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Posts for March, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, March 6

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Winter Pride, East London, UK; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Carnival Maspalomas, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Out In the Desert LGBT Film Festival, Tucson, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 13.

 
David Link, a regular contributor at Independent Gay Forum, suggested we highlighting Studio One:

Before there was Studio 54, there was Studio One. Those of us who came of gay age in the mid-1970s in LA will remember the long lines to get in, the insanely crowded dance floor, the short-shorts (oh, the short-shorts!), the Backlot theater, and that crazy winged horse. I would drive in to west Hollywood (in those days, it was just the west end of Hollywood, not yet a city in its own right), and while the geographical distance wasn’t that far, it was a gloriously different, neon-lit, disco world that had no precedent out where we came from. Even those of us who couldn’t remotely be described as disco-bunnies marched up that long, dark, industrial stairway to — well, it was some kind of heaven. Studio One is long gone, and the real heaven is (I hope) a ways off, but that one was pretty great.

Capable of accommodating a thousand dancers on its mammoth dance floor, Studio One was the largest discotheque in Southern California and a pioneer of the disco era. It featured seven mirrored balls, lasers, strobe lights, a red neon Pegasus, and bartenders wearing satin shorts. Featured performers at Studio One or the Backlot included Sylvester, Eartha Kit, Wayland Flowers, Madeline Kahn, Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Paul Lynde, Joan Rivers, Patti LaBelle, and Rip Taylor. The Tommy premiere after party was held there in 1975, and it proved to be the hottest ticket in town. Owner Scott Forbes, opened Studio One in 1975 because he felt the gay community needed a lively, dynamic, and prominent alternative to the dingier, darker gay bars that were the norm. And he stressed that “Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people. Any straight people here are guests of the gay community. This is gay!” Open seven nights a week, the party finally came to an end in 1988.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Lewd Behavior Upon a Bed”: 1649. Court records from Puritan colonies indicate that authorities appeared to have been reluctant to prosecute crimes based on homosexuality, if the scarcity of such records is any indication. But court records also show that Plymouth Colony was considerably less reluctant, given that its court records report quite a handful of cases (for example, see Aug 6, Mar 1). The colony’s statute called for the death penalty for “buggery” and “sodomy,” which had the effect of only outlawing male homosexuality. As in England, female homosexuality was unmentioned. But that didn’t prevent the Plymouth Colony from prosecuting one case of lesbian behavior. The court records for Plymouth Colony recorded a very brief notation for March 6, 1649:

We present the wife of Hugh Norman, and Mary Hammon, both of Yarmouth, for lewd behavior each with the other upon a bed.

According to Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay/Lesbian Almanac:

Recent research by J.R. Roberts in the Plymouth manuscript records provides background information on Norman and Hammon. At the time of the above charges Mary Hammon was fifteen years old, and recently married. Sara Norman’s age is unknown, but she was apparently somewhat older, as he had been married in 1639. About the time of the court’s first charge, 1649, Hugh Norman, Sara’s husband, deserted his wife and children.

A marginal note in the Plymouth court record of March 6, 1649 reported that Mary Hammond was “cleared with admonition” — perhaps because of her youth. Sara Normon’s case was evidentially held over for later judgment.

…Patriarchal custom was evident in the fact that court records in this case referred to the “wife of Hugh Norman”; although Sara Norman was publicly charged with a serious crime, her whole name was used only once in the documents

On October 2, 1650, the court rendered its judgment on Sara Norman:

Whereas the wife of Hugh Norman, of Yarmouth, hath stood presented [in] divers Courts for misdemeanor and lewd behavior with Mary Hammon upon a bed, with divers lascivious speeches by her also spoken, but she could not appear by reason of some hindrances unto this Court, the said Court have therefore sentenced her, the said wife of Hugh Norman, for her wild behavior in the aforesaid particulars, to make a public acknowledgment, so far as conveniently may be, of her unchaste behavior, and have also warned her to take heed of such carriages for the future, lest her former carriage come in remembrance against her to make her punishment the greater.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper & Row, 1983): 92-93.]

Rudolph Schildkraut, who played the father in “God of Vengeance,” 1923.

Theater Owner, Producer, Cast of “God of Vengeance” Arrested: 1923. Yiddish theater was a lively component of New York’s cultural life in the first part of the twentieth century, even if it did mostly fly mostly under the radar of the city’s cognoscenti. Maybe that’s why the 1907 production of Sholem Asch’s Got Fun Nekome, with its story line about a family who lived above a brothel owned by the father and the budding lesbian relationship between his daughter and one of the prostitutes, managed to go off without a hitch. Not that there was no controversy. The Yiddish press was greatly concerned that the play’s “immoral” content would trigger an anti-Semitic backlash if its plot line was noticed by the wider English-speaking city. But no backlash materialized, and the play was a huge success. It went on to be translated into several languages and was well received throughout much of Europe over the next decade.

Sixteen years after its Yiddish premiere, the play returned to New York in an English translation of God of Vengeance. When it made its Broadway debut at the Apollo Theater, it featured the first lesbian love scene on the Great White Way. This time, it was noticed. A month later, detectives showed up backstage during a performance to inform the theater’s manager and producer that they and the entire cast had been indicted for presenting an obscene and immoral play. The complaint wasn’t that the play had a lesbian them — at least, not directly — but that the lesbian theme in a Jewish play libeled the Jewish religion and was anti-Semitic. The Judge agreed, calling the play a “desecration of the sacred scrolls of the Torah,” in reference to the scrolls the father in the play commissioned, in vain, to protect the purity of his daughter. The entire cast was found guilty, but only the Harry Weinberger, the producer, and Rudolph Schildkraut, who played the father, were fined $200 each. Everyone else was let go. The play, which had closed on the night of the indictment, has been revived several times over the years, mostly by Jewish and other repertory companies.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, March 5

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Winter Pride, East London, UK; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Carnival Maspalomas, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Out In the Desert LGBT Film Festival, Tucson, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, August 2, 1976, page 43.

 
The Gilded Grape at 719 Eighth Avenue, just a few blocks off of Times Square, was one of many bars that was allegedly mob-owned, this one by Matthew “Matty The Horse” Ianniello, the one-time acting boss of the Genovese crime family, and his business partner, Carl Moskowitz. Whatever you might think of mob-owned gay bars, they knew how to throw a party and the Gilded Grape was tremendously popular, particularly among drag queens and transwomen. Ianniello and Moskowitz, who also owned the cruise bar Haymarket on the same block (see Jan 13), were eventually convicted for a skimming profits from several gay bars in the area. There’s a sushi restaurant where the Gilded Grape once stood.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
20 YEARS AGO: “Jenny Jones Show” Taping Leads to Murder: 1994. The nationally-syndicated Jenny Jones Show debuted in 1991 as a fairly serious but entertaining talk show along the lines of Oprah, but after a few years of seeing The Jerry Springer Show’s ratings shoot through the roof, Jones’s producers decided to give their show a harder edge. Several new features began making their appearances: paternity test results, feuding neighbors, out-of-control teens and secret crushes. That last feature was what drew Jonathan Schmitz to the Jenny Jones Chicago studio, where producers told him that he would learn the identity of a secret admirer. Naturally, he thought the admirer was a woman, and not 32-year-old neighbor Scott Amedure, who proceeded to tell the embarrassed 24-year-old Schmitz about a fantasy involving whipped cream, strawberries and champagne on national television.

Three days after the taping and back home in Orion, Michigan, Schmitz continued to seethe over the embarrassment. That day, he found an anonymous, sexually suggestive not on his door and assumed it came from Amedure. Schmitz bought a shotgun and ammunitions, went to Amedure’s home and fired two shots at close range into Amedure’s chest. Schmitz then left, drove to a gas station, called 911 from a pay phone and confessed.

Schmitz was arrested and charged with Amedure’s killing. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five to fifty years in prison. His conviction was overturned on appeal over errors in jury selection, but he was convicted again on retrial and given the same sentence. Amedure’s family sued Warner Bros. and the Jenny Jones Show over their ambush tactics and negligence. The jury awarded the Amedure family $2.5 million, but the Michigan Court of Appeals, citing the producers’ First Amendment rights, overturned the verdict on appeal.

The fateful episode was pulled from the schedule immediately after the shooting and has never aired on television. It has however become part of the public record and parts of it aired on Court TV during the trial.

