August 18th, 2016
During its heyday, this Boston club had something for everyone: a jazz club, a cruise bar, one dance floor for rockers, another for disco, and a roof top deck with food and a view of Fenway Park. The club closed in 1988 after about fifteen years in business in the aftermath of a police bribery scandal. Documentary filmmaker Vincent-Louis Apruzzese said:
“It was a big story at the time, and is probably the reason it closed. The owner videotaped policemen taking bribes at the club. I asked for the footage, and it does exist, but is in court records now. I spoke to a security person there and there was an elevator with a video camera in it, and he said if we had seen the stuff that they deleted over the years, we’d have quite a movie. That was because I guess a lot of people would sneak into the elevator to do drugs and have sex, and they had no idea that they were being videotaped. They had cameras in the elevator, in the office, and a couple of other places.”
…Apruzzese, who grew up in Everett, remembers going to the club at a very young age. “It was sometime around 1977-78. I was very young and definitely not of age, but I was an oddball at the time. I had dyed hair, and people thought I was some kind of odd lesbian. I was so young, that I looked androgynous; but I still had this masculine edge. I wore earrings, and no one was wearing earrings. The 1270 wasn’t the first club I ever went to, but was the one I liked the most. And I think I liked it because a lot of the people that went there were outcasts, even a lot of the other bars wouldn’t let them in; so they appreciated it.”
The 1270, for some, was literally a life saver, providing refuge for gays and lesbians from the occasional gay-bashing baseball fans leaving Fenway. Today, it’s the gentrified Baseball Tavern, catering to many of those same Red Sox fans, and tourists.
August 18th, 2016
Bryant bombs in Boston; GCN vandalized
BOSTON — Anita Bryant failed to perform in Boston September 1 when Democratic US Senatorial candidate Howard Phillips called off a fundraiser staring the anti-gay crusader. Phillips claimed to have cancelled the concert due to threats of violence from “militant homosexuals,” but failed to mention that only 78 tickets had been sold for the event.
Advertisements in Boston newspapers appeared with Bryant’s face partly covered by the caption, “Cancelled Due To Threats Of Violence.”
Bryant did arrive in the city to plug Phillips in a news conference however. Two thousand people flooded Copley Square in protest. Addressing the crowd, former Superior Court Judge Robert Bonin called the cancelation “a typical demagogic trick. Politics is the only profession where mediocrities can gain the world’s attention by slander.” The demonstration took place without incident.
Two days later the offices of Boston’s Gay Community News were forcibly entered and ransacked for the fifth time in the past year. Desks and file cabinets were forced open and their contents dumped on the floor. The vandalism followed a week of phone threats of violence in the wake of Bryant’s visit. Boston police continue their investigation.
[Source: The Body Politic (Toronto, ON, October, 1978): 17.]
August 18th, 2016
Problems between the Boston Police Department and the gay community had been growing for months. Several complaints each week were lodged with the Gay Community News about police inaction in dealing with crimes against gay victims and open police harassment of gays and lesbians throughout Boston. On August 18, three gay teens, two of them in drag, were walking to a Beacon Hill apartment when they heard screams coming from the Arlington Street T station. Two men came out of the station and ran to their cars. When Larry Brown called out their license plate numbers to his friends,the two men chased them down, beat and kicked them, and shouted, “This is for Anita Bryant.”
When a police car arrived, the three youths learned that the two men who had beaten them were actually Boston police officers: John Gillespie and Thomas Clifford. Patrol officers arrested the victims, with Gillespie and Clifford going free. On the way back to the station, the arresting officers threatened to dump the youths “in the Charles River or the Blue Hills” because “queers have no right to live.”
After Massachusetts State Rep. Barney Frank demanded an investigation, the BPD’s Internal Affairs Division began looking into the incident. They found Clifford and Gillespie guilty of physically and verbally abusing the three men, failing to submit incident reports, and submitting false statements to their commanders and to IAD. Lt. Ralph Maglio was also found guilty of neglecting his responsibilities as a duty supervisor and of making false statements to IAD.
Boston Police Commissioner Joseph M. Jordan suspended Clifford and Gillespie for three months without pay. Maglio received a one week suspension without pay. Jordon’s action made it the first time Boston police officers had ever been disciplined for abusing gay people. Rep. Frank praised the Commissioner’s actions. “I think it’s terrific. It should have a tremendous effect, because it shows that the Commissioner will not tolerate abuse even if the victim is a runaway gay teenager in drag.”
[Sources: “Boston Police Trial.” GPU News (Milwaukee, WI, October 1978): 14.
“Boston Suspensions.” GPU News (November 1978): 14.
