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Posts for November, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 28

Jim Burroway

November 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: International Bear Pride, Cologne, Germany; White Party, Miami, FL; Pride, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa; Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, Paris, France; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Skellefteå Snow Pride, Skellefteå, Sweden.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by: 

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 3. (Source.)

From Our Community (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 3. (Source.)

Today’s Agenda is an all-Dallas edition. From Our Community of Dallas, October 1971:

Co CoaCO COA is her name, and she’s tan, talented, and terrific! She, sings and strips–heaven only knows she has the voice and the body. This unique personality was born and raised in Florida. But her story reads like that of countless young boys and girls allover the nation: when she was eight, she slowly became aware that she was “somehow different” from other little girls her age. She was drawn, with deep affection towards other girls, something she wasn’t go “outgrow.” Her parents (meaning well) encouraged her to marry. Needless to say, this didn’t make her straight. Next her parents (again meaning well) sent her to a psychiatrist. Needless to say, this didn’t work either. Eventually she was to tell her psychiatrist, “Look, I’m me!” Now she, her parents and her psychiatrist accept her for what she is — not for what somebody wants her to be.

Still in her mid-twenties, she’s been a professional singer and stripper for ten years. Most of her experience has been in straight bars, where she was unhappy as she was required to “push champaign.” She considers herself a serious artist, does not drink champaign, nor does she want to push it.

Her ambition is to someday own her own bar, where she will produce and direct shows. In he meantime Co Coa will be playing the Cotton Club Review at the State Fair of Texas this October. Then she will return to the Chip Inn on Wednesday nights where she gives a show around 9 pm and again at midnight. On other nights she will entertain (grandly) at the Neptune.

EMPHASIS MINE:
You just never know what you’ll find as you leaf through these old newspapers. Just after preparing the Today in History item below, I went looking around for a Dallas “sponsor” in some old Dallas papers. That’s where I found the above information and, in the same paper, where I also found this highly appropriate article that closely ties to today’s Today in History story. It just goes to show that some things never change:

BeatingI have just returned from the Emergency Room at Parkland Hospital, where 40 stiches [sic] were sewn into my chest to close a two inch deep knife wound. There are four stiches [sic] in my chin, and eight in the back of my head, the result of being kicked and stomped while on the ground. My jaw is fractured, and it is extremely painful for me to talk, swallow, move or even breathe. Fortunately my jaw will not have to be wired, but the left side of my face is swollen, and there are multiple bruises all over my body. Painful as it is to write this, I feel I must, as a warning to others of the dangers of Lee Park.

Early Sunday morning, around 2 am, September 12, I left friends and was walking home. I did not enter Lee Park, but was walking on the sidewalk, on the right-hand side of Hall street, going south of Turtle Creek. A man stepped from the shadows of a tree and asked me for a light. When I replied that I had none, three other men jumped me. One man placed a gun at my throat and I was forced into the park. They beat me to the ground, kicked, and stomped me. They ripped off my shirt and demanded my wallet and boots. Finding only one dollar, one of my attackers cooly said, “You’re not going to like what I’m going to do to you.” I was then stabbed in the chest. Desperately trying to shield myself from the slashing knife, I was cut on the chin, hand, and neck. Fighting for my life, I somehow was able to break away and run to my apartment nearby.

…A similar incident happened near Lee Park on Labor Day. About 8:30 that night, I was driving home and passed the same area. Two men, one of whom I knew, ran out of the park into the street. I quickly stopped and asked the matter, and was told that a companion was being beaten by two men in the bushes nearby. Hurriedly I grabbed a lead pipe from the back of my car, ran into the darkness, and found two men beating a blond youth — one man held the youth’s arms behind him, while the other beat him. I clubbed one of the men on the head with the pipe, knocking him to the ground unconscious; the other man ran a way. I grabbed the dazed youth and told him to get the hell out of there. I did not know the youth, and have not seen him since.

I am not asking you, the readers of my story, to stay out of the parks; everyone has a right to unmolested use of the parks. But I do want to warn everyone in our community of the possible danger, and to suggest that none go to the parks alone or unwarily.

– Unsigned. “Beatings and stabbings continue at Lee Park.” Our Community (Dallas, TX), October 1971, pp 1-2. (Source.)

Lee and Reverchon Parks are part of a chain of parks alongside Dallas’s Turtle Creek, which, then as now, is part of the gayborhood of Oak Lawn. Also, then as now, they are well-known cruising areas as well as scenes of unknown numbers of gay bashings.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Dallas Judge Gives Light Sentence In Double Murder: 1988. It was a common sport among Dallas-area high school students throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s: drive into the Oak Lawn gayborhood on a weekend night and spend the evening “gay bashing” — their term for it. (One of my friends was stabbed in the chest and spent days in intensive care in one such attack while walking along Throckmorton Street with his boyfriend. His assailants were never found.) In one case, nine guys from North Mesquite High School drove to Oak Lawn one night in May to “pester the homosexuals.” According to the New York Times’s description of the event:

Witnesses who were in that group said the boys were standing on a street corner and shouting at passers-by, and then Tommy Lee Trimble, 34, and John Lloyd Griffin, 27, drove up and invited the boys into their car. [Richard Lee] Bednarski was said to have persuaded one more friend in his group to get in the car. After the car reached a secluded area of Reverchon Park, Mr. Bednarski is said to have ordered Mr. Trimble and Mr. Griffin to remove their clothes. On their refusal, a witness said, Mr. Bednarski drew a pistol and began firing. Mr. Trimble died immediately. Mr. Griffin died five days later.

At first, the crime was thought to be a botched robbery. Former Dallas Gay Alliance president William Waybourn later remembered, “Reverchon Park was a notorious mugging point. We don’t even know they would gay at first.” But as details unfolded, it became clear that there was more going on. Bednarski, the son of a police officer, began bragging about the shootings, then he became worried that Griffin might live to identify against him.

Bednarski was found guilty of two counts of murder, but Texas law allows the defendant to decide whether the judge or jury would determine the sentence. Bednarksi’s defense lawyer sensed that Judge Jack Hampton was sympathetic and chose him. Prosecutors demanded the maximum: life in prison. But Hampton announced that he considered, among other things, that Bednarski has no prior criminal record, was attending college, and was raised n a “good home.” He then handed down the sentence: 30 years in prison instead of life.

Judge Jack Hampton

Judge Jack Hampton

The sentence was considered light. Hampton explained his reasoning two days later to the Dallas Times Herald: “The two guys that got killed wouldn’t have been killed if they hadn’t been cruising the street picking up teenage boys. I don’t care for queers cruising the streets picking up teenage boys. I’ve got a teenage boy.” He also said that he would have handed down a much harsher sentence if the victims had been “a couple of housewives out shopping, not hurting anybody. I put prostitutes and gays at about the same levee, and I’d be hard pressed to give someone life for killing a prostitute.”

Those remarks touched off a furor in the gay community. Paul Varnell of the Illinois Gay and Lesbian Task Force summed up the reaction and said, “It appears that we do have one law for heterosexuals and one law for homosexuals.” John Wiley Price, the outspoken African-American activist and Dallas County Commissioner, said, “The only difference between the Ku Klux Klan and Judge Hampton is that one wears a white robe and the other a black robe.” On December 19, 200 people attended a rally outside the county courthouse. The next day, Sen. Edward Kennedy joined another protest at City Hall Plaza, where he described Hampton’s comments as “bigotry at its worst.”

Hampton had his supporters though. Two days later, fifty of them demonstrated outside the courthouse. The Rev. Donald Skelton of Victory Tabernacle Church said that his reason for demonstrating had less to do with supporting Hampton as it was to “protest sodomy.” He explained, “Our sole thrust is against sodomy. I feel sorry for them [homosexuals].” That same day, Hampton called a press conference and apologized for his “poor choice of words,” although he also protested that the Time Herald reporter had “distorted” his remarks. “I did not intend to state that any victim of crime was entitled to less fair treatment.”

The gay community wasn’t satisfied. Waybourn responded that Hampton had “raised the question of his judicial fitness and ability to be impartial.  This question cannot be answered with a simple apology.”

LGBT leaders filed a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which publicly censured Hampton for making “irresponsible statements” that “created an additional burden for the entire judiciary.” But it fell short of condemning his prejudice or removing him from the bench. Hampton, who had been first elected judge in 1981 and would be up for re-election in 1990, remained unconcerned. “Just spell my name right,” he told the Times-Herald. “If it makes anybody mad, they’ll forget by 1990.” He was right. He was re-elected in 1990, but his judicial career finally ended when he ran for an appellate court seat in 1992 and lost.

Bednarski was released in 2007 after serving less than nineteen years in Huntsville.

[Additional Source: Arnold Wayne Jones. “Jack Hampton’s Injustice.” The Dallas Voice (October 17, 2008): 1, 12-13, 16. Available online herehere, here and here.]

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Thanksgiving Day

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:

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When Chris and I were in Britain in 2003, we discovered that they have a lot of different words and expressions. Lorries, lifts, rubbers, aubergines, trollies, chips (which should not be confused with crisps), pants (which are quite different from trousers), getting pissed, sauce, bangers, fags, pavement, carriageway take-away — we knew about those. And we learned some new ones as well. For example, we learned that they call Thanksgiving day “Thursday.” Our Thanksgiving dinner was Thai food in Ely. Massaman curry, to be exact. We’re not having anything nearly that exotic this year. Hope your Thanksgiving is brilliant. Cheers!

Other Events This Weekend: International Bear Pride, Cologne, Germany; White Party, Miami, FL; Pride, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa; Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, Paris, France; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Skellefteå Snow Pride, Skellefteå, Sweden.

EMPHASIS MINE:

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted — a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.

— Rabbi Harold Kushner

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:,

From Arizona Gay News, November 17, 1978, page 2.

From Arizona Gay News, November 17, 1978, page 2.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Pennsylvania Outlaws Sodomy: 1700. The Pennsylvania assembly passed a new sodomy law to replace the old one which had been abrogated in 1693. The new law read:

…whoever shall be legally convicted of sodomy or bestiality, shall suffer imprisonment during life, and be whipped at the discretion of the magistrates, once every three months during the first year after conviction. And if he be a married man, he shall also suffer castration, and the injured wife shall hae a divorce if required.

In keeping with the pacifist nature of the Quakers who dominated the political structures in Pennsylvania, the colony’s law against sodomy was quite lenient: it was the only colonial law which didn’t call for the death penalty. That relative pacifism however didn’t extend to those of African descent. Another law, “An Act for the Trial of Negroes,” added this:

…”if any negro or negroes within this government shall commit a rape or ravishment upon any white woman or maid, or shall commit murder, buggery or burglary, they shall be …. punished by death.”

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 122-123.]

Harvey Milk Assassinated: 1978. Harvey Milk finally succeeded in winning political office as a gay man for two reasons. One, he refused to hide who he was; and two, he made it his mission to build alliances with groups that other gay activists thought were impossible to reach. Among those alliances, initially, was with the most conservative member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Dan White. There couldn’t have been two politicians from more opposite ends of the political spectrum. White, a former cop, was a conservative Catholic representing a blue-collar neighborhood, while Milk, a gay Jew from New York, represented the growing gay districts surrounding the Castro. Milk and White made several media appearances in which they spoke warmly of each other, and Milk began telling friends that he thought White was “educable.” That began to change however when Milk changed his mind about White’s opposition to a proposed psychiatric treatment center in White’s district. Harvey initially supported White, which would have given White the 6-5 majority he needed to block the facility. But as Harvey learned more about the center, he discovered that San Francisco children would be sent instead far away to a state hospital where they would be cut off from their families. He concluded that “they’ve got to be next to somebody’s house,” and switched his vote.

The loss stunned White, and for several months he refused to speak to Milk or his aides. He also tried to retaliate by switching his vote on Harvey’s gay rights bill, but the bill passed anyway 10-1. White became increasingly disillusioned with politics, and abruptly resigned on November 10, 1978. He quickly regretted his decision, and asked Mayor George Moscone to re-appoint him as Supervisor. Instead of complying with the request immediately, Moscone said he would think it over and announce his decision on November 27.

The night before the scheduled announcement, White learned through a reporter that he would not get the reappointment. The next morning White went to City Hall with his loaded .38 Smith & Wesson. He went to Moscone’s office and asked for a meeting. Moscone agreed and invited him into the mayor’s office. There, White shot Moscone twice in the abdomen and twice in the head. He then went down the hall to Milk’s office. When Milk got up out of his seat to greet White, White shot him three times in the chest, once in the back, and twice more in the head.

