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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 28

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson, AZ), October 27, 1978, page 4.

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson, AZ), October 27, 1978, page 4.

An “undesirable” discharge from the Navy, 1948 (click to enlarge).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Veterans Administration Strengthens Ban on Benefits for Gay Veterans: 1954. Since 1943, the U.S. Military, rather than sending all of the gays and lesbians it found through courts-marshal, decided to streamline the process by letting them go with an administrative “blue” discharge — neither honorable nor dishonorable. The discharges, named for the color of paper they were originally printed on, occupied something of a middle ground as “undesirable.”

With the millions of veterans with honorable discharges in their hip pockets, the distinction between having an undesirable and a dishonorable discharge was meaningless to prospective employers. But for the Veterans Administration, the distinction still had a difference, albeit a tiny one. Anyone with a dishonorable discharge was ineligible for VA benefits. In 1946, the VA added restrictions to benefits for two classes of blue discharge holders: those who accepted an undesirable discharge to avoid a trial by court-marshal, and

(d) An undesirable or blue discharge issued because of homosexual acts or tendencies generally will be considered as under dishonorable conditions and a bar to entitlement under Public No. 2, 73d Congress, as amended, and Public No. 346, 78th Congress. However, the facts in a particular case may warrant a different conclusion, in which event the case should be submitted to central office for the attention and consideration of the director of the service concerned.

In other words, beginning in 1946, gays and lesbians would be automatically barred from receiving VA benefits, but there was an appeals process. Over the next nine years, minor changes were made to that appeals process. Finally on October 28, 1955, the VA promulgated another rule change, eliminating the last sentence of Section (d), and with it, all possibility of appeal.

[Source: Mackinneth Fingal. “Uncle Sam Keeps Hacking Away the Rights and Benefits of the Homosexual Veteran.” Mattachine Review 1, no. 4 (July 1955): 29-31.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
105 YEARS AGO: Francis Bacon: 1909-1992. He was born in Dublin to English parents while Ireland was still under British rule. He later pointed to the violence of the Irish Civil War in 1922-23 as one of his artistic influences. His other great influence was his sexuality, which he refused to hide ever since his family ejected him from their home in 1927 for sleeping with his father’s horse grooms. Violence and sex, love and hate, and anguish — all were featured, often coexisting, in his paintings. His debut came with his 1933 painting Crucifixion, which he said he finished “in about a fortnight when I was in a bad mood of drinking.” Despite — or perhaps because –the English art world being taken aback, his success appeared secured. But other exhibits the following year were met with bad reviews and little attention. He destroyed his canvases and quit painting for the next eleven years as war descendent across Europe.

Head VI (1949)

In 1943, Bacon returned to the art world with his startling Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, a triptych which, according to one reviewer, contained “images so unrelievedly awful that the mind snaps shut.” His Head series captured what he called “figures in moments of crisis, with acute awareness of their mortality …(and) of their animal nature.” Head VI was a re-working of Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, in which all that remains of the pontiff’s head is a howling mouth. Five years later, Bacon returned to the theme with Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, in which the howling pope is seated on his thrown in a decidedly hellish setting. But horror and violence weren’t his only subjects. One of Bacon’s solo exhibitions in New York featured Two Figures, which depicted two naked men wrestling on a bed (or, perhaps, depending on how you saw it, one man raping another).

Francis Bacon and George Dyer (1965)

Bacon’s personal life was as messy as his paintings. He was given morphine as a child for his asthma. When he was sixteen, his father had him horsewhipped by the stable hands when the younger Bacon was caught wearing his mother’s underwear. After his banishment from home, Bacon lived in London on a £3 a week allowance from taking advantage of rich men. A relative took him to Berlin to “make a man of him” — during the height of the Weimar Republic. You can imagine how that went. Two months later, Bacon went to Paris and spent the next year and a half there before returning to London where he would ultimately launch his art career.

Study of Head of George Dyer (1967)

In 1952, after a lifetime of rent boys and society types, Bacon entered his first long-term relationship with a former RAF pilot, Peter Lacy, who often beat him and destroyed his paintings in drunken ranges. They loved each other, beat each other, and experimented with S&M. “Being in love in that extreme way,” Bacon said, “being totally obsessed by someone, is like having some dreadful disease. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.” Lacy died on the day before Bacon’s first retrospective in 1962, probably the result of too much drinking.

Two years later, Bacon met the extraordinarily handsome George Dyer when Dyer broke into Bacon’s apartment. Dyer was another raging alcoholic, but their rocky relationship lasted seven years until 1971, when Dyer overdosed and killed himself the day before Bacon’s retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris. Dyer’s death came just as Bacon was being proclaimed Britain’s “greatest living painter,” but Bacon told friends that “daemons, disaster and loss” were his only companions. Bacon was offered a knighthood and the Order of Merit, but he refused them both. He died in Madrid in 1992 of cardiac arrest after his chronic asthma turned into a respiratory infection.

Frank Ocean: 1987. Christopher “Lonny” Breaux was born in Long Beach but grew up in New Orleans, where he listened to local jazz music and his mom’s Celine Dion and Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack CDs. After Hurricane Katrina hit, Lonny moved to L.A. and became a songwriter for Justin Bieber, Brandy and others while working on his debut solo album for Def Jam records. But when his album remained unreleased, Lonny changed his name to Frank Ocean, joined the alt-hip hop collective Odd Future, and rediscovered his DIY drive. He released his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra as a free download — unknown to Def Jam — on his Tumblr, and the buzz quickly began to spread throughout the music industry with Diddy, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Beyoncé singing his praises. Critics compared Nostalgia, Ultra with Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear and Prince’s ballads. Rolling Stone’s Jonah Weiner called him a “gifted avant-R&B smoothie.”

On July 4, 2012, Ocean issued his declaration of independence when he posted on his Tumblr that his first love, at the age of nineteen, was with another young man of the same age. As Ocean explained to The Guardian: “I was thinking of how I wished at 13 or 14 there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that, who would have been transparent in that way. But there’s another side of it that’s just about my own sanity and my ability to feel like I’m living a life where I’m not just successful on paper, but sure that I’m happy when I wake up in the morning, and not with this freakin’ boulder on my chest.”

Tyler the Creator, another member of Odd Future, took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow artist, which was significant because Tyler debut album had him repeating the word “faggot” and other anti-gay epithets 213 times. Hip hop impresario Russell Simmons’s support for Ocean was effusive: “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? … Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”

On July 10, 2012, Ocean’s studio-released album Channel Orange debuted on iTunes for download and was streamed for free from his blog before becoming available as a CD a week later. Channel Orange was greeted with nearly universal critical acclaim and six Grammy nominations, winning two: for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “No Church in the Wild” with Kanye West and Jay-Z. Ocean has been working on his second studio album for the past two years.

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 Monday, October 27

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), October 1973, page 2.

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), October 1973, page 2.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Activists Protest Harper’s Magazine: 1970. The cover of Harper’s September 1970 issue was just the beginning: an up- close side view of a man’s chest, dressed in an unusually feminine fabric but with the shoulder pulled back to reveal a highly developed and flexed arm. Across the triceps, the magazine featured the title of only one article, Joseph Epstein’s “Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity,” an incredibly homophobic tour-de-force in which the author details every encounter he has ever had with a gay man, every encounter he has ever imagined having with a gay man, and every encounter that people he knew who had contact with gay men. And every one of those gay men, according to Epstein, were predatory, sex-obsessed, and a flagrant affront to a civilized society. They were, he wrote, the embodiment of the ethos to “smoke it, swallow it, eat it, wallow in it, screw it, kick it, stomp it to death, and never mind what ‘it’ is.” After exhausting eleven pages to air his disgust, he concludes in his final paragraph:

They are different from the rest of us. Homosexuals are different, moreover, in a way that cuts deeper than other kinds of human differences — religious, class, racial — in a way that is, somehow, more fundamental. Cursed without clear cause, afflicted without apparent cure, they are an affront to our rationality, living evidence of our despair of ever finding a sensible, an explainable, design to the world. One can tolerate homosexuality, a small enough price to be asked to pay for someone else’s pain, but accepting it, really accepting it, is another thing altogether. I find I can accept it least of all when I look at my children. There is much my four sons can do in their lives that might cause me anguish, that might outrage me, that might make me ashamed of them and of myself as their father. But nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual. For then I should know them condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men, their lives, whatever adjustment they might make to their condition, to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth.

The screed caused an uproar throughout New York’s gay community, which had been organizing over the previous year to confront a number of daily insults to the community since the Stonewall rebellion the year before. The Gay Activist Alliance formed in December 1969 by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front who disagreed with the GLF’s disorganized decision-making process and its distractions with other non-gay political causes. Members of GAA sent a letter to Harper’s Editor in Chief Willie Morris to demand that the magazine publish a another article, comparable in length, to provide a counterweight to Epstein’s diatribe. Morris claimed to be open to the idea, but he kept rejecting each draft that was submitted.

After several weeks with no resolution in sight, the GAA had enough. Forty GAA activists — including Vito Russo, Morty Manford, Jim Owles, Arnie Kantrowitz, David Ehrenstein and GAA’s president Arthur Evan–  met at 9:00 a.m. on October 27, and quietly made their way into Harper’s eighteenth floor offices, with a film crew from WOR, which the GAA had notified ahead of time, following them in. As GAA’s Peter Fisher explained, “We were very aware that if we could make something visually amusing or find some way to get the press in on it — preferably TV — that was what we had to do. One of the main thrusts was to show ourselves as individual human beings — the man or the woman next door or a coworker.” Toward that end, the group commandeered a table in the reception area and set up coffee and donuts, while others went into the office areas and scattered leaflets on the desks. As employees arrived, GAA members offered them refreshments and a greeting — and all the while, cameras were rolling.

But all decorum evaporated when, as the cameras kept rolling, Evans confronted Midge Dector, the editor of the Epstein article, and unleashed a tirade: “You know that the article would contribute to the suffering of homosexuals! You knew that! And if you didn’t know that, you’re inexcusably naive and should not be an editor. If you knew that those contribute to the oppression of homosexuals, then damn you for publishing it, and we have a right to come in here and hold you politically and morally responsible for doing that. You’re a bigot, and you are to be held responsible for that moral and political act!”

Dector denied that the article reinforced anti-gay prejudice. A decade later, she would write her own virulent anti-gay screed, “The Boys on the Beach,” for Commentary, Norman Podhoretz’s magazine (who also just happened to be her husband). The only regret that she expressed about her encounter over Epstein’s “elegant and thoughtful essay” was that the protesters lacked the “dash and high taste” she had come to expect from summers she spent earlier that decade in the Pines.

Harper’s, too, remained unrepentant. Publisher William S. Blair, in trying to both defend and distance his magazine from Epstein’s article, flatly refused to publish a retraction or policy statement. Blair told The Advocate, “What I said was that we would be willing to write a letter to the GAA saying that we have disagreements about the wisdom of publishing that particular piece. I hope that they don’t think this happens because we, personally, are against the civil rights of homosexuals, or fail to recognize that they are treated harshly and should not be. …. It’s a statement signed by me making clad, I hope, that our decision to publish that article was not because we in any way want to denigrate homosexuals.” Even though it is one if my favorite magazines, to this day Harper’s has never addressed or expressed regret over Epstein’s article.

But the outcry over “Hetero/Homo” did have an important galvanizing effect. Merle Miller, an author and a former Harper’s managing editor, was having lunch with two New York Times editors when the topic turned to the Harper’s article. During the heated discussion, Miller said, “Look, goddamn it, I’m homosexual, and most of my best friends are Jewish homosexuals, and some of my friends are black homosexuals, and I’m sick and tired of reading and hearing such goddamn demeaning, degrading bullshit about me and my friends.” A few days later, one of those editors asked Miller if he would write an article for The New York Times Magazine, which operated almost as a separate publication from The Times (and was therefore under different editors from The Times’ notoriously homophobic editors). His groundbreaking essay, “What It Means To Be A Homosexual,” became the first article written by a self-acknowledged gay person to be published in a major mainstream publication (see Jan 17)

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 103-109.

“GAA Zaps Harper’s Magazine.” The Advocate (Dec 8, 1970). As reprinted in Chris Bull’s (ed) Witness to Revolution: The Advocate Reports on Gay and Lesbian Politics, 1967 – 1999 (Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 1999):32-33

Midge Decter. “Boys On the Beach.” Chapter 93 in Larry Gross and James D. Woods (eds.) The Columbia Reader on Lesbians & Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999): 601-611.

Joseph Epstein. “Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity.” Harper’s Magazine (September 1970): 37ff.

Merle Miller. On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual (New York: Penguin Classics, 2012 reissue with foreword by Dan Savage and afterword by Charles Kaiser.) ]

Dorothy Hajdys with a photo of her son, Allen Schindler

Murder of Radioman Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen R. Schindler, Jr.: 1992. By the time his fellow sailors got done with him, the only identifiable feature left intact was a tattoo on his arm. While on shore leave in Sasebo, Japan, two drunken shipmates followed Schindler into a public restroom in a park. Airman Charles Vins watched — and occasionally joined in — as Airman Apprentice Terry Helvey kneed Schindler in the arm, punched him repeatedly on the floor, and stomped on him with the heel of his boot. The pathologist described Schindler’s body as the worst case he had ever seen, and compared the damage to that of a “high-speed auto accident or a low-speed aircraft accident.” He also said that it was worse than another case he had seen, that of a man who had been trampled to death by a horse. The pathologist’s report chronicled a litany of lacerations, contusions and abrasions of the forehead, eyes, noes, lips, chin, neck, Adam’s apple, trachea, lungs, liver (which was “like a smushed tomato”) and, tellingly, penis. All but two ribs were broken, and both his lungs and brain had hemorrhaged.

The Navy stonewalled the investigation. The murder occurred just as the pre-DADT debate was getting started over allowing gays to serve in the military. The Navy refused to confirm how Schindler died or whether a weapon was involved. At one point, a Navy senior officer leaked the story that Schindler’s murder was the result of a romance with Helvey gone bad. Meanwhile, Schindler’s mother, Dorothy Hajdys, was kept in the dark by Navy officials about what happened to her son or about the investigation. They even tried Vins without her knowledge and sentenced him to four months in the brig. All the information Dorothy received about her son’s case came from the press. “If one more reporter calls me with information before you do,” she told the Navy commander in charge of the case, “you haven’t even heard me scream!” Two months after the murder, Navy officials finally admitted that Schindler had been killed in a gay bashing.

The Navy denied that they had received any complaints of harassment. But as the investigation continued, it was slowly revealed that Schindler’s ship, the amphibious assault ship Belleau Wood, was a living nightmare for him. His locker had been glued shot and he was the brunt of frequent comments, like, “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die.” Schindler requested a separation from the Navy, but his superiors insisted he remain aboard ship until the process was finished. During Helvey’s trial , it was revealed that Helvey told one investigator that he had no remorse for the killing. “I don’t regret it. I’d do it again. … He deserved it.” Helvey avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to “inflicting great bodily harm,” and was sentenced to life in prison. The ship’s captain who had tried to keep the crime quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. And Dorothy, virtually overnight, became an outspoken advocate for hate crime protections and for gays being allowed to serve in the military.

Michelle Douglas

Canada Federal Court Orders Gay Military Ban Lifted: 1992. Michelle Douglas joined Canada’s Armed Forces Military Police in 1986. She quickly made Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the Special Investigations Unit, complete with a Top Secret Security Clearance. With that clearance came increased scrutiny, and in 1989, she found herself under an investigation over her sexuality. After two days of interrogation, she told investigators she was a lesbian. She was then given an honorable discharge under administrative release item 5d: “Not Advantageously Employable Due to Homosexuality.”