“‘Fag-beating’ Cops Get First-Ever Suspensions.” The Body Politic (Toronto, ON, November 1978): 17.]
August 18th, 2016
Since the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, the nation’s response to the deadly disease was chronically slow and woefully underfunded. Much of the resistance to increased funding stemmed from open hostility to the disease’s two main risk groups; gay men and intravenous drug users. If there was any sympathy toward the disease, it was reserved almost exclusively for hemophiliacs who were infected by tainted blood products. They were deemed the only “innocent” victims of the disease, and Indiana teenager Ryan White was their most visible symbol. By 1990, the first of the most meaningful treatments, AZT, was available (Mar 19), but its $10,000 per year price tag (over $21,000 in today’s dollars) made it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest patients.
In hearings held in early 1990, the House Budget Committee heard testimony in Los Angeles and San Francisco about the challenges in providing care. Mervyn Silverman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) warned that up to one million HIV-positive Americans were at risk of becoming ill with full-blown AIDS. Others declared that it was finally time to treat AIDS like any other natural disaster. By the spring, members of the House and Senate were gearing up to prepare major legislation to help pay for treatment. The legislation would provide block grants to states to provide testing, counseling and early low-cost treatment to those with HIV and who had no other means to pay for it. It also would provide additional finds for urban centers where health care systems were already strained by the epidemic, and provide medical care for expectant mothers with HIV.
Different versions of the legislation passed the House and Senate, but they were far apart in the specifics. When the final version was hammered out in conference, it went back to both chambers for approval. During the House debate, the Bush White House signaled its opposition to the bill, saying “The bill’s narrow approach, dealing with a specific disease, sets a dangerous precedent, inviting treatment of other diseases through similar arrangements.” By then, the bill had been named the Ryan White CARE Act after the teen who died the previous April. His mother, Jeanne White, testified on Capital Hill in support of the bill.
North Carolina bigot Jesse Helms led the opposition in the Senate, but his filibuster threat was thwarted when the bill arrived on the Senate floor with sixty-six co-sponsors, more than enough to end debate. Both houses voted overwhelmingly for the bill’s final passage in voice votes between July 31 and August 4. Sensing that any White House veto would be quickly overridden, President Bush quietly signed it on Saturday, August 18.
August 18th, 2016
(d. 1996) A major figure in poetic realism, French filmmaker Marcel Carné began working in silent film as a camera assistant. In the mid-1930s, he went to England to work on Alexander Korda’s Knight Without Armour (1937) while also directing Jenny (1936), which was the start of Carné longtime collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. Carné had the misfortune of being in France during Germany’s invasion, where he continued working in Vichy.
Filmmaking is always a complicated enterprise. Doing it in wartime under a repressive dictatorial regime added another set of difficulties when Carné began work on what became his most highly acclaimed film, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise). He had to work around Vichy restrictions, shooting the film in two parts to comply with Vichy’s 90-minute limit. Starving extras made off with food before banquet scenes were shot. Some of those extras were Resistance fighters, who used the cover of daylight filming to allow them to meet together. Set designer Alexandre Trauner and music composer Joseph Kosma, both Jews, had to work in secrecy. The main quarter-mile long set was destroyed during a storm, electricity was as intermittent as the funding, film stock was rationed, key personnel were reassigned to other projects by authorities, and production was suspended following the Allied landing at Normandy. After Paris was liberated in 1944, production resumed, but one of the actors was sentenced to death by the Resistance for collaborating with the Nazis; all of his scenes had to be re-shot with a replacement. When Children of Paradise was finally released as a single three-hour film (and without an intermission), it became an instant success, remaining at the Madeleine Theater for the next 54 weeks.
Children of Paradise would be Carné’s high water mark. Riding on the its success, Carné’s next film, Les Portes de la Nuit was given the largest budget in the history of French film. It flopped, and it would be Carné’s last collaboration with Prévert. In the 1950s, Carné was eclipsed by the French New Wave, and his films, except for 1958’s Les Tricheurs, were typically panned by critics. Openly gay, Carné often cast his partner, Roland Lesaffre, in many of his films. Carné made his last film in 1976. But Children of Paradise was never forgotten. It was voted Best Film Ever in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in 1995, and it was restored and re-released on Blu-ray in 2012.