News of the two assassinations sent the city reeling. To make matters worse, San Franciscans were still grappling with the shocking news of the Jonestown, Guyana massacre and mass suicide the week before, which had been led by San Francisco-based preacher Jim Jones and resulted in 918 deaths. That night, tens of thousands of stunned mourners gathered in the Castro for an impromptu candlelight march to City Hall. The sea of candles stretched ten city blocks long. At the steps of city hall, Joan Baez led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang a hymn by Felix Mendelssohn.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Aravosis: 1963. An attorney, Democratic political consultant, gay activist and blogger, Aravosis is the founder of Americablog. His first major success as a gay activist came in 1998 when he defended U.S. sailor Timothy R. McVeigh (not to be confused with the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh), who was being kicked out of the Navy after he was outed by America Online. The internet provider had released the identity behind McVeigh’s email account even though the Navy never bothered to get a court order or warrant, in direct violation of AOL’s terms of service. McVeigh was days from being discharged when Aravosis embarked on a massive publicity campaign that caught the attention of ABC News, Time and Newsweek. It also got the attention of another lawyer, who took McVeigh’s case pro bono. McVeigh not only won an honorable discharge from the Navy, but also a large settlement from AOL.

Aravosis founded AmericaBlog in 2004. AmericaBlog first received widespread media attention in 2005 after it outed “Jeff Gannon” (real name: Jeff Guckert), a member of the White House press corps who had a reputation for fielding softball questions during news conferences.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 26

Jim Burroway

November 26th, 2014

EMPHASIS MINE:

MemorialIt was Jem’s turn to cry. “It ain’t right,” he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting. Atticus was standing under the street light looking as though nothing had happened.

“It ain’t right, Atticus,” said Jem.

“No son, it’s not right.”

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

Shelly’s Midway later became known as Gus’ Midway. One imagines that its location a block away from the Jesuit-run St. Louis University was rather convenient for at least a few of its patrons. Today, the location is occupied by a newer building of the expanded university.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
British Parliament Shelves Wolfenden Report Recommendations: 1958. More than a year had passed since the Wolfenden committee issued its groundbreaking report urging Parliament to decriminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults (see Sep 4). The Wolfenden committee, named for chairman Lord John Wolfenden, had spent the previous three years combing through studies and soliciting testimony from experts in medicine, science, theology, ethics, and the law. The first print run of 5,000 copies of the Wolfenden Committee’s 155-page “Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution” sold out within hours of its publication. In it, the committee recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence… It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”

When Parliament finally got around to considering the report on November 25, 1958, Conservative Home Secretary Rab Butler opened the debate by announcing that the government was not prepared to alter the country’s laws with regard to homosexual relationships. He explained the reasons, in part, in terms of what he believed the effect the law’s removal would have on those who were not particularly religious:

Home Secretary Rab Butler

Many people outside the influence of religion found no other basis for their notions of right and wrong but in the criminal law. Could we be sure that if the support of the criminal law were removed from these people they would find any other support?

What is clear to me is that there is at present a large section of the population which strongly repudiates homosexual conduct and whose moral sense would be offended by an alteration ot the law seeming to imply approval or tolerance of what they regard as a great social evil. Therefore the considerations I have indicated satisfy the Government that it would not be justified, on the basis of opinions expressed so far, in proposing legislation to carry out the recommendations of the Committee.

Opposition MP Anthony Greenwood (Lab-Rossendale) spoke in favor of the Wolfenden Committee’s recomendations, although he stressed that his position was not an official Labour position. He said that he hoped that during the debate, Members would “extend tolerance to each other and compassion to minorities in our midst who are denied the happiness and fulfilment which is the lot of most of us.” He then added:

MP Anthony Greenwood

What we have to decide is whether men who, for some reason we do not understand, are practising homosexuals should live their lives under the shadow of the law and at the mercy of the blackmail. I believe that life is harsh enough for these people without society adding to their burdens. The fact that the law is largely unenforced, and indeed largely unenforceable, is certainly no reason for retaining it. I am fortified in my view by the fact that it is shared by many of the great religious leaders of the country. … I believe that ultimately this reform will come. I am saddened by the fact that it should only come after a still greater toll of human misery has been extracted by society.

Arguments for and against the Wolfenden recommendations cut across party lines. Labor MP Frederick Bellenger (Lab-Bassetlaw) opposed any change in the law. He described those in the “cult” as “a malignant canker in the comminuty. If this were allowed to grow, it would eventually kill what is known as normal life.” But Conservative MP High Linstead (C-Putney) argued that because homosexuality was “fixed in people at an early age,” the law would make “no difference to a man’s tendencies.” Labour MP Jean Mann (Lab-Coatbridge and Airdrie) opposed any changes to the law, but the feminist in her couldn’t let one point pass without comment. On observing that lesbian relationships had never been criminalized under British law, Mann wryly remarked that this time it was “the male (who) was now demanding equality with the female.”

The greater consensus on both sides of the House was against scrapping the laws criminalizing consensual homosexual relationships. The House approved, without dissent, a motion put forward by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government which said, simply, “That this House takes note of the report.”

[Source: “No Action on Homosexuals Yet: Mr. Butler Sets Out the Problems.” Daily Telegraph (November 27, 1958). As reprinted in The Mattachine Review 5, no. 1 (January 1959): 4-12.]

ABC Airs “A Question of Love”: 1978. Six years earlier, ABC broke ground in providing a positive portrayal of a gay relationship with the broadcast of “That Certain Summer” in 1972 (see Nov 1) depicting a divorced father’s relationship with another man. But portrayals of lesbians remained limited to criminals, prisoners and sexual abusers (see, for example, Nov 8). In response to pressure from LGBT activists, ABC opted to produce a docu-drama based on a true-life custody battle by a Texas lesbian mother for her two sons. Gena Rowlands played the mother, with Jane Alexander as her partner, as they contended with the mother’s abusive ex-husband who discovers their relationship and sues for custody. In the end, the jury sided with the father, despite his history of violence and infidelity. The made-for-TV movie aired on Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend following a warning that the program may not be suitable for young people. It was greeted with a few smarmy reviews, but surprisingly for being in the year of Anita Bryant, the telecast prompted very little protest or controversy.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
75 YEARS AGO: Wayland Flowers: 1939-1988. The thing about puppets is that they get to say and do things that ordinary people aren’t allowed to do. Maybe that’s why Georgia-native Wayland Flowers took up puppetry and created “Madame,” which Hofstra University’s Patricia Jukliana Smith aptly described as “a grotesquely ugly and flamboyantly ribald old crone festooned in outrageous evening gowns, tiaras, and rhinestones.” In other words, an outrageously campy drag queen in wood and wire, a hideous hag who thought herself glamorous and who spoke in double entendres and bitchy take-downs.

Flowers developed Madame in night clubs and gay bars throughout the 1960s before landing frequent appearances on Laugh-In. The act then appeared as a recurring comedy skit on Solid Gold before eventually replacing Paul Lynde as Center Square on Hollywood Squares. In 1982, Madame was star of her own sitcom, Madame’s Place, a half-hour syndicated program that ran five days a week for one season. Madame’s talk show within the series drew Debbie Reynolds, Foster Brooks and William Shatner as guests. Flowers died on October 11, 1988, five weeks after collapsng during a performance at Harra’s resort in Lake Tahoe. The family attributed his death to cancer, and asked that no other details about his AIDS-releated death be released to the public.

Simon Tseko Nkoli: 1957-1998. Born in Soweto, Nkoli became a youth activist against apartheid with the Congress of South African Students and with the United Democratic Front. He also became a gay rights activist when he joined the mainly white Gay Association of South African in 1983 and later formed the Saturday Group, the first black gay group in Africa. Nkoli’s anti-apartheid activism led to his arrest in 1984, when he faced the death penalty for treason with twenty-one others who became collectively known as the Delmas 22. While prisoner, he came out as gay. Fearing that the state would use his homosexuality against the entire group, the others of the Delmas 22 demanded a separate trial. But in the end he won them over and they stood trial together because, as they all realized, they were in the same struggle together. As Nkoli later wrote in the anthology, Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa, “If you are black in South Africa, the inhuman laws of apartheid closet you. If you are gay in South Africa, the homophobic customs and laws of this society closet you. If you are black and gay in South Africa, well, then it really is all the same closet, the same wardrobe. Inside is darkness and oppression. Outside is freedom. It is as simple as that.”

By coming out as gay while a prisoner against apartheid, he is credited with helping to change the attitude of the African National Congress toward gay rights. Patrick “Terror” Lekota, who later became chairman of the ANC, remarked, “all of us acknowledged that [Nkoli’s coming out] was an important learning experience . . . His presence made it possible for more information to be discussed, and it broadened our vision, helping us to see that society is composed of so many people whose orientations are not the same, and that one must be able to live with it.” And so, when it came to writing the Constitution, “how could we say that men and women like Simon, who had put their shoulders to the wheel to end apartheid, how could we say that they should now be discriminated against?”

After his acquittal and release from prison in 1988, he founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW), which organized South Africa’s first Gay Pride march in 1990. He also was among the first African gay men to come out publicly as HIV-positive and founded Positive African Men in Johannesburg. He was among the first gay activists to meet with President Nelson Mandela in 1994, and he campaigned successfully for anti-discrimination measures on the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution. Nkoli lived long enough to see South African repeal its sodomy law in 1998, shortly before he died on November 30.

John Amaechi: 1970. The Boston-born son of a Nigerian father and English mother grew up in England and didn’t take up basketball he was seventeen, when he moved to Toledo and played hoops at St. John’s Jesuit High School. His college career began at Vanderbilt, then he transferred to Penn state, where he was named to First Team Academic All-American twice. He also when he began his career as a motivational speaker and youth mentor. After college, he played one season with Cleveland (1995-6), then played a few years in Europe before returning to the Orlando Magic in 1999. He was so grateful to Orlando for hiring him when no other NBA team would that the next year he turned down a $17 million contract from the Lakers so he could remain in Orlando for $600,000 per year. “There are many people who are asked what their word is worth,” he later explained, “and when people ask me that I can say, ‘At least $17 million.'” After Orlando, Amaechi was traded to the Utah Jazz, where he played for two years. He then went to the Houston Rockets for a season before retiring from the New York Knicks.

Since then, Amaechi has launched his second career as NBA broadcaster for UK’s Channel Five and he provided broadcast commentary for the BBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics. He also returned to school to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. In 2007, Amaechi became the first openly gay former NBA player after coming out in his memoir, Man in the Middle. In 2011, Amaechi was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to sports and for his voluntary work after retiring.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 25

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 56.

From The Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 56.

EMPHASIS MINE:
Two weeks ago, Chris and I took Mom and Gus to the Monterey Aquarium. This is a little of what we saw:

Wendy Chandler

Wendy Chandler

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Judge Rules Utah Teacher’s Rights Were Violated: 1998. Wendy Weaver taught psychology and physical education, and coached the girls’ volleyball team at Spanish Fork High School in Utah. In 1997 after an acrimonious divorce, from her ex-husband Gary Weaver went to the district and told them the reason they divorced was because she was a lesbian. Rumors quickly began to swirl around the high school, and that summer students began asking her if she was gay. She answered truthfully, and a few of the girls dropped out of the girl’s volleyball team.

On July 14, the school district removed her as volleyball coach and banned her from mentioning her “lifestyle” or partner to students, parents or staff. If she mentioned a word about her sexuality to anyone, she would be fired. A letter to that effect was placed in her employee record. She was also relieved of her duties as coach of the volelyball team, despite having led the team to four state championships.

When word got out, an overflow crowd showed up to denounce Weaver at a Nebo Board of Education meeting on November 14, 1997, where parents demanded the right to pull their children out of any class she taught. A group, calling themselves the Nebo Citizens for Moral and Legal Values presented a petition signed by 2,700 parents demanding her removal. After Weaver filed suit in Federal Court alleging that her First Amendment Rights were being violated, the parents’ group filed a suit of their own, with the backing of the Utah County chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, demanding that Weaver’s teaching certification be revoked because, according to the complaint, Defendant Weaver engages in sodomy as defined under Utah criminal law.”

On November 25, 1998, U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins issued a sweeping 25-page ruling finding that Weaver’s constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection were violated. The judge ordered the school district to remove its threat to fire her from their files, restore her to the girl’s volleyball coaching job, and to pay her the $1,5000 stipend that she would have been entitled to as coach. He found the limits on Weaver’s speech to be overly broad. “Indeed,” wrote Judge Jenkins, “these restrictions limit Ms. Weaver’s ability to speak on her sexuality outside of the school, as, for example, when meeting a parent of a student in the supermarket, or when speaking at dinner with a friend who may be a staff member at the school, or even when speaking with her own children, who are students in the school district.” All of this was a gross violation of Weaver’s constitutional rights. “Simple as it may sound, as a matter of fairness and evenhandedness, homosexuals should not be sanctioned or restricted for (speech) where heterosexuals are not likewise sanctioned or restricted.”

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 24

Jim Burroway

November 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Village Voice, July 7, 1970, page 8. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Berkeley’s KPFA Broadcasts Two-Hour Program on Homosexuality: 1958. On a Monday before Thanksgiving, several people gathered at Pacifica Radio’s studios at KPFA in Berkeley, California, for what appears to have been the first broadcast discussion on homosexuality in the Bay area. The broadcast consisted of two separate panel discussions in two consecutive hours, which represented quite an investment of airtime for the non-profit, noncommercial station.