Douglas filed a wrongful dismissal suit in Federal Court of Canada. On October 27, 1992, Lawyers for Douglas and the federal government met in the Toronto courtroom for a trial that was expected to last three weeks. But when they emerged from that courtroom minutes later, they did so with a ruling by Judge Andrew MacKay that found that the restrictions on gays in the military violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It turns out that the military had agreed to settle the case. Chief of Defense Staff Gen. John de Chastelain quickly announced, “The Canadian Forces will comply fully. Canadians, regardless of the sexual orientation, will now be able to serve their country in the Canadian Forces without restrictions.” Douglas was thrilled with the win. “This is not only a great day for me, but it’s a win for all gays and lesbians in Canada and in the Canadian Armed Forces. It’s something I fought for a long time. It’s been a long road, a difficult road at times, but I’m thrilled today.”

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, October 26

Jim Burroway

October 26th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Pride,Gainesville, FL; Halloween, New Orleans, LA; AIDS Walk, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Buffalo Medical Journal, 1906.

From the Buffalo Medical Journal, 1906.

Dr. George Savage, in a Vanity Fair caricature from 1912.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
130 YEARS AGO: “One Wonders If This Perversion Is As Rare As It Appears”: 1884. George Savage was one of Britain’s most prominent nineteenth-century psychiatrists. He became chief of Bethlem Royal Hospital in 1878, Europe’s oldest asylum for the mentally ill, which gave us the word bedlam. That same year, he cofounded the Journal of Mental Science. He also maintained a private practice, and his wealthy and notable clients included Virginia Woolf. In 1884, Savage wrote his major text, Insanity and Allied Neurosis, which became an influential reference book for psychiatric students. That same year, Savage published a brief case description of a patient, perhaps one from his private practice, whose situation led Savage to wonder of the young man’s “perversion is as rare as it appears.”:

A young man, single, aged 28 ; father violent and excitable ; one brother odd, and another a drunken scapegrace.

The patient himself is of middle height, anæmic and emotional. He began his description of his state of mind by saying that he felt he must kill himself. He said he did not feel any real mental depression, but he felt so ashamed of his unnatural state that he wished he were dead, to prevent scandal to his family. He had been to hear many religious teachers, and, in fact, was sent by one of these to see me.

He had always been industrious and hard-working, and made a good living as a traveller for a foreign house. He had led a very solitary life, and had never indulged in worldly amusements.

He was proud of repeating that he was a professing Christian. He had but one pleasure, and that was in music, and of late he had given this up, as it took him into society, where he met other men. At eleven years of age he learnt to masturbate, and had continued the habit ever since.

He has never indulged in sexual congress. He says he has no desire or lust after women, and, though he will not be sure, he thinks he never did have any lust for women.

He told his employer of his feeling, and said that he felt that he must embrace him. This the master resented, and said if he “came any more of that stuff” he should discharge him.

He says in America he was fairly comfortable, because the men were only of moderate size and height; but that in England, where there are so many men over six feet, he is perfectly miserable. He says the sight of a fine man causes him to have an erection, and if he is forced to be in his society he has an emission.

He has no loss of memory, no tremulousness ; his senses appear to be normal in every respect, and his reasoning powers in no way affected.

I recommended him to follow his occupation with energy, to seek mixed society, to go to places of amusement in cities, and to pursue his musical tastes.

I have no further news of him.

I have met with only one other man, who was in a general hospital, who had similar symptoms, but he had malformation of his genetalia, and his sex was at least doubtful.

In one female patient, in Bethlem, there was powerful lust towards those of her own sex. She died, and an infantile uterus was discovered. One wonders if this perversion is as rare as it appears, when we meet with trials such as have been held in Ireland.

[Source: George Savage. “Case of sexual perversion in a man.” Journal of Mental Science 30, no. 131 (October 1884): 390-391.]

Dr. Robert W. Schufeldt

Biography of “Loop-the-Loop”: 1917. A fascinating account of a “passive pederast” appeared in the October 1917 edition of the American Journal of Urology and Sexology. It’s fascinating not so much for what we can learn about the individual in question but for what it reveals about the man who examined the drag queen and street hustler. First off, terminology gets complicated here right off the bat. Even though the word homosexuality had made its way into the English language some ten years before, Dr. Robert W. Shufeldt consistently referred to this person, identified only as “J.W.,” as a “passive pederast,” which harkens back to a time when pederast was used interchangeable with what we know understand as homosexuality, instead of today’s usage of pederast to identify an older adult male who prefers post-adolescent males. Such finer points weren’t understood or acknowledged then. But even if they were, Shufeldt wasn’t the kind of person to trouble himself with finer points, as will be made plain shortly.

Shufeldt begins his description of J.W. this way:

Everything in his history appears to point to the fact that he is a typical example of contrary sexual instinct, with not a few things about him worthy of special record. He is a “fairy” from the slums of Brooklyn, N. Y., and known among his associates there, and in Potsdam, Pa., also in Philadelphia as “Loop-the-Loop.”

…At different times I have successfully photographed him — once on July 24, 1906, when I obtained a full-length figure (anterior); two of his genitals and posterium, and again on November 4, 1916, when I photographed him (full length) in female attire. At this time he was over twenty-three years of age; weighed 150 lbs., and had a height of 5 feet, 8 inches.

In form he is distinctly of the masculine type, being notably slender in build and erect in carriage. His features are seen to be coarse and of a criminal cast, while in both body and clothing he exhibited very marked uncleanliness. His dark brown hair, abundant and unkempt, showed that, when he did part it, the part was in the middle. Extremely nervous in temperament, his blue eyes appeared to be ever on the alert, while his somewhat thin, non-sensuous lips pointed rather to decision than to weakness, and with the features at rest he often had a way of keeping them parted, thus showing his wonderfully fine set of
teeth, free from the slightest blemish.

“A passive pederast.”

There’s a lot of theoretical assumptions packed into those paragraphs, particularly the last one, where Shufeldt confidently detects a “criminal cast.” This observation is a legacy of degeneracy theory, a kind of pseudo-science that gave rise to the eugenics and social hygiene movement at the turn of the twentieth century. Degeneracy theory was a kind of a theory of evolution in reverse (although, in fact, it predated Darwin’s theory by more than half a century). Degeneracy theory held that without the positive intervention of higher civilization, mankind was destined to “degenerate” into lower orders of existence with each succeeding generation — with each generation being a kind of a bad copy of a copy, if you will. All sorts of things — intelligence, criminality, morality, educational attainment, just to name a few examples — were believed to be both hereditary and also capable to leaving a hereditary mark on future generations. A ne’er-do-well from a well-bred family was destined to pass his criminality on to his progeny along with his blue eyes and blond hair.

Furthermore, with criminality was now in his genes, this “degeneracy” was also bound to reveal itself in physical traits, what degeneracy theorists called “the stigmata of degeneration.” And it’s here where degeneracy theory became intrinsically intertwined with racism: the pronounced brow and wide noses common among several groups of African were taken as evidence of a more primitive, “atavistic” state. The particular shape of Asians’ eyes were stigmata of their particular brand of degeneracy, as were the hirsute bodies and hooked noses of the Mohammedans. You get the picture. Shufeldt himself shared those prejudices in abundance, having published America’s Greatest Problem: The Negro just two years before this paper. With degeneracy theory, homophobia and racism both rose from the same swamp and their stench was masked with the same pseudo-scientific perfume.

And thanks to degeneracy theory, doctors, psychiatrists and criminologists were constantly on the lookout for physical traits that might serve as markers for moral deficiencies. And so we see Shufeldt fulfilling his duty be detailing “Loop-the-Loop’s” physical traits: height, weight, genitals, the part of his hair, his “ever on the alert” blue eyes, and “thin non-sensuous lips.” And of course, topping it all off, J.W. hailed from the slums of Brooklyn, and everyone with even a passing knowledge of degeneracy would have understood what that meant. Shufeldt continued his search for more possible stigmata:

Oval in outline, his face possesses a certain unattractive hardness, inclined to repel the one looking at it, lacking as it does every expression indicative of truth, refinement, or good moral purpose. His limbs are straight and slender; his hands are inclined to be large, while his feet are slender and elongated, especially all the toes. It would be difficult to say when they were washed last, and they possess a sickening odor of foul perspiration. When he came to remove his clothing, in order to be photographed for the first time in my study, he appeared extremely nervous and agitated. He invited my attention to the fine development of his breasts, whereas there was not the slightest evidence of gynecomasty — a point rather in his favor, for it is in evidence sometimes in criminals. …Without especial examination I noted that his genitals were very well developed, the penis being covered by the prepuce; the testes of good size and the hair on the pubis abundant. There is no question in my mind but that the subject is perfectly virile, though he stoutly denied that he had ever had congress with a woman, having a powerful aversion for anything of the kind, while not lacking the power to accomplish it.

Shufeldt was particularly interested in Loop-the-loop’s feminine presentation, and J.W. appears to have been game to provide Shufeldt with more than he bargained for. According to Shufeldt, J.W. “claimed to have his menses regularly every month. … In July he admitted that he had never been pregnant; while in November, when he brought with him one of his numerous ‘husbands’ or lovers, he claimed that he had been pregnant a few years previously, and that he been operated on in hospital and the conception removed ‘through his side.’” It’s hard to know how much of this J.W. really believed or whether he was putting Shufeldt on.

Conversely, it’s hard to know how much of this was the product of Shufeldt’s imagination. In addition to being a thorough racist, Shufeldt had already demonstrated an appalling capacity to publish unadulterated garbage in the guise of science. While divorcing his second wife, the granddaughter of John James Audubon, Shufeldt published an article, “On Female Impotency,” which included a photo of nude, supposedly mixed-race woman but who was probably his wife as part of a blackmail scheme. That got him fired from the Smithsonian Institution. So it’s important to take what Shufeldt wrote here with that in mind. Shufeldt, perhaps seeing J.W.’s story too hard to take, offered this out: he wrote that during one visit, J.W.’s lover came along and “laughed at the story, and stated that my subject, though ‘honest in other respects, was a most outrageous liar.’ I am convinced that this mendacity is due to his delusions; while on the other hand I found him to be one of the most skillful pickpockets that had ever come under my observation, and that is admitting a good deal.”

The examinations continued:

I further satisfied myself on that occasion, among other things, that he was not impotent; that his nipples did not become erect upon frictional excitation; that he knew of no other sexual perverts in his family, and that, while he could sing soprano well, he could not whistle, and he threw a stone like a girl.

That J.W. couldn’t whistle was also deemed important. As far back as the mid 1800s, it was believed that gay men couldn’t whistle (see Nov 9) J.W. was just one more data point to confirm that belief. Shufeldt then portrayed J.W.’s everyday life:

Quick and active in his motions, he did not, as he moved about indoors and out, give one the impression that there was anything in his demeanor simulating femininity, nor did his behavior in any way betray the remarkable manner in which his sexual life was being lived. He scoffed at religion of every kind, and remarked that he believed if he ever entered a church “the blooming thing would fall down.” From the very little schooling he had enjoyed in his lifetime, he is able to read his own language to only a moderate extent; his ability to write it being far worse. Still, apart from his extremely meagre education, he is no fool or dullard in other particulars. He is keen with respect to all the happenings in his own peculiar and lowly environment, and nothing in ordinary human nature seems to escape him. In gait and attire on the street, he gives one the impression of being an energetic, though rather poorly-clad young man, and he would not attract special attention. His manners are, however, very uncouth, and utterly lacking in anything at all approaching even commonplace breeding, and it would seem that his trade is plied chiefly for the money there is in it. According to his own statement, he claims he has never been arrested or otherwise interfered with by the police — something I am very much inclined to doubt. Nevertheless he was willing to prove it by my accompanying him some evening up and down the low streets and alleys he usually haunts. “Fifty cents or a dollar will buy off any cop,” he said, “and that from dark to daylight. We all do it.”

Finally, Shufeldt described J.W.’s last visit, which, whatever the veracity of his rendition of the visit, at least resulted in Shufeldt’s prize photo:

Few writers in the field of psychiatry have enjoyed what I had next the opportunity to observe in the life incidents of this subject: the putting on of female attire by a contrary sexed male. This, it is stated above, took place on the 4th of November, 1906, when J. W. came to my study to have his photograph taken, which he did at my request and with the confidence I had inspired in him, he seemed to fear neither a plot to capture, police, nor danger from detectives. …

As though it had suddenly occurred to him what he was there for, he hastily sat down on a convenient lounge and began, in a flustered sort of manner, to open his suit-case, having previously removed all his clothing and his cap, excepting his underwear. Remarkable indeed was the female attire he produced from the case, and no less extraordinary the spectacle he presented while engaged in taking it out. His hands trembled; a low, passionate look came into his eyes; an extremely sensuous expression crept over his features, and his body gave forth a decidedly disagreeable odor which was by no means mitigated through his not having bathed for some time. So oppressive did this become that I was obliged to raise a window.

“What do you think of that hat, isn’t it a dandy? I trimmed it myself.” In reality it was a miserably dirty affair, made of some thin material, with a wreath of some cheap, gaudy, red flowers fastened to its under side. At the same time I admired it, as it was not difficult for me to recognize the fact that he was, without the slightest doubt, thoroughly in earnest in all he said and did, and by no means was he playing a part.

Next followed three rather short, decidedly soiled, white muslin petticoats, each trimmed with a cheap, embroidered flounce of eyelet-work. These he at once put on, covering them with a waist and skirt, composed of some thin material, bright scarlet in color, and trimmed here and there with black, spangled net. At this stage his appearance was something painfully unique, and it was not much improved upon when he drew over his hairy legs and filthy feet a pair of unmended, open-work, tan-colored stockings, slipping on a pair of very far gone low shoes, with rather high heels.

“Loop-the-Loop”

“Dear me,” he said, “I’ve forgotten my earrings; but you won’t mind that?” Upon my assuring him that I liked young girls better without them, he seemed relieved and proceeded to fit to his head a fearful blond wig, made in two parts, the front piece rolling in pompadour fashion over a large “rat.” Into this he stuck a steel butterfly ornament, which on some occasion, he said, he fastened to the dirty standing collar he wore about his neck, or on the front of the equally soiled tulle gumpee which be carelessly put on between it and the waist to his dress. As he had recently shaved, his face was quite smooth, and in a twinkling he made it up with a by no means delicate pink powder, with red pomade for the lips.

While thus engaged he several times complained that the hair on his arms greatly annoyed him, but “most of the boys didn’t mind it.” What capped the climax, however, were his gloves, they being of the white cotton variety, coarse and thick, and very like those worn by the enlisted men in the army. They had not been in the wash for some time; and when he slipped on over them a cheap bracelet on each arm, the effect can better be imagined than described — more particularly as the gloves by no means reached high enough to cover his naked forearms, upon which, as already stated, grew a rather abundant growth of hair.

“Ha!” he said, “I feel more like myself now, and I am ready for the picture — what will you have, a pingpong?” I thought not; but I was not long in exposing a couple of negatives (8 x 10) on his own selected poses, the better one of these being here reproduced.

[Source: R.W. Shufeldt. “Biography of a passive pederast.” American Journal of Urology and Sexology 13, no. 10 (October 1917): 451-460. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Keith Strickland: 1953. The founding member of the B-52s started off as the group’s drummer, but switched to guitar after Ricky Wilson died in 1985. Strickland has also played keyboards and bass guitar on many B-52s recordings. He writes most of the music, while leaving the lyrics to the other band members. The band’s music has always had a fun, quirky factor, which Strickland says is the essence of what the B-52s are all about: “The underlying message of the B-52′s is, it’s okay to be different.” In December 2012, Strickland announced that “my barnstorming days have come to an end” and he would no longer tour, although he remains a member of the group. Strickland lives in Key West, Florida, with his partner.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 25

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gainesville, FL; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Smyrna Beach, FL; Taipei, Taiwan.

Other Events This Weekend: Halloween, New Orleans, LA; AIDS Walk, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

A classified ad from GAY, March 1974, page 19.

A classified ad from GAY, March 1974, page 19.

