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PrEP has first failure

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2016

There has always been the assumption that a person on pre-exposure prophylaxis could become infected with HIV if they had sexual contact with a person who had a large viral-load of a strain of HIV which was resistant to each of the drugs in Truvada. Now there is a documented case. (Poz)

Researchers have for the first time documented a case of an individual contracting HIV, a multi-drug resistant strain, while apparently adhering well to the daily regimen of Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The scientists concluded that it is indeed possible for individuals who are adherent to PrEP to contract HIV when they are exposed to a virus that is resistant to both drugs included in Truvada.

While this case is concerning, experts in the PrEP field suggest that such failures of PrEP will likely remain rare.

There have been strains of HIV identified which are resistant to tenofovir and strains resistant to emtricitabine, but random sample testing has not, until now, identified any strain which was resistant to both. Such virus is very rare.

An HIV strain may become resistant to a medication if the person infected uses medication in a sporadic manner allowing the virus to combat low levels of the medication until mutations occur. This person had a virus which was resistant to several medications.

While this is only one case out of tens of thousands of PrEP users (each of whom is tested quarterly) highlights the importance of using PrEP as an added layer of protection, not as a magic bullet.

Italy Senate passes civil unions bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2016


Italy has finally taken steps to join most of the rest of Western Europe in recognizing the validity of same-sex relationships. (AP)

Italy’s Senate voted Thursday to grant legal recognition to civil unions, as the last holdout in Western Europe took a compromise step to give some rights to gay couples after a bitter, years-long battle.

It passed 173-71, well over the threshold necessary.

In a nation heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, this has been a difficult process and is a break-through. The Catholic hierarchy has spoken in opposition to the bill and religious affiliation had caused a rift in the ruling Democratic Party.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been increasingly desperate to get a civil rights bill on the books. To ensure passage, he made the bill a conscience vote, one in which a failure to pass would result in his removal as head of government.

Even so, the bill was headed for defeat before it was amended to exclude an adoption provision which did not have the necessary support in the legislature. The bill originally allowed one partner to adopt the other partner’s natural children (couple adoption of non-biological children has very little support).

As the final product was not as anticipated, the bill is not being met with universal jubilation. It is, nevertheless, a significant and important step towards equal rights for gay Italians.

To become law, the bill must now pass the lower Chamber of Deputies.

Israel joins the PrEP revolution

Timothy Kincaid

February 23rd, 2016


The Israeli Health Ministry has for the first time approved pre-exposure prophylaxis that will help prevent HIV infection. The PrEP process, as it is called for short, involves taking drugs that substantially reduce the chances of contracting the immunodeficiency virus that causes the infection.

Specifically, the PrEp protocol calls for using the same drugs that are administered to carriers of the virus, and prevents its development in the bloodstream. Taking these precautions when one is HIV-negative effectively prevents possible infection.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, March 3

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2016

TODAY’S AGEDNA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Andre Raffalovich

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

As for the inverts themselves:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raffalovich’s conflicted view of homosexuality betrayed his own conflicts with his sexuality. Three years earlier, he had met and fallen in love with his lifelong companion, the poet John Gray (see Mar 2). Together, they developed a deep devotion to Catholicism, to which Raffalovich converted in 1896 and became a third order lay Dominican. Gray also converted and later became a priest. After Gray’s ordination (with Raffalovich footing the bill), Raffalovich settled near Gray’s parish in Scotland where he continued to provide financial support and attended mass every morning. And while Gray served his parishioners, Raffalovich served humanity by hosting a salon and becoming a patron of the arts. Raffalovich and Gray remained devoted to each other (while living in separate households) for the rest of their lives until Raffalovich’s death in 1934, just four months before Gray’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, March 2

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

From The Rose(Long Beach, CA), September 12, 1980, page 13. (Personal collection.)

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

Dr. Fritz de Quervain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, March 1

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 29

Jim Burroway

February 29th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), July 5, 1985.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), July 5, 1985. (Source.)

From The Calendar, March 29, 1985, page 8.

From The Calendar, March 29, 1985, page 8. (Click to enlarge.)

Today’s controversy over PrEP echoes some of the controversies (and, sometimes, misinformation) about the first HIV tests to emerge in the mid-1980s. But there were also a number of very serious and legitimate fears that the first AIDS test brought up. First of all, and on an immediately practical matter, suppose you took an AIDS test and it came back positive? Then what? Remember, AZT, the first drug that provided any kind of hope for at least adding a few more years to your life, wouldn’t come along for another two years (see Mar 19). Taking the test really meant learning little more than whether you were going to die in  the next year or two. (One study found that 14 percent of those testing positive contemplated suicide.) Or not — there were concerns over the new test’s accuracy, with it giving a false negative in one out of every twenty cases. It’s false positive rate was about 1 in 100.

But also in 1985, was still a great deal of uncertainty among researchers about what a positive results would really mean. Technically, it only meant that the individual had been exposed to the virus, but not necessarily that they were still infected with it. After all, that how most viruses and their antibodies work. There was also confusion among AID professionals about the linkage between infection with HIV (or HTLV-3 or LAV as it was still called at the time), and the subsequent development of AIDS. Many still thought, as Randy Shilts described it in And the Band Played On, that “the virus recruited its victims like the U.S. Marines — many were selected but few were chosen.”

But there were also a host of other pressing issues which, as another ad from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis explained, needed to be taken into consideration before taking the test:

The new test for antibodies to the “AIDS virus” doesn’t tell you very much of anything. It only indicates that you have been exposed to the virus. What it can do is frightening.

Imagine if your health insurance company found out that your test came back positive, they might cancel your policy. Even your job and home may be at risk.

Names might be reported to the government and find their way onto a master list.

In fact, desperately needed research is being hindered because the Federal government refuses to guarantee confidentiality. So, if you do take the test, make sure you get a guarantee in writing that your name and the results of your test won’t ever be released to anyone.

Otherwise, our advice is, stay away from the test. It’s bad news.

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

Source. Click to enlarge.

Source. Click to enlarge.

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, February 27

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Positively Gay (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), September, 1979, page 5.

From Positively Gay (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), September, 1979, page 5.

Rossmor BuildingThe historic old Rossmor Building in downtown St. Paul has a rather long history of hosting gay bars and nightclubs on its ground floor. The Grand Finale occupied the space in the 1970s. Sporting a large dance floor and bleachers, the club reportedly hosted concerts by the Village People and Grace Jones. By the 1980s, the Grand Finale had closed, but the space was resurrected again in 1986 as another gay club called Rumours, with a piano bar next door called the Green Room. That lasted until 1997, when Rumours closed and Trikkx took its place. In 2004, the large industrial building was made over into luxury lofts, and the changing face of the neighborhood had an adverse affect on the club, which closed in 2007. The space is now home to yet another gay bar, Camp Bar, which caters to a more fashionable crowd.