Participants for first hour of the historic broadcast were Mattachine president Hal Call (see Sep 20); Dr. Blanche Baker, a bay area psychologist and straight ally who wrote a regular column for ONE magazine; and Leah Gailey, a mother of a gay son. The first hour’s topic was “The Role of the Homosexual as an Individual and as a Member of Society.” Del Martin’s (see May 5)  summary of the broadcast for the Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder the following January indicates the kinds of the questions that ordinary people had about gay people:

…According to Dr. Blanche Baker, San Francisco psychiatrist, there is much controversy on the subject, “even in the medical profession.” There are those who feel it is a neurotic problem and others who call it glandular, or even a hereditary problem.

“For myself, from many years of work, I consider the homosexual first of all a human being,” she stated. “I believe in individual adjustment of each particular case. Factors leading to homosexuality lie deep in the individual nature. It is a psychological problem in which early childhood has its effect. All people have a certain amount of maleness and femaleness in their constitution, and child experiences tend to throw us to one side of the scale or the other.”

FIRST REACTION OF SHOCK
When questioned by Elsa Knight Thompson, moderator, Mrs. Leah Gailey, housewife and mother, replied, “My first reaction was a universal one — shock. There was ostracism to face for me and my son. It was clearly — shock. But basically I loved my son, so I decided I would try to understand. Fear is based on the unknown, and much fear disappears as one learns to understand.

“There is much literature on the layman level for anyone to read,” she pointed out. “It is just a matter of understanding and accepting.”

Mr. Call declared that the problem of homosexuality is very often closer to all of us than many realize — a member of the family, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend.

“Approximately every tenth adult may be predominantly homosexual in orientation,” he stated. “This covers the entire strata of society, every intellectual and economic Ieve1.”

Mr. Call said that there had not necessarily been an increase in homosexuality in recent years, as some have supposed, but rather a greater awareness of the subject.

HOSTILITY — CAUSE OR EFFECT?
Moderator Thompson posed the problem of “hostility” in the homosexual. Does it stem from the individual because of his fear of being “different”? Or is it a result of society’s attitude?

Mr. Call said that the homosexual adopts attitudes as result of the society in which he lives. He may effect certain mannerisms of hostility toward society because of its attitudes and also because of his inability to accept himself.

According to Mrs. Gailey, the homosexual’s hostility is based on fear from society and guilt from self. The homosexual has both problems to face, she said.

Dr. Baker pointed out that in her field she works on self acceptance so that the individual can relax and be more comfortable in the world he lives in.

When asked if her clients wished to rid themselves of their homosexuality or if they sought acceptance, Dr. Baker said, “Most of those who come to me want to get rid of this approach to life. If the heterosexual component potential is large enough to function with, fine. But many cases just don’t have the potential.”

ARE HOMOSEXUALS GIFTED PEOPLE?
Dr. Baker said she had no statistics on the subject, that she herself worked with small numbers of people, “But the ones who come to me are artists — versatile, gifted people, not just bread, meat and potatoes people.”

Mr. Call did not consider this a just evaluation. He said that homosexuals are no more gifted or talented than any other group, but that perhaps the homosexual has more opportunity to develop creative and artistic talents since he doesn’t have the economic pressure of providing for a wife and family.

Elsa Knight Thompson suggested that, as in the  case of any other minority group, there is more concentration to excel in order to counteract criticism.

“This is true job-wise,” Mrs. Gailey declared. “Because of his fear of detection, the homosexual puts forth an utmost effort to do his best.”

HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES
On consideration of the short duration of most homosexual relationships, Dr. Baker asserted, “The friction between homosexual couples is due to the hate in themselves and an unhappy adjustment to life. The over-emphasis on a sexual level would keep them from adjusting on other levels.”

Mr. Call pointed out that there were many lasting homosexual relationships that are not known or recognized, and Dr. Baker admitted, “We are all too conscious of those who do not get along together and don’t know about those who do.”

The second hour was given over to the professionals: Dr. Karl Bowman, a at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco; Dr. Frank Beach Jr., anthropologist and professor of psychology at the UC Berkeley; Morris Lowenthal, a San Francisco attorney who worked on a number of gay rights cases on behalf of local bars targeted by the state alcohol control board; and Dr. David Wilson, attorney and psychiatrist of the UC Berkeley’s School of Criminology.

Bowman, like Baker and Lowenthal (and Beach, as you will see), was something of an ally for the Bay area gay community, having given several talks for local Mattachine and DoB meetings in the bay area. He opened the second hour with brief discussion of the state’s anti-gay laws which “largely traced back to ancient Hebrew laws.”  He added, ” it is my contention,” Dr. Bowman added, “it is time to re-examine our laws in the light of present knowledge and recommend modifications.” Del Martin picks of the narrative from there:

Dr. Frank Beach Jr. …recounted the varying degrees of homosexual behavior: the latent individual who has tendencies but who manifests no overt behavior, the individual who has one or two experiences in his life time, those who find satisfaction in both homosexual and heterosexual behavior, and those with exclusive homosexual experience.

Dr. Bowman pointed out that in the armed forces mere diagnosis of latent homosexuality makes an individual unsuitable and subject to an undesirable discharge which interferes seriously with the individual’s ability to secure a position. Some one who has never violated any law and who has never had a homosexual experience thus becomes a victim, he said.

Relative to the problem of who is a homosexual, Morris Lowenthal, San Francisco attorney, spoke of the 1955 law passed by the California state legislature that any bar or restaurant becoming a “resort for sexual perverts” may have its license revoked. The problem of the proprietor is two-fold, he said, since the 1951 California Supreme Court decision in the Stoumen vs. Reilly case upheld the civil right of the homosexual to meet and eat or drink in any public bar or restaurant, while the new law in direct conflict prohibits the use of these premises as a gathering place for homosexuals. Mr. Lowenthal also posed the issue as to how the bartender or owner can determine the homosexual tendencies of his patrons.

The subject then moved to the question of what “causes” homosexuality. Beach and Bowman argued that homosexuality may be hereditary, although Bowman also believed that ” physical condition and psychological conditioning” played a role. It’s interesting that those arguments were as lively then as they are now, with the underlying assumption that if homosexuality was biological in origin, then laws forbidding it were profoundly unjust:

“The crux of the matter,” asserted Dr. David Wilson, attorney and psychiatrist of the University of California School of Criminology at Berkeley, “is the law making something a crime. Society passes a law because it feels threatened, but it doesn’t work and in no way affects the amount of homosexuality. If the law doesn’t work, it should be reappraised and handled in a realistic manner.

“The propensity is there or it could not develop. We can not change basic individual factors. Unless we know why, we can’t pass laws to curb the incidence of homosexuality.”

Mr. Lowenthal advanced the theory that homosexuals have been discouraged in cultures when an increase in population was needed for survival and encouraged when it was necessary to curb the population.

“Naive assumption!” Dr. Wilson interjected. “Homosexuals are not going to be the productive members of society in any case.”

Dr. Beach also rejected the idea, “Human beings don’t behave this rationally.” Prohibitions appear in many societies, he added.

Dr. Bowman considered the population theory a rationalization. “Cultures that allow homosexuality freely have in many cases had a higher increase in population than those who have not.”

“Rejection of the homosexual is purely on an emotional basis and tied up with our general repressive attitude toward all sex behavior,” he added.

VAGUE AND AMBIGUOUS LAWS
In our criminal laws, many of which are not enforced, it was pointed out by Attorney Lowenthal that no reference is made to homosexuals specifically. Vague and ambiguous laws are used and abused against the homosexual resulting in his subjection to blackmail.

Dr. Bowman pointed out that the California law reads, “Anyone guilty of the infamous crime against nature…” The use of such wording has led to long controversies, he stated.

Dr. Beach took exception to the “crime against nature.” The capacity for homosexual activity is inherent in nature — in man’s biological constitution — and there is therefore nothing “unnatural” in homosexual activity, he said.

“It would appear then that the law is vague, open to loose interpretation and capable of injustice to the individual where invoked against him, bearing no fruit from the social standpoint,” Elsa Knight Thompson, the moderator, put in.

“Laws to prevent crimes of Violence and violation of children would satisfy my requirements of a fair law,” Dr. Wilson asserted. “Homosexuality is a medical and social problem, not a legal one.”

Mr. Lowenthal declared that a strange situation existed where it has been granted by the California Appellate Court that the homosexual is no menace to society and has no particular propensity toward crime, yet at the level of police and certain legislators he is declared a menace and attempts are made to whittle away the civil rights of the individual.

“The mere existence of a law can be a threat to an individual even though it may not be enforced or can be overturned at a higher court level,” Dr. Wilson said. However, he did not hold out much hope for immediate action. The legislators won’t change the law until they understand more. It will take a great deal of time and education, of which this program is a step.

The KPFA broadcast was an enormous shot in the arm for the gay movement. Tapes of the broadcast were circulated and played at gay conferences and meetings, and the Mattachine Review reprinted the broadcast transcripts in July and August of 1960. The program was rebroadcast a month later on KPFA, and Los Angeles’s KPFB and New York’s WBAI picked it up for 1959. KPFA also published a printed transcript as a booklet.

You can listed to the program’s first hour via the Internet Archive here.

[Sources: Del Martin. “Two-Hour Broadcast on Homophile Problem.” The Ladder 3, no. 4 (January 1959): 7-14.

“The Homosexual In Society.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 7 (July 1960): 12-28.

“The Homosexual In Society (Part II).” Mattachine Review 6, no. 8 (August 1960): 9-25.]

First Gay Bookstore In the U.S. Opens: 1967. Craig Rodwell had been a longtime resident of Greenwich Village, and he grew increasingly frustrated with the New York Mattachine Society’s timidity. In 1964, he formed the Mattachine Young Adults in an attempt to gain greater visibility for gay people, and he helped to organize the nation’s first gay rights picket  at the U.S. Army’s Whitehall Induction Center, in protest over the army’s failure to keep gay men’s draft records confidential (see Sep 19). In 1966, Rodwell joined three other activists to stage a “sip-in” to challenge a New York Liquor Authority regulation against serving customers who were “disorderly,” a term that was invariably used against anyone who was gay (see Apr 21).

But perhaps his most important contribution to the gay community came in 1967, when he opened the doors to the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop at 291 Mercer Street near Washington Park. It has been described as “the first legal business (i.e. not a bar) opened explicitly for gay people.” Despite the severely limited quantity of materials on homosexuality, Rodwell decided to focus his offerings on literature by gay and lesbian authors. Selections were slim at first, reportedly “three copies apiece of the 25 most positive books about homosexual behavior he could find.” He refused to sell pornography in a bid to avoid negative publicity. It didn’t work. A New York Post columnist compared his modest bookstore to see-through dresses and topless flicks. That decision also wasn’t particularly popular with his male gay customers. Consequently, money was tight, with Rodwell putting in 70-hour work weeks as the store’s sole employee for its first eighteen months.

Three months after founding Oscar Wilde, he founded a bookshop-based youth group, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN) which published the New York Hymnal, a monthly newsletter that called for ending Mafia ownership of gay bars and police harassment of bar patrons.

In 1973, Rodwell moved the Oscar Wilde to 15 Christopher St, just a block away from the Stonewall Inn. At some point, Rodwell relented on the pornography ban. Bills had to be paid, but the operation always remained a struggling, hand-to-mouth existence. But for the next four decades, Oscar Wilde became a more than a bookstore; it was also something of a community center for its LGBT patrons.

When Rodwell developed stomach cancer in 1993, he sold the store to one of his managers, Bill Offenbaker, who ran it until 1996, when Larry Lingle took it over. The store was never much of a money maker, and in 2003, Lingle announced that he would have to close the doors. At the last minute, the owner of Washington, D.C.’s Lambda Rising bookstore bought it and saved it from closure. Three years later, manager Kim Brinster took over, but with the down economy and the pressure that all booksellers were experiencing from Amazon.com and big box chain bookstores, the store couldn’t survive, despite its drastically bel0w-market rent. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop closed for good on March 29, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. In a fitting coda just a few weeks later, Amazon.com’s software accidentally reclassified all LGBT-themed books in its inventory as pornography.

[Additional source: Martha E. Stone. “After Many a Season Dies the Oscar Wilde.” The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 16, no. 4 (July-August 2009): 9.]

Candy Darling

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
70 YEARS AGO: Candy Darling: 1944-1974. The Andy Warhol star was born James Lawrence Slattery in Queens to a violently alcoholic father and smart, supporting mother. After her parents divorced, Jimmy and her mother moved to Long Island, where she spent much of her childhood watching old Hollywood movies on TV and impersonating her favorite actresses. In the mid-1960s, her mother confronted her about rumors that she was dressing as a girl and hanging out at a rough gay bar known as The Hayloft. In response Jimmy left the room and came back a few minutes later dressed as Candy. Her mother later said, “”I knew then… that I couldn’t stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented.”