Charles H. Hughes, founder and editor of journal Alienist and Neurologist

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
An Organization of Colored Erotopaths: 1893. Charles H. Hughes, a St. Louis physician, former superintendent of Missouri’s State Lunatic Asylum in Fulton, and the respected founder and editor of the journal Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was a nineteenth century term for psychiatrist), published a lengthy paper in the October 1893 issue titled “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism,” which he had presented to the Pan-American Medical Congress the month before. In that paper, he set out to distinguish various forms of sexuality and categorize them according to whether they were products of “the neuroses or the neuro-psychoses,” which he described as “resistless” or subject to “the resistible involvement of the will… simple moral vice, uninfluenced or unextenuated by neural disease, ” because “[t]he sexually insane must be differentiated from such of these perverts as are not damaged in mind to the degree of insanity; a difficult task, yet one now imperatively demanded of psychiatry.”

Some of those “perversions” did not yet have commonly known names, and so to describe homosexuality he needed to tie together several terms used by several other authors: “Westphal, Moll, Krafft-Ebing and many others have presented instances of sexual perversion under the titles of ‘Erninger and Conträre Sexualempfindung,’ psychopathia-sexualis, homo-sexuality, etc., the anima muliebris in corpore virili inculsa (a female psyche confined in a male body), according to Ulrichs, himself a sexual pervert, and reasserted by Magnan, Kiernan, Gley and Lydston.” The fact that Hughes used the word homo-sexuality, which had been introduced into the English language just a year earlier with the first English translation of Richard Von Crafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, indicates Hughes’s keen interest on the subject. And that Hughes recognized the difficulty of assigning blanket categories of gay people as either morally bankrupt or mentally insane — and Hughes appears not to have entertained any other option — it reflected the limited parameters of debate then taking place in psychiatry.

Hughes was, among many things, a lover of debate, and his journal reflected his encyclopedic interests. What makes perusing old copies of Alienist and Neurologist so particularly rewarding is the variety of reprinted letters, anecdotes, speeches, news items, magazine articles, and just about anything else that remotely touched on psychiatry in the nineteenth century. On example was a suicide note from a young gay man in St. Louis (see Feb 23) which Hughes described in “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism.” Another example is these three paragraphs which appeared later in that same October 1893 issue that included Hughes’s talk on “Erotopathia”:

Postscript to Paper on “Erotopathia.”An Organization 0f Colored Erotopaths. — Apropos of my paper on “Erotopathia,” I am credibly informed that there is, in the city of Washington, D. C., an annual convocation of negro men called the drag dance, which is an orgie of lascivious debauchery beyond pen power of description. I am likewise informed that a similar organization was lately suppressed by the police of New York city.

In this sable performance of sexual perversion all of these men are lasciviously dressed in womanly attire, short sleeves, low· necked dresses and the usual ball-room decorations and ornaments of women, feathered and ribboned head-dresses, garters, frills, flowers, ruffles, etc., and deport themselves as women. Standing or seated on a pedestal, but accessible to all the rest, is the naked queen (a male), whose phallic member, decorated with a ribbon, is subject to the gaze and osculations in turn, of all the members of this lecherous gang of sexual perverts and phallic fornicators.

Among those who annually assemble in this strange libidinous display are cooks, barbers, waiters and other employees of Washington families, some even higher in the social scale — some being employed as subordinates in the Government departments.

[Sources: Charles H. Hughes. “Erotopathia — Morbid Erotism.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available online here.

Charles H. Hughes. “An organization of colored erotopaths.” Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 731-732. Available online here.]

95 YEARS AGO: A Letter from an Invert: 1919. Through the early part of the twentieth century, American medical and mental health writers took an increasing interest in homosexuality (or “sexual inversion,” “contrary sexual feeling,” “perverted sexual instinct,” or any number of other terms which they had yet to settle on). One of the professional journals to actively investigate all aspects of sexology was the Journal of Urology and Sexology under the editorship of William J Robinson, a physician, sexologist , birth control advocate, and department head of Genito-Urinary Diseases at Bronx Hospital Dispensary.

But it was rare to hear from “inverts” themselves. Last July, we reprinted one letter to the editor from 1919 which gave some indication of the frustration that many felt due to the severe societal disapproval that was prevalent a the time (see Jul 30). Three months later, that same journal published another letter “from an invert”:

To the EDITOR:
I know you will disagree with me, but it is my belief that two men who love each other have as much right to live together as a man and woman have. Also that it is as beautiful when looked at in the right light and far more equal!

There are many men who believe as I do. One might say they are abnormal. Does that have anything to do with the right or wrong of the question? To sleep all day, to work all night, is an abnormal condition. It isn’t natural. Does that go to prove that the one who does it is right or wrong? There is that abnormal condition; to bring in a moral question would be foolishness. “Wrong” and “abnormal” seem to mean the same thing to many people. Or shall I put it — “wrong” and “unnatural”? From the way people look at me who know my belief, you would think me a leper or a negro! *

May I not have as high an ideal in my love toward men, as a man has towards a woman? Higher, no doubt, than most men have toward women? Higher, no doubt, than most men have toward women!

The idea people hold is making me bitter. All that I might be is being killed. I can understand the thoughts of Jean Valjean, who held to his high ideals and asked only to be left alone — yet had to lose his whole life fleeing, ever fleeing, from people.

I wish the question might be discussed in your magazine. I have never known of any other magazine which gave its readers the liberty of expressing their own opinions, as gladly as your magazine does.

There are reasons (position, etc.) why it would be better to withhold my name. You need not doubt the good faith in which this letter is written.

A MAN [?].

Jean Valjean is the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables, which follows his 19-year-long struggle with the law for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children. The editor appended this footnote to the letter:

* This sentence shows that the writer is no more broadminded on the racial question than most people are on the subject of sexual abnormalities and perversions.-W. J. R.

[Source: American Journal of Urology and Sexology 15, no. 10 (October 1919): 454-455.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
120 YEARS AGO: Claude Cahun: 1894-1954. She was born Lucy Schwob in Nantes, France, but in 1919 she chose the gender-ambiguous name (in French) of Claude Cahun in keeping with her photographic self-portraits that she began making at the age of sixteen. Her self-portraits in different guises expressed a range of sexual self-expression, from the close-cropped hair and stubbled chin in her masculine appearance to the exaggerated femininity in china-doll perfection, to a range of androgyny in between. When surrealism became fashionable, she fit right in, declaring that she had “always been a surrealiste.”

In 1937, she and her stepsister/partner, Suzanne Malherbe moved to the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, which would see Nazi occupation during the war. Cahun became active in the resistance by writing and distributing anti-German leaflets. She and Malherbe would sometimes dress up and attend German military events in Jersey, and sneak leaflets into soldiers’ pockets. They were arrested in 1944 and sentenced to death, but the sentences were never carried out. Much of Cahun’s photographic work, including plates and negatives, were destroyed with the army raided her home. While Cahun and Malherbe both survived the war, Cahun’s health had deteriorated due to her detention and she died in 1954.

Chely Wright: 1970. She  first Top 40 Country hit, “Shut Up and Drive,” peaked at Number 14 in 1997. In 1999, she hit #1 in the U.S. and Canadian Country charts with “Single White Female,” from her album by the same name. Those successes however came during a rather complicated time in her personal life. Chely had been in a off-and-on committed relationship with a woman that she described as “the love of my life,” — even during a period when the woman had married a man during part of that time. They lived together during their final five years together, from about 1999 to 2004, despite both women being closeted and both of them believing that gay relationships were wrong.

In 2000, Chely’s already complicated life became even more so when she started an affair with fellow country singer Brad Paisley. She liked him, loved him even, but wasn’t in love with him. But, as she later wrote in her autobiography, “If I figured I’m going to live a less than satisfied life, this is the guy I could live with. If I’m gonna be with a boy, this is the boy.” But in the end, she she wound up with a lot of remorse over how she treated him, “I have a lot of regret for how that [relationship] began and had a middle and ended. I had no business being in a relationship with him.”

Beginning in 2004, she began coming out to members of her immediate family and close friends. In 2007, she finally decided to come out publicly when she began writing her autobiography, and with its 2010 release she was officially out, once and for all. In August 2011, Wright married LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer in Connecticut. Wright herself has also become an LGBT advocate in founding LikeMe, which provides support and education scholarships for young LGBT advocates.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 24

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gainesville, FL; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Smyrna Beach, FL; Taipei, Taiwan.

Other Events This Weekend: Halloween, New Orleans, LA; AIDS Walk, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, D.C.), July 1977, page 12.

From The Blade (Washington, D.C.), July 1977, page 12.

Dr. Joseph Collins

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Doctor Looks At Love and Life: 1926. The October 24, 1926 edition of The New York Times reviewed a book by Dr. Joseph Collins, a physician and neurologist for the New York Neurological Institute, and also something of a polyglot. Collins himself was the first to review James Joyce’s Ulysses for the Times, and his earlier books included Sleep and the Sleepless (1912), My Italian Year (1919), The Doctor Looks at Literature (1923) and The Doctor Looks at Biography (1925). His latest endeavor, The Doctor Looks at Love and Life, was rather groundbreaking on several fronts, not the least of which in the way it prompted the venerable Times to print the word “homosexual” for the first time in its history.

The Doctor Looks at Love and Life had a clear division between the first part, “Love” which was specific to the issues of sex and matrimony, and the second part, “Life,” in which Collins took a literary view of psychology and education. Our interest lies in the first part, particularly in chapter IV, titled simply “Homosexuality,” which marked Collins as something of transitional figure in in how homosexuality was treated in the popular literature during the first decades of the twentieth century:

It will probably be difficult to convince the generation succeeding ours that, when this country was at the zenith of her commercial prosperity, it was improper to utter the word homosexuality, prurient to admit its existence and pornographic to discuss the subject. It was proper to read novels in which it was treated more or less openly if the setting was European: decadent people in decadent countries. Here, if it existed at all, it could not flourish; our soil is unfavorable, our climate prejudicial, our people, too primitive, too pure.

…It is impossible to make the average American believe that homosexuality is not necessarily a vice, or that its possessor is not what is called a degenerate. It may be a vice and the possessor of it may be immoral or unmoral, but the majority of homosexuals, male and female, are not degenerates, to use that word in its colloquial sense. Genuine homosexuality is not a vice, it is an endowment. …I have known many well-balanced homosexuals of both sexes. Some of them have made distinctive positions for themselves in various fields of activity from arms to the pulpit. … As a rule, they are persons of taste, refinement and sensibility. Many of them seek aid to be relieved of a burden which they find intolerable; if they attempt to deliver it in the way nature suggests to them, the State puts them into prison.

It is important to say that while Collins was a transitional figure, he was not a transformative one. And as a result, his chapter on homosexuality is, at times, self-contradictory. He criticized much of what had been written before about homosexuality: that it was a viscous crime, a sign of madness, or the result (or cause) of hereditary degeneracy of a race whose evolution was being adversely disrupted by the modern world (see Sept 3 for a brief discussion of degeneracy theory). Compared to those arguments, Collins’s view that homosexuality was in some way constitutional and that society needed to adjust its judgments accordingly can be seen as a kind of progress. But when he suggested that homosexuality was an endowment, he did not mean to say that homosexuality was normal: “They are not nature’s elect, but deviates who will one day disappear from the world when we shall have guessed the last riddle of the sympathetic nervous system and the ductless glands.” His optimism was typical among scientists of his day. But while he believed that nature gave gay people a raw deal, society also had its share of guilt:

There are many potential and actual homosexuals whose intercourse with persons of their own sex is confined to emotional and intellectual contact, to establishing romantic friendships with them and seeking relief from tedium vitae in their society. They are not degenerates. There are others in which intercourse is physical as well. The rank and file of the world considers them degenerates, a blot on its escutcheon, a bar sinister in its pedigree. The world may do them an injustice, but nature has done them a far graver one. They are victims of Fate, the only ones that do not excite our compassion: and all because we cannot or will not distinguish between the work of God and Satan. … We are shorter of tolerance in this country than of any other virtue.

While he argued strongly that society should break from the past in how it regarded gay people, he could not accept the views coming out of Europe which held that homosexuality was just another variation of human sexuality. Those views he considered “pornographic” and dangerous, and on this point Collins suddenly becomes positively Victorian, if not Puritan:

Moreover, there has grown up around it an enormous literature, some of which may have been begotten in the interest of science, but most of which has been claimed by pornography. Strangely enough, this literature has come largely out of the country that precipitated the World War and that was decimated by the war. Ulrichs, Krafft-Ebing, Freud, Stekel and dozens of their countrymen have flooded the Western world with it. Their writings were promptly translated and published in this country, and though it has been claimed that their sale is restricted to clergymen, physicians, lawyers, social workers, etc., the books have been sold to high grade imbeciles, esthetes and flappers, pruriency mongers and potential perverts, to their great injury. To those for whom it is said they were intended they have been a fountain of misinformation, a flood of misrepresentation. One might readily gather from reading the latest one from Vienna that there were no normal people left in the world.

Unlike other books by Karl Ulrich’s (see Aug 28), Richard von Krafft-Ebing (see Aug 14), or Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) — the sales of which were (ostensibly) restricted to professionals to avoid running afoul of obscenity laws — Collins’s book was marketed directly to the average lay reader in homes across America. And like many those other mass market books, Collins upheld the heterosexual ideal, although by portraying homosexuality as a kind of a naturally-occurring defect, he was quite progressive in comparison. And unlike most of those other mass market books, Collins refrained from demonizing gay people as moral defects. But through the rest of his chapter, he emphasized that it was science’s duty to figure out how to cure and prevent homosexuality’s development (and he optimistically believed, in 1926, that science stood at the threshold of that very accomplishment). And yet it would take many more years before other books on sexuality and relationships targeting the mass market readership would begin to provide this kind of outlook:

I have but small hope that I shall be able to convince the majority of my readers that urnings are not monsters in human form whose salutations should be met with sneers and overtures to friendship with a kick; nevertheless, in view of the fact that my experience has taught me that they are not necessarily morbid or mad, and that many of them suffer through their sex-allotment, I construe it to be my duty to interpret them as it is society’s duty to understand them.

[Source: Joseph Collins. The Doctor Looks at Love and Life (Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing Co., 1926): 64-103.]

45 YEARS AGO: University of Minnesota Recognizes Gay Student Group: 1969. When a joint faculty-student committee agreed to recognize the 75-member gay student group calling themselves FREE (Fight Repression of Erotic Expression), officials made it clear that the recognition did not mean approval. It only meant that the group would have limited rights, such as free use of university meeting rooms. The group elected Jack Baker as its first president (see Mar 10), and staged a dance at the student union, attended by sixty gays and lesbians. Sophomore Nick Lenarz told a reporter, “I feel just like a straight person who had never danced before. I’ve been to school dances and things, but now I’m really dancing for the first time.” His partner, senior Tim Peterson, added, “We learned to accept each other as people, not as queers, or faggots, or whatever else people call us.”

FREE was the second gay student group to be formally recognized by a university, after the Columbia Queer Alliance was recognized by Columbia University in 1967 (see May 12).

[Source: Austin Wehrwein. "Minn U. Recognizes Club for Homosexuals." The Washington Post (November 25, 1969): A2.]

Cinema Follies

Eight Die In Cinema Follies Fire: 1977. It was shaping up to be a terrible year for fire deaths in gay establishments. Five months earlier nine died and ten others were injured in a fire at the Everard Baths in New York City (see May 25). The Everard fire broke out just days before a new sprinkler system was to be activated.

Washington D.C.’s Cinema Follies, on the other hand, was more or less up to code. It had opened in 1975 in a former auto repair building as an x-rated theater catering the the gay male crowd. At about 5:00 p.m. on October 24, cleaning chemicals stored on the ground floor exploded, and the carpeting and wall hangings quickly caught fire, blocking the exit for patrons in a second floor theater. The fire never actually reached the second floor, and the Washington Post reported that “most of the victims were found in the orange-and-black seater seats… (They) may have been overcome by the smoke before they realized what was happening.” Identifying the victims was difficult since many of them had ditched their ID’s in case of a police raid out of fear of losing their jobs or being ostracized by friends and family members if their presence there was made public.

Four others were luckier and somehow survived. The Washington Post, citing “compassion for the wives and children,” declined to publish the names of the dead and injured. Three years later, another possible reason for the Post’s discretion came to light after Rep. John Hinson (R-MS) admitted that he was one of the four survivors (see Feb 5).

