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Kim Davis continues shenanigans

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

Rowan licenses

Oh boy. It appears that Kim Davis isn’t through with her nastiness or her desire to block equality. Though she stated that she would not interfere with clerks, it now appears that she is altering the marriage licenses so as to purposefully make them invalid. Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden has copies of the new altered format (see above).

Davis is not allowing the clerks to issue licenses as a deputy clerk at all, but instead as a notary public and while a deputy clerk likely has authority to issue licenses, a notary most certainly does not.

This will likely find her back in jail.


Kentucky’s governor says the altered marriage licenses issued in Rowan County from the office of an embattled clerk are considered valid.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday that the licenses issued “are going to be recognized as valid in the Commonwealth.”

And that may be the end of it. I am still uncertain as to whether Beshear or anyone else is considering that the licenses are no longer being issued by anyone using their authority as deputy clerk. Perhaps the fact that they are employed by the Clerk’s office is being considered to be adequate, but signing as a notary public seems suspect to me.

Australia’s Liberal Party ousts Tony Abbott

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

TurnbullTony Abbott’s determined refusal to allow Liberal Party member to support a marriage equality bill is but one indicator of a managerial style that grated on fellow members and lost the respect of the public. And finally, Abbott’s power has broken. This morning the Liberal parliamentarians replaced Abbott as their party leader with Malcolm Turnbull, by a 54 to 44 vote. Upon being sworn in, Turnbull will become the 29th Prime Minister of Australia.

Turnbull (himself previously ousted as party leader by Abbott in 2009) is considered to be much more moderate than Abbott. He has indicated his support for same sex marriage and had called for a conscience vote in the last marriage effort. But what this means for marriage equality in Australia is, as yet, uncertain. (Guardian)

Malcolm Turnbull has promised a new prime ministerial style respecting the intelligence of the Australian electorate and explaining necessary policy changes after winning the Liberal leadership from Tony Abbott in a party room ballot by 54 votes to 44.

But Turnbull said the substance of the Coalition’s climate change policy and its pledge to hold a national plebiscite on marriage equality would not change. He declined to nominate policies that would be altered without first consulting colleagues because he was determined to restore a “thoroughly traditional cabinet government”.

Kim Davis capitulates UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

kim davis loses

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has tearfully reached the exact position that the County, the Governor, the federal judiciary, and her gay constituents have been demanding of her. Marriage licenses will continue to be issued. (Huffpo)

“I want the whole world to know … If any [deputy clerk] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them,” she said. “However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”

Of course no one else is questioning their validity and Davis’ only purpose in doing so is a whiny pretense that her efforts to impose her religious values on the county were not in vain.

They were.

UPDATE: new twist: Davis has altered the marriage licenses to remove any reference to deputy clerk. By “unauthorized”, she means “altered”. They likely are invalid.

McDowell County is not like Rowan County

Timothy Kincaid

September 11th, 2015

McDowelFollowing the story of Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis and her refusal to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to residents of her county, attention has turned to the magistrates in McDowell County, North Carolina. (

Magistrates in McDowell County are refusing to perform same sex marriages.

A supervising judge confirmed to News 13 on Thursday that four workers in the office – Hilary Hollified, Thomas Atkinson, Debbie Terrell and Chad Johnson – have recused themselves under the North Carolina’s religious exemption law.

Some are seeing this as discrimination and bigotry just like in Rowan County and Something That Must Be Stopped. I see the situations as very dissimilar and am not much troubled by McDowell County or their magistrates.

Magistrates do not have any gate-keeping duties as to who can marry in the county. Those who choose to can officiate civil marriages, though they are not required to do so (nor, I believe, have they ever been so required). And McDowell County has provided replacements, magistrates from another county, so as to ensure that anyone wishing a civil marriage may have one. No rights are being denied.

But a more important distinction, to me, is the motivation. In McDowell County the issue is “what I must do” while in Rowan County the issue is “what you cannot do”.

For all that Kim Davis protests that she only wants to not have her name associated with marriages of which she disapproves, her actions show a different motive. The minute that her deputy clerks issued marriage licenses without her name – substituting “office of Rowan County” for “office of Kim Davis” – her attorneys insisted that the licenses were invalid. Davis’ goal is not removing herself from association with same-sex marriages but rather it’s prohibiting all such marriages in her county.

There have been a number of judges and magistrates and mayors and other officials across the country who have quietly removed marriage officiation from their list of services in order to avoid participation in same-sex marriages. And while this is a decision that is in conflict with my own values, so long as this is not a significant or relevant part of their duties and so long as an adequate replacement is provided, I am not much inclined to force people to do things that are contrary to their conscience.

Further, I think that throwing energy into coercive efforts (“they must follow my values, not their values, or they should be fired”) distracts from situations that truly are egregious and abusive. It makes our cause seem more about forcing or punishing others and less about achieving freedom for ourselves.

Seeking to block legal public services and deny civil rights, such as the efforts of Kim Davis, is a matter that deserves our attention and our ire. And, rightly, our community fought back and, if polls are correct, we won the debate.

But insisting that individual magistrates personally participate in same-sex marriages does not deserve our time nor serve our cause.

Kim’s new t-shirt

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2015

It’s pretty easy to confuse the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk and the Rowan County Clerk. One keeps track of criminal and civil filings and the other issues licenses, but most people wouldn’t know the difference.

For Kim Tabor, this hasn’t been a happy confusion. Tabor works for the Circuit Court Clerk and has been on the receiving end of a number of people who called and asked for Kim, thinking that they were reaching the County Clerk.

So what do you do when your name is Kim and you work for the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk? You do this:

not kim davis

Kim Davis ordered released

Timothy Kincaid

September 8th, 2015


U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued an order Tuesday saying Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shall be released from Carter County jail.

The judge’s order, filed Tuesday in U.S. District, says Davis shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.

Bunning is requiring the clerks to file a status report with him to confirm that they are remaining in compliance. Should Davis interfere with them in any way, she will be sanctioned again.

The Huckabee rally is set to start shortly. It will be interesting to see how Davis/Staver/Huckabee will spin this latest twist. I suspect that we’ll hear about ‘the power of prayer’ and how this is a victory. But it’s difficult to see anything but defeat in this for Kim Davis.

Of course, she may declare that she’ll stop the licenses again and the circus may go on.

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll suggests that Davis only has support from about 26% of likely voters.

Huckabee keeps children from school today

Timothy Kincaid

September 8th, 2015

East Carter County High, East Carter Middle School and some east side elementary schools will not be open due to the expected congestion caused by the rally and the appearance of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who is coming to visit Kim Davis in jail.

Davis’ martyrdom act not selling well

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2015

Kim Davis

Mat Staver and Kim Davis no doubt believe that they have achieved the perfect situation. Kim Davis has been thrown in jail like Paul and Silas for her Christian faith. Homosexuals and liberals are showing themselves to be the tyrants that they are and are engaging in full on war against Christians.

But this narrative isn’t playing as well as they might like.

Anti-gay activists are pointing at certain GOP presidential pretenders as indication of support. And Democratic activists are doing the same to suggest that the Republican Party is comprised entirely of homophobic lunatics. But the reality is something quite else.

Certainly some wild-eyed firebrands like Mike Huckabee have rushed to her defense, planning a rally and fundraising on Davis’ plight. Others such as Cruz, Santorum, and Jindal have also weighed in as being in support of Davis and Rand Paul seems completely confused. But for most, the response is more nuanced.

The GOP candidates have expressed some level of dismay that Davis is in jail along with their general disagreement with the Obergefell ruling. But for many of them, their frustration is in no small part with Davis and her refusal to find a solution.

Jeb Bush

“She is sworn to uphold the law, and it seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and — now that the law is the law of the land — for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is,” Bush told reporters in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump

“You have to go with it. The decision’s been made, and that is the law of the land,” the real estate mogul said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I would say the simple answer is let her clerks do it,” he said. “Now from what I understand she’s not letting the clerks do it either. The other simple answer is rather than going through this — because it’s really a very, very sticky situation and terrible situation — 30 miles away they have other places, they have many other places where you get licensed. And you have them actually quite nearby, that’s another alternative.”

Carly Fiorina

“And, while I disagree with this court’s decision, their actions are clear,” Fiorina said. “And so I think in this particular case, this woman now needs to make a decision of conscience — is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties will be paramount over her duties as a government employee?”

John Kasich

Even though Davis personally opposes same-sex marriage, she’s a government employee, Kasich told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

“She’s not running a church. I wouldn’t force this on a church, but in terms of her responsibility, I think she has to comply,” said Kasich, Ohio governor and a GOP presidential candidate. He doesn’t think she should sit in jail, he said, but “I think she should follow the law.”

Lindsey Graham

As a public official, comply with the law or resign.

“The rule of law is the rule of law. We are a rule of law nation.

“I appreciate her conviction, I support traditional marriage, but she’s accepted a job in which she has to apply the law to everyone.”

I think that there are several reasons why Davis’ jailing isn’t getting the expected universal condemnation from Republicans and conservatives.

First is Davis herself. Due to her faith, she dresses plainly and avoids makeup. And while on some, that can come across as sweet-faced and innocent, Davis’ simply looks dowdy. Davis also expresses her sense of entitlement and petty authority in her expressions, giving the impression of sourness and anger. She is not nearly so sympathetic a character as we have previously seen in bakers, photographers, and venue suppliers.

Running a close second is her counsel. They are accustomed to making outlandish and absurd statements to those who share their extreme views and who willingly believe their wild assertions. But when that is trotted out in front of the general public, it sounds like the ranting of lunatics. Insisting that the licenses being issued are void and worthless (though Kentucky law allows for deputy clerk authorization) or declaring that the Supreme Court doesn’t have constitutional authority to rule on issues relating to constitutional interpretation makes Mat Staver appear, as a Fox News panel put it, “ridiculously stupid”.

Also contributing to the lack of respect for Davis may be a current dissatisfaction with petty bureaucrats and never ending regulation. Irrespective of whether one thinks that marriage should be equal, this story seems more indicative of governmental meddling than it does of individual victimhood. It’s easy to pity a baker who is being forced by faceless administrators to bake a cake, but Davis is on the other side of that equation, refusing to engage with her customers and with reporters and autocratically forbidding her staff from serving the public.

We should also consider that Americans are tired of the debate. The question of the legality of same-sex marriage had placed strain on families and friendships and even on personal beliefs as ancient moral codes warred with genuine affection for gay people. And when the Supreme Court found for gay marriage, most of those who were not favorable of that decision were, nevertheless, glad that there had finally been a decision and they could move on. By bringing up again what was believed to be finalized, Davis irritated those who were becoming comfortable with the new reality.

Finally, this situation is not one which could not have found a solution. Davis was given the opportunity to find a win-win by allowing her deputies to issue marriage licenses. This would have allowed everyone to feel good about Davis standing for her beliefs but not standing in the way of others. And when she rejected that offer demanding that she be allowed to block marriage licenses in the county for everyone based solely on her personal beliefs, she was the one who seemed unfair and unkind.