By then, Candy had been going into Manhattan and hanging out in Greenwich Village quite regularly. She first adopted the name of Hope SLattery after she began taking hormone injections. Her name then evolved to Hope Dahl to Candy Dahl and Candy Cane, but so many people called her “darling” that it stuck. By then, she was a fixture of Greenwich Village’s arts scene. Lou Reed used her for inspiration for the Velvet Underground’s song “Candy Says,” and he gave a tiny bio of her in the second stanza of “Walk on the Wild Side”:

Candy came from out on the Island
In the back room she was everybody’s darling
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, “Hey, babe,
Take a walk on the wild side.”

In 1967, Candy Darling starred in a way-off Broadway play called Glamour, Glory and Gold, with Robert De Niro (who played six parts in the play). Andy Warhol saw the play one night and met with Darling after the play was over. He cast Darling for a short scene in Flesh with Joe Dallesandro (see Dec 31). She was then cast in Warhol’s Women in Revolt (1971), where she played a Long Island socialite who joined a women’s lib group PIGS (Politically Involved Girls). She went on to appear in several other films, including in Klute (1971) with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, and Lady Liberty (1971) with Sophia Loren. She also appeared in several off-Broadway plays, including a revival of Tennessee Williams’s Small Craft Warnings.

Candy Darling died of leukemia on March 21, 1974. Shortly before she died, she wrote a letter for Warhol and members of the Factory. It read:

"Candy Darling on her Deathbed" by Peter Hujar. This photo was used for the cover of Antony and the Johnson's 2005 album, I Am A Bird Now.

“Candy Darling on her Deathbed” by Peter Hujar. This photo was used for the cover of Antony and the Johnson’s 2005 album, I Am A Bird Now.

To whom it may concern

By the time you read this I will be gone. Unfortunately before my death I had no desire left for life. Even with all my friends and my career on the upswing I felt too empty to go on in this unreal existence. I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death. It may sound ridiculous but is true. I have arranged my own funeral arrangements with a guest list and it is paid for. I would like to say goodbye to Jackie Curtis, I think you’re fabulous. Holly, Sam Green a true friend and noble person, Ron Link I’ll never forget you, Andy Warhol what can I say, Paul Morrissey, Lennie you know I loved you, Andy you too, Jeremiah don’t take it too badly just remember what a bitch I was, Geraldine I guess you saw it coming. Richard Turley & Richard Golub I know I could’ve been a star but I decided I didn’t want it. Manuel, I’m better off now. Terry I love you. Susan I am sorry, did you know I couldn’t last I always knew it. I wish I could meet you all again.

Goodbye for Now
Love Always

Candy Darling

Her funeral was attended by a high crowd. Julie Newmar read the eulogy, and Gloria Swanson famously saluted her coffin.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 23

Jim Burroway

November 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May, 1972, page 51.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May, 1972, page 51.

Georgia Supreme Court building

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down State Sodomy Law: 1998. It took twelve years for the Georgia Supreme Court to do what the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law as constitutional in Bowers v. Hardwick (see Jun 30), a ruling that deeply disappointed the gay community and set back the quest to get rid of the nation’s sodomy laws by nearly two decades. But in 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that state’s law, the very law that was in question in Bowers, as a violation to the right to privacy under Georgia’s constitution.

Unlike the 1986 case which involved a gay man who was in a consensual sexual relationship with another man, this case involved a heterosexual man who was accused of performing non-consensual oral sex on his niece. The jury acquitted him of the non-consensual portion of the charge due to lack of evidence, but convicted him of sodomy since Georgia, like many states, defined sodomy to include oral sex. But unlike many states, Georgia made it a crime regardless of whether it was heterosexual or homosexual. On appeal, the defense held that the statute was unconstitutional, but the state was confident. After all, the law had already been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the Georgia Supreme Court saw it differently. “While many believe that acts of sodomy, even those involving consenting adults, are morally reprehensible, this repugnance alone does not create a compelling justification for state regulation of the activity,” the court ruled in its 6-1 decision. Citing a 1905 state ruling, the state Supreme Court found that the defendant had “the right to be let alone,” a right that was more expansive under Georgia’s Constitution than the right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution. “We cannot think of any other activity that reasonable persons would rank as more private and more deserving of protection from governmental interference than consensual, private, adult sexual activity,” Chief Justice Robert Benham wrote in the decision. Because the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t involve itself in interpreting state constitutions, the Georgia Supreme Court had the final word.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Romain “Erté” de Tirtoff: 1892-1990. Born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St. Petersburg, Russia, and known the world over as Erté (the French pronunciation of his initials), the art deco designer and decorator was the very antithesis of his father, a Russian admiral who insisted that Romain follow in the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain moved to Paris in 1910, adopted his French pseudonym, and quickly became an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar, which opened the doors to commissions for theatrical costumes and stage sets. Between 1915 and 1937, Erté’s designs graced more than 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, along with other illustrations for Vogue, the Ladies Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan. He also created costumes and fashion designs for the era’s most fashionable celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, and Norma Shearer, and his set designs appeared in a number of Hollywood films. His extravagant designs were also regular fixtures in Radio City Music Hall, the Folies-Bergères, the Paris Opera, George White’s “Scandals” and Irving Berlin’s “Music Box.”

“La rose au pollen de diamantsn” from the 1928 French publication L’Illustration.

Erté’s graceful and elegant designs set the standard for glamor and sophistication for decades to come. His illustrations, designs, jewelry and sculptures became the very definition of the Art Deco movement, and he almost single-handedly revived Art Deco’s popularity in the 1970s and 1980 when he recreated many of his designs for a new generation. Erté was incredibly prolific, and he was never without work. He continued working right up until two weeks before he died, at the age of 97, in 1990. Always energetic, it would appear his death caught him by surprise: he was in the middle of building a new home in Majorca.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 22

Jim Burroway

November 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

EMPHASIS MINE:

Oblivious to the fact that he was being held in the hearts of Christian congregations across the country, 36-year-old gay man Andrew Fitzpatrick reportedly went about his grocery shopping Friday fully unaware that he was currently the focus of thousands of prayers. According to reports, Fitzpatrick made his way through the cereal aisle of his local Safeway without the slightest clue that, at that very moment, entire ministries of various Christian denominations were simultaneously bowing their heads, clasping their hands together, and asking God to release him from his sexual orientation. …

The Onion, of course.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974, page 2.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974, page 2.

Trying to operate a gay bar or night club in Buffalo in the early 1970s was a very dicey proposition:

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 playing 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 give 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.

– Don Michaels, on the gay bar problem in Buffalo, The Fifth Freedom, March 10, 1974.

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Benjamin Britten. 1913-1976. Fame came early to the English composer with his a cappella choral work, A Boy Was Born when he was just 21, and his 1945 opera Peter Grimes sealed his international reputation. His compositions were both prodigious and varied: working in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, choral and solo vocal. Much of his vocal work was written for tenor Peter Pears, who he met in 1937 and who became his musical inspiration and life partner. In 1939, Britten and Pears went to America, where his friendship with Aaron Copland inspired the development of Britten’s own work, notably his operetta Paul Bunyan.

Britten’s sexuality wasn’t the only thing controversial about him: he was also a pacifist during World War II. On returning to Britain in 1942, he fought a long battle for recongition as a conscientious objector. The resulting publicity led to a drop in commissions and performances in London both during and after the war. It also shaped his work. Many of his operas featured an “outside” character on the fringes of society, many of them at least suggestive of being gay. His 1973 opera, Death in Venice, based on a novel by Thomas Mann, is perhaps the first to feature an openly gay character. By then , Britten found that he was no longer an outsider, but an acclaimed 20th century composer. On July 2, 1976, he was awarded a life peerage as Baron Britten, just a few months before he died. Pears died ten years later, and was buried next to Britten at a churchyard in Aldeburgh.

Billie Jean King: 1943. Like all tennis greats, she started playing at a young age and won her first Wimbledon doubles title in 1962 at the age if eighteen. That was the first of 20 Wimbledon titles between 1961 and 1979. She also one 13 U.S. titles, four French and two Australian. Throughout her career, she fought for equal prize money for men and women players. When she won the U.S. Open in 1972 but received $15,000 less than the men’s champion, she announced that she would not play the next year if the prize money weren’t made equal. The following year, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to equalize its prize money for men and women.

Bobby Riggs congratulates Billy Jean King after his defeat.

Her campaign for tennis equality took a particularly public turn in 1973 when Bobby Riggs, a champion mens player from the 1940s, claimed that women’s tennis was so inferior to men’s that even a fifty-five year old like himself could beat the top women’s players. King accepted the challenge, and the Battle of the Sexes was on. Before more than 30,000 spectators at Houston’s Astrodome and a worldwide audience of 50 million people in 27 countries, King beat Rigs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

In 1974, King became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. In 1983, she retired from singles play, but continued to play doubles sporadically through 1990.

In 1981, King was sued for palimony by a former lover with whom she had had a relationship since 1971. The lawsuit effectively outed King, making her the first prominent professional female athlete to be openly gay. This came about despite her having been married to her husband since 1965. They divorced in 1987. Since then, she has been very involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barrack Obama for her advocacy work for women and the LGBT community.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 21

Jim Burroway

November 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

Michael Sandy

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Michael Sandy’s Killers Sentenced. 2008. On October, 5, 2006, Michael Sandy, 29, was lured to a secluded beach in the New York area by three others who he met in an online chat room. When he arrived, he was pulled from his car and beaten. In trying to escape, he was chased onto a busy freeway where he was struck by an SUV. One of his attackers pulled him to the side of the road and went through his pockets before fleeing. Sandy was taken to the hospital, where he remained on life support for five days without regaining consciousness. His family removed him from life support one day before his 29th birthday.

The four men who were accused of planning the attack were arrested on hate crime charges. The police investigation showed that Sandy had been selected to be robbed because he was gay, believing a gay man would hesitate to resist the attack or report it to the police.

Michael’s death brought to the fore an ongoing debate over the intersection of race and sexuality in regards to community reactions to hate crimes. Los Angeles commentator Jasmyne Cannick noted:

Michael Sandy could have been anyone of us, and yet he was us. He was black. He was a black male and he was a black gay male. If Michael Sandy would have been heterosexual, would that have brought out the Reverend Jesse Jacksons and the Reverend Al Sharptons a black America? Would that have made it okay for the NAACP to get involved and for other black civil right groups to take notice? I’m beginning to think so.

…When Matthew Shepard was murdered, the world stopped. Why? Because whites across this country made that white gay boy’s death an issue for the media, politicians and community groups. Do we care enough to do the same? So again I ask, where’s the outrage?

Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery with a hate crime enhancement. As part of his plea agreement, he testified against his friends in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. John Fox, 20, who posed as a gay man in the internet chat room, was charged with manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to between 13 and 21 years in prison. Anthony Fortunato, 21, tried to avoid the hate crime enhancement by claiming he was gay himself. He was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime and was sentenced to 7 to 21 years. Ilya Shurov, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to 17½ years. Before sentencing, Michael’s father, Zeke Sandy rose to address the court. “These hate crimes become a cancer; it’s a disease,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to go butcher one another because we don’t like what they are, who they are.”

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, November 20

Jim Burroway

November 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
tdor-remembrance01Transgender Day of Remembrance: Everywhere. Today is the day set aside to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the brutal violence endured by the transgender community. TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder led to the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. Observances for the Transgender Day of Remembrance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Observances are being held in cities all around the world. Click here to find an observance near you.

Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

EMPHASIS MINE:

Another factor of success for marriage equality, he said, has been a “reboot” of messaging away from rights and benefits — a theme that persisted through the failed ballot battle against California’s Proposition 8 — and more talk of marriage as a symbol of love and commitment. Solomon recalled observing a poll, which he called “this huge ‘a-ha’ moment,” in which Oregon residents were asked why marriage is important, and they responded love and commitment.

“Then they were asked, ‘Why do you think gay people want to get married?,’” Solomon said. “And the answers were we don’t know, rights and benefits maybe. Love and commitment was much lower. There was like a 40-point gap. And that was this huge ‘a-ha’ moment for all of us. We had done a good job of selling rights and benefits, but that doesn’t get people all the way to marriage.

Marc Solomon, author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits – and Won.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Montrose Star, November 19, page 6 (source)

From the Montrose Star (Houston, TX), November 19, page 6. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Beach Police Raid Beach, Arrest 21: 1953. The Miami News, the city’s afternoon daily, published an oddly influential column titled “Whirligig.” It was a rather tiny feature — typically occupying just a couple of inches of space on the paper’s editorial page. But it’s minuscule physical presence belied its political influence, as the nameless author passed along political gossip and other goings-on about town. A good indication of the column’s influence can be illustrated by this small item that appeared on November 19:

Femmics — The new administration in the Miami Beach police department might send an observer over to the 22nd Street public beach to watch the antics of a coterie of youths who make that beach a gathering spot. The girlish attitudes of the boys cause many a gaping mouth among tourists.