The theater’s owners were eventually fined $650 for violating four building codes, although city officials acknowledged that the codes were so poorly written that it was almost impossible to comply with them. In fact, they conceded that the owners “did everything possible” to comply. The disaster led to a strengthening of the city’s building codes, along with stepped-up enforcement. The Follies reopened at a new location within a year.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 23

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gainesville, FL; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Smyrna Beach, FL; Taipei, Taiwan.

Other Events This Weekend: Halloween, New Orleans, LA; AIDS Walk, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

From The Weekly News (Miami, FL), October 21, 1987, page 33.

My Friend’s Place was waaay out of town, southeast of Gainesville and in the middle of the woods by Newnans Lake. It’s not clear when MFP opened, but the dance bar’s origins as a gay bar were soon overshadowed by its growing popularity among straight college-aged coeds who, in turn, attracted a passel of straight college-aged men. Next thing you knew, the popular gay bar wasn’t quite so gay anymore. MFP closed down sometime in the early 1990s, and it looks like the premises hasn’t seen much life since then.

Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Draft Board Head Says Being Gay Is One Way To Beat the Draft: 1965. Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, 72, had headed the Selective Service System since 1940, when he organized the Service after Congress authorized the draft for World War II. Establishing a national system of local draft boards was challenging, so was keeping the system operating while balancing the concerns, more or less, of five president, Republican- and Democratic-led Congresses, and millions of families whose sons would find themselves the recipient of a letter from Uncle Sam with the salutation, “Greetings!” Part of the systems success could be found in the autonomy that was granted to local draft boards. The Selective Service Law gave those local draft boards complete discretion in deciding to grant or deny deferments.

But as the Vietnam War escalated and students became restive with anti-draft demonstrations, Hershey found himself with a new set of challenges. In 1965, Hershey was still unfazed, calling the early anti-draft movement “a complete flop.” But he did express one concern to a United Press International reporter: “My real concern is that some local boards may react to all of this agitation by canceling student deferments. I hope that won’t happen. It would be unwise, because the national interest is served by keeping young men in college to complete their education.”

As for the “agitators,” Hershey said that of the two million college men, “only a tiny fraction of one percent have been involved in staging protest parades, burning draft cards or other demonstrations of unwillingness to serve in the armed forces. … The effect on our ability o meet draft calls has been negligible, and I am confident it will remain negligible.” Hershey had also learned that some young men were trying to beat the draft by deliberately flunking the mental and physical exams. “We also have ingenious ways of detecting these little frauds,” he said. “There are always some people who try to fool the examiners. But only a very few get away with it.” And with draft calls shooting up to 45,000 men a month, the armed forces had relaxed their examination requirements somewhat. “A man with a high school diploma is now virtually assured of acceptability,” Hershey said.

But there was still one sure-fire way to beat the draft: “If he tells the examiner that he’s a homosexual, he’ll be rejected. We recognize that he might be lying, but a person who’ll say that has certainly got something wrong with him. We have enough men to defend this country without having to draft self proclaimed homosexuals.”

Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31). Photo by Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5). Photo via New York Public Library’s online Digital Collection.

Gay Activists Hold Third White House Picket: 1965. Gay activists wrapped up an ambitious year of public protests with a third picket in front of the White House, demanding an end to the bans on federal employment, military service, and security clearances for gay people. Earlier protests took place at the White House (see Apr 17, May 29), the United Nations (see Apr 18), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), the Pentagon (see Jul 31) and the State Department (see Aug 28). The pickets were an outgrowth of an increased determination among gay activists for more direct action, in contrast to the aversion to publicity exhibited by the prior generation of activists.

This protest, like many of the others, was sponsored by the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose coalition of independent gay rights groups. About 45 demonstrators showed up for the two-hour afternoon march, including representatives from the Mattachine Societies of Washington, D.C., New York, Miami, and Chicago, along with Philadelphia’s Janus Society. Frank Kameny (see May 21), head of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., notified police and the media ahead of time, and picketers distributed leaflets and an open letter to President Lyndon Johnson listing their demands. FBI informants were there too. Their reports described a small counter-demonstration by two teenage males carrying placards which read, “Are You Kidding?” and “Get Serious.”

Le Journal de Montreal’s front page coverage of the Truxx and Le Mystique raids (click to enlarge)

Demonstrations Against Montreal Police Raids: 1977. About two thousand of Montreal’s gay community took to the streets and jammed downtown Ste. Catherine Street very early on Sunday morning shouting “fascist dogs” and “gestapo” at motorcycle police who were called to clear the area. The focus of the anger was the brutal “morality squad” raids early Saturday morning at Truxx and Le Mystique, two gay bars. Police barged in wielding machine guns and bulletproof vests as they arrested 144 men for being in a “bawdy house” or for “gross indecency” — common charges for anyone who was thought to be gay.

Those raids capped two years of nearly constant police harassment and raids which had begun as a campaign to “clean up” the city in preparation for the 1976 Olympics. But with this latest raid, the gay community fought back in what was later dubbed, “Quebec’s Stonewall.” Also different this time, gays and lesbians had the news media’s support. By the end of the year, the Parti Québéois adopted Bill 88 which added sexual orientation to the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms anti-discrimination clauses. The change didn’t stop the raids though. Police raids would continue until Montreal’s “other” Stonewall rebellion in 1990 following a riotous raid of a loft party.

15 YEARS AGO: Mel White Meets With Jerry Falwell: 1999. Mel White had been a successful evangelical minister, television producer and ghostwriter for such popular televangelists as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. When White finally came to terms with his own homosexuality and came out of the closet, he quickly became one of Falwell’s biggest critics, accusing Falwell of fostering anti-gay rhetoric which had the effect of encouraging violence against LGBT people. Having worked closely with Falwell before coming out, White repeatedly called on Falwell to meet with him to discuss the problem. After several years of back-and-forth negotiations, that meeting finally tool place on an October Saturday when about 200 members of White’s pro-LGBT advocacy group, SoulForce, joined members of Falwell’s congregation in the gymnasium of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The gathering was billed as an Anti-Violence forum, as the two groups sat down to discuss the impact of hate speech and hate-motivated violence. Falwell took the opportunity to complain that Christian fundamentalists were being singled out for violence because of pro-gay rhetoric. Falwell also infuriated White and the Soulforce attendees when a prominent ex-gay spokesman, Michael Johnston, got up to speak to the gathering about his “ultimate goal is to bring you out of the lifestyle and into the Lord.” (Four years later, Johnston’s ministry would end in disgrace when his double life of gay orgies and unprotected sex came to light. See Aug 1.)

Falwell later told White that he didn’t know anything about Johnston, claiming that Johnston just showed up that day and asked to speak. White also challenged Falwell over his web site, which claimed that the gay community’s quest for equality was “a sewer of moral filth,” created “an environment that’s incredibly dangerous to our children,” and represented “a culture that despises Christian faith and morality.” Falwell claimed that those statements were neither written nor approved by him, but he pledged to “look very carefully” at those statements and others in the future.

At a press conference afterward, White characterized the meeting as an important first step in an ongoing dialogue. “We’re listening to each other. I think, down the long road, we’re going to be reconciled, and it starts today,” White said. Falwell, in turn, praised White and said, “And I hope that evangelicals might build a bridge to gay and lesbian people just as we have built a bridge to drug addicts, alcoholics and unwed mothers.” It’s as if he never heard a thing.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jean Acker: 1893-1978. She appeared in several silent films in the 1910s and 1920s, thanks, in part, to a relationship she struck up with another silent film actress, Alla Nazimova (see Jun 3), who introduced Acker to a group of lesbian and bisexual actresses known as the “sewing circle.” Acker’s greatest claim to fame, however, is in her real-life role as Mrs. Rudolph Valentino (see May 6). They married in 1919 after a two month courtship, but the marriage was reportedly never consummated (it’s said that she locked him out of the hotel bedroom on their wedding night). They filed for divorce, although she insisted on using the name Mrs. Rudolph Valentino for some time after. In 1923, Acker met former Ziegfeld Follies girl Chloe Carter, and they remained together for the rest of their lives. Acker died in 1978 of natural causes and was buried next to Carter.

Lilyan Tashman: 1896. The actress got her start in Vaudeville and Broadway before moving to Hollywood to become a well-known film star. Most of her roles were as a “bitchy” other woman or as a sharp, clever villainess. She married a vaudevillian performer in 1914, but they divorced in 1921. In 1925, she married openly gay actor Edmund Lowe, and they had what Hollywood reporters described, perhaps with a bit of snark, as an “ideal marriage.” The couple entertained lavishly at their home, where their weekly parties reportedly becoming “full-blown orgies.” One reporter described her as “the most gleaming, glittering, moderne, hard-surfaced, and distingué woman in all of Hollywood.” She died young, at the age of 37, of cancer shortly after filming her final film in New York in 1934.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, October 22

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gainesville, FL; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Smyrna Beach, FL; Taipei, Taiwan.

Other Events This Weekend: Halloween, New Orleans, LA; AIDS Walk, Phoenix, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, the first nationally-distributed gay magazine in the U.S. March 1960, page 31.

From ONE, the first nationally-distributed gay magazine in the U.S. March 1960, page 31.

Dr. Robert Bernstein

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Texas Health Official Seeks Authority to Quarantine People with AIDS: 1985. In the first such effort by a state health official, Texas Health Commissioner Dr. Robert Bernstein announced that he was preparing a request to the state Board of Health to add AIDS to the list of communicable diseases to be covered under Texas’s quarantine law. AIDS would join cholera, yellow fever and tuberculosis as conditions that would result in involuntary quarantine under Bernstein’s proposal. Bernstein said that the use of quarantine would be limited to what he termed “extraordinary cases”. Bernstein cited the case of a Houston hustler who continued to engage in sex with customers until he was finally persuaded to check into a hospital for treatment. “It would not be for the average or the multitude of cases of AIDS,” he said. “It would just isolate the one who are a potential risk.”

But critics pointed out that quarantines were traditionally reserved for those whose disease was spread through casual contact. AIDS, they pointed out, did not fall under that category. Gary LaMarche, executive director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union said, “It’s almost a unique communicable disease. Everything we know about it suggests you have to go out of your way to get it.” Gay activist Ray Hill of Houston added, “You can’t catch it by getting breathed on. You can’t catch it by shaking hands.” Dr. Harry Haverkos, AIDS program officer at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,  agreed. “You don’t pick this disease up by riding the subway into work with someone or going to school with someone. We’re talking about a different form of transmission, and quarantining individuals isn’t necessary with this disease.”

Bill Foster of the Austin Lesbian-Gay Political Caucus added that much of the problem Bernstein cited was due to a lack of social services for people with AIDS. That shortage meant that some were being forced to fend for themselves using whatever means were at their disposal. “The quarantine law may allay fears of the general public,” he said, “but would, in fact, be nothing more than a smokescreen and a misdirection of public resources.” Two months later, the Texas Board of Health gave its tentative approval to Bernstein’s proposal (see Dec 14), but as criticism grew, the board withdrew its proposal in January (see Jan 17).

Surgeon General Urges Frank Sex Ed to Combat AIDS: 1986. While the Reagan White House would become widely remembered for its reticence to discuss the AIDS epidemic, the administration’s point man on health matters, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop had no qualms about addressing the topic head on. On October 22, 1986, Dr. Koop issued what The New York Times called “an unusually explicit report to the nation” calling on schools and parents to have “frank, open discussions” with very young children and teens about AIDS.

Koop wrote in the report, “Many people, especially our youth, are not receiving information that is vital to their future health and well-being because of our reticence in dealing with the subjects of sex, sexual practices and homosexuality. This silence must end. We can no longer afford to sidestep frank, open discussions about sexual practices — homosexual and heterosexual. Education about AIDS should start at an early age so that children can grow up knowing the behaviors to avoid to protect themselves from exposure to the AIDS virus.” His report also addressed several myths that were floating around about AIDS, stressing that HIV was not spread by common everyday contact like shaking hands, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing, nor is it spread from contact with toilet seats, food prepared by people with AIDS, or eating utensils.

This report marked the end of a long and puzzling period of silence about the AIDS epidemic, both from the administration and from Koop himself. He later wrote in Koop: The Memoirs of America’s Family Doctor that in 1983, Assistant Secretary of Health Ed Brandt had excluded him from the Executive Task Force on AIDS, an act which was the start of a long series of battles Koop had with others in the administration who effectively muzzled him from speaking on the topic. He was even forbidden from talking to Congressional representatives about it. That exclusion finally ended in the summer of 1985 when Koop was able to join the task force and become the administration’s public spokesperson on AIDS. In February 1986, Reagan asked him to write a report on AIDS, and Koop worked feverishly not only to complete the report, but to get it past some in the administration who opposed any discussion on AIDS.  After Koop’s press conference on October 22, some in the White House made a last ditch attempt to modify or “bottle up the report,” as  he put it, but “eventually the presses rolled, the mail trucks ran, and the report went out.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Lord Alfred Douglas: 1870-1945.
Nicknamed “Bosie,” Douglas was best known as the lover of Oscar Wilde. Their affair began at around 1891 even though Wilde was already married and had two sons. Friends described Douglas as spoiled, reckless and extravagant, perhaps in a bid to emulate Wilde’s own flamboyance.  Douglas’s father, The Marquess of Queensberry, soon became suspicious of the relationship between his son and Wilde, and tried to disown him. Douglas refused, and tensions escalated. When Queensberry publicly insulted Wilde by leaving a visiting card at a club on which he had written, “For Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomite,” Wilde responded by suing Queensberry for libel. When Queensberry was declared not guilty, attention then turned to Wilde himself, who was arrested and tried for sodomy and “gross indecency” based on evidence presented at Queensberry’s trial. Wiled was convicted in 895 and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Douglas was forced into exile in Europe.

While Wilde was in prison, he wrote his famous letter, De Profundis, to Douglas, describing in detail what he felt about him, and making clear in no uncertain terms that the two men were lovers. He was never allowed to send it while in prison, although he may have sent a copy after his release. After Wilde’s death, portions of De Profundis were published in 1912, which led Douglas to denounce Wilde as “the greatest force for evil that has appeared in Europe during the last three hundred and fifty years.” He also began a “litigious and libelous career,” suing and being sued for criminal libel over the next decade. In 1923, he was convicted of libeling Winston Churchill, saying Churchill was part of a Jewish conspiracy to kill the British Secretary of State for War, for which Douglas spent six months in prison. Apparently that experience made him more sympathetic to Wilde’s experience, and his attitude softened. He died in 1945 at the age of 74.

Robert Rauschenberg: 1925-2008. Born to a blue-collar, fundamentalist family in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenbeg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, the Académie Julian in Paris, and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was at Black Mountain College where Rauschenberg studied painting under Josef Albers, a Bauhaus founder, but the strict Bauhaus principles of “uninfluenced experimentation” taught Rauschenberg to do “exactly the reverse.” The otherwise experimental nature of Black Mountain however encouraged him to explore and collaborate with a wide range of interdisciplinary artists, including performances with composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Monogram (1955-1959)

He had married, briefly from 1950 to 1953, and that union produced a son. After that marriage ended, he spent a year with painter Cy Twombly before embarking on a personally and professionally fruitful relationship with Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg and Johns remained together for the next eight years, exchanging ideas, critiquing each other’s work, and together establishing a new approach to art. Their personal relationship and professional collaboration would end up defining a new approach to art, one which sought to bridge the gap between art and life — especially the deeply introspective and sometimes obtuse art of Abstract Expressionists. Their approach was to combining found common objects — quilts, newspapers, tires, brooms, and all kinds of salvaged objects — with images from pop culture, as a kind of foreshadow for Andy Warhol’s work a decade later. Rauschenber called his works “combines,” and some of his most famous ones were Monogram (1955-1959, which included a stuffed goat with a tire around its abdomen) and Canyon (1959). In Factum I (1957), he created a painting that the spontaneous drips, splashes and smears of paint popularized by Action Painters like Jackson Pollack, and then questioned the entire process by faithfully reproducing his painting in Factum II.