August 17th, 2016
The Patch opened on April 7, 1968 on the Pacific Coast Highway in the Wilmington area of southern Los Angeles next to Long Beach. It quickly became one of the more popular gay night spots in the Los Angeles area thanks to its live music and a policy that allowed men to dance together. Soon after, the police commission called the owners and set a series of demands: no minors, no drag, no groping, only one person at a time in the restrooms, and no male-male dancing. The Patch agreed, as a price for staying in business, but when that business quickly fell off, they resumed allowing dancing. When the police commission objected, the Patch vowed to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. The commission backed down, but LAPD found other ways to harasses the bar: arbitrarily ticketing parked cars, refusing to arrest area teens who threatened patrons. The local PTA got wind of the Patch’s existence and circulated a petition to close the bar down. Even the local musician’s union showed up to cause trouble, despite the bar’s hiring a union band and paying above scale. Manager Lee Glaze was undeterred:
“John Q. Public has to wake up to the fact that he has to accept us, he says, “We exist. Straights have to learn to live with it. We know that we’re not acceptable anywhere but in our own society. We have to have a place to go. If they close up our clubs, we’ll all have to take to the streets.”
[Source: “‘Patch’ Fights Three-Way Battle. The Los Angeles Advocate (August 1968): 3, 25.]
August 17th, 2016
From the day The Patch opened four months earlier, the popular Los Angeles bar fought a series of battles just to stay in business. The Los Angeles police tried to prohibit dancing in the joint, the local musician’s union demanded the Patch put up a week’s worth of wages for any bands they hired, and the local PTA was trying to drive it out of town. If that weren’t enough, local youths who hung out at a nearby hamburger stand made a sport out of threatening and harassing bar patrons. Whenever anyone from the bar tried to call the police, cops would simply threaten to arrest the patron and give the local toughs a free reign.
Things came to a head on Saturday, August 17 when the Patch’s manager, Lee Glaze, noticed a couple of vice cops in the room. During a break in the music, Glaze got up on stage, pointed out the cops, and chided the LAPD for sending such “homely” vice officers. The cops left, but returned a little later at around midnight with five or six uniformed officers in tow. As the band kept playing, the officers fanned out and began checking IDs. They arrested two of the patrons and charged them with lewd conduct. Glaze was outraged. The two had been competing for a third man’s attention and weren’t the least bit interested in each other. As Glaze remembered later, “How could you possible arrest two queens who hated each other?”
This wasn’t a full-on police raid. The police understood that they didn’t need to go through all that just to close a bar down. Ordinarily, all it would take to do that would be for the police to show up and ask for a few IDs, and the bar’s patrons would go scrambling for the door. Make a few arrests, and the patrons would never return and the bar would be out of business. Glaze wasn’t about to let that happen. He jumped back onto the stage, and with the police looking on, he urged the audience not to be intimidated. “It’s not against the law to be a homosexual,” he said, “and it’s not a crime to be in a gay bar.” He then announced that the Patch would provide bail money and a lawyer for the two who had been arrested. He stepped down from the stage, the band resumed playing, and a most remarkable thing happened: nobody left. The crowd of 250 kept dancing.
Glaze left, and went to the police station to find out more about the charges and bail amount. He then returned to the Patch a short while later with a crazy idea. “Anyone here own a flower shop?” he asked from the stage. Of course, someone did. “Go clean it out,” he shouted, “I want to buy all your flowers.” He then invited everyone to go down to the Harbor Division station after the bar closed.
About twenty-five hardy souls took him up on the call, and the group camped out — in the best meaning of the word “camp” — all night in the station’s waiting room staging what has become known as the Flower Power Protest, as a bewildered desk sergeant looked on. “One flower hits me, and you’re going to be charged with assault on a police officer,” the sergeant said, intimidating exactly no one in the room. Troy Perry (Jul 27), who would later that year found the Metropolitan Community Church, was there:
When we arrived at the police station, Lee told the officer at the desk, “We’re here to get our sisters out.” The officer asked, “What are your sisters’ names?” When Lee said, “Tony Valdez and Bill Hasting,” the officer had this surprised look on his face and called for backup. They didn’t know what to do with all the gay men waiting in the lobby. …Lee showed me you don’t have to be afraid of the police. Once that happened, it encouraged me to become a gay activist.
The bondsman soon arrived, posted bail, and left, saying that the two should be out in a few minutes. The police had other ideas, and held the two for several more hours before finally dropping the charges and releasing them at dawn.
It’s easy to under-appreciate the significance of the Flower Power protest. For the first time in memory, a gay bar not only survived the aftermath of a police raid after so many failed before, but thrived, thanks to the bar manager’s taking on the police on their home turf. And there was another important first: instead of fleeing, never to return, customers stood by the Patch after the raid. And for that, Glaze expressed his appreciation in a letter to the editor of The Los Angeles Advocate two months later:
If all gay bars had customers such as mine, there would be no further harassment from various agencies such as the ABC the police, and the so-called ” straight” public. Throughout these problems their attitude has been “We’ re doing nothing wrong. We re hurting no one. There is nothing illegal about being in a gay bar. There is nothing Illegal about a bar being gay. And we’re staying. Period.”
