among eight women who founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955 (see Oct 19). In 2008, they Phyllis and Del became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the state of California. Del passed away later that year. At last report, Phyllis still lives in their home in San Francisco.

[Sources: Ann Ferguson. “Your Name Is Safe!” The Ladder, 1, no. 2 (November 1956): 10-12.

Phyllis Lyon. “Ann Ferguson Is Dead!” The Ladder, 1, no. 4 (January 1957): 7.]

Dorothy Arzner: 1897-1979. Hollywood was a man’s world, but Dorothy Arzner managed to become a director despite the obstacles. When she first decided that her future lay in motion pictures after serving in the ambulance corps during World War I, she was hired right away by Paramount. As a stenographer. But she used that position to move on to script writer, then film editor. That’s where her work in the 1922 classic Blood and Sand starring Rudolph Valentino won her praise for her editing style.

When Paramount refused to promote her to director, she threatened to move to Columbia Studios. Paramount relented and named her director for the successful silent comedy Fashions for Women. She directed the first talkie for “The It Girl,” Clara Bow, in The Wild Party (1929). Arzner showed considerable ingenuity in making the film: She invented the boom mike when she had the sound crew suspend a microphone from a fishing rod so Bow could move uninhibited around the set. The Wild Party, set in a women’s college, introduced coded references to lesbian themes. Similar themes would emerge in Anybody’s Woman (1930) and Working Girls (1931). Arzner launched the careers of Katherine Hepburn in Christopher Strong (1933), Rosalind Russell in Craig’s Wife (1936), and Lucille Ball in Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). For that last film, Arzner collaborated with choreographer Marion Morgan, who had been Arzner’s partner for at least ten years and would remain so until Morgan’s death in 1971.

Dorothy Arzner and Joan Crawford

When World War II came along, Arzner directed several army training films. By 1943, Arzner stopped directing major studio feature films due to an illness. When she was ready to return after the war, she found that the workplace had grown impatient with women holding on to “men’s” jobs now that men were returning from fighting overseas. Arzner turned to teaching instead, first at the Pasadena Playhouse and then at the newly-established film school at UCLA, where Francis Ford Coppola was one of her students. Meanwhile, her old friend (and rumored paramour) Joan Crawford, who had married the chairman of Pepsico, got Arzner hired to make more than 50 television commercials in the 1950s. In 1975, Aarzner was recognized with a special tribute by the Directors Guild of America, after having become the guild’s first female member in 1936. She continued teaching until her death in 1979 at the age of 82.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 2

Jim Burroway

January 2nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 51.

William “Billy” Haines: 1900-1973. Throughout his life, Haines refused to deny his homosexuality. At the age of 14, he ran way from home with his boyfriend. Five years later he became a top model, and from 1924 through 1930, he was one of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men during the Silent era. He was already starting to successfully transition to talkies when he picked up a sailor in Los Angeles’s Pershing Square and took him to a room at the YMCA. The police raided the Y and Haines was arrested. MGM head Louis B. Mayer demanded that Haines enter into a sham marriage to salvage his career, but Haines refused to leave his longtime lover Jimmie Shields. Haines was fired and his name was entered into the so-called Doom Book, the blacklist maintained by Hays Commission.

Haines and Sheilds turned their attentions to each other and to interior design. Their design business took off quickly, thanks to Haines’s connections in Hollywood which allowed them to become the designers to the stars. Clients included Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, George Cukor, Betsy Bloomingdale, the Annenbergs and the Reagans. Haines and Shields remained together for nearly fifty years, prompting their friend Joan Crawford to dub them the “the happiest married couple in Hollywood.” Gloria Swanson tried to get Haines back into the movie studio for Sunset Boulevard in 1950, but Haines declined. Haines died on December 26, 1973 of cancer. Soon after, Jimmie Shields put on Haines’s pajamas, crawled into their bed, and took an overdose of pills. They are buried together at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. In 1999, Haines was the subject of a biography, Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood’s First Openly Gay Star, by William J. Mann. You can see examples of Haines’s interior design work here.

Michael Tippett: 1905-1998. Britain, in some respects, is a small island, very nearly not quite big enough to simultaneously host two acclaimed openly gay classical composers who were pacifists during WWII. And so Michael Tippett has often been overshadowed by his contemporary, Benjamin Britten (see Nov 22). Tippett was imprisoned as a conscientious objector (Britten avoided imprisonment), and that, with his broader interest in humanitarian work, often influenced his music. His wartime premiere of his pacifist oratorio, A Child of our Time, (with Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, cast as soloist) received wide acclaim. The Times of London called it “strikingly original in conception and execution,” and The Observer hailed it as “The most moving and important work by an English composer for many years.”

The premier of his First Symphony, Third Quartet, and Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli — one of his most popular and frequently performed works — soon followed. But audiences and performers alike found his 1955 opera The Midsummer Marriage confusing. Modeled after Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Tippett’s work recast it as a Jungian manifesto where, as he put it, “a warm and soft young man was being rebuffed by a cold and hard young woman to such a degree that the collective, magical archetypes take charge.” The music, however, was well received, and he re-used the Four Ritual Dances from the opera as a separate concert work. Controversy surrounded premieres of two following works, the Piano Concerto (1955, its first appointed soloist backed out after declaring it unplayable), and the Second Symphony (1957). During the symphony’s premiere, the BBC Symphony orchestra actually broke down live on air a few minutes into the first movement and had to be restarted.

In 1965, Tippet visited America for the first time, and that experience marked a major turning point as he began incorporating jazz and blues into his music. His third opera The Knot Garden not only explored the complex themes of the Sexual Revolution, but also incorporated electric guitar and a drum set in the orchestra. His Third Symphony (1973) also was influenced by American blues, with the solo soprano’s part becoming a tribute to the late blues singer Bessie Smith. But his fourth opera The Ice Break was roundly criticized for its hackneyed use of American slang and the inclusion of race riots and a psychedelic trip giving what The Telegraph calls “toe-curling results.” Nevertheless, Tippett’s popularity grew through the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 1998, just six days after his ninety-third birthday.

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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