 A Minneapolis Father Discovers Homosexuality: 1955. Cedric Adams was perhaps the most popular radio personality in the upper Midwest throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was the newscaster for WCCO in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and he hosted several other popular music and talent programs. In the 1950s, he made his transition to WCCO television as its newscaster. Pilots claimed that they could see lights go out each night after Adams signed off his 10:00 p.m. newscast. He also write a daily column for The Minneapolis Star titled, “In This Corner.” On Sunday, February 27, he devoted that day’s column to a letter that he received from a Minneapolis father:

APPALLING INDEED was the story this last week of the 36 shoplifters — 31 girls, 5 boys, all in their teens. Tomorrow the youngsters and their parents will traipse to the police department, loot will be piled up, department store representatives will be on hand to identify the merchandise that has been pilfered. A pretty shocking situation. What the spotlight of public attention turned on the ugly picture will do is conjecture. Will the punishment fit the crime? It’s a good question. We have another situation fully as alarming and as demanding of investigation as the shoplifting spree of the 36 …

I don’t have the answer, but I do have the initial warning that should alert every last one of us to a social danger in our midst. It happened to a father right here in Minneapolis. He was courageous enough to act. He was also astute enough to sense the evil. I hope you will read his letter. It’s one of those that obviously comes from within — shocking it is, and yet so vital. If publishing the letter does nothing more than point a finger at the condition, it will then have served its purpose. Here is the letter exactly as I received it:

“DEAR CEDRIC: My wife and I have two sons and a daughter approximately the ages of your children. We have considered ours a typical American family. The daughter is in high school, the two boys attend college. Very recently I was shocked to learn of a well-established vice condition flourishing and allowed to continue right in our city of Minneapolis. The police so far have done nothing to stop it. Maybe they can do nothing…

“This condition seriously affected the life of my younger son — and perhaps the lives of many other young sons. Because of the distasteful nature of the condition, I am not going to reveal our names. But something corrective should be done…

“Our younger son (we’ll call him Jack) is 20 years old. Until the last few months he has been a regular boy. He has a fine appearance, was a high school athlete, was interested in all sports, even took an active interest in church affairs…

“Recently we noticed Jack had dropped his girl friend as well as his former school and church friends. He began an association with a strange group of fellows. They appeared decent enough outwardly, yet we could detect something that gave the impression they were a totally ‘wrong’ group. Jack spent fewer evenings and week-ends at home. His college studies suffered. In the past, Jack had always brought his problems to the family. Suddenly he had grown apart from us. We felt he was hiding something of which he was ashamed…

“My wife and I were concerned, yet we were determined to let Jack bring his problem to us. He failed to do it. Finally I decided to talk to him. I got nowhere. I suspected Jack had joined a group of dope addicts…

“I hired a reliable private detective in desperation. As a matter of fact, my family physician advised it. I was amazed at the findings of the detective. Jack had not become a dope addict, but instead had falling in with a large group of active homosexuals frequenting several Minneapolis public bars and so-called supper clubs. The detective pointed out that there were police officers in two of the bars during one of his visits. Moreover, he said most of the clubs were operating almost exclusively for homosexuals with just a sprinkling of on-lookers present…

“My wife and I were greatly concerned, as you might well imagine. We wondered if we failed in the proper upbringing of our son. I confronted Jack with the findings and, at the request of our family physician again, we sent our son to a psychiatrist, with whom I visited myself. The psychiatrist informed me that Jack had not been an active homosexual The doctor said Jack’s upbringing had been normal and that it was his opinion he had simply fallen in with the wrong group…

“This group had interested Jack as it had interested many other young sons. These boys were actually ‘taught’ homosexuality just as one learns to become a dope addict, the doctor informed me…

“Jack told us this had been his first experience. He had been introduced to it through another university student. Now Jack is completely ashamed of his venture, he’s proud of his parents once again and has left the group completely. We’re proud of him and happy, of course, to have him back with his family and his former friends…

“But how many other Jacks are there or will there be if this sort of thing is permitted to operate and grow? The detective admitted that these practices had been increasing greatly here within the last few years, that certain bars and clubs are exclusive hangouts for homosexuals, that no curb whatsoever has been placed on them. He supplied me with a list of the places he knew that had been encouraging that kind of patronage. That list I have sent to Mayor Hoyer…

“Our son has been salvaged. It’s my earnest hope that others — all of them — may be, too. I hope you will be fearless enough to do something to bring the whole situation to the attention of both the public and our authorities. Here is a force as deadly in its operation as anything in the world. Something should be done. Can’t you spearhead the drive with publicity at least?”


Remember where things stood in 1955. The Lavender Scare was, by then, five years old, and public attitudes towards gay people had not measurably improved since then. Gays and lesbians were prohibited from federal employment, and were routinely fired from their jobs whenever their sexuality became known. Police departments across the country routinely raided gay bars and even private homes, charging their prey with a patchwork of “lewd vagrancy,” “moral deviancy” and even felony sodomy laws. All, more or less, with the generous backing of the general public.

And so this column posed the danger of unleashing a witch hunt in the Twin Cities similar to anti-gay crack downs in other cities. But for some reason, things were different in Minneapolis. Over the next few days, a remarkable dialogue — remarkable for 1955 at least — took place on the pages of The Minneapolis Star. Check back on March 1 for the next installment of that conversation.

[Source: “In This Corner, with Cedric Adams.” Minneapolis Star (February 27, 1955). As reprinted in ONE magazine, 3, no. 4 (April 1955): 18-23.]

 60 YEARS AGO: Miami’s Witch Hunt Resumes: 1956. Miami’s longstanding anti-gay witch hunt of 1954 (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14Aug 15, Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16) appeared to have been dying down, at least according to the papers, which hadn’t had much to report on in, gosh, over a year now. The Miami News, the city’s biggest cheerleader for past anti-gay campaigns, decided it was time to wonder whether the word had gone out that the “heat’s off”:

Homosexuals Return, Find Heat’s Off Again
Homosexuals are appearing openly again in Greater Miami and making money for the operators of clubs which cater to them.

Several hundred — possibly more than 1,000 — are here this winter and have found that the heat is off from a public protest campaign less than two years ago.

Word now is going back up north that Miami has lifted the barriers once more.

A three-week survey by The Miami News showed that the pervert colony is flocking back in the same places raided consistently during the “purge” of 1954.”

The News listed five bars “where a News reporter was actually approached,” with at least one with drag performances which some Miami citizens apparently decided was more entertaining than dangerous. “Female impersonators also are an important part of the act at the Club Benni, which draws many non-deviates as well. The News also said that “open homosexuality also was found in several other places” in Miami Beach around 22nd Street with “as many as 100 or more obvious deviates at one time.”

But if the heat was really off, then it’s hard to explain another article which appeared that same day in the same paper:

4 Fined $900 in Roundup of Deviates Here
Four of 15 men arrested in a four-day pervert round-up by Miami police were fined a total of $900 in City Court today.

The roundup, first in Miami this season, started after Miami News reporters began checking known hangouts here and asked police for comments on the situation.

…Police arrested 15 adults and issued two juvenile citations in the pervert probe between Thursday and Saturday last week. Most of the other cases will come up soon in City Court, according to Sgt. R.H. Kellum.

Nine hundred dollars in 1956 was equivalent to about $7,700 today, which is a pretty hefty chunk of change. One man in the roundup had apparently been injured by someone who was out “rolling the queers” that night. He, too, found himself  charged:

In Miami Beach, a man who told police he was a homosexual, was charged with disorderly conduct after he was found bleeding from a gashed leg early today at Flamingo Drive and 24th Street.

Detective Walter Philbin and Joseph Caputo said the man originally told them he was hit by an automobile. Later, while being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital, he said he was visiting a friend when he picked up a broken bottle and cut himself in the leg. Detectives said he gave no reason for the action.

The cut required 15 stitches. Trial was set for Wednesday.

 25 YEARS AGO: Cracker Barrel Backtracks on Gay Employees: 1991. Earlier in January, it had been revealed that the down-home country-style restaurant chain had fired eleven gay employees after issuing a policy statement saying it “is perceived to be inconsistent with our customer base to continue to employ individuals… whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.” A manager of a Georgia restaurant fired one of his employees by telling him that the company had adopted a policy of not employing “homosexuals or men who had feminine traits.”