Those two small sentences were enough for Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard to swing into action. The next day, the Chief personally led a raid on the beach, rounding up twenty-one men and hauling them to the police station for questioning. But while the News’ Whirligig column appears to have prompted the action, it was the paper’s morning rival, The Miami Herald, which capitalized on the raid by plastering its coverage on the front page:

Angered by complaints that the beach at 22nd st. was becoming a “hangout for males with a feminine bent,” Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard made a personal inspect Friday — and then called for the wagon. As a result, 21 perverts were taken to Beach police headquarters and questioned before being released. But Chief Shepard said the raid served notice on “this questionable type of individual” that they’re not wanted on Miami Beach.”

The chief said that he has been “getting lots of complaints” that men with girlish-looking hair-dos and flimsy, Bikini-type tights “have been prancing around the 22nd st. public beach in droves.” The area, he explained, has been acquiring a reputation as a congregating place for males who try to look and act like women.

The chief said that the 21 who were arrested were taken to headquarters and questioned about their employment, but he complained that he had to let them go. “We had no charges we could book them on,” he admitted. “It’s just a question of cleaning up a bad situation and letting undesirables know they’re not wanted here.” Meanwhile, that afternoon’s Miami News, reported that the cleanup would continue. “We’re going to continue to keep a close watch on their actions and I have instructed my men to pick them up every time they get out of line,” said Shepard. The News also made sure their readers knew why the chief acted so swiftly. “The Whirligig item was very timely and it was the basis for the action taken by my department,” the chief acknowledged.

[Sources: “Miami’s Whirligig: News Behind the News.” The Miami News (November 19, 1953): 19-A. Available online via Google News here.

“Police Corral 21 Undesirables.” The Miami News (November 21, 1954): 8-A. Available online via Google News here.

Stephen J. Flynn. “Rounded Up for Quiz: Turn-About Not Fair Play, Say Beach Police.” The Miami Herald. (November 21, 1954): 1-A. As reproduced in Edward Alwood’s Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 2.]

45 YEARS AGO: California Supreme Court Restores Teacher’s Credentials: 1969. In the spring of 1963, Marc S. Morrison, a teacher in Whittier, California, became friends with a fellow teacher, Fred Schneringer, who was in the process of getting a divorce and was experiencing serious financial troubles. Morrison did what he could to help his friend out by providing advice and support. One night, that support extended to what court documents described as “a limited, non-criminal physical relationship which Morrison described as being of a homosexual nature.” The relationship lasted a week, and while the two remained friends, nothing further happened. There were no arrests and no convictions, just whatever that “non-criminal” activity happened to be. (The California Supreme Court ruling would only say “It would serve no useful purpose to describe or detail them except to note that they did not fall within the statutory offenses of sodomy or oral copulation.”) But for whatever reason, Schneringer reported the incident to the Lowell Joint School District a year later, and that led to Morrison’s resignation in May of 1964.

Nineteen months later, Morrison found himself at a State Board of Education hearing fighting to retain his two lifetime teaching diplomas. He told the board that, aside from “a homosexual problem” at the age of 13, his contact with Schneringer was the only time he “experienced the slightest homosexual urge or inclination for more than a dozen years.” An investigator backed him up, and assured the board that this was “was the only time that [Morrison] ever engaged in a homosexual act with anyone.” Furthermore, Morrison’s record was clean and there was no evidence that he had engaged in any misconduct while teaching.

Nevertheless, the Board decided that the lone, solitary incident constituted immoral and unprofessional conduct involving “moral turpitude,” and stripped Morrison of his lifetime teaching diplomas. Morrison went to court, but the Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the Board and called Morrison “unfit for service as a teacher in the California public school system.” Morrison then appealed to the California State Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 that an individual cannot be denied his teaching credentials unless evidence shows that homosexual behavior affected his fitness as an instructor. The Court criticized the Board for failing to uncover any such evidence:

The board called no medical, psychological, or psychiatric experts to testify as to whether a man who had had a single, isolated, and limited homosexual contact would be likely to repeat such conduct in the future. The board offered no evidence that a man of petitioner’s background was any more likely than the average adult male to engage in any untoward conduct with a student. The board produced no testimony from school officials or others to indicate whether a man such as petitioner might publicly advocate improper conduct. The board did not attempt to invoke the provisions of the Government Code authorizing official notice of matters within the special competence of the board. This lack of evidence is particularly significant because the board failed to show that petitioner’s conduct in any manner affected his performance as a teacher.

The ruling was a narrow one, both in the vote and in the ruling’s reach:

Our conclusion affords no guarantee that petitoner’s life diplomas cannot be revoked. If the Board of Education believes that petitioner is unfit to teach, it can reopen its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding and the implications of the 1963 incident with Mr. Schneringer. The board also has at its disposal ample means to discipline petitioner for future misconduct.

Finally, we do not, of course, hold that homosexuals must be permitted to teach in the public schools of California. As we have explained, the relevant statutes, as well as the applicable principles of constitutional law, require only that the board properly find, pursuant to the precepts set forth in this opinion, that an individual is not fit to teach. Whenever disciplinary action rests upon such grounds and has been confirmed by the judgment of a superior court following an independent review of the evidence, this court will uphold the result.

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner Fined $200: 1998. One of the biggest steps toward gay equality, the end of America’s sodomy laws, began on November 17, 1998 when a 911 operator received a call about “a black male going crazy with a gun” at John Geddes Lawrence’s home in the Houston suburbs. Harris County sheriff’s deputies responded and entered Lawrence’s unlocked apartment. There, they purportedly found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in consensual sex. What they actually found is a matter of debate. Lawrence and Garner weren’t lovers — in fact, that false report had been phoned in by Garner’s actual lover, Robert Eubanks, who suspected Garner and Lawrence were having an affair. One deputy wrote in his report that he saw Garner on the bed “on all fours” on the receiving end of anal sex with Lawrence, and that both were completely naked. Another said that he saw them on the floor, and that Garner wasn’t naked. He wasn’t sure whether he saw them having anal sex or oral sex — two completely different acts which would be very difficult to confuse. “The black guy was giving him head or they was [sic] doing each other from behind. I don’t remember.”

Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in jail overnight, and charged with violating Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. That law, otherwise known as the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, prohibited engaging “in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” They both denied having sex that night, but their lawyers, sensing that the case might have the makings of a landmark case, advised them to plead no contest, neither admitting guilt nor protesting innocence. Because they didn’t actually have sex, the lawyers didn’t want to make the case about their innocence. After all, it’s hard to argue that two consenting adults of the same sex have the right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their home when the two adults in question hadn’t actually had sex. And so on November 20, 1998, Lawrence and Garner were convicted of the Class C misdemeanor by a Justice of the Peace in Houston, and were fined $200 each.

And with that, the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas began to make its way through the court system: to the Texas Criminal Court (which rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the charges), a three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals (which ruled the law unconstitutional), and the full nine-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals (which reversed the three-judge panel). The appeal then reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which serves as the state’s supreme court for criminal cases. That court refused to hear the case, which left the lower court’s decision standing. Lawrence vs. Texas was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law in a 6-3 ruling, along with similar laws in twelve other states. But it wasn’t until 2011, when Dale Carpenter published Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, that we learned the ironic fact that the case about two men having sex was based on a case in which it appears that neither man had ever had sex with the other, before that fateful night or since.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

 5 YEARS AGO: Manhattan Declaration Released: 2009. That was an interesting year for marriage equality. The year before, voters in California, Arizona and Florida had approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage (see Nov 4). The slap was particularly strong in California, where same-sex couples had been able to marry during a four-month window after California’s Supreme Court found that Prop 22, an initiative (and not a constitutional amendment) which banned same-sex marriage, violated the state’s constitution (see Jun 16). Then on November 3, 2009, Maine voters repealed that state’s newly-minted law allowing same-sex couples to marry. (That law hadn’t gone into effect yet.) But also that year, voters in Washington state elected to affirm the legislature’s decision to provide domestic partner benefits equal to marriage to same-sex couples. Also, legislators in New Hampshire and Vermont approved bills allowing same-sex couples to marry, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that that state must begin offering same-sex marriages, and Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin also began offering domestic partner benefits.

It may have been difficult to see at the time, especially given the stinging defeats at the ballot box, but 2009 may well have marked the start of a turning point in the fight for marriage equality. According to opinion polls, a majority of Americans still opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry, but the gap was closing very rapidly. That was thanks largely to a growing crop of younger voters who, as an age group, overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. As trends continued, it would only be a few more years before majorities overall would support same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, and despite the setbacks in California and Maine, the number of Americans living in marriage equality states doubled from 2007 to 2009, and nearly a quarter of Americans were now living in states that either provided full marriage equality or a lower form of civil union/domestic partnership recognition. While marriage equality opponents could still point to ongoing victories, they worried that the long-term trend didn’t look good.

On October 20, 2009, when polls still showed that efforts in main to block that state’s marriage equality law might go down in defeat, three anti-gay extremists got together to begin drafting what they hoped would be a stirring manifesto to rally their side. Princeton University Law Professor Robert George, Beeson Divinity School dean Timothy George, and evangelical leader and convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson spent a month drafting what they called “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” which called for a rededication to the fight for “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.”

When the document was released a month later, it carried the signatures of more than 150 American religious and political activists (and one African one: Anglican archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, who had led the effort to induce American Anglican congregations to split with over ordination of gay clergy). Notable signatories included Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, anti-gay political activist Gary Bauer, Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, marriage equality opponents Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Frank Schubert, and anti-gay pastors Ken Hutcherson and Harry Jackson, and other assorted activists and extremists, including William Donahue, Jim Daly, Richard Land and Allan Sears. Nine Catholic Archbishops also signed the declaration.

The Manhattan declaration sought to address a rather large host of issues — abortion, single parenting, divorce, promiscuity — but it a good deal of its energy for the arguments against marriage equality:

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life.

…We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being “married.” It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it? On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships? … No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage.

The document also called for what it termed “civil disobedience”:

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.

The call for civil disobedience got a lot of attention. In fact, The Washington Times’ story led with that call in its headline. ALos Angeles Times editorial called the declaration’s “apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking” both disingenuous and dangerous. “We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that,” Robert George said during the news conference announcing the declaration. “When the limits of conscience are reached and you cannot comply, it’s better to suffer a wrong than to do it.” When pressed, the three writers remained mum over what sort of civil disobedience they were contemplating.

The document purported to represent the Christian position on marriage and family as “heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.” But missing from the original signatories were representatives from large swaths of mainstream Christianity, including Seventh-Day Adventists and Episcopalians. Presbyterians, United Methodists and Pentecostals were also notably under-represented among the signers. Several signers spoke of the document as a moral one rather than a political manifesto. During the news conference, Colson incredibly claimed, “this document is a clarion call to reach out to the poor and the suffering.” BTB’s Timothy Kincaid wasn’t buying it:

While this alliance is one that does not reflect the face of Christianity, it also is not a declaration of a new-found position of agreement based on shared Christian teaching and ideology. There is no mention of shared faith in creeds or teachings, no virgin birth, no resurrection, no divine redemption.

Rather, this is a statement of political purpose by an alliance of socially conservative activist who oppose abortion and marriage equality. Indeed, although the document speaks in lofty terms of Christian tradition and religious freedom, the only commitments it makes are to oppose legal abortion (some day down the road) and the immediate attack on the ability of gay people to avail themselves of civil equality.

This is, in short a political alliance. It is a pact and a threat.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Florence Queer Film Festival, Florence, Italy; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From Where It’s At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Bar Shooting Spree Kills 2, Injures 6: 1980. Ronald Crumpley, 38,  a former Transit Authority policeman and son of a minister, spent the evening cruising the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in his father’s stolen blue Cadillac. Dressed in a dark wool topcoat, printed shirt, a vest and a black fedora sporting a red feather, he fired three shots from an automatic handgun at Sim’s Deli shortly before 11:00 p.m., wounding at least three people and shattering the front plate glass window. Minutes later, he drove to Christopher Street and stopped in front of two gay bars, Sneakers and Ramrod, which were next door to each other. Dan Hedges, 30, was in Sneakers and watched as the horror unfolded. “The man in the Cadillac waited about two or three minutes, drove around the block, returned, stepped out of the car calmly, walked up to the curb and shot a man standing on the curb waiting for a cab. The man fell to the ground, then he shot another guy who ran around the corner. He started spraying both bars through the plate-glass windows. Then he got back into the car and drove off.” Hedges scribbled the car’s license plate number on a dollar bill and gave it to police.

John Ganrecki, 27, was one of six who were injured. “I heard a noise up front. … It sounded like a string if firecrackers. People were falling on the floor screaming and yelling. My friend, Fred, said ‘Hit the floor! Hit the floor!’ … I was already on the floor, looking at my hand, and it was bleeding. It was like something in Al Capone; there was a row of bullet holes across the glass behind the bar.” Ronald Greenberg, 52, also survived the shooting. “It was a massacre, a bloodbath.”