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L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)’s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

5 YEARS AGO: Three American Evangelical Activists Conduct Anti-Gay Conference in Uganda: 2009. Nine days earlier, BTB became the first Western outlet to discover and report the shocking announcement that Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and a little-known staffer at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, Caleb Lee Brundidge, would join Holocaust revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for a three day anti-gay conference in Kampala. The day before the conference was to take place, Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi made an announcement before the House inviting members to a special breakfast to be held at the Parliament conference Hall on the morning of March 5, ahead of the actual conference itself scheduled to begin later that day at the Triangle Hotel.

By then, Lively was already known to regular BTB readers for his involvement with the international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls (not to be confused with an unrelated Family Research Council initiative by the same name) and for his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he wrote that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” Lively regularly described gays as sick and “followers of the Father of Lies.” Lively argued that “civilization and homosexuals” were engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations. When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder by Russian Evangelicals in Sacramento.

“Can anyone say AIDS?” Scott Lively calling AIDS a just punishment from God at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 7, 2009.

Lively’s incendiary rhetoric didn’t disappoint those who attended the Kampala conference. Claiming that he “(knew) more than almost anyone else in the world” about homosexuality,” Lively equated homosexuality with Nazism and fascism, blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people, charged that European and American gays were constantly on the lookout for children to molest, that the motivation of the gay agenda was to destroy Christian civilization, and that AIDS was a just punishment for being gay. That same day, Lively met with Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who was threatening to propose a new anti-gay law with stronger sanctions.

The conference ended, but its impact continued to reverberate throughout Ugandan society. In the weeks that followed, there were follow-up meetings and rallies, vigilante campaigns, rising violence and blackmail which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” in Uganda’s parliament in October, 2009. The bill, which included the death penalty for homosexuality under certain broad conditions, languished in and out of Parliament for the next several years, before being revived and passed just before Christmas in 2013. By then, the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” has been removed and replaced with a life sentence (as though spending a lifetime in the notorious Luzira prison were any better). But other criminal sanctions remained in what is now the Anti-Homosexuality Act: lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on February 24, 2014.

Lively, who had bragged that his 2009 conference was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” is being sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda in U.S. Federal Court under the Alien Tort Act. The lawsuit alleges that alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law which caused harm to the LGBT community in Uganda.

Since February 24, 2009, BTB has followed every twist and turn of the events in Uganda. Our compilation, Slouching Toward Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate, is a timeline and index of the nearly 600 posts that we have written documenting the events in Uganda since then. You can also follow our Uganda tag for more recent events. The video below is a compilation of Lively’s fateful talk in Kampala and its aftermath.

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
40 YEARS AGO: Matt Lucas: 1974. The English Comedian, actor and screenwriter is best known for his work on the BBC television show Little Britain, a sketch comedy program he created with David Walliams which skewered daily British life. Lucas’s characters included the bizarre grammar school teacher Mr. Cleaves, the morbidly obese Bubbles DeVere, the possibly disabled Andy Pipkin, the 200-plus pound weight loss instructor Marjorie Dawes, a West Country teen named Vicky Pollard, and “the only gay in the village” Daffyd Thomas. Little Britain ran for three seasons beginning in 2003. Since then, Lucas’s appeared on several British comedies and he brought a rival of Little Britain to America on HBO as, well, Little Britain USA. He also appeared as Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, March 4

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), November1978, page 32.

 
Chicago’s Knight Out was located at 2936 N. Clark toward the south end of Boystown. While I can find several brief mentions of it online, I can find very little information about it, other than that it appears to have closed sometime before 1980.

The Arrow, Sydney, New South Wales, March 4, 1932, page 2 (Click to enlarge).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Wide Open Immorality Among Brisbane Perverts”: 1932. The Arrow, published in Sydney, New South Wales between 1906 and 1933, was a sporting weekly which often augmented its sports and racing coverage with attention-grabbing stories of a scandalous nature (see also Jan 8 and Dec 23). Think of it as sort of a cross between the Daily Racing Forum and National Enquirer. And in the 1930s, there was nothing more scandalous that the “Wide Open Immorality Among Brisbane Perverts” which screamed across page two on March 4, 1932. The immorality? “Weddings” — in scare quotes “Between men followed by ‘ceremonies’ that shock the world”:

THE growth of the pervert population of Brisbane, beautiful capital of Queensland, is astounding, and in the last year hundreds of these queer semi-feminine men have made the city their headquarters.

Now they have evolved into a cult, with two main sects, one on the north and the other on the south side of the town, with the river dividing them. And occasionally they meet at queer, indecent, degrading ceremonies when perverted lusts come into full play and shocking rituals are celebrated.

IN the last two weeks there have been two “weddings” — ghastly, horrifying spectacles of painted men and primping lads united in a sacrilegious blasphemy that they call the “bonds of matrimony.” Strangely enough, they conduct these luridly immoral gatherings absolutely free from police interference, while the fact that these orgies are held is no secret in Brisbane. Professional people have been invited as guests to witness the “weddings”—
astounding revelation that perversion of this rotten type is so openly accepted in Brisbane.

Nowhere else in the world — not even in Berlin, with its open homo-sexual clubs —- is there the open boast that there are these ceremonies or the widespread extension of this sordid cult of male perversion.

…Even the “honeymoon” is celebrated in public amid the plaudits of the rest of the painted men-dolls, dancing round in a hideous circle —- the whole scene resembling a nightmare of evil. The ages of these cult-fanatics and perverts seem to range about the same —- somewhere between 18 and 25. One young lad was initiated at the last “wedding” at South Brisbane last week —- by a public ceremony, in which he stripped like a bride, was clad in fancy raiment, and then his virtue taken from him — in perverted fashion —- while an orgy of lust broke out immediately afterwards.

This in Brisbane, in the year 1932! It is almost unbelievable, but true.

More likely unbelievable than true, The Arrow closed by demanding “Police action, speedily, please!”

Minnesota’s Gay Community Responds To Father’s Letter: 1955. The previous Sunday, popular Minneapolis broadcaster and columnist Cedric Adams published a letter in The Minneapolis Star from a father who learned that his son was gay (see Feb 27). According to the father, his son had undergone therapy and “has been salvaged,” but that Minneapolis was still rife with homosexuals with police were doing nothing about it. Adams published the letter in order to, at the very least, “point a finger at the condition.” Two days later, he followed up with a selection of letters from the superintendent of the Minneapolis Police Department defending the department’s policies on policing gay bars (see Mar 1). Adams also published a few letters from readers which, while not exactly enlightened on the phenomenon of sexual orientation, were at least restrained — restrained for 1955 — for not calling for a massive crackdown of some sort which had been common in many other cities across the U.S.

That alone was remarkable — for 1955 — and the fact that it is remarkable for 1955 tells us how far we’ve come in the six decades since then. But what is truly remarkable is that Adams decided to give the last word on the subject to gay people themselves. This was his column for Friday, March 4:

THE HOMOSEXUAL PROBLEM, as touched off by the letter here from a Minneapolis father; sparked by an answer from Thomas Jones, superintendent of police in Minneapolis, and supplemented by an official suggestion from the University of Minnesota, has brought one of the greatest mail responses This Corner has had in several months. In order to be completely fair about the charges and the countercharges, perhaps we should give the homosexuals their chance. The following excerpts from letters are submitted without comment. The opinions expressed are those of the authors of the letters. Please bear that in mind.

“I AM SHOCKED that you, of all people, should stoop so low as to use a letter for a vicious and cowardly attack. Did the father in question ask his son who forced him to go to those bars? The boy was an incipient homosexual seeking his own kind. That son received his homosexual bent from one or both of two factor heredity or environment. The father should know he was responsible on both counts. Why did you pick on one minority for a scathing attack? Why not work toward a happy integration of all men into a society we can be proud of rather than striking at minorities on senseless grounds and forcing them underground?”

“I’VE BEEN A FAN of yours for 20 years, but all of that is shattered now. You have thrown ethics to the wind in attempting to editorialize on a subject about which obviously you know nothing. How can you call any situation alarming, shocking, a social danger, worthy of investigation? Homosexuality is as old as history itself. Many great men and women have been homosexuals and yet lived very useful and worthwhile lives by contributing some of the best works in art, literature and music. No man ought to pass judgment on another man’s way of living. If a man or a woman is born physically abnormal, why not try to help them? If they prefer to be with people of their own sex, why not leave them alone? I am really sincere when I say that I think both you and the Minneapolis father made a vicious attack on an innocent minority of our society. And you class them with thieves, dope addicts and other social misfits. You would have done better to study the situation before you attacked. Careless words, thoughtlessly spoken, can leave scars that never heal. It is so easy to hurt instead of help.”