Once gay rights groups learned of the firings, the Lebanon, Tennessee-based company’s chairman Dan W. Evans tried to backtrack in late February, telling The Tennessean newspaper that “a written policy got out that should not have gotten out. We told the gay community that was a mistake, we apologized, (and) rescinded it. As of now, we have no policy regarding gays and lesbians.” But he then went on to contradict his non-policy when he said that openly gay or lesbian applicants would not be employed in some rural communities because their presence would be a “disruption.” The company’s vice president added that the fired employees would not be rehired because they “were a disruption to the store.” He followed that with a second statement saying, “it only makes good business sense to continue to employ folks who will provide the quality of service our customers have come to expect from us.”

The Tennessee Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force were not at all satisfied with the response, and called a boycott of the fast-growing chain. Two New York pension funds added to the pressure by refusing to vote to re-elect any of the company’s board of directors in 1992, and shareholders waged a battle over nondiscrimination policies through much of the 1990s. In 2002, the Cracker Barrel board finally added sexual orientation to the company’s non-discrimination policy, and therefore ending the boycott. However, Cracker Barrel continued to get into hot water over other areas of discrimination, including charges in 2002 that restaurants had been segregating African-American customers in smoking sections and denying them service. The Justice Department in 2004 found that Cracker Barrel had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the company agreed to a settlement which, among other things, required the company to hire outside auditors to ensure compliance with the law.

In 2010, Cracker Barrel earned a spot (barely) on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for implementing nondiscrimination policies and diversity training that includes sexual orientation for all of its employees. Cracker Barrel earned a score of 15 points out of a possible 100, a score that has risen to only 55 for 2015.

Pat Buchanan

 Pat Buchanan Again Calls AIDS “Nature’s Retribution”: 1992. Presidential nomination races seem to bring out the worst in candidates, and when that candidate is Pat Buchanan his worst can be pretty bad. When he brought his campaign to Georgia, he appeared on conservative talk radio to talk about the topics that were near and dear to his heart: abortion, pornography, and the gay “lifestyle.” In response to a question about AIDS, Buchanan responded, “AIDS is nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways. I think the promiscuous homosexual lifestyle is not only wrong, but it is medically ruinous. And I think it is socially destructive.” With this statement, Buchanan picked up a theme that he had been using since at least 1983, when he wrote an op-ed for the New York Post saying that gay people “have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.” (see May 24) One thing that can be said for the man: he certainly has the virtue of consistency.

 James Leo Herlihy: 1927-1993. The novelist, playwright and actor was born in Detroit to a working-class family. Herlihy enlisted in the Navy in 1945, missing combat thanks to the war’s end. He attended the highly experimental Black Mountain College near Asheville North Carolina for two years where he studied sculpture, painting, music and literature, and then moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse College of the Theater when his first play, “Streetlight Sonata,” premiered in 1950. He then moved to New York, were his “Moon in Capricorn” appeared off Broadway. His first play to make it to the Great White Way was “Blue Denim” in 1958, which was made into a movie the following year.

He began publishing novels in 1960, two of which were adapted to films. All Fall Down (1960), about an adolescent boy’s conflicts with his function family, dealt with the very touchy subjects of teenage sexuality, pregnancy and abortion, and broke new ground for what major publishers were willing to touch. It was made into a film in 1962 starring Warren Beatty, Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden. While the novel received wide critical acclaim, the movie flopped.

The reverse happened with 1965’s Midnight Cowboy: the book received relatively lukewarm reviews, but the 1969 film became the first (and only) X-Rated film to receive an Academy Award. It actually won three: for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. His last novel, Season of the Witch (1971) took the form of a diary written by a 19-year-old girl who moves to New York with her gay boyfriend.

Herlihy himself spent most of his life living the bohemian lifestyle in the gay paradise of Key West, Florida. During the late 1960s, he embraced the hippie and anti-war movements, despite being a whole generation older. His Key West cottage became a kind of a “safe house” for hippies. “I protected a fair number of them from the law, who wanted to drive them out of town and we had love-ins and weddings in the garden,” he later said. “What made me so happy with those beautiful creatures was the sense they gave me that the marginal people to whom I’d been drawn all through my life were suddenly having a heyday. We’ve learned since then that it wasn’t as simple as all that, but for a time, at least, the freaks really did have the establishment on the run, and nothing’s been the same since.”

By the 1970s, Herlihy was starting to feel claustrophobic by his celebrity and the growing toursm in Key West. He also found that it was getting too hard for him to work. In 1973, he moved to Los Angeles and adopted a pseudonym to try to keep the world at bay. He resumed writing, but never published anything else after the move. He also acted in several plays and one movie, Four Friends (1981). His character, a disturbed father, commits suicide. In 1993, Herlihy took his own life, overdosing on sleeping pills.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, February 26

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson, AZ), February 25, 1977.

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson, AZ), February 25, 1977.

February is a very busy month for Tucson. During the weeks of late January and early February, Tucson hosts the world’s largest gem and mineral show, which draws thousands of collectors, museum employees, dealers, retailers, and researchers from around the world to gem shows taking place in some forty venues around town. Once the rock hounds leave in mid-February, Tucson begins preparations for the week-long Fiesta de los Vaqueros (also known simply as the Tucson Rodeo), an annual event since 1925. The rodeo kicked off last Saturday and continues through this weekend. Aside from the rodeo itself, a major highlight is the Rodeo Parade, which takes place yesterday morning. As the world’s longest non-motorized parade, it typically attracts some 200,000 spectators. It’s so popular that local schools typically go ahead and shut down on parade day since nobody’s going to bother to show up anyway.

 Chemical Castration for Homosexuality: 1955. In the 1950s, endocrinologists were just beginning to understand the many valuable benefits of hormone therapy to treat a large number of conditions. They also found that hormones could also have lasting, damaging effects on the body. Those effects were put to use in attempts to control the sexual behavior of gay men as doctors, often under court order, began prescribing Stilboestrol, a synthetic estrogen, in order to induce chemical castration. In an article which appeared in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Robert E. Hemphill, the medical superintendent at the Bristol Mental Hospital, described the effects of hormone therapy for a number of different conditions, including the following:

Homosexuality and Excessive Sexuality. — The direction of homosexual or heterosexual drives cannot be altered with sex hormones; but the force of sexual drive in males can be reduced by treatment with female sex hormones. There are a number of papers on the subject, and all the authors are in general agreement about the indications and the rationale. Treatment with female sex hormones reduces the production of gonadotrophic hormones, producing a secondary effect on testicular function and secretion. The reduction of sex drive is comparable to that achieved by surgical castration, although some authors claim that endocrine treatment is more effective (Hamilton, 1943). Stilboestrol is the usual preparation, administered in increasing doses until the nipples become pigmented and the breasts sore; an alternative is ethynol oestradiol, 0.5 or 1 mg. daily. Eventually almost complete testicular atrophy will be produced, but not necessarily a total suppression of the abnormal sex drives. It is interesting that notice has been taken of this treatment at the recent trial of an extreme and persistent homosexual offender, in whom abnormal behaviour had continued in spite of the production of almost complete atrophy of the testes by stilboestrol. The judge took into consideration that the offender had therefore done everything possible that medical treatment could offer, although in his case it had not been completely successful. Persistent homosexual offenders should therefore be encouraged to persevere with this treatment, although in some cases a satisfactory control of sexual behaviour may not necessarily be achieved.

In 1952, famed mathematician Alan Turing (see Jun 23) was arrested for homosexuality and given the choice between prison and chemical castration through hormone therapy. Turing was given Stilboestrol for a year, whereupon he became impotent and experienced the side effects of breast enlargement and general bloating in his body. He also lost his security clearance. Stilboestrol, also known in the U.S. as Diethylstilbestrol (DES), would later be linked to depression and severe birth defects when given to pregnant women. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

[Source: R.E. Hemphill. “Endocrine treatment in psychiatry.” British Medical Journal 1, no. 4912 (February 26, 1955): 501-504. Full text available online here.]

