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Posts for August, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Friday, August 1

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Uganda’s Constitutional Court May Issue Ruling on Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Kampala, Uganda. On Wednesday, Uganda’s Constitutional Court heard arguments presented by several human rights activists petitioning the court to invalidate the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which president Yoweri Museveni signed into law in February. Petitioners, who filed their petition in March, contend that the Anti-Homosexuality Act violantes several rights guaranteed to them in Uganda’s constitution, including the rights “to privacy, to be free from discrimination, dignity, to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, to the freedoms of expression, thought, assembly and association; to the presumption of innocence, and to the right to civic participation.” It also alleges that Parlaiment’s rushed passage of the bill violated the constitution because Parliament acted without the constitutionally-mandated minimum quorum. That was the main question before the Court Wednesday. Observers were optimistic that the Court may strike down the law on the quorum issue when it reconvenes today at 9:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. EDT).

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Bismark, ND; Brighton, UK; Dover, DE; Edgewater, MD; Essen, Germany; Freemont, CO; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Marietta, GA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, Montana; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Divers/Cité, Montréal, QC; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), May 1971, page 7.

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), May 1971, page 7.

This brief review accompanied the ad:

The big noise in town concern the opening of THE CANDY SHOP [sic]. You may have a bit of trouble locating it — just off Cedar Springs on Throckmorton (behind the cleaners I believe), but your efforts will be well rewarded for looking, as this private club has Dallas’ only Gay Light Show. You just gotta see this. Truly fantastic! You’ll also enjoy the small intimate atmosphere of this friendly club.

The area around Throckmorton and Cedar Springs Rd. is still the heart of Dallas’s gayborhood. The cleaners mentioned above has been, since 1980, home to the original J.R.’s, a popular gay club on Cedar Springs which spawned similarly-named bars in Houston, Denver, and Washington, D.C. Go around to the back to 3014 Throckmorton where the single-story wooden building that had been home to the Candy Store used to be. It’s not there anymore, but you will find a much larger one housing J.R.’s companion two-story lesbian bar, Sue Ellen’s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Washington Post Reveals Civil Service Offering Disability Retirement for “Alcoholics and Homosexuals”: 1965. Jerry Kluttz, writing for the Washington Post’s “Federal Diary” column, revealed that more than fifty alcoholic Federal employees, who would have normally been fired, were instead placed on retirement “for physical disability” over the past year, in which Kluttz described as “a more liberal approach to their problems.” He also noted that the program was also available for gay employees because of their “disability”:

It is also possible for homosexuals to be given disability retirements; not because they are sex deviates but in spite of it. Their disabilities must qualify them for retirement and the disabilities may or may not have had some connection with or contributed to their sex behavior.

The longtime Government policy to fire overt homosexuals remains unchanged under the policy that their conduct tends to discredit the Federal service. Known homosexuals would probably be ousted before the could be retired on either physical or mental disabilities.

Fired employees, however, have the year following their dismissal to file for disability retirement, and several sex deviates have taken advantage of this provision.

Kluttz didn’t have a breakdown on the number of gay people who filed for disability retirement, but overall more than 17,000 employees out of 50,000 who were retired in the previous year were ruled disabled. The civil service had previously ruled “unconventional sex behavior” as willful misconduct, and were thus ineligible for disability retirements under federal law. But with the commission’s new openness to extend disability retirement benefits for those suffering from mental illnesses, gay employees were increasingly falling under that category in accordance with the APA’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

[Source: Jerry Kluttz. "The Federal Diary: Disability Retiring Given Alcoholics and Homosexuals." The Washington Post (August 1, 1965): B1.]

Rep. Jim Kolbe Comes Out: 1996. On July 12, 342 Congressional representatives rushed to pass the so-called Defense of Marriage Act into law. The three openly gay representatives, Steve Gunderson (R-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), and Gerry Studds (D-MA) spoke passionately against the bill, making their status as gay men relevant to the debate. Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Mark Foley (R-FL), who were closeted, quietly voted for the bill. Almost immediately after the vote, San Fransisco activist Michael Petrelis began an email campaign to urge other activists, journalists and publications to reveal the two congressmen’s secrets. The Advocate had a policy against outing public officials, but since they were following up prior reports and rumors from other media, they felt that if those reports could be independently verified through three different sources, the next step would be to approach the lawmakers and ask if they were gay. They were verified, and The Advocate asked Kolbe and Foley to ask them to explain their votes and their sexual orientation. The Advocate continued:

Both men objected to the latter line of questioning. “Even members of Congress should be allowed to have personal lives,” Kolbe, 54, said in a telephone interview. “The issue of my sexuality has nothing to do with the votes I cast in Congress or my work for the constituents of Arizona’s fifth congressional district.” Upon reflection, however, Kolbe decided to come out soon after talking to The Advocate, saying the magazine’s questioning of him was a chief factor. Foley, in written answers to The Advocate‘s questions, stated his belief that “a lawmaker’s sexual orientation is…irrelevant.”

Kolbe decided to beat The Advocate to the punch (Foley wouldn’t come out until 2006, when he resigned after sexually suggestive Instant Messages between him and a 16-year-old page). On August 1, Kolbe revealed that he was indeed gay. ”That I am a gay person has never affected the way that I legislate,” he said in a statement. ”The fact that I am gay has never, nor will it ever, change my commitment to represent all the people of Arizona’s Fifth District,” which included most of Tucson and the southeastern corner of the state. Rep. Frank came to Kolbe’s defense. ”In general, Kolbe has voted against bigotry and discrimination,” he said, ”so his overall record is intellectually honest on this issue.” Petrellis reacted positively to the outing as well. “I think it’s a terrific development that we now have an equal number of openly gay G.O.P. members of Congress.”

Kolbe was reelected to his seat in 1998, and in 2000, he became the first openly gay person to address the Republican National Convention. His speech was about free trade and he didn’t come within ten miles of addressing gay rights, but the Texas delegation protested by bowing their heads, purportedly in prayer. (Ohio anti-gay activist Phil Burress called for Kolbe’s arrest on sodomy charges.) Meanwhile, Kolbe continued to defend his vote for DOMA on states rights grounds. “My vote on the Defense of Marriage Act was cast because of my view that states should be allowed to make that decision, about whether or not they would recognize gay marriages,” he said. “Certainly, I believe that states should have the right, as Vermont did, to provide for protections for such unions.” He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006. By the time he was wrapping up his congressional service in 2006, Kolbe telling local audiences in Tucson that “in a few years,” same-sex marriage would be normal and uncontroversial. He retired in 2007.

Not gay: Michael Johnston and his mother in a 1998 television commercial.

Ex-Gay Leader Experiences “Moral Fall”: 2003. Michael Johnston was literally the poster boy of the ex-gay movement. Five years earlier, he was one of the stars of a high profile national print and television ad campaign claiming that gays could change their sexual orientation (see Jul 13). Johnston, who is HIV-positive, appeared with his mother in a controversial print ad under the headline “From innocence to AIDS.” He and his mother also appeared in a television commercial, in which she said, “My son Michael found out the truth — he could walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late — he has AIDS.” Johnston founded Kerusso Ministries in Newport News, Virginia, started a program called the National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, and he was featured in the widely-distributed ex-gay propaganda video, It’s Not Gay.

But all that ended when it was revealed that while Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, privately he was engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. One man said that he had met Johnston, who called himself Sean, in a gay chat room in 2001 and had a six month relationship with him. “What we did was unsafe,” the man said, “I brought it up all the time, but [Johnston] didn’t seem to think it mattered. He would have these parties, get a hotel room, get online and invite tons of people — he just wouldn’t care.” When the story came to light, Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky. He is now Director of Donor and Media Relations at that very same ministry, where he is also a member of the “speaking team.” And his propaganda video is still for sale at the American Family Association web site.

Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were tje first to marry in Minneapolis.

Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were tje first to marry in Minneapolis.

 1 YEAR AGO: Marriage Equality Begins in Minnesota and Rhode Island: 2013. After successful legislative campaigns, Minnesota and Rhode Island became the twelth and thirteen states, (in addition to the the District of Columbia), to provide marriage equality for its residents. Marriage equality went into effect in both states effective midnight on the morning of August 1. In Minnesota, couples lined up to marry in Minneapolis, St. Paul and elsewhere across the state at the stroke of midnight. Three of those lucky couples received free Betty Crocker wedding cakes from General Mills, which is based in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley.

Rep. Frank Ferri, lead sponsor of the marriage equalit bill in the Rhode Island House, marries his partner Tony Caparco.

Rep. Frank Ferri, lead sponsor of the marriage equalit bill in the Rhode Island House, marries his partner Tony Caparco.

Rhode Island didn’t see quite the huge rush of couples seeking to get married right away as Minnesota did. With the rest of the northeastern United States and Canada having offered same-sex marriages for a number of years, there were already thousands of legally married same-sex couples residing in the Ocean State. So when their local clerks offices started opening between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., couples arrived at a much more liesurely pace. Some got marriage licenses so they could marry at a later date, some held wedding ceremonies later that day, and others filled out the paperwork to convert their civil unions into marriages.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Lionel Bart: 1930-1999. His professional songwriting career began in the 1950s when he began churning out pop hits for several British singers. But he is best known as the author for the book, music and lyrics for the smash 1960 London musical Oliver!, based on the Charles Dickens novel. When the show opened on Broadway two years later, it earned him a Tony for Best Original Score. In 1963, he wrote the theme song for the the James Bond film From Russia With Love. Bart’s style — and lifestyle — came to epitomize early 1960s Britain, palling around with Noel Coward, Brian Epstein, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, and even Princess Margaret, who called him a “silly bugger” for squandering his money.

Bart continued writing for the West End, scoring respectable successes with Blitz! (1962) and Maggie May (1964), but Twang! (1965) was a horrible flop, and La Strada (1960) closed on Broadway after only one performance. By then, he has broke and in serious decline due to alcoholism and LSD. By 1972, he was bankrupt and slid further into drinking and depression. He sobered up in the early 1990s, but between his diabetes and nearly-destroyed liver, his health was permanently damaged. He died in 1999 after a long battle with cancer.

Yves Saint Laurent: 1936-2008. One of the greatest names in fashion got his start at another storied fashion house, Christian Dior. In 1957, Dior was so impressed with Saint Laurent’s designs that Dior named Saint Laurent to succeed him as designer. When Dior died suddenly later that year, Saint Laurent became the head designer at the House of Dior at the age of 21. Saint Laurent’s 1958 collection is credited for saving the firm. In 1958 and 1959, the forms owner, Marcel Boussac, reportedly pressured the French government not to draft Saint Laurent into the army to fight in the Algerian War of Independence, but after the critically panned 1960 season, Saint Laurent suddenly found himself without a job, conscripted and undergoing combat training.

This would be Saint Laurent’s low point. Hazed by fellow soldiers, he lasted only 20 days in the military before he was sent to a military hospital due to stress. While there, he was placed under sedation and given psychoactive drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. Years later, he would point to this period as the genesis for his later problems with drinking and drug addictions.

After he was released later that year, Saint Laurnet and his partner, Pierre Bergé, founded their own fashion house under Saint Laurent’s name. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Saint Laurent would set several fashion trends: safari jackets, tall thigh-high boots, and the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women. He was also the first major French designer to come out with a full ready-to-wear line, and he was the first designer to feature non-Caucasian models on his runway. His personal life also indulged in several 1960s and 1970s trends: partying at Regine’s and Studio 54, drinking and snorting cocaine. He nevertheless maintained a hectic schedule of designing two full haute couture and ready-to-wear lines each year even though, because of his drug use, he could barely walk down the runway at the end of some of his shows. After 1987, he began turning his design work over to his assistants. He retired completely in 2002 and died in 2008 of brain cancer in Paris.

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?6

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 31

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Bismark, ND; Brighton, UK; Dover, DE; Edgewater, MD; Essen, Germany; Freemont, CO; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Marietta, GA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, Montana; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Divers/Cité, Montréal, QC; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, July 28, 1978, page 3.

From Arizona Gay News, July 28, 1978, page 3.

Miss Matty’s Attic was a multi-level bar/restaurant/cabaret/dance club in the Paradise Valley area of far northeast Phoenix, in an area which is massively suburbanized today but which I’m guessing was way out in the middle of nowhere in 1978. The old place stood more or less where the Piestewa Freeway runs today.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 First Gay Rights Protest at the Pentagon: 1965. That year marked several important milestones in the history of organized gay protest. The year of gay protests actually got a head start in 1964 when Randophe Wicker (see Feb 3) led a small band of activists protesting in front of a New York City army induction center (see Sep 19).  In April of 1965, gay rights advocates held the first White House protests demanding equal treatment in federal employment and other areas of discrimination (see Apr 17),  A string of other protests followed, at the United Nations (see Apr 18), another one at the White House (see May 29), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), and, on this date in history, the Pentagon.

Participants at the Pentagon picket included gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny (see May 21), Barbara Gittings (whose birthday is also today; see below), Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and eight others. CBS cameras were on the scene to capture it, and a report on the protest was featured on the local affiliate’s evening news. But another 46 years would pass before the military ban on gays serving openly would finally be out the door. The New York Public Library has a small online digital gallery of that first Pentagon protest.

Henry Willson (left) with Rock Hudson.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Henry Willson: 1911-1978. The future Hollywood agent was born for show business; his father was vice president of the Columbia Phonograph Company and president of Columbia Gramophone Manufacturing Co. Alarmed at his son’s interest in tap dance, he sent Henry to a boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina where he thought rough sports, rock climbing and backpacking would straighten his son out. Needless to day, it didn’t. In 1933, Henry moved to Hollywood and became a talent scout for Hollywood mogul David O. Selznick, discovering Lana Turner (although not at a drug store counter, as legend had it), Joan Fontaine and Natalie Wood.

But his real claim to fame was his uncanny knack for finding (and often, allegedly, bedding) the hottest beefcake stars of the 1950s. His “Adonis factory” transformed Robert Moseley into Guy Madison, Francis Cuthbert into Rory Calhoun, Merle Johnson into Troy Donahue, Arthur Kelm into Tab Hunter, Robert Wagner into, well, Robert Wagner, and most famously, Roy Fitzgerald into Rock Hudson. That minor detail about some of them lacking discernable talent proved to be of little hinderance to breaking into show business. Willson pesonally coached his charges in how to act, how to behave, and how to butch it up if they were lacking in that particular area. He staged “dates” for his gay stars when needed, and he even talked Hudson into a three year marriage to his secretary when rumors began to become a little too active.

While most of his male clients were heterosexual, the disproportionate number of gay male leads in his stable led many to assume that all of his clients were gay. And as Willson’s own homosexualit was public knowledge, many of his clients, gay and straight, began distancing themselves from him as he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and also as he became increasingly paranoid and fat. His influenced waned through the 1960s, and by 1974 he became a ward of the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, where he died of cirrhosis of the liver. With nothing left of his estate, he was buried in an unmarked grave in North Hollywood. In 2005, Willson became the subject of Robert Hofler’s endlessly entertaining biography, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson.

Barbara Gittings

 Barbara Gittings: 1932-2007. Her friend and fellow gay rights activist Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) called her “the Grand Mother of Lesbian and Gay Liberation.” That’s not much of exaggeration considering all she had accomplished for the LGBT community. Her quest for equality and dignity began when she flunked out of her freshman year at Northwestern University because she spent too much time in the library trying to understand what it meant to be a lesbian. Her mission since then was to tear down what she called “the shroud of invisibility” that facilitated the ongoing criminal persecution of homosexuality as well as its being regarded as a mental illness. She organized the New York chapter of the Daughters of Billitis in 1958, and she gained a national platform within the gay and lesbian community as the editor of the pioneering lesbian journal The Ladder in the mid-1960s.

No Limits: Barbara Gittings picketing the White House, 1965.

In 1963, she met Frank Kameny, the pioneering gay rights activist based in Washington, D.C. (see May 21). He was, as she described him, “the first gay person I met who took firm, uncompromising positions about homosexuality and homosexuals’ right to be considered fully on a par with heterosexuals.” Together, they formed a collaboration that would transform the gay rights movement from one of timidity and defensiveness to bold action and determined demands for equality. Those actions included the first ever gay rights protests in front of the White House, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and the Pentagon, all beginning in 1965. The move was audacious — the Daughters of Bilitis officially opposed picketing at the time, and they would force her removal as editor of The Ladder in 1966 over the issue — but Gittings pressed forward, convinced that invisibility would fall only when gays and lesbians themselves took the steps to boldly step out of the shadows.

Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John E. Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous” at the 1972 APA panel on homosexuality.

The pair’s greatest accomplishment came in the campaign to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971 Kameny and Gittings organized an exhibit at the APA convention in Washington, D.C.. While there, they attended a panel discussion on homosexuality, and were outraged to discover that there were no gay psychiatrists on the panel. Kameny grabbed the microphone and demanded that the APA hear from gays themselves. The following year they were invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Psychiatry, Friend or Foe to Homosexuals? A Dialogue.” Gittings convinced Dr. John E. Fryer, a gay psychiatrist to take part. But he would do so only on the condition that his participation remain anonymous, and that he could wear a disguise and use microphone to alter his voice. “Dr. H. Anonymous’s” participation created a sensation at the convention as he described how he was forced to be closeted while practicing psychiatry (see May 2). Gittings, in turn, read aloud letters from other gay psychiatrists who refused to participate out of fear of professional ostracism. The following year, homosexuality was removed from the APA’s list of mental disorders, and Gittings celebrated by being photographed with newspaper headlines, “Twenty Million Homosexuals Gain Instant Cure.”

In the 1970s, Gittings’ passion returned to where she first tried to find information about what it means to be a lesbian, the library. She helped to found the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force. That’s where she got the idea for a gay kissing booth at the ALA’s 1971 convention in Dallas. “We needed to get an audience,” she remembered. “So we decided… let’s show gay love live. We were offering free—mind you, free—same-sex kisses and hugs. Let me tell you, the aisles were mobbed, but no one came into the booth to get a free hug. So we hugged and kissed each other. It was shown twice on the evening news, once again in the morning. It put us on the map.” She continued, “You know that kissing booth wasn’t only a public stunt. It gave the message that gay people should not be held to double standards of privacy. We should be able to show our affections.”

She died in 2007 after a long battle with breast cancer. She is survived by Kay Tobin Lahusen (see Jan 5), a fellow gay rights advocate and her partner of 46 years. You can see a personal remembrance of Barbara Gittings by Jack Nichols here.

Ian Roberts

Ian Roberts: 1965. The hunky Australian made headlines in 1995 when, as a playor for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles rugby club, he came out as gay. He came out in a big way: by posing nude for the first issue of Blue magazine. Public reaction was mostly positive, and his teammates were supportive. He sat out the 1996 season due to injuries, and signed with the North Queensland Cowboys in 1997. He retired from regular play in 1998 after his injuries kept piling up. That same year, he began studying acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. He had a brief cameo in the 2005 Australian film Little Fish, and he took the role of Riley, a Henchman of Lex Luthor in 2006′s Superman Returns. He’s also appeared in the 2009 Australian mini-series Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, and in the ABC1 drama The Cut. In 2012, he appeared in his first starring role, as a gay characer, in the indy film Saltwater.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 30

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Belfast, UK; Bismark, ND; Brighton, UK; Dover, DE; Edgewater, MD; Essen, Germany; Freemont, CO; Hamburg, Germany; Hanoi, Vietnam; Lafayette, IN; Leeds, UK; Liverpool, UK; Marietta, GA; Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Montana Two Spirit Gathering, Blacktail Ranch, Montana; Summer Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Divers/Cité, Montréal, QC; Family Week, Provincetown, MA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, a New York CIty gay bar guide, August 24, 1978, page 67.