“HOW STUPID, RIDICULOUS and narrow-minded can you get? It’s regrettable that so many so-called normal people know so little about homosexuals and their problems. I’ve been around for quite some time. And I have yet to find anyone who has been ‘taught’ to be a homosexual. One may be enlightened on the activities of a homosexual, but unless one has a natural inclination it’s doubtful he will become one. Either he w1ll be repulsed by the whole idea or he will experiment with it and if he finds it’s where he belongs, he’ll stay with it. No one taught me to be a homosexual. When I approached the age of 17, I realized what I was, accepted the fact and have been content with it ever since. My parents know that I am a homosexual. They’re completely understanding…

“FEW OF THE THOUSANDS of us In the city are mentally ill. Most of us know what we are and are content to be so. All we ask is to be understood and left alone. I have two suggestions for you and others similarly concerned. Read the book, ‘The Homosexual in America,’ by Donald Webster Corey (see Sep 18) or a magazine called, ‘One,’ published in Los Angeles (See Oct 15, Jan 13). Before the citizens in this area lose their minds worrying about their children becoming homosexuals, let them read the above material and do a little serious thinking. I don’t mean to imply that homosexuality is not a problem, but I do say the problem will not be solved by closing the places we frequent or by sending us off to mental institutions or a workhouse or a prison.”

“MAN TENDS TO IGNORE this problem in ignorance. The basic chemistry of the human mind and body are born in delicate balance, particularly in the formative years of youth. Disillusionment, emotional insecurity, domination or indifference of a parent tend to upset this balance. There is no sure cure for homosexuality. The taboos of society tend to restrain the victims to secret. Thus is delayed much needed help and perhaps sealing forever the door to a happy life. May I give this advice to parents: Get to your children early in life with the facts and pitfalls of life. Enlighten yourselves — that you may look down in mercy. The homosexual will probably remain until long after our generation is forgotten. If found among your loved ones, give help, aid, treatment. Do not cast them out. Their sorrow is already greater than any you can inflict.” (Parenthetical information added.)

This is a fascinating glimpse into how gay people in the upper Midwest saw themselves: a mix of proud self-acceptance with a heavy dose of internalized homophobia from society’s then-unchallenged message that homosexuality was, at minimum, a defect. It would also take another ten years — as you will see below — before gay activists begin to take a bold step to address that problem.

[Source: "In This Corner, with Cedric Adams." Minneapolis Star (March 4, 1955). As reprinted in ONE magazine, 3, no. 4 (April 1955): 18-23.]

Mattachine Society of Washington DC Declares Homosexuality Not A Mental Illness: 1965. We often think of Stonewall and 1969 as marking the of the more assertive gay rights movement, shoving aside the prior generation’s timidity and accommodation. But as I’ve written before, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you really wanted to point to a pivotal year which truly marked the beginning of the beginning of a self-confident and assertive stance on gay rights, that year would be 1965, not 1969. That year, began with a San Francisco police raid on a New Years’ Day party (see Jan 1). The community’s reaction resulted in the appointment of the first ever police liaison to the gay community and forever changed that city’s politics. Then later that month, The Washington Post, published a five part series which was the first relatively judgment-free, balanced, mostly accurate and sympathetic portrayal of gay people in a major newspaper (see Jan 31).

On March 4, 1965 marked another momentous occasion when Frank Kameny shepherded this resolution through the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.:

“The Mattachine Society of Washington takes the position that in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary, homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance, or other pathology in any sense, but is merely a preference, orientation, or propensity on par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality.”

This might seem obvious today, but in the 1960s this was still considered a radical step. The mental health community regarded homosexuality as a mental illness, and many in the gay community still acquiesced to that diagnosis. Or, if not that, they often still accommodated themselves to the idea that homosexuality was some kind of a defect or shortcoming or — as one letter writer in Minnesota wrote above in 1955 — something to be pitied. Kameny rejected all of those ideas out of hand, along with the mental health profession’s authority to even make such a pronouncement in the first place. Both stances were extremely controversial among gay activists. As Kameny later said:

The decade-old gay movement of that time was really huge — there were actually five or six gay organizations in the entire country; that was it. Without being critical, that was a different cultural climate from the present; they were bland, defensive, and overly acquiescent to the so-called authorities and experts of the day.

That was not my personality. I insisted that we were the experts on ourselves as gay people, and on our homosexuality. So we set out trying, as best we could, to tackle what we saw as the problems besetting the gay community.

One of those problems was the psychiatric profession’s pronouncement that homosexuality was a mental illness. Kameny, along with Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31) and John Fryer (see Nov 7), began the arduous task of getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, a task which took nine years to complete. But first, Kameny had to convince his fellow gays and lesbians that being gay was not a defect. The resolution was the first step in both of those tasks:

The opening clause—“in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary”—functionally shifted the burden of proof from us to them. If those who believed that homosexuality was pathological had their evidence, let them present it. Until they presented it, it wasn’t pathological. They never did…”

[Sources: Franklin E. Kameny. "Does research into homosexuality matter?" The Ladder 9, no. 8 (May 1965): 14-20.

Franklin E. Kameny. "How it all started." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health 13, no. 2 (April 2009): 76-81. Remarks delivered at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., May 2008.]

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, March 3

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGEDNA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 14, 1972, page 4.

 
I haven’t been able to find any evidence of this Orange County bar’s existence except for a few ads in The Advocate back when the publication was still mostly a Southern California newspaper. The address today is now the location of one of those California “Wine Country Cuisine” restaurants, whatever that is.

Marc Andre Raffalovich

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Usefulness of Homosexuals: 1895. Marc-André Raffalovich was a French poet and early theorist on homosexuality (see Sep 11). He was also among the early writers to introduce the very word “homosexuality” into the English language. He had begun writing about the subject in 1894, using the French word unisexualité, but when he contributed an English translation of a portion of his work for the March 1895 edition of the Journal of Comparative Neurology in 1895, he used the terms “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” as opposite but equal poles of human sexuality. That, in and of itself, makes this particular article noteworthy, as it appears to be the first time that homosexuality and heterosexuality were discussed as directly contrasting characteristics. He nevertheless also continued to use older terminology – “invert” and “uranism” (based on a German theory of a “female psyche in a male body” as an early formation for effeminate male homosexuality)  — and he appears to have coined a new term, “psychic hermaphroditism,” to describe bisexuality.

As for the inverts themselves:

It is difficult to do justice to the inverts; so also it would be difficult to do justice to the heterosexuals if we were to confine ourselves exclusively to their sexual life. Falsehood and sexuality are always so intimately associated because reality belies desire since expectation and realization are in glaring contradiction. If men were bold today, if they were not under the sway of an all-pervasive materialism, how differently would they think of sexuality!

…The day when the invert ceases to call for the indulgence of society, he will begin to justify himself in the eyes of truly superior men. Because heterosexuality is not suppressed homosexuality ought to be equally favored. Strange logic, if the repression of heterosexuality is one of the problems of the future, as I believe it to be.

Raffalovich saw two types of homosexuals: those who were born gay and those who “chose” their inversion. The former were worth studying, but the latter were mere criminals as far as he was concerned. Nevertheless, he was among the first to argue that homosexuality (and homosexual people) was morally neutral. But that didn’t mean he believed in homosexual emancipation. Instead, Raffalovich wrote that a homosexual, if he were “the superior being that he imagines himself and if he had any religion,” should pursue celibacy and dedicate himself to serving humanity:

The great men claimed for homosexuality have been great only because they have not allowed themselves to be overmastered by their sexuality. The grand inverts have been grand in spite of their inversion or because they raised themselves above it and so above humanity. The man without family, without wife, without children, who is kept by continence or by chastity from so many annoyances, vexations and falsehoods and whose heart is not barren and withered, may be a Michael Angelo or a Newton. (Newton is classed here only for his chastity).

…Well! since the invert is not burdened with maternity nor by all the vexations of the female sex, why not try to make him serve humanity? He has many defects and many vices inborn, but our civilization and our education do not and cannot improve his condition.

The bees and the ants have workers who do not reproduce. Is it possible, barely possible, to make some use of the uranists?

But as for changing and becoming heterosexuals, Raffalovich thought that would be impossible, and even dangerous.

So I protest that we should not make a practice of pitying the inverts as inverts. The enthusiastic uranists do not wish to change. With whom should they? The true homosexuals, those who have the passion of similarity, if they were women would love women; so also the true homosexual if he were a man would love a man. Let us pity humanity as a whole if we wish; let us pity it bitterly if we have no religion — but let us not pick out the inverts for the our utmost pity. I cannot repeat this admonition too often.