Certainly the gadflies and the extremists and the professionally butthurt will beat this horse for long after it has breathed its last whinney. But the public, including much of the right of center, has not rallied around her nor found in Kim Davis a cause.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, September 14

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2015
From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

“No establishment shall make facilities available for the purpose of sexual activities where anal intercourse, vaginal intercourse, or fellatio take place. Such facilities shall constitute a threat to the public health.” So reads the New York state code in Section 24-2.2. The code was adopted in the early 1990s over the objections of HIV/AIDS advocates. New York City had been closing down bathhouses since the mid-1980s. But the Wall Street Sauna somehow managed to escape all of those efforts until 2004, when a New York Appeals Court sided with the City and ordered the Sauna closed.

The Wall Street Sauna opened in 1974, and its location one 1 Maiden Lane, just four blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, made it instantly popular with area businessmen. An article for the Village Voice in 1976 said it was “where businessmen get their rocks off during the lunch hour (it’s called “funch”).” After the AIDS crisis led to the shuttering of other bathhouses and sex clubs, the Wall Street Sauna soldiered on with the owners insisting, implausibly, that men were not using their facility for sex. After New York Heath Department finally ordered the Sauna closed in February, 2004,  part of the sauna reopened a week later after the owners agreed to a court order that all sexual activity would be prohibited. But health inspector reported seeing sexual behavior in April, and the city appealed the lower court’s ruling. On July 8, the state appeals court sided with the city and ordered it closed once and for all.

Disgusting Depravity: 1822. The following notice appeared in the September 14, 1822 edition of The Times of London:

DISGUSTING DEPRAVITY — On Monday last Benjamin Candler, late valet to the Duke of Newcastle, was committed to Lincoln Castle by Sir R. Heron, Bart., charged with an unnatural offence. On the same day was committed to the same place by the Alderman of Grantham, William Arden, Esq., of Great Pultney-street, Golden-square, London, charged with the same offence; and on Tuesday was committed to the Castle , by the Alderman of Grantham, John Doughty, of Grantham, joiner, charged with the same. A discovery of the abominable intercourse which had been carried on it, it is stated, was made through the circumstance of a letter from Rantham, intended for the valet at Clumber, but accidentally not addressed on the outside, falling into the hands of the Duke of Newcastle. His Grace, on discovering the nature of the contents, proceeded with due caution for furthering the purposes of justice, and the consequence has been the commitment of the above persons to Lincoln Castle for trial at the next assizes. The person committed as an Esquire, was apprehended in London after the first examination of the others at Grantham, and was brought down in safe custody in one of the mail coaches on Sunday morning. We understand that he had apartments at Grantham during the last hunting season.

The “unnatural offence” was a capital crime, and the three men were hanged at Lincoln Castle on March 21, 1823.

ACT UP Protests At NY Stock Exchange: 1989. Chaining themselves to a banister at the New York Stock Exchange and unfurling a sign reading “SELL WELLCOME,” five AIDS activists protested the price set by Burroughs Wellcome for AZT, the only drug that had been approved in the U.S. to fight AIDS. Burroughs Wellcome had been charging from $7,000 to $8,000 per year for the drug, which was far beyond the ability for many people to pay. Four days later, Burroughs Wellcome announced a twenty percent reduction in the wholesale price of the drug. A spokesman denied that the announcement was connected to the high profile protest.

David Wojnarowicz: 1954-1992. In November of 2010, G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, made the executive decision to remove a short silent film A Fire in My Belly by David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” The film, which included a twelve-second scene of ants crawling over a crucifix, was denounced by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue as anti-Catholic “hate speech.” Clough removed the video after complaints from soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), but he neglected to consult co-curator, gay activist and art historian Jonathan David Katz, about the decision. “It was an incredibly stupid decision. I am flabbergasted that they rose to the bait so readily,” he said in an interview after the video was removed. The irony, which was not lost on anyone, is that the whole point of “Hide/Seek” was to highlight the role of sexual difference in American portraiture, including the effects of marginalization (hence, the “hide”). Katz saw history repeating itself:

In 1989 Senator Jesse Helms demonized Robert Mapplethorpe’s sexuality, and by extension, his art, and with little effort pulled a cowering art world to its knees. His weapon was threatening to disrupt the already pitiful federal support for the arts. And once again, that same weapon is being brandished, and once again we cower.

Untitled (One Day This Kid…), 1990. Click to enlarge.

Wojnarowicz, who at 37 died of AIDS in 1992, wasn’t one to cower, although he certainly had the kind of life experiences which might have encouraged him to do so. Born in Red Bank, New Jersey he grew up with an exceptionally cruel and abusive father. After his parents divorced, he and his siblings were bounced back and forth between parents — at one point, his father kidnapped them and took them to Rural Michigan — until they finally ended up with their mother in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. By the time he was sixteen, he ran away from home and was living on the streets. He supported himself through prostitution and became fascinated with the social outcasts he met in abandoned warehouses and on street corners. His graffiti soon morphed into elaborate paintings on the walls of abandoned buildings. At one point, he spent some time in Paris with his sister, where he became more serious about photography and painting. When he returned to New York, his unique brand of confrontational street art found an audience alongside other underground artists like Keith Haring (who Wojnarowicz didn’t get along with).

Wojnarowicz had a combustible personality. When one gallery damaged one of his paintings and refused to repair it, Wojnarowicz retaliated by taking a tire iron to the gallery’s pristine white walls. In 1989, Wojnarowicz wrote a blistering essay, “Postcards form America: X-rays from Hell,” which blasted several public figures, Cardinal O’Connor in particular (“this fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas”). The essay appeared in an exhibition catalogue, prompting the National Endowment for the Arts to rescind its funding for the show. This made Wojnarowicz the newest bogeyman for the religious right. But when the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon copied, distorted, and disseminated Wojnariwicz’s image in a pamphlet as part of a campaign against the NEA, Wojnarowicz sued the AFA and won a historic Supreme Court case which is forever enshrined as David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association (see Apr 8).

Which, of course, makes the Smithsonian’s actions in 2010 all the more relevant. Here is the version of A Fire in My Belly which led the Smithsonian to crumple like a bad suit against Donohue’s charges of blasphemy. This same video was also projected onto the exterior walls of the National Portrait Gallery during a protest over the Smithsonian’s censorship.

David Wojnarowicz’s life is chronicled in Cynthia Carr’s definitive biography Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz, which was released in 2012.

Another one for his fans.

Ben Cohen: 1978. The former England Rugby Union player for Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks, Cohen was already a well-liked gay icon before retiring from professional rugby in 2011. He often speaks highly of his gay following, a fan base which he has rewarded by almost never wearing a shirt. In 2010, he released this video as part of the “It Gets Better” project and, since retiring, he has devoted his time to the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which he established as the world’s first foundation dedicated to combating anti-gay bulling and homophobia. He was inspired by two things in his life: his father was killed when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked, and Cohen’s clinical deafness (he has about a 33% hearing loss in each ear) has made him keenly aware of how being different can make someone stand out.

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 Sunday, September 13

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens, GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Oakland, CA; Roanoke, VA.

Other Events This Weekend: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin, TX; Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany;AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray, AB; Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Days, Las Vegas, NV; Best Buck In the Bay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 5, 1981, page 31.

From The Advocate, March 5, 1981, page 31.


The bar and restaurant with an unusual view of the pool.

The Marlin Beach Hotel was probably more responsible than any single other business for making Ft. Lauderdale a gay mecca in the 1980s. The swank hotel was built in 1952, and it featured a large pool and two restaurants, with the lower restaurant and bar sporting a large acquarium-style window that allowed diners to see other guests swimming underwater. When Where the Boys Are was filmed at the Marlin Beach Hotel in 1960, Ft. Lauderdale’s reputation as a beach party destination was set.

Increasing competition — from other beach locations and the new Walt Disney World in Orlando drained quite a business from Ft. Lauderdale and the Marlin Beach. In 1972, the hotel changed hands, and its new gay owners spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to turned the lush but now-aging property and turned it into the first successful major gay resort of the 1970s. David, a glossy Florida gay lifestyle magazine, provided this brief review of the newly-refurbished resort:

The gays take over.

Where the boys are.

The most popular gay restaurant in town also happens to be a gourmet’s delight . At the Poop Deck in the Marlin Beach Hotel the menu features dishes from all over the world. For example; From the British Isles, Stuffed Pork Chops; From Russia, Chicken Romanoff; From Italy, Chicken Vesuvio Castelli; From Denmark, Poached Turbot with Hollandaise Sauce; From Belgium Roast Duck Montmorency; From Japan , Beef Teryaki; From South Africa , Lobster Tails; From Hungary, Chicken Paprikash and on and on through Argentina, France, Sweden, Israel and the U.S.A., with prices ranging from $3.00 to $8.95. Truly a taste treat …… to say nothing of the view.

About a year later, the Poop Deck became a disco as ads in national publications drew gay people from all over the country. And once some of those boys experienced the legendary disco, afternoon tea dances at the pool, and the tunnel that went below the A1A highway to the beach, more than a few of them saw no reason to go back to Indiana. Joe Jervis remembered his time there:

From a brochure for the Marlin Beach Hotel. (Click to enlarge)

From a brochure for the Marlin Beach Hotel. (Click to enlarge)

It’s where I met my first serious man-crush, in 1978. It’s where I met Sylvester, in the elevator. It’s where I embarrassed myself terribly on my first visit, by swimming to the bottom of the pool at night to investigate the strange flashing lights. Only later that evening did I find out that the lights were shining through the windows of a disco under the pool, and that I’d been cracking everybody up down there with my puzzled, puffed-out cheeks investigation.

The Marlin was not only a popular tourist destination, but it was also the social hub of the local gay community, housing the offices of Center One, Broward County’s first AIDS service organization. In 1986, the Marlin changed hands again, and the new owners tried to turn it into a Spring Break destination for the straight college crowd. That move was disastrous. With its firmly-entrenched reputation as a gay resort, the straight kids didn’t show up. The gays, turned off by the change in emphasis (and with South Beach now overshadowing Ft. Lauderdale as a popular destination), stayed away in droves. The hotel went bankrupt, changed hands again, and went back to being gay. But by then, the damage was done. The hotel fell into disrepair and it became a seedy haven for hustlers and dealers. It closed in 1992, and was demolished and replaced with a massive Marriott tower and mall.

 “Inter Christianos Non Nominandum”: 1892. Talking about homosexuality in the nineteenth century was extremely difficult for one simple reason: if you wanted to talk about it in English, words literally failed. There was no such word as “homosexuality” or anything else resembling it in the English language. Sure, words like “buggery” and “sodomy” were available, but they suggested a criminal or sinful view of homosexuality. And because the emerging medical and psychological professions wanted to approach the subject from an objective, scientific standpoint (or, more precisely, a nineteenth-century approximation of an objective, scientific standpoint), they avoided those words as much as possible. The problem, though, was that there were no other words to turn to. Where English failed, sometimes Latin would suffice: “peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nominandum, or “that horrible crime not to be named among Christians.” But even that was unacceptable, since it still referred to that thing as a “horrible crime.” What they really wanted was something that would uphold the illness model that was beginning to gain acceptance among the more enlightened elements of learned society. But nothing came, at least not in English (see May 6). And so or the better part of a century, it remained unnamed — or at best, awkwardly named — among clinicians, doctors, sociologists or anthropologists either.