After Rauschenberg’s relationship with Johns ended in 1961, Rauschenberg began working with silkscreen printing for a series of paintings what included news photographs. He designed sets and costumes for Merce Cunningham, and other experimental choreographers. In 1983, he won a Grammy Award for his album design for the Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues. In 1998, the Vatican commissioned a work based on the Apocalypse to commemorate the controversial Franciscan priest Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who reputedly displayed stigmata on his hands, feet and side, and who had died in 1968. That work covers a massive window of Pio’s new pilgrimage church in Pio of Pietrelcina, which was designed by Architect Renzo Piano. The work was a particular challenge for Rauschenberg, who grew up in the austere Church of Christ and who hadn’t attended church since his twenties. “I bet you’ll be a Catholic before you finish the project,” the Franciscan prior in charge of the project told Rauschenberg. “And I suppose you’ll be an artist,” Rauschenberg replied. He died in 2008 at his home on Captiva Island, Florida.

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Federal Court Uphold’s Puerto Rico’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2014

Federal District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Puerto Rico’s civil code which limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.Pérez-Giménez, a Carter appointee, dismissed the lawsuit “with prejudice,” meaning that the plaintiffs may not refile the case. He pointed to Baker v. Nelson as “a decision that directly binds this Court”:

The plaintiffs have brought this challenge alleging a violation of the federal constitution, so the first place to begin is with the text of the Constitution. The text of the Constitution, however, does not directly guarantee a right to same-gender marriage, for “when the Constitution was adopted the common understanding was that the domestic relations of husband and wife and parent and child were matters reserved to the States.” See Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2691—92, (citing Ohio ex rel. Popovici v. Agler, 280 U.S. 379, 383-384 (1930)).

Without the direct guidance of the Constitution, the next source of authority is relevant Supreme Court precedent interpreting the Constitution. On the question of same-gender marriage, the Supreme Court has issued a decision that directly binds this Court. The petitioners in Baker v. Nelson were two men who had been denied a license to marry each other. They argued that Minnesota’s statutory definition of marriage as an opposite-gender relationship violated due process and equal protection – just as the plaintiffs argue here. The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ claim, determining that the right to marry without regard to gender was not a fundamental right and that it was neither irrational nor invidious discrimination to define marriage as requiring an opposite-gender union. …The Supreme Court considered both claims and unanimously dismissed the petitioners’ appeal “for want of [a] substantial federal question.”

It’s rather astonishing to see Judge Pérez-Giménez cite Windsor as arguing that the Federal Constitution is silent on the rights of same-sex couples when that very decision swept away Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on due process and equal protection grounds. One wonders whether Pérez-Giménez actually bothered to read through all of Windsor when he wrote this rather cranky paragraph:

The Windsor opinion did not create a fundamental right to same-gender marriage nor did it establish that state opposite-gender marriage regulations are amenable to federal constitutional challenges. If anything, Windsor stands for the opposite proposition: it reaffirms the States’ authority over marriage, buttressing Baker’s conclusion that marriage is simply not a federal question. … Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, Windsor does not overturn Baker; rather, Windsor and Baker work in tandem to emphasize the States’ “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation” free from “federal intrusion.” Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2692. It takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance – this Court does not venture an answer here – to interpret Windsor’s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.

He also lashed out at the dozens of other courts which struck down elsewhere in a conclusion that could have easily been written by the Family “Research” Council:

Recent affirmances of same-gender marriage seem to suffer from a peculiar inability to recall the principles embodied in existing marriage law. Traditional marriage is “exclusively [an] opposite-sex institution … inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship,” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2718 (Alito, J., dissenting). Traditional marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order. And ultimately the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.

Those are the well-tested, well-proven principles on which we have relied for centuries. The question now is whether judicial “wisdom” may contrive methods by which those solid principles can be circumvented or even discarded.

A clear majority of courts have struck down statutes that affirm opposite-gender marriage only. In their ingenuity and imagination they have constructed a seemingly comprehensive legal structure for this new form of marriage. And yet what is lacking and unaccounted for remains: are laws barring polygamy, or, say the marriage of fathers and daughters, now of doubtful validity? Is “minimal marriage”, where “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties” the blueprint for their design? …

Of course, it is all too easy to dismiss such concerns as absurd or of a kind with the cruel discrimination and ridicule that has been shown toward people attracted to members of their own sex. But the truth concealed in these concerns goes to the heart of our system of limited, consent-based government: those seeking sweeping change must render reasons justifying the change and articulate the principles that they claim will limit this newly fashioned right.

Lambda Legal has already announced that they will appeal the decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. All of the states in the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) already have marriage equality, either through the ballot box, legislative action, or state court rulings.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 21

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), November 1971, page 9.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), November 1971, page 9.

Police raids on gay bars were ubiquitous in city across the country. Raids had a couple of immediate effects: they caused short term headaches for bar owners and employees, and they endangered their customers to arrest and, often worse, public exposure. Today we think of whether people are out of the closet or not, but forty years ago, it was much more likely for gay people to live somewhere in between — out among some family members but closeted at work, out in the neighborhood but closeted among other friends and family members. For those who were closeted or perhaps only partly out, having their names and addresses printed in the paper was just too big of a risk to take.

And so this led to a longer-term effect that bar owners often had to deal with after a raid: the inevitable loss of business that followed. It wasn’t unusual for a gay bar to go out of business soon after a raid simply because their clientele simply vanished, never to return. And so one way for bar owners to try stay in business after a raid was to put out the word that the police action wasn’t actually a raid. That’s what the owners of the Detour did after their club was raided on October 21, 1971. According to Our Community, the local LGBT paper:

Nine persons were arrested at the Detour, 3113-A Live Oak, in an encounter with Dallas police Thursday, October 21. Three minors were arrested for being on the premises of a bar serving alcoholic beverages, although they had not been served by any Detour employees, according to the owners. Six persons were also arrested when they complained of police harassment and were charged with disorderly conduct. This group included 5 blacks and 1 white.

The encounter occurred as a consequence of an anonymous complaint. The police charged that the Detour was operating billiard tables without a license, operating a dance floor without a license, and serving minors. The owners contend that their- operating the billiard tables and the dance floor resulted from innocent errors.

…According to the owners, approximately “150 guests” had their ID checked by police and were then told to leave the Detour. The owners point out that this should not be regarded as a “raid” since only the minors, the bartender, and the party of six were arrested. On balance, the police were well-behaved and not belligerent in any way. One need not be afraid to go to the Detour because the bar has had no trouble with the police since the October 21 encounter.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
The Bishop of Clogher Defrocked for “Sodomitical Practices”: 1822. On July 19, 1822, Bishop Percy Jocelyn, the Anglican Bishop of Clogher in the Church of Ireland was caught in, shall we say, a most compromising position with a Grenadier Guardsman, John Moverly, at the White House Pub’s back room (apparently, they had ‘em even then) in Westminster. They were caught by the pub’s proprietor, and dragged through the streets by a mob, mostly naked as they were found, to a nearby jail. Bishop Clogher was granted bail a few days later, but the soldier remained in jail:

Lord Sefton went to see the soldier in prison. He says he is a fine soldierlike man and has no the air which these wretches usually have. The Bishop took no precautions, and it was next to impossible he should not have been caught. He made a desperate resistance when taken away, and if his breeches had not been down they think he would have got away. It seems that the soldier will be proceeded against with the greatest vigour, and the Magistrate is much blamed for having taken such small bail as that which he required. The Duke will not spare the Soldier. Lord Lauderdale said the other day that the greatest dissatisfaction would pervade the public mind at the escape of the Bishop and the punishment of the Soldier, and the people, who cannot discriminate, or enter into nice points of the law, will only see in such apparent injustice a disposition to shield the offender in the higher classes of society from the consequences of his crime, while the law is allowed to take its course with the more humble culprit.

Eventually, the soldier was released on bail as well. Both fled the city and were never seen again (although the Bishop was reportedly later seen in Paris as though nothing had happened). The Bishop’s ecclesiastical trial was set for October 21, and it went on despite his absence. According to the court record:

…It [the evidence] also proved the fatal and depraved purposes for which he associated himself with a private soldier, wholly beneath him in rank and station, as the unworthy and vicious partner of his depravity and guilt. The place chosen by him for that base purpose was also unfitted to him as a prelate of the church, the man of high rank and station; it was a common alehouse, situate in St. Alban’s-place in the city of Westminster. In his career of vice, he was very fortunately stopped, before he had perpetrated the last foul act, or crime, which he himself designed; and by which, if committed, his life would have been forfeited to the offended law of the country. Being found by the watchman and others, in a situation disgraceful and degrading to him, he was made a prisoner, in order to be removed to the watch-house of the district.

The bishop wasn’t actually convicted of the capital offense of sodomy itself because English law required that the act be, err, fully consummated, a standard of proof that was difficult to reach. Hence the observation that he was caught before perpetrating “the last foul act, or crime” of the, um, emission of seed. But the evidence was strong enough to strip the bishop of his office for “the crimes of immorality, incontinence, Sodomitical practices, habits, and propensities, and neglect of his spiritual, judicial, and ministerial duties.”

It’s almost impossible for a scandal to unravel worse than this one. First, the fact that a Bishop was caught in flagrante delicto was itself quite shocking. That was compounded by the perception that he had been given preferential treatment with his early release with very low bail. And if all that wasn’t enough, the Bishop was a well-known member of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. All of this hypocrisy was too much for Londoners to bear, and for many weeks afterward it was unsafe for members of the clergy to be seen on the streets. But it all made great material for satirists:

The Devil to prove the Church was a farce
Went out to fish for a Bugger.
He baited his hook with a Frenchman’s arse,*
And pulled up the Bishop of Clogher.

*Moverly was from a French family.

[Source Chris White’s Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality: A Sourcebook (London, Routledge, 1999): pp 33-34.]

Morris Kight (white hair, glasses) and other activists emerge from a meeting with L.A. Times editors.

40 YEARS AGO: Los Angeles Times Picketed Over Refusal to Cover Gay Issues: 1974. Two hundred demonstrators protested the ongoing crackdown on gay bars in West Hollywood, but the Los Angeles Times ignored the protest. Later that summer, two thousand people turned out for the Christopher Street West parade (the name given for the annual Pride event held in June), but the Times ignored that also. Four months later, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Community Church raised money to buy a bus for a local children’s home –a fascinating human interest story, but the Times wasn’t interested. On Sunday, October 20, Rev. Lee Carlton told his congregation that it was time to do something about it.

The next day, thirty protesters arrived at the Times building, with reporters from five local TV stations, radio stations and the Associated Press in tow. Times managers thought the protesters would leave by the end of the day. But at closing times, protesters pushed their way into the vestibule, spread out their sleeping bags and settled down for the night. The next morning, Times employees stepped and tripped over the protesters as they tried to get to work. Finally, a manager came down and said that the editorial board would meet with a few representatives. Six went inside. Activist Morris Kight later described the tacit agreement: “They said we were absolutely right in our protest. They admitted they had dealt with us very badly and laid out out a plan. They said we would disappear from their pages for about six months while they figured out what to do about us. We took them at their word on that. After that, they improved dramatically.”

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 133-134.]

Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court, 2005.

Kansas Supreme Court Overturns 17-Year Sentence for Gay Sex: 2005. Matthew R. Limon was eighteen. In February 2000, a week after his eighteenth birthday, he performed consensual oral sex on another teenager who was just under fifteen years old — three years, one month and a few days younger. The two were students at the same residential school for developmentally disabled youth. Under Kansas law, what Limon did was statutory rape. Also under Kansas law, a “Romeo and Juliet” exemption provided much more lenient sentences for those in a similar situation to Limon’s: a maximum of fifteen months’ imprisonment. But also under Kansas law, that “Romeo and Juliet” exemption applied to heterosexual teens only. Because Limon’s act was with another boy, he wasn’t eligible to be sentenced under that exemption. Limon got seventeen years as an adult sexual predator.

In 2003, lawyers for the ACLU appealed the sentence, which a state appeals court upheld. It then went to the Kansas Supreme Court which ruled unanimously that because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision striking down the nation’s sodomy laws, Kansas could not use its laws to express “moral disapproval” of homosexuality, nor could it punish illegal sex more harshly if it involved homosexual acts rather than heterosexual acts. The court ordered Limon re-sentenced under state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, which resulted in his release after five years of imprisonment.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
130 YEARS AGO: Claire Waldoff: 1884-1957. Born Clara Wortmann in Gelsenkirchen, Westphalia, she took the stage name of Claire Waldoff while studying theater. In 1907, she went to Berlin where she quickly became a celebrated cabaret singer. Her style was unique: instead of using double-entendres for which cabaret was known for, she went straight to the point. She was bucked the cabaret’s stylish conventions by adopting a rough persona, wild red hear and street Berliner slang, all of which suited her short and stocky presence. She limited her performances to just three songs and no encores, which gave her time to play at several venues in a single night. Openly lesbian, Waldoff settled in nicely with other lesbian friends and her life partner, Olga Von Roeder, through much of the Weimar period.

The Great Depression and the Nazi’s rise to power brought cabaret culture to an end. In 1939, Waldoff and von Roder left Berlin and moved to remote Bayerische Gmain near the Austrian Alps. After the war, she lost her savings in the German Monetary reform of 1948, but was able to get a stipend from the City of Berlin in 1954, the year after she wrote her biography. She died in 1957.

Dale Jennings: 1917-2000. If anyone knows anything about Jennings, it’s probably limited to just one thing: his false arrest in February of 1952, from within his own home, on charges of soliciting a police officer for immoral acts. It wasn’t the fact that he was arrested which was so notable, but that he chose to fight the charges while also refusing to deny that he was gay. A gay man arguing before a jury that he was innocent was so unusual it made headlines across the country. Those headlines only got bigger when the jury deadlocked 11-1 for acquittal and the charges were dismissed (see Jun 23).

If he was known for anything else, then perhaps it was because two years earlier, Jennings helped to found the Mattachine Foundation with Harry Hay, Chuck Rowland, Rudi Gernreich, and Hay’s student at the California Labor School, Bob Hull, who happened to be Jenning’s boyfriend at the time (see Nov 11). Jennings had met Hay and Gernreich while involved with the Communist Party in Los Angeles. When Jennings was arrested in 1952, the Mattachines came to his rescue by raising money, hiring a lawyer, and generating enough publicity about the case that it would come to the attention of those newspapers which wrote about it. The case also had the effect of raising Mattachine profile among gay people who previously hadn’t known about the secretive group, and its membership skyrocketed.

That it was Jennings who galvanized the Mattachines and gave it a sense of purpose is, perhaps, the greatest irony. Jennings, despite his flirtations with Communism, had little patience for the political theorizing and navel-gazing that took place in the early Mattachine meetings. One Mattachine member recalled that as the group droned on about “the pain and sorrow, the desperate loneliness of being homosexual and afraid, always having to lie and hide,” Jennings “struggled not to laugh out loud.” He also scoffed at Hays’s insistence that homosexuals made up a distinct minority who were inherently and qualitatively different from heterosexuals. Jennings maintained that there were no differences whatsoever between men who preferred sex with women and men who preferred sex with men. “How could you construct a cultural minority out of a group of people with little in common except what they did in bed?”, he asked. Where Hays wanted the right to be publicly gay, Jennings wanted nothing more than the right to be left alone.

Jennings may have expressed a desire to be left alone, but his combative nature ran counter to any desire he might have had to leave things well enough alone. As a budding novelist and playwright, he felt he had a lot to say and was determined to say it. And so during another one of the interminable Mattachine meetings, he found himself drifting into the kitchen where a smaller group of people were discussing the need for a nationally-distributed magazine (see Oct 15) — a real magazine, professionally typset and graphically designed rather than the typewritten and mimeographed newsletters that had tried to pose as pale imitations. Jennings’s contributions would prove to be crucial: he was the only one of that small group who knew the first thing about the mechanics of publishing: editing, layout, typesetting, artwork, advertising, and so forth. He also provided access to the magazine’s first printing press: the first issue was printed by Jennings’s sister and brother-in-law in their basement.