Raffalovich’s conflicted view of homosexuality betrayed his own conflicts with his sexuality. Three years earlier, he had met and fallen in love with his lifelong companion, the poet John Gray. Together, they developed a deep devotion to Catholicism, to which Raffalovich converted in 1896 and became a third order lay Dominican. Gray also converted and later became a priest (see below). After Gray’s ordination (with Raffalovich footing the bill), Raffalovich settled near Gray’s parish in Scotland where he continued to provide financial support and attended mass every morning. And while Gray served his parishioners, Raffalovich served humanity by hosting a salon and becoming a patron of the arts. Raffalovich and Gray remained devoted to each other (while living in separate households) for the rest of their lives until Raffalovich’s death in 1934, just four months before Gray’s.

[Source: Raffalovich, Marc Andre "Uranism, congenital sexual inversion." Journal of Comparative Neurology 5, no. 1 (March 1895): 33-65. Available online via Google Books here.]

100 YEARS AGO: Statistics on Homosexuality Convictions: 1914. The American Journal of Urology had become increasingly focused on sexual matters as the new century progressed, so much so that in April 1914 the journal would modify its name to American Journal of Urology and Sexology. In the last month under the old title, Douglas C. McMurtrie, who wrote a regular column called “Department of Sexology,” listed the following statistics on convictions for “Crimes Against Nature”:

STATISTICS regarding all crimes in the United States are miserably defective and the results attending an effort to determine the frequency of the offence of sodomy, generally designated as an “offence against nature” is unsatisfactory. We find, however, that on June 80, 1904, there were in American penal institutions 376 prisoners committed for this crime. These prisoners comprised 15.5% of those committed for offences against chastity. Of the total 375 were male and 1 female.

The distribution by states was as follows: New Hampshire, 1; Massachusetts, 20; Connecticut, 7; New York, 62; New Jersey, 12; Pennsylvania, 52; Maryland, 8; Virginia, 3; West Virginia, 1; North Carolina, 4; South Carolina, 1; Georgia, 1; Florida, 3; Ohio, 22; Indiana, 6; Illinois, 20; Michigan, 11; Wisconsin, 6; Minnesota, 8; Iowa, 2; Missouri, 11; North Dakota, 2; Nebraska, 2; Kansas, 4; Kentucky, 6; Tennessee, 5; Alabama, 3; Mississippi, 6; Louisiana, 3; Texas, 29; Montana, 4; Wyoming, 2; Colorado, 5; Arizona, 1; Utah, 2; Idaho, 2 ; Washington, 8; Oregon, 1; California, 30. It will be seen that the frequency of conviction varies greatly in different localities.

In the figures of crime given for the state of Indiana, which are probably the most complete available, the offence in question is not mentioned. In the Indianapolis police court, however there were two cases of sodomy in 1910 and ten in 1911.

[Source: Douglas C. McMurtrie. "Statistics of Sodomy" American Journal of Urology 10, no. 3 (March 1914): 146. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mlle de Raucourt: 1756-1815. Born Françoise Marie-Antoinette Saucerotte but known popularly simply as Mademoiselle de Raucourt, the French actress and a favorite of Queen Marie-Antoinette was famous for her incredibly beauty and her singing talents, and infamous for her entirely open affairs with men and women. Her affair with the Marquis de Bièvres proved financially profitable: he gave her £12,000 and made her financially independent. She then became infatuated with the opera singer Sophie Arnould in an affair that ended badly. Two men represented the women in a duel. Raucourt then began an affair with Jeanne-Françoise Souque, and the couple lived so lavishly that they soon became bankrupt and fled to Germany to get away from their creditors. They were able to return to France a few months later with the help of the French Prince de Ligne.

When Raucourt returned to France and resumed performing at the Comédie-Française, she caught the attention of Queen Marie-Antoinette, who became her patron. But being an open lesbian and a favorite of the Court in pre-revolutionary France would soon prove precarious. Libelous pamphlets began appearing charging that Raucourt participated in all-female orgies. The pamphlets also claimed that she was the leader of la Secte Anandryne, an allegedly secret society of man-hating lesbians which, in reality, never existed. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, she remained faithful to her royal benefactors and was imprisoned in 1793 for lack of loyalty to the Revolution. When the Revolution in turn was overthrown in 1794 by the Directory, she was released and named the director of the Théâtre Louvois. In 1803, Napoleon named her director of the imperial theaters in newly-conquered Italy.

Raucourt retired in 1814, and died on January 15, 1815 at the age of 58. When the priest refuse to allow her body to enter the church for a requiem mass, the crowd of mourners, numbering 15,000, rioted and forced the church doors open and demanded the service take place. After the funeral, her brother organized a lifetime income for her partner, Henriette Simonnot de Ponty, whom Raucourt had met while in prison.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 2

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Texas Tradition Rodeo, Dallas, TX; South Florida Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winter Gay Pride, Killington, VT; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is bought to you by:

From the Village Voice, November 25, 1971, page 94.

 
Bette Midler has never performed at the Oscar’s, but she will tonight. Her set has been a closely guarded secret, so we’ll just have to tune in to find out. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be divine. She’s come along way from her “Bathhouse Betty” days at New York’s Continental Baths with her pianist and arranger, Barry Manilow.  In fact, it was the Continental’s owner, Steve Ostrow, who gave Bette her her famous superstar name. Just as he was about to introducer her to the towel-clad audience, Ostrow suffered a brain fart and forgot her name. “What’s your name again?,” he asked. “Just call me ‘divine’,” she replied. And then he turned to the audience: “And now, here’s the divine Miss M.”

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TODAY IN HISTORY:
85 YEARS AGO: Swiss Doctor Recommends Castration for Homosexuality: 1929. An article appearing in the German-language Swiss Medical Weekly by the famed Swiss surgeon Johann Friedrich (Fritz) de Quervain was reviewed a couple months later in the American Urologic and Cutaneous Review:

Dr. Fritz de Quervain

Results of Castration in Sexual Abnormalities. — F. de Quervain (Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift, March 2, 1929) reports the resutls of observations made upon some thirty-two patient, twenty-seven men and women in whom castration had been carried out in an attempt to relieve some sexual annormality. The libido was diminished more or less in every case. Out of eight cases of perverse sexual practices, cure was secured in five cases. Psychic disturbances (depression, epileptic and schizophrenic disturbances) of transient nature were observed in nine cases; vaso motor disturbances, similar to those of the menopause, were seen in seven cases. The castrate body type developed in only seven cases. Twenty-three of the patients expressed themselves as very well satisfied with the results of the operation. The operation is indicated in cases of persistent exhibitionis, rape and homosexuality.

[Source: "Results of castration in sexual abnormalities." Urologic and Cutaneous Review 33, no. 5 (May 1929): 351.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Gray: 1866-1934. A poet of the Aesthetic movement, Gray was a friend of Oscar Wilde, who some say used Gray as his inspiration for the title character in The Picture of  Dorian Gray. Like many in the Aesthetic movement (Wilde included), Gray was drawn to Roman Catholicism. He converted in 1890, lapsed, then re-embraced Catholicism in 1895 before issuing his 1896 volume Spiritual Poems: Chiefly Done Out in Several Languages. It included eleven original poems, plus twenty-nine translations of other Catholic and Protestant spiritual poets. In 1898, he went to Rome to study for the priesthood, and he was ordained in 1901. He served is a priest in Edinburgh, and was supported in his endeavors by his life partner Marc-André Raffalovich, a successful poet and early defender of homosexuality who had joined the Dominicans in 1896. The two lived near each other until Raffalovich died suddenly in 1934. Gray was devastated, and became ill and died just four months later.

Matthew Mitcham: 1988. The Queensland, Australia native and Olympic gold medalist received the highest single dive score in Olympic history in the 10m platform in 2008. His performance prevented a Chinese gold medal sweep in diving, and he became the first Australian male to win Olympic gold in diving since 1924. Australia’s post office acted very quickly on the historic win, issuing a 50 cent stamp with his image just one day after his victory. But despite his achievement, his gold medal didn’t translate into sponsorship gold. While lesser athletes snapped up lucrative deals, Mitcham struggled to find a single sponsor before finally landing a contract in 2009 with an Australian telecom. It’s widely believed that his open homosexuality played a role in holding back the rush of sponsors. In 2011, he suffered a string of injuries which hindered his training for the 2012 games in London, where he finished 13th in the 10m platform semifinals, just one place away from qualifying for the finals.

His autobiography, Twists and Turns, was published in Australia and 2012 and internationally last year.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, March 1

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Texas Tradition Rodeo, Dallas, TX; South Florida Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winter Gay Pride, Killington, VT; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is bought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee), September 1977, page 20.