Newsweek’s “Gay Power”: 1973. Newsweek provided a quick update to the beginnings of what would become a growing political movement in a small article titled “Gay Power”:

The time is probably not at hand when Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley will don black tie and hie himself off to an annual dinner of the Chicago Gay Alliance — just another politician seeking votes among just another group of citizens. Nor has Richard Nixon yet expressed his hopes for a brighter future for America’s homosexuals. But in recent years, in the backwash of political organizational efforts by migrant workers, welfare mothers and other once formless and powerless groups, the nations homosexuals have begun taking a few assertive steps of their own — and finding to their not inconsiderable surprise that the politicians can be made to pay attention.

Newsweek wrote that progress so far had been measured “mostly by symbol and gesture” and was limited to major cities and college campuses. San Francisco, Los Angeles were mentioned, but Newsweek was more impressed with the activity taking place in the Northeast, where gay advocates worked to overturn anti-sodomy laws (43 states still had them in 1973), enact equal rights protections, ensure child visitation rights in custody battles, and even fight on behalf of gay taxi drivers in New York City who required medical certifications of sanity before they were allowed to drive cabs. Gays were visible as never before, except for one young legislator who, while not yet out, may have dared reporters to ask:

In Boston earlier this month, freshman State Rep. Barney Frank caused a small sensation when he told his colleagues that he had routinely used gays as campaign workers last year, among ordinary citizens as well as among other homosexuals — “and as all of you know, campaigning is a peculiarly personal kind of thing.”

But nobody asked, and Frank didn’t tell. A year later, Massachusetts (and the nation) saw its first openly gay state legislator when Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives (see Nov 5). Frank came out on his own initiative in 1987 during his fourth term in Congress (see May 29).

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 25

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Escape (Milwaukee, WI), March 26, 1982, page 34.

From Escape (Milwaukee, WI), March 26, 1982, page 34. (Source.)

1101 West was Appleton, Wisconsin’s most popular gay and lesbian bar. Of course, it was sometimes Appleton’s only gay and lesbian bar. The owners, Andy Lehman and Ed Smith, lived above the bar and sometimes took in out-of-town visitors. It began operation in 1981 and lasted until 1987, when competition finally took its toll.

Photo of the signing of AB70 into law by Governor Lee Dreyfus, February 1982. L-R: Leon Rouse, Governor Dreyfus, David Clarenbach (via the Milwaukee LGBT History Project)

Wisconsin Becomes First State to Ban Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: 1982. When Rep. David Clarenbach (D-Madison) introduced his gay rights bill into the Wisconsin Assembly, he did so from a glass closet. “It was a different era. … Even in the liberal stronghold of Madison, it would have done more than raise eyebrows. It would’ve hampered a person’s electability. Yet I think it’s safe to say that every member of the Legislature and every member of the Capitol press corps knew I was gay…. The general consensus was not to intrude into one’s personal life.”

Clarenbach worked with Milwaukee gay rights activist Leon Rouse and others to introduce yet another anti-discrimination bill covering sexual orientation, as part of an ongoing effort that had begun as far back as 1971, when Milwaukee legislator and civil rights activist Lloyd Barbee introduced the first bill to provide anti-discrimination protections for gay people. Rouse had put together a carefully crafted coalition beginning in 1977, spurred on by Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade in Florida that had spread across the nation. He organized the Committee for Fundamental Judeo-Christian Human Rights, comprised of clergy from a number of Christian and Jewish denominations. Committee members lobbied their superiors and traveled to Madison to testify in favor of the. Rouse even managed to convince Milwaukee’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland to support the bill in a letter to legislators and in a column in Milwaukee’s weekly Catholic newspaper.

Meanwhile, Clarenback brought together a different coalition of labor unions and liberal activists, framing the question in the simplest of terms: is discrimination tolerable? He even managed to pull in Republican supporters, so that when the bill finally passed the Assembly, it did so with bipartisan support.

With the bill’s passage in the state house, the big question now was whether Republican Gov. Lee Dreyfuss would sign it. After intense lobbying by both sides, Dreyfuss finally decided to give the bill his stamp of approval, explaining: “It is a fundamental tenet of the Republican Party that government ought not intrude in the private lives of individuals where no state purpose is served, and there is nothing more private or intimate than who you live with and who you love.”

After deciding not to re-election the state Assembly in 1992, Clarenbach was succeeded by Tammy Baldwin, who ran as the first openly gay candidate for the state house in Wisconsin history. Clarenbach then went on to become the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund from 1996 to 1997.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, February 24

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 24.

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 24. (Personal collection.)

President George Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment: 2004. With Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that nothing short of marriage would provide full equality for same-sex couples as required in the state’s constitution (see May 17), and with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s order that the county clerk begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples (see Feb 12), pressure had been building on President Goerge W. Bush, then running for a second term as President, to do something! And so, in lockstep with his conservative Christian base — and in keeping with his campaign strategist Karl Rove’s encouraging several important states (including, critically, Ohio) to place marriage bans on their ballots as part of a get-out-the-vote effort — Bush declared his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if enacted, would have permanently and nationally banished all same-sex marriages “or the legal incidents thereof.”

And in the typical black-is-white rhetoric that had become a hallmark of his administration, he blamed his decision on gay people. “After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,” he said. “Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.”

Declaring that “the voice of the people must be heard,” he urged Congress to “promptly pass… an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife,” during televised remarks from the White House’s Roosevelt Room. After urging that the nation consign gay Americans to permanent second-class citizenship, he called on the nation to begin the debate “without bitterness or anger.”

Log Cabin Republicans, who enthusiastically supported Bush four years ago after a closed-door meeting with the then-Texas governor, felt betrayed by the statement. Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said. “Log Cabin considers support for this amendment a declaration of war on gay and lesbian families and an attack on our sacred Constitution.” LCR political director Chris Barron (he would later go on to co-found GOProud), would later comment, “It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the president’s support for an anti-family constitutional amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships.” LCR would go on to withhold its endorsement of Bush for the 2004 election cycle.

Later in September, the proposed amendment would fail in the House, 227 to 186, with 290 votes needed to cross the two-thirds requirement to send a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification. The Senate had, by then, already failed to break a filibuster against the proposal.

L-R: Don Schmierer, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge

American Evangelicals Announce Anti-Gay Conference In Uganda: 2009. BTB became the first Western outlet to discover and report the shocking announcement that Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and a little-known staffer at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, Caleb Lee Brundidge, would join Holocaust revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for a three day conference in Kampala. Lively was already known to regular BTB readers for his involvement with the international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls (not to be confused with an unrelated Family Research Council initiative by the same name) and for his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he wrote that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” Knowing that Lively was bringing his brand of extremism to Uganda was very worrying. As I wrote at the time:

Lively’s brand of rhetoric is unusually vitriolic, even by some of the more ardent anti-gay standards. He regularly describes gays as being sick and“followers of the Father of Lies.” When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder in Sacramento. Lively contends that “civilization and homosexuals” are engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations.

The Kampala conference was organized by Steven Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Network. Lively had struck up a friendship with Langa during a tour of the African continent in 2002. Throughout the decade, Ugandan pastors adopted increasingly violent rhetoric against gay people, with one pastor, Martin Ssempa, leading hundreds of his followers in 2007 through the streets of Kampala demanding harsh punishments against gay people, and publishing the names and addresses of Ugandan gay rights advocates. Many were forced to go into hiding.