Jennings wound up serving on the editorial board of ONE Magazine when it made its debut in 1953. As was common practice for ONE’s authors in its early days, Jennings not only wrote under his own byline, but also under other pseudonyms to provide the illusion that ONE’s staff was larger than it really was. That first issue included his first-person account of his arrest and acquittal under his own name, along with two other articles as “Heironymus K.” and “Elizabeth Lalo.” In ONE’s third issue, as “Jeff Winters,” Jennings wrote “Homosexuals Are Not a People,” which, as the title suggested, reiterated his contention that homosexuals did not make up a distinct minority. (“Homosexuality is today’s great irrelevancy,” he argued.) As “R. Noone,” he lambasted President Eisenhower’s executive order barring the employment of gay people in the federal government (see Apr 27) in 1953. And in 1954, again as “Jeff Winters,” he wrote “Can Homosexuals Organize?”, a very critical history of the Mattachine Foundation which had just kicked out its founders and reorganized itself as a much more conservative Mattachine Society (“The present Society however invites certain destruction by denial of all those things for which the Mattachine was founded. …From the trembling president on down to the least officer, they are terrified.”  see Apr 11).

Jennings tenure as ONE’s first editor-in-chief was short-lived. He was headstrong and opinionated, which led to constant fights with business manager Dorr Legg (a.k.a. Bill Lambert, see Dec 15) and co-founder Don Slater (see Aug 21), and others. That divisiveness — and Legg’s unease over Jennings’s Communist ties — led to Jennings’s departure in March of 1954. (He was replaced as Editor in Chief by Irma “Corky” Wolf, who went by the pseudonym Ann Carll Reid.) As Jennings acknowledged nearly three decades later to Slater:

Bill Lambert got rid of me at almost the precise time that the local red cell took my membership card away from me for being a carnivore (gay) and hence a security risk. Naturally both organizations were quite correct and should have been more circumspect about letting me come near them in the very beginning.

After leaving Mattachine and ONE, Jennings more or less dropped out. In 1968, he published his first novel, The Ronin, a recasting of an old Zen Buddhist myth, which found a somewhat surprising success in Japan. His second book, The Cowboys (1971), was based on a story he had sold to Warner Brothers and made into a John Wayne movie. He fought with the publishers to get his book published; they balked at the homoerotic passages. He finally got it published by a smaller imprint, but it was the $150,000 he got from Warner Brothers that secured his financial future.

Jennings bought a ranch outside of Los Angeles, but then lost it in a lawsuit to a former lover. He then moved to northern California, but decided in the 1980s to move back to southern California and reconnect with the gay community. But by then, the gay community had long since moved on and had forgotten him. Not only that, but the gay community had moved left politically while Jennings moved hard to the right. He did manage to reestablish contact with Don Slater in the 1980s, and they maintained a correspondence that lasted until Slater died in 1997. In 1984, Jennings sent a Christmas card to Slater lamenting, “When I was a loud-mouthed commie, people fled the Mattachine in the thousands; now that the prevailing shade this season is red, my conservatism is worse than damned: it’s ignored.”

Through the 1990s, Jennings became reclusive, surly, and a heavy drinker. He spent every day working on his memoirs on a word processer, but he often lost an entire day’s work by shutting the machine off without remembering to hit save. He began losing his memory, but was cognizant enough to ensure that his papers would go to Slater’s Homosexual Information Center Archives, which are currently housed at California State University at Northridge. He died on May 11, 2000 at the age of 82.

[Source: C. Todd White. “Dale Jennings (1917-2000): ONE’s Outspoken Advocate.” In Vern L. Bullough (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 83-93.]

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 Monday, October 20

Jim Burroway

October 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 54.

From David, May 1972, page 54.

Miami’s Step Mother was a late-night bar that stayed open until 5:00 a.m. Jesse Monteagudo wrote, “An ad in “Where the Action Is” bragged about the Landing’s “intimate Cruisy Atmosphere, For the Late, Late Crowd” – it was open till 5 a.m. – “that wants a cozy place to cruise,” with “Most Drinks 75¢ — certainly a plus for a kid who was working his way through college. The Second Landing was a great place for young Latinos looking for older Papis (and vice versa), which was what I was into at that time. The Second Landing was a thing of the past by the 1980′s; and since then the entire building was torn down and the site is now occupied by a Walgreen’s.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Homosexual Ring” of Service Women Broken Up: 1953. According to a newspaper report, “army investigators have ‘broken up a ring’ of approximately 25 women members of the armed forces who, the investigators charged, engaged in abnormal sex practices. It said the crackdown stemmed from charges made last month by a 19-year-old WAC (Women’s Army Corps) private who was under treatment at a local (Washington, D.C.) army hospital. Half a dozen of the group were said to have confirmed the WAC’s disclosures. Most of the 25 were said to be WACS, but ‘three our four’ were reported as navy WAVES. All were described as enlisted personnel.”

None of the women were identified in the article, but the article went on to say that the women were “rounded up and questioned. Disciplinary action is pending. The group under investigation was said to have used two taverns located in the Georgetown area (of Washington) as ‘hangouts’ where meetings and ‘dates’ were arranged during off-duty hours.” An Army spokesman said that cases like these “are a continuing problem in the army,” and that military regulations required that persons found guilty of homosexuality were to be discharged as undesirables, except in some cases “where psychiatric examinations show that medical treatment or disciplinary action is warranted.”

60 YEARS AGO: Miami Formally Outlaws Gay Bars: 1954. Miami’s ongoing hysteria over the shocking discovery that there were gay people in the city (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15 Sep 19 and Oct 6) reached an important legal milestone when the Miami City Commission passed new ordinance which prohibited liquor establishments from selling to “any homosexual person, lesbian or pervert as the same are commonly accepted and understood.” When the proposed ordinance was given its first reading in September, it set out to prohibit persons of the same sex “to embrace, caress or dance” in a public place. It also prohibited anyone from adopting “the mannerisms, gestures, dress or facial make-up of the opposite sex.” Some commissioners complained, pointing out that women frequently kiss and embrace in public. To address that criticism, the proposed ordinance was pared back to the prohibition on serving alcoholic beverages gay people, with penalties of up to 60 days in jail, a fine of $500 (that’s about $4,000 in today’s money) and the loss of their liquor licenses. The vote on the revised ordinance was unanimous, and because it was adopted as an emergency ordinance it went into effect immediately.

And in another move to protect the morals of Miami’s children, the City Commission also made it illegal to sell horror comic books to children under the age of seventeen.

As for the gay bar ban, it was rarely enforced. In 1956, the Miami News tried to stoke another anti-gay witch hunt by reporting that the gay bars were open again and that the ordinance had never been enforced. The police responded with a series of raids that netted fifteen arrests. But then, Mayor Aronovitz’s health forced his retirement and Miami’s citizenry more or less shrugged its collective shoulders. Those raids ended as quickly as they began. From then on, the ordinance was only rarely enforced. It was finally declared unconstitutional in December of 1971.

[Additional source: Fred Fejes. “Murder, Perversion, and Moral Panic: The 1954 Media Campaign against Miami’s Homosexuals and the Discourse of Civic Betterment.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, no. 3 (July 2000): 305-347]

 45 YEARS AGO: Federal Panel Urges Decriminalizing Homosexuality: 1969. A fourteen-member panel of doctors, lawers, and social and behavioral scientists led by UCLA’s Evelyn Hooker (see Sep 2) released a report urging the United States abolish all laws forbidding private same-sex relationships among consenting adults. The panel found, “Homosexuality presents a major problem for our society largely because of the amount of injustice and suffering entailed in it not only for the homosexual but also for those concerned about him.”

The panel had been formed two years earlier (see Sep 24), and it featured such luminaries as psychiatrists Dr. Judd Marmor and John Money, Kinsey Institute for Sex Research director Paul Gebhard, Princeton theologian Seward Hiltner, and other experts in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and the law. The final report, which was dated October 10, 1969, called for the establishment of a Center for the Study of Sexual Behavior within the National Institute of Mental Health. The proposed center would then focus on five specific activities: research, training and education for professionals and law enforcement, social policy, and, in a reflection of the times, treatment and prevention. The panel’s research recommendations were particularly wide-ranging: they wanted to see more focus on the experiences of gay people (including job history and occupational performance), legal and civil rights issues, psychological studies, differences between lesbians and gay men, and numerous other social factors.

As for treatment, the panel recommended that the “the goal of treatment for homosexual patients as for others must be the decrease of discomfort and increase in productive functioning,” although as part of that “decrease in discomfort,” the panel endorsed treatment “to achieve some heterosexual interests and competence if they are motivated to do so.” Similarly, the panel recommended research into “prevention”, which the panel called “one of the most important goals.” “It is apparent that research in a number of areas described above, including parental relationships, childhood peer activities, endocrine, genetic and biological elements, effects of early trauma, the role of social class mores, and developmental crises, will have a direct bearing on the design of preventive programs.”

The report, therefore, might not appear to be particularly forward thinking by today’s standards, but it was quite progressive in one area in which it was somewhat timid and another area in which it was vocal. The report was timid on the question of whether gay people were inherently mentally ill, which the American Psychiatric Association’s official diagnostic manual answered in the affirmative. The report simply said that “homosexual individuals vary widely in terms of their emotional and social adjustments. Some persons who engage in homosexual behavior function well in everyday life,” a point that even those who argued that gay people were mentally ill would acknowledge when pressed. Some were just less sick than others, the reasoning went, and the report did little to dispel those arguments. But it did suggest that much of the problems gay people experienced were the result of anxiety over being discovered and loosing their jobs or going to jail.

This was the report’s most controversial part: its description of the rampant discrimination that gay people regularly faced in employment and the law. Homosexuality was illegal in every state except Illinois. The panel observed that “the extreme opprobrium that our society has attached to homosexual behavior, by way of criminal statutes and restrictive employment practices has done more social harm than good.” Furthermore, “[t]here is evidence to indicate that entrapment is not uncommon, that existing laws are selectively enforced, and that serious injustice often results.” The report added, “Many homosexuals are good citizens, holding regular jobs and leading productive lives. The existence of legal penalties relating to homosexual acts means that the mental health problems of homosexuals are exacerbated by the need for concealment and the emotional stresses arising from this need and from the opprobrium of being in violation of the law.” The panel, citing similar recommendations made by American and British legal experts, recommended that the law “be recast in such a way as to remove legal penalties against acts in private among consenting adults.”

The panel was unanimous on all of its recommendations except for the last ones on discriminatory laws and employment practices. Three dissented, saying that those recommendations should be deferred pending further research in the other recommended topics. (One panelist, Judge David L. Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, resigned on June 3 before the report was formally adopted, perhaps to avoid potential conflicts of interest.) The report made headlines on October 20 when the task force’s recommendations were formally made public, with news reports focusing almost exclusively on the panel’s criticisms of the nations’ anti-gay laws. The NIMH responded by saying simply that would study that report before deciding which recommendations they would endorse. The report was buried; none of its recommendations were adopted and the NIMH even refused to publish it. A year later, NIMH director Stanley F. Yolles, was forced out by the Nixon Administration, partly because of the report’s recommendations, but also because of his call for legalizing marijuana possession for personal use.

But thanks to those news reports, the gay community was aware of the report and homophile leaders were eager to give it greater publicity. ONE magazine had by then ceased publication, but ONE, Inc., was still in operation as an educational institution, publishing the scholarly ONE Institute Quarterly: Homophile Studies (although by the late sixties, it wasn’t so much a quarterly as it was an occasionally). In 1970, when it became clear that the NIMH was dragging its heels in releasing the report, Hooker sent a copy to One, Inc., which promptly published it in a special edition of the Quarterly. Dorr Legg, the publication’s editor (see Dec 15), defended the action, saying the report merited “careful attention, for it contains the potential for unlocking a whole new era of individual and social well-being for many millions of American men and women.”

With the cat now fully out of the bag, NIMH eventually relented and published the report in 1972, accompanied with seven working papers and three appendices which were not available in the Quarterly. Its full appearance in 1972 came just in time for the APA’s debate over the removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

[Source: National Institute of Mental Health Task Force on Homosexuality: Final Report and Background Papers. John M. Livingood (ed.). DHEW Publication no (HSM) 72-9116. (Rockville, MD: NIMH, 1972).

ONE Institute Quarterly: Homophile Studies, 8, no. 22 (1970).

Stuart Auerbach. “Panel Urges Repeal of Homosexual Laws.” Washington Post (October 21, 1969): A1.

Evelyn Hooker: “Reflections of a 40-year exploration: A scientific view on homosexuality.” American Psychologist 48, no. 4 (April 1993): 450-453]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
160 YEARS AGO: Arthur Rimbaud: 1854-1891. The French poet’s period of productivity was unusually short. He wrote his entire life’s output of poetry as a teenager, and he gave up creative writing altogether before turning twenty. His education was interrupted at the age of sixteen by the Franco-Prussian War. Bored, Rimbaud ran away from his home in Charleville and caught a train to Paris, where he was promptly arrested for fare evasion and vagrancy. He was released and sent back to Charleville, but he ran away again just ten days later, determined to live the life a poet. He had it all planned out, as he wrote to one of his teachers earlier that spring:

I’m now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I’m working at turning myself into a seer. You won’t understand any of this, and I’m almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It’s really not my fault.

Rimbaud joined up with the Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, and the two embarked on a torrid affair fueled by absinthe, hashish, and some of the most striking visionary verse that Paris had ever seen. The two moved to London in 1872, where they lived an impoverished life, though Rimbaud’s adapted the splendor of the British Museum’s reading room as his office, where “heating, lighting, pens and ink were free.”

A year later, Verlaine left Rimbaud and returned to Paris, but he soon missed his young lover. Verlaine asked Rimbaud to meet him in Brussels, but the reunion went badly. On July 10, Verlaine, drunk, fired two shots at Rimbaud, wounding him in the left wrist. Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison, but only after an intense interrogation about his relationship with Rimbaud. Rimbaud, for his part, returned home to Charleville and completed his landmark Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell) in 1873. The pioneering Symbolist work candidly detailed his relationship with Verlaine. The following year, Rimbaud was back in London, this time with the poet Germain Nouveau. They were together for three months while Rimbaud wrote the poems that would eventually make their way into Les Illuminations.

Rimbaud’s poetry was revolutionary, and it would go on to influence not only the Symbolists, but the Dadaists and Surrealists who followed. Those poems also marked the end of Rimbaud’s writing career (even though Les Illuminations itself wouldn’t see print for another decade). What happened? Why did he stop writing? Nobody really knows. Rimbaud instead spent the next decade undertaking more reliable work in exotic locations: first as a Dutch soldier in Java, then as a quarry foreman in Cyprus, then as a coffee trader in Ethiopia and Yemen. In 1891, he developed what he thought was arthritis in the knee. When he returned to France, the diagnosis turned out to be bone cancer. He died that year in Marseille and was burred in Charleville. Before he died, Rimbaud was by then indifferent to his poetry, but when Verlaine published Rimbaud’s complete works in 1895, he cemented his ex-lover’s singular reputation in the world of poetry forever.

Edward John Barrington Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu: 1926. Okay, first of all: how can you not love a name like that? Lord Montagu has been a Conservative member of Britain’s House of Lords since 1947. He knew from a very early age that he was bisexual, but he always tried to keep his affairs with men quiet. That proved impossible when in 1954 he and two others were convicted and imprisoned for twelve months for “conspiracy to incite certain male persons to commit serious offenses with male persons.” Britain, like America, was then in the midst of a massive anti-gay witch hunt. The Sunday Times had editorialized that “its eruption… is today a serious and growing criminal problem,” while a Daily Mail headline read, “Homosexuality spreading like a foul growth in our midst.” As many as 1,000 men were arrested every year for violating the country’s anti-gay laws, and Home Secretary Sir David Fyfe urged magistrates to inflict maximum penalties on those who were found guilty.