During a meeting of the Medical Society of Virginia held at Allegheny Springs on September 13, 1892, Dr. Irving C. Rosse, professor of Nervous Diseases at Georgetown University took his stab at this problem during his lecture, “Sexual Hypochondriasis and Perversion of the Genesic [procreative] Instinct.” Those listed perversions included many things, including what he called, “the superannuated subjects of spermatorrhœa [nocturnal emissions] and venereal excesses now relegated to quacks and the advertisements of religious newspapers.” Those quacks and advertisements, he believed, were the real causes of the “sexual hypochondria” he was seeing. Through much of the nineteenth century, non-procreative sex (and any discharge of semen in non-procreative activity, including nocturnal emissions) was widely believed to be the cause of all sorts of mental and physical ills. These beliefs came from many sources (see Mar 20, Jul 5Oct 16, for a few examples), but in the minds of many in the medical and mental health fields, those beliefs were confirmed by observing that a lot of people in insane asylums masturbated. Because this belief was so widespread, doctors saw all kinds of people in their offices who feared that they may go mad unless their impulses were cured (see Sep 16, for example).

Hence the unnecessary “sexual hypochondria” that Rosse believed was increasing in the population, which he blamed on ignorance and sexual superstitions that plagued society. Rosse contended that leaving the entire field of discussion to nonscientists set a dangerous course. “The Manœuvers of either sex to produce the venereal orgasm independently of the conditions of normal coitus, and known comprehensively as genital abuse, merit the scientific study of the psychiatrist and neurologist, owing to the prevalence and spread of sexual crime and the fact that legal medicine calls for clearer knowledge upon this point.” Rosse tried to add to that “clearer knowledge,” although he too was hobbled by a number of superstitions that were accepted as scientific fact. He described several case studies, personal observations and newspaper accounts, including several accounts of homosexuality among various tribes, cultures, a few infamous clubs in New York City. He even described two male elephants in a zoo which he observed caressing each other in a manner “prohibited by the rules of at least one Christian denomination.” But Rosse lamented that medical professions, who were “clearly the only persons qualified to give trustworthy information in regard to sexual matters,” were hobbled by their timidity in addressing the topic in plain English.

So squeamish are some English-speaking people on this point that they have no terms to designate the “nameless crime” that moves in the dark. Many of the Continental writers, however, make no attempt to hide the matter under a symbolic veil, and deal with it in terms as naked and unequivocal as those used by the old historians, from whom hundreds of citations might be made, and this too without incurring the reproach of pedantry.

In fact, it would be Continental writers who would eventually provide the English language with the words that we would eventually use to talk about all sorts of sexual matters. The German word “Homosexualität” finally made its English appearance at around 1894, but it was slow to catch on as the anglicized “homosexuality” (see May 6). Rosse pointed to other words which he felt might be useful: “irrumation” and “fellatrice,” as he rendered them in a quasi-English form. I don’t know whether he paused during his talk to define them, but when Rosse’s lecture was published in the November 1892 edition of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, he helpfully provided these definitions in the footnotes:

These terms not being Englished the following definitions are given:
Irrumare: penem in os arrigere.

Fellatrix: dicitur ea quæ vel labris vel lingua perfricandi atque exsugendi officium peni præstat.

That’s right, like the peccatum illud horribile, Rosse reverted to Latin for his definitions of what we now know as active and passive fellatio. Rosse’s protestations notwithstanding, the lifting of the symbolic veil among English language writers would have to wait another generation before sexuality would cease to be inter christianos non nominandum.

[Source. Irvine C. Rosse. “Sexual hypochondriasis and perversion of the genesic instinct.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 17, no. 11 (November 1892): 795-811. You can find contemporary discussions of his lectures published in other medical journals here, here and here.]

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that's how they rolled.

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that’s how they rolled.

 FBI Memorandum Calls for Information on Gay Government Employees: 1951. As Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) twinned Red and Lavender Scares continued to wreck havoc with thousands of innocent lives across America, Herbert Hoover’s FBI was determined not to be left behind in the contest to see who could be more anti-Communist or anti-homosexual. On September 13, 1951, the FBI issued another of its many regular Bureau Bulletins to its field offices with that week’s set of instructions. Bulletin Number 38 touched on a number of topics: the interstate transportation of stolen cattle, new rules on intra-bureau correspondence, changes to travel regulations, charges for long distance calls, a request to provide information “on any Communist Party member or sympathizer (who) is contemplating travel abroad,” and a lengthy request for information on any known or suspected homosexuals among government employees:

(F) SEX DEVIATES IN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SERVICE — The Seat of Government has been receiving an increasing number of reports, arrest records, and allegations concerning present and past employees of the United States Government, who assertedly are sex deviates. The Bureau has no investigative jurisdiction over sex deviates, but when an allegation is received that a present or former civilian employee of any branch of the United States Government is a sex deviate, such information is furnished to the Un1ted States Civil Service Commission. If the person is presently employed by the United States Government, the employing agency is likewise furnished a summary of the information. Information concerning members of the National Military Establishment 1s furnished to the Intelligence Unit of that particular agency.

All of the police departments throughout the country were notified in the May, 1950,issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and again by letter dated July 26, 1950, to place a notation on the arrest fingerprint card that the subject was an employee of the Federal Government. They were also requested to set forth the name of the Department or Agency and the position occupied. Hence, it will be unnecessary to solicit this information from the police departments. Normally, a fingerprint card with the above-described data on it will suffice if the fingerprint card has been furnished to the Bureau’s Identification Division.

Whenever information is received in the field, either from the police, a complainant, or through any other sources of information, it w111 be necessary to consolidate the information and transmit it to the Bureau by letter captioned as above. This letter should include (1) the name of the alleged sex deviate as well as the name of any other alleged deviates with whom he associated, (2) the date and place that the alleged act of sexual perversion occurred, (3) the identity of the individual’s United States Government employment, (4) any other pertinent facts, including the [illegible] where the person 1s arrested.

Your letter should specifically point out the source of the information, whether or not that information should be treated as confidential, or whether the name of the source may be used by the Bureau in disseminating the information to the United States Civil Service Commission and the employing agency.

Whenever information of this nature is received during the course of a regular Bureau investigation, such should, of course, be incorporated in the regular investigative report and it will be unnecessary to furnish the information to the Bureau by supplemental cover letter.

With specific reference to Loyalty of Government Employees cases, it has been the Bureau policy to accept information of a derogatory nature relating to the character and personal habits of an employee if volunteered. Such information has been reflected in an investigative report as information volunteered and no attempt has been made to develop this data by supplemental inquiry. This policy is now changed to the following extent: when information is received during the course of a full field loyalty investigation or a preliminary inquiry indicating the person under investigation is a sex deviate, this allegation should be completely and fully developed and the facts reported. This procedure must be placed in effect immediately and followed closely.

[Source: “FBI records regarding Sex Offenders Foreign Intelligence; Sex Degenerates and Sex Offenders; Sex Perverts in Government Service, 1950 – 1966.” Response to a Freedom of Information Act request from (Dated May 6, 2009, posted Aug 21, 2009): 28-29. Posted online here (PDF: 2MB/42 pages).]

 Broward County Fires Employee with AIDS: 1984. In January 1984, Todd Shuttleworth learned that he had AIDS. Eight months later, he was fired from his job as budget analyst for Broward County, Florida. News reports at that time show  that it was already well known that AIDS could not be casually transmitted. But Shuttleworth’s boss, John Canada, defended the firing, saying, “We just couldn’t take the chance of anything happening to employees or to anyone visiting the office.”

The following January, Broward County fired a second employee, mail clerk Donald Fanus. County Administrator Floyd Johnson defended that firing on the same grounds: “I have wrestled with it. I have a responsibility to protect all of Broward County’s workforce, and the general public that is served by the workforce.”

Fanus, who had developed Kaposi’s sarcoma, declined to appeal his firing, but Shuttleworth chose to fight. As he explained in a 1986 op-ed published in the Sun-Sentinel, he had nothing to lose:

Every young gay who learns to accept him or herself has more guts, courage and moral strength that all the Bible-thumping bigots and fag-bashing punks combined.

One does not choose to be gay or, I presume, “choose” to be straight. But there are many choices that have been made by many people during the AIDS crisis. Broward County officials chose to ignore their own doctor`s advice and decided to fire me. They chose not to bother to contact the acknowledged AIDS experts at the AIDS clinic in Miami, at the Centers for Disease Control, or at state or national public health departments. They denied my request for a hearing to present medical and scientific evidence to show that my dismissal was based on their irrational fear rather than rational decision-making, or the facts.

A few months ago, when the Human Relations Board first ruled that my firing as a budget analyst due to AIDS was unwarranted, County Administrator Floyd Johnson responded by saying that he had always tried to be fair to employees with AIDS. The choices he`s made in this effort included immediately terminating my health insurance and firing me without severance pay. The educational benefits I needed to complete the few hours left for my master`s degree were discontinued and it took my former employers more than a year to replace a lost paycheck despite numerous letters and phone calls and an obviously desperate need.

My life insurance was cut off and I was informed by the insurance company that in order to be eligible for extended coverage my former employer would have to initiate the required paperwork. Twenty-six months, and several phone calls and letters later, my former employers never displayed the common decency of even acknowledging my request. Only recently, nearly a year after the Human Relations Board first ruled against the county and county officials were forced to change their AIDS policy, did I receive an offer of back pay and reinstatement.

Surely that is not fair.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Shuttleworth sued the county, which was the only known public employer in a major metropolitan area to declare an official policy to fire people with AIDS. Nancy Langer, spokesperson for Lambda Legal, remarked, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a government being so stupid as to put down in black and white a policy of discrimination.”

Noel Pfeffer, Broward’s deputy general council and author of the policy, countered, “The chances of transmission to other county employees appear to be somewhat remote. On the other hand, you’re not transmitting a common cold.” He also claimed to have consulted “medical authorities” before formulating the policy, but the only medical authority named was Dr. Peter Babinski, a dermatologist. Babinski had treated 15 men with Kaposi’s sarcoma, a common opportunistic infection for people with AIDS at the time. He also publicly opposed Broward County’s policy, telling the Miami Herald, “There is no risk we can ssee of people catching AIDS in the workplace.”