From Where It’s At, a New York City gay bar guide, August 24, 1978, page 67.

icepalace57-ny-interior-02The original Ice Palace was on Fire Island, which had opened in 1971. The owner, Jimmy Merry, also owned a half-dozen other gay bars and clubs throughout Manhattan. In 1977, Merry opened his flashy new disco at 57 West 57th Street, and named it Ice Palace 57. It boasted one of the best, most elaborate light shows in New York City. It’s large dance floor was surrounded by kiosk-style seating and mirrored walls which reflected the hypnotic light displays. Off to one side was a quieter lounge where people could take a break from the music. Ice Palace 57 was packed every night of the week, and its Sunday afternoon tea dances were legendary.  It attracted such celebrities as Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Bianca Jagger and Halston. But not everyone was invited to the party:

N.Y.C. Disco Owners No-Shows at Hearing

Members of Black and White Men Together/NY, who had documented and demonstrated against the racially discriminatory admission practices of the Ice Palace Disco, were granted a pre-hearing conference with the New York State Human Rights Commission Feb. 4. The owners of the Ice Palace did not appear.

A conference is the legal prelude to a full-scale hearing. Plaintiffs present witnesses and evidence to the conference so that the HRC can determine whether or not “probable cause” exists for a legal suit. The absence of the Ice Palace owners leads BWMT members to believe that the commission will hand down a “probable cause” decision. Such a decision would enable the group to take the owners to court. Until then, BWMT members have resumed their late-night picketing in front of the midtown disco. Ice Palace representatives continue to refuse comment. [From The Advocate, March 18, 1982, page 16.]

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
95 YEARS AGO: A Plea From An Invert: 1919. Through the early part of the twentieth century, American medical and psychological writers began taking 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). It was rare, however, to hear from “inverts” themselves. The July 1919 issue of the Journal of Urology and Sexology carried one interesting letter to the editor that gives some indication of the frustration that many felt due to the severe societal disapproval that was prevalent a the time:

A PLEA FROM AN INVERT

To the Editor:

A plea to be heard before it is too late — will you not listen and perhaps advise me? If you only knew how I need help!

I am a misfit. I am a young man who has never cared for any women. Am I to blame because God has given me a feminine nature? Why should I be shunned by all people, loathed by them!

I am clean and refined, am well educated in the fine arts and have high ideals concerning all things. And yet men who are covered with filthy sores from evil living, who have never had a decent thought or ideal in their lives, sneer at me. I am an outcast; I am lower than the lowest!

What few who are kind to me are women who have praised me for my high ideal concerning life.

Because the custom is not that two men shall marry, is it so wrong? If I love and respect a friend and he loves me, is it not as pure a marriage as between a man and woman; and far more equal?

I wish I had a friend to go and live with, to work out our ideals, and to grow in every way. Yet this has made me accursed among men; I am damned to a living hell!

Must I — who have denied myself almost too much, to become worthy of the highest friendship — must I forever walk alone?

Is there aught but beauty in the love of Marius and Cornelius in “Marius the Epicurian” by Walter Pater? Is Marius to be considered vile, because he had that “feminine refinement” that made him idealize life, that led him finally to the Christian faith and martyrdom?

I am alone and tired. Is it not a sad thing that I and many other young men who are worthy of much, should have but one hope — that Death shall come soon!

I need advice. If some young man among your readers might write to me! Do you not think we would save each other?

You must not believe me physically or mentally deficient — though I am near to suicide I

–Homo.

[Source: Anonymous. Letter to the editor: "A plea from an invert." American Journal of Urology and Sexology 15, no. 7 (July 1919): 336. Available online via Google Books here.]

Sean Patrick Maloney

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sean Patrick Maloney: 1966. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1988, Maloney spent a year volunteering with the Jesuits in the slums of Chimbote, Peru. He then returned to get his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia’s School of Law in 1992. He entered politics in 1991, working for Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, and he returned to work on his re-election campaign in 1996. After that campaign, he was offered a position in the White House staff, where he was senior advisor and White House Staff Secretary from 1999 to 2000. When Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in Wyoming, Maloney was one of two officials sent by President Clinton to represent him at the funeral. One newspaper noted that Maloney was “the highest ranking openly homosexual man on the White House staff.”

After 2000, he became a senior attorney at the law firm which represented the Shepard family. He returned to politics in 2006, first as a member of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration, then in Gov. David Paterson’s administration after Spitzer’s resignation as the result of a prostitution scandal. In 2012, Maloney ran for New York’s 18th Congressional district and won, defeating Rep. Nan Hayworth, making Maloney one of six openly gay and bisexual members of Congress. Maloney and his partner, Randy Florke, together since 1992, are raising three adoptive children. Despite New York becoming a marriage equality state in 2011, the two had chosen not to marry because their marriage would not have been recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 of DOMA was declared unconstitutional in 2013, and Maloney and Florke married last June in Cold Spring, New York, making Maloney only the second member of Congress to legally marry his same-sex partner.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 29

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Positively Gay (Minneapolis, MN), June 1979, page 9.

From Positively Gay (Minneapolis, MN), June 1979, page 9.

From OutHistory.org:

Foxy’s opened in 1968, and by all accounts, it did not discriminate against men. The lesbian nightclub accepted women and men from all backgrounds. However, and perhaps as a result of nearby industrial work sites that employed butch women, some prospective patrons were turned away by their own beliefs in negative rumors. These rumors identified Foxy’s as a place for “Bad Dykes,” or aggressive butch women.

Foxy’s closed at its Seventh Street location in 1984, and the Over the Rainbow Bar replaced it. The bar’s owners next opened the Castle Royal on The West Side Flats before Honey Harold reopened Foxy’s in the former site of The Grand Finale in downtown St. Paul.

The site of the original Foxy’s is now a Jimmy John’s parking lot.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“My Daughter Is a Lesbian!”: 1958. Stonewall was still eleven years away. The first Christopher Street Liberation Day march occurred a year after that. And it was two years after that when Jeanne Manford marched with her son during that year’s CSLD parade with a sign reading “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” In 1958, visibility remained perhaps the single greatest hurdle for gay people. due to the dangers of being out — police raids (see Aug 14), arrest (see Jun 23), loss of job (see Mar 22, Dec 20), commitment to a psychiatric hospital (see Apr 14, Jul 26), murder (see Aug 3) — being visible was simply not an option for most people. There were few visible examples of gay people, and almost no visible examples of family members who accepted and supported their gay relatives.

Actually, there were few visible examples of gay people accepting themselves. More often than not, they saw themselves as freaks, perverts, deviants, delinquents, degenerates, sick — not just because society said so, but also because the “experts” said so, from all the respected professional organizations, prestigious universities and the most trusted hospitals.  When Frank Kameny dared to challenge psychatry’s verdict that gay people were mentally ill in 1965 (see May 11), the push-back was enourmous, much of it coming from within the gay community. The reaction could be summed up this way: who died and made you an expert on homosexuality? What credentials do you have to challenge those who have spent an entire lifetime studying the “problem.” Kameny’s answer was simple: “We are the true authorities on homosexuality, whether we are accepted as such or not.”

But in the 1950s, getting gays and lesbians to accept themselves was still the biggest challenge facing the homophile organizations, and an essay that appeared in the July 1958 issue of The Ladder, the official newsletter of the Daughers of Bilitis, shows just what a challenge that was. It was by a mother of a lesbian — and what a mother she was. I wonder, were accepting mothers more common than self-accepting lesbian daughters? I don’t know, but this one certainly gave all lesbians, their mothers, and anyone else who cared to butt in a good piece of her mind.

And yet, she also had to counter a lot of misinformation that a lot of people shared, including a lot of gay people. To counter the assumption that her daughter would live a life of lonely spinsterhood, she described her daugheter’s “congenial, intelligent, loving and kind ‘mate’.” Against the prevailing view that mothers were responsible for their child’s sexuality, she defended herself by pointing to her daughter’s morality (“she could not be cheap and promiscuous”) and her good citizenship. And to counter society’s assumptions that a faithful heterosexual marriage was every woman’s birthright, she offered the example of her own sad marriage. In all, this isn’t so much a portrait of a mother and her lesbian daughter, but a counter-narrative to the prevailing opinions of gay people at that time. The essay’s defensiveness isn’t what we would recognize as a proclamation of pride, but when you consider how oppresive the dominant assumptions were at that time, Mrs. Doris Lyles had to start somewhere.

My daughter is a Lesbian. By all measures of accepted society, that is a pretty blunt statement. If I were an average mother, I wouldn’t even bring this assertion out and view it furtively, even when alone. Nevertheless, I do not think I would come under what one would call average, and I say this in a far from self-satisfied manner. However, I do not believe in hiding truth under our stilted, self-imposed laws of society. Many people today are frustrated and under mental treatment because of these frustrations, simply because they refuse to face the truth and prefer to delude themselves in so many ways.

My daughter from small girlhood seemed to be a little different from the average child. For one thing, she was above average mentally and had very strong will power and determination that even in childhood seemed to brook no interference. Frankly, I believe that if I had been a dictatorial, demanding mother whose child had to bend to her ego and demands, I might have had a pretty serious case of delinquency to contend with today, instead of an intelligent, serious-minded daughter who holds a fine position in a respected professional field, lives what is for her a full, rounded-out life of contentment and security, with no frustrations or problems, at least none that amount to much.

I will be very frank in saying that I am lucky in that she found a congenial, intelligent, loving and kind “mate” in this association of which I am aware but do not understand completely as a normal mother and wife. I do not like that word “normal” applied here, for there are no two more normal persons alive than my daughter and her charming associate.

In finding out about my daughter’s preferences, I had one very firm belief. I knew she would find someone of kindred tastes and lead a very circumspect life no matter what path she chose, for I knew my child and understood she could not be cheap and promiscuous, whether Lesbian or heterosexual. This thought was a great comfort and from the beginning I knew she would need love, appreciation and understanding from me; not censure, shame or withdrawal. One thing I have done to an extent most people would feel was too much to the extreme: I have left her to her own devices and now, in her middle twenties, she leads her own life completely and when she wishes to come to me, for whatever period of time she chooses, she knows she is welcome and won’t be importuned to “come oftener” and “stay longer”. As a child, I led a sheltered life in which my mother dominated all my moves and actions. When she passed away, I was at completely loose ends and made a very foolish marriage which would not have happened had I been free to follow my owm course in life. This had made me wary of being possessive and trying to shape and run the lives of others. As a consequence, I think I have my daughter’s love and loyalty — even to a greater degree than most mothers who make demands and expect them to be carried out.

With the background of theatrical people during my childhood, I learned rather early that all of us, men or women, did not come within the realm of “norms.” Maybe this is why my daughter’s fate didn’t seem so terrible to me. I could think of a great many worse things, such as the unhappy twenty years of marriage I had shed at the time I learned of my daughter’s “difference”. I spent those years with a man who was a congenital liar, who preferred a lie when the truth would have served him better, and who couldn’t leave town for a week’s trip as a Salesman who travelled without having his quota of affairs with anyone — waitresses, nurses, — he seemed to prefer uniforms. It was a question of keeping my marriage together by not digging too deeply in the barrel, and keeping my temper, but definitely losing my self-respect. This I believe is a fate far worse for a girl. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I should use every means within my power to help my daughter in her situation, but frankly I do not believe she needs help from me or anyone else. If ever the time should come when she feels the need for advice or counsel, I only hope I will be able to advise her wisely, but certainly not against what she believes with all her being to be her path in life.

We preach freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even though reams and reams have been written on the subject, there are very few who will admit belief in freedom of love.

[Source: Mrs. Doris Lyles. "My Daughter Is a Lesbian." The Ladder 2, no. 10 (July 1958):4-5.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Tim Gunn: 1953. His role on Project Runway is that of a fashion professor and mentor, in line with his previous life as a member of the faculty at Parson The New School for Design, where he served as the fashion design chair before moving to Liz Claiborne in 2007 to work as their chief creative officer. Meanwhile, he’s been “making it work” at the Lifetime reality series which just started its thirtheenth season last week. He is an animal rights advocate and speaks out against the use of fur in fashion. He also made an “It Gets Better” video, motivated by his own suicide attempt when he was seventeen. He has generally been a private person, not given to opening his life to public scrutiny, but that began to change in 2006 when, in an interview with Instinct, Gunn said that he hadn’t been in a relationship since the early 1980s, after the end of a six-year relationship with the love of his life, whom he still loves today. He’s been celibate ever since then. In 2012, he wrote a short essay, Shaken, Not Stirred (available only as a Kindle Single) in which he described growing up with a rigid, controlling FBI-agent father who was J. Edgar Hoover’s ghostwriter.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 28

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), January 1989, page 44.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), January 1989, page 44.

On Sept 12, 1985, about fifteen agents from a drug-enforcement task force along with a contingent from the Chicago Police Department raided Carol’s Speakeasy with arrest warrants for two employees. Only one of them was there at the time, but police ordered all 45 patrons to lie on the floor for up to two hours while they questioned them, hurled insults and photographed them. No drugs or weapons were found, and only one customer was arrested, for resisting arrest, and that charge was later dropped. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit on behalf of the patrons, and in 1989 the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois agreed to settle. The state and city admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $227,000 to the bar patrons, return all documents and photographs taken during the raid, and to erase any records of those who were detained during the raid. That raid would be the last major raid against a gay bar in Chicago.

The “Mother of All Drag Queens,” Mother Carol (a.k.a. Richard Farnham) opened Carol’s Speakeasy, on October 13, 1978. He died almost a year later, but the bar kept going under new ownership. For more than a decade, Carol’s Speakeasy was one of Chicago’s most popular gay bars, which its reputation extending through much of the upper Midwest. On Friday night, July 5, 1991, 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger went to Carol’s Speakeasy for a few drinks, where he met a tall, blonde and friendly out-of-towner. The two talked, kissed, danced, laughed, and generally had a good time. Later that night, Weinberger accepted 31-year-old Jeffrey Dahmer’s invitation to spend the rest of the weekend with him in Milwaukee. Weinberger became Dahmer’s fifteenth victim. After killing two more over the next two weeks, Dahmer was arrested on July 22. Carol’s Speakeasy closed the following year and the building has been vacant ever since.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Illinois Becomes First State to Rescind Sodomy Law: 1961. In 1955, the Illinois General Assembly inaugurated the gargantuan task of overhauling its criminal code. Since its last major revision in 1874, the code had accumulated a patchwork of conflicting and confusing statues, some of which made no sense in the 20th century. Horse thieves, for example, were punished with a minimum penalty of three years in prison, but the maximum penalty for auto theft was only one year.

Over the ensuing six years, an eighteen-member joint committee of the Chicago and Illinois Bar Associations combed through the 148 chapters and 832 sections of the old statute books, using the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide. The ALI had put together its Model Penal Code because a number of states were planning to revise their criminal codes over the next decade, and the 1956 Model Code recommended the elimination of all prohibitions against consensual sexual activity between consenting adults, including those which criminalized homosexual activity and relationships. Because the Model Penal Code also touched on a plethora of other criminal statues, it’s likely that most Illinois lawmakers didn’t realize that they were repealing their anti-sodomy law by adopting the omnibus legislation. Nevertheless, the code was adopted and signed into law by Gov. Otto Kerner, and the anti-sodomy law’s repeal became effective on January 1, 1962.

That didn’t mean however that eliminating the state’s anti-sodomy law was entirely by mistake. A booklet describing the new code prepared for Chicago Police by Claude R. Sowele, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s law school, commented, “The Law should not be cluttered with matters of morality so long as they do not endanger the community. Morality should be left to the church, community and the individual’s own conscience.” While Illinois became the first state to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, the change in the state’s criminal code had few practical benefits for the state’s LGBT population, as police raids and harassment on other pretexts (or no pretext even, other than the opportunity to milk the gay community of more bribes) would continue without letup for another two decades.

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For the next ten years, Illinois would remain the only state in the union to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships. In 1971, Connecticut finally rescinded its sodomy law, followed by Colorado and Oregon (1972), Hawaii and North Dakota (1973), Ohio (1974), New Hampshire and New Mexico (1975). The big year was 1976, when California, Indiana, Maine, Washington and West Virginia stopped criminalizing homosexuality. By the time Lawrence v. Texas struck down all sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had eliminated their anti-gay statutes, either by legislative action or by state court decisions. Today, the focus is on marriage. Nearly 44% of U.S. citizens now live in states which provide marriage equality, with another 4.5% living in parts of the country which provide lesser forms of relationship recognition. But progress on that front is accelerating, and it all began with that first step in the Land of Lincoln.

England, Wales Rescinds Gross Indecency Law: 1967. On July 28, 1967, Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal Assent to the Sexual Offenses Bill, which marked a significant overhaul of Britain’s laws regulating sexual practices between consenting adults. The Royal Assent was the last act in a long, tortuous path toward finally getting rid of the Gross Indecency statute that had ensnared so many victims like the famous playwright Oscar Wilde and WWII code-breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing. The law penalized male homosexuality with up to two years in prison; consensual sexual acts between lesbians was not illegal, largely because the phenomenon was unknown when the Gross Indecency statute was last amended in the nineteenth century.

On July 4, Parliament voted 99-14 to approve the Sexual Offenses Bill in a free non-party vote by a tiny percentage of the more than 600-member chamber. The vote took place after an acrimonious eight-hour all-night debate. Home Secretary Roy Jenkins took pains to reassure members that “this is not a vote of confidence in, or congratulations for, homosexuality.” Supporters said that the bill would eliminate one of the most frequent causes of espionage: blackmail of gay diplomats and other officials.

But Labor member Peter Mahon summed up the feelings of those who opposed repeal. “It is by no means unnatural to have a feeling of absolute revulsion against a bill of this kind. Without any lack of charity I say without equivocation it was a bad bill to begin with, it is a bad bill now and will be a bad bill until the end of time. It will be a bad bill throughout eternity because homosexual acts are a perversion of natural function.” Conservative member Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles warned darkly that “decent and reasonable” people of Britain would react violently when they realized what Parliament had done. “It will only encourage our enemies and those who disparage us, and it can only dismay our friends,” he declared. Another Tory MP, Sir Cyril Osborne, said that many people were tired of democracy being made safe for “pimps, prostitutes, spivs and pansies — and now for queers.”

The law then went to the House of Lords, which gave its approval to the measure on July 21. Lord Arran, the Conservative Whip and longtime supporter of repeal, quoted Oscar Wilde in closing the debate. “We shall win in the end, but the road will be long and red with monstrous martyrdoms.” Lord Arran’s subsequent statement then reflected the ambiguity most politicians felt who supported the bill: “I ask one thing. I ask those who have, as it were, been in bondage for whom the prison doors are now opened to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity. This is no occasion for jubilation and certainly not for celebrations. Homosexuals must continue to remember that while there may be nothing bad in being homosexual, there is certainly nothing good.”