After Crumpley drove off, he stopped again at 10th and Greenwich and fired eight more shots at another group of men. This time his shots missed, and as police cars approached he sped away. As many as 15 police cruisers chased Crumpley to Broadway and West 10th Street, where Crumpley abandoned the Cadillac. Officers found him trying to pull himself up underneath a parked van’s undercarriage.

All told, two were killed. Vernon Koenig, an organist at Greenwich Village’s St. Joseph’s church, died on the operating table at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Jorg Wenz, Ramrod’s 21-year-old doorman, died soon after surgery. Rene Malute, 23, was in intensive care, and five others were admitted in stable condition.

Crumpley was charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of illegal weapons. Police found four weapons: a .357 Magnu, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, a 9mm automatic pistol, and an Uzi. Crumpley told police that he attacked the bars and the deli because he hated homosexuals. “I want to kill them all,” he said. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” Lt. John Yuknes said, “He had a dislike for homosexuals, a rather intense one I would say, under the circumstances.”

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The next day, about a thousand people joined a solemn candlelight procession to mourn those killed in the shooting. Arthur Bennett, one of those marching, told reporters, “Everybody’s been almost waiting for something like this. It’s not because we wanted it to happen but because we feared it. There have been a lot of people down here getting beat up.”

During Crumpley’s trail, the prosecution presented 35 witnesses, and the defense five. At issue was Crumpley’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors contended the shootings were “deliberate and conscious.” Crumpley’s psychiatrist testified that Creumpley suffered from paranoia. Crumpley himself took the stand and said gay people were “agents of the devil” who were following him continuously for three years and were trying to convert him. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. In 2001, a judge turned down Crumpleys’s request to be moved to a less restrictive psychiatric facility.

ACCC

25 YEARS AGO: American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. They had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops overwhelmingly decided to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll.

J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable consensus” across liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

Morris Kight

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
95 YEARS AGO: Morris Kight: 1919-2003. To some, he was a leading figure in the gay rights movement in Southern California: He founded the Gay Community Services Center (which later became the Los Angeles LGBT Center), and he was a principle organizer of Christopher Street West, Los Angeles’ gay pride parade, in 1970. To others, he was out of control egotistical gadfly, an unabashed radical who alienated many of those who would (and sometimes did, begrudgingly) work with him. His passion for gay rights — and human rights generally — was absolutely undeniable, and it was a passion that roughly matched his drive to occupy the center stage in everything he did.

Kight was born in conservative Comanche County, Texas, and grew up on the family farm. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1941 with a degree in personnel and public administration. He moved to New Mexico, where he became active in the local gay community. He also married, in 1950. The six-year union resulted in two daughters. In later years when Kight was an activist, he avoided mentioning his marriage, perhaps fearing that it would diminish his credibility as a gay rights leader. In 1958, Kight moved to Los Angeles, where he found a much more vibrant gay community. But his activism was first directed toward anti-war protests as the war in Vietnam escalated.

It wasn’t until the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 that Kight became active in gay rights, when he became one of the founders of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front. One of the GLF’s first activities was a protest against Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, which displayed a sign reading “Fagots [sic] Stay Out.” Kight and Troy Perry (see Jul 27) led a protest outside and a series of sit-ins inside. The Sheriff’s office refused to evict the protesters, and after three months, the owner symbolically relented and handed the signs over to Kight and other protesters. Bit once the media attention evaporated, the owner replaced the signs and even had the slogan printed on matchbook covers. (The sign didn’t come down for good until 1984, after the City of West Hollywood passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.)

That “victory,” such as it was, only whetted Kight’s appetite for more media attention. A few months later, a GLF member proposed that some two hundred gays and lesbians quietly move to tiny Alpine County, California, register to vote, and take control of local government. Quiet wasn’t in Kight’s vocabulary. He saw a huge opportunity to garner massive publicity for the GLF while punking the media by playing off the prevailing homophobia. He quickly called a press conference to publicly announce that Alpine would become the new “gay Mecca” (see Oct 19), much to the consternation of Alpine residents as well as other gay rights leaders. (The GLF of Berkeley denounced the plan as “sexist,” “racist,” and “impractical,” something that GLFs generally had not been known to be worried about before.) The stunt quickly fizzled, and the publicity left a bad taste in the mouths of many other gay activists. But actually taking over Alpine County was hardly Kight’s point. As he explained to another gay activist at the time:

Alpine County takeover has really caused a ruckus. Why? GLF has done a lot of crazy things which deserved news before and received the silent treatment from the Establishment media. I believe the reason is that we have threatened straight America. We are taking over! We could take all the gay bars in town, and nothing would be said; but take a county with 300 people and straight America goes outa mind! If GLF wants news it has the tool. Anything which looks like a threat to straight society will get news. P.S. Alpine County is very cold in the winter. There may be places in Nevada or elsewhere with even fewer people and a nicer climate.

The following summer, Kight was a key organizer of Christopher Street West, the West Coast’s first gay pride parade, in 1970. The Los Angeles Police Commission denied the group a parade permit unless the group posted an exorbitant $1.5 million bond. Kight and Perry got the ACLU involved. Just before the parade was scheduled to begin on June 28, the California Supreme Court held that the GLF had a “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression” and ordered the commission to issue a parade permit constitutional. That parade was a huge success, as were the ones in 1971 and 1972. But by 1973, Kight, who was always a lightning rod for controversy, grew tired of the infighting and, in the words of Jim Kepner (see Feb 14) Kight “sabotaged it (the parade) in its third year,” and the parade was cancelled for 1973.

A personal turning point for Kight appears to have been the devastating Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans that killed 32 people (see Jun 24). With the Christopher Street West parade cancelled for 1973, Kight was in New York to participate in that city’s festivities when he received word of the fire. True to his instincts, Kight launched himself into publicity mode: “I notified the press that I was coming. When I got to Atlanta, the press was at the airport and I said it was a national day of mourning and they interviewed me, and so on. And then I went on to New Orleans and Troy [Perry] was there, along with some other people.” But what awaited him and other activists in New Orleans chilled everyone. The local police were callous about the victims, dismissing them as “thieves and queers.” Churches refused to hold funerals for the dead. It was up to Kight, Perry, and other activists to counsel families, arrange for funerals, and to denounce the police and fire officials to the press. Kight’s media chops paid off: “The Fire Marshall of New Orleans Parish called me and said, ‘We saw your press conference, and you’re absolutely right. We did say terrible things. We will meet with you anywhere you want. You set the location, and we will meet with you to adjust our differences.’ [And we said,] ‘Fine, let’s meet.’ And we adjusted it.” As for the whole experience, Kight later recalled, “It was a shattering experience. We were unbelievably inspired. We were unbelievably brave. We were pushed beyond ourselves.”

Kight soon began to work both as an insider in addition to his more customary role as an outsider. He founded the Stonewall Democratic Club in 1975. In 1976, the reconstituted Christopher Street West welcomed him back as the official ringmaster for the event’s circus tent, and honored him as the first official grand marshal for the 1977 parade. Yet he still managed to piss off other gay activists if he felt he wasn’t getting his due. As Kepner remembered:

…[Kight] became very jealous of these newcomers who were daring to come in and join the movement without kissing the Pope’s toes. And some of these people began doing effective things, which he tried to sabotage. He still had a creative streak to him, but it became more destructive than creative, increasingly. And the movement has drawn in waves between being primarily a radical thrust and primarily a sort of establishment or P.R., or image-conscious thrust. And Morris has not been strong on the latter, although at times he has given in to it a bit. He tried his damnedest to sabotage and stop the first March on Washington in ’79, and at the last minute, when he saw it was actually going to happen, he began moving heaven and earth to become …one of the featured speakers. …And the L.A. Committee, about 90 strong, at one of the weekly meetings, voted unanimously—I had arrived late, and the issue was already on the floor, so I didn’t get into it—to threaten a boycott of the March if Morris were a keynoter.

In the early 1980s, Kight was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. He served for two decades, inaugurating the Crossroads Employment Agency specifically to help gay men and lesbians find work. He resigned in 2002 due to deteriorating health, including cancer, heart trouble and a series of strokes. He died on January 19, 2003 at a hospice of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which had donated its services in recognition of Kight’s activism. Kight was survived by his partner of twenty-five years, Roy Zucheran.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 18

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From  Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

Sporter’s was a friendly leather/levi/dive bar in Boston’s Beacon Hill. It’s not clear when Sporter’s opened, but I did find a reference in 1972 describing the establishment as a gay bar “of long standing.” The building now houses a restaurant/pub.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Marriage Equality: 2003. It’s over a decade since the Bay State became the first in the nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the sky still hasn’t fallen. Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and school children are still not being subjected to live gay sex demonstrations as part of their state-mandated curriculum. But gay couples can marry, and that was due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in 2003.

In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the court ruled 4-3 that the state could not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” The court gave the state legislature 180 days to “take any such action as it may deem appropriate” to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel tried to get the Federal Courts involved, but those efforts failed when the judge denied their request, the First Circuit Court of Appeals backed him up, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. After a long drawn-out battle in which the Massachusetts high court ruled in response to a question from the state Senate that civil unions would not satisfy the court’s ruling, the legislature ended up taking no action, neither blocking nor implementing the Goodridge decision. The state began marrying same-sex couples on May 17, 2004.

Since then, marriage equality has spread to thirty-three states, the District of Columbia, St. Louis Missouri (and in a few other locations in the Show-Me State), and ten Indian tribes. Two more states — Montana and South Carolina — are subject to binding Federal Appeals Court rulings, and they are likely to join the marriage equality bandwagon any day now. Judges have also struck down marriage equality bans in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan and Texas. Those cases are now on appeal. Today, nearly 64% of all Americans live in marriage equality jurisdictions.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 17

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, October 7, 1977, page 8.

From Arizona Gay News, October 7, 1977, page 8.

We’re back home in Tucson. We got back yesterday afternoon, got our dog back from the kennel, had another nice dinner out, and Chris and I slept soundly in our own bed again. Mom and Gus are catching a flight back to Ohio this morning, and I’m heading back to work where I sure about a week’s worth of tasks have been piling up awaiting my return.

“The 41 Maricones …. Here are the maricones, so pretty and flirtatious.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
The Arrest of “The 41″ in Mexico City: 1901. Getting to the bottom of what actually happened is tricky business. The only accounts of the raid conducted by Mexico City’s police on a private party come from a decidedly unapproving and often sensational press. We know virtually nothing of those who were arrested; we barely know some of the names. Their story was never told: they were never interviewed, and as far as I can tell there is not a single quote which can be reliably attributed to any of them. Whatever we may know of the scandal was clouded further by fictional accounts — the 41, as they were simply known, became the subject of a popular novel in 1906. But one thing is certain: the “Ball of the 41″ became the scandal of the year, inspiring more than a month of headlines, sermons, editorials, and even a few corridos.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

Only a few details are solid. On Sunday, November 17, 1901, police raided a private party and arrested forty-one men, nineteen of them were dressed as women. Those in drag were publicly humiliated by being forced to sweep the streets — “women’s work.” The 41 were taken to an army barracks and inducted into the Mexican army. At least some of them were then put on a train to Veracruz, sent by ship to the Yucatán, and made to serve in the army as it was putting down a Mayan insurgency.

Those appear to be the bare facts, which, of course, weren’t enough to satisfy the nation’s newspapers. Here is how El Popular reported the story on November 20:

Last Sunday night, the police of the Eighth Precinct were informed that in the house located at number 4 La Paaz Street, a ball was being held without the corresponding permit. They immediately moved in to surprise the culprits, and after having encountered numerous difficulties in trying to get the partygoers to open up, the police broke into the house’s patio where they found 42 individuals who were dancing to the excessively loud music of a local street band.

When they noted the presence of the police, some of those who were dressed in women’s clothing attempted to flee in order to change out of the clothes of the opposite six; but as the police understood the gravity of the situation, they did not allow anyone to leave, and all 42 including those still dressed as women were taken to the station from which they were then sent to Belem Prison, charged with attacks on morality, and put at the disposition of the District Governor.

As a complement to the previous report, we will say that among those individuals dressed as women, several were recognized as dandies who are seen daily on Plateros Street.

These men wore elegant ladies’ gowns, wigs, false breasts, earrings, embroidered shoes, and a great deal of eye makeup and rouge on their faces.

Once the news hit the boulevards, all kinds of commentaries were made, and the conduct of those individuals was censured.

We will not provide our readers with further details because they are summarily disgusting.

It was said that many of those arrested came from highly respected families with ties to the government of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Some of the earliest newspaper reports, like this one, had it that 42 were arrested. That number later dropped to 41, which generated even more rumors. One had it that the elderly lady who owned the house was one of those arrested, and she was later released. Other, more sinister rumors had it that one of those arrested was one of Díaz’s nephews.