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

With Lively’s incendiary rhetoric being thrown into the mix, I didn’t know what would happen but I feared the worst. My worst fears, however, were nothing compared to what actually followed: a long series of anti-gay meetings and rallies, vigilante campaigns, rising violence and blackmail which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” in Uganda’s parliament in October, 2009. Lively, who had bragged that his 2009 conference was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” is being sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda in U.S. Federal Court under the Alien Tort Act. The lawsuit alleges that alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law which caused harm to the LGBT community in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliament finally approved the Anti-Homosexualty Bill in December of 2013. The death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” has been removed and replaced with a life sentence (as though spending a lifetime in the notorious Luzira prison were any better). Other penalties included: lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. On February 23, 2014, five years to the day after the conference that started it all, President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law. There was one problem however: when parliament approved the bill in 2013, it did so without a proper quorum. That led Uganda’s Constitutional Court to nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act in August. Since then, there has been promises to re-introduce the legislation back into parliament, but so far no such steps have been taken.

Since February 24, 2009, BTB has followed every twist and turn of the events in Uganda. Our compilation, Slouching Toward Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate, is a timeline and index of the nearly 600 posts that we have written documenting the events in Uganda since then.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 23

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, December 19, 1973, page 6.

From the Advocate, December 19, 1973, page 6.

While we tend to think of bathhouses as mostly sexual venues — and they were — they were also important social spaces for a community that was still largely underground and without safe places to gather. And so in that light, it’s not entirely surprising that the Club Baths chain, which at its peak boasted 500,000 members at 42 locations across North America, held a convention in 1974 in Miami, complete with a Mr. Club Baths contest. Houstonians were excited to learn that fellow Texan Bruce Eden took home the top honors:

Bruce EdenOn the right is model Bruce Eden. He’s the young Houstonian who earned another honor for both himself and Houston when he was elected Mr. Club Bath International at the CBC convention in Miami. Bruce was selected from dozens of contestants from coast to coast and points beyond.

— From Contact (Houston, TX), April 1974, page 4.

Eden grew up on a ranch in San Diego, Texas near Laredo. He settled near Austin, where he became something of a minor local celebrity in the gay community. He was also active in rodeos, gay and straight, having participated in events since the age of nine. He passed away of AIDS sometime before 1992. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association has named its sportsmanship award in his honor.

Top left: From This Week In Texas, April 3, 1976; Top right: with Michael Andrews, Miss Gay America 1976, This Week in Texas, May 7, 1977. Bottom left: From This Week In Texas, January 28, 1977. Bottom right: from First Hand Events magazine of the International Gay Rodeo Association, 1989.

Top left: From This Week In Texas, April 3, 1976; Top right: with Michael Andrews, Miss Gay America 1976, This Week in Texas, May 7, 1977. Bottom left: From This Week In Texas, January 28, 1977. Bottom right: from First Hand Events magazine of the International Gay Rodeo Association, 1989.

A Suicide in St. Louis: 1892. When I wrote about this suicide in 2012, I knew neither the date nor the name of the man in question. All I had was a written description of a man whose desperation over an unrequited (or a no longer requited) love led to his untimely and sad end. Charles H Hughes, editor of the Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was an early term for psychiatrist) gave a talk before the Section of Mental and Nervous Diseases at the Pan-American Medical Congress in 1893 on “Erotopathia” — among the many early terms given to homosexuality before the word “homosexual” entered the English language — in which he gave the following account:

In February of the past year (1892), a quiet, cultured and gentlemanly appearing young man committed suicide by shooting himself at his room in a hotel in St. Louis. A combination of causes probably led to the despondency which ended in the rash act. Pecuniary embarrassment may have been one of them, but the chief cause, as elicited at the Coroner’s inquest, as testified by the male friend of whom he was enamored, was that he had a morbid attachment for that friend. He wrote long letters to him teeming with endearing words. They had roomed together, but at the time of the tragedy they were rooming apart. This was his second attempt at suicide. At the time of his death he carried a locket about his neck containing the picture of the man be loved. He was an educated professional man, kindhearted and of good address.

The following letters, written in a neat hand shortly prior to, and about the time of, his death, serve to show the erotopathic condition of this young man’s mind. They reveal the ardent feeling of the anxious, disappointed lover, much the same feeling as one madly in love might normally have for his heart’s idol of the other sex, but never but unnaturally and abnormally for one’s own sex, with homicidal and suicidal impulses of maddened desperation added.

My Dear Friend: — Are you ill, angry or merely careless? I looked for my usual Thursday’s letter Saturday morning. It came not. I then felt sure you would write me on Sunday. I watched for the postman. No letter. He has been here this A. M. and still no letter. It makes me not only unhappy, but very anxious — unhappy since I am deprived of all that is left me to care for or look forward to; unhappy in the thought that I have displeased you; in suspense and anxiety lest some bodily ailment has seized that goodly frame and rendered you unable to communicate with me. If I do not hear from you in a day or so I shall be frantic and unfit for anything. I sent the stud on Thursday, which must have reached you Saturday, and not later than Monday, in which case I should have heard from you by this time.”

My Dear Friend: — I have just returned from the Cathedral, where Bishop Tuttle preached. My mind is not in a very receptive frame, so I can hardly tell anything he said. The pass was all a myth. The only pass I have is one into eternity. I even sold my dress suit and my old clothes to raise the funds to get here on. I came, intending to first kill you, then myself. I shall only make an end of my own miserable existence. My Jove for you has been my ruin. I can no more live a life apart from you than I can fly. The past month has been the test and I cannot do it. There is but one thing which could save me, and that is to pass the remainder of my life in your presence. I shall do that anyhow, for to die in your arms relieves death of half its terrors. I wish it would come to me naturally and you would have nothing to dishonor or grieve you. It is cruel in me to do this act, for it will blight your life. I should be more cruel to myself to try and live without you. You have done all but the one right and effective thing to save and make me, but it has all failed. I would gladly beg, steal, do anything — forego riches, forget friends, home, kindred, but for a life of blissful association with you. My office and outfit are all intact and you can realize something on those things. Mr. C—- H—-, XI6 M—- Avenue, will see to the things. I appreciate all you did, and the effort and sacrifice you made for me. It was not in the right direction.

“This letter to you is all I leave behind. I cannot write anything to my parents. The blow will probably kill my mother. I shudder to think of it. We might have been happy together had it not been for W—-. The W—-, your brother’s family, your other rich friends, your high social and business standing, your high ideas of morality, which you never filled — but ’tis too late, the end must come. I don’t see why God did not let me die that Saturday night. I suppose there was some purpose waiting till you had made the outlay and sacrificed so much. You see, the end is all the same. Good-by, dear I—-, I won’t wish you happiness; you will never have that again and you will follow in my footsteps sometime. Men of our natures and sins must have their punishment, and ours comes in a terrible shape. You are mine in the light of heaven and no family ties can claim you from me in death. I pity you, but oh, to be free from all this agony of separation, suspense, doubt, is so welcome. May God deal with me according to my weakness. Keep my stud as long as you live. send my watch and ring to my mother. Let my last rites be attended by as little expense as possible. A pauper cannot expect to repose in a metallic casket. I am going to bed, to sleep and gain nerve to face my fate. I have felt it must be, and since I have known you, I knew you were to be the last straw. I have Joved you better than you have ever loved or will ever be loved again. Think kindly of that love sometimes. I am unworthy, but my love for you is worth a thought. Pray for my soul. Amen.”

Much more than a sentiment of warm friendship for one’s benefactor is breathed in these epistles of passion, desperation and love, with its sequel of chagrin and suicide, without remorse for, or full appreciation of, the unnatural character of his perverted love. Though his Christian training had taught him to regard his unnatural passion as a sin.

This is why I love BTB readers. Soon after this appeared on a 2012 Daily Agenda, BTB reader John Manion wrote to me after having sleuthed out the following information:

I noticed your St Louis suicide story, it sure caught my interest and I wanted to know a little more about those involved. I am into genealogy and I took it as a challenge to find out their names. I found more than I expected and got a little carried away, but, I am stopping here. I am forwarding the items to BTB. The following is from online sources (,, google books, etc)

Dr Hughes lived in St. Louis and may have seen the letters firsthand. He states in your column that Breedlove and Judson roomed together for a while, which is something I do not think I have seen in the news, so maybe he talked with some of the people involved. There is a sketch of Dr Breedlove.