These people have finally had it. They’re standing up for their rights as individuals.
The protest inspired several others in the Long Beach area to form legal defense funds, gay community forums, and even the world’s first Christian denomination founded specifically to meet the needs of gay people. The Los Angeles Advocate, which later became the national gay newsmagazine The Advocate, called the courageous action “a remarkable sight” and hailed Glaze’s speech that night in the bar “a minor masterpiece. It infected his audience with some of his own courage. Let us hope that the infection spreads.”
[Additional sources: “Patch Fights Three-Way Battle.” The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 3, 25.
Editorial: “Courage Catches On.” The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 5.
Dick Michaels. “Cops Join Hoods in Harassing Bar.” The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 5-6.
Lee Glaze. Letter to the editor. The Los Angeles Advocate (October 1968): 19-20.]
August 17th, 2016
Dissatisfied with President George H.W. Bush’s more moderate policies in pursuit of a “kinder, gentler America,” former Nixon speechwriter and Reagan communications director Pat Buchanan launched a primary challenge against Bush’s 1992 re-election campaign. Buchanan’s loud opposition to immigration, multiculturalism, abortion and gay rights earned him the nickname of “Pitchfork Pat.” It also got him a surprisingly strong New Hampshire primary showing with 38% of the vote against the incumbent’s 53%. Buchanan may have come in second, but by exceeding expectations by a large margin, many saw his showing as a win of sorts. Through the rest of the primary season, Buchanan collected three million votes and earned a spot as keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in Houston.
A few weeks before the GOP gathered in the Astrodome, former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and with his wife Hillary, promised that voters would get two Clintons for the price of one. Clinton and his running mate, Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, were leading in the polls by a substantial margin, and the GOP needed to work hard at rallying its socially conservative base. Buchanan delivered the goods in his opening night prime-time speech, in which he brought “Culture War” into the political lexicon:
Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choice religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.
We stand with President Bush for right-to-life, and for voluntary prayer in the public schools, and against putting American women in combat. And we stand with President Bush in favor of the right of small towns and communities to control the raw sewage of pornography that pollutes our popular culture.
We stand with President Bush in favor of federal judges who interpret the law as written, and against Supreme Court justices who think they have a mandate to rewrite our Constitution.
My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton and Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.
Buchanan ended with a call to arms: “We must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country.” Televangelist Pat Robertson and Marilyn Quale, wife of Vice President Dan Quayle, gave similarly sharp speeches, but Buchanan’s stood out. It brought the GOP delegates to their feet.
But outside the arena his speech wasn’t quite as well received. One TV commentator remarked, “The most significant delegate here in Houston this week is God.” Anthony Lewis wrote in the New York Times, “The sleaze was so thick on the ground in Houston, the attacks so far-fetched, that some people may be tempted to dismiss them as funny. Not I. I remember Joe McCarthy.” George Will was similarly dismayed. “The crazies are in charge,” he wrote. “The fringe has taken over. … No wonder the Republicans must beg people to come into their shrinking tent. The fringe on that tent’s entrance is forbidding.” But the most succinct reaction came from Texas political pundit Molly Ivins, who said, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”
[Additional source: Timothy Stanley. The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2012): 2-6, 210-211.]
August 17th, 2016
(d. 1972) The German essayist and political journalist was an early influential writer of the German gay rights movement in the first few decades of the twentieth century. In 1908, he joined the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the world’s first gay rights organization which had been founded in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld (May 14 ). “In the final analysis, ” he wrote in 1921, “justice for you will be the fruit only of your own efforts. The liberation of homosexuals can only be the work of homosexuals themselves.”
In 1922 he published §175: Die Schmach des Jahrhunderts! (“Paragraph 175: The disgrace of the century!”), the title of which referred to the German penal code which criminalized homosexual activity between men. It was widely distributed, including to members of the Reichstag, during the debates on the sexual penal code in the 1920s. In 1929, Hiller took over as chairman of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, after Magnus Hirschfeld stepped down to focus his attention on the Institute for Sexual Research.
After the Nazis came to power, they banned both the Institute and Committee. Hiller, a gay pacifist socialist Jew, had more than enough reasons to land on the Gestapo’s radar. He was arrested and spent time in various concentration camps before being released on the brink of death in April of 1934. He fled to Prague later that year to avoid another arrest, then to London in 1938 just ahead of the German armies. While in London, he continued to write for the German exile press. In 1955, he returned to Hamburg, and tried to resurrect the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1962. That idea didn’t take root, but Hiller nevertheless continued to write on behalf of the gay rights movement. He published numerous articles and essays in the influential Swiss gay magazine Der Kreis. In 1965, Der Kreis returned the favor with a five-page commemoration for Hiller’s 80th birthday. Hiller died in 1972.