More than two years later, and just before the case was to go to trial with virtually the entire medical establishment lined up in opposition to the policy, Broward County offered Shuttleworth his job back. But they made sure to keep the window to accept the offer exceptionally brief. Shuttleworth was in San Francisco undergoing treatment, and couldn’t make it back to Fort Lauderdale in time to answer the offer. ACLU lawyer Larry Corman told reporters that the job offer shows that the county realizes it made a mistake. “Everybody recognizes the county is acknowledging that Todd doesn’t represent a health risk to the people with whom he has casual contact,” he said. “I will never understand why it took so long for them to recognize this and try to minimize their losses.” But the county’s attorney, Gordon Rogers, admitted that the offer was a cynical ploy to “(cut) off any obligations to him” for any future insurance claims. With his AIDS being a pre-existing condition, he would not have been reinstated.

In December 1986, just three days before Shuttleworth’s $15 million lawsuit was to go to trial, he and Broward county settled out of court. Shuttleworth got his job back along with $190,000 in compensation, medical costs and legal  fees. Broward county refused to admit wrongdoing, but agreed to follow federal regulations barring discrimination in future cases. Unfortunately, Shuttleworth’s health had deteriorated in the intervening two years. After a week at work, he became ill again and returned to San Francisco for treatment. On July 25, 1987, Shuttleworth died at the age of 34.

 Jerry Falwell Blames Gays For 9/11: 2001. The ashes were still smoldering at the site of the World Trade Center, the western facade of the Pentagon, and an abandoned strip mine in rural Pennsylvania. The relatives, friends and co-workers of three thousand dead were still grappling with their loss, and three hundred million Americans were still numb from shock. The search for victims had just barely begun, the search for heroes led to the first responders in New York and Washington, D.C. and the 33 brave passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, and the search for the guilty case a glare on Islamists extremists. At least that’s the reaction of normal people. For others obsessed with a wider net of enemies, that wasn’t enough. On Thursday, September 13, 2001, Jerry Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, and together they accused a wide assortment of enemies responsible for the worst tragedy to strike American soil since Pearl Harbor:

Falwell: What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

Robertson: Well Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

Falwell: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

Robertson: Oh, yes.

Falwell: And I know I’ll hear from them for this but throwing God out successfully with the help of the court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools… The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, “you helped this happen.”

Robertson: Well I totally concur.

The next day, Falwell reportedly apologized in a phone call to CNN, but it wasn’t much of an apology. “I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize,” he told CNN, before citing scripture to back up what he originally said. “I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says ‘living by God’s principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,” he said.

Robert Indiana

 Robert Indiana: 1928. His original name is Robert Clark, the adopted son of an oil company manager and his wife in New Castle, Indiana. Young Robert was moved around Indiana 21 times in his first seventeen years of life. After serving three years in the military, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949 to 1953, then at Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh College of Art from 1953 to 1954.

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (Source)

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (source)

He then returned to New York and began making creating his iconic paintings and sculptures, often consisting of numbers and short words like EAT (often paired with DIE) and HUG. His EAT/DIE series (1962) was inspired by the last word spoken to him by his mother shortly before she died. By then, he had already adopted the surname of Indiana to better reflect the Americanness of his work. In 1964, he received a commission from the Museum of Modern Art for a Christmas Card design. His design featured the words “Love is God.” Playing off of the word LOVE, Indiana created a series of images that resulted in his most popular image of all: The four red block letters against a blue and green background, with each letter taking up an entire quadrant and the O on the top right quadrant tilted.

LOVE struck a resonant chord with the emerging youth culture of the mid-1960s, becoming one of the most widely copied images of all time. The image graced bumper stickers, tee-shirts, key chains, coffee cups, towels, jewelry and just about anything else a logo could be stamped, silkscreened or printed on. Unfortunately, Indiana failed to copyright his signature design, and so he didn’t profit from its popularity, although he did receive a $1,000 commission to create a version for a U.S. postage stamp. When the stamp came out in 1973, it became the most popular stamp ever issued by the U.S. post office.

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

The art establishment turned its collective nose up at Indiana, more so because of the popular success of LOVE rather than the actual artistic merit of his wider work. In 1978, he moved to an old abandoned Oddfellows Hall in Vinalhaven, Maine, where he set up a home and studio and continued painting and creating sculptures. Being openly gay in rural Maine didn’t endear him to locals, and he often found the front plate glass windows in the old Oddfellows Hall broken out. He eventually boarded them up. After 9/11 in 2001, he painted images of American flags on the plywood. He also painted a series he called the Peace Paintings, which were exhibited in New York in 2004.

In 2008, Indiana returned to his LOVE design and created HOPE, and donated the proceeds from its reproductions to then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. HOPE raised more than a million dollars. For Valentine’s Day 2011, he created a special Google Doodle based on LOVE. That same year, as 12-foot LOVE sculture sold at auction for $4.1 million.

 Randy Jones: 1952. The Village People’s original cowboy, Jones grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where he was the founder of his high school’s drama club. It was his exposure to theater which gave Jones a leg up with Jacques Morali decided to hastily assemble a permanent group of singers to tour in support pf a surprise hit for what was, until then, a non-existant band of disco singers. Until then, the Village People were simply Victor Willis (the cop) and five dancers in costumes. Jones replaced Dave Forrest in 1978 (two others were replaced with more seasoned performers at the same time) and the Village People was born. Jones remained with the Village People from 1978 to 1980, and then rejoined the group in 1987 through 1991. Since then he has recorded several solo albums and continues to perform in New York and elsewhere. In 2013, Jones married his podner of 29 years, Will Grega, in New York City.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 12

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens, GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Chula Vista, CA; Humboldt/Eureka, CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Oakland, CA; Roanoke, VA; Savannah, GA; Spartanburg, SC; Torquay, UK; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin, TX; Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray, AB; Gay Day at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ; Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Days, Las Vegas, NV; Best Buck In the Bay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Come Out!, the Gay Liberation Front's official newspaper, January 10, 1970, page 2.

From Come Out!, the Gay Liberation Front’s official newspaper, January 10, 1970, page 2.

Kathy Braun, writing in the April 1970 edition of Come Out!, described one of the GLF’s Gay Community Dances:

The Dance, by Kathy Braun.

On Friday, February 6, GLF held another of its continuing series of dances at Alternate U — 530 6th Ave, The purposes which we set out for the dances were, to provide an alternative to the exploitive gay bars in the city, to raise money for a GLF Community Center, and to politicize the homosexuals hanging around this town.

This particular dance was held a sa benefit for COME OUT with any money over the needs of the paper to go back into the Community Center Fund. The dances are sponsored by the Aquarius Cell and anybody wishing further information on any detail may check with the people involved. $667, was netted profit, and as of publication, no determination has been made about the distribution to the paper and the center.

The light show, by , [sic] seemed good. To tell the truth, I was paying more attention to the people but at the next dance I’ll give it more attention. The choice of restricting the light show to a section of the floor was superb in that it provided people with a choice instead of imposing a show on them.

The records played were exciting, danceable, and at the right volume. My current favorite song is “And the World will be a Better Place” but I couldn’t even tell you if it played since I go around singing in my head all the time, in counterpoint to “Everyday People.”

The dancing was of the usual superlative quality. Them queers can sure shake a leg.

As theatre, Beck & Malina couldn’t ask for more. I couldn’t certainly. 600 people, music, lights, costumes, kissing, seductions, promises made, truths explored, conflicts, politics. Hit it, sisters & brothers.

Alternative to the Gay Bars — Sensational. Who wants to go to a bar when you can get 600 dancing partners, a light show, and free coat check all for a contribution of $1.50, with drinks only a quarter.

Raise Money for Center — Hotcha! $943 in the safe deposit box already. Right on!

Politicize — This is the beauty part. Although I feel that GLF is not unified on its specific approach to politics (and need it be?) the underlying theory that prevails is that effective politics must be based on CARING ABOUT PEOPLE and it is this theory which permeates the actions of every member of GLF and communicates directly to the people who come to the dances. Although there are some people who get together and talk politics, most people are simply dancing, looking, listening, groping, drinking, laughing, having fun, being CARED about. Gorgeous.

 John Vassall Arrested for Spying: 1962. No one ever bothered to ask how a low level British Admiralty clerk earning £908 a year was able to afford a home in London’s Dolphin Square apartment complex, which had been home to such illustrious residents as Charles de Gaulle, C.P. Snow and Sir Oswald Mosley. Nor did they pay much attention to his 36 Savile Row suits, three cashmere overcoats, tailored silk shirts, or exotic holidays.

They should have, particularly since Vassall held a Top Secret clearance with the Royal Navy. But British investigators didn’t begin poking around until December 1961, when a KGB agent, Anatoli Golitsin, defected to the United States and spilled the beans about Soviet agents working in the West, including two spies in the Admiralty. MI5 agents decided that one of them might by Vassall, but didn’t act for more than a year. Then in June of 1962, another KGB agent, Yuri Nosenko, began providing further evidence of Vassall’s spying. Even then, MI6 held off for three more months, until September 12, 1962, when Vassall was finally arrested and charged with spying for the Soviet Union.

Vassall confessed immediately: about the spying, about the cameras and films hidden in his apartment, about the documents that he stole, and about how he got into the spying business for the Soviets. It began in 1952 when he was a member of the Naval Attaché at the British Embassy in Moscow, where he found himself socially isolated on several fronts: a Brit in Moscow, a common civil servant among upper-class officers and diplomats, and, crucially, a homosexual at a time when it was illegal both in Britain and in the Soviet Union. Through a Polish worker at the embassy, Vassall became connected with Moscow’s gay underground. In 1954, he was invited to a party — which was actually a classic “honey trap” set up by the KGB — where Vassall was encouraged to become extremely drunk, and where he was photographed in compromising positions with several men. The Soviets used those photos to blackmail Vassell, and he became their agent for the next eight years.

In 1956, Vassall was assigned to the Admiralty, where he photographed secret documents and passed them to his KGB handlers in exchange for money. The documents he passed to the Soviets included specifications for British radar, torpedoes, nuclear weapons, anti-submarine equipment, and tactics. When Golitsin defected in 1961, the Soviets ordered Vassall to stop working and return his camera. Then Nosenko began providing information about Vassall to the CIA in Geneva right about when the Soviets gave Vassall his camera back and ordered him to resume spying. It is now suspected that Nosenko, who never defected and whose information about other spies proved to be unreliable, may have set Vassall up to protect a more valuable spy at the Admiralty. When Vassall made his full confession following his arrests, he insisted that he had not stolen some of the documents that Golitsin said he stole.

Vassall was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, of which he served ten. A public enquiry the following year, known as the Vassall Tribunal, tried to determine who in the Admiralty was to blame for the lax security oversight. Tam Galbraith, Civil Lord of the Admiralty, who was Vassall’s boss, was singled out for special scrutiny amid rumors that the he and Vassal had been lovers. Galbraith was declared innocent on all accounts, as were his other superiors in the Admiralty.

Vassall’s arrest also reignited the debate over Britain’s criminalization of male homosexuality. Five years earlier, the Wolfenden Commission had recognized that making gay men criminals exposed them to blackmail and extortion, and recommended that criminal penalties be lifted (see Sep 4), but Parliament refused to act. Now, it seemed that the time was right to revisit that decision. Peter Black, writing for the Daily Mail in 1963, argued:

The point is that though homosexuals  are no more inclined to treachery than you are. the law as it stands gives the Communists a lever against them which they have over nobody else.  If Vassall had not been a homosexual, and subject to this law, the Russians might have got him anyway. I think he had a predisposition to treachery. But they could not have blackmailed him into it.