 
Milwaukee’s Sugar Shack opened in 1976 as a bar “by and for women.” It lasted until 1985 when the two women who owned it sold it . It then re-opened as another lesbian bar, D.K.’s Tavern. That lasted just two years until 1987, when it changed hands again and became a men’s gay bar, The Triangle, which finally closed down in 2012. The building has since been renovated beyond recognition and houses a chic Blue Jacket restaurant.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Trial for “Lewd & Sodomitical Pracices: 1642. The Plymouth Colony Court heard a case brought against Edward Michell and Edward Preston for “lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy.” The precise wording was important: sodomy itself was punishable by death, but practices which fell short of sodomy itself (which required proof of penetration and emission), were deemed merely “sodomitical” or sodomy-like. According to surviving records:

Edward Michell, for his lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lewd carriages with Lydia Hatch, is censured to be presently whipped at Plymouth, at the public place, and once more at Bamestable, in convenient time, in the presence of Mr. Freeman and the committees of the said town.

Edward Preston, for his lewd practices tending to sodomy with Edward Michell, and pressing John Keene thereunto (if he would have yielded), is also censured [sentenced] to be forthwith whipped at Plymouth, and once more at Bamestable (when Edward Michell is whipped), in the presence of Mr. Freeman & the committees of the same town.

John Keene, because he resisted the temptation, & used means to discover it, is appointed to stand by whilst Michell and Preston are whipped, though in some thing he was faulty.

New Haven Colony Passes Sodomy Law: 1656. When the New Haven Colony, in what is now Connecticut, its legislation was unique in the English-speaking world for mandating the death penalty for women as well as men for acts “against nature,” as well as for masturbation and anal sex among heterosexual couples. The act read as follows:

If any man lyeth with mankinde, as a man lyeth with a woman, both of them have Committed abomination, they both shall surely be put to death. Levit. 20. 13. And if any woman change the naturall use, into that which is against nature, as Rom. 1. 26. she shall be liable to the same Sentence, and punishment, or If any person, or persons, shall Commit any other kinde of unnaturall and shamefull filthines, called in Scripture the going after strange flesh, or other flesh then God alloweth, by canall knowledge of another vessel then God in nature hath appointed to becomp one flesh, whether it be by abusing the contrary part of a grown woman, or Child of either sex, or unripe vessel of a Girle, wherein the naturall use of the woman is left, which God hath ordained for the propagation of posterity, and Sodomiticall filthinesse (tending to the destruction of the race of mankind) is committed by a kind of Rape, nature being forced, though the will were inticed, every such person shall be put to death. Or if any man shall act upon himself, and in the sight of others spill his owne seed, by example, or counsel, or both, corrupting or tempting others to doe the like, which tends to the sin of Sodomy, if it be not one kind of it; or shall defile, or corrupt himself and others, by any kind of sinfull filthinesse, he shall be punished according to the nature of the offence; or if the case considered with the aggravating circumstances, shall according to the mind of God revealed in his word require it, he shall be put to death, as the Court of Magistrates shall determine.

New Haven Colony also applied the death penalty for adultery. This law remained in effect for the next ten years, until 1665 when New Haven Colony joined Connecticut and came under Connecticut law, which specified the death penalty for “man lying with man” only. That and adultery.

Minnesotans Respond To A Father’s Letter: 1955. Two days earlier, popular Minneapolis broadcaster and columnist Cedric Adams published what must have been a shocking letter in The Minneapolis Star from a father who learned that his son was gay (see Feb 27). According to the father, his son had undergone therapy and “has been salvaged” — according to the father. Also, according to the father, Minneapolis was rife with homosexuals and the police were doing nothing to close down their bars. Adams published the letter in order to, at the very least, “point a finger at the condition.”

Indeed it did, and the letter became the subject of three more columns over the following week. On March 1, Adams returned to the subject, publishing a number of letters that he received from outraged citizens in the Twin Cities area. His column for the day went like this:

A father’s letter printed here Sunday having to do with a homosexual problem of his 20-year-old son has produced a wave of reaction, some from the public, some from the University of Minnesota and some from our own Minneapolis police department. While the situation is still fresh, This Corner wants to extend to Thomas R. Jones, superintendent of the Minneapolis police department, an opportunity to discuss some of the charges made by the father of the son involved. I ran that letter on Sunday for two reasons: I think the situation needs some airing and I was convinced that this father, and perhaps many others, need a little straightening out on the whole problem. Superintendent Jones did exactly what I hoped he would do. He took the bull by the horns and in a very straightforward manner did his best to pinpoint the mistakes of the parent involved. I spent two hours with Chief Jones In his office yesterday and came out with this statement trom him:

“THE OBVIOUS INDICTMENT of the police department in your Sunday column is unjustified and without basis of fact. You omitted the names of the bars because of the possibility of damage suits against your newspaper. The writer of the letter you published had no evidence which would be admissible in a court of law to prove the accusation and inferences made in his letter. Police officers are also bound by that same restriction and cannot name individuals or establishments or make arrests of either unless they are in possession of provable facts which would be admissible in court to prove that a crime has been committed…

“THE ACT OF HOMOSEXUALITY is defined as sodomy In our state statutes and is a felony. Both parties involved are equally guilty in the eyes of the law and can be sentenced to a term in the state penitentiary. However, one may not accuse another of such activity unless he is in possession of such facts that would prove the commission of the crime. This applies to any law violation and you’d be doing a public service by bringing this, to the attention of your readers. Police officers cannot name individuals or establishments or make arrests until they can prove a crime has been committed. A group of suspected homosexuals frequenting a bar does not constitute a violation of the law. There’s no evidence that a crime has been committed. Now, take the father’s statement that the police have done nothing to curb the situation. That’s a complete misstatement of fact. Only last week a night club was told to discontinue an act because the police department strongly suspicioned that objectionable individuals made up a majority of the show. We do not want that kind of attraction. An identical case was similarly disposed of two years ago…

“THE FATHER WHO WROTE the letter didn’t even suggest that he ever made an attempt to bring his suspicions or complaints to the proper authorities — his police department. He states that his privately hired ‘private eye’ saw police officers in two of the spots he visited while making his investigation. The duty incumbent on every citizen to bring cases of law violations to the attention of the proper authorities is even more binding on parties holding special police commissions, such as private detectives. They take an oath to enforce the law and to assist law enforcement bodies in every instance of law violation that comes to their attention. It’s the duty of our police officers to patrol bars, to look for law violations, but the mere presence of a group of homosexuals in any bar is not evidence of violation of the law…

“I CAN’T HELP WONDER whether the father of the son in question had ever taken the time or trouble to caution or advise his son about some of the sins or pitfalls of the world in which we live. It’s my suspicion that he, like so many others, is trying to excuse his dereliction of family duty by trying to place the responsibility for his son’s yielding to temptation on the police department. This neglect of family duty, in my opinion, is the greatest single cause of juvenile delinquency. Why haven’t this father and you and your column and the newspaper you refer to as a ‘family gazette’ taken a more active stand in endeavoring to give our city enough police officers to carry out the many duties and responsibilities expected of them instead of waiting for lightning to strike home before doing something about it. We have a vice squad of five men to patrol a city of more than half a million. Our whole department has fewer officers per thousand population than the average for all cities in the United States over 10,000 population. Minneapolis has the lowest incident of homosexuality of any city of its size in the country. Don’t let your readers get the wrong impression from letters which do not present the facts.”

The next day, Adams published another letter from a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota:

“GENERALLY SPEAKING, FATHERS and mothers are always’ well-advised to take to a school counselor students who experience behavior and emotional problems. The teacher, the counselor, and the parent have much in common and can be of help to each other. If the boy, referred to in the letter of Feb. 27, is a student in any Minnesota college or university, I am certain that even now the appropriate college counselor would be very pleased to discuss the matter with the father and mother and that much good would result if the parents of this or any boy would take advantage of this available assistance. — E. G. Williamson, dean of student affairs and professor of psychology, University of Minnesota.

These two columns represents a historically interesting turn. Considering the times — 1955, just five years after the initiation of the Lavender Scare — the father’s letter didn’t generate a state of general panic demanding that the authorities do something immediately. Instead, and quite unlike the kind of generalized panic that had seizedMiami the year before (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14,Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6 Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16), Adams posted a series of letters from readers calling the father to task. The letter writers didn’t betray any evidence of enlightenment toward gay people — their motivation appears to have been to rush to defend the reputation of Minneapolis and its people (“Minneapolis has the lowest incident of homosexuality of any city of its size in the country”). But in the context of the times, they do show a remarkable restraint in their reactions upon learning that there are homosexuals in the city.