(In a related note, Wikipedia has this anecdote about Lord Arran: “Arran was the sponsor in the House of Lords of Leo Abse’s 1967 private member’s bill which decriminalised homosexuality between two consenting adult males. He also sponsored a bill for the protection of badgers. He was once asked why the badger bill had not received enough support to pass whereas decriminalising homosexuality had. ‘Not many badgers in the House of Lords,’ he replied.”)

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 27

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Halifax, NS; London, ONPittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

Other Events This Weekend: Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 13.

From The Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 13.

I don’t know much about either of these two bars. The Corner Longhorn Saloon, which got top billing in this paring, is now a parking lot. But the building that housed the Cow Palace had been a long succession of gay bars going back to the 1960s. Before the Cow Palace, it was the In Between. After the Cow Palace, it became the Bolt, the Brig, and finally, the Power House.

TODAY IN HISTORY”
“The Well of Loneliness” Published: 1927. The lesbian love story was so controversial that three publishers turned it down. When it was finally published in England, it appeared in a plain, discreet black cover. It wasn’t particularly racy; the only sexual description consisted of the phrases, “she kissed her full on the lips,” and “that night, they were not divided.” By today’s standards, the book may seem tame, but in 1927 Radclyffe Hall’s novel caused a sensation in Britain. The publisher sent review copies to only a few select newspapers and magazines who he thought could handle the lesbian-themed content. Most reviewers praised the book for its courage or panned it for its dreariness. But only one found it objectionable. James Douglas at the Sunday Express responded by mounting a massive campaign against the novel. “I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel,” he wrote.

Despite most of the British press’s defending the book, the publisher soon landed in court on obscenity charges. Several authors came to his defense — E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and James Melville among them — but the judge declared the novel obscene. It wasn’t the story line he found objectionable; it was the novel’s plea for tolerance and acceptance that made it “more subtle, demoralizing, corrosive and corruptive than anything ever written.” He ruled that it would “deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences,” and ordered copies rounded up and burned.

A 1951 paperback edition.

The ban and the massive newspaper campaign against the book only served to increase the public’s curiosity and demand for the book, as these things do. And wherever there’s a demand, there’s a supply. And The Well’s supply was met by a publisher in France who shipped copies surreptitiously to newsstands throughout Britain. That had the effect of lowering British officials’ enthusiasm for banning other lesbian-themed novels that followed. A Home Office memo observed, “It is notorious that the prosecution of the Well Of Loneliness resulted in infinitely greater publicity about lesbianism than if there had been no prosecution.” But it wouldn’t be until 1949 when The Well could be published in Britain again — not because any laws had changed, but because the Home Office simply decided to look the other way. It has remained in continuous publication since then.

Surprisingly, the book’s appearance in the U.S. generated a different reaction. Sure, there were attempts to ban it in the U.S. Customs Court and in New York City, where police seized 865 copies from its American publisher’s offices, but both attempts came to naught. When the court cleared the novel of obscenity, the publisher responded by putting out a “victory” edition, and the ensuing publicity raised demand for the book here as it did in England. And despite it’s high price of $5 (about twice the cost of an average hardback novel), The Well would go through six printings and sell over 100,00 copies by the time it was cleared by the courts. The Well of Loneliness has been in continuous American publication since its 1928 debut, and it has served as an inspiration and comfort for countless women in the ensuing decades.

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45 YEARS AGO: Gay Liberation Front Organizes First Post-Stonewall March Against Police Harassment: 1969. In the days following the Stonewall rebellion on June 28, the Mattachine Society of New York sponsored several discussion groups to try to tap into the newly-energized gay community and figure out what their next steps should be. One problem that quickly emerged was that in the rebellious atmosphere of the late 1960s, most of the younger crowd was in no mood to sit around and hold endless planning meetings. They were looking for something to do now, and that something, in that place in time, meant taking things to the streets.

An early GLF meeting.

An early GLF meeting.

Meanwhile, a new force had emerged on the scene, the Gay Liberation Front, which was an ad-hoc movement that had emerged just three days after the riot. The GLF’s approach to things was truly radical. It eschewed leadership structures and defined all attempts of control. All decisions were made by consensus — often after paralyzing discussions, arguments and endless political analysis. But the GLF was anything but passive, and many credit it with preventing the momentum of Stonewall from dying out, as had happened so many times before when LGBT people had risen up against anti-gay oppression.

One of the GLF’s first public actions took place a month after Stonewall with a march to demand an end to discrimination and police harassment. A crowd of five hundred gathered for a rally at Washington Square. Martha Shelly, president of the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis and a GLF founding member, kicked things off: “Brothers and sisters, welcome to the city’s first gay power vigil. We’re tired of being harassed and persecuted. If a straight couple can hold hands in Washington Square, why can’t we? … We’re tired of straight people who are hung up on sex. Tired of flashlights and peeping-tom vigilantes. Tired of marriage laws that punish you for lifting your head off the pillow.”

After more speeches by Marty Robinson and a straight ally who called herself Sister Marlene, the crowd began marching, four abreast, to Sheridan Square, clapping and shouting “Gay Power!” and other slogans, bringing traffic on Sixth Avenue to a halt. When they arrived at Sheridan Square, there were more speeches, appeals for money, and a round of “We Shall Overcome.” Jonathan Black at The Village Voice observed that “gay power had surfaced … A mild protest, to be sure, but apparently only the beginning.”

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 90-91.

Jonathan Black. "Gay Power Hits Back." The Village Voice (July 31, 1969): 1, 3, 28. Available online here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
95 YEARS AGO: Martin Block: 1919-1995. His life was in books, from the early years in which he made deliveries for a book store in New York City, to working at a book store in Grand Central Terminal after a stint in the military, to becoming one of the owners of Studio Book Store after moving to Hollywood. It was there, in 1950, that his friend, Rudi Gernreich, invited him to join an organization that Rudi, his lover Harry Hay (see Apr 7), and others were forming. Block remembered going to his first meeting of what would become the Mattachine Society:

Everybody was scared. I guess people were rather psychotic about it. But because of my background, this business of being afraid of the FBI or the police was a lot of shit to me at the time, as it is now. You see, my father was a socialist, and my mother was an anarchist. When the time came for the meeting, I think Rudi drive, and we took some sort of circuitous route to avoid being followed. Everybody was very worried about Mr. Hoover’s crazy FBI men. I don’t think anybody was interested in following us, but Rudi was fearful. The whole group was fearful…

Block listened to the discussions at that meeting, the talk about forming a new movement to advocate for gay people — and found that he disagreed with every word that was said. But he enjoyed the company, and decided to become a member. But after a few years, Block and several others became bored with the endless theorizing and helpless complaining. After one particularly dull meeting, Block, Dorr Legg (see Dec 15), Don Slater (see Aug 21), and Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) stayed late and talked about doing something besides talking, something that would be useful for gay people across the country. That something, they decided, would be a magazine they called ONE, from a quote by Thomas Carlyle, “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.” Block recalled that ONE’s mission would be a simple one:

We would not attempt to turn anyone in our direction. We weren’t going to go out and say you should be gay, but we said, “You can be proud of being gay.” You can be proud of being yourself. You could look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m me, and isn’t that nice?” That in itself was radical. Nobody put it in words, but that was the underlying thought and underlying feeling behind the magazine.

Block became ONE’s president and its first editor when the magazine debuted in January 1953. But because of demands at his bookstore and other family concerns, gave up his editorship in June and was removed as the organization’s president. He remained involved with ONE in various capacities through the 1950s. Later, he became a regular book reviewer for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Saturday Review, and the New York Times Book Review. After he closed his own bookstore in the late 1950s, Block became the manager for the book department at Robinson’s Department Store in Pasadena. He died in West Hollywood, California in 1995.

[Sources: Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 37-42.

C. Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009): 29-47.]

Troy Perry: 1940. At fifteen, he was already a Baptist preacher and a self-described “religious fanatic.” He married in 1959 and fathered two sons, but he was not faithful to his wife. He had a few gay dalliances on the side. When the elders at the church he was pastoring found out, they forced him to resign and he moved his family to Southern California and began preaching for the Church of God of Prophecy. While there, his wife found hidden in a mattress a copy of Donald Webster Cory’s groundbreaking The Homosexual In America (see Sep 18). That led to an immediate divorce and an apparent end to his preaching career.

After a stint in the army beginning in 1965, Perry felt called to offer a place for gay people to worship freely. In 1968, he placed an ad in The Advocate announcing a worship service designed for gays in Los Angeles, and twelve people turned up on that first Sunday (see Oct 6). That would be the genesis for the Metropolitan Community Church, the only Christian denomination founded specifically to address the spiritual needs of LGBT people. MCC now has 250 congregations in 23 countries around the world.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 26

Jim Burroway

July 26th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Ft. Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Gay Day at Valley Fair and Soak City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 18.

From David, May 1972, page 18.

Two go-go dancersThe May 1972 issue of David, a Jacksonville-based gay photography and lifestyle magazine serving the southeastern United States, provided a multi-page round-up of the major gay bars in the area. The description for Atlanta’s Mrs. P’s is brief, much like the briefs worn by two go-go dancers from the establishment:

MRS. P’S, the oldest gay bar in Atlanta, has put on a new face lately. The addition of attractive, young and daring go-go boys such as the two pictured here, has added a most welcome touch. It’s amazing how much business can be brought in by merely having a few young, beautiful, scantily clad studs with eye-catching personalities running around the place.

Mrs. P’s opened as a restaurant in the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1956. Hubert and Vera Phillips, who managed the place, was already operating the Piedmont Tavern just a few blocks away, which quickly became popular with lesbian softball players at Piedmont Park. Mrs. P’s was still operating as late as 1980, but I don’t have any information after that. The building is still there, although the lower-floor restaurant/bar space is now closed and boarded up. The three story brick hotel sold last January amid speculation that the new owners might renovate it into student apartments.

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THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Homosexuality and Lesbianism Treated with Metrazol: 1940. The professional literature before 1980 festers with countless torturous descriptions of psychiatry’s barbarous attempts at “curing” homosexuality. Many accounts deal with the application of painful electric shock delivered via electrodes attached to sensitive regions of the body (See, for example, Jan 18, Jan 20Mar 11, Jun 3, Sep 6Oct 30Dec 8). But the imagination for new methods of torture didn’t end there. Dr. Newdigate M. Owensby, who practiced at Atlanta’s famed Medical Arts Building and founded the Brook Haven Manor Sanitarium outside of Atlanta, published a brief paper in the July 1940 edition of the prestigious Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease describing his own unique experiments to cure homosexuality. He worked on “the assumption that homosexuality and lesbianism are symptoms of an under developed schizophrenia,” and this led him to try something new: injecting subjects with Metrazol, to produce an epileptic-type grand mal seizure. Other psychiatrists had been experimenting with Metrazol-induced seizures for schizophrenia since 1934, and their logic went like this: since epilepsy (which was considered a mental illness) and schizophrenia very rarely existed in the same individual, maybe inducing an artificial seizure might rid one of schizophrenia. Owensby extended his theory further, on the theory that Metrazol seizures might “liberate this previous fixation of the libido and the psychosexual energy becomes free once more to flow through regular physiological channels.” Who knows where he got that idea. But to give you an idea of what this seizure was like, here is a brief film clip (unrelated to Owensby’s report) of an unidentified patient experiencing a Metrazol-induced seizure:

Ownesby provided six case studies of his experiments:

Case I.-A white male of 19 years had been arrested and sentenced to prison because of moral turpitude (homosexuality). He was paroled for treatment and promised a pardon if his perversion was corrected. The family history was not enlightening. Homosexual experiences began during his fourteenth year and continued thereafter. Feminine mannerisms were evident. Metrazol was administered until fifteen shocks were produced. All homosexual desires had disappeared after the ninth shock, but treatment was continued until all feminine mannerisms had been removed. Normal sex relations were established and eighteen months later there had been no return of homosexual tendencies. He was granted a pardon.

Case 2.-A white male aged thirty-four years. Had been a homosexual since his fifteenth year. He was frank enough to admit that the only reason for seeking treatment was fear of exposure and subsequent disgrace. All homosexual desires disappeared after seven grand mal attacks were induced by metrazol. He was married four months later. At the expiration of ten months he stated there had been no recurrence of homosexual desires or practices.

Case 3.-A white male aged forty-four years. Had been a homosexual since early youth. Most of his past life had been spent in penal institutions because of the opportunities to indulge his perversion. He seemed proud of the fact that he was a “man-woman”. Was constantly inebriated when out of prison. Metrazol was administered until ten grand mal attacks had occurred. He appeared to be regenerated after the ninth seizure. His common law wife states that, with the exception of an occasional overindulgence in alcohol, he has been a normal, hard working man for the past six months.

Case 4–A white male aged twenty-five years. Has been a homosexual since his fifteenth year. His mother was a neurotic. A sister had a manic depressive attack. A brother was an alcoholic. The patient was seclusive and spent most of his free time in his room. Would take an occasional trip to another city in order to satiate his homosexual desires. Was reluctant to discuss his perversion. Six grand mal attacks were induced by metrazol. Normal sex relations became established shortly thereafter and at the expiration of three months the patient claimed to be sexually healthy.

Case 5.-A white male aged twenty-six years. Married. Had indulged in active homosexuality since his seventeenth year. Appeared to be an ambulatory schizophrenic. His marriage had been arranged by a doting mother. Had never been self supporting. An obvious personality change followed the sixth induced grand mal attack. Whereas he had formerly been indifferent to his family and friends, he began to show interest and affection for them. He secured a position after returning home and became self supporting. Six months after receiving the metrazol treatment, he reported that he had continued to be free from all homosexual desires.

Case 6.-A white female aged twenty-four years. Name and address given were admittedly fictitious. Said to have been a lesbian since puberty. Promiscuous. Preferred the active role. Inclined to boast of her conquests. Inebriate for past four years. Ten grand mal seizures were induced by metrazol. Became infatuated with an intern after the treatment had been discontinued and frequently complained of nocturnal emissions. Remained institutionalized for six weeks after the last treatment and appeared to be healthy in every way. No subsequent reports.

The report’s weak findings are obvious: no measures of sexual orientation before or after, no long-term follow-up, widespread evidence of involuntary or coerced participation — not to mention a deeply flawed belief in the nature of homosexuality itself. What’s more, it’s easy to imagine that anyone being subjected to this kind of torture would say or do anything to make it stop. In fact, the use of Metrazol-induced seizures was finally halted when it was found to be both ineffective and terrifying to patients. The seizures could be so severe that some patients actually experienced spinal fractures. It was later discovered that repeated treatments could, in some cases, lead to lasting brain damage. Needless to say, there is no evidence whatsoever that this treatment had any kind of effect in changing anyone’s sexual orientation. Indeed, in June 1949, Dr. George N. Thompson, writing for the same journal, would conclude that Metrazol shock therapy was ineffective in “curing” homosexuality.

But the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH) didn’t bother to read that memo. When they issued their so-called “Journal” in 2009 with a report which supposedly documents successful efforts to change sexual orientation, they included Owensby’s 1940 paper as a success story. Under the heading of “pharmacological interventions,” they write simply, “Owensby (1940) reported that six patients ceased all homosexual behavior after taking the drug Metrazol (pentetrazol).” They not only neglected to mention what Metrazol was all about — it wasn’t just some pill prescribed to patients — they also forgot to point out that the FDA revoked its approval of the drug in 1982.

[Sources: Newdigate M. Owensby. "Homosexuality and lesbianism treated with Metrazol." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 92, no. 1 (July 1940): 65-66.

George N. Thompson. "Electroshock and other therapeutic considerations in sexual psychopathy." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 109, no. 6 (June 1949): 531-539.

James E. Phelan, Neil Whitehead, Philip M. Sutton. "What the research shows: NARTH's response to the APA claims on homosexuality." Journal of Human Sexuality 1 (2009). ]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mel White: 1940. He had been an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Evangelical movement from the 1960s through the 1980s, working as a ghostwriter for Billy Graham (Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse, 1983), Pat Robertson (America’s Dates With Destiny, 1986), and Jerry Falwel (If I Should Die Before I Wake, 1986, and his autobiography, Strength for the Journey, 1987). After he married in 1962, he revealed to his wife that he had always been attracted to other men. As White wrote in his own autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, he embarked on a more than two-decade long struggle to rid himself of the gay, including conventional psychotherapy, electric shock aversion therapy, and exorcism. None of it worked, and after he tried to kill himself, he and his wife agreed to amicable divorce. She later wrote the foreword for Stranger at the Gate, the 1994 autobiography in which White came out publicly as gay. In 1998, he founded Soulforce, an organization which advocates for LGBT people through dialogue and other forms of nonviolent direct action in the mode of Mahatman Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2008, White and his partner, Gary Nixon, were the first same-sex couple to be legally married at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

White has long been involved in other secular areas as well. Since 1965, he has produced 53 film and television documentaries and written sixteen books, including nine best-sellers. In 2009, White appeared in the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race with his son, screenwriter/director/actor Mike White. His latest book, Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality, was published in 2012.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 25

Jim Burroway

July 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Ft. Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Gay Day at Valley Fair and Soak City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

Ad from David, May 1972, page 54; photo from David, July 1974, page 11.

Ad from David, May 1972, page 54; photo from David, July 1974, page 11.

David, a Jacksonville-based glossy gay photo/lifestyle magazine, described The Saloon of Ft. Lauderdale this way two years later in 1974:

Downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Saloon has been pleasing gays for years with bartender, Fluffy’s campy liveliness. Especially popular around cocktail time daily , the bar, tucked neatly in a quaint arcade has recently remodeled for a cruisy, cheerful look. The Saloon does not feature dancing, d.j. or entertainment but counts on lively conversation to spark up the afternoons and succeeds very well.

That block has undergone a complete redevelopment since then.

New South Wales. View of Sydney, from the East Side of the Cove. No.2, by John Eyre, 1810

New South Wales. View of Sydney, from the East Side of the Cove. No.2, by John Eyre, 1810

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Australian Court Convicts Two Of “Most Disgusting and Abominable” Crime: 1808. On July 31 of that year, the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser offered this brief report:

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction.

On Monday the Court assembled, and proceeded to the trial of

Richard Moxworthy, charged with the commission of an offence, of the most disgusting and abominable kind.

In support of the accusation many witnesses were called, the most favorable of whom went considerably to strengthen the material circumstances of the charge; which after a long and painful investigation, left not on the minds of the Court a doubt of actual guilt.

John Hopkins, his accomplice in the crime, was also indicted on the charge, and found guilty

Australian gay rights activist, journalist, artist and historian Bob Hay delved into the story and uncovered (PDF: 398KB/10 pages) the events that led up to the trial:

Not so lucky were Dubliner, Richard Moxworthy and Bristol-born John Hopkins who came into Sydney on board the US ship Hero on July 10, 1808. Moxworthy was second mate on this privateer and trader and was aged 42. Hopkins was only 16. The two were caught having sex when the ship was somewhere off Mexico. They were immediately relieved of duty and placed in irons until the Hero arrived in Sydney.