The date of the death was reported in the newspapers of the day as happening in the morning of Feb 23 1892 in St Louis at the Hurst’s Hotel. Between 8 and 8:30. The story was in many papers from coast to coast. The man who died was Dr. Charles Breedlove, a young dentist of age 28, born in 1864, a graduate of the University of Maryland. He was single. Dr Breedlove was the last of 4 children his parents had, the other 3 all died in early life and his family hails from the south. Of course, the family was completely surprised but supportive of their son, but did not know he was unhappy. His body was sent home to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where his family lived. His father was a medical doctor. His parents died in 1906, within a few months of each other. Charles Breedlove’s friends from Baltimore thought he was not sad and certainly slandered by Prof Judson.

The man he wrote the letters to was Isaac Judson, born in 1853. They had met in Sept of 1891 and became fast friends. He was 38 and single. He was a Yale graduate and spoke at his commencement ceremonies during his graduation. His dad went to Yale too and both were members of Skull & Bones. He was a professor of Greek and Latin at the St Louis High School. His family hails from the Northeast. He was suspended from teaching for a few days until a special committee could review the case. They exonerated him from any blame in the situation and allowed him to continue his profession “without prejudice”. After the suicide he stayed in St Louis until at least 1920, working as the Head Assistant in the School. He was always single up to the 1920 census, his last one. After that he returned to New York, and died there in 1926. His funeral notice does not mention family members. He was the youngest of 4 children, with one surviving brother.

Breedlove waited for him to arrive at the hotel, walk into the room, handed him a letter. Judson was reading it and behind him Breedlove shot himself in the head. Breedlove was wearing a charm around his neck, when opened was a picture of Judson. Breedlove’s letters gave the story a life it would not have had. His family and friends believed Prof Judson, had he cared enough, would have kept the letters private. That may not have been an option, as at least one other letter was found by the medical examiner.

Judson consulted a Dr Ware (he is a dentist!!) about the feelings Charles was having, and Judson didn’t understand what was going on. Judson “seemed horrified” as Dr Ware explained what it means. Judson told Dr Ware he had “never before heard of such a thing”. Judson “then resolved to throw Breedlove aside, and asked me the best way to do it.”

Dr Ware continued “Breedlove came to me once for treatment. When he offered to pay me I declined to take his money…..a few days later…we went to the theater together. I did not like the man from the start.”

Poor guy!

Prof Judson had a roommate. This is the one Breedlove was “intensely jealous” of, Prof Herbert A Wheeler, of Washington University of St Louis. His statement is Judson was introduced to Dr Breedlove last September by a mutual friend. “the two soon grew to be fast friends and frequent visits were made by them to one another’s boarding houses.”

Professor Wheeler was born in Brooklyn in 1859 Wheeler graduated in 1880 from the Columbia College School of Mines. Herbert A Wheeler got married at age 66. It was his first marriage. He did not have any children listed at age 71, the 1930 census. He died in March 11 1950 in St Louis County. He was the youngest of 5 children.

Judson taught school in Brooklyn, from 1877 to 1880.

John also sent a wealth of newspaper clippings and other documents, and he created a public family tree page at in order to make this information accessible for other historians and genealogists.

[Original source: Charles H. Hughes. “Erotopathia — Morbid eroticism.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available via Google Books here.]

TIME Film Review Blasts “Victim” As “A Plea for Perversion”: 1962. The British Film Victim featured a plot steeped in homosexual blackmail. Starring Dirk Bogarde (see Mar 28) as a lawyer seeking to break up a blackmail ring after his gay client commits suicide, the 1961 film brought to mass audiences a key danger that gay people faced: “A law which sends homosexuals to prison is a charter for blackmail.” The film had been released in Britain in August of 1961, but because was barred from U.S. theaters because the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America’s (MPPDA) standards prohibited films with homosexual content.

The MPPDA changed its code five weeks later (see  Oct 3), and Victim saw its U.S. premiere on February 5, 1962. In a film review two weeks later, Time made it clear that they didn’t like it one bit:

Victim has a neat plot, deft direction by Basil Dearden, and the sort of grum good manners one expects of the British in these trying situations. It also has a careful performance by Bogarde, and it pursues with eloquence and conviction the case against an antiquated statute.

But what seems at first an attack on extortion seems at last a coyly sensational exploitation of homosexuality as a theme —and, what’s more offensive, an implicit approval of homosexuality as a practice.

Almost all the deviates in the film are fine fellows—well dressed, well spoken, sensitive, kind. The only one who acts like an overt invert turns out to be a detective.

Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an ass, a dolt or a sadist. Nowhere does the film suggest that homosexuality is a serious (but often curable) neurosis that attacks the biological basis of life itself. “I can’t help the way I am,” says one of the sodomites in this movie. “Nature played me a dirty trick.” And the scriptwriters, whose psychiatric information is clearly coeval with the statute they dispute, accept this sick-silly self-delusion as a medical fact.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 22

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, July 24, 1978, page 67.

From Where It’s At, July 24, 1978, page 67. (Personal collection.)

Broadway Baths was located just a couple of buildings away from the Eugene O’Neill Theater. The Broadway Baths building is gone, replaced with the parking garage entrance for the Times Square Crowne Plaza.

A "Ten Cent Turkish Bath" in New York's Bowery

A “Ten-cent Turkish Bath” in New York’s Bowery

New York Police Raid the Ariston Baths: 1903. The Ariston Baths were billed a Russian and Turkish Baths in the basement of the Arison Apartments at the northeast corner of Broadway and 55th Street. It had operated as early as 1897, and quickly became the scene of a thriving gay scene. By February of 1903, this scene came to the attention of New York police, which began infiltrating the baths in secret. On the evening of February 21, a large number of police officers stood by outside while undercover officers spent several hours inside noting the “crimes” taking place. At about 1:30 a.m. the signal was given for the officers outside to rush the baths and begin making arrests. That morning, The New York Times wrote about the “intense excitement about the place”:

Inspector Brooks, Acting-Inspector Walsh and Capt. Schmittberger of the West Forty-seventh Street Station, about 1:#0 this morning raided the Ariston Turkish and Russian bath… They drove up a patrol wagon in which they were going to take away those at the baths, of whom two were detectives looking for evidence.

Inspector Brooks said evidence had been gathered for weeks against the place and that the conduct of some of the frequenters of the establishment was questionable.

Superintendent McLintock of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, and Secretary Coursey, Police Commissioner Greene’s private secretary, were in the raid with the police.

There was intense excitement about the place when the raid was made.

This raid is often billed as the first recorded raid on a gay bathhouse. As many as 78 men were in the baths at the time, with 26 arrested. Eleven were charged with felonies and held on bail ranging from $1,700 to $3,500 (equivalent to about $44,000 to $91,000 today). One of those arrested was identified as “Moses Beck,” a pseudonym for someone described in the press as a “wealthy merchant” who had “managed to keep his right name for himself.” Altogether, seven men were convicted and received sentences ranging from four to twenty years. One was another prominent individual identified himself as “George Galbert.” He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in Sing Sing. Three months later, it emerged that “Galbert” was actually George Caldwell, an architect who was identified in the press as the “grandson of a former Kentucky Governor.” (In fact, his father Isaac Caldwell, was a prominent Louisville lawyer and his uncle, George Alfred Caldwell, had been a member of the US House of Representatives for Kentucky.) That news hit the press when it was learned that New York Gov. Benjamin Odell, Jr., had pardoned Caldwell after serving only three months of his sentence. That pardon reportedly came at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt or, at the very least, at the request of Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, who was close friend’s with Caldwell’s sister. That pardon became major news, as the Saint Paul Globe reported from all the way in Minnesota:

George Caldwell once regarded as one of the best architects in Kentucky, began drinking and went from bad to worse. His sister Margaret brought him to New York and got him a position in an architect’s office. He had stopped drinking, rose to an excellent position and for the first time since their parents’ death the Caldwell girls were in comfort.