August 17th, 2016
(d. 1963) Born Edgar Montillion Woolley in New York to a wealthy family, Monty grew up among the crème de la crème of society. A Bachelor’s degree from Yale (with Cole Porter as a very close friend and classmate (Jun 9)), Master’s degrees from Yale and Harvard, he became an English professor at Yale with Thornton Wilder (Apr 17) and Pulitzer honoree poet Stephen Vincent Benét among his students. Wooly began directing on Broadway in 1929, and his second career of acting in 1935 at the age of forty-eight.
His upper-crust background made him a natural for his most famous performance in the 1939 Kaufman and Hart comedy The Man who Came to Dinner. His portrayal of meddling and obnoxious prima donna radio star Sheridan Whiteside who visits a family in Ohio and winds up spending a month there, ran for 783 performances and rave reviews. Woolley signed with 20th Century Fox in the 1940s and appeared in the 1942 film adaption of The Man Who Came to Dinner with Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called the comedy the “most vicious but hilarious cat-clawing exhibition ever put on the screen, a deliciously wicked character portrait and a helter-skelter satire. (Woolley) spouts alliterations as though he were spitting out orange seeds …A more entertaining buttinsky could hardly be conceived.” Time said, “Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside with such vast authority and competence that it is difficult to imagine anyone else attempting it.”
Indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone else. It suited his personality perfectly. And one cannot talk about Woolley without mentioning an incident at a dinner party, when after dinner he suddenly belched. A woman seating nearby glared at him. He glared back: “And what did you expect, my good woman? Chimes?” Woolley liked that line so well that he made sure it was written into his next film role.
His character-defining beard and mustache were as much a star as he was; fans affectionately nicknamed him “The Beard.” His hand and beard prints were both cast in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his appearances in The Pied Piper and Since You Went Away, playing crusty but lovable curmudgeons. but his sharp-tongued portrayal of the acerbic Sheridan Whiteside would come to define the rest of his career. Off screen, Woolley insisted that he was easy to get along with. Friends agreed, saying he was unusually generous and the life of every party. Yet when people saw him in a restaurant, it seemed they wouldn’t leave him alone until he finally dispatched them with an acerbic insult. Only then would they walk away deliriously happy. But when he bought a home in Saratoga Springs, New York, he got to know and love the townspeople, and they returned his affection by electing him mayor in a write-in vote. He declined the offer, but showed his appreciation by giving a special performance of The Man Who Came to Dinner. “My heart lies in Saratoga Springs,” Monty said. “In Saratoga, I’m not Monty. I’m Edgar and that makes me happy indeed.”
At about the same time, Woolley met Cary Abbott, and the two moved in together in Saratoga Springs. After about five years together, Abbott suddenly died in 1948, leaving Woolley bereft. The kind and generous Woolley soon began drinking and becoming the acerbic old man he portrayed on screen. Even his good friend Cole Porter abandoned him, although part Porter’s disapproval came from Woolley’s affair with an African-American handyman. Woolley continued to appear in small roles in the 1950s, including a life television performance of The Man Who Came to Dinner, in a production that was condensed into a miserable forty-five minutes. He hated the result and critics agreed. Woolley died of kidney and heart disease in 1963 at the age of seventy-five.
August 16th, 2016
August 16th, 2016
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, which introduced his theory of evolution to the masses in 1859. The theory, in simplified form, held that species evolved through a process of natural selection which weeded out the weaker and less capable variations of the species. Darwin wasn’t the first to propose the theory; others proposed the theory as far back as the eighteenth century. Another theory, Degeneration Theory, also grew out of an earlier body of theories that informed Darwin’s evolution. Degeneration Theory was more fully developed by the French alienist Bénédict Augustin Morel in 1857 in his Traité des Dégénérescences Physiques, Intellectuelles et Morales. The Italian criminologist and physician Cesare Lombroso adapted, expanded, and popularized Morel’s theory in his influential 1876 text, L’uomo Delinquente. By the time Degeneration Theory made its way into the popular imagination thanks to the Hungarian physician and social critic Max Nordau’s best-selling 1892 book Degeneration, it had long been embraced by physicians, psychologists, criminologists, sociologists, political theorists, and social critics throughout the western world.
Degeneration Theory postulated that, thanks to the conveniences of modern society and its advances in medicine and hygiene, modern man was increasingly immune to nature’s “culling of the herd.” And because modern man was no longer being culled by natural forces, the human race was experiencing a devolution — or “de-generation” — and was becoming more primitive, which promoters termed a “reversion to an atavistic (ancient or ancestral) state.”