It’s not clear why the Australian Court felt that it had jurisdiction over a crime that happened on an American vessel, but New South Wales was a penal colony at the time and I guess that’s what you do: you take criminals to prison. Australia’s law mirrored English law, which included the “abominable crime” as a capital offense all the way up until the latter part of the nineteenth century (even though Britain dropped its death penalty for sodomy in 1862). The Sydney Gazette doesn’t explicitly report that Moxworthy and Hopkins were sentenced to death, but that’s a reasonable conclusion, especially considering a brief notice that appeared two weeks later:

His honor the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to extend the Royal Clemency to the two persons who were convicted capitally before the last Court of Criminal Jurisdiction.

Hay picks up the story from there:

After receiving a Conditional Pardon, Moxworthy again went to sea, this time as coxswain of the government sloop Blanche. Hopkins was not so successful: on April 26, 1822 the Sydney Gazette carried an advertisement offering £10 reward for the capture of John Hopkins who had absconded from his parole and was wanted for “diverse and other robberies”. There is no evidence that he was ever captured and that is the last we have heard of him.

Dr. Barry’s Death Reveals a Lifelong Secret: 1865. Before Britain’s Inspector General of Military Hospitals Dr. James Barry’s death, he left strict instructions that no one was to change him out of the clothes in which he died. But the charwoman sent to prepare his corpse had no room for such nonsense. And so when she pulled his nightshirt up to wash his body, she screamed: “The devil! It’s a woman!”

Dr Barry, while alive, was known as a fierce and demanding doctor, and in the process became one of the most highly respected and feared surgeons in Victorian England, feared for his combative temper and fierce determination. He famously got in a bitter argument with Florence Nightingale, who called him a “brute” and “the most hardened creature I ever met throughout the Army.” As Inspector General, he fought for better food, hygiene, sanitation and proper medical care for soldiers and for prisoners. His reforms undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. He became the top-ranking doctor in the British Army, where despite his argumentative personality, he was also reputed to have an very good bedside manner. Many who knew him also remarked on his high, soft voice and his diminutive stature — he stood barely five feet tall on special stacked-soled shoes. His black manservant, who joined Barry’s employment in South Africa and would remain with him for the next fifty years, was entrusted with the task of laying out six small towels every morning that Barry used to conceal his curves and broaden his shoulders.

Despite the charwoman’s discovery upon his death, his secret remained tightly held and he was buried under the only name he had gone by since his early twenties. It wouldn’t be until the 1950s when his British Army records were unsealed that it was revealed that Barry had been born in Ireland as Margaret Buckley to a forward thinking family who were staunch supporters of women’s rights. But whatever ideals the family may have had about what women were capable of achieving, society’s limitations said otherwise and women were barred from studying medicine. So Margaret became James Barry shortly after she, then he, beginning training to become a doctor. And in every respect, he remained a man in what was very much a man’s world until the day he died.

Barry’s life and career is the subject of Rachel Holmes’s 2007 book, The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England’s Most Eminent Surgeon.

Rock Hudson, Doris Day

Rock Hudson’s AIDS Diagnosis Confirmed: 1985. The rumors had been swirling for some time, long before Rock Hudson entered a Paris hospital for what was clearly a very serious illness. He had appeared on July 16 at a news conference in Carmel, California, alongside his 1959 Pillow Talk costar to promote Day’s new animal companion program on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Doris Day’s Best Friends, with Hudson as her first guest. Hudson was so late for the press conference, many of the reporters had already left when he finally arrived. Those who stayed were shocked by what they saw: sunken cheeks, poor complexion, unsteady on his feet, his speech barely intelligible and his clothing several sizes too large for his now skeletal body. Day embraced her former co-star and Hudson taped the show a few days later, although he was so weak they had to stop several times.

A few days later, Hudson flew to Paris where he was no stranger to the medical establishment there. In 1984, he had a scratch on his neck that wouldn’t heal, so he went to a doctor. The doctor told him that was no scratch, but Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare form of skin cancer and a common opportunistic infection among AIDS patients. Hudson went to Paris to receive treatment with HPA-23, an experimental drug unavailable in the U.S. which was supposed to inhibit an enzyme that allows the AIDS virus to multiply. Now a year later, he had made arrangements to return for another appointment with Dr. Dominique Dormont, the specialist who had treated him the year before. The appointment was set for July 22, but Hudson collapsed in his room at the Ritz the day before. The hotel summoned A doctor, who assumed that Hudson was experiencing heart problems and rushed him to the American Hospital of Paris. The doctors there, ignorant of his AIDS condition, noticed that his liver function was poor and suspected some kind of liver disease, prompting Hudson’s publicist, Yanou Collart, to tell reporters that he was suffering from liver cancer.

Rock Hudson's return to Los Angeles

Rock Hudson’s return to Los Angeles.

When Dormont finally arrived at the hospital, he determined that Hudson was too weak to undergo any more HPA-23 treatments. Hudson decided to return to Los Angeles as soon as possible. He also decided to announce that he had AIDS.  “The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to walk into his room and read him the press release,” said Collart. “I’ll never forget the look on his face. How can I explain it? Very few people knew he was gay. In his eyes was the realization that he was destroying his own image. After I read it, he said simply, ‘That’s it, it has to be done.’”

At first, Collart acknowledged Hudson’s disease, but not his sexuality.  “He’s lucid. He’s talking, He’s joking… He’s feeling much better and in quite good spirits,” Collart said. “He doesn’t have any idea now how he contracted AIDS. … Nobody around him has AIDS.” But in 1981, Hudson had undergone open heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, near West Hollywood, where he had received several blood transfusions. That would have been during the earliest days of what would soon become a major blood-borne epidemic, but before anyone understood what loomed ahead. This meant that his sexuality may have been coincidental to his AIDS, but nobody really knew, then or now. But at the very least, that explanation provided a path to plausible deniability.

And so the dancing around his sexuality would continue for another three weeks. Finally, and with Hudson’s blessing, close friends Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack and Mamie Van Doren acknowledged Hudson’s sexuality in a supportive article in People magazine. Messages of support and a procession of visitors followed: Morgan Fairchild, Joan Rivers, Nancy Walker, Tony Perkins, Carol Burnett, and, of course, Elizabeth Taylor. Hudson’s death less than three months later provoked another wave of sympathy and galvanized much of Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor’s prodding, to undertake the task of reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Thomas Eakins

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
170 YEARS AGO: Thomas Eakins: 1844-1916. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he studied drawing and anatomy at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and anatomy and dissection at Jefferson Medical College. His interest in the human body led him to briefly consider a career as a surgeon, but after studying art in Paris, he took his interest in the human anatomy in a very different direction and he became one of the finest painters of the human form. As for the particular human form he found fascinating, he made that clear while still a student in Paris:

“I can conceive of few circumstances wherein I would have to paint a woman naked, but if I did I would not mutilate her for double the money. She is the most beautiful thing there is — except a naked man, but I never yet saw a study of one exhibited… It would be a godsend to see a fine man model painted in the studio with the bare walls, alongside of the smiling smirking goddesses of waxy complexion amidst the delicious arsenic green trees and gentle wax flowers & purling streams running melodious up & down the hills especially up. I hate affectation.”

Salutat, 1898.

Eakins saw nudity as the essence of truthfulness, which in turn was the underpinning of the realist style in which he worked. That insistence on truthfulness got him into trouble. In 1886, he was forced to resign from the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy after he removed the loincloth of a male model in a class which included female students. Despite the public outcry, several students left the Academy in protest over Eakins’s departure. They formed the Art Students’ League of Philadelphia, and enlisted Eakins as their instructor. He also taught at several other institutions, but his teaching career ended by 1898, just three years after being dismissed from the Drexel Institute for, again, using a fully nude male model.

Eakins married Susan Hannah MacDowell, one of his students, in 1884. Their marriage was childless, but they both shared a love of painting (Susan was a skilled artist in her own right) and photography, which Eakins had taken up in the 1880s. Amid further controversy, his photography often involved nude subjects (including a full-frontal nude photo of his friend and fellow Philadelphia, Walt Whitman), as works of art themselves, or as studies for his paintings. His entire body of work can be seen as a yearning for freedom — from what or for what, we can only guess. But looking at the obvious homoeroticism of his art, that guess is not a difficult one to make.

J. Warren Kerrigan

135 YEARS AGO: J. Warren Kerrigan: 1879-1947. While little-known today, Kerrigan had been a very popular silent film star, appearing in films for Essanay, Biograph, and later Universal. He typically played a leading role, as a modern, well-dressed man-about town, and his films were enourmously successful. Photoplay magazine named him the most popular male star among its readers in 1914, the same year he became the first movie star to publish his autobiography. In 1916, the magazine Motion Picture Classic declared him the most popular star in the world.

He nearly killed his career in 1917 over a glib remark about his refusal to enlist in World War I. He resisted enlisting because he didn’t want to leave his mother alone. But that’s not what he told a Denver reporter. Maybe he was tired — it was at the end of a four-month long publicity tour — or maybe he was just tired of dodging the question. At any rate, his answer was a public relations disaster, saying that “first they should take the great mass of men who aren’t good for anything else, or are only good for the lower grades of work,” rather than those who were capable “of adding to the beauty of the world.”

It took six years and a bold move by director James Cruze to salvage his reputation when Cruze, surprising everyone, cast Kerrigan for the lead role in the Paramount western epic The Covered Wagon, which became the most popular film in North America that year. The Covered Wagon’s massive scale and budget – the silent feature was filmed on location over several months at a cost of $783,000 — set a new benchmark for filmaking. That success opened the doors to five more reasonably successful films for Kerrigan in the next year, ending in the swashbuckling 1924 film Captain Blood. Those films, along with his cautious investments and his eschewing the lavish Hollywood lifestyle, meant that his financial future was secure. He retired from filmmaking and lived quietly with his devoted partner of forty years until Kerrigan died in 1947 at the age of 67.

40 YEARS AGO: Gareth Thomas: 1974. Nicknamed “Alfie,” the Welsh rugby player was the first professional rugby union player to announce publicly that he was gay. He told The Daily Mail, “I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player, first and foremost I am a man.” I think he succeeded. Since I don’t know squat about rugby I’ll just quote from Wikipedia, which says:

He was the most capped Welsh rugby union player, with 100 test match appearances until he was overtaken by Stephen Jones in September 2011. He is currently ranked 12th among international try scorers and is the second highest Wales try scorer behind Shane Williams. He also won 4 rugby league caps for Wales, scoring 3 tries.He played rugby union for Bridgend, Cardiff, the Celtic Warriors, Toulouse, Cardiff Blues and Wales as a fullback, wing or centre. In 2010 he moved to rugby league, playing for the Crusaders RL in the Super League, and for Wales.

He broke his arm during a match in July 2011. After failing to recover in time for the Rugby League Four Nations Tournament in October, he announced his retirement.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 24

Jim Burroway

July 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Ft. Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwich, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Gay Day at Valley Fair and Soak City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom, March 4, 1973, page 4.

From The Fifth Freedom, March 4, 1973, page 4.

The Mattachine Society of Buffalo published The Fifth Freedom from 1970 until 1983. On March 10, 1973, Don Michaels wrote about the difficulties gay bars had in staying open:

The Bar Issue by Don Michaels

The gay bar situation in Buffalo has never been good. Whenever a new bar opens, the first question in everyone’s mind is “How long will it stay open?” The Vice Squad and the S.L.A. have closed so many bars in the past several years that it seems like they’re plating a game of musical chairs.

Mattachine has, in the past, taken a “hands off” attitude toward the problems of the bars. However, it is now apparent that due to the backward policies of the Buffalo Police Vice Squad and the State Liquor Authority, an atmosphere has been created at the gay bar level that is clearly oppressive to any gay person that wishes to use the bars to giver expression in to their social needs. Bar closings by Vice Squad/S.L.A. actions and subsequent overreaction by other bar owners to these closings, by instituting policies of “no touch-no slow dancing,” has created an intolerable situation for all of us.

Less than four decades later, the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage took place just a few miles away in Niagara Falls.

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were married at midnight at Niagara Falls.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 New Yorkers Begin Marrying: 2011. Shortly after the stroke of midnight, Niagara Falls mayor Paul Dyster pronounced Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd spouses for life as the world-famous falls in the background were lit in rainbow hues.

At about the same time, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings presided over the wedding of Dale Getto and Barb Lavin in the Common Council’s chambers. And with that, New Yorkers began to celebrate the arrival of marriage equality in the Empire State. On this date, New York became the most populous state in the union providing marriage equality for all of its citizens.

Dale Getto and Barb Laven married in Albany shortly after midnight.

When New York City officials announced that they would open their doors on Sunday for the first day of marriage equality, they worried that high demand would overload city clerk’s offices throughout the city. To manage the demand, they had established a lottery for 764 slots. But on Thursday before the big day, officials announced that they would be able to issue licenses for all 823 couples who applied for the slots. New York law provides for a 24-hour waiting period after obtaining a license before they can marry, but judges from around the state volunteered to be available at registrars’ offices to offer that exemption.

Baron Smith

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury: 1951. In 1984, just one year after being elected as Member of the British Parliament on the Labour ticket, Smith became the first MP to come out as gay at his own choosing. There had been a few other MP’s who had been involuntarily outed, typically as a result of a scandal. But Smith did so voluntarily, during a pro-gay rally in Rugby, Warwickshire, protesting a proposed ban on gay employees by the town council. Smith did came out during his self-introduction at the rally: “”Good afternoon, I’m Chris Smith, I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. I’m gay, and so for that matter are about a hundred other members of the House of Commons, but they won’t tell you openly.”

That revelation did little to impede his political progress. Smith became Labour opposition whip in 1986, shadow Treasury minister in 1987, shadow environment minister in 1992, shadow secretary for National Heritage in 1994, and shadow secretary for Social Security in 1995. When Labour won the general election in 1997, Smith served as Tony Blair’s first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport through 2001, making him the first openly gay Cabinet Minister. He stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2005 general election, and was rewarded for his services with a life peerage in the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury. In 2008, he was appointed chairman of the Environment Agency. He is stepping down as chairman this year, following controversy over the Agency’s handling of the massive flooding that took place in Somerset earlier this year.

Gus Van Sant: 1952. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Sant’s traveling salesman father moved the family around through much of his childhood. One thing remained constant though, and it was the young Van Sant’s interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. He enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study painting, but he switched to cinema after being introduced to avant-garde films. Since avant-garde films were never much of a money-maker, Van Sant became familiar with some of the more derelict areas along Hollywood Boulevard, and 1985′s Mala Noche, the story of a doomed love affair between a gay store clerk and a Mexican immigrant, was the first of many films touching on the fringes of society. 1989′s Drugstore Cowboy and 1991′s My Own Private Idaho became signature films which established Van Sant as a director to be taken seriously.

His 1993 flop, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, very nearly unraveled his career, but 1995′s To Die For (starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix), his first major studio production for Columbia, set the stage for his move into the mainstream. Good Will Hunting, starring and written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, earned Van Sant a Best Director Oscar nomination. His remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was considerably less successful. His decision to re-create Hitchcock’s film shot-for-shot in color instead of black and white left everyone scratching their heads. Since then, he has returned to art-house films, including Elephant (a fictional film inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting) earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. He returned to the mainstream again in 2008 with his biopic Milk about the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Again, Van Sant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. (He lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.)

Kirk, at the age of 4 years and 6 months, just a few months before entering treatment at UCLA’s Feminine Boy Project (Photo courtesy of the family)

Kirk Andrew Murphy: 1965-2003. For nearly four decades, Kirk was known only as “Kraig,” but under that pseudonym he was well known among behavioral therapists who were trying to prevent homosexuality and transgender identities in very young children. The seeds for “Kraig’s” fame were planted in the summer of 1970, when Kirk’s mother saw a television program featuring famed sexologist Dr. Richard Green describing a new federally-funded treatment program at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She listened to his spiel about the dangers of effeminate boys growing up to become homosexual, and she worried that her own young son was headed for trouble. So a month before his fifth birthday, she him to UCLA where Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. Ten months later, five-year-old Kirk was declared to be rid of his “severe gender identity disturbance,” and Kirk’s case would help Rekers earn his Ph.D. in 1972.

Two years later, Rekers published his case report of “Kyle” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, where he described “Kyle’s” treatment and the astounding “success.” This was the first time anyone had reported curing a young child’s budding homosexuality or transgenderism — no one was ever quite sure what it was they though they saw in Kirk — and that paper became one of the more widely-cited papers in the late 1970s. Kirk’s case launched Rekers’s career, first as an acclaimed or controversial young psychologist (depending on one’s point of view at the time), and later as a significant anti-gay activist when he co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983. Throughout Rekers’s career he would write at least twenty papers describing Kirk’s case as an example of the power of his treatment program to prevent homosexuality and transgender identity in very young children. The most recent publication touting “Kraig’s” supposedly successful cure appeared in a 2009 book promoted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), where Rekers served on its Scientific Advisory Committee. Of course, all of that was before Rekers was discovered returning from a European vacation in the company of a male escort in 2010.

But it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the truth about “Kraig” would finally emerge. Our award winning original BTB investigation revealed that Kirk’s therapy was highly abusive; that contrary to Rekers’s persistent reports, Kirk was not straight; that Kirk struggled all his life with the shame that his treatment at UCLA had been instilled in him; and that his struggle finally ended with his suicide in December of 2003. If Kirk were alive today, he would be 49 years old. His is still deeply missed by his mother, brother, sister and friends.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 23

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Federal Judge May Allow Marriages In Colorado: Denver, CO. Federal District Judge Raymond P. Moore held a two-hour hearing yesterday, where the state and attorneys on behalf of same-sex couples presented their arguments over the legality of the state’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage. That the Judge is going to strike down Colorado’s ban appears to be a foregone conclusion, since Attorney General John Suthers (R) doesn’t oppose such an injunction. The only question is whether the Judge’s injunction will be accompanied with a stay pending appeal. The Attorney General’s office is pushing for the stay, but plaintiffs’ attorney Mari Newman countered, Fundamental rights cannot be stayed and this is a fundamental right.” Judge Moore will is expected to issue his decision today.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Braunschweig, Germany; Ft. Wayne, IN; Halifax, NS; Harrisburg, PA; London, ON; Mainz, Germany; Norwhch, UK; Nottingham, UK; Pride Pittsburgh, PA (Black Pride); Raleigh-Durham, NC (Black Pride); Stuttgart, Germany; Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

Other Events This Weekend: Hotter Than July, Detroit, MI; Gay Day at Valley Fair and Soak City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Family Week, Provincetown, MA; Up Your Alley, San Francisco, CA; Zia Regional Rodeo, Santa Fe, NM.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Lesbian Tide, May 1980, page 30.

From Lesbian Tide, May 1980, page 30.