George was supporting these sisters and they believed him all that he represented himself to be when he was arrested last July and sent to Sing Sing to serve seven years for immoral practices. President Roosevelt met the Caldwell children’s father when he was in Louisville to consult John Mason Brown about a book he was writing.

Herman Hoefer, a wallpaper manufacturer and owner of the Ariston Apartments, had fled the city immediately following the raid, but returned after believing the coast was clear. But police broke into his flat at 2:00 a.m. on May 4 and arrested him on charges of keeping a disorderly house. It was later found that Hoefer wasn’t responsible for the operation of the baths, but the controversy nevertheless damaged the Ariston’s reputation and tenants fled. By the end of the year, Hoefer declared bankruptcy and lost the Ariston, which was then valued at $800,0000 (about $20 million in today’s dollars)

 Modesto Youth Gets Probation On “Morals Charge”: 1950. Vernon Edward Jensen, a clerk at a florist shop, pleaded guilty to what The Modesto (CA) Bee called simply a “sex perversion charge.” The circumstances behind the arrest aren’t described, except that

Jensen was one of nine recently arrested on perversion charges in a police roundup. Two of the nine were county teachers, Rolla H. Nuckles, 37, of 110 Roselawn Avenue, Modesto High School public speaking instructor, and Charles Lloyd Martin, 23, at 310 South Broadway, Turlock, who taught English and history at the Wakefield School there.

The charge against Nuckles were dismissed two days earlier, after having been held in jail since January 27 at the recommendation of the Deputy District Attorney. But that didn’t shield him from having his name and address printed once again in the paper. There is no mention of what happened to Martin. As for Jensen, a psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Gladen, head of the Modesto State Hospital, said that he wasn’t a “psychiatric abnormal person”:

As quoted by the court, Dr. Gladen pictured Jensen as not a homosexual but as “foolish kid,” now highly penitent and disgusted with his past action, and deserving of another chance.

The court agreed, and sentenced him to three years probation, during which time “he must obey all laws, report to the probation officer at regular intervals, remain in the county and refrain from excessive use if liquor.”

I see these names in the papers and often wonder what happened to them. Whenever people were arrested on a “morals charge” or for “lewd vagrancy,” their names, addresses and places of employment were typically printed in the paper, and that publicity often made whatever official punishment they may have received mild in comparison to losing their job or being shunned by their families and neighbors. It must have been an extraordinarily humiliating experience for each of these three men. But sixty years later, those very details are sometimes the only thing which can truly remind us that these were real people suffering from this kind of official oppression and not just characters in long-forgotten newspaper clippings.

Like I said, I often wonder what happened to some of these people that I run across, so I went sleuthing on There, I found a Vernon Edward Jenson, born February 11, 1929 in Butte, California, who died in 1995 in Alameda. Unfortunately, that’s all I was able to find for him. I wasn’t able to come up with much of anything for Martin.

Rolla H. Nuckles from a 1933 college yearbook

But I may have found some interesting information on Nuckles, the teacher against whom the charges were dismissed. Rolla Hargiss Nuckles was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and attended the University of Kansas where, in 1932 and 1933, he was a member of the Dramatic Club, and in 1933 was president of the local chapter of the National Collegiate Players, “one of the many units in all nation-wide dramatic movements.”) That same year, he appeared on the Dramatic Club’s performance of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” where, according to the college yearbook, “Elizabeth Crafton stole the show and Rolla Nuckles wore lace.” Nuckles appears to have been quite the performer. As a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, he was described as “perhaps the most delectable tap dancer to nauseate the Hill in some years.” In 1938, he’s still there, teaching “radio speaking” for students at the University of Kansas’ radio station KFKU and directing radio dramas as well as theatrical plays. This seems to match pretty well with being a public speaking instructor in Modesto.

Ensign Rolla Nuckes (Life)

Ensign Rolla Nuckes (Life)

After I first posted this information about Nuckles, a BTB reader was able to dig up some more info to send to me. It turns out that Nuckles was something of a war hero. During World War II, Nuckles served in the Navy in the Pacific, where he was credited with helping to rescue 157 survivors of the Cruiser U.S.S. Helena on July 16, 1943.

Kansas City Star, July 19, 1943, pages 1, 6.

Kansas City Star, July 19, 1943, pages 1, 6.

The Helena had sunk in a Pacific battle in the Solomon Islands the week before. Nuckles was in charge of the landing craft which evaded Japanese patrols in a pre-dawn raid to save the men who had made it to an enemy-held island. Those exploits earned him a front-page write-up in The Kansas City Star and a feature in the August 23, 1943 issue of Life.

After the war, Nuckles hosted the radio program “Navy Reporter” for Armed Forces Radio. He moved to New York City, where he worked in several 0ff-Broadway productions, including a production of Romeo and Juliet with Eva LaGallienne and Harvey with Roddy McDowell. He also taught drama at the State University of New York in Morrisville, Old Dominion, and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio,where he also directed and acted in a number of plays. He died in San Antonio in 2000.

45 YEARS AGO: Frank Kameny Becomes First Openly Gay Candidate for Congress: 1971. The U.S. Constitution grants each state voting representation in both houses of Congress, but because the District of Columbia isn’t one, its more than half-a-million residents are taxed without voting representation (even though its population is larger than Wyoming). But in 1971, Congress agreed to allow D.C. to be represented in the House of Representatives by a single by a non-voting delegate. On February 22, pioneering gay rights advocate Franklin E. Kameny (see May 21) filed his nominating papers and proclaimed himself “the first publicly declared homosexual ever to run for Congress.” In announcing his run, Kameny declared, “We intend to remind a government and a country, which seems in may ways to have forgotten it, exactly what Americanism means — that this is a country of personal freedom and individual diversity; that Queen Victoria is dead, and the Puritans are long gone.”

Kameny joined a crowded field of eight (soon narrowed to six after two candidates’ petitions were thrown out), led by front-runner Democrat Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, who had been an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Contrary to expectations, Kameny didn’t run a single-issue campaign. He spoke at forums and television appearances about welfare reform, crime, the Vietnam war, freeway construction, home rule for the District, and other issues in terms similar to other candidates. But, as he told one audience, his campaign added “a special concern for what America stands for in terms of human rights for minorities like homosexuals.” One audience member exclaimed, “Are you serious?” Kameny answered, characteristically, “Yes, I certainly am.”

The overarching theme of the campaign was personal freedom. “I offer you beyond what the other candidates offer,” he told one forum at Howard University, “a special sensitivity to personal freedom, the right to live your life as you choose to live it.”

At one point in the campaign, Kameny told reporters, “My candidacy is a special one and will be conducted in some special ways.” One of those special ways was a campaign event he held at 1:00 a.m. on an early Friday Morning at Pier Nine, one of the city’s largest gay bars at Half and T Streets SW. The goal was to make sure the gay vote became a visible one. “Even if we don’t win,” he said, “if we can get 5,000 to 10,000 votes, things will not be the same again. That many votes would not be overlooked. …We are part of society; we are citizens of Washington, and we love this city. We want to play an active role in the life of Washington.”

On March 23, Fauntroy, as expected, won and became the District’s first non-voting delegate to Congress. (He would also, years later, become an outspoken foe of marriage equality in the District and a supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment.) Kameny came in fourth with 1,841 votes. The vote count may have been small (only 1.6% of the total), but it did wind up changing the local political dynamic. In the following year, several candidates for the newly elected city school board went out of their way to court gay and lesbian voters.