Homosexuals are specially vulnerable to blackmailers because they cannot appeal to the protection of the law. The  blackmailer threatens him  with exposure. It he goes to the police exposure is what he’ll get anyway; for the police can, and sometimes do, charge the victim for participating in the offences he is being blackmailed about. So the law sharpens the threat of exposure and sharpens the wits of those vulnerable to it.

Those arguments however went nowhere, and homosexual relations between men remained a criminal act until 1967 (see Jul 28).

After Vassall’s release from prison in 1972, he wrote Vassall: The Autobiography of a Spy, which was published in 1975. He then changed his surname to Phillips and lived out the rest of his life in obscurity. He died in 1995 of a heart attack at the age of 71 in St. John’s Wood, north London. In 2006, details of his confession were released by the National Archives.

 Gay Liberation Front Protests Village Voice: 1969. More than two months had passed since the landmark Stonewall uprising, but New York’s news media was still unable to grapple with what that night of defiance really meant. On the day following the riot, The New York Times buried its story on page thirty-three, where it didn’t even bother to mention why the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were fighting. The New York Daily News reported the whole thing, on page thirty, from the police’s point of view (“3 Cops Hurt As Bar Raid Riles Crowd”). The Daily News followed on  July 6 with their infamous report, “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.”

If it weren’t for the Village Voice’s extensive coverage, much of what we know about Stonewall might have been lost to history. The Voice did have one advantage that New York’s more powerful media didn’t: it was located on Christopher Street, just a few doors down from the Stonewall. The July 3 edition of the weekly newspaper featured two front page stories about the riot: “Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square” by Lucian Truscott IV, who reported what took place outside of the Stonewall. A second reporter, Howard Smith, arrived at the scene during the first raid just as police were loosing control of the crowd. Smith got caught up inside the bar where police had retreated for protection from the crowd. Smith described that experience in “From the Inside: Full Moon Over The Stonewall.”

While the Voice’s reporting on the rebellion was the most thorough and detailed of all the city’s news outlets, it wasn’t above the kind of mocking tone and prejudicial stereotypes that were typical at that time. Truscott wrote of “the forces of faggotry,” the “blatant queens” with “limped wrists and primed hair” battling police, which he described as “the city’s finest.” Smith’s report was less colorful, yet he couldn’t resist calling one lesbian a “dyke.” In his July 10 Voice column, Walter Troy Spencer called the riot “the Great Faggot Rebellion,” and laced his entire column with sneering disdain (“…a lot of that weekend’s swishy cruising on the streets around the Stonewall had gotten flamboyant and aggressive…”).

From the Village Voice, August 7, 1969, page 46. (Click to enlarge.)

From the Village Voice, August 7, 1969, page 46. (Click to enlarge.)

Immediately following the riot, the gay community began to organize. In August, the newly formed Gay Liberation Front (see Jul 27) tried to place two small ads in Village Voice. One ad in the free Bulletin Board section on page two was to publicize the GLF’s community dances, and the other one, a paid ad for the classified section, was to announced the forthcoming publication of the GLF’s new newspaper, Come Out! The second ad was supposed to have the headline “Gay Power to Gay People,” but Voice staff deleted the lead-in without notifying the GLF.  They also changed the Bulletin Board ad to read “Homophile Dance” instead of Gay Community Dance.”

When the August 7 edition of the Voice came out, GLF members discovered the deletions. At the GLF’s next general meeting, there was a great deal of discussion about the Voice’s unilateral editing of the ads. They decided to give it another try and place another ad to advertise the Gay Community Dance planned for September 5th. The ad was accepted, but the person who placed the ad received a phone call from someone at the Voice the next day to say that it was Voice policy to refuse to print obscene words in classified ads and that the using the the word “gay” to refer to, well, gay people, was obscene — even though the Voice routinely accepted, without question, ads for apartments from landlords specifying “no gays.” The Voice saw itself as one of the most liberal papers in the country, and it defined its liberalism as allowing its writers to say anything they wanted. That meant that writers were allowed to write about “faggots” and “blatant queens” with the full support of editors and management. even though no writer would have dreamed of using derogatory language to describe blacks or other minority groups. But that freedom ended at the Voice’s advertising, where the Gay Liberation Front was barred from using the word “gay.” They weren’t even allowed to use the word “homosexual.” That, too, was just as bad as “gay.”

GLF Protesters in front of the Voice. From Come Out!, November 11, 1969, page 11.

GLF Protesters in front of the Voice. From Come Out!, November 11, 1969, page 10.

The Gay Liberation Front struck back with a protest at the Village Voice on Friday morning, September 12 at 9:00 a.m, demanding a meeting with publisher Ed Fancher. The protest went on all day as Fancher stubbornly refused to meet with the group. Later that afternoon, a protester tried to place a classified ad reading, “The Gay Liberation Front sends love to all Gay men and women in the homosexual community.” That ad was rejected. But soon after, Fancher agreed to meet three of the protesters’ representatives. This is how the premiere issue of Come Out! described the meeting:

Once inside and upstairs, the representatives encountered a cry of outrage that GLF has chosen the Village Voice as a target (sooo liberal we are). The suggestion was made that we negotiate the three points in dispute I )changing classified ads without knowledge or consent of purchaser, 2) use of the words “Gay” and “homosexual” in classifieds, and 3) the contemptuous attitude of the Village Voice toward the Gay Community. GLF explained that the two issues involving classified ad policy were not negotiable and that the substance of the paper should be of legitimate concern to a responsible publisher. Ed Fancher replied that the Village Voice exercised no censorship of its articles, and that if a writer wanted to say derogatory things about faggots, he could not in good conscience stop him. Fancher also said that we had no right to tamper with “freedom of the press.”

This GLF accepted with the absolute understanding that Gay Power has the right to return and oppose anything the Village Voice staff chooses to include in the paper. On the Classified Ads policy he conceded completely. He said that not only would the Voice not alter Ads after payment, but that in Classified Ads the words “Gay” and “homosexual” per se were no longer issues. One of the GLF representatives in the upstairs office stepped to the window facing Seventh Avenue and flashed the V for Victory sign to the waiting crowd below. WE HAD WON!

The Voice’s next edition didn’t see fit to report on the protest at its front door, but the GLF’s tiny ad did appear in that issue’s Bulletin Board.

From the Village Voice, September 18, 1969, "Bulletin Board" on page 2: The Gay Liberation Front ad that was so "obscene" (Click to enlarge.)

From the Village Voice, September 18, 1969, page 2: The Gay Liberation Front ad that was so “obscene” (Click to enlarge.)

[Sources: Untitled article. Come Out! 1, no. 1 (November 11, 1969): 10. Available online here.

Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 88-91.]

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 11

Jim Burroway

September 11th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens, GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Chula Vista, CA; Humboldt/Eureka, CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Oakland, CA; Roanoke, VA; Savannah, GA; Spartanburg, SC; Torquay, UK; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin, TX; Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray, AB; Gay Day at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ; Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Days, Las Vegas, NV; Best Buck In the Bay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Michelle International Souvenir Program, 1962. Available online here.

From the Michelle International Souvenir Program, 1962. (Source.)

San Francisco’s Club Dori didn’t start out as a gay bar when it first opened in 1961, but it quickly became one when Doris “Dori” Jennings realized that the city’s gay population was largely educated, professional, very sociable, and often had disposable income. Club Dori quickly became one of San Francisco’s most popular gay bars:

Tucked away on Presidio Avenue near California Street in the shadow of the old Jewish Community Center, Club Dori was one of the city’s first neighborhood oases of its kind for discreet, upscale, professional homosexuals. Within a year or two after it opened its doors to the gay community in the mid-sixties, it was the “in” place where gay men could walk in the front door and come out of the closet for a few hours. Men whose careers would be jeopardized by exposure of their sexual preference — city officials, legislators, attorneys, bankers, stockbrokers, doctors and TV anchors, among others — flocked to Club Dori. …Scores of men who were revered for their contributions to the mainstream world, yet were still society’s outcasts for their clandestine personal lives, found refuge and respect at Club Dori. Over time, Dori herself became the “queen mother” to a generation of young gay men who blazed the way for a citywide coming out party during the liberalized 1960s and 1970s.

Dr. Karl Bowman explaining Kinsey’s 1948 study on KQED’s “The Rejected.”

 KQED Airs “The Rejected”: 1961. The year was a monumental one as American opened itself to the modern world in ways that it hadn’t done before. The youngest elected president in history had just taken the oath of office, succeeding the oldest president then in history, Hollywood was about to relax its ban on overt displays of homosexuality (see Oct 3), and Jess Stearn’s book, The Sixth Man, provided the sensational claim that one in six men in America was “affected” by homosexuality. KQED, San Francisco’s public television station, had a reputation for tackling controversial subjects, and now the time was ripe to tackle what was perhaps one of the most controversial topics of all.

The idea for a documentary on homosexuality came to John W. Reavis, Jr., who spent several months researching and conducting background interviews with experts with backgrounds in medicine, anthropology, religion, law, government and business. He also sought the participation of members of the Mattachine Society. Initially titled “The Gay Ones,” Reavis tried to sell the documentary to the major networks. But finding no backers there, Reavis found a ready reception with KQED’s co-founder Jonathan Rice and general manager James Day.

Over the objections of one of the board members who threatened to resign, Reavis’s documentary project, now renamed “The Rejected,” went forward with a $100 budget and filmed segments featuring interviews anthropologist Margaret Mead (her own lesbianism wasn’t revealed at that time) and Mattachine members Hall Call (see Sep 20), Don Lucas and Les Fisher, who spoke openly as gay men. Episcopal Bishop James Pike spoke of gay people as being just like “anyone else with an illness,” deserving compassion and care. San Francisco psychiatrist Karl Bowman countered the suggestion that homosexuality was an illness, let alone a curable one. “The attitudes of some people is to try to treat it in an entirely punitive way,” he said. Albert Bendich, a lawyer and former ACLU attorney called statutes seeking to outlaw same-sex conduct “not enforceable.”

Mattachine Society executive director Howard Call and secretary Don Lucas, during a filmed interview for “The Rejected.”

Call explained that part of his group’s aims was “to dispel part of this stereotyped picture” and to change the law against homosexuality. Reavis shared the goal of dispelling stereotypes, carefully constructing the program to establish a gay stereotype in the minds of viewers and then methodically destroying that stereotype. According to Reavis’s original proposal for the documentary, “the viewer should be left, if anything, with a feeling he is confused and that society as a whole is confused about homosexuality.” One brief segment was even filmed at San Francisco’s famed Black Cat bar (see Aug 28)

The hour-long documentary aired at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, September 11. Typical of most programs about homosexuality, “The Rejected” did not include lesbians. But it was perhaps the first scripted documentary to discuss homosexuality from a calm and rational point of view. Response was mostly positive. KQED was inundated with letters following the broadcast, with many of them requests for transcripts. Only a tiny minority, 3% according to station officials, wrote to complain. “The Rejected” also received critical acclaim, with the San Francisco Chronicle saying “KQED handled the subject soberly, calmly and in great depth.” It also received national notice, and was broadcast on several other public TV stations between 1961 and 1963, including in Tucson, Los Angeles, Portland and New York.