But with Montagu protesting his innocence even after his conviction, the trial ended up provoking a sharp debate in British popular opinion. Kinglsy Martin exemplified a growing discomfort over Britain’s gross indecency laws when he wrote in New Statesman & Nation, “It is a social evil but its bad effects are greatly aggravated by our savage criminal law … There should be no penalties attached to adult males consorting together who, in private, decide to live a homosexual life… I believe there are Members of Parliament who’d be willing to make this change in the law.”

Parliament instead decided to study the issue by establishing a special commission to look into Britain’s laws against homosexuality and prostitution. Chaired by Lord John Wolfenden, the commission met over the next three years, and in 1957 issued its report recommending that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence.” The report also found that “homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects” (see Sep 4) It would take another ten years before Parliament would act on the report’s recommendations and decriminalize homosexuality (see Jul 28).

As for Lord Montagu, the distress over having been arrested and imprisoned never faded. He never talked about it, saying that he abhors the idea of becoming “a professional convict.” He married his first wife in 1958, and the couple had one son and one daughter before divorcing in 1974, when he turned around and married wife number two, who bore him another son in 1975.

But when Britain’s Channel Four was preparing to air a documentary about the trial in 2007, Lord Montagu felt that it was time to speak up. “I am slightly proud that the law has been changed to the benefit of so many people. I would like to think that I would get some credit for that. Maybe I’m being very boastful about it but I think because of the way we behaved and conducted our lives afterwards, because we didn’t sell our stories, we just returned quietly to our lives, I think that had a big effect on public opinion.”

Allan Horsfall: 1927-2012. He was born in the tiny mining village of Laneshaw Bridge in Lancashire where he was raised by his grandparents, whom he described has “God-fearing Conservatives and fervent upholders of law and order.” Like most gay men who grew up in small towns, it was during his time in military service — the RAF, in particular, where Horsfall discovered other gay men. One man, in particular, he met in an ex-Servicemen’s Club in 1947: Harold Pollard, a primary school teacher, would remain his life partner until Harold’s death in 1996. But unlike a lot of gay men who grew up in small towns, Horsefall didn’t flee to the big city. He decided instead to return back to his small town, take up residence in a simple miner’s cottage and become a clerk for the National Coal Board.

Horsfall settled in to a rather non-descript life until 1956. when the Suez Crisis inspired him to enter politics. He joined the Labour Party and won an election as a councillor in Nelson. After the Wolfenden Report was released in 1957 with its recommendation that homosexuality be decriminalized, Horsfall immediately became involved with the London-based Homosexual Law Reform Society. When he decided that the HLRS was too hidebound, closeted and aloof to be effective, Horsfall helped to found the North West Committee for Homosexual Law Reform in 1964. In doing so, he made it clear that he believed gay people shouldn’t remain closeted in order to support law reform. His North West Committee also rejected the national campaign’s opinion that gays were “unfortunates” who deserved pity. Again, against the advice of friends, he used his home address and phone number as the public point of contact. But he found that there was actually very little hostile reaction. If anything, his experience harkened back to the days of Edward Carpenter from the turn of the century (see Aug 29), who lived openly and undisturbed in the mining vilage of Milthorpe while Oscar Wilde was being prosecuted for “gross indecency” in London.

After Britain finally decriminalized homosexuality in 1967 (see Jul 28), the London-based HLRS, believing that its work was done, floundered for a few years before folding. But Horsfall’s North West Committee kept going and evolved into the Campaign for Homosexual Equality which, in 1971, took part in the first major gay rights demonstration in London. Horsfall’s main focus, by then, was on increasing the social support for gay people by establishing membership clubs in the north of England. Modelled after Working Men’s Clubs, his proposed Esquire Clubs were intended to function as a combination community center and pub for rural and small-town gays and lesbians. The clubs themselves were unsuccessful, but his fight to establish them paid a very different kind of dividend. In Burnley, Horsfall’s CHE organized a public meeting to confront the local Christian Alliance, which had formed to prevent the opening of an Esquire club there. During the packed meeting, Horsfall asked all of the homosexuals to stand up. Over one hundred did so, making it one of the first mass coming-out demonstrations in the U.K. It also marked a coming-of-age for the gay rights movement in Britain. CHE went on to become the UK’s largest LGBT-rights organization, with over 5,000 members in more than 100 local groups across England and Wales.

Horsfall suffered a heart attack in 1970, and by 1974 he began withdrawing from the front lines of the gay-rights movement. As a sign of the respect he commanded, he was named President for Life of CHE. In 1998, he became involved in the case of the Bolton Seven, a group of gay men who were prosecuted because, while homosexuality was legal, group sex between men was not. He also campaigned for an end the ban on gays serviing openly in the military, the equalization of the age of consent, and allowing gays to adopt children. He also became involved with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament during the 1980s.

Horsfall died on August 27, 2012 of heart failure at the age of 84. His web site, Gay Monitor, has been selected for preservation by the British Library’s UK Web Archive.

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, October 19

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend:Nashville, TN (Black Pride); Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Prescott, AZ; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; World Gay Rodeo Finals, Ft. Worth, TX; Kansai Queer Film Festival, Osaka, Japan; Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, May 1959, page 15.

The June 1966 edition of The Ladder with photo of DoB vice president Ernestine Eckstein. Photo by Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen, see Jan 5).

The June 1966 edition of The Ladder with photo of Dob vice president Ernestine Eckstein. Photo by Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen, see Jan 5).

The Daughters of Bilitis’ official magazine The Ladder first appeared in October, 1956 as a twelve-page typewritten, mimeographed and hand-stapled newsletter. One hundred and seventy-five copies of that first issue were sent out, and from those humble beginnings, The Ladder went on to become first nationally distributed lesbian publication in the U.S. In Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement, Marcia Gallo wrote “For women who came across a copy in the early days, The Ladder was a lifeline. It was a means of expressing and sharing otherwise private thoughts and feelings, of connecting across miles and disparate daily lives, of breaking through isolation and fear.” The Ladder appeared monthly from 1956 until 1970, then every other month until its demise in 1972.

A Daughters of Bilitis breakfast, 1959. L-R: Del Martin, Josie, Jan, Marge, Bev Hickok, Phyllis Lyon.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Daughters of Bilitis Founded: 1955. Phyllis Lyon remembered the phone call in September. Rose Bamberger was on the other end, asking, “would you like to be a part of the group of six of us that are putting together a secret society for Lesbians?” Lyon recalled later, “We said ‘Yes!!’ Because we would immediately know five more lesbians and we did, which was…. AMAZING.” The “we” were Lyon (see Nov 10) and her partner, Del Martin (see May 5). They had known each other since meeting in Seattle in 1950, and lived together in San Francisco since 1953. But they felt isolated because they hadn’t made any other friends who were lesbians. So when Rose, whom they met earlier that summer through a gay male couple they knew, suggested they start a secret club, Lyon and Martin jumped at the chance. “She wanted it to be in people’s homes and she wanted it to be so we’d be able to dance … so that we wouldn’t get caught up in police raids and we wouldn’t be stared at by tourists and so on. You couldn’t dance in the bars in those days. And she loved to dance. That was the whole idea behind it.”

Over the month of September, four couples, including Martin and Lyon, met to make plans for forming the club. Their first decision to make was the club’s name. Several were suggested: Que Vive, Habeas Corpus, Plus Two, Amazon — but all of them were rejected. Then someone suggested Daughters of Bilitis, named for the work of nineteenth century poet Pierre Louys, whose Songs of Bilitis spoke of lesbian love. Lyon had never heard of him. “Del and I went to the library to look up Bilitis, and of course found nothing. They had said it would be a great name because no one would know what it meant.” The second important decision was how to pronounce it. They rejected Bill-EYE-tis because they thought it sounded too much like a disease. So Bill-EE-tis it was.

The small group met several more times to begin putting some organization behind the idea: bylaws, membership rules (no one under 21, males welcome only as guests on specific occasions), and a tentative schedule. Business meetings would be held on the first Wednesdays of each month at 8:00 p.m. “Qui vive” became the club’s motto, sapphire blue and gold the colors, and an triangular insignia was chosen — that was serendipitous; they didn’t know that the pink triangle marked homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. And then they named interim officers: Del Martin was president, Noni Frey was vice president, Phyllis Lyon was secretary, Rosemary Sliepen was treasurer, and Marcia Foster was trustee.

The first official meeting took place on October 19, 1955. It was awkward. The women quickly realized that they would be welcoming other women into their homes with whom they had very little in common except their sexuality. But more meetings followed, and the members became more comfortable with each other, they also became more confident. Within a year, they began reaching out to the local Mattachine Society and the staff of ONE magazine in Los Angeles. When they joined the Mattachine Society to lobby for a change in California’s sex laws, they began to get involved in local advocacy and cooperation with other homophile groups.

But they remained focused for providing a social and intellectual outlet for women within the larger gay movement. In 1956, DoB began publishing The Ladder, first as a typewritten and mimeographed newsletter, then as a nationally distributed magazine which became a lifeline to lesbians across the country and around the world. Soon, there were DoB chapters in dozens of other cities, including one in Melbourne, Australia, which was the first openly gay political organization in that country. Beginning in 1960, the Daughters convened the first of their biennial conventions in San Francisco.

DoB remained active until 1970, when the national organization disbanded but allowed the remaining local chapters to continue under the name. The Ladder survived the national organization by two years, until it went under due to a lack of financial support in 1972. But as many as twenty local DoB chapters continued in several American cities, with New York, Boston and the original San Francisco chapters remaining particularly active. The original San Francisco chapter folded in 1978, and its files, which included both the local and national archives, were turned over to the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. At last report, the Boston Chapter, since moved to Cambridge, was still in existence as of 2004, but it appears to have gone dormant sometime since then.

[Source: Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006).]

“Downtown” Markleeville, Alpine County’s unincorporated county seat.

Gay Group Plans Takover of Alpine County: 1970. The Gay Liberation Front in Los Angeles hit on a novel idea: What if enough gay people gathered in one location in numbers sufficiently large enough that they could then take over the area through free elections? On October 19, the group issued a two-page statement announcing their dream of encouraging gay people to move to sparsely-populated Alpine County, California. Located high up in the Sierra Nevadas just south of Reno and Carson City, Alpine County only had a little over 400 residents and 384 eligible voters.

The way GLF members Morris Kight and Don Jackson figured it, if they could get a similar number of gay people to move, they could have the county all sewn up with little difficulty. And with homosexuality still a criminal act in California (it would remain so until 1975: see May 12), having power over law enforcement would be an important advantage. As Jackson explained, “A gay Superior Court Judge would have great discretionary powers. A gay district attorney could choose which laws and which criminals he wished to prosecute. … It would mean a … gay civil service and a county welfare department which made public assistance payments to refugees from prejudice.” The numbers were in the GLF’s favor; they already had 479 gay people sign up to move into the county by January 1.

As you can imagine, not everyone was thrilled with the idea, especially the people who already called Alpine County their home. Hubert Bruns, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, joined four other officials in a closed-door meeting with Gov. Ronald Reagan’s assistant legal affairs secretary to try to figure out what options were available to them. When a reporter asked if they were encouraged by what they learned, Bruns simply replied “No,” then added, “If these people come up here and abide by the laws, there’s nothing in the world we can do to prevent them from coming and registering. Today, to the best of our knowledge, we don’t have gay people here. We do not need that kind of business.”

Bruns predicted a chilly reception. “We thought it was a joke,” Bruns said. “Today we don’t think it is a joke. They will receive a hostile reception when they come.” When asked how he would know which of the new residents were gay, Bruns replied, “We’re going to make every attempt to find out. I’m sure we’ll know some of them.” Other observers noticed that the cool reception wouldn’t just be from county residents. The planned January 1 start date would have coincided with the dead of winter when it’s not uncommon to have twenty-five feet of snow on the ground.

Not everyone in the gay community was on board either. The Gay Liberation Front of Berkeley voted against the proposal. They gave the same reason they gave for everything else they opposed: it was “sexist” and “racist.” And “impractical,” something that they had not been known to be worried about before. Berkeley’s vote didn’t bother L.A.’s Don Kilhefmer though. “All the Berkeley vote means is that they don’t dig the idea, while San Francisco and Los Angeles is going ahead.” But as the deadline approached, the plan fizzled. Good thing, too, because that January the worst snowstorm in nineteen years blanketed Alpine County with more than eight feet of snow.

Postscript: Whatever reservations Alpine County residents had for gay people in 1970, those attitudes changed remarkably by 2008, when Alpine County was one of just three interior counties in California to vote against Prop 8. County residents disapproved of the discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage by 379 to 293.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Robert Reed: 1932-1992. Poor Carol Brady. How could she know that her husband was gay? Actually, Florence Henderson, who played “the lovely lady” in The Brady Bunch, later said she figured it out the first time they shared a screen kiss in the first episode.

Reed was already a well-established character actor, appearing in episodes of more television series than anyone can count. He also worked on Broadway, in Neil Simon’s Barefoot In the Park. Reed never liked his role on The Brady Bunch, thinking that the schmaltzy show was beneath him. He often sparred with the show’s producer, Sherwood Schwartz over the silly scripts and nonsensical story lines. But Reed liked his co-stars and filled the role of father figure to the six younger cast members whenever he could. After the third season wrapped, he even brought the entire cast on vacation to New York and a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth II to London. Most of the cast members knew he was gay, but they were very protective of the fact. After all, in the 1970s it would have been a career-killer. When he died in 1992 of colon cancer and lymphoma, the media reported that he had died of AIDS (he had tested positive for HIV the year before but it had not progressed to AIDS). His Brady family was taken aback by the sensational reporting surrounding his death. As he was a father figure to the Brady cast in life, they returned the favor by being something of a family-figure to him. The cast attended his memorial, while many of his actual relatives stayed away.

Divine: 1945-1988. He was born as Harris Glenn Milstead, but everyone knew him as Divine, the Drag Queen of the Century who practically defined what a John Waters movie was all about. Divine described his character as “just good, dirty fun, and if you find it offensive, honey, don’t join in.” But he drew a clear distinction between his private life and his performance. “My favorite part of drag is getting out of it,” he said. “Drag is my work clothes. I only put it on when someone pays me to.” And yet whether he was in or out of drag, he was always Divine: he even had it put on his passport.

His most famous character, that of Edna Turnbald in the film Hairspray, was so popular that the character has been played by a male in drag in every adaptation since then, whether on the stage or the 2007 film remake. But not all of his characters were in drag; he also appeared as the racist TV station manager Arvin Hodgepile in Hairspray and as Earl Peterson, the fat man driving an Edsel station wagon who picks up Divine while hitchhiking. Divine was nominated for a Razzie Award for playing Rosie Velez in Lust In the Dust, which Tab Hunter both produced and starred in. I think he should have won an Oscar, with Lainie Kazan receiving special kudos for playing Divine’s step sister. He died, much too soon, of heart failure in 1988 at the age of 42.

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?

No Gifts, No Welcoming: Catholic Synod In Full Retreat on Gays in the Church

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2014

(Note: Because this is a breaking story, this post has been updated numerous times between 12:40 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. PDT.)

The hardliners have won. The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, which has wrapped up its first session in Rome this weekend, has just approved its final Relatio Synodi in the original, official Italian. An official English translation is not yet available, but Buzzfeed provides this in-house translation:

The pastoral care of people with homosexual orientation

55. Some families live the experience of having members who are of homosexual orientation. In this regard, questions have been raised on pastoral care which is appropriate to deal with this situation by referring to what the Church teaches: “There is no basis whatsoever to assimilate or to draw even remote analogies between same-sex unions and the plan of God for marriage and the family. ” Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. “In their regard should be avoided every sign of unjust discrimination” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).

56. It is totally unacceptable that the Pastors of the Church suffer the pressures in this matter and that international bodies condition financial aid to poor countries, on the institution of laws that establish the “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

This represents a complete and utter victory for the Church’s more hardliner wing, particularly the American, African, and Oceanian bishops who angrily denounced the interim Relatio for asking whether the church was capable of providing a “welcoming… fraternal space” for gay people who possess “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” That statement also acknowledged “cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners,” while also recognizing the needs of the children of gay couples.