[Sources: David R. Boldt. “Homosexual files delegate papers.” The Washington Post (February 23, 1971): A17

William L. Claiborne. “Candidate seeks end to homosexual ban.” The Washington Post (March 10, 1971): C1, C3.

Bart Barneas. “Kameny stresses personal freedom.” The Washington Post (March 13, 1971): B1, B2.

“Kameny for Congress.” The Rainbow History Project (Undated): Online.]

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, February 21

Jim Burroway

February 21st, 2016

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the 1988 Arizona Gay Rodeo Souvenir Program, page 15.

From the 1988 Arizona Gay Rodeo Souvenir Program, page 15. (Source.)

From January 1, 1992:

An onslaught of traffic problems, noise and trash is the issue – not that an establishment frequented by homosexuals wants to move near the area – residents of a northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood said Tuesday.

But City Councilman Mark Schwartz said the sexual preference of patrons of the Bunkhouse bar seems to be a crucial issue to residents protesting the bar’s relocation bid for a site near NW 39 and Frankford Ave. “The nature of the letters (from residents) I have received are very discouraging. The question today is where this is going to be located, not who is going in it. In the letters, they say this is not the issue, yet they go on directly to say, ‘this is the issue, this is the issue. ‘ I find this disturbing,” Schwartz said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The Ward 2 councilman’s comments came as the council considered an application by Susan Cummings Martin for a permit to open a restaurant that serves alcohol at 2800 NW 39, in the building that formerly housed the Sweis’s Family Restaurant. At a previous meeting, Martin said she planned to lease the building to the owners of the Bunkhouse, now a bar at 2807 NW 36, where the owner said many of the patrons are homosexual.

…Residents living near the site adamantly denied that their protest was based on bias against homosexuals. Rather, they are worried that noise, increased traffic and trash that result from some establishments will be dumped on their residential area, said resident Leroy Hatfield.

“At the Planning Commission it was hinted at that our protest was based on lifestyles. Our protest is not against lifestyles, but our right to protect our lifestyles,” Hatfield told the council.

Marlin Hawkins, building controller for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, which has offices in the former Allied Bank building at 3800 N May, told the council that the restaurant would “adversely affect our investment in that building” and “cause further retail development to be stymied” and “the slow demise of the neighborhood area. ” After much discussion, and even a 15-minute time-out period where it was hoped that both parties would be able to privately come up with a resolution, the council tabled the matter for three weeks to allow for more talks between the bar owners and nearby residents.

Oklahoma Prohibits Gay Teachers: 1978. When Oklahoma State Sen. Mary Helm (R-OKC) introduced the “Teacher Fitness Statute” in the state Senate, she had more than just gay teachers in her sights. The bill would allow public schools to fire or refuse to hire anyone who engaged in “public homosexuality activity,” which the proposed broadly defined to also include not just sexual activity, but also “advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting public or private homosexual activities in a manner that creates a substantial risk that such conduct will come to the attention of schoolchildren or school employees.”

Think of what that meant. A straight teacher writing a letter to the editor supporting gay rights or, perhaps, denouncing the formation of a student KKK chapter in the public schools to bash gay people — which occurred in the northern suburbs of Oklahoma City soon after the bill was introduced (see Jan 25) — that teacher would be subject to being fired by the school board. But lawmakers weren’t focused on gay bashing, but on anyone who might publicly say that gay bashing was abhorrent. When the bill was introduced into the House by Rep. John Monks (D-Muskogee), he told reporters that the measure would allow school boards to “fire those who are afflicted with this degenerate problem … people who are mentally deranged this way.” (Monks was famous for saying stupid shit. In a successful effort to defeat a bill to ban cockfighting, Monks thundered, “In every country the communists have taken over, the first thing they do is outlaw cockfighting.”)

When the House passed the measure by a lopsided 88-2 vote without debate on February 7, the Associated Press speculated that “it is expected to face stiffer opposition in the Senate.” Fat chance. Anita Bryant, a former Miss Oklahoma who was fresh off of her victory in repealing a gay rights ordinance in Miami (see Jun 7), lobbied the state Senate to prohibit “the flaunting of homosexuality.” On February 21, the Senate passed the bill unanimously, and it quickly became law in April.

It took two years before the National Gay Task Force could even find a teacher willing to challenge the law. But after several false starts, the NGTF was finally able to bring a case to Federal Court challenging the law’s constitutionality. After the slow trek through the appeals process, the United States Supreme Court finally let stand an Appeals Court ruling striking down the law in 1985 (see Mar 26).

West Hollywood Enacts First Domestic Partnership Registry: 1985. The City of West Hollywood had only incorporated itself as a city just three months earlier when voters in the unincorporated area approved a proposal for incorporation and, simultaneously in the same election, elected its first city council (see Nov 6). With gays making up an estimated 40% of the new city’s population as well as three of the five new council members, gay leaders hailed the creation of a “gay Camelot.”

And now, three months later, West Hollywood made the first steps toward bringing those hopes to fruition when the city council unanimously adopted a law which allowed unmarried couples the right to register their relationships with the city. Termed “Domestic Partnerships,” the new law was intended to eventually provide insurance coverage for partners of city employees, and more immediately, a guarantee of hospital visitation rights. But domestic partnerships carried more symbolic than legal weight, with very few tangible benefits.

The law had already hit its first roadblock when the city’s Personnel Benefits Commission announced that they had already spent two months unsuccessfully trying to find an insurance carrier willing to provide coverage for domestic partners. As for hospital visitation rights, there were no major hospitals in West Hollywood. Mayor Valerie Terrigno said she planned to meet with officials at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where many West Hollywood residents with AIDS went for hospital care. Paula Correia, Cedars-Sinai’s public relations officers, said that the hospital already allowed friends and relatives to visit during regular visiting hours, except for the “extremely rare” cases when a patient’s relatives object. “We’ve dealt with them on a case-by-case basis,” said Correia, which only served to highlight the pressing need for guarantees of visitation rights.

Atlanta Gay Bar Bombed: 1997. Memrie Wells-Cresswell, of Snellville, GA, went to Atlanta’s Otherside Lounge to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Memrie had not told many people that she was lesbian, but the bombing that night at the popular lesbian bar would change all that. Five people were injured, but hers were the most serious: a three to four inch nail entered her arm and severed a brachial artery. When Mayor Bill Campbell mentioned her by name everyone suddenly knew her secret, including her employer who fired her. She later told The Advocate, “The company ended up giving me some hush money just to make me go away.”

Police found a second bomb just outside the bar, which they detonated with a robot. It had been placed there to harm police and medical workers responding to the first explosion. That fit a pattern established with two earlier Atlanta bombings, one at the Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996 and another at an Atlanta abortion clinic on January 16, 1997. Three days after the Otherside Lounge Bombing, police received a letter from an organization calling themselves The Army of God claiming responsibility. The letter threatened “total war” and promised more attacks against abortion clinics and gay people.

In 1998, Federal Authorities charged Eric Rudolph with the three Atlanta bombings and a fourth one at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. They spent the next four and a half years looking for him around the town of Murphy, North Carolina, where Randolph spent his teenage years. Murphy residents printed tee-shirts reading “Run, Rudolph Run.” He was finally captured there on May 31, 2003. He was well-groomed and well-fed, suggesting he had help in Murphy. On August 13, 2005, Rudolph pleaded guilty to all four bombings in a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid the death penalty. In an eleven page statement, he wrote, “Whether it is gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crimes laws including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed.” He also said that the attack on The Otherside Lounge was “meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington’s continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda.” He is currently serving four life sentences.

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

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

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