For the next five decades, it was thought that the video tape of the documentary was lost, leaving only only transcripts and news reports to describe the program. After a six year search through film and video archives, an archivist for the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive was finally able to locate a sixty-minute version of “The Rejected” deep in the bowels of the Library of Congress. The video tape was in awful shape. This year, a cleaned-up and partially-restored version was posted amid great celebration at the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive and on YouTube. The search continues for a longer version — 120 minute, 89 minute, and 74 minute versions were created. One of those linger versions may include those scenes from inside the Black Cat.

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 41-42.

Bob Connelly. “A television coming out story from 1961.” The Advocate (September 21, 2011): available online.

Stephen Tropiano. The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV (New York: Applause Theater and Cinema, 2002): 5-7.]

 Marc-André Raffalovich: 1864-1934. Born in Paris to Russian Jewish emigrés, Raffalovoch studied in Oxford and settled in London in 1882, where he opened a salon in the 1890s. It seemed only natural for him; his mother kept a successful salon in Paris, attracting such notable figures as Sarah Bernardt, Colette, and Gustave Moreay. But Oscar Wilde found the younger Raffalovich’s events wanting. “Dear André! He came to London to found a salon and only succeeded in opening a saloon.” Raffalovich, in turn, was uncomfortable with what he took to be Wilde’s wild sexuality.

Raffalovich published several works poetry and fiction between 1884 and 1896, but few were notable except for their omission of gender when describing the object of his desires. Non-fiction was where Raffalovich made his reputation. In 1896, he published Uranisme et Unisexualité, which established him as an expert on homosexuality. It is also where Raffalovich laid out his argument that homosexuality was only pure and noble when practiced by a “sublime invert” — who fulfills his desires not through his sexuality but through artistic endeavors and spiritual friendships. This naturally put him on a collision course with other gay advocates such as Edward Carpenter and Magnus Hirschfeld, the latter who Raffalovich accused of advocating for moral decline and the destruction of whole generations. In 1897, Raffalovich started work in  Annales de l’unisexualité, and Les Chroniques de l’unisexualité, in which he embarked on an ambitious effort to document everything ever published about homosexuality. These works remain useful to historians to this day, and they remain perhaps his most important work.

But soon after, Raffalovich turned away from the subject. In 1892, he met John Gray (See Mar 2), a young poet in Oscar Wilde’s circle of friends (some say Gray was the inspiration for Dorian Gray). Raffalovich followed Gray into Catholicism, and after Gray was ordained a priest and assigned to a parish in Edinburgh, Raffalovich followed him there, too, purchasing a home nearby and provided important financial support for the parish. Raffalovich established another salon there where guests included novelist Henry James, art scholar Herbert Read, and sculptor Aelred Whitacre. Raffalovich and Gray maintained separate homes, but their friendship was known as something more than that of “just friends,” despite being very formal with each other in public. When Raffalovich died suddenly in 1934, Gray was devastated. He became ill and died just four months later.

 Kristy McNichol: 1962. Born and raised in L.A., she got her start in acting with the help of family friend Desi Arnaz. In 1976, she was cast for the part of Buddy Lawrence for the ABC drama series Family, which was one of those oh-so-earnest “real life issues” dramas that often made 1970s television so unwatchable. McNichol’s Buddy (in my opinion) was perhaps the only thing that made the program bearable, for which she earned two Emmys for Best Supporting Actress. (There must have been something in the water on the Family set; the program also featured Meredith Baxter (see Jun 21).) It helped that her off-screen personality was as engaging as her acting skills, making her a popular guest on talk shows and Battle of the Network Stars. She began her film career in 1978 in The End, starring Burt Reynolds, before moving on to more notable turns in 1980’s Little Darlings and 1981’s The Nights the Lights Went Out in Georgia. She also earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Neil Simon’s Only When I Laugh.

It looked as though McNichol was going to be one of those rare child stars to successfully navigate the treacherous transition to adult acting, when her behavior become erratic and her attendance on sets unreliable. Rumors swirled that she was using drugs, but it turns out that she was actually suffering from bipolar disorder. When she was diagnosed in 1992, she decided to retire from acting. Since then, she’s been teaching acting at a private school in L.A., and she’s been active in local charity work. In 2012, she surprised almost no one when she decided to come out as a lesbian after reading about several suicides of LGBT teens.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 10

Jim Burroway

September 10th, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens, GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Chula Vista, CA; Humboldt/Eureka, CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Oakland, CA; Roanoke, VA; Savannah, GA; Spartanburg, SC; Torquay, UK; Worcester, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin, TX; Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Pride Night Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); AIDS Walk, Ft. McMurray, AB; Gay Day at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ; Womenfest, Key West, FL; Gay Days, Las Vegas, NV; Best Buck In the Bay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 49.

From David, May 1972, page 49.

The Sweet Gum Head opened in November 1971 and became one of Atlanta’s most popular bars and dance clubs. It’s legendary drag shows and contests helped to make Atlanta one of the leading cities for drag performers in America. In its later years, the Sweet Gum Head’s reputation for having some of the country’s best drag acts made it a popular stop for straight tourists as well. It’s also where puppeteer/ventriloquist Wayland Flowers got his start. As far as I can tell, the Sweet Gum Head lasted about ten years or so before closing down. Until very recently, the location was home to Bliss, a strip club tucked behind a Precision Tune.

Atlanta Eagle

 Atlanta Police Raid The Eagle: 2009. More than forty years after Stonewall, and a few police departments still hadn’t gotten the word that raiding gay bars with impunity was so last century. Only three months after Ft. Worth police raided the Rainbow Lounge (see Jun 28), at least nine undercover Atlanta police officers entered the Atlanta Eagle posing as customers, allegedly for the purpose of conducting a criminal investigation. It was underwear night at the Eagle, and four dancers and some of the patrons were there wearing garments that covered about as much of their bodies as would be seen on most beaches and city pools. At around 11:00 p.m., the undercover officers signaled for a full raid to begin. At least twelve officers burst in for a SWAT-style raid with guns drawn and ordered everyone down on the floor. For the next two hours, patrons were forced to lay face down amid spilled beer and broken glass as police checked everyone’s ID — without a warrant — entered everyone’s name into a police computer, and hurled general insults to everyone in the bar: “You people make me sick.” “I hate fags.” “This is fun; we should do this every week.” Questions were answered with “Shut the fuck up!”

Eight employees were arrested and jailed for “providing adult entertainment without a city permit.” Dancing in underwear was the “adult entertainment.” They were detailed well until the following afternoon when two Atlanta City Council candidates intervened. Police claimed that they were acting on complaints of “illicit sex” at the Eagle, although no one was charged for that crime. Police at other times claimed that drugs were being sold, although no drugs were found on anyone there. Meanwhile, the APD’s LGBT Liaison Officer was kept completely out of the loop. She didn’t know the raid was taking place until she was contacted by the media, and nearly twenty-four hours later she still didn’t have access to basic information such as how many officers were on the scene or who was arrested on what charges.

The following month, the Atlanta Eagle and several patrons filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, the Chief of Police, and forty-eight officers of the Atlanta Police Department. Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal, who filed the lawsuit on the Eagle’s behalf, said, “If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then the APD should change its procedures.” The following March, the staff and dancers who had been arrested were found not guilty, in proceedings that only added to the pressure against the city and police department.

In response to growing public outrage over the raid, the Atlanta City Council commissioned a special outside investigation. In June of 2010, the 343-page report found widespread perjury by police officers in sworn testimony and in affidavits about what happened that night. Ten individual officers were identified by name for lying. Other violations found included destruction of evidence, unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment, intentional violation of constitutional rights, and anti-gay discrimination.

One officer justified the police’s strong-armed tactics by claiming that gay people were unusually violent. “In the past I have as a patrol officer handled calls where there are gay couples living in residence where one is mad at the other, and they slash clothes, furniture, anything they can do. They’re very violent.” When asked if he thought that the gay community was more violent than other groups, that officer responded, “My experience, yes.” Another officer voiced similar sentiments: “Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify that as very violent.” The city of Atlanta paid $1,025,000 to settle the lawsuit, re-vamped their policies, fired six officers and disciplined nine others. Two of the fired officers quickly found new jobs as Deputies with the suburban Clayton County Sheriff’s office. “The upside is that the citizens of Clayton County get some of the finest-trained, most experienced officers,” Sheriff Kem Kimbrough told a reporter.

Karl Lagerfeld: 1933. Opinions. The outspoken fashion designer in the black glasses and high starched collar has a million of them, which he dispenses for free without asking. In 2009, he defended his use of animal fur in his designs this way: “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish.” He also has a thing about skinniness, criticizing supermodel Heidi Klum as “too heavy and has too big a bust” to be a runway model. He also called the singer Adele “a little too fat” in 2012, a remark for which he had to apologize. Adele, for her part, responded that she never wanted to look like a model. “I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that,” she said. A year later, Lagerfeld was at it again, saying that he never called Adele fat, but just a “little roundish. “But for such a beautiful girl, after that she lost eight kilos [17.6 pounds] so I think the message was not that bad.”

The German-born son of a wealthy businessman grew up privileged during the hardships of World War II. After attending private school, he moved to Paris, got an education in drawing and history, and began designing haute couture collections in the mid-1950s. His first collection was booed by the press, and his short skirts for the 1960 spring season also weren’t well received either. In 1963, he moved to Rome and worked for Tiziani until 1969, where he picked up Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Duke and Principessa Borgheses as customers. He also designed freelance for the French fashion house Chloé, and Italian houses Curiel, Fendi, and the American jeans brand Diesel. He is currently head designer and creative director for Chanel, Fendi, and his own fashion house. He lives in a Paris mansion which he shares with his Siamese cat, Choupette, who he said he would marry if it were legal.

 45 YEARS AGO: Jeff Marx: 1970. The composer and lyricist began life as a lawyer looking for clients in the entertainment industry. The only reason he joined a musical theater workshop was to meet potential clients. “I didn’t tell them I was just there to meet clients and had no designs on being a songwriter,” he later confessed. But to stay in the workshop, he had to do the work. That’s where he met Richard Lopez, and the two of them started writing music for what would become the Broadway Musical Avenue Q, for which they won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Score.

That was it. Marx never went back to practicing law. He and Lopez, with Debra Fordham, wrote four songs for a critically-acclaimed musical episode of the NBC sitcom Scrubs, which aired in 2007. One of their songs, “Everything Comes Down To Poo,” was nominated for an Emmy. Marx has written songs for the Disney Channel and the theme song for Logo TV’s animated series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In All the World. Marx currently lives in Los Angeles where he is also a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

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, September 9

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From SilverDollar Times, September 1982, page 9.