El Popular may have been reluctant to provide details, but in subsequent days it was happy to imagine the scene for its readers:

If only we had seen them in their resplendent hairdos, their fake cleavage, with their shiny sparkling earrings, with their falsies like the ones worn by anemic bimbos, with their corseted waists, their dancing-girl skirts like inverted tulips, their butterfly tights, their shoes fringed with crimped gold thread and colored glass beads, and all of them bedaubed in white powder and rouge, prancing about in the fandango with their perfumed and curly mustaches.

"The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán."

“The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán.”

On November 23, El País published this account of one group of prisoners being transferred to the train bound for Veracruz:

The men-only ball that was raided by the police continues provoking talk in all social circles, by virtue of the fact that many of those detained are perfectly well known, since among them are men who stroll day after day down the boulevards showing off their stylish and perfectly tailored suits and wearing sumptuous jewels.

As we stated in yesterday’s issue, 12 of those captured in the house on the fourth block of La Paz were sent to Veracruz along with seven thieves who were also conscripted into the armed services.

At 5:30 in the morning, the hour at which attendance is taken in the 24th Battalion (that is being remitted to the port of Veracruz), those called on first were the 12 individuals who had been at the famed ball, and after number 13, who was a pelado [a term for a rough, lower-class urban Mexican] was called, he replied on hearing his name, “Present, my Captain,but let me go on record as saying that I am being conscripted as a thief; but I’m not one of them,” and he pointed to the group of dancers.

This provoked the laughter of those present, because not even a thief was willing to be confused with the perfumed boys, as they are called by the soldiers from the barracks

A very amusing scene developed in the the barracks of the 24th Battalion when the repugnant ones arrived wearing their magnificent overcoats, along with hats and fine patent-leather shoes. The captain of the recruits made them all strip without delay, and then handed out the rough but honorable articles of clothing that are given to recruits.

With tears in their eyes, they stripped off all their clothes, some of them begging that they be allowed at least to keep their fine silk undergarments, a request that the captain denied, since, he told them, there they were just the same as everyone else. He didn’t even allow them to keep their socks, and they all began to cry as they put on the shoes that would replace their lovely patent leather ladies’ shoes.

The government paper, El Imparcial, took plains to deny that the army was foolish enough to send any girly-men to the front lines:

All of the prisoners have been sent to Yucatán, but not — as it has been said — to join the ranks of the valiant soldiers taking part in the campaign; they will be employed instead on such tasks as digging trenches, opening breaches, and raising temporary fortifications.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, it was the men in drag who occupied the attention of the press; through their manner of dress, they particularly transgressed the limits of what was tolerable in Mexican society. This brings up the two ways in which homosexuality has traditionally been viewed in Mexico: There are homosexuals, and then there are homosexuals. There are men who are attracted to other men (we understand this homosexuality as a sexual orientation), and there are men who, while identifying as men, are effeminate and, more specifically, adopted the “passive” role (a further transgression of the male gender role.) The second group, it might be said, are the real homosexuals according to traditional society; it was possible (and still is in some rural areas) for one man to have sex with another man and still be regarded as straight, as long as he is the one who retains his claim to masculinity by being the chingón (the one who does the deed) and not the chingado (the one to whom the deed is done), who has effectively surrendered his claims to masculinity.

As long as there was at least some measure of deniability that one had surrendered their masculinity, then that masculinity (and hence, heterosexuality) remained intact in many peoples’ eyes. But deniability was crucial. A few newspapers tried to argue that the twenty-one how weren’t in drag were had been “tricked,” leaving readers to try to imagine who those “tricked” men couldn’t have known who they were dancing with. Other accounts, of course, found that impossible to believe. And it appears that it was that lack of deniability which ultimately doomed everyone to the same fate. While those who were in drag were the most remarked-upon players in the scandal, the whole affair today is known as the “the 41,” not just the nineteen.

Today, the number 41 has become slang for homosexuality or, more specifically, “faggot” or maricón. As the former revolutionary general and National Defense Secretary Francisco L. Urquizo explained in 1965, “The influence of this tradition is so strong that even officialdom ignores the number 41. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41; if this cannot be avoided, 40 bis is used. No hotel or hospital has a room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.” Some of the early LGBT advocacy groups in Mexico incorporated the number into their names, just as many similar groups in the U.S. have leveraged “Stonewall” as a shorthand for the struggle for gay rights.

[Sources: Robert McKee Irwin. “The Famous 41: The scandalous birth of modern Mexican homosexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6, no. 3 (2000): 353-376.

Robert McKee Irwin, Edward J. McCaughan, Michelle Rocio Nasser. The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Rock Hudson: 1925-1985. In 1960, The Saturday Evening Post’s Pete Martin interviewed him in 1960 and asked the question that far more people were asking that we might realize:

“…Somewhere during this interview I have to write at least one paragraph in which I say that you were married and that you are not married any more. I’ll tell you this before you begin: I’ve read that your marriage was ‘made,’ not by you but by the same agent who is reported to have made a star of you.”

“I’m sure you did read that,” he said. “I read it too, and it made me feel like an idiot. She was my agent’s secretary. I met her in a supermarket. She introduced herself. Naturally I had talked to her many times on the phone. For a while we had a lot of trouble getting together. Either I had a date or she had one. We went together for a year and were married. But it didn’t work out. We stayed married only a couple of years. Last summer our divorce was final. Now I’m single again.”

…I said, “I’m interested in your present reaction to dames. You do date, don’t you?”

“Certainly,” he said. Only my dates don’t get into print. To get a date into print you have to appear in a public place like a night club. I don’t like night clubs.”

“What’s your idea of a date?”

“To take a girl for a sail or meet her at my house or somebody else’s house. What am I supposed to prove? There are times when I almost wish I made the scandal sheets.”

Even in 1960, the interest in Hudson’s love life went a bit beyond that experienced by other male sex symbols. What other subtext could possibly explain the question about whether his marriage to Phyllis Gates was “made” or not? Martin’s question came exceptionally close to exposing the secret that just about everyone in Hollywood knew, that Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson (see Jul 31), had prevailed on Hudson to marry Willson’s secretary after Hudson narrowly escaped having his secret exposed in Confidential magazine in 1955. The couple divorced in 1958, and Hudson never married again. His secret remained well-protected outside of Hollywood, even if gays in L.A. didn’t always respect it. Los Angeles-based ONE magazine, in a laudatory review of a book acknowledging Michelangelo’s homosexuality, suggested the book would make a great movie starring Rock Hudson. “That would be casting with a twist. Or two,” ONE commented with characteristic snark.

Hudson was just one product from Willson’s “Adonis factory,” so named for Willson’s uncanny ability to find (and often, bed) some of Hollywood’s hotest male stars. Willson took a not-so-smart Roy Fitzgerald out of the truck he was driving, fixed his teeth and his bad grammar, taught him to lower his voice and lose his sibilant lisp, along with how to move, shake hands, sit, dance, sing, ride horses, and even act. It took Hudson thirty eight takes before he could successfully deliver his only line in Warner Brother’s Fighter Squadron in 1948.

He got better from there. He received good reviews for his role in 1954’s Magnificant Obsession opposite Jane Wyman, and his popularity went through the roof with the 1956 release of Giant, which also featured Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. In the 1960s, he turned to romantic comedies, including three with Dorris Day: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers. As the sixties wore on, film offers declined and Hudson began transitioning to television. From 1971 to 1977, he played police commissioner Stewart McMillan in McMillan & Wife (“wife” was played by Susan Saint James).

In November 1981, Hudson suffered a serious heart attack, followed by quintuple bypass surgery. That didn’t surprise anyone because of his heavy drinking and smoking, but his unusually long recovery did. He remained in ill health while filming The Ambassador in 1983-1984, and health problems followed while filming the made-for-TV movie The Vegas Strip Wars in 1984. When he began appearing in a recurring role in the primetime soap Dynasty with his gaunt appearance, deteriorating speech and failing memory — he could no longer memorize his lines — rumors began to fly. First it was cancer, this publicists said, but others were whispering AIDS.

In July 1985, Hudson appearance on Doris Day’s talk show became instant news, thanks to his shocking appearance and incoherant speech. The following week, Hudson flew to Paris and checked into the hospital at the Pasteur Institute. The official version, at first, was that Hudson was “tired” and that a diagnosis wasn’t yet available. But reporters didn’t fail to notice that the Pasteur Institute was one of the world’s leading research institutions on AIDS and the destination for hundreds of American AIDS patients seeking treatments that were unavailable in the U.S, as you can see in this report:

Hudson’s publicists soon acknowledged most of what everyone else suspected: that Hudson was in Paris for experimental treatment for AIDS, which he attributed to multiple blood transfusions when he underwent bypass surgery. But even that story didn’t hold for long. People magazine published a story about Hudson’s disease, and featured comments from Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack, Joan Rivers, and Mamie van Doren, who said they knew about his homosexuality and supported him. His death on October 2, 1985, galvanized Hollywood, especially his life-long friend Elizabeth Taylor, who made AIDS fundraising not just a fashionable cause, but an urgent one for a nation that was still very uncomfortable about discussing the disease.

[Sources: Robert Hofler. The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson (New York: Carroll & Graff, 2005).

Peter Martin. “I call on Rock Hudson.” The Saturday Evening Post 233, no. 4 (July 23, 1960): 16ff.

Sal McIntire. “Tangents: Gutsy Scholar with a Shovel.” ONE 10, no. 11 (November 1962): 15-16.]

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, November 16

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO;  Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 15.

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 15.

Can you believe it? It took nearly three hours this morning to travel the 40 miles from San Juan Capistrano to Encinitas, all because we thought it would be cool to pop down to San Diego for the morning and afternoon before heading home. Swear to god, all of Southern California from the San Gabriels to Tijuana is unfit for human or animal habitation thanks to the interminable traffic jams at every turn. Life is too short to be spending so much time on these freeways.

So, much of the Sandy Eggo itinerary got axed, although we managed to squeeze in a few hours of rest and relaxation at the beautiful and historic Hotel del Coronado. Thankfully, getting out of San Diego on I-8 proved to be much less of a hassle — we were in the Laguna Mountains by nightfall and in the Yuma Holiday Inn Express by 9:00 (with the time change at the Arizona border). As I write this, we’re watching what looks like a high school-produced newscast on the local NBC affiliate. Both anchors looked like they’d rather be at the Yuma Medjool Date Festival. I love watching small-town news!

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Paula Vogel: 1951. “I only write about things that directly impact my life.” Vogel says. “If people get upset, it’s because the play is working.” It certainly worked for How I Learned to Drive, which explores control and manipulation through the issues of misogyny, pedophilia and incest through the relatively simple metaphor of driving. She won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for it.

Her first major play, The Baltimore Waltz was a comedy about AIDS, in 1990, when AIDS still couldn’t be joked about much. Hot’N Throbbing (1994) looks at the intersection of porn and domestic violence, while The Mineola Twins (1999) portrays women’s experience over the previous thirty years through the eyes of identical twins. The plays are deadly serious, though many of them are also comedies or at least incorporate comedy in them. They are also, as theater theorist Jill Dolan wrote, “at once creative, highly imaginative, and brutally honest.”

Vogel says that her family, especially her brother who died of AIDS in 1988, play a very important role in her plays. “In every play, there are a couple of places where I send a message to my late brother Carl. Just a little something in the atmosphere of every play to try and change the homophobia in our world.” She is also a teacher, having led the graduate playwriting program at Brown University. In 2004, she married Brown University professor and researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling in Massachusetts. In 2008, she left Brown to chair the playwriting department at Yale. She stepped down from that position in 2012.

Glenn Burke: 1952-1995. He was known as “the guy who invented the high five,” when in a game in 1977, Burke was standing on deck as fellow Dodger Dusty Baker was rounding third and headed for home after hitting a home run. As Baker crossed home plate, Burke raised his had. Baker responded by raising his also, and when the two slapped hands, history was made. Believe it or not. And to make the scene complete, Burke then stepped up to the plate and hit a home run of his own.

Burke made another kind of history, after a fashion: he is believed to be the first gay ballplayer who was out to his team mates. According to his 1995 autobiography, Out at Home, Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis offered to pay for his honeymoon if Burke agreed to find a girlfriend and get married. Burke said no. He also angered manager Tommy Lasorda by hanging out with Lasorda’s estranged gay son. The Dodgers soon traded him to the Oakland A’s, where manager Billy Martin called him a faggot in front of his teammates. Burke retired in 1979.

In 1982, Burke became the first former professional league player to come out as gay. He was a hero in his adopted community in San Francisco’s Castro, but without baseball his life soon spiraled downhill. He struggled with drug addiction, and for a while became homeless. He spent several months in prison for grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. His final months were spent with his sister before succumbing to AIDS in 1995 at the age of 42.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 15

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 13.