Degeneration theorists believed that heredity played a key role in determining an individual’s health, moral, and social development. The theory also held that an individual’s experiences, accomplishments, and moral failings could leave a hereditary mark on future generations. In other words, a ne’er-do-well from a well-bred family was destined to pass his criminality on to his progeny, along with his blue eyes and blond hair. Alcoholics begat alcoholics, criminals begat worse criminals, rapists begat more violent rapists.
Furthermore, with criminality was now in his genes, this “degeneracy” was also bound to reveal itself in physical traits, what Degeneracy Theorists called “the stigmata of degeneration.” And it’s here where degeneracy theory became intrinsically intertwined with racism: the pronounced brow and wide noses common among several groups of African were taken as evidence of that primitive, “atavistic” state Degeneration Theorists warned about. The particular shape of Asians’ eyes were stigmata of their particular brand of degeneracy, as were the hirsute bodies and hooked noses of the “Mohammedans.” Lombroso devoted entire volumes to his exacting measurements of the skulls of criminals and the criminally insane. Degeneracy didn’t always yield blemished children: geniuses were also held as examples of a kind of positive “de-generation” (because they deviated from the norm), although evidences of their degeneracy were often found in various personality quirks or other eccentricities. Nevertheless, Degeneration Theory, at its core, was always a very racist one.
So how do you halt this modern-day degeneration that threatened the higher races, you might ask? That’s where Eugenics came in. Eugenics came in two forms: positive Eugenics (the hygienic and temperance movements, and campaigns for child labor laws and free public education were just a few examples), and negative Eugenics, which included sterilization programs aimed at severing the generational capabilities of degenerate lines.
On August 16, 1893, Dr. F.E. Daniel of Austin, Texas, and editor of the Texas Medical Journal, delivered an address before the World’s Columbian Auxiliary Congress titled, “Should Insane Criminals or Sexual Perverts be Permitted to Procreate?” The main perversions that Daniel was worried about were rape and masturbation, the latter of which was believe to cause of insanity. For the case of sexual criminals judged to be insane, there had already been calls for castration in lieu of hanging, partly because it was believed that hanging someone who was insane constituted a breach of justice. Daniel also held that view, because, ever the humanitarian, he considered hanging to be an extreme, cruel, and ultimately ineffective form of punishment. And so he added an additional reason to consider castrating criminals who, despite their obvious degeneracy, were nevertheless judged to be sane:
In this country, and recently, several writers have advocated castration. Dr. W. A. Hammond’s paper on the subject will be recalled by all present. Dr. Frank Lydston (Va. Medical Monthly) in reply to a question from Dr. Hunter McGuire as to the cause of so much rape by negroes in the South, advises castration as a remedy for the evil; and there is much wisdom in the advice. He would castrate the rapist, thus rendering him incapable of repetition of the offense, and of propagating his kind, and turn him loose — on the principle of the singed rat — to be a warning to others. Dr. Lydston says, and very truly, that a hanging or even a burning is soon forgotten; but a negro buck at large amongst the ewes of his flock, minus the elements of manhood, would be a standing terror to those of similar propensities. Dr. Orpheus Everts (Lancet Clinic, March, 1888,) would castrate all convicted criminals, thus arresting the descent of their respective vices of constitution.
Daniel found Everts’s advice too extreme: “innocent persons are sometimes convicted of crime, and we might cut the wrong man.” But Daniel did believe that sexual crimes were in a special category because, he argued, it was almost impossible to draw a line between sanity and insanity where sexual crimes were concerned:
In light then of the very evident doubt as to the sanity of those who commit sexual crimes, and therefore, of their responsibility; and particularly as it is impossible in the present state of our knowledge to draw a line and say where, in mental alienation, unsoundness to the extent of irresponsibility for acts exists, I would substitute castration as a penalty for all sexual crimes or misdemeanors, including confirmed masturbation.
…The lower animals limit production, and eliminate the weaker by battles between the males for the possession of the female; and certain of the rodents, the squirrel I am told, castrate the young males. But with civilized man the procreative function, and the right to exercise it ad libitum seems to be something sacred; it is respected, even in those who have, by their misconduct, outraged society, and forfeited all other rights, civil, religious and political. Is it not a remarkable civilization that will break a criminal’s neck, but will respect his testacles? [sic]
A number of asylums were already beginning to sterilize both their male and female patients. Daniel argued that if those programs were extended to sexual criminals, it could usher in a new age of sexual continence within a generation:
While we can not hope ever to institute a Sanitary Utopia in our day and generation, it would seem within the legitimate scope and sphere of Preventive Medicine, aided by the enactment and enforcement of suitable laws, to eliminate much that is defective in human genesis, and to improve our race mentally, morally and physically; to bring to bear in the breeding of peoples the principles recognized and utilized by every intelligent stock-raiser in the improvement of his cattle; and in my humble judgment the substitution of castration, as advocated above, for the useless and cruel execution of criminals, is the first step in the reformation. I predict that in twenty years the beneficial results of castration for crimes committed in obedience to a perverted (diseased) sexual impulse will be established and appreciated.