From SilverDollar Times, September 1982, page 9.

An anti-suffrage post card, c.a. 1910 (source).

An anti-suffrage post card, c.a. 1910 (source).

120 YEARS AGO: The Degeneracy of Women’s Suffrage: 1895. For many decades, the word “degenerate” took on a very specific meaning: gay people were “degenerates,” as were almost anyone else who radically deviated (negatively) from what was considered normal and wholesome. Everyone — doctors (see Aug 2), police investigators (see May 19Jun 1), newspaper columnists (see Mar 23), housewives (see Jun 29) and Newsweek (see Oct 10) — thought nothing of using the word “degenerate,” and by the middle of the twentieth century its usage became much more specific to describe gay people.

But what was lost by that time was a recollection of where the word “degenerate” came from. It was the last vestige of a proto-scientific theory which had been universally accepted by social scientists, doctors and early geneticists in the nineteenth century. Degeneration Theory described a body of beliefs which was a kind of a theory of evolution, but in reverse. Darwin’s theory held that as species reproduced, the process of natural selection would help to weed out the lesser copies of the offspring, while the more capable versions would survive to reproduce again. Degeneration Theory pondered what would happen if natural selection was not such a strong force, thanks to advances in science, medicine, and civilization in general, in the development of the human race.

While there are a number parallels between Degeneration Theory and Evolution, Degeneration Theory actually pre-dated Darwin’s theory by about five decades. According to Degeneration Theorists, human beings, through the natural course of evolution, would naturally produce children who “de-generated” some of their parent’s characteristics in an imperfect form — think of a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy. Degeneration didn’t always yield lesser children; geniuses were examples of a kind of positive degeneration. They may have greater powers of reasoning than others, but they nevertheless deviated from the norm, and that deviancy was a sign of degeneration. Besides, geniuses often had other quirks as part of their personalities, and those quirks were seen as offsetting signs of degeneracy, a price, if you will, paid for their genius. It was also believed that degenerates, whether their degeneration was positive or negative, also bore physical markers, known as the “stigmata of degeneration,” in the form of various skull shapes, facial features, and other bodily characteristics which, if one looked closely enough, might provide further evidence of degeneracy. That’s why detailed physical descriptions were an important part of the scientific literature. In fact, those descriptions were considered so important and became so commonplace that the practice lasted well the 1960s, long after the very theories which required such descriptions were long dead and forgotten.

The product of this degeneracy was called the “reversion to the atavistic type” — in other words, a natural tendency of a species to return to a more primitive state. For humans, it would mean a descent into poverty, ignorance and criminality of which nineteenth-century inner-city tenements, according to Degeneracy Theorists, provided ample proof. But as pessimistic as the theory went, it did have its positive contributions: it spawned the hygiene movement which began mandating safe housing, clean food, proper sanitation, limitations in child labor and other protections, and universal education. In the glass-half-empty category, Degeneration Theory marked the beginning of the shift from regarding homosexuality as a crime to be severely punished, but as a malady to be addressed “scientifically” — namely by the nation’s doctors and insane asylums, along with the brave few who countered that gay and gender-variant people harmed no one and should be left alone. But far more darkly, Degeneration Theory would soon give rise to Eugenics, which would cast an especially dark shadow over much of the early twentieth century.

So to give you an example of “degenerates” who had nothing to do with gay people, the September 1895 edition of The American Naturalist included a classic anti-feminist tract steeped in Degeneration Theory. Dr. James Weir, Jr.’s, article, “The effects of female suffrage on posterity,” argued that feminism (which was then focused on voting rights and the prohibition of alcohol) was just another result of ongoing degeneracy in society. Weir argued that if women were given the right to vote, it would cause further “regression to the atavistic state” in civilization, which, he argued, included matriarchy ( “female government”), communism, “free love,” and homosexuality. He began his monograph, in typical Degeneration Theory fashion, by describing the atavistic swamp from which modern society first arose:

"I did not raise my girl to be a voter." (source)

“I did not raise my girl to be a voter.” (source)

In the very beginning woman was, by function, a mother; by virtue of her surroundings, a house-wife. Man was then as now, the active, dominant factor in those affairs outside the immediate pale of the fireside. Life was collective; “communal was the habitation, and communal the wives with the children; the men pursued the same prey, and devoured it together after the manlier of wolves; all felt, all thought, all acted in concert.” Primitive men were like their Simian ancestors which never paired, and which roamed through the forests in bands and troops. This collectivism is plainly noticeable in certain races of primitive folks which are yet in existence, notably the Autocthons of the Aleutian Islands. Huddled together in their communal Kachims, naked, without thought of immodesty, men, women and children share the same fire and eat from the-same pot.

Weir’s description of atavistic societies then became rather contradictory and confusing:

Frequent wars must have occurred between hostile tribes of primitive men, during which, some of them (physically or numerically weaker than their opponents) must have been repeatedly vanquished, and many of their females captured, for, in those old days (like those of more recent times, for that matter) the women were the prizes for which the men fought. Under circumstances like these, the few remaining women rmust have served as wives for all the men of the tribe; and, in this manner polyandry had its inception.

Under circumstances like these, the few remaining women must have served as wives for all the men of the tribe; and, in this manner polyandry had its inception. Polyandry gives woman certain privileges which monandry denies, and she is not slow to seize on these prerogatives and to use them in the furtherance of her own welfare. Polyandry, originating from any cause whatsoever, will always end in the establishment of a matriarchate, in which the women are either directly or indirectly at the head of the government.

Weir then ignored the vast preponderancy of male-dominated societies to find a few matriarchal ones (including, specifically, the Nair of India) which, he claimed, proved his point.

Weir then, somewhat abruptly, turned to the subject of genius — “retrogressive genius” in particular — which he said gave rise to feminism:

There are two kinds of genius; the first is progressive genius, which always enunciates new and original matter of material benefit to the human race and which is consequently healthy; the second is retrogressive genius, which is imitative and which always enunciates dead and obsolete matter long since abandoned and thrown aside as being utterly useless. The doctrines of communism and of nihilism are the products of retrogressive genius and are clearly atavistic, inasmuch as they are a reversion to the mental habitudes of our savage ancestors. The doctrines of the matriarchate are likewise degenerate beliefs, and if held by any civilized being of to-day, are in evidence of psychic atavism. Atavism invariably attacks the weak; and individuals of a neurasthenic type are more frequently its victims than are any other class of people. Especially is this true in the case of those who suffer from psychical atavism. The woman of to-day, who believes in and inculcates the doctrines of matriarchy, doctrines which have been, as far as the civilized world is concerned, thrown aside and abandoned these many hundred years, is as much the victim of psychic atavism as was Alice Mitchell who slew Freda Ward in Memphis several years ago [see Jan 25], and who was justly declared a viragint by the court that tried her.

This, of course, is where Weir touched on homosexuality and tied it to the feminist movement. The English language was still relatively bereft of easily understandable terms to describe homosexuality. The love that dare not speak its name was only just then acquiring its name in English when Weir wrote his monograph in 1895 (see May 6), and so the scandalous murder of Freda Ward by her lesbian lover stood in as the widely understood euphemism for lesbianism in particular, and somewhat tenuously, homosexuality in general. And it is here that Weir begins to tie it all together:

I think that I am perfectly safe in asserting that every woman who has been at all prominent in advancing the cause of equal rights in its entirety, has either given evidences of masculo-feminity (viraginity), or has shown, conclusively, that she was the victim of psycho-sexual aberrancy. Moreover, the histories of every viragint of any note in the history of the world, show that they were either physically or psychically degenerate, or both. Jeanne d’Arc was the victim of hystero-epilepsy, while Catharine the Great was a dipsomaniac and a creature of unbounded and inordinate sensuality.

…Viraginity has many phases. We see a mild form of it in the tom-boy who abandons her dolls and female companions for the marbles and masculine sports of her boy acquaintances. In the loud-talking, long-stepping, slang-using young woman we see another form, while the square-shouldered, stolid, cold, unemotional, unfeminine android (for she has the normal human form, without the normal human psychos) is yet another. The most aggravated form of viraginity is that known as homo-sexuality; with this form, however, this paper has nothing to do. Another form of viraginity is technically known as gynandry, and may be defined as follows: A victim of gynandry not only has the feelings and desires of a man, but also the skeletal form, features, voice, etc., so that the individual approaches the opposite sex anthropologically, and in more than a psycho-sexual way.

Even if feminists weren’t lesbians, they were, as far as Weir was concerned, only a few steps away from it, a prospect that he clearly didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about (“…with this form, however, this paper has nothing to do”).  Weir had bigger things to worry about. Aside from lesbianism, equal rights for women would bring about all manner of degeneration — moral, psychical, and physical — due to the stresses of increased responsibility:

The effects of degeneration are slow in making their appearance, yet they are exceedingly certain. The longer woman lived amid surroundings calling for increased nervous expenditure, the greater would be the effects of the accruing degeneration on her posterity. …The inherited psychical habitudes handed down through hundreds and thousands of years would prevent the immediate destruction of that ethical purity for which woman is noted, and in the posession [sic] of which she stands so far above man. …(But) there would come a time when the morality of to-day would be utterly lost, and society would sink into some such state of existence as we now find en evidence among the Nairs….

The baneful effects resulting from female suffrage will not be seen tomorrow or next week, or week after next, or next month, or next year, or a hundred years hence, perhaps. It is not a question of our day and generation; it is a matter of involving posterity. The simple right to vote carries with it no immediate danger, the danger comes afterward; probably many years after the establishment of female suffrage, when woman, owing to her increased degeneration, gives free rein to her atavistic tendencies, and hurries ever backward toward the savage state of her barbarian ancestors. I see, in the establishment of equal rights, the first step toward that abyss of immoral horrors so repugnant to our cultivated ethical tastes — the matriarchate. Sunk as low as this, civilized man will sink still lower — to the communal Kachims of the Aleutian Islanders.

[Source: James Weir, Jr. “The effect of female suffrage on posterity.” The American Naturalist 29, no 345 (September 1895): 815-825. Full text available online at]

John Curry

John Curry: 1949-1994. As a child, he wanted to be a ballet dancer. His abusive father, a hard-drinking factory owner, forbade it, saying that such ambitions weren’t appropriate for boys. But he did allow his son to take up figure skating at the age of seven. Even then, the elder Curry wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter. He saw his son skate only twice. The father’s suicide 1965 proved to be a turning point. “We were delighted,” he later told a friend. “We were happy. We were free of him.”

By the time he was eighteen, Curry moved to London to study figure skating seriously, and finally take those long-delayed ballet lessons. In 1970, Curry won his first British skating championship after having come in second during the two years before. He would go on to win another four national titles before making the Winter Olympics team for 1976. Shortly before going to Innsbruck, he gave an interview to a journalist with the International Herald Tribune during which, in a moment he thought was off the record, confided that he was gay. International Herald Tribune’s story appeared soon after Curry defeated the favorites from the Soviet Union and Canada to win the gold medal. It made him one of the very few actively competing athletes to declare his sexuality openly.