But the real surprising turn would come in another three days when Adams would feature another round of letters, this time from gay people themselves.

[Source: "In This Corner, with Cedric Adams." Minneapolis Star (March 1, 1955). As reprinted in The Mattachine Review, 1, no. 3 (May-June 1955): 24-30.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mercedes de Acosta: 1893-1968. Born in New York City to Cuban and Spanish immigrants, de Acosta went on to publish a novel and three volumes of poetry, and she saw four of her plays produced. But none of them were successful. De Acosta instead became on early example of achieving fame for being famous, thanks to her many lesbian affairs with Broadway and Hollywood celebrities despite a more-or-less arranged marriage to painter Aram Poole from 1920 to 1935.

Lovers included the Russian-born silent film star Alla Nazimova (see Jun 3), the dancer Isadora Duncan, and Broadway actress Eva Le Gallienne. De Acosta’s five-year relationship with Le Gallienne started the same year as de Acosta’s marriage. De Acosta wrote two plays for Le Gallienne, both of which flopped, which led to their breakup. She met Greta Garbo in 1929, and the two almost immediately began an intense and stormy relationship. They split in 1932 and de Acosta began seeing Marlene Dietrich. That relationship lasted for the rest of the decade, even as de Acosta and Garbo continued to see each other from time to time and remained, at the very least, close friends over the next thirty years.

Following the war, de Acosta moved to Paris, where she sat out the 1950s and the McCarthy Red- and Lavender Scare. She returned to New York in 1960, broke and in poor health, and published her memoir Here Lies the Heart, to generally good reviews. De Acosta was candid-for-1960 about her relationships while carefully avoiding anything of a sexual nature. Nevertheless Garbo was appalled and ended all contact with de Acosta once and for all. Other critics were shocked and accused de Acosta of exaggeration, but her long-time friend Alice B. Toklas (See Apr 30) came to her defense. “Say what you will about Mercedes, she’s had the most important women of the twentieth century.” De Acosta died in poverty in 1968, and was buried in Washington Heights in New York City.

Bryan Batt: 1963. He’s best known for playing Sal Romano, the married but glass-closeted art director at the Sterling Cooper ad agency for the first three seasons of AMC’s Mad Men. He also played gay roles in Kiss Me, Guido, Jeffrey, and the stage version of La Cage aux Folles. Jeffrey came out while he was playing a male (straight) lead on the Broadway version of Sunset Blvd. He was worried that coming out then would ruin his career, “but now I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It’s normal to be gay.” When he’s not acting, Batt is in New Orleans with his partner of 25 years where they own a home decorating store.

Don Lemon: 1966. The host of the weekend prime-time CNN Newsroom, Don Lemon joined CNN in 2006, reporting from Chicago as then-Sen. Barack Obama was beginning his long trek to the White House. Since then, his on-the-scene reporting has included the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse, the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Massachusetts. He won the Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the Washington, D.C. snipers, and an Emmy for a special report on Chicago-area real estate. In 2009, Ebony named him as one of the Ebony Power 150, and in 2011 he was the keynote speaker fort he National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association national convention. That was after he came out as gay in his 2011 memoir, Transparent.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Texas Tradition Rodeo, Dallas, TX; South Florida Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winter Gay Pride, Killington, VT; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, D.C.), June 1977, page 20.

 
Washington, D.C’s Court Jester first opened in 1970 downtown, at 812 13th St NW at the intersection with New York Avenue, where a condo building now stands. In late 1976, the bar moved three miles across town to Wisconsin Avenue, where another condo building now stands across from the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The Court Jester closed for good in 1979.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals Over Previous Two Years: 1950. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy said that the State Department had gotten rid of 202 employees over the past two years who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go were separated because they were suspected of being gay.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
190  YEARS AGO: Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824-1882. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

Pedro Zamora: 1972 (Feb 29) -1994. When MTV debuted The Real World in 1992, it quite literally invented so-called reality television — so-called because it’s hard to see how putting eight attractive young people in a hip loft-like apartment with television crews, hidden cameras, and make-work jobs could be considered “reality.” But in 1994, things really did start getting real when Pedro Zamora, the Cuban-American gay man revealed that he was HIV positive to his housemates by showing them his scrapbook of his four years as an AIDS educator and advocate. In fact, it was this vocation which inspired him to audition for The Real World’s third season. As the season progressed, housemates (and viewers) became more aware of the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, attended some of Pedro’s AIDS education lectures, celebrated with him as he and his partner exchanged vows during a commitment ceremony, and watched as he dealt with his own deteriorating health as the season progressed.

Taping ended in June 19, 1994 and the first episodes aired a week later. As the season aired, Pedro’s declining health prevented him from participating in any publicity appearances. In August, he checked into St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. There he was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, one of the many opportunistic infections that many people with AIDS suffered, which causes fatigue, headaches and confusion. After three weeks, he was flown home to Miami to be with his family. He died on November 11, 1994, a day after the final episode of The Real World aired. President Bill Clinton praised Pedro, saying that because of his example, “no one in America can say they’ve never known someone who is living with AIDS.”

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 27

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Texas Tradition Rodeo, Dallas, TX; South Florida Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winter Gay Pride, Killington, VT; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, February 2, 1976, page 70.

 
Larry Box, who had managed the original Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village when it was raided in 1969, moved to Florida and opened Stonewall Too in 1975. This club was in a building that also housed the 8000 Club Hotel, which at one time sold timeshares to gay clientele. At one point the building housed a piano bar, a restaurant, a gym and this disco.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Minneapolis Father Discovers Homosexuality: 1955. Cedric Adams was perhaps the most popular radio personality in the upper Midwest throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was the newscaster for WCCO in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and he hosted several other popular music and talent programs. In the 1950s, he made his transition to WCCO television as its newscaster. Pilots claimed that they could see lights go out each night after Adams signed off his 10:00 p.m. newscast. He also write a daily column for The Minneapolis Star titled, “In This Corner.” On Sunday, February 27, he devoted that day’s column to a letter that he received from a Minneapolis father:

APPALLING INDEED was the story this last week of the 36 shoplifters — 31 girls, 5 boys, all in their teens. Tomorrow the youngsters and their parents will traipse to the police department, loot will be piled up, department store representatives will be on hand to identify the merchandise that has been pilfered. A pretty shocking situation. What the spotlight of public attention turned on the ugly picture will do is conjecture. Will the punishment fit the crime? It’s a good question. We have another situation fully as alarming and as demanding of investigation as the shoplifting spree of the 36 …

I don’t have the answer, but I do have the initial warning that should alert every last one of us to a social danger in our midst. It happened to a father right here in Minneapolis. He was courageous enough to act. He was also astute enough to sense the evil. I hope you will read his letter. It’s one of those that obviously comes from within — shocking it is, and yet so vital. If publishing the letter does nothing more than point a finger at the condition, it will then have served its purpose. Here is the letter exactly as I received it:

“DEAR CEDRIC: My wife and I have two sons and a daughter approximately the ages of your children. We have considered ours a typical American family. The daughter is in high school, the two boys attend college. Very recently I was shocked to learn of a well-established vice condition flourishing and allowed to continue right in our city of Minneapolis. The police so far have done nothing to stop it. Maybe they can do nothing…

“This condition seriously affected the life of my younger son — and perhaps the lives of many other young sons. Because of the distasteful nature of the condition, I am not going to reveal our names. But something corrective should be done…

“Our younger son (we’ll call him Jack) is 20 years old. Until the last few months he has been a regular boy. He has a fine appearance, was a high school athlete, was interested in all sports, even took an active interest in church affairs…

“Recently we noticed Jack had dropped his girl friend as well as his former school and church friends. He began an association with a strange group of fellows. They appeared decent enough outwardly, yet we could detect something that gave the impression they were a totally ‘wrong’ group. Jack spent fewer evenings and week-ends at home. His college studies suffered. In the past, Jack had always brought his problems to the family. Suddenly he had grown apart from us. We felt he was hiding something of which he was ashamed…

“My wife and I were concerned, yet we were determined to let Jack bring his problem to us. He failed to do it. Finally I decided to talk to him. I got nowhere. I suspected Jack had joined a group of dope addicts…

“I hired a reliable private detective in desperation. As a matter of fact, my family physician advised it. I was amazed at the findings of the detective. Jack had not become a dope addict, but instead had falling in with a large group of active homosexuals frequenting several Minneapolis public bars and so-called supper clubs. The detective pointed out that there were police officers in two of the bars during one of his visits. Moreover, he said most of the clubs were operating almost exclusively for homosexuals with just a sprinkling of on-lookers present…