The new statement has none of that. It recognizes nothing about gay people or their children. In fact, it doesn’t recognize gays and lesbians at all, but rather restricts itself to addressing families who “live the experience of having members who are of homosexual orientation.” Which means it’s not even meant to address us. This is not just a full reversal from Monday’s statement, it’s not even as minimally positive as the mysteriously revised English mistranslation that was issued Thursday. This is more than just a backtrack. It’s a doubling down on the part of John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s appointed English-speaking bishops, and stunning rebuke of Pope Francis’s attempts to inject a small dose of humanity into the operation of the Church.

Despite the full-on capitulation to conservative clerics, the conservative EWTN-affiliated National Catholic Register still says, “Critics, however, have said the message, published on the eve of the final day of the two-week ecclesial gathering, sends out ‘weak and ambiguous’ signals on the Church’s positions on sexual morality”:

Yet this approach has not been accepted by everyone. Speaking to the Register Saturday, Opus Dei Father Robert Gahl, professor of moral philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, said: “The Holy Father’s silence on vexing questions leaves the Church in suspense.” He added that this suspense “is intensified by the ambiguities” of the interim report on the synod which was issued Monday, “because we all expect our faith to be confirmed by the successor Peter.”

Voice of the Family, a coalition of pro-family groups, criticized the final message for sending out “weak and ambiguous” signals about the Church’s stance on sexual morality. Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, said it should have contained “a clear statement rejecting any openings to homosexuality, cohabitation, so-called ‘second marriages’, or contraception,” especially after the interim report whose content “caused scandal both inside and outside the synod.”

It should be noted however that three paragraphs of the Relatio Synodi did not receive the required two-thirds approval. Two of those paragraphs were on divorce and remarriage, and Paragraph 55 in the section on gay people. Paragraph 55 fell short of the two-thirds majority in 118 to 62 vote. Pope Francis nevertheless agreed to release the full Relatio for the sake of transparency, along with the vote totals at the end for each paragraph. The failure of paragraph 55 to reach a two-thirds vote is seen as a protest by some of the more progressive bishops, who object to watering down the passage. 

It’s also important to note that the Relatio Synodi has no doctrinal authority, but is rather a set of discussion points to be considered between now and when the Synod meets again next year. The current Relatio however is being presented as interim guidelines to the Episcopal Conferences, which means that there would be no pressure to change how bishops respond to LGBT teachers and church members.

So what’s next? The Synod isn’t over, but will continue off and on for at least another year. An executive session will meet next month in Baltimore to draft a more detailed report which is expected to become a first draft for next year’s agenda. Meanwhile, the Pope reportedly told the Synod that they have a year to “mature” their ideas “with true spiritual discernment.” When the Synod meets again next October (and assuming the Synod doesn’t get extended further), it will issue a final Relatio, which, again, would not carry any authoritative doctrinal significance, but it would represent a consensus of the bishops. After that, it is customary for elements of a final Relatio to make their way into an Apostolic Exhortation, which, when promulgated by the Pope, becomes an official authoritative document of the Roman Catholic Church. There’s a lot that can happen between now and then:

When the synod reconvenes, it won’t be quite the same. Some who participated in this year’s meeting won’t be back (I’m thinking of papal critic Cardinal Raymond Burke). And Francis will likely select new cardinals come February. Why might a new-look synod matter? Because the sections that failed still had majority support. The paragraph on gay people, for example, failed by just six votes. But the synod fathers who want divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive the Eucharist have a longer row to hoe. Those sections failed by larger margins–and they did nothing more than state what had been discussed.

Meanwhile, just outside the walls of Vatican City, the mayor of Rome has registered sixteen same-sex marriages.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 18

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bakersfield, CA; Nashville, TN (Black Pride); Sarasota, FL; Tucson, AZ; Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Prescott, AZ; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; World Gay Rodeo Finals, Ft. Worth, TX; Kansai Queer Film Festival, Osaka, Japan; Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA; Bush Garden Gay Days, Williamsburg, VA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, July 1974, Seattle section page 13.

From Northwest Gay Review, July 1974, Seattle section page 13.

This is one of those places that I haven’t been able to find much information about. It’s quite a shame because I have been able to find a couple of interviews which mention Seattle’s Pike Street Tavern in the late 1950s, and any place that’s been around for perhaps as long as two decades is bound to have some stories attached to it. There’s no trace of the tavern today. The entire block was redeveloped into the Washington State Convention Center complex.

HM Prison, Brixton

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Two Suggestions for Curing Homosexuality: 1947. Dr. F.H. Taylor had published a paper in the October 4, 1947 edition of the British Medical Journal in which he described treatment outcomes for 96 people who had been sent to His Majesty’s Prison in Brixton. Of those committed, 66 were identified as “pseudo-homosexual,” with 34 showing some signs of mental illness (although his definitions were somewhat surprising: three “epileptics,” twelve with “personality defects”, and five as “dull and backward”). The “pseudo-homosexuals” were those who Taylor described as “hav(ing) heterosexual tendencies and in whom the homosexual offence was in the nature of a substitution for the normal heterosexual act.” He described twelve more as bisexuals (“not so much by way of a perversion in the psychiatrical sense, but rather an indication of sheer depravity”), five as prostitutes (which he considered situational, much like his “pseudo-homosexuals”) and thirteen cases as “true inverts.”

His paper focused on that last group. Of those thirteen, seven showed no improvement in treatment, and three refused it altogether. Of the remaining three, one was “too dull to be able to co-operate in any form,” and another ” had already been considered by a clinic and a consultant psychiatrist and turned away as unsuitable.” That left one last man, whose ” offence was directly attributable to heavy consumption of alcohol,” was considered a good prospect for treatment. “Thus out of 13 cases, in only one was there any indication that psychotherapy would be of any value whatsoever — and then only as a palliative, not as a cure.”

Taylor’s article prompted a a couple of letters to the editor two weeks later. Dr. Clifford Allen of London wrote that it was no wonder that Taylor’s views on treating gay people were so pessimistic “since in prison psychiatry the hopeless cases and failures are most likely to be met, while the successfully treated ones live normal lives.” Allen then offered:

My own solution to this problem is that there should be a definite clinic for psychosexual conditions to which the courts send these cases for psychotherapy. The psychiatrists working on this one type of case would be certain to become more skilled than otherwise, and the patients more likely to be cured.”

How Allen believed that his solution would be any difference from Taylor’s, he didn’t explain. The second letter, from L.M.M. Beadnell was equally non-sensical:

SIR,–Dr. F. H. Taylor’s article (Oct. 4, p. 525) on homosexual offences makes me wonder once again why one never sees any mention of gonadal treatment in these cases; surely it must have some effect on at least a proportion.

A few years ago on transferring to a new area I came across a health visitor, aged about 35, who had a very deep voice and a distinct moustache. She had had a major operation, presumably a hysterectomy, about a year previously for dysmenorrhoea. About a year after I met her she was forced to leave the district as there had been several complaints from the mothers of girl guides in a company which she ran. I do not know exactly what these complaints were, but it was common local gossip that the girl was a homosexual. I feel sure that if this girl; had been given appropriate hormone treatment at the time of and subsequently to her operation she would not have become a Lesbian.

I should be interested to know if others have any experience of these cases being prevented or alleviated by hormone therapy.–I am, etc.

L.M.M. Beadnell
Rushden, near Buntingford, Herts.

Justice Powell Regrets Bowers Ruling: 1990. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick to uphold Georgia’s sodomy law, and with it similar laws in twenty-five other states and the District of Columbia (See Jun 30). It had been reported that Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., had originally voted to strike down the law, but a few days later he changed his mind and became the deciding vote in the court’s 5-4 decision. His retirement the following year gave him plenty of time to think about what he had done. Four years after Bowers, Powell spoke before a group of law students at New York University where he was asked how he reconciled his vote in Bowers, which limited the right to privacy, with his vote in Roe v. Wade, which extended a woman’s right to privacy to include whether she wanted to have an abortion. “I think I probably made a mistake on that one,” Powell said of his Bowers decision.

Powell later explained to a law journal, “I do think I was inconsistent in a general way with Roe. When I had the opportunity to reread the opinions a few months later, I thought the dissent had the better of the arguments.” But Powell refused to consider his deciding vote all that important. “I thought it was a frivolous case. I still think it was a frivolous case.” He considered his decision as “one of little or no importance,” because, he said, no one had actually been prosecuted for homosexual conduct.

White Supremacists Found Guilty In Seattle Gay Nightclub Bombing Plot: 1990. Robert John Winslow, a twenty-nine year old former infantryman from Laclede, Idaho had it all figured out. He used a towel spread out on a table top to represent the area around Seattle’s Neighbours Disco, a popular nightclub in the Capital Hill gayborhood, as he explained to Rico Valentino how it would all go down. They’d plant four bombs in the alley adjacent to Neighbours’ rear entrance. They’d paint them black and hide them in the shadows, on opposite sides of the alley. They could even use propane to create a “fireball effect.” Then someone would phone the bar with a bomb threat and everyone would evacuate out into the alley. “Fag burgers!” Winslow laughed. Why? Winslow said that homosexuals in America were threatening “white Christianity.” They also talked about bombing the Anti-Defamation League, cars owned by Jews, and businesses owned by blacks and Chinese.

They began planning the operation on April 20, 1990, during an Aryan Nation’s celebration of Hitler’s birthday, and now they were ready to do it. Winslow, Stephen Nelson, 35, and Procter Baker, 58, who had served as master of ceremonies for the birthday observance, were members of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian (Aryan Nations) at Hayden Lake, Idaho. But Valentino, a former professional wrestler, was a paid informant who had been working undercover for three years for the FBI. He wore a wire as Winslow laid out the plans. He also collected evidence at the Aryan Nations compound in Idaho. On May 12, 1990, Winslow and Nelson were arrested after driving with Valentino to Seattle. FBI agents trailed the van and arrested them in a motel parking lot near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Agents found pipe-bomb components, a .38-caliber pistol, a 12-gage shotgun and white-supremacist literature. Baker was arrested at his home in Coeur d’Alene. A search of his cabin in Kendrick turned up a partially assembled pipe bomb.

On October 18, 1990, Nelson, Winslow, and Baker were convicted of conspiracy and manufacturing and possessing pipe bombs. Nelson and Winslow were also found guilty of using interstate commerce in a conspiracy and possessing firearms during a violent crime. Winslow was sentenced to nine years, Nelson eight, and Baker to two years. The sentence was considered light: they had faced 20 to 25 years. But U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan rejected prosecutors contention that their actions amounted to “domestic terrorism,” and he also declined the government’s request to add time to the sentenced based on the intended victims.

In a case of history nearly repeating, Neighbours was very nearly the target of a disastrous arson fire last New Years Eve when a few minutes after midnight, Musab Masmari poured gasoline onto a stairway leading to the balcony and lit it on fire. There were about 750 people in the club at the time. The fire was quickly put out with a fire extinguisher. A security camera caught the whole thing. Masmari was sentenced to ten years in prison,

Navy Apologizes for USS Iowa Blast Accusation: 1991. On April 19, 1989 in the Number Two 16-inch gun turret aboard the USS Iowa exploded, killing 47 crewmen who were inside the turret. Iowa crewmen were ordered to remov the bodies, throw damaged equipment overboard and repaint the damaged turret the next day — all without taking photos or gathering any evidence. Investigators immediately set out the theory that Second Class Gunner’s Mate Clayton Hartwig, was killed in the blast, had committed suicide by detonating the explosion after an alleged affair with another male soldier ended.  As far as the Navy was concerned, that explained everything and the case was closed.

But Congress and the general public weren’t satisfied. After mounting criticism, Navy Secretary J. Lawrence Garett III ordered the service to reopen the investigation and hand it over to independent investigators. During that investigation, a sample of gunpowder of the same type used on the USS Iowa exploded during a ram test, which simulated the process of raming bags of gunpowder into the gun during loading. With that, the original investigation, which was based on circumstantial evidence, also went up in smoke. The Navy was left with nothing to do but apologize. “For this, on behalf of the U.S. Navy, I extend my sincere regrets to the family,” said a statement from Adm. Frank Kekso, chief of naval operations. “The Navy will not imply that a deceased individual is to blame for his own death, or the death of others.” He also apologized to the other families of those who died because “such a long period has passed, and despite all efforts, no certain answers regarding the cause of this terrible tragedy can be found.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Tim Gill: 1953. In 1984, Apple came out with the life-changing Macintosh, the first mass-market computer with an operating system based on a graphical user interface and a mouse. It was also the first computer to make desktop publishing a breeze. PageMaker was the first Mac desktop publishing application. PageMaker was fine for printing birthday invitations, but it would be QuarkXPress, which debuted in 1987, which was adopted by professional page designers, typesetters and commercial printers. Tim Gill’s Quark, Inc., which he started in 1981 with a $2,000 loan from his parents, revolutionized the publishing industry and made him a millionaire many hundreds of times times over.

Gill became involved with political activism during the 1992 fight against Colorado’s Amendment 2, which prohibited all non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation. He created the Gill Foundation in 1994, which is one of the largest LGBT-rights funding sources in the U.S. He also founded the Gill Action Fund in 2005 to support both Republican and Democratic pro-LGBT political candidates in local, state and national offices and to lobby for gay rights laws across the nation. Gil lives in Denver with his husband, Scott Miller.

Martina Navratilova: 1956. Billie Jean King called her “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.” During her career, she became the all-time record-holder of 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, in addition to 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final twelve time, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990. She also won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record 9 times, and with Kink won 20 Wimbledon titles, another all-time record.

In 1975, the Czechoslovakia native sought political asylum in the United States after Czech sports authorities decided that she had become “too Americanized.” She was stripped of her Czech citizenship when she defected. Naveratilova became a U.S. citizen in 1981. That same year, she came out publicly as a Lesbian, In 2008, her Czech citizenship was restored, although she has not renounced her American citizenship, nor does she plan to. Last month, she proposed to Julia Lemigova, her longtime girlfriend, at the U.S. Open.

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?

Wyoming marriage ban overturned – UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2014

marriage 2014

Judge Scott W. Skavdahl gave himself until Monday to rule on the unconstitutionality of Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages. However, he must have found a few minutes in his schedule, so he released his ruling today. (Chris Geidner)

A federal judge has declared that Wyoming cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl put his ruling on hold until Oct. 23 to provide time for government officials to attempt an appeal if they wish. The ruling could go into effect sooner if government officials inform the court that they do not plan to appeal the decision.

And government defendants may well inform the court of their intention not to appeal. (Star Trubune)

Republican Gov. Matt Mead said the state shouldn’t appeal the same-sex marriage ruling due from U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl.

Mead spoke on the issue Thursday night during a Wyoming PBS debate in Riverton. Mead is seeking re-election Nov. 4.

“The answer is no, I don’t think we should appeal the ruling,” he said.

Should Mead and the other three office holders named in the suit notify the court, then Skavdahl will lift the stay and marriages will begin.

UPDATE - One of the four defendants, Debra K. Lathrop, in her official capacity as Laramie County Clerk, has informed the court that she has no intention of appealing. The three remaining defendants are:

Matthew H. Mead, in his official capacity as the Governor of Wyoming
Dean Fausset, in his official capacity as the Director of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information
Dave Urquidez, in his official capacity as the Administrator of the State of Wyoming Human Resources Administration

UPDATE – Mean has announced that the state will not appeal the decision and that the Attorney General will file notice with the court. This likely encompases the other members of his administration.

I suspect that the filing and lifting of stay will not come before Monday.

Supreme Court denies Alaska’s request for stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark Purple – states with marriage equality
Light Purple – states in circuits in which marriage equality has been ruled.
Pink – states that recognize legal marriages from other places

The US Supreme Court has denied Alaska’s request for a stay. Marriage is now equal in 31 states plus the District of Columbia.

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