Curry’s style of figure skating involved an artful combination of ballet and skating. That may not seem so unusual today, but men’s figure skating before 1976 was much more “athletic” — more jumping around and heaving women right and left. Peggy Flemming, the 1968 Women’s gold medalist, later commented, “I think he brought the purest form of ballet to the ice. He was a real purist, totally devoted to the art of skating. He also had the technique and athleticism to make that art look effortless. It was a wonderful blend of what skating is about — art and sport.”

But off the rink, his homosexuality would make him a ripe target for barbs and humiliations. The December after winning his Olympic gold medal, he was honored by the Sports Journalists’ Association at a London hotel. Curry was late to collect his reward, and as he made his way to the table during the evening’s comic act, the comic joked, “It’s good to feel the Christmas spirit among us all, and here comes the fairy for the tree.” Curry collected his award in silence. He later said it was “one of the most hurtful incidents in my life.”

Curry turned professional after winning the World Championships in 1976, and founded his own touring skating company after turning down offers to join other companies. “I never could see the point of spending 12 years training to go dress up in a Bugs Bunny suit.” He brought his show “Ice Dancing” to Broadway in 1977-1978, and toured with his John Curry Skating Company.

By the mid-1980s, Curry noticed the toll that AIDS was taking in the skating world. “”It is hard to watch people in that situation, and it was frightening when people started to become ill,” he said, adding “You start to think ‘When is it going to be my turn?'” His turn came in 1987 when he found out he was HIV-positive. He participated in the fundraiser Skating for Life in 1988, and his final skating performance in 1989 was for another AIDS benefit. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1991 and went back to his mother’s home in Binton, Warwickshire, where he died on April 15, 1994.

Here is a clip of his performance at Innsbruck.

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, September 8

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington., DC), June 1978, page 9.

From The Blade (Washington., DC), June 1978, page 9.

Jeannie Sullivan and Tommy Vasu.

 San Francisco Police Raid Tommy’s Place: 1954. Tommy Vasu, one of the owners of Tommy’s Place, was the first known lesbian to have an legal ownership stake of a bar in San Francisco. Wherever she went, she attracted attention: dressed in double-breasted suits, wide tie and a fedora, she loved to gamble and was known as a risk taker. Vasu, with her girlfriend Jeanne Sullivan, Grace Miller and Joyce van de Veer, opened Tommy’s Place at 520 Broadway in 1952. Tommy’s Place attracted a mixed crowd of artists, prostitutes, bohemians and, of course, lesbians. Vasu and Sullivan also operated 12 Adler Place; its entrance was just around the corner and the two clubs, which shared a single liquor license, were connected inside by a split-level mezzanine. Because Vasu had a police record, her name could not appear on a liquor license. She put the license in Sullivan’s name, and she listed Miller and van de Veer as owners of 12 Adler Place so they could serve as bartenders.

In 1954, the McCarthy “Lavender Scare” was still in full swing, and whenever elections loomed in San Francisco, the police department would unleash another round of raids to “clean up the city.” In June, The Examiner, owned by William Randolph Hearst, published a series of articles decrying the “marked influx recently of homosexuals” into San Francisco: “The condition (of the city) is marked by the increase of homosexuals in the parks, public gathering places and certain taverns in the city. It is a bad situation. It is a situation that has resulted in extortion and blackmail. Even worse, these deviates multiply by recruiting teen-agers.”

Police Chief Michael Gaffey announced a new campaign to “clean the homosexuals from the streets, the public rooms and the parks where their actions have become intolerably offensive.” That month, police raided five bars in the Tenderloin “suspected of being frequented by sex deviates.” While those cases drew headlines, those raids were quickly forgotten. The big raid was still in the planning phase. In July, Police were three months into an investigation involving a dozen high school girls who “donned mannish clothes and frequented pool halls.” On September 1, they raided the home of Jesse Joseph Winston, who they determined was hosting parties for teenage girls where he allegedly provided them with marijuana and Benzedrine, and supposedly schooled them in “sexual rebellion.” As part of that investigation, police determined that Winston met these supposedly “innocent girls from good families” at Tommy’s Place, where he invited them over to his place after the bars closed. The fact that Winston was African-American and the girls were white only added to the city-wide panic which ensued. Winston was charged with three counts of providing marijuana to a minor and one count of possession of marijuana.

Grace Miller, behind the bar at Tommy’s Place. (Click to enlarge.)

A week later, Police turned their attention to Tommy’s Place and 12 Adler Place, where they arrested Grace Miller and Joyce van de Veer, who were working as bartenders that night. They were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to news reports, Tommy’s place was targeted because:

The bar, police said, has long served as a happy hunting ground for a group of adult debauchees, who recruited school girls into their academy of dope addiction and sexual perversion. “At least a dozen” teen-age girls have been ensnared, according to Inspector L.G. Etherington and taken from the bar to other places in the Latin Quarter for a full education in abominable practices.”

One former patron later remembered the raid at Tommy’s Place:

“They (Miller and van de Veer) were framed as part of this harassment of gay bars. Two of her [Tommy’s] bartenders were arrested. … One of them is a good friend of mine. She did six months. They were accused of serving minors, and the girls were minors but they had forged IDs. It sort of escalated, and the PTA got involved. Then the police planted some drugs in the ladies’ room, some heroin and the works or something like that, and they pretend to find it. … The Examiner just ran with it. At that time it was a real sensational tabloid.

Indeed it was. The day after the raid, The Examiner’s front page screamed with alarm: “School-girls’ vice, dope revealed in S.F. Bar Raid.” and “S.F. Teen-age Girls Tell of ‘Vice Academy’.” The raid on Tommy’s Place, pumped by The Examiner’s sensational headlines, sparked a city-wide panic, which led to more crackdowns on gay bars. News of Tommy’s raid even reached Washington. In October, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which had been holding hearings in various cities across the country, arrived in San Francisco, where the Tommy’s Place raid was the main focus.

As for the three who were arrested, Joyce Van de Veer was acquitted. Grace Miller was found guilty of serving alcohol to a minor and served six months in the county jail. Winston was convicted and sentenced to a term of one to twenty years at San Quentin. Eventually, the state of California revoked the liquor license, and Tommy’s Place and 12 Adler Place were forced to close. The building which housed Tommy’s Place is now a straight strip club called “The Garden of Eden.” The entrance to 2 Adler Place (the street has since been re-named William Saroyan Place) is now the home of Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe, a hard-to-find hipster dive bar which has been described both as “chaotically-themed” and “virtually unchanged.”

[Source: Nan Alamilla Boyd. Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (University of California Press, 2003): 92-100.]

 40 YEARS AGO: Time Magazine’s “I Am A Homosexual”: 1975. Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich’s picture on the cover of Time with the caption announcing “I Am a Homosexual” posed a direct challenge to the pre-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving in the military. As Time reported, he was the perfect test case: “The tall, red-haired sergeant has an impeccable twelve-year military record, no known psychiatric problems, and a Bronze Star and Purple Heart won on one of his three tours in Viet Nam.” A five-member Air Force review board heard his case the following week. He lost that case, and he was excommunicated from the Mormon Church a month later.

But on this date in 1975, he became the face of the gay community as Time devoted several pages to the rising gay rights movement. By then, twelve states had eliminated their laws making homosexuality a crime, and the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association recognized that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. AT&T and the Civil Service Commission had announced that they were willing to hire openly gay employees, and one major educational journal wrote that gay teachers should come out to their students. Time covered the usual ground for stories of this kind: gay activism, the problems gay people face, the requisite tour of the raunchier gay establishments (New York’s Eagle gets a mention, along with an introduction to the handkerchief code and bathhouses), and yet the article manages to present gay people as real people — something quite rare for 1975. The word “gay” is used in about equal measure as “homosexual,” and the word “militant” appears only three times in the 5,400 word article. It did however end on a down note, warning that homosexuality become more widespread if anti-gay discrimination were to end:

Says Psychoanalyst Herbert Hendin: “‘Anything goes’ is a legitimate attitude for consenting adults toward each other, but for a culture to declare it as a credo is to miss entirely the stake all of us have in the harmony between the sexes and in the family as the irreplaceable necessity of society. This is a society that is increasingly denying its impotence by calling it tolerance, preaching resignation and naming all this progress.”

It’s worth noting that while both APA’s (the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association) had declared that homosexuality was not a mental disorder, the American Psychoanalytic Association was much slower to reach that conclusion. It wasn’t until 1991 when the APsaA formally declared that homosexuality was no longer a barrier to becoming a psychoanalyst. It’s also worth noting that most conversion therapy today is still rooted in older psychoanalytic theories. And, it’s worth noting further that the argument that increased acceptance for gay people today will create more gay people tomorrow is still a staple of anti-gay and ex-gay rhetoric.

On the whole, Time’s coverage of Matlovich’s case was relatively positive — well, positive-for-1975 positive. Coverage elsewhere wasn’t so tactful. Gay activists targeted San Francisco’s KPIX studios when an anchorman, after reading Matlovich’s story and thinking the microphone was switched off, was heard to say, “I was going to say ‘faggot flier’ but I thought…” — before a technician actually switched the mike off.

 Mark Foley: 1954. When the lifelong bachelor Republican from Florida cast his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, journalist Kurt Wolf decided it was time to out Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) and fellow Republican Jim Kolbe (R-AZ, see Jun 28) from the Congressional closet, first on a New York City radio station, then on a Boston cable-access television show. The Advocate picked up the story and decided to call the two congressmen for comment. Both men hid behind the excuse that their sexual orientations weren’t relevant, but a week later Kolbe decided to come out (see Aug 1).

Foley didn’t, and the story mostly went away until it was resurrected, briefly, when Foley was considering a run at Sen. Bob Graham’s (D-FL) vacating Senate seat. Ths time, Broward County’s New Times picked it up, leading Foley to call a news conference to denounce what he termed the “revolting and unforgivable” rumors, while simultaneously managing to avoid denying the rumors specifically. A few weeks later, he dropped out and decided to remain in the House.

All was quiet until September 28, 2006 when news reports broke that Foley had sent email messages to a former Congressional page asking the page to send him a photo. That report prompted another page to come forward, who shared sexual explicit AOL instant messages sent by Foley. Confronted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Foley resigned on September 29 rather than face expulsion from the House.

More pages and former pages came forward, with allegations stretching back at least ten years. It emerged soon emerged that Foley had been warned by another House Republican and the House Clerk in 2005. Subsequent criminal investigations by the FBI and the state of Florida found no eveidence of criminal wrongdoing; the pages were above the age of consent, although Florida investigators complained about “Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data.” Foley returned to Florida and entered the real estate business in Palm Beach. Foley also came out publicly and acknowledged his partner, Layne Nisenbaum. The two, it turned out, had been together since 1984. Nisenbaum died in 2012.

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