Sometimes I can find so much information about a bar that I hardly know what to share and what to leave out. Then there are other times when I can’t find anything except the ad. This is one of those times. The address today is a sushi restaurant, although the entire block looks like it has been rebuilt since 1980.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Charlotte Saunders Cushman: 1816-1876. The American stage actress began her career as an opera singer at the age of thirteen, following the death of her father. She had learned to sing from a friend of her father, who was also a foreman at a Boston piano factory, and she is said to have possessed a remarkable contralto range. But when her singing voice suddenly failed due to strain, she switched gears and became a noted drama actress, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. She and her sister, Susan Webb Cushman, became famous for playing Romeo and Juliet together, with Charlotte playing the role of Romeo to Susan’s Juliet.

In 1848 while in Europe, Charlotte met journalist and sometime actress Matilda Hays, and they began a ten year affair during which they became known for dressing alike. Charlotte retired from the stage in 1852 and the couple moved to Rome, where they immersed themselves in an expatriate community consisting mainly of lesbian artists. Hays and Cushman split in 1857, and Cushman became involved with the sculptor Emma Stebbins (see Sep 1). Cushman returned to the U.S. for a tour, and before returning to Italy in 1861 she was offered a farewell performance of the title role of Hamlet in Washington, D.C., the first of at least seven different so-called farewell performances over the next seven years. Her final final performance on the stage wouldn’t be until May of 1875 at Boston’s Globe Theater, nine months before she died at the age of 59 of pneumonia.

Edward Prime-Stevenson (a.k.a. “Xavier Mayne”): 1858-1942. Trained as a lawyer though he never practiced, Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson was known as a very cosmopolitan man of letters, befitting one who was born into a wealthy and cultured family. A master of nine languages, he wrote poetry, short fiction, magazine serials and travel essays for Harpers and The New York Independent before settling on music criticism. Early in his career, he wrote two books for boys: White Cockades: An Incident of the “Forty-Five” (1887), a historical fiction about a young Prince Pretender, and Left to Themselves: Being the Ordeal of Philip and Gerald (1891).

It was at about that time that he began dividing his time between the U.S. and Europe, and by the time the century turned, he was spending most of his time, never quite settled, in a regular circuit that consisted of stays in London, Paris, Budapest, Florence, and Rome. His beloved mother had died and left him an independently wealthy man, and his great love, Henry Harkness Flager, the son of a railroad magnate, had dumped him to marry a woman. As Stevenson let it be known in a few of his letters, he found America too oppressive for one such as he.

While in Naples in 1906, he published his “little psychological romance,” Imre: A Memorandum, under the pen name of Xavier Mayne. Imre, about a young Hungarian military officer’s relationship with another man, and was notable for two reasons. Not only was it the first American novel to deal openly and sympathetically with homosexuality, but it did so with a story line with a happily-ever-after ending.

Stevenson, again as Xavier Mayne, followed that with another book, The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life, which he published privately in Rome in 1908. (“Intersex” was often used to refer to gay men or women under the idea that they were members of the “intermediate sex”. “Simisexual” was an all-Latin form of the word “homosexual,” which scandalized some scholars for its hybridization — some said bastardization — of Greek and Latin roots.) This 646-page opus, dedicated to the memory of the German writer Richard von Krafft-Ebing, covered an incredible array of topics: homosexuality in the ancient world and among primitive peoples, animal studies, gay geniuses, literature, ancient and modern legal codes, male prostitution, blackmail, violence, and contemporary anecdotes, gossip and scandals. It is considered the first great defense of homosexuality in the English language, as in this passage (where he uses Krafft-Ebing’s “Uranian” to refer to gay men):

Happiest of all, surely, are those Uranians, ever numerous who have no wish nor need to fly society — or themselves. Knowing what they are, understanding the natural, the moral strength of their position as homosexuals; sure of right on their side, even if it be never accorded to them in the lands where they must live; fortunate in either due self-control or private freedom — day by day, they go on through their lives, self-respecting and respected, in relative peace

From 1913, Stevenson published Her Enemy, Some Friends — and Other Personages, a collection of short stories, many of them with overtly gay themes. This time, he published it under his own name. He stayed busy through the 1920s and 1930s, but by then he was writing mostly about music. When World War II broke out, he retreated to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died in 1942.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 22

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Contact (Houston), March 1974. Ad from page 4, photo from page 8.

From Contact (Houston), March 1974. Ad from page 4, photo from page 8.

In 1974, there was a rather impressive cluster of gay and lesbian bars along the western edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter, a number of which are still in business today. Most of them were concentrated just a couple of blocks on Bourbon Street and North Rampart, between St. Peter and St. Phillips, although a few could be found here and there elsewhere in the Quarter. Travis’s on North Ramparts is no more, but the building is still a gay bar. The sign on front said Michael’s On the Park when the Google camera car last passed by in 2013, but the bar is now called Grand Pre’s.

Dixie’s Bar in New Orleans, one of the South’s few openly gay bars in the 1950s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New Orleans Launches Raids Against Gay Bars: 1958. The Big Easy has long enjoyed a mind-your-own business reputation where personal and public morality is concerned. But that “Laissez les bons temps rouler” mindset didn’t extend to the city’s gay citizenry, and much like other major cities across the nation, anti-gay campaigns often heated up ahead of local elections. Mayor deLesseps “Chep” Morrison had earned a national reputation as a dynamic reformer, even as he blocked efforts to reform the city’s notoriously corrupt police department. But in 1958, city councilmen complained that the police were sitting on their hands while the French Quarter was being invaded by roving bands of homosexuals, alledgedly from other cities since, apparently, such a thing was unheard of there, the city’s storied tolerance for sexual eccentrics in music, literature and the arts notwithstanding. One councilman complained of “men with blondined hair and awful looking people all day and all night in the French Quarter,” and wondered why police had only made 86 arrests in two years on charges of lewd behavior or wearing women’s clothing. Police Supt. Provosty A. Dayries responded, “You can’t just point to someone and say he or she is a deviate — that is one of the frustrating things about the problem.”

Amid complaints about lax police enforcement and courts that insisted that those arrested should be charged with something specific and based on real evidence, Mayor Morrison appointed his half-brother, Jacob Morrison to head a citizen’s committee to look into the problem. With pressure increasing across all sectors of city govermnent, Supt. Dayries launched a raid against known “deviate bars,” arresting eighteen people (mostly bar employees) on charges of vagrancy, disturbing the peace, and “no visible means of support.” Thirty others were warned to stay away. While most of the charges were dropped the next day, the names and addresses of those arrested were printed in the newspapers. That raid was tiny, compared to another “sweeping drive” which resulted in 325 arrested in a single night. One city resident, in a letter to the editor to a local paper, noted the irony of the New Orleans political establishment enforcing morals in the city: “I consider it a piece of unmitigated gall for anyone, be he District Attorney or City Councilman, to tell me what I may see or with whom I may associate without endangering my morals. I must confess that were I to seek guidance in matters of morals, I should not likely turn to politicians.”

[Source: "Dal McIntire" (either Jim Kepner or Don Slater). "Tangents: News and Views." ONE 6, no. 8 (September 1958): 17-20.]

James Whale

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
125 YEARS AGO: James Whale: 1889-1957. While serving in the British Army during the First World War, he was taken prisoner by the Germans in Flanders in 1917, where he became involved as an actor, writer and producer of amateur camp productions to help take his fellow prisoners’ minds off their conditions. It’s where he developed his love for the theatre and his hatred for Germany. On returning to England after the war, he got involved in theater, launching the West End debut of Journey’s End. It was a smashing success, which brought him to the attention of Hollywood. Whale signed with Paramount in 1929 and brought Journey’s End (1930) to the silver screen, to rave reviews in Britain and the U.S. That same year, he met producer David Lewis, who would become Whale’s partner for the next twenty-three years.

Whale moved to Universal Studios in 1931, where he produced Waterloo Bridge, another commercial and critical success. Universal head Carl Laemmle offered Whale his choice of any project the studio owned. Whale chose Frankenstein, casting the then-unknown Boris Karloff in the title role. It was, as they say, money in the bank, shattering box office records and earning Universal the unheard of sum of $12 million in its first release. Other highly-regarded films followed: The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Show Boat (1936).

In 1937, he produced The Road Back (1937), the sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. Harkening back to his experience with Journey’s End, it was to be the film to cement Whale’s reputation for all time. But when filming started, Laemmle had lost control of Universal, and the new studio heads rescinded Whale’s total control over the film. The L.A. consul for Nazi Germany objected to the film’s anti-German themes. Whale refused to back down, and his original cut of the film received positive reviews. But sometime between the previews and the film’s final release, Universal bucked to Nazi criticisms, and ordered additional cuts and added comical-relief scenes to soften the film’s edge. That move proved disastrous. The movie flopped, was banned in Germany anyway, and infuriated Whale. From then on Whale was was consigned to making B movies for the remainder of his contract. Only one of those films proved successful; 1939′s Man in the Iron Mask.

When his contract ended, Whale left the film business, aside from a few odd jobs here and there, and generally entered a life of comfortable retirement, hosting pool parties for the benefit of Hollywood’s discrete gay set. In 1952, while traveling in Europe, Whale ent to a gay bar in Paris and was smitten by a 25-year-old bartender, Pierre Foegel. When Whale brought Foegel to California, David Lewis moved out and Foegel moved in (although Lewis and Whale would remain lifelong friends). Whale suffered a small stroke in 1956, followed by a larger one a few months later. Those strokes left him physically impaired and emotionally depressed. He committed suicide in 1957 by throwing himself into his swimming pool. He left a suicide note, but Lewis intervened to hide it and Whale’s death was ruled an accident, leaving the exact nature of his death shrouded in mystery. Lewis released the note twenty years later, shorty before his own death in 1987.

Emily Saliers: 1963. A singer-songwriter and one half of Indigo Girls, she plays the guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and the Greek bouzouki. She met her Indigo Girls partner, Amy Ray, when they were in elementary school together in Decatur, Georgia. Both Girls are lesbian, although Saliers jokes that she prefers “gay” because “lesbian has three syllables.” In 2004, Saliers co-wrote a book with her father, retired theology professor Don Saliers, titled A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice, and the two of them conducted a combined book tour and church appearances around the country, including a stop at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  The Indigo Girls released their latest album, Beauty Queen Sister, in 2011, and they are currently touring as a duo, with several dates accompanied by a full band and symphony orchestras in select cities.

Rufus Wainwright: 1973. His mother was the late Kate McGarrigle, and his father is Loudon Wainwright III. With genes like that, it’s no wonder Rufus won a 1989 Genie Award for Best Original Song when he was only  sixteen years old. Rolling Stone named his eponymous debut album as one of the best albums of the year and named him the Best New Artist of 1998. Politically, he came late to the marriage equality bandwagon. “I wasn’t a huge gay marriage supporter before I met Jörn (Weisbrodt) because I love the whole old-school promiscuous Oscar Wilde freak show of what ‘being gay’ once was. But since meeting Jörn that all changed.” He and Weisbrodt became parents in 2011, and they married in Montauk, New York in 2012. His seventh studio album, Out of the Game, was released that same year.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 21

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
obamaObama To Sign Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors: Washington, DC. President Barack Obama will sign an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by the federal government or its contractors. While the White House hasn’t released the text of the order, Buzzfeed obtained a copy which, as of last week, amends an earlier Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton which, in turn, modified an Johnson-era Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. According to Buzzfeed, Obama’s Executive Order will not contain any additional religious exemptions beyond those already provided by the previous Executive Orders, although an Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush allows a limited exemption for any any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to extend hiring preferences to people of “a particular religion.” According to the HRC, by reaching back to Johnson’s landmark Executive Order,  Obama “plac(es) sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

According to this web site:

This building and the Moulinie Building directly across Gold Street were acquired by a French sea captain during a voyage to California after the Gold Rush. The two buildings were owned by his family for over a century. The building has been home to Four Monks Winery, a cooperage, a truck storage depot, a gay bar named “Gold Street,” and since 1988 the bar and restaurant “Bix.

Gold Street is little more than an alleyway in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, which was the city’s history red-light district just south of North Beach.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: “The Homosexual and the Beat Generation”: 1959. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1957), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) introduced Americans to the “Beat Generation,” a group, and then a movement, which began in New York’s Greenwhich Village and ended up relocating, for the most part, to San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, nurtured by City Lights bookstore, Cafe Trieste, and the Six Gallery. They were dubbed “Beatniks” by San Francisco columnist Herbert Caen who said they were as far out of the mainstream as Sputnik and suggested that these new bohemians, by their rebellion against social norms, possessed Communist sympathies The Beats probably reached their peak awareness among middle-Americans with the archetypal Beatnik character of Maynard G. Krebs (played by future Gilligan, Bob Denver) in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Goatees, berets, black sweaters, bongo drums, roll-your-own cigarettes (often with substances other than tobacco) and a general, overall rebellion against the straight-laced norms of the McCarthy-dominated fifties marked the Beats as both a dangerous and fascinating phenomenon.

Thanks to the Beats’ non-conformist attitudes, a number of gay artists were associated with the subculture. In addition to Ginsberg, there were the poets Robert Duncan (who had a brief affair with abstract impressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr.), Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer, (along with his partner, the abstract-impressionist artist Jess Collins). Naturally, gay people were become fascinated by this movement. In 1959, ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay-themed publication, capitalized with that growing fascination with a cover story on “The homosexual and the Beat Generation.” The author, Wallace de Ortega Maxey, was himself the embodiment of counter-culturalism. He was former priest and Archbishop of the American Old Catholic Church (an independent breakaway church) who seemed to collect consecrations from a bewildering number of pseudo-Catholic churches as well as the Episcopal Church, before abandoning independent Catholicism in 1954 and establishing the Liberal Universalist Church, first in Los Angeles in 1954, and then in Fresno. Maxey’s interests were quite small-c catholic, as an early Mattachine member and author of Man Is A Sexual Being in 1958. By the time Maxey wrote his article for ONE, San Francisco’s Beats found themselves being gawked at by tourists and bedeviled by wannabe weekend Beatniks. Maxey began his article by describing the difference between what he called the “real” Beats and these poseurs:

The Homosexual and the Beat Generation.This gang of “kix” hoodlums consist of heterosexuals in the larger number. They are those who like to “cash-in” on the daring and non-conforming Beats. Having money in their pockets, they think they can out-buy, out-bid and out-sex the Beats. The few homos in this tribe of week-enders are of the timid sort who can’t make it in their own everyday world and in despair hope to find “satisfaction” in the world of the beat generation. …

There is a distinction to be made between the beat-homo and the nonbeat. The beat-homo has no inhibitions. Within his own consciousness he has accepted himself and is completely integrated. He is not fighting himself, much less the rest of the world. This applies to the male as well as the female of the species. He doesn’t give one god damn what the world thinks about him. Like the rest of the beat generation he simply wants to be left alone. He has closed his mental door to the rat-race. He has cut himself off from the shams and shamans of the competitive world. He is usually of the aesthetic type, psychologically, not necessarily so physically.

I have seen some gangling seamen and longshoremen, truck drivers, woodsmen and cement-construction workers, that would surprise all hell out of you when you listen to their conversation. In their particular fields of interest and study they are extraordinarily well informed. There is one chap I am thinking of who has been a seaman all his life, who can keep you spell-bound when telling about the “history of erotica”. Another, a female, could write a book about the world’s historic prostitutes and how they have influenced political thought. Still another homo-beat has been in several mental institutions under observation, but can reel off anything you want to know about the religions of the Orient. Of course, I am speaking of the real Beats, the ones who have severed all ties with the square world, as far as it is humanly possible to do, and still live.

It has been said that Allen Ginsberg is the St. Peter of the beat generation. He has been quoted in the New York Post (3-13-59) as saying: “I sleep, with men and with women. I am neither queer nor not queer, nor am I bi-sexual. My name is Allen Ginsberg and I sleep with whoever I want.” It has been my experience in discussing life in general with a considerable number of Beats, that these words of Allen Ginsberg voice quite accurately the opinions of the majority of the real Beats.

Maxey went on to describe two “Beat-homos” that he had been counseling. The first was “Tom Doe,” who had been kicked out of the Army when they found out he was gay. Saddled with a less-than-honorable discharge, he had trouble finding steady work. He lost his home, turned to alcohol, and “ended up three months later on a pad in Beatnik-land.” After discovering Maxey’s book, Doe underwent counseling with Maxey, with some considerable success:

When finally he was able to stop his self·deception and admit to himself he was what he was, all other matters took their proper place. When this bug-a-boo was disposed of and he could see his “whole self”, not just the phantom side, it was not long before he had re-established himself. However, he still thinks of himself as a Beatnik and has never moved away from Beatnik-land. At present, after much struggling and hardship he owns and operates a “shop” making a moderate living off the “squares” that come to stare at the Beats.

The second example, that of “Jim Doe,” probably is a better portrayal of a true San Francisco “Beat-homo”:

As stated previously he contended homosexuality was not his problem. He freely and frankly admitted to such tendency. When we met he was quite outspoken and wasted no words in getting to the situation that was disturbing him. He lived with a man and a girl in Beatnik-land; was contemplating going to art school and was quite talented in music and painting. He had been successful to the extent of having sold two of his compositions and one oil painting for a quite tidy sum of money. He claimed that his social relations were excellent with the other Beatniks and that generally speaking they liked him. What was his problem? Doubt. Underneath all the social relationships there was ever present a constant fear of someone betraying him. Of misplaced confidence. He never completely trusted anyone. Basically, when he got right down to the subject he was so damn lonesome, at nights after social events he usually went home alone, locked himself in his room and cried.

Doubt was his problem. First, I learned that he really doubted himself. After considerable discussion with Jim, I came to the conclusion his acceptance of his homosexuality was not as he made it appear. From his reading of abnormal phychology he wondered about his sex. As he said to me, “Am I a man or a woman?” “Who really was my father?” (He had never been able to find a birth record.) “Have I ever loved anyone?” “Does anything have any real meaning — or is life just an illusion?” “Dare I really trust anyone, completely?” “Must I go through all my life in doubt?” “The only reason I’m a Beatnik is that none of them try to pry into my personal life … I can get along with the other Beatniks because they don’t ask ‘personal questions’ “.

Naturally it took considerable time and effort to bring about a change in his outlook on life. After exploring the various psychological “excuses” he presented for his condition, we assumed none were satisfactory by way of explanation. He had experienced a rotten home life in his youth. So have thousands of people. Examples were cited of heroic characters who began in pot-sheds. Switching to the existentialist treatment, in a few words I made it clear to him quoting from Jean-Paul Sartre: “Whereas the existentialist says that the coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is always the possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being a hero. What counts is the total commitment, and it is not by a particular case or particular action that you are committed altogether.”

…The final outcome in Jim Doe’s story is interesting. He met a girl named Dora, a confirmed Lesbian. They got married and now have two children, a boy and a girl. Jim still says he is an homosexual and Dora affirms she is still a Lesbian, and they both live in Beatnik-land.

Maxey observed that there were several general similarities between the Beat Generation and the so-called “Lost Generation,” the group of artists of the inter-war years which included Earnest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But…

I think the Lost Generation placed more emphasis on the social and civil liberties interests than the Beats are doing. I think the beat generation is more nude than the Lost Generation was. There is little to discover among the Beatniks. As a matter of fact, they have a certain amount of juvenile crudeness in their art work and writing, with exceptions of course. They, the Beats, are not forced to starve while many · of the Lost Generation were, during the long siege of the depression.