Rape, sodomy, beastiality [sic], pederasty and habitual masturbation should be made crimes or misdemeanors, punishable by forfeit of all rights, including that of procreation; in short by castration, or castration plus other penalties, according to the gravity of the offense.
[Source: F.E. Daniel. “Castration of sexual perverts.” Texas Medical Journal 9, no. 6 (December 1893): 255-271. Available online at Google Books here.]
August 16th, 2016
“It seems melodramatic to talk about the downfall of nations and homosexuals in the same breath. But historians are quick to point out that moral degeneracy and the destruction of some of the greatest civilizations in the world were tied hand in hand.” How many times have you heard that one before? Those words came from the opening paragraphs of The Miami Daily News’ final installement in a three part series that formed part of its overall campaign to whip up anti-gay hysteria in South Florida (Aug 13, Aug 15).
The campaign began in earnest just two weeks earlier when William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, was murdered by two men in a rolling-the-queers robbery (Aug 3). That murder led officials to discover a “colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregating mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.” Simpson may have been murdered, two straight men may have been arrested and charged with the crime, but as far as the local newspapers were concerned, it was the homosexuals who were guilty of the whole mess, and they promptly launched a media-driven campaign that resulted in more raids and arrests by area police departments (Aug 13, Aug 14).
The papers had been itching for just such a campaign for a few years. There had been a round of raids on gay bars and beaches earlier in 1953, Those raids got the attention of ONE magazine, which wrote about Miami’s brief anti-gay campaign in January 1954. Despite all the bad news, ONE managed to find a silver lining. In contrast to Miami Beach police chief Romeo Shepard and Dade County Sheriff Tom Kelly, Miami Police Chief Walter Headley had established a policy of letting gay bars operate more or less undisturbed when he became chief in 1948. By letting bars operate in an area that became known as “Powder Puff Lane,” he felt he could keep a better eye on the city’s gay population. Besides that, drag shows were popular with tourists, and “if I ran all of the homosexuals out of town, members of some of the best families would lead the parade.”
Headley’s refusal to crack down earned ONE’s praises, which published an open letter, written by Dale Jennings (Oct 21) and addressed to Headley, applauding his “refusal to wholeheartedly support the current hysteria concerning homosexuality.” Jennings sent copies of the letter and the January issue to Shepard, Kelly, other Dade county officials and the two Miami newspapers. In July of 1954, three weeks before Simpson’s murder but soon after another media panic over the rape and murder of a young girl in southwest Miami, The Miami Herald, armed with a copy of ONE’s approval of Headley’s policies, went on the attack:
Police have erred in permitting perverts to assemble here — to corral them in places which are “on limits” to them. … Miami’s “powder puff lane” is a civic disgrace … [and] an invitation to all sex deviates in the United States to come here for sanctuary.. . . When large numbers of perverts are present in a community, the peril is multiplied. The example and temptation to our youth is vile.
A few weeks later, The Herald blasted Headley again for “setting-up a Powder-Puff Lane … The practice harks back to the days of red light districts, sordid political partnerships, and payoffs, and dark age police methods.” The Herald also referred to ONE’s article commending Headley’s policies: “Miami’s Powder-Puff Lane has made the city a concentration center of the gentry from all over the nation. They even have a national publication which applauds Miami and its police methods [and] condemns those cities which will not coddle them.”
Following Simpson’s murder, the afternoon Daily News wasn’t about to let its morning rival get the upper hand in the contest for who could out-vilify the gay community. For its third installment of its “educational” series on homosexuals, News staff writer Jack Roberts went all out, charging that homosexuality caused the fall of Greece and Rome. Unmentioned, of course, is that all great civilizations come to an end sooner or later, and by the time Rome fell it was an officially Christian nation. Roberts credited his defective understanding of history to “well-known Miami psychiatrist” Dr. Paul Wells, who had been featured in the first installment of the series (Aug 13):
Dr. Kells pointed out that the spokesman for homosexuals in the Los Angeles area (editor of a magazine for homosexuals) constantly crusade for a legitimate place in society. “But in all their arguments, they fail to look at the other side of the picture,” said Dr. Kells. “The most important thing to consider where moral degeneracy can lead to.”