“My wife and I were greatly concerned, as you might well imagine. We wondered if we failed in the proper upbringing of our son. I confronted Jack with the findings and, at the request of our family physician again, we sent our son to a psychiatrist, with whom I visited myself. The psychiatrist informed me that Jack had not been an active homosexual The doctor said Jack’s upbringing had been normal and that it was his opinion he had simply fallen in with the wrong group…

“This group had interested Jack as it had interested many other young sons. These boys were actually ‘taught’ homosexuality just as one learns to become a dope addict, the doctor informed me…

“Jack told us this had been his first experience. He had been introduced to it through another university student. Now Jack is completely ashamed of his venture, he’s proud of his parents once again and has left the group completely. We’re proud of him and happy, of course, to have him back with his family and his former friends…

“But how many other Jacks are there or will there be if this sort of thing is permitted to operate and grow? The detective admitted that these practices had been increasing greatly here within the last few years, that certain bars and clubs are exclusive hangouts for homosexuals, that no curb whatsoever has been placed on them. He supplied me with a list of the places he knew that had been encouraging that kind of patronage. That list I have sent to Mayor Hoyer…

“Our son has been salvaged. It’s my earnest hope that others — all of them — may be, too. I hope you will be fearless enough to do something to bring the whole situation to the attention of both the public and our authorities. Here is a force as deadly in its operation as anything in the world. Something should be done. Can’t you spearhead the drive with publicity at least?”

Signed — A MINNEAPOLIS FATHER.

Remember where things stood in 1955. The Lavender Scare was, by then, five years old, and public attitudes towards gay people had not measurably improved since then. Gays and lesbians were prohibited from federal employment, and were routinely fired from their jobs whenever their sexuality became known. Police departments across the country routinely raided gay bars and even private homes, charging their prey with a patchwork of “lewd vagrancy,” “moral deviancy” and even felony sodomy laws. All, more or less, with the generous backing of the general public.

And so this column posed the danger of unleashing a witch hunt in the Twin Cities similar to anti-gay crack downs in other cities. But for some reason, things were different in Minneapolis. Over the next few days, a remarkable dialogue — remarkable for 1955 at least — took place on the pages of The Minneapolis Star. Check back on March 1 for the next installment of that conversation.

[Source: "In This Corner, with Cedric Adams." Minneapolis Star (February 27, 1955). As reprinted in ONE magazine, 3, no. 4 (April 1955): 18-23.]

Miami’s Witch Hunt Resumes: 1956. Miami’s longstanding anti-gay witch hunt of 1954 (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14,Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6 Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16) appeared to have been dying down, at least according to the papers, which hadn’t had much to report on in, gosh, over a year now, leading The Miami News, the city’s biggest cheerleader for past anti-gay campaigns, to worry that the word had gone out that the “heat’s off”:

Homosexuals Return, Find Heat’s Off Again
Homosexuals are appearing openly again in Greater Miami and making money for the operators of clubs which cater to them.

Several hundred — possibly more than 1,000 — are here this winter and have found that the heat is off from a public protest campaign less than two years ago.

Word now is going back up north that Miami has lifted the barriers once more.

A three-week survey by The Miami News showed that the pervert colony is flocking back in the same places raided consistently during the “purge” of 1954.”

The News listed five bars “where a News reporter was actually approached,” with at least one with drag performances which some Miami citizens apparently decided was more entertaining than dangerous. “Female impersonators also are an important part of the act at the Club Benni, which draws many non-deviates as well. The News also said that “open homosexuality also was found in several other places” in Miami Beach around 22nd Street with “as many as 100 or more obvious deviates at one time.”

But if the heat was really off, then it’s hard to explain another article which appeared that same day in the same paper:

4 Fined $900 in Roundup of Deviates Here
Four of 15 men arrested in a four-day pervert round-up by Miami police were fined a total of $900 in City Court today.

The roundup, first in Miami this season, started after Miami News reporters began checking known hangouts here and asked police for comments on the situation.

…Police arrested 15 adults and issued two juvenile citations in the pervert probe between Thursday and Saturday last week. Most of the other cases will come up soon in City Court, according to Sgt. R.H. Kellum.

A fifth man in the roundup had apparently been injured by someone who was out “rolling the queers” that night. He, too, found himself  charged:

In Miami Beach, a man who told police he was a homosexual, was charged with disorderly conduct after he was found bleeding from a gashed leg early today at Flamingo Drive and 24th Street.

Detective Walter Philbin and Joseph Caputo said the man originally told them he was hit by an automobile. Later, while being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital, he said he was visiting a friend when he picked up a broken bottle and cut himself in the leg. Detectives said he gave no reason for the action.

The cut required 15 stitches. Trial was set for Wednesday.

Cracker Barrel Backtracks on Gay Employees: 1991. Earlier in January, it had been revealed that the down-home country-style restaurant chain had fired eleven gay employees after issuing a policy statement saying it “is perceived to be inconsistent with our customer base to continue to employ individuals… whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.” A manager of a Georgia restaurant fired one of his employees by telling him that the company had adopted a policy of not employing “homosexuals or men who had feminine traits.”

Once gay rights groups learned of the firings, the Lebanon, Tennessee-based company’s chairman Dan W. Evans tried to backtrack in late February, telling The Tennessean newspaper that “a written policy got out that should not have gotten out. We told the gay community that was a mistake, we apologized, (and) rescinded it. As of now, we have no policy regarding gays and lesbians.” But he then went on to contradict his non-policy when he said that openly gay or lesbian applicants would not be employed in some rural communities where their presence would be perceived as a “disruption.” The company’s vice president also said that the fired employees would not be rehired because they” were a disruption to the store,” and issued a second statement saying, “it only makes good business sense to continue to employ folks who will provide the quality of service our customers have come to expect from us.”

The Tennessee Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force were not at all satisfied with the response, and called a boycott of the fast-growing chain. Two New York pension funds added to the pressure by refusing to vote to re-elect any of the company’s board of directors in 1992, and shareholders waged a battle over nondiscrimination policies through much of the 1990s. In 2002, the Cracker Barrel board finally added sexual orientation to the company’s non-discrimination policy, and therefore ending the boycott. However, Cracker Barrel continued to get into hot water over other areas of discrimination, including charges in 2002 that restaurants had been segregating African-American customers in smoking sections and denying them service. The Justice Department in 2004 found that Cracker Barrel had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the company agreed to a settlement which, among other things, required the company to hire outside auditors to ensure compliance with the law.

In 2010, Cracker Barrel earned a spot (barely) on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for implementing nondiscrimination policies and diversity training that includes sexual orientation for all of its employees. Cracker Barrel earned a score of 15 points out of a possible 100, a score that has risen to only 45 for 2014.

Pat Buchanan Again Calls AIDS “Nature’s Retribution”: 1992. Presidential nomination races seem to bring out the worst in candidates, and when that candidate is Pat Buchanan his worst can be pretty bad. When he brought his campaign to Georgia, he appeared on conservative talk radio to talk about the topics that were near and dear to his heart: abortion, pornography, and the gay “lifestyle.” In response to a question about AIDS, Buchanan responded, “AIDS is nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways. I think the promiscuous homosexual lifestyle is not only wrong, but it is medically ruinous. And I think it is socially destructive.” With this statement, Buchanan picked up a theme that he had been using since at least 1983, when he wrote an op-ed for the New York Post saying that gay people “have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.” (see May 24) One thing that can be said for the man: he certainly has the virtue of consistency.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
James Leo Herlihy: 1927-1993. The novelist, playwright and actor was born in Detroit to a working-class family. Herlihy enlisted in the Navy in 1945, missing combat thanks to the war’s end. He attended the highly experimental Black Mountain College near Asheville North Carolina for two years where he studied sculpture, painting, music and literature, and then moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse College of the Theater when his first play, “Streetlight Sonata,” premiered in 1950. He then moved to New York, were his “Moon in Capricorn” appeared off Broadway. His first play to make it to the Great White Way was “Blue Denim” in 1958, which was made into a movie the following year.

He began publishing novels in 1960, two of which were adapted to films. All Fall Down (1960), about an adolescent boy’s conflicts with his function family, dealt with the very touchy subjects of teenage sexuality, pregnancy and abortion, and broke new ground for what major publishers were willing to touch. It was made into a film in 1962 starring Warren Beatty, Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden. While the novel received wide critical acclaim, the movie flopped.