However, with all their vices and virtues if they can teach the world by example the evils of social conformity, I feel they will go down in history as having made a worthwhile contribution.

[Source: Wallace de Ortega Maxey. "The Homosexual and the Beat Generation" ONE 7, no. 7 (July 1959): 5-9. ]

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 20

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, COFrankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Michelle International 1962 Souvenir Program, via Houston LGBT History.

From the Michelle International 1962 Souvenir Program, via Houston LGBT History.

A Winchell’s Donut House outlet is there today.

Mattachine Missions and Purposes

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Mattachine Society Adopts Its First Mission and Purposes: 1951.In 1950, a group of seven men met at the home of Harry Hay (see Apr 7) in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles to found a new society for gay people they tentatively called “The Society of Fools” (see Nov 11). The following April, the group followed Hay’s suggestion to change its name to the Mattachine Society, after the medieval French secret societies of masked men whose anonymity empowered them to mock and criticize kings and other nobility. That same month, one of the newer members suggested that the group’s ideals be put down in in writing. They began drafting the Mattachine’s “Missions and Purposes,” and marked it “confidential” out of fear of attracting the attention of the police. Jim Gruber (see Aug 21), one of the founders, described the whole effort as “a dare” with serious potential consequences, as they saw it. Given the tenor of the times amid the McCarthy-inspired Lavender Scare, their fears weren’t out of line.  The members ratified the document on July 20. It read:

MISSIONS AND PURPOSES

of the

Mattachine Society.

TO UNIFY: While there are undoubtedly individual homosexuals who number many of their own people among their friends, thousands of homosexuals live out their lives bewildered, unhappy, alone, isolated from their own kind and unable to adjust to the dominant culture. Even those who have many homosexual friends are still cut off from the deep satisfactions man’s gregarious nature can achieve only when he is consciously part of a large, unified whole. A major purpose of the Mattachine Society is to provide a consensus of principle around which all of our people can rally and from which they can deprive a feeling of “belonging.”

TO EDUCATE: The total of information available on the subject of homosexuality is woefully meagre and utterly inconclusive. The Society organizes all available material and conducts extensive research itself — psychological, physiological, anthropological, and sociological — for the purpose of informing all interested homosexuals and for the purpose of informing and enlightening the public at large.

The Mattachine Soeity holds it as possible and desirable that a highly ethical, homosexual culture emerge as a consequence of its work, parallelling sic the emerging cultures of our fellow-minorities — the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples. The Society believes homosexuals can lead well-adjusted, wholesome and socially productive lives once ignorance and prejudice against them is successfully combatted and once homosexuals themselves feel they have a dignified and useful role to play in society. The Society, to these ends, is in the process of developing a homosexual ethic — disciplined, moral and socially responsible.

TO LEAD: It is not sufficient for an oppressed minority like the homosexuals merely to be conscious of belonging to a minority collective when, as is the situation at the present time, that collective is neither socially organic nor objective in its directions and activities — although this minimum is, in itself, a great step forward. It is necessary that the more far-seeing and socially conscious homosexuals provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviants if the first two missions (the unification and the education of the homosexual minority) are to be accomplished. Further, once unification and education have progressed it becomes imperative (to consolidate these gains) for the Society to push forward into the realm of political action to erase from our law books the discriminatory and oppressive legislation presently directed against the homosexual minority.

The Society, founded upon the highest ethical and social principles, serves as an example for homosexuals to follow and provides a dignified standard upon which the rest of society can base a more intelligent and accurate picture of the nature of homosexuality than currently obtains in the public mind. The Society provides the instrument necessary to work with civic-minded and socially valuable organizations and supplies the means for the assistance of our people who are victimized daily as a result of our oppression. Only a Society, providing an enlightened leadership, can rouse the homosexuals — one of the largest minorities in America today — to take the actions necessary to elevate themselves from the social ostracism an unsympathetic culture has perpetrated upon them.

[Sources: Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 (Los Angeles: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, 2011): 38-39.

Stuart Timmons. The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement Centenary edition (Brooklyn: White Crane Books, 2012): 170-172.]

KTLA_1947

Panel Discussion on Homosexuality Airs in L.A.: 1958. KTLA’s Crime Story was one of those very serious, topical panel discussion programs, airing in the graveyard time slot of 11:00 p.m. on Sunday nights just before station sign-off — back in the days when televisions would go off the air sometime around midnight. The program picked a topic each week, and moderator Sandy Howard would assemble a panel of “experts, which were typically from among the KTLA staff, since real experts weren’t eager to schlep to the studio late at night for a low-rated program. Topics for discussion included drugs, law enforcement, prison reform, international crime, and, on this night, homosexuality, which itself was a crime under California law.

In previous episodes where the subject was homosexuality, the tone was almost entirely negative and the opinions offered were ill-informed. But on this night, things were different. Sitting in for Howard was Bill Bradley, who this time included someone who actually knew something about the topic: Herbert Selwyn, attorney for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Mattachine Society. Also on the panel were two psychiatrists (both of them working for state penal systems), and a private detective and former L.A. policeman who also free-lanced for the scandal magazine Confidential — so you can imaging what his contribution would be.

After the announcer made clear that the opinions expressed on the program were not those of KTLA, Bradley asked the panel to define “sex crime.” Right off the bat, one of the two psychiatrists, Dr. Isidore Ziferstein of the Iowa State Penitentiary, declared that he didn’t consider sex acts between consenting adults to be criminal because no one was harmed — a radical idea in 1958. Fred Otash, the private detective, began explaining that California’s penal code defined “sex perversion” as including, more specifically, “copulation by mouth.” Ziferstein responded, “Yes, the penal code regarding sex acts would make nearly every American citizen a sex criminal.” The other psychiatrist, Dr. William Graves of San Quentin, agreed.

Bradley then asked whether all homosexual men — lesbians were never mentioned during the entire program — were sex criminals. Otash jumped in and said yes, according to the letter of the law, and rightly so, contending that homosexuals bred other homosexuals simply by contact. Because homosexuals could not keep to themselves, they “preyed on normal men” and made them gay. He then got tired of saying the word “homosexual,” over and over. “You may call them homosexuals, I call them ‘fags’,” he declared. That, for the most part, was the extent of his “expertise.”

Selwyn, confident that the two psychiatrists would answer the question of whether “normal men” could be turned so easily, turned the topic instead to the problem of police entrapment, which was rampant in Los Angeles. If a policeman could strike up a conversation with a gay man in a bar and get the man to suggest that they retire to his apartment, he was liable to find himself in handcuffs and facing a fifteen year sentence.

The program ended with the two psychiatrists agreeing that homosexuality should not be against the law, but they debated whether homosexuality was a neurosis or not. Ziferstien said that society wasn’t just anti-gay, but anti-sex, and that this produced an abundance of “sex deviates,” including homosexuals. Graves pushed back, and pointed out that because society was so anti-gay, it would be surprising if some gay people didn’t become in some way disturbed or distressed over the situation. In other words, Graves was explaining the concept of homophobia some ten years before the word itself was invented. By this point in the program, the panelists were regularly ignoring Otash as they lamented the way the law and society treated gay people. A review by ONE magazine, the nation’s first gay magazine, commented that viewers “may have been gratified, if surprised, by the unexpectedly friendly attitudes toward homosexuality expressed on the program. … The members of the qualified panel made effective, intelligent observations, and many positive and constructive points.”

[Sources: "Sten Russell" (Stella Rush) "TV: Crime Story." ONE 6, no. 8 (September 1958): 26-28.

"Sten Russell" (Stella Rush). "Crime Story." The Ladder 2, no 12. (September 1958): 11-14.]

Rep. Gerry Studds Censured: 1983. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure Reps. Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Daniel Crane (R-IL), both of whom admitted to having sexual affairs with pages. Crane admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old female page three years earlier, while Studds acknowledged a relationship with a 17-year-old male page ten years earlier. (Both pages were above the age of consent.) In Studds’s case, the page himself defended the relationship as consensual and not intimidating.

When Studds returned home to his district following his censure, he was met with standing ovations at his first town meeting. He would continue to be re-elected to Congress where he fought for AIDS funding, gays in the military, and marriage equality, right up until his retirement in 1997. When Studds died in 2006, his legally married husband was denied Studd’s pension, the same pension which was provided to all other surviving spouses of former members of Congress.

Roberta Achtenberg

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Roberta Achtenberg: 1950. If he could help it, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) wasn’t about to let President Bill Clinton appoint her as Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. “She’s not your garden-variety lesbian,” he complained. “She’s a militant-activist-mean lesbian, working her whole career to advance the homosexual agenda. Now you think I’m going to sit still and let her be confirmed by the Senate? … If you want to call me a bigot, go ahead.” Helms was a bigot, and, garden-variety or not, she was confirmed, making her the first openly gay person to receive a Senate confirmation for an administration position.

The daughter of immigrants grew up in Los Angeles and attended college at UCLA and UC Berkeley, before studying law at Hastings Law School in San Francisco and the University of Utah. She had married another male law student while at Berkeley, but the couple divorced amicably after Achtenberg figured out she was a lesbian.

Achtenberg quickly became concerned about the legal disadvantages that gays and lesbians experience, and as a member of the Anti-Sexism Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, she helped to write a manual to advise lawyers representing gay and lesbian clients. She also began working with the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, and then co-founded the Lesbian Rights Project, which later became the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In 1979, she met attorney Mary Morgan, who already had a well-established track record representing lesbian mothers in custody cases. By then, Achtenberg was out, and she was ready for politics. She ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat in the California State Assembly in 1988, and she succeeded in getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1989. When a little-known former Arkansas governor decided to run for president, Achtenberg joined the Clinton campaign and worked on the Democratic Party’s drafting committee.

When Clinton nominated Achtenberg for HUD Assistant Secretary, Conservative Christians were outraged. They accused Achtenberg of a “personal vendetta” against the Boy Scouts because she was one of fifty — fifty! — members of the San Francisco United Way board of directors who voted unanimously to deny funding to the Scouts because of their discriminatory anti-gay policies. The Christian Action Network circulated a videotape of Achtenberg and Morgan, showing them hugging each other, ever so briefly, during the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. Helms called that brief contact an “insane assault on family values.” Achtenberg was nevertheless confirmed in a 58-31 vote.

Achtenberg left HUD in 1995 to run for mayor of San Francisco, but lost. She served on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce until 2005, and she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Cal State in 2000, becoming chair in 2006. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 19

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Texas Silver Dollar Times, September 1982, page 28.

From Texas Silver Dollar Times, September 1982, page 28.

The site about ten blocks north of downtown Amarillo, Texas, is now home to the Coco Locos Tejano Nightclub.

Dr. George F. Shrady

Dr. George F. Shrady

TODAY IN HISTORY:
130 YEARS AGO: Medical Journal Describes “Perverted Sexual Instinct”: 1884. One of the many startling things one encounters in nineteenth-century medical journals is the terminology writers deployed to describe something which heretofore had no name. The German word Homosexualität  had another decade to go before it made its way into the English language (see May 6), leaving Dr. George F. Shrady, editor of The Medical Record and one of the nation’s most prominent physicians, some difficulty in describing those whose inclinations were not toward procreation:

SIR THOMAS BROWN once wrote, platonically, that the act of procreation was “the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life. Nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination.” The physician learns, however, that man, so far from tending toward this ideal, is more apt to show instincts of a violently opposite character, and finds, far down beneath the surface of ordinary social life, currents of human passion and action that would shock and sicken the mind not accustomed to think everything pertaining to living creatures worthy of study. Science has indeed discovered that, amid the lowest forms of bestiality and sensuousness exhibited by debased men, there are phenomena which are truly pathological and which deserve the considerate attention and help of the physician.

That Shrady used the word “pathological” shows that already he had been influenced by various German authors — Carl Westphal (see Mar 23), Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (see Aug 28), Richard von Krafft-Ebing (Aug 14), to name a few — who had already made a name for themselves in the study of Homosexualität (or Urnings, a term that was more widely used in Germany). Before homosexuality became the subject of serious study, it had been written off as mere evil or vice. Viewing it as pathology at least invited society to consider that homosexuals weren’t criminals, but were somehow diseased or deformed, and were merely acting according to what came naturally to them. This framework was considered far more enlightened, because the proper response wouldn’t be punishment and scorn under this understanding, but treatment and pity, an arguable advancement in how gay people would be treated.

But what was the name of this condition? Westphal called it “Contrare Sexualempfindung” (contrary sexual instinct), while others employed various ideas of “inversion” (inverted sexual instinct, inversion of the genesic function, etc.). Early American writers tended to use the term “perverted sexual instinct” with “perverted” taking its original meaning as something which “has been corrupted or distorted from its original course, meaning, or state.” In the nineteenth century, all sorts of things could be “perverted,” including the understanding of religious doctrine (where the term actually originated), the application of economic incentives or the course of justice. It would only take another decade or so before “perverted sexual instinct” became shortened to “perversion,” and the “pervert” would become synonymous with gay people.

MedicalRecordAnd so this is the terminology that Shrady settled on: perverted sexual instinct. He reviewed the literature and found:

Up to that time (1883) only twenty-one cases were on record, three being reported by Americans, the rest mainly by Germans, and none at all by English observers. In a recent number of the Irrenfreund (vol. xxvi., No. I, 1884), Krafft-Ebing has reported six more cases. …In the reported cases of congenital perversion, the abnormal instinct begins oftenest as early as the eighth or ninth year, but shows itself at first, perhaps, only in an inclination to adopt the manners and practices of girls or women. The victims show the somatic basis of their trouble in various ways. There is often an hereditary psychopathic or neuropathic taint. Epilepsy is sometimes present. There are noticed in some cases, though not often, defects of the genital organs, such as hypospadias or epispadias, small or defective testicles. The hair on the face is sometimes thin, the voice almost always soft. The “Urnings” have a mincing gait, and sometimes the hips are broad like those of women. Exacerbations of the perverted feeling appear periodically. It may be accompanied with melancholia and end in insanity or suicide.

The mental peculiarities of these unfortunates have much in common. They are of the artistic, poetical. and imaginative temperament, often exhibiting a tendency to rather weak philosophizing. Sometimes they are of a vigorous understanding. In most cases there is great mental distress felt through a consciousness of their unnatural instincts. Two or three have, like Ulrichs, boldly defended their practices.

As for what to do about these individuals:

If congenital perverted sexual instinct is a pathological rather than a vicious condition, the query arises whether there is any remedy for it. The history of cases reported shows that sometimes the instinct is cultivated and intensified by bad surroundings in childhood, such as, for example, the exclusive society of women and immoral nurses. Excessive sexual indulgence seems to increase it, and we may question whether in a few cases the condition would have ever developed, were it not for an early abuse and misdirection of the sexual powers. In conditions of nervous exhaustion and weakness, the symptoms are exaggerated, and Krafft-Ebing, in his last communication, reports the case of a married man, previously healthy, who experienced an entire change in the sexual feeling, which lasted for twenty-five years. He was then cured by general faradization and other tonic measures.

“Faradization” refers to the use of electrical instruments to induce an electrical current or magnetic field in the vicinity of an afflicted body part or in general areas of the head or body.  (This is not the same as electric shock conversion therapy, which would come about much later (see Mar 11).) The late nineteenth century belief in the power of electricity and magnetism to cure all sorts of maladies gave rise to a thriving industry geared toward providing doctors with all sorts of “quack” instruments. “Tonic measures,” of course, refers to who knows what sort of snake oil which would may have been prescribed to restore masculine vigor to the unfortunate soul. (One wonders why NARTH hasn’t looked into these.) Shrady closes with this description:

In conclusion, we believe it to be demonstrated that conditions once considered criminal are really pathological, and come within the province of the physician. We have undertaken, therefore, the disagreeable task of laying some of the facts regarding sexual perversion before our readers. The profession can be trusted to sift the degrading and vicious from what is truly morbid.

We cannot do better than append the conclusions which Krafft-Ebing has reached upon this subject. He says: ” 1. There exists a congenital absence of sexual feeling toward the opposite sex, at times even disgust of sexual intercourse. 2. This defect occurs in a physically differentiated sexual type and with a normal development of the sexual organs. 3. Absence of the psychical qualities corresponding to the anatomical sexual type, but the feelings, thoughts, and actions of a perverted sexual instinct. 4. Abnormally early appearance of sexual desire. 5. Painful consciousness of the perverted sexual desire. 6. Sexual desire toward the same sex. 7. The sexual desire remains purely platonic or finds gratification in mutual onanism, or in feeling of the object of the affections. Often there is self-pollution, but for the want of something better. 8. There are symptoms of a morbid excitability of the sexual desires, together with an irritable weakness of the nervous symptoms, so that sensuous feelings, magnetic sensations, and even pollutions occur in simply touching the object of the affections. 9. The perverse sexual impulse is abnormally intense and rules all thought and sensation. The love of such individuals is excessive even to adoration, and is often followed by sorrow, melancholy, and jealousy. 10. People afflicted with this abnormity frequently possess an instinctive power to recognize one another.”

In this last conclusion we cannot agree. The power of mutual recognition is not instinctive but acquired.

Dr. Shrady’s credentials were very impressive when he wrote this article. He was president of the New York Pathological Society, a fellow of the American and New York Academies of Medicine, a member of the New York State Medical Society.  He had served as a consultant or resident physician for a number of prominent New York hospitals, and was he was a trustee of the Hudson State Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie. He gained national prominence in 1881 when, after President James Garfield was shot, Shrady was called in to consult on the various options for treatment and wrote the autopsy report following Garfield’s death. In 1885, Shrady was in the limelight again as General Ulysses S. Grant’s personal physician while the former president was dying of throat cancer.

[Source: George F. Shrady "Perverted sexual instinct." Medical Record 26, no. 3 (July, 19, 1884): 70-71. Available online for free via Google Books here.]

President Clinton passes members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Ft. McNair before announcing his new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Clinton Unveils “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: 1993. “Let me say a few words now about this policy. It is not a perfect solution. It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone, and clearly not those who hold the most adamant opinions on either side of this issue.” With those words, President Bill Clinton unveiled a new policy on gays and lesbians in the military, which he called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”

This new policy was intended as a compromise posture, after his campaign promise to overturn the military’s blanket ban on gays and lesbians in the military ran into a buzz saw of opposition in Congress led by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. With the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress began the process of rushing through a federal law to reinforce the Pentagon’s then-existing policy of total exclusion. Clinton’s called for the new law’s repeal went nowhere, so on July 19, he proposed a compromise solution, at a speech at the National Defense University at Ft. McNair:

I have ordered Secretary Aspin to issue a directive consisting of these essential elements: One, service men and women will be judged based on their conduct, not their sexual orientation. Two, therefore the practice, now 6 months old, of not asking about sexual orientation in the enlistment procedure will continue. Three, an open statement by a service member that he or she is a homosexual will create a rebuttable presumption that he or she intends to engage in prohibited conduct, but the service member will be given an opportunity to refute that presumption; in other words, to demonstrate that he or she intends to live by the rules of conduct that apply in the military service. And four, all provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice will be enforced in an even-handed manner as regards both heterosexuals and homosexuals. And thanks to the policy provisions agreed to by the Joint Chiefs, there will be a decent regard to the legitimate privacy and associational rights of all service members.