Greetings from (almost) Laguna Beach! That’s right. We’re not in Needles, Barstow or Kingman like I thought we might be. We made a last-minute decision to head to San Diego when Mom expressed a desire to go there. But thanks to L.A. traffic and a massive wreck that completely shut down the San Joaquin toll road, we threw in the towel and ended up in a reasonably-priced Best Western in Dana Point. So tomorrow we’ll mess around San Diego before heading west back to Tucson. It’s been a fun trip, but it’ll also be good to be back home.

Frank Kameny (center) marching with members of the Washington Mattachine Society in 1970.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First Official Meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society: 1961. On this date in history, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny (see May 21)  and a handful of others held the first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine Society. The Washington Mattachines, unlike other Mattachine Societies elsewhere in the country, brought a new, aggressive approach to the fight for gay rights. Frank Kameny later reflected on the society’s founding in an essay he contributed to Eric Marcus’s Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights : 1945-1990 : An Oral History:

Meanwhile, other things were going on with Mattachine. The national structure of Mattachine collapsed in March of that year. The San Francisco Mattachine had cut loose all the other affiliates and wished them well, urging them to change their names and to keep on working. The Denver group became The Neighbors and disappeared. The New York group retained its name and incorporated as a nose-thumbing gesture to San Francisco. It be came the Mattachine Society, Incorporated, of New York versus the Mattachine Society in San Francisco. It was all very petty.

…That following November, on November 15, 1961, we had our first official meeting of the Washington Mattachine. I was the organizer and founder. We did all the things that an organization does when it gets going. We took out a back account, got a post-office box, wrote our constitution, elected our officers, set up our meeting structure, and chose a name. I opted against using the Mattachine name, but I was outvoted. I wanted something that was more explicit and expressive, but wouldn’t have used the word gay then. While it was an in-group word, it hadn’t yet gone public.

Kameny, then 36, was joined by 23-year-old Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and at least three others in the apartment of Earl Aiken, on Harvard Street, N.W. Three months earlier, Kameny had held a preliminary meeting at the Hay Adams Hotel, where he recognized Louis Fouchette, the head of the Perversion Section of the D.C. Police Department’s Morals Division, who thought he had infiltrated the meeting undetected.  Kameny called Fouchette out.

His cover blown, Fouchette left the meeting, but his presence there was just one indication how much work the nascent group had ahead of it. One of the first provisions the new group adopted in its bylaws was one requiring everyone to go by a pseudonym whenever they were being identified publicly. This requirement was adopted in order to protect members’ privacy, many of whom worked for the Federal Government which had a longstanding policy of firing anyone suspected of being gay. Only Kameny used his real name, mainly because he was already well known among federal officials and he knew he would never again work for the U.S. government.

Now the movement of those days was very unassertive, apologetic, and defensive. I don’t say this critically, and not necessarily derogatorily, but it was a different era. First of all, up to this time, homosexuality had never been publicly discussed. Let me give you an illustration of that. As you’re aware, the question of queers int he government was very much part of the grist of the mill for McCarthy in his hearings in the early 1950s. When McCarthy was riding high, I was still in graduate school at Harvard. I read the Boston Herald every day. I read the New York Times every Sunday. I listened to the radio all the time. I read Time magazine weekly. Yet I did not learn until somewhere around 1958 or 1959 that homosexuality had been a theme of those hearings because it was not widely reported.: the word homosexual was not fit to print or discuss or be heard. Virtually from one end of the decade to the other, outside the medical books, there was nothing anywhere on the subject. It was blanked out, blacked out. It wasn’t there!

Because there was no publicity, there was no way of getting to people. The people in the small movement at that time were only talking to themselves. There was absolutely nothing whatsoever that anybody heard at that time, anywhere that was other than negative! Nothing! We were sick; we were sinners; we were perverts. And so the movement, predictably, in retrospect, did not take strong positions. It gave a hearing to everybody, saying, “As long as it deals with homosexuality, all views must be heard, even those that are the most harshly and viciously condemnatory to homosexuals. We have to defer to the experts.” My answer to that was, “Drivel! We are the experts on ourselves, and we will tell the experts they have nothing to tell us!” Giving all views a fair hearing didn’t suit my personality. And the Mattachine Society of Washington was formed around my personality.

So we at the Washington Mattachine characterized ourselves within the movement as an activist militant organization. Those were very dirty words in those days in the movement, such as it was. You weren’t supposed to be militant. And we were, both in our actions and our goals. Our statement of purposes set out our goals, which were generally to achieve equality for homosexuals and homosexuality against heterosexuals and heterosexuality. Equality was the primary issue.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 14

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, April 16, 1981, page 27.

IMG_0625.JPGWe had a wonderful day in Monterey, with most of it spent at the Aquarium on Cannery Row. I could have spent hours staring at the jellyfish displays. They were all beautiful works of art. Here’s a still photo of one of the displays, but still photos really don’t do them justice. I took lots of video, but getting the video edited and uploaded will just have to wait until we get home.

We also spent some time touring the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo in Camel and the Mission of San Juan Bautista. I wanted to take Mom and her husband to see the mission in Soledad, but we ran out of time and daylight. So we settled in for the night at San Luis Obispo. Today, we begin a meandering journey home, through Bakersfield, to Needles, Blythe, Phoenix, then Tucson. Here’s an approximate route. Or we may hit Kingman and Wickenburg instead of Blythe. Either way, the true magic of road trips occur when we toss the maps aside and decide to go down a different road.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
140 YEARS AGO: Adolf Brand: 1874-1945. The German editor, photographer, poet, anarchist and activist was born not quite a century before his time. Beginning in 1896, he published Der Eigene (There is no good English equivalent; Der Eigene is often translated as The Unique, The Special One, or The Self-Owned), the world’s first gay journal. The first issue declared, “This journal is dedicated to eigen people, such people as are proud of their Eigenheit and wish to maintain it at any price.” The phrase “Eigen people” may have meant anarchists, at least at first; Brand’s journal was more of an anarchist journal than a pro-gay one, reflecting Brand’s own anarchist views at the time. But Der Eigene became explicitly homosexual in 1898, and remained so until 1932.

Brand’s brand of gay activism was revolutionary. In contrast to the better known activism of Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14), Brand angrily rejected the medical model and scientific approach of Germany’s sexologists, saying that their research “took away all beauty from eroticism.” Brand established the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of Eigens) in 1903 as a counterweight to Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. It also served a secondary purpose. With Der Eigene under constant threat of prosecution for obscenity — Brand successfully fought off charges in court that same year — Gemeinschaft der Eigenen became a kind of a closed readers’ circle, with Der Eigene becoming a private in-house publication. In 1905, when Der Eigene was officially recognized as an “artistic journal,” it became somewhat less vulnerable to censors and could be circulated more freely.

Brand’s militancy led him to conduct what was perhaps the world’s first “outing” campaign. In 1907, just as the massive Harden-Eulenburg affair was scandalizing the German political establishment (see Feb 12), Brand published a pamphlet accusing German Chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bülow of having a homosexual relationship with Privy Councilor Max Scheefer, which therefore morally obligated the Chancellor to oppose Germany’s Paragraph 175 outlawing homosexual relatinships between men. According to Brand, Bülow and Scheefer were seen kissing at all-male parties hosted by Phillip, Prince of Eulenburg. Bülow sued Brand for criminal libel, and Brand was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.

Brand served two years in the German army during World War I, during which he married Elise Behrendt, a nurse who apparently loved him despite his homosexuality. After the war, Der Eigene was overshadowed by other gay publications during the relatively gay-friendly atmosphere of the Weimar era. In many ways, Brand’s brand of activism was out of step with 1920s Germany. Brand’s embrace of pederasty, extramarital bisexuality, and the supposed superiority of “friend-love” as the pinacle of masculinity were rejected in favor of Hirschfeld’s view that homosexuality was an inborn analogue to heterosexuality.

Brand’s elevation of manly friendship and the glorification of the nude body has led to accusations that Brand was himself a proto-faschist. Certainly, it’s easy to see parallels between Brand’s promotion of male bonding with the Nazis’ ideals of national manliness, but Brand himself, ever the anarchist, saw the dangers that Nazism posed. He wrote in 1931 that the Nazis “already had the hangman’s rope in their pockets.”

Der Eigene was shut down in 1932 just as the Nazis were coming into power. The police raided his home several times, seizing his books, journals, and photographs. He was never arrested, but he was financially ruined. “I have been plundered of everything,” he wrote to the Sexological Society in London. “I have nothing left to sell and am financially ruined. I no longer know from what I and mine can continue to live. For my whole life’s work is now destroyed. And most of my followers don’t have even the courage to write me a letter, not to mention support my work with any kind of payment.” Brand was forced to sell his home, and he and his wife moved to a one room flat where they were both killed during alllied bombing on February 2, 1945.

[Source: Hubert Kennedy. “Adolf Brand.” GLBTQ.com (undated).]

Aaron Copland: 1900-1990. Born in Brooklyn to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Copland composed some of the most quintessentially American classical music. Appalachian Spring celebrated American pioneers; Billy the Kid set the open prairie to music;  Rodeo sells beef on television (“It’s what’s for dinner”); and Fanfare for the Common Man was, briefly, the theme music for Rick Perry’s ill-fated presidential run, which was ironic that a rabidly anti-gay politician would turn to such patriotic music that was composed by a relatively openly gay man.

Copland’s childhood was a rather typical one for an immigrant family in New York City. His father, who had no musical interest, owned a small department store. It was his mother, brothers and sisters — he was the youngest of five — who were musically inclined. His oldest brother played violin, and a sister gave him his first piano lessons and exposed him to opera. From the age of thirteen, he began formal music lessons. By age fifteen, he decided to become a composer. From 1921 to 1924, Copland went to Paris for further study at the Fontainebleau School of Music. In 1925, he returned to the U.S., and with two Guggenheim Fellowships in 1925 and 1926, he was able to rent a studio apartment where he lived for the next thirty years. He met Alfreid Stieglitz, who introduced him to many of the leading artists of the day: Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe, and Walker Evans, whose photos inspired Copland’s opera The Tender Land.

Stieglitz’s determination that American artists should reflect “the ideas of American Democracy” had a profound effect on Copland. It also represent a severe challenge. American classical music composers looked to Europe as a model for music composition. All that American had was popular music, folk music and jazz. The challenge for Copland was to show how these so-called “lower” forms of music could be in integral part of classical music. He joined five other like-minded composers to form what was called the “commando unit,” who collaborated in joint concerts to promote their new approach.

Once the depression hit, Copland expanded his horizons again through travels to Europe, Africa and Mexico. When Hitler and Mussolini attacked Spain in 1936, Copland, along with many other artists, were sympathetic to the Spanish Republicans, and many of them had joined the Communist Party. Copland himself didn’t join — he was committed to his refusal to join any party — but he did sympathize with leftist political movements, including his support for the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election, and for Henry A. Wallace’s presidential bid on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948.

This period of political turmoil coincided with some of Copland’s most famous work. In 1939, he completed his first two Hollywood film scores, for Of Mice and Men and Our Town. That same year, he debuted his highly successful ballet Billy the Kid. He followed that with two more acclaimed ballets, Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944), which featured the melody of an old Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” A Lincoln Portrait and Fanfare for the Common Man, both debuted in 1942 as American was entering World War II, have become American patriotic standards.

But the McCarthy era of the 1950s proved difficult. A Lincoln Portrait had been on the program for Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural concert, but it was withdrawn over controversy over Copland’s earlier sympathies with leftist politics. That same year, he was called to testify before Congress, where he insisted that he had never joined the Communist Party. Ignored during the controversy was Copland’s deeply patriotic music, a neglect which outraged many American musicians.

During the 1950s, Copland’s pace in composition fell off as new avant garde musical trends became fashionable in the music world. But he continued to influence other American composers, most principally his friend and student, protégé Leonard Bernstein. By the 1960s, Copland had more or less given up composing and took up conducting. He wasn’t crazy about the idea, but, as he said, “It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet.” This career change saw him conducting some of American’s great orchestras recording a major part of his canon for posterity. His health deteriorated through the 1980s and he died in 1990 from Alzheimer’s and resipitory failure.

Albrecht Becker, abt 1930.

Albrecht Becker: 1906-2002. Albrecht Becker was an actor and production designer who lived with his parter of ten yeas in Würzburg in Bavaria. In 1935, he came under the notice of the Gestapo when they were investigating another Würzburg resident, Dr. Leopold Obermayer, a Swiss national who was both Jewish and gay. During the course of the Gestapo’s investigation, they found several photos of young men, including Albert Becker, in Obermeyer’s possession. Obermeyer was sent to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he ultimately perished. Becker was also tried under Germany’s notorious Paragraph 175 and sentenced to a three year term in Nürnburg Prison. In 1940, he joined the German army and sent directly to the Eastern front where soldiers weren’t expected to survive.

But survive he did, and he was able to return to Germany and work in the film industry after the war. He became an internationally recognized photographer, production designer and actor for German television. His story is one of six personal histories recounted in the 2000 documentary, Paragraph 175, about the Nazi persecution of gay men. He died in 2002 in Hamburg at the age of 95.

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