The article gave a brief rundown on the “all-out war against homosexuals” being waged by Shepard and Kelly. “I simply want them to get out of town,” Shepard said. Kelly’s goal was the same: “I will keep on harassing the homosexuals until they understand they’re not wanted in Dade County.” And the News blasted Headley for his “reluctance to bother perverts.”
Representatives of the Dade County-area law enforcement agencies had formed a study group to come up with ideas on how to deal with the problems. Attorney E.F.P. Brigham, chairman of the group, described to the News their suggestion of a sexual psychopath law:
If a sexual deviate is accused of molesting a child, or any person for that matter, and manages to beat the charge ni court, the state will still have the right to order a mental examination for the offender. If the person is found to be a sexual psychopath (and that does not necessarily mean insane) the state will then have the right to institute civil action to put that person in the asylum for the rest of his or her life or until such time as a cure can be effected.
Brigham says he has no doubt that the legislators will approve of new laws to curb sexual psychopaths. “But I’m afraid they will balk at the money it will cost to provide asylum facilities, “he said. “I’m afraid they will look on the pervert problem as one belonging to Miami and not the state as a whole.”
…”It is most important to take these people away from society,” said Brigham. “By establishing a worthwhile asylum, it may be possible to cure some of these psychopaths and help them lead normal lives. We are going to cite case after case of children being violated to the Legislature to prove our point. It seems foolish to try to save a few tax dollars when so much is at stake.
When Brigham made his suggestion, twenty states already had similar sexual psychopath laws on the books. Florida enacted a sexual psychopath law in 1955, but it was declared “unconstitutionally vague” a year later.
[Additional sources: “Miami Junks the Constitution.” ONE 2, no. 1 (January 1954): 16-21.
Fred Fejes. “Murder, Perversion, and Moral Panic: The 1954 Media Campaign against Miami’s Homosexuals and the Discourse of Civic Betterment.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, No. 3 (July 2000): 305-347]
August 16th, 2016
(d. 2005) Pierre’s troubles began when his watch was stolen while he was in a public square in his Alsace home in 1939. The watch, a gift from his godmother, had sentimental value, and so he reported the theft to police. The square where the theft occurred was a well-known cruising ground for gay men, but since homosexuality wasn’t illegal in France, there shouldn’t have been much of a problem. But local police added his name to a list of gay men they were maintaining, and when the Germans invaded in 1940, that list fell into Gestapo hands. Seel was picked up in 1941, beaten, had his fingernails pulled out, and raped with broken rulers.
Two weeks later, he was sent to the Schirmeck-Vorbrüch camp near Strasbourg, where the beatings, tortures and rapes continued. He wore a blue bar on his uniform instead of the pink triangle — the blue bar was reserved for Catholics and “a-socials” — but the nature of his “crime” was well known. “There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” he later recalled. “Other prisoners, even when between themselves, used to target them.” He and his camp were made to stand and watch as his eighteen-year-old boyfriend was stripped naked in the center of the yard and devoured by german shepherds. That scene would haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life.
After six months of starvation, torture and forced labor, Seen was set free without an explanation. What’s more, he was made a German citizen when Alsace was informally annexed by Germany. As a German, he was drafted into the army and sent to the Eastern Front. After the war, he made his way back to France. He took his family’s advice and went deeply underground about his sexuality, and married in 1950. The marriage was a difficult one, and it finally fell apart in 1978. In 1979, Seel happened to attend a debate in a bookstore for the launch of the French edition of Heinz Heger’s book, The Men with the Pink Triangle. Two years later, Seel went public with his story when the Bishop of Strasbourg denounced the performance of the French translation of the play Bent, which was based on Heger’s book.
From then on, Seel became an advocate for the recognition of gay victims of the Nazis, particularly those from the Alsace and Moselle regions of France. In 1994, Seel published his own memoir, I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual. In 2000, he appeared in the American-made documentary, Paragraph 175. When the documentary premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, Seel traveled to Germany for the first time since the war and received a five-minute standing ovation.
France still has an uneasy don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy where German collaboration is concerned, and Seel’s opening of old wounds didn’t go down easy. In the 1980s and 1990s, he received numerous death threats. After appearing on French television, Seel was attacked and beaten by youths shouting homophobic epithets. The mayor of Strasbourg refused to shake his hand during a commemoration ceremony. But the distance of time has allowed some recognition of historical realities to take root. Seel received official recognition as a victim of the Holocaust in 2003, and in 2008, three years after his death in Toulouse, his adopted city, a street was renamed in his honor. The plaque reads, “Rue Pierre Seel — Déporté Français pour homosexualité — 1923-2005”.
August 15th, 2016
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.