Sen. Nunn and other opponents of lifting the ban altogether accepted this so-called compromise, and it would eventually make it into the Defense Appropriations Act of 1994 passed later that year. But in practice, the compromise fell apart. Service members were discharged based solely on evidence of sexual orientation, recruits were asked about their sexual orientation as part of their enlistment procedure, and any hint that a service member was gay — even if that hint did not come from the service member himself — resulted in an immediate investigation with the goal of discharge from the armed forces. Over the next eighteen years that the policy remained in effect, 14,346 soldiers, sailors and airmen/women were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until it was finally repealed in 2011.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 18

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, July 19, 1975.

From This Week In Texas, July 19, 1975.

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Psychiatrist Denounces Anti-Gay Witchhunt: 1950. A Senate subcommittee under Joseph McCarthy investigating the federal employment of gay Americans was warned that their investigation would have negative consequences on government functioning. “The immediate effect of the probe is to threaten the emotional security and mental health of many government employees, warned Dr. Henry P. Laughlin of the Washington Psychiatric Society. “This is indeed unfortunate, tending to lower the efficiency and work production of those who have some actual or imagined basis for concern, and especially for those people whose homosexual experiences have been isolated or of a token nature or perhaps never occurred.”

Laughlin however emphasized that he was only speaking for himself and not the Society, before continuing on a line rarely heard in 1950: “Sexual orientation doesn’t enter into a person’s ability or capacity to do work. I am sure that many persons in government, as well as in industry and other areas of endeavor, have made significant contributions, although their orientation happens to be homosexual.” Laughlin’s testimony would fall on deaf years. Tens of thousands of people would be hounded out of their jobs over the next several decades, whether they were gay, suspected of being gay, or simply accused of being gay for whatever reasons.

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

New York Police Raid After Hours Club, Mafia Owners Fail To Stoke Another “Stonewall”: 1970. The Stonewall rebellion a year earlier had changed a lot. The gay community was more organized and more assertive than ever before. But there were a few things that hadn’t changed: police continued to raid gay bars and clubs, nearly all of which continued to be mob-owned. The gay community often found itself fighting on two fronts: 1) against direct harassment by the police (especially if one were to stray from well-established gender norms), and 2) from getting caught in the crossfire of a larger economic tug-of-war between organized crime and corrupt police officials. Most people today are very well versed on the first battle, but we often forget how important that second one was at the time. In New York City in the late sixties and early seventies, that second battle often threatened to eclipse the first. A good illustration of that can be found in a police raid that took place at The Barn, an after-hours club in the early morning hours of July 18, 1970. LGBT activist Randy Wicker (see Feb 3) described what happened in his column in GAY, the nation’s first weekly gay newspaper:

Barn baloney bared: New York Police raided the Barn Sunday, July 18th, issued summonses to nine employees and sent dozens of patrons scrambling out of the back rooms and into the streets. Management mafiosi reportedly took to the streets also shouting “gay power” and urging the patrons to return apparently hoping to provoke a confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly thereafter and most of the patrons re-entered the club.

“These raids shouldn’t be conducted at all,” Marty Robinson, GAA (Gay Activists Alliance) Political Affairs Committee chairman, declared. “We don’t like these management people running around the street shouting ‘gay power’ to further their own ends. Gay people should not simply be pawns in a power struggle between the police and underworld elements. A conference with Police Commissioner Leary has been arranged to discuss this matter more fully.

The running battle between the mob and NYPD masked the fact that the current situation was actually mutually beneficial to both parties. Because of the state’s reluctance (and often, outright refusal) to issue liquor licenses to gay businessmen who wanted to open gay bars, the mob stepped in to fill the void by opening unlicensed bars. They made tons of money selling fake, watered-down drinks at exorbitant prices, and they shared the wealth with police officers and officials who were paid to look the other way. Sometimes a payment was missed, sometimes it was shorted, or sometimes a dispute broke out over how much the mob should pay, and that’s when the police would suddenly turn up to conduct a raid. And while they were at it, police could boost their arrest numbers by hauling some of the bar patrons to the station house. It appears that noo such arrests were made in the Barn raid, a restraint which may have helped to lower the temperature among the Barn’s patrons and foil the attempts by the club’s employees to exploit the situation. But police behavior toward the club’s patrons were, typically, hostile, both before and during the raid.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

Robinson and Jim Owles, GAA president, led a delegation to meet with Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary to discuss the problem of the mafia-owned bars as well as how the police treated gay people. As GAY reported on August 17:

Jim Owles, president of GAA, told Commissioner Leary that the homosexual community is achieving a new awareness of itself and its problems, partly as a result of its witnessing other minority group struggles and partly as a result of problem. with the police that the gay community continually faces. He charged that raids on after-hours gay bars were made at hours on weekend nights, with police by their mere presence intimidating scores of patrons. “They hang around, they check I.D .’s at random. they indulge in verbal abuse, they station one man at the door and a patrol car out front for several minutes.”

Recently at the Barn (an after-hours bar), Owles contended, a police raid created a very heated atmosphere and near violence. “We’re here to ask you what can be done. Your actions make it difficult for a civil rights organization such as ours that is trying to reform the establishment. When we work against a background of such police tactics, they tend to undermine our efforts and to drive the gay community into the hands of extremists ” Owles charged. Nevertheless, he explained, “we are not asking the police to close down after-hours bars.” He said GAA’s concern was that homosexual patrons should be left alone when police take action against such establishments.”

…Robinson pointed out that the syndicate owns legitimate bars, too. He said “We’re here about a social condition — syndicate control of gay bars and payoffs to police. The bars are run shabbily and are a bad influence on the young kids just coming out who patronize these places and who already don’t know what to make of themselves because of the way society receives them. Such gay bars shouldn’t be tolerated in these years. We can’t live with it. We want to see legitimate bars where there’s no guy at the door with a cigar in his face saying to kids, ‘Welcome to your life- this is it, your subculture, your subterranean existence.’ Commissioner, our desire now is that anyone who’s honest can get into business and stay in without a shakedown, and can get police protection. But we must have police protection for this to be possible.”

…Reinforcing Robinson’s earlier remarks, Owles told the police that successful bars not opened by the syndicate were quickly taken over by it. “In an era when homosexuals are seeking their civil rights, it’s a blatant insult to have to go to a bar taken over by the syndicate. This situation will blow up sooner or later,” he warned. “Hence GAA is pressing for an investigation of alleged collusion between the State Liquor Authority and organized crime. Meanwhile, whatever struggles there are between the police and the syndicate, we simply ask that homosexual patrons not be used as pawns in between.”

Leary countered that if the GAA or anyone in the gay community had specific evidence of official corruption, they should bring it to the police. Owles countered that this was a problem for the NYPD to solve, not his. “As far as a police investigation is concerned,” he said, “it would be most difficult for most homosexuals to appear in court to help you. Actual lives would be in danger.”

The previous April, The New York Times published a front-page article about police corruption using information supplied by two officers, Detective David Durk and Officer Frank Serpico. That article forced New York Mayor John Lindsay to appoint a five-member panel to investigate charges of police corruption. A year later, the commission issued a report saying that police corruption was endemic, and that the mayor and Leary, who by then was a former police commissioner, had failed to act.

[Sources: Kay Tobin. "Police Commissioner Howard Leary Meets with G.A.A." GAY (August 17, 1970): 3, 12.

Randy Wicker. "The Wicker Basket" GAY (August 17, 1970): 8.]

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 17

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

The Ambassador Lounge was part of the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Built in 1911, the single room occupancy hotel was an AIDS hospice during the 1980s when under the management of Hank Wilson. But by the late 1990s, the Ambassador had sharply deteriorated into a veritable urban slum. Housing activists applied legal pressure against the slumlord, who sold the building to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit that fixes up old buildings in the neighborhood. Repairs were completed in 2003, and the Ambassador now serves as low income housing. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old Ambassador Lounge is now an Indian restaurant.

Kenneth Wherry

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“They resign voluntarily, don’t they? That’s an admission of their guilt.”: 1950. Max Lerner, a columnist for the New York Post, began a series of articles on homosexuality in July, 1950, spurred on by the growing hysteria in government and the press over the presence of gay people in federal employment (see Feb 28, Mar 14, Apr 18, May 15, May 19, and Jun 15). On July 17, Lerner published his interview with Sen. Kenneth Wherry (R-NE), the GOP’s floor leader and whip, and a primary backer of the ongoing Senate investigations into gays and lesbian employees in the federal government. Two months earlier, Sen. Wherry had issued a report estimating 3,750 “perverts” were government employees. The interview revealed just how uninformed those crusaders against gays in the federal government really were:

I asked Senator Wherry whether the problem of homosexuals in the government was primarily a moral or a security issue. He answered that it was both, but security was uppermost in his mind. I asked whether he made a connection between homosexuals and Communists. “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives,” the Senator told me. “Mind you, I don’t say every homosexual is a subversive, and I don’t say every subversive is a homosexual. But a man of low morality is a menace in the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together.”

…I asked whether he would be content to get the homosexuals out of the “sensitive posts,” leaving alone those who have nothing to do with military security. There might be “associations,” he said, between men in the sensitive and the minor posts. “There should be no people of that type working in any position in the government.”

…I asked on what he based his view that homosexuals represent an unusual security risk. I cited a group of American psychiatrists who hold that a heterosexual with promiscuous morals may also be a security risk, that some men might be reckless gamblers or confirmed alcoholics and get themselves entangled or blackmailed. The Senator’s answer was firm: “You can stretch the security risk further if you want to,” he said, “but right now I want to start with the homosexuals. When we get through them, then we’ll see what comes next.”

This brought me to the question of definitions. “You must have a clear idea, Senator,” I said, “of what a homosexual is. It is a problem that has been troubling the psychiatrists and statisticians. Can you tell me what your idea is?”

“Quite simple,” answered the Senator. “A homosexual is a diseased man, an abnormal man.”

I persisted. “Do you mean one who has made a habit of homosexuality? Would you include someone who, perhaps in his teens, had some homosexual relations and had never had them since? Would you include those who are capable of both kinds of relations, some who may even be raising families?”

“You can handle it without requiring a definition,” the Senator answered. “I’m convinced in my own mind that any homosexual is a bad risk.”

“But how about those who get pushed out of their jobs when they are only in a minor post, when no security risk is involved, and when they are forced to resign for something they may have done years ago?”

“They resign voluntarily, don’t they?” asked the Senator. “That’s an admission of their guilt. That’s all I need. My feeling is that there will be very few people hurt.”

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 95-97.]

APA Refuses To Meet With Gay Rights Groups: 1963. One of the top goals of the early gay rights movement was to get the mental health professions to remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. As long as homosexuality remained listed, governmental agencies and private companies had all the excuse they needed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker began publishing the results of a series of tests which demonstrated that gays and lesbians who weren’t patients of mental health professionals were indistinguishable from heterosexuals (see Aug 30). Before then, the mental health community thought that gays were mentally deficient because all of the prior research had only studied people who were confined to mental hospitals or were seen in clinical settings.

Despite the strength of this new evidence, it would still take many years for it to sink in. In 1963, the American Psychological Association was preparing to meet in Philadelphia for their annual convention. Leading gay activists, under the banner of the newly-formed East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) also planned to meet in Philadelphia at the same time, and they proposed a meeting with members of the APA. But the APA convention’s organizing committee declined the invitation. In a very brief letter to leading gay rights activist Frank Kameny and the Washington, D.C., Mattachine Society, the APA simply said, “This problem” — yes, the APA saw the meeting as a problem — “has already been considered by the Convention Committee and it was decided that it was not in the best interests of the APA to meet with you, nor to publicize your meetings.”

Another nine years would pass before Kameny and Daughters of Bilitis New York activist Barbara Gittings would appear with Dr. John E. Fryer (as “Dr. H. Anonymous.”) on a panel discussion on homosexuality with the American Psychiatric Association (the other APA, which is the keeper of the list of mental disorders known as the DSM) (see May 2). That appearance nearly a decade later would wind up being a key moment leading to the elimination of homosexuality as a mental illness (see Dec 15).

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 16

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

Houston’s Different Drum, often known simply as the Drum, started out in the early 1970s as an early leather/levi bar called the Locker. Before that, the building housed a dry cleaning business. In the late 1980s, the bar was known as Chutes, and was one of three bars raided by Houston police as their way of kicking off Pride week in 1987. The location today is home to Empire Cafe.

1992_Factor_VIII-large[1]

TODAY IN HISTORY:
CDC Identifies Haitians, People with Hemophilia as Being at Risk for AIDS: 1982. A little more than a year had passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued its first alerts on a new syndrome affecting the immune systems of gay men on the East and West Coasts (see Jun 5, Jul 3). The syndrome still didn’t have an official name, but the popular press was beginning to call it Gay-Related Immune Deficinecy (GRID) or more simply as the “gay cancer,” for the rare form of skin cancer that often stalked people with this puzzling condition. The CDC, for its part, simply referred to the two main opportunistic infections that afflected those with this immune deficiency: the hitherto rare Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia (PCP) and that “gay cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). By the end of the year, the CDC noticed similar conditions among intravenous drug users. This relegated the disease to two “guilty” groups: gays and drug addicts.

1983-12-17-SMH-AIDS-scare-kills-off-Haitis-tourist-industry-620x874[1]But that would change. On July 9, the CDC issued a report identifying CDC and KAS among recent Haitian immigrants in the U.S. The report described twenty patients ranging from twenty-two to forty-three years old, three of them women. They had all been born in Haiti and living in the Miami-Dade area for anywhere from one month to seven years. Ten more patients from Haiti were found in Brooklyn, and three others were in California, Georgia and New Jersey. “None of the 23 Haitian males questioned reported homosexual activity, and only 1 of 26 gave a history of IV drug abuse — substantially lower than the prevalence reported for heterosexual patients of other racial/ethnic groups who had Kaposi’s sarcoma or opportunistic infections. … It is not clear whether this outbreak is related to similar outbreaks among homosexual males, IV drug abusers, and others, but the clinical and immunologic pictures appear quite similar. CDC is currently collaborating with local investigators to define this problem and identify risk factors.” By the end of the year, Haiti’s growing tourism industry would collapse.

So now the at-risk populations were homosexuals, drug users, and Haitian immigrants — three marginalized groups which most people found difficult to identify with. (French researchers were finding the syndrome among a much more diverse group of paitents, including African immigrants and residents, but that news hadn’t made it to the New World yet.) Meanwhile the ink was barely dry on that CDC report when, just a week later, the CDC issued another report identifying the same syndrome among three people with Hemophilia A who were being treated with Factor VIII, a blood-clotting protein that was extracted from donated blood plasma. This gave the CDC its first solid clue about how the new syndrome might be transmitted:

The clinical and immunologic features these three patients share are strikingly similar to those recently observed among certain individuals from the following groups: homosexual males, heterosexuals who abuse IV drugs, and Haitians who recently entered the United States.(1-3) Although the cause of the severe immune dysfunction is unknown, the occurrence among the three hemophiliac cases suggests the possible transmission of an agent through blood products.

That clue would be reinforced five months later when the CDC, having adopted the “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” as the official name for the condition just a few months earlier, reported on a 20-month-old infant who experienced an immune deficiency following a transfusion. It would also mark AIDS’ transition from being a disease contracted solely by suspect groups to one that ordinary “innocent” Americans could get.

Reinaldo Arenas

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Reinaldo Arenas: 1943-1990. His background would have made him  tailor-made for Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Cuba. Arenas was born to a destitute family in the rural Oriente province, Castro’s native province and the cradle of the revolution that Arenas joined as a teenager. Arenas moved to Havana in 1961, and became a researcher at the José Martí National Library from 1963 to 1966. His 1965 semi-autobiographical novel, Singing from the Well, was the first novel of his five-part Pentagonia (The Five Agonies) series, which he described as “the secret history of Cuba.” Singing From the Well was awarded a first honorable mention by a committee of Cuban writers, and the Prix Medici in France four years later.

Singing From the Well would be Arenas’s only novel to be published in Cuba, and it would never be reprinted there beyond its initial printing of 2,000 copies because of Arenas’s open homosexuality. Cuba’s benefactor, the Soviet Union, saw homosexuality as a product of a decadent capitalist society, ideas which easily took root in Cuba which already had its own entrenched homophobic qualities. Castro regarded regarded homosexuality as a bourgeois decadence (“In the country, there are no homosexuals,” he once said), and declared that “we would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant.” New laws were passed and concentration camps were opened to house Cuba’s homosexuals, particularly effeminate men, who were believed to have violated the ideal of Cuba’s “new man.” Those prison camps were supposed to turn these men into the New Man through forced labor, scarce food, shaved heads, and physical mistreatment.

Arenas avoided that fate and managed to find work as a journalist and editor for the literary magazine La Caceta de Cuba, although he was prohibited from publishing abroad while the government refused to publish his books at home. His second novel, Hallucinations, published abroad in 1968, violated that ban. In 1970, Arenas was officially branded a “social misfit” and sentenced to a labor camp to cut sugar cane. When he still managed to get his works smuggled out of Cuba and published abroad, the Cuban government sent him to the notorious El Morro Prison from 1974 to 1976 for being a “counterrevolutionary.” Arenas continued writing, both in and out of prison. He wrote Farewell to the Sea three times because the authorities kept confiscating it. He dedicated his epic poem, El Central, to “my dear friend R., who made me a present of 87 sheets of blank paper.” He tried to escape Cuba, but the attempt ending in failure and more imprisonment. He was finally able to escape during the 1980 Mariel boatlift thanks to a bureaucratic snafu.

On arriving in the United States, he settled to New York and launched a frenzied period of writing: novels, short stories, poetry, essays, and newspaper articles. The two decade saw the publication of the rest of Pentagonia, with The Palace of the White Skunks (1982), Farewell to the Sea (1987), The Color of Summer, (1990), and The Assault (1992). The last major work he wrote was his autobiography, Before Night Falls, which was posthumously published in 1992. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author, praised Before Night Falls and Arena’s uncompromisingly frank — some may say explicit — depiction of his homosexuality in defiance of the homophobia of his Spanish-speaking audience: “This is one of the most moving testimonies that has ever been written in our language about oppression and rebellion, but few will dare to acknowledge this fact since the book, although one reads it with an uncontrollable appetite, has the perverse power of leaving its readers uncomfortable”

Weak with AIDS, without health insurance and living in poverty ever since leaving Cuba, Arenas killed himself in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment on December 7, 1990. He titled his final poem Self-Epitaph:

A bad poet in love with the moon,
he counted terror as his only fortune:
and it was enough because, being no saint,
he knew that life is risk or abstinence,
that every great ambition is great insanity
and the most sordid horror has its charm.

He lived for life’s sake, which means seeing death
as a daily occurrence on which we wager
a splendid body or our entire lot.
He knew the best things are those we abandon
— precisely because we are leaving.
The everyday becomes’ hateful,
there’ s just one place to live, the impossible.
He knew imprisonment offenses
typical of human baseness;
but was always escorted by a certain stoicism
that helped him walk the tightrope
or enjoy the morning’s glory,
And when he tottered, a window would appear
for him to jump toward infinity.

He wanted no ceremony, speech, mourning or cry,
no sandy mound where his skeleton be laid to rest
(not even after death he wished to live in peace).
He ordered that his ashes be scattered at sea
where they would be in constant flow.
He hasn’t lost the habit of dreaming:
he hopes some adolescent will plunge into his waters.

Tony Kushner: 1956. He is most acclaimed for his Pulitzer prize-winning play, Angels In America, the seven-hour epic about the AIDS crises in the Ed Koch-era of New York. Kushner wrote the play for eight actors, but stipulated that each of the actors was to play multiple roles (including multiple genders) throughout the production. When he adapted the play for an HBO miniseries starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, the same construct was applied. In addition to the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Kushner won the Tony Awards for Best Play in 1993 and 1994 (Angels In America is actually in two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, each having its own separate Broadway debut.)

After the turn of the new millennium, Kushner began writing for film, co-writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Munich. Most recently, he was the screenwriter for Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, for which Kushner won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a Writers Guild award for best adapted screenplay. In 2013, Kushner was one of twenty-four recipients for the National Medal of Arts and Humanities from President Barack Obama.

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 Tuesday, July 15

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

gbg77-barint-p07-ballgame-1Milwaukee’s Ball Game opened in 1974, in a building that had been home to a procession of gay bars going back to the early 1960s. The Ball Game hosted a number of shows and special events, including drag shows and pageants. And as the name implies it also sponsored soft ball teams and other community activities.  By 2000, Milwaukee’s gay bar scene had moved out of the area and patronage at the Ball Game started to fall off. The bar finally closed in 2012.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York’s WBAI Radio Broadcasts Talk Show Featuring Eight Gay Men: 1962. There had long been an inherent tension among the various local chapters of the Mattachine Society between those who, because of their experience with the McCarthy-led Lavendar Scare witchhunt in the early 1950s, feared public scrutiny and exposure, and those who argued for greater visibility. Randy Wicker, was among the latter (see Feb 3). To get around some of the group’s objections, Wicker established a separate entity he called the Homosexual League of New York, an organization that consisted solely of himself, and which gave him the freedom to act independently while giving others a sense that there was an organization behind him.

Earlier in 1962 WBAI, New York’s listener-supported progressive Pacifica radio station, aired an hour-long special, “The Homosexual In America.” It featured a panel of psychiatrists who described gay people as sick and in need of a cure — a cure that they could provide with just a few hours of therapy. Wicker was insensed, not only at the ignorance of these so-called “experts,” but also because, once again, there was a panel of straight people talking about gay people with nary a gay person in sight.

Wicker marched into the WBAI studios and confronted Dick Elman, the station’s public affairs director. “Why do you have these people on that don’t know a damn thing about homosexuality? They don’t live it and breathe it the way I do. … I spend my whole life in gay society.”  Wicker demanded equal time and Elman agreed, provided Wicker found other gay people willing to go on the air as part of a panel.  When plans for the program were announced, the New York Journal-American went ballistic. Jack O’Brian, the paper’s radio-TV columnist, wrote that the station should change its callsign to WSICK for agreeing to air an “arrogant card-carrying swish. …We’ve heard of silly situations in broadcasting, but FM station WBAI wins our top prize for scraping the sockly barrel-bottom.”

WBAI went ahead despite the controversy and the program, titled “Live and Let Live,” featured Wicker and seven other gay men talking for ninety minutes about what it was like to be gay.  They talked about their difficulties in maintaining careers, the problems of police harassment, and the social responsibility of gays and straights alike. The program’s host guided the programs with questions to the panel. “Is there harassment?” he asked. One panelist described some of the police harassment he had expeirenced, when one officer “roared up, jumped out of the car, grabbed me, and started giving me this big thing about ‘What are you doing here, you know there are a lot of queers aroudn this neighborhood.’ He said, ‘You know, there’s only one thing worse than a queer, and that’s a nigger’.”

The following morning, The New York Times’s Jack Gould called the program “the most extensive consideration of the subject to be heard on American radio” — a statement that betrays his own unawareness of several similar programs which had already aired on radio and television in San Francisco and Los Angeles years earlier. Nevertheless, he wrote that “it succeeded, one would think in encouraging a wider understanding of the homosexual’s attitudes and problems.” Newsweek called the program “96 minutes of intriguing, if intellectually inconclusive listening.” A group of listeners lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and challenge the station’s broadcast license. When the FCC recognized the broadcast as a legitimate exercise in free speech, it signaled to other radio and television stations that homosexuality was an acceptable topic for broadcast (see Jan 23).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Samuel Reber, Jr.: 1903-1971. He was a well-regarded American diplomat who spent twenty-seven years in the Foreign Service. During World War II, Reber scored a significant diplomatic success by getting Vichy France to agree that French colonies and possessions, ships and planes in the Caribbean would not be used by the Axis powers, an agreement which underscored Vichy’s weakness as a French power. Reber then joined the Allied Control Commission in Italy, and from there he served as the U.S. representative to the Allied French government in 1944. By 1946, he was a political adviser to the U.S. delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Paris, in 1947 he was director of the State Department’s Office of European Affairs, and in 1950 he joined in the Allied High Commission as an adviser for the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.

Beginning in 1948, Reber faced his greatest diplomatic challenge working t for an Austrian peace treaty while enduring years of threats and insults from the Soviet Union. His work ultimately laid the groundwork for an independent Austria remaining outside of the Soviet block. But the treaty guaranteeing that independence wouldn’t come about until two years after Reber was forced out of the State Department in 1953. That’s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare — and the accompanying Lavender Scare — was in full force in the U.S. Senate. McCarthy charged that the upper ranks of the State Department were filled with communists and homosexuals, prompting a wide-ranging witch hunt within the department. Reber was called in for a polygraph test and interviews on March 17 and 19, 1953. That investigation uncovered “a lot of admissions” about homosexuality. When McCarthy threatened to reveal allegations of Reber’s homosexuality, Reber promptly announced his retirement in May 1953, effective July 15 when he turned 50.

But because of Reber’s high profile, the reasons for his resignation quickly became well known in diplomatic and political circles. In 1954, McCarthy would use Reber’s resignation against his brother, Major General Miles Reber, who was called to testify on the first day of the Army-McCarthy hearings. According to Time magazine:

Returning to twist the dirk already thrust into the Reber brothers, McCarthy asked General Reber: “Are you aware of the fact that your brother was allowed to resign when charges that he was a bad security risk were made against him as a result of the investigation of this committee?” Jenkins roared in protest. McClellan roared in protest. McCarthy talked on, stuck to his question. General Reber sat in silence, gripping the edges of the witness table until his knuckles showed white. Finally, McCarthy, having made his point over radio and television, dismissed the entire question as unimportant, and grandly said he would withdraw it.

But West Pointer Reber would not have it so. In a voice thick with emotion, he asked to be allowed to answer the “very serious charge” made against his brother. After another long argument, Reber said simply: “. . . As I understand my brother’s case, he retired, as he is entitled to do by law, upon reaching the age of 50 … I know nothing about any security case involving him.” With a sigh of relief, Chairman Mundt dismissed Reber, thanking him for his frank manner—a remark to which McCarthy, who seemed determined to resent any civility, made a formal objection.

David Cicilline

David Cicilline: 1961. When he was elected mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, in a landslide in 2002, David Cicilline became the first openly gay man to become mayor of a state capital. He held that position until 2011, when he went to Congress to represent Rhode Island in the U.S. House of Representatives after a surprisingly close race against his Republican opponent in what was supposed to be a safe Democratic seat. When he joined Congress, he became one of four openly gay representatives in the House. Cicilline was re-elected in 2012, despite falling approval raitings, partly due to Providence’s near bankruptcy in the wake of Cicilline’s eight years as mayor.

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, July 14

Jim Burroway

July 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Robert Nugent

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 15 YEARS AGO: Vatican Orders Priest and Nun To Halt Pro-Gay Ministry: 1999. New Ways Ministry, founded in 1977 by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, was (and still is) “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.” The ministry’s name was inspired by a 1976 pastoral letter by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero of Brooklyn which, while emphasizing “chastity is a virtue which liberates the human person,” nevertheless “pledge[d] our willingness to help you bear your burdens, to try to find new ways to communicate the truth of Christ because we believe it will make you free.”

Free from what, exactly, the letter didn’t say. (This was before the religious ex-gay movement was founded in 1976.) But Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent saw that the clearest path to freedom was to create wider acceptance for gay and lesbian Catholics within the Catholic Church. Sr. Gramick came by her advocacy for gay people a few years earlier while working on her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she befriended a gay man and began ministering to those who had left the Church because of its stance toward gay people. Fr. Nugent had been involved with pastoral ministry and counseling to gay Catholics since 1971. When Fr. Nugent and Sr. Gramick co-founded New Ways Ministry at Mt. Rainier, MD., it attracted almost immediate attention from the Church’s hierarchy. In 1984, Archbishop of Washington James Cardinal Hickey’s criticisms of New Way Ministry led the Vatican to order Fr. Nugent’s and Sr. Gramick’s resignation. They complied, but continued speaking and writing about gay and lesbian issues within the church.

On July 14, 1999, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a “Notification regarding Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent“, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which is charged with enforcing adherence to Catholic doctrines. The CDF, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI), “permanently prohibited” Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.”

Fr. Nugent responded with a lengthy statement describing his experience with Vatican officials during the previous two decades. That prompted a further order from the Vatican prohibiting him from speaking any further “about the Notification itself, about the ecclesiastical processes that led to it or about the issue of homosexuality.” Fr. Nugent then decided to return to parish-based ministry.

But Sr. Gramick refused to complying with the silencing. “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” She then transferred from the School Sisters of Notre Dame to the Sisters of Loretto, where she has continued her work for social justice and outreach to LGBT people. In 2004, Sr. Gramick became the subject of a powerful documentary film, In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith, directed by Albert Maysles of Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter fame. New Ways Ministry continues its work of independent advocacy on for LGBT Catholics.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Arthur Laurents: 1917-2011. The three-time Tony Award winning playwright, director and screenwriter started out by writing scripts for radio shows and training films for the U.S. Army during World War II. One photograph of GIs in the South Pacific jungle inspired him to write Home of the Brave about anti-Semitism in the military. The play opened on Broadway in 1945 and ran for sixty nine performances. (When the play was adapted for the 1949 film, the topic switched from anti-Semitic to anti-black bigotry.) That first run wasn’t a long one, but its controversial subject would come back to haunt him later when he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was placed on the infamous entertainment blacklist during the McCarthy red scare.

His tenure on the list was relatively brief, and by the mid-1950s, Laurents was in Broadway and Hollywood’s good graces again. Good thing, because he went on to write West Side Story and Gypsy, and the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope. He also wrote the scripts for the films The Way We Were and The Turning Point, and directed the 1983 stage production of La Cage Aux Folles. Laurents died in 2011 in New York of pneumonia at the age of 93. His partner of more than fifty years, Tom Hatcher, had preceded him in 2006. In honor of Laurents’s career, the lights on Broadway were dimmed at 8:00 p.m. the following night.

Charles Pierce

Charles Pierce: 1926-1999. The self-styled “male actress” was very clear about what he was and what he was not. “You can call me an impersonator, an impressionist, a mimic, or a comic in a dress. But not a drag queen! A drag queen is someone who dresses up and goes to a ball! I’m an entertainer.” And what an entertainer he was. His impersonations included Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Carol Channing, who said “He did Carol Channing better than I did. He titled his 1990 show, “The Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen: All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing… All Dead.”

Pierce began his male actress career after another drag performer, who impersonated Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead, rejected Pierce’s suggestions on how to improve his act. Pierce then decided he could do a better job. In some of the clubs in the early fifties, Pierce performed while wearing a tuxedo because of laws banning cross-dressing, but by the time he moved to San Francisco and was a regular performer at the Gilded Cage, he was performing in ever more elaborate costume. Eventually, he caught the attention of Hollywood producers and got guest roles in movies and television, including a guest stint on Designing Women where he impersonated Joan Collins and Bette Davis. He died in 1999, following a long battle with cancer.

My Mom: 1940. Happy Birthday Mom!

Jane Lynch: 1960. Nobody does bitter sarcasm like Jane Lynch. Since 2009, she has played the role of Sue Sylvester on Glee, where her Emmy-, People’s Choice- and Golden Globe-winning performance is the only rational reason why anyone would want to watch Glee (in my opinion at least). She has also appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and had a recurring role in The L Word. In 2010, Lynch married clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Embry in Sunderland Massachusetts — you can see their video for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project here – but the couple divorced in January 2014.

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, July 13

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CATacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

 
Chicago’s Twenty-One Club, opened in 1961, was raided by police in September 1969, just a few months after Stonewall. According to a brief article written by Bill Kelley for Mattachine Midwest:

The first raid of the current series occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 20, when the 21 Club was hit and 12 persons were arrested and charged with public indecency. (Public indecency is defined as lewd fondling on the body in public, and Chicago police routinely apply the law to cover homosexual dancing and even two men with arms over each other’s shoulders. Allegations of lewd fondling are always thrown in, but the real police target is harmless activity on a par with accepted heterosexual behavior.)

As usual, nothing was going on, but the time had come, so the 21 club was raided and innocent victims grabbed. Woody, the owner, was taken in and quite generously bailed out the patrons. He contacted MM, gave us details of the event and took an MM referral attorney. Moreover, Woody has helped raise funds for the legal defense of the patrons ( a benefit cocktail party was being held on Sunday, Oct. 21, as this went to press).

At some point, Club 21 became known as Legacy 21. It was still in business in 2001 when the Chicago Tribune published this brief profile which noted that the bar was the oldest gay bar still operating. I haven’t been able to track down when the club finally closed, but by 2012 it was boarded up tight, its large yellow sign was still hanging out front.

vere

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Pub Raided in London: 1810. From The Times of London:

The existence of a Club, or Society, for the purpose so detestable and repugnant to the common feelings of our nature, that by no word can it be described without committing an outrage upon decency, has for some time been suspected by the Magistrates of Bow-street; who cautiously concealing the odious secret, abstained from taking any steps on the information they had received, until an opportunity should offer of surprising the whole gang. About 11 o’clock last Sunday evening, three separate parties of the patrole, attended by constables, were detached from Bow-street on this service. … The enterprise was completely successful. — We regret most deeply, that the information given at the office was found to be so accurate, that the Officers felt themselves justified in seizing no fewer than 23 individuals, at a public-house, called the White Swan, in Vere-street, Clare-market.

Two men were found guilty of sodomy and were hanged. Six more were found guilty of attempted sodomy and were made to stand at the pillory. The crowds who turned out for the pillory were particularly violent, throwing rotten fish, dead cats, “cannonballs” made of mud, and vegetables at the convicted men. The men were severely injured and barely survived their allotted time at the pillory.

30 YEARS AGO: “Brothers” Debuts: 1984. The first American television program featuring a gay lead character finally debuted on Showtime. The show, set in Philadelphia, centered around the three Waters brothers: Lou was a typical blue-collar construction foreman, Joe was a retired placekicker for the Philadelphia Eagles and owner of a sports bar, and Cliff, who in the first episode left his bride at the altar and came out to his family as a gay man. ABC and NBC had already turned down the series out of fear of portraying homosexuality on prime time, but when Showtime decided to begin producing original television series, they saw Brothers as the perfect fit. After a successful first season, Showtime decided to pick up the series for a second season. Showtime also offer the series for syndication to over-the-air broadcast stations, and the fledgling Fox network decided to jump on that deal. Brother would go on for a full five seasons and 115 episodes.

Anti-Gay Groups Kick Off Nationwide Ex-Gay Advertising Campaign: 1998. The campaign attracted so much attention that the Family Research Council’s Bob Knight hailed it as “the “Normandy landing in the larger cultural wars.” Fifteen anti-gay organizations, including the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and Coral Ridge Ministries, launched a national million-dollar advertising campaign, with newspaper ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today featuring “ex-lesbian” Anne Paulk under the headline, “I’m living proof that the Truth can set you free.” The campaign also included a television commercial featuring ex-gay and HIV-positive Michael Johnston who, with his mother by his side, proclaimed that he was now free from the “homosexual lifestyle.”

The ads quickly generated widespread media attention. Segments on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Nightline, CBS’s 60 Minutes and Oprah were devoted to the topic, Anne and John Paulk made the cover of Newsweek under the question, “Gay for life?” The ex-gay movement finally found its moment under the sun. But more significantly, the larger anti-gay political movement had yet another weapon to use against the gay community. As the argument went, if gay people could choose to become straight, then they didn’t need protections or guarantees of equality under the law. One underlying argument went even further: that there was no such thing as homosexuals; they were just heterosexuals with homosexual problems.

Focus On the Family, in particular, was eager to exploit the growing public awareness of the ex-gay movement. That same year, Focus, in partnership with Exodus International, launched a series of one-day conferences across the country. Titled “Love Won Out,” the conferences were part road show and part infomercial for ex-gay ministries. Featuring John Paulk (who was also a Focus employee and conference coordinator), fellow Focus employees Melissa Fryrear and Mike Haley; Exodus’s Bob Davies and Joe Dallas (and later, Alan Chambers); NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi; and Nancy Hesche, actress Anne Hesche’s mother, the conferences introduced thousands, mostly parents of gay children, to the movement. Many conferences attracted an attendance of more than two thousand, with a half a dozen conferences taking place every year across North America.

But all was not well behind the movement’s facade. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed John Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C. where he had spent a couple of hours chatting up customers (see Sep 19). Paulk was called back to Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs, where he was placed on probation and removed as Board Chair at Exodus International (although he remained a member of the board on probationary status). But Paulk managed to weather the controversy, remaining in his position at Focus, and continuing in his role as the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.

Michael Johnston and his mother in a television commercial.

In 2003, it was revealed that while Michael Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, he was privately engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky.

So, where are they today? In 2012, Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” He then repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights. In 2013, he issued a formal apology for the harms done by Exodus International to its clients and shut down Exodus altogether.

John Paulk left Focus on the Family in 2o03, and he and his wife moved to Portland Oregon where he started a catering business. Anne continue to write books and speak on the ex-gay circuit. In 2013, John recanted his ex-gay beliefs and issued a formal apology. Meanwhile, Anne helped to form Restored Hope Network, a more hardline break-away group of former Exodus ministries. She now serves on the board of directors of RHN. The Paulks have divorced.

Johnston continues as director of donor and media relations at Pure Life Ministries, where his is also available as a public speaker (PDF: 93 KB/3 pages).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Robert Gant: 1968. He was Ben Bruckner in the American version of “Queer as Folk.” His HIV-positive character gave the series an opportunity to explore anti-AIDS hysteria and stigma, both outside and inside the gay community. He has had numerous television guest roles, and he acted and produced in Save Me, the film staring Chad Allen about the ex-gay movement. Gant and Allen, along with Christopher Racster, are partners in the production company Mythgarden. He is active in LGBT elder issues, supporting SAGE (Senior Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and GLEH (Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing).

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