The reverse happened with 1965′s Midnight Cowboy: the book received relatively lukewarm reviews, but the 1969 film became the first (and only) X-Rated film to receive an Academy Award. It actually won three: for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. His last novel, “Season of the Witch” (1971) took the form of a diary, written by a 19-year-old girl who moves to New York with her gay boyfriend.

Herlihy himself spent most of his life living the bohemian lifestyle in the gay paradise of Key West, Florida. During the late 1960s, he embraced the hippie and anti-war movements, despite being a whole generation older. His Key West cottage became a kind of a “safe house” for hippies. “I protected a fair number of them from the law, who wanted to drive them out of town and we had love-ins and weddings in the garden,” he later said. “What made me so happy with those beautiful creatures was the sense they gave me that the marginal people to whom I’d been drawn all through my life were suddenly having a heyday. We’ve learned since then that it wasn’t as simple as all that, but for a time, at least, the freaks really did have the establishment on the run, and nothing’s been the same since.”

By the 1970s, Herlihy was starting to feel claustrophobic by his celebrity and the growing toursm in Key West. He also found that it was getting too hard for him to work. In 1973, he moved to Los Angeles and adopted a pseudonym to try to keep the world at bay. He resumed writing, but never published anything else after the move. He also acted in several plays and one movie, Four Friends (1981). His character, a disturbed father, committed suicide. In 1993, Herlihy took his own life, overdosing on sleeping pills.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, February 26

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; Cologne Street Carnival, Cologne, Germany; Texas Tradition Rodeo, Dallas, TX; South Florida Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winter Gay Pride, Killington, VT; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Gay Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA; Leather Alliance Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sitges Carnival, Sitges, Spain; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Chemical Castration for Homosexuality: 1955. In the 1950s, endocrinologists were just beginning to understand the many valuable benefits of hormone therapy to treat a large number of conditions. They also found that hormones could also have lasting, damaging effects on the body. Those effects were put to use in attempts to control the sexual behavior of gay men as doctors, often under court order, began prescribing Stilboestrol, a synthetic estrogen, in order to induce chemical castration. In an article which appeared in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Robert E. Hemphill, the medical superintendent at the Bristol Mental Hospital, described the effects of hormone therapy for a number of different conditions, including the following:

Homosexuality and Excessive Sexuality. — The direction of homosexual or heterosexual drives cannot be altered with sex hormones; but the force of sexual drive in males can be reduced by treatment with female sex hormones. There are a number of papers on the subject, and all the authors are in general agreement about the indications and the rationale. Treatment with female sex hormones reduces the production of gonadotrophic hormones, producing a secondary effect on testicular function and secretion. The reduction of sex drive is comparable to that achieved by surgical castration, although some authors claim that endocrine treatment is more effective (Hamilton, 1943). Stilboestrol is the usual preparation, administered in increasing doses until the nipples become pigmented and the breasts sore; an alternative is ethynol oestradiol, 0.5 or 1 mg. daily. Eventually almost complete testicular atrophy will be produced, but not necessarily a total suppression of the abnormal sex drives. It is interesting that notice has been taken of this treatment at the recent trial of an extreme and persistent homosexual offender, in whom abnormal behaviour had continued in spite of the production of almost complete atrophy of the testes by stilboestrol. The judge took into consideration that the offender had therefore done everything possible that medical treatment could offer, although in his case it had not been completely successful. Persistent homosexual offenders should therefore be encouraged to persevere with this treatment, although in some cases a satisfactory control of sexual behaviour may not necessarily be achieved.

In 1952, famed mathematician Alan Turing (see Jun 23) was arrested for homosexuality and given the choice between prison and chemical castration through hormone therapy. Turing was given Stilboestrol for a year, whereupon he became impotent and experienced the side effects of breast enlargement and general bloating in his body. He also lost his security clearance. Stilboestrol, also known in the U.S. as Diethylstilbestrol (DES), would later be linked to depression and severe birth defects when given to pregnant women. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

[Source: R.E. Hemphill. "Endocrine treatment in psychiatry." British Medical Journal 1, no. 4912 (February 26, 1955): 501-504. Full text available online here.]

Newsweek’s “Gay Power”: 1973. Newsweek provided a quick update to the beginnings of what would become a growing political movement in a small article titled “Gay Power”:

The time is probably not at hand when Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley will don black tie and hie himself off to an annual dinner of the Chicago Gay Alliance — just another politician seeking votes among just another group of citizens. Nor has Richard Nixon yet expressed his hopes for a brighter future for America’s homosexuals. But in recent years, in the backwash of political organizational efforts by migrant workers, welfare mothers and other once formless and powerless groups, the nations homosexuals have begun taking a few assertive steps of their own — and finding to their not inconsiderable surprise that the politicians can be made to pay attention.

Newsweek wrote that progress so far had been measured “mostly by symbol and gesture” and was limited to major cities and college campuses. San Francisco, Los Angeles were mentioned, but Newsweek was more impressed with the activity taking place in the Northeast, where gay advocates worked to overturn anti-sodomy laws (43 states still had them in 1973), enact equal rights protections, ensure child visitation rights in custody battles, and even fight on behalf of gay taxi drivers in New York City who required medical certifications of sanity before they were allowed to drive cabs. Gays were visible as never before, except for one young legislator who, while not yet out, may have dared reporters to ask:

In Boston earlier this month, freshman State Rep. Barney Frank caused a small sensation when he told his colleagues that he had routinely used gays as campaign workers last year, among ordinary citizens as well as among other homosexuals — “and as all of you know, campaigning is a peculiarly personal kind of thing.”

But nobody asked, and Frank didn’t tell. A year later, Massachusetts (and the nation) saw its first openly gay state legislator when Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives (see Nov 5). Frank came out on his own initiative in 1987 during his fourth term in Congress (see May 29).

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 25

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, a publication of the Gay People’s Union, October 1971, page 4. Scans of GPU News are available at the University of Wisconsin Library’s Digital Collection.

 
While researching today’s history item below over the weekend, I discovered a stupendously rich LGBT history web site run by the Milwaukee LGBT History Project. One of the unusual aspects of the project is that it includes some rather detailed histories of businesses and organizations throughout Wisconsin. The Stud went by a number of names during its history as a bar in the shabby fleabag Royal Hotel, starting simply as the Royal Hotel Bar in the 1930s. Even back then, it was a popular meeting place for gay people. By the late 1960s, it became known variously as The Stud, The Stud Club, Club 546, then Michelle’s Club 546. Michelle’s closed in 1973 when the Royal Hotel was razed to make way for a new Blue Cross Insurance building. It’s closing marked the end of a remarkably long 40-year era in Milwaukee’s gay history.

Photo of the signing of AB70 into law by Governor Lee Dreyfus, February 1982. L-R: Leon Rouse, Governor Dreyfus, David Clarenbach (via the Milwaukee LGBT History Project)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wisconsin Becomes First State to Ban Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: 1982. When Rep. David Clarenbach (D-Madison) introduced his gay rights bill into the Wisconsin Assembly, he did so from a glass closet. “It was a different era. … Even in the liberal stronghold of Madison, it would have done more than raise eyebrows. It would’ve hampered a person’s electability. Yet I think it’s safe to say that every member of the Legislature and every member of the Capitol press corps knew I was gay…. The general consensus was not to intrude into one’s personal life.”

Clarenbach worked with Milwaukee gay rights activist Leon Rouse and others to introduce yet another anti-discrimination bill covering sexual orientation, as part of an ongoing effort that had begun as far back as 1971, when Milwaukee legislator and civil rights activist Lloyd Barbee introduced the first bill to provide anti-discrimination protections for gay people. Rouse had put together a carefully crafted coalition beginning in 1977, spurred on by Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade in Florida that had spread across the nation. He organized the Committee for Fundamental Judeo-Christian Human Rights, comprised of clergy from a number of Christian and Jewish denominations. Committee members lobbied their superiors and traveled to Madison to testify in favor of the. Rouse even managed to convince Milwaukee’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland to support the bill in a letter to legislators and in a column in Milwaukee’s weekly Catholic newspaper.

Meanwhile, Clarenback brought together a different coalition of labor unions and liberal activists, framing the question in the simplest of terms: is discrimination tolerable? He even managed to pull in Republican supporters, so that when the bill finally passed the Assembly, it did so with bipartisan support.

With the bill’s passage in the state house, the big question now was whether Republican Gov. Lee Dreyfuss would sign it. After intense lobbying by both sides, Dreyfuss finally decided to give the bill his stamp of approval, explaining: “It is a fundamental tenet of the Republican Party that government ought not intrude in the private lives of individuals where no state purpose is served, and there is nothing more private or intimate than who you live with and who you love.”

After deciding not to re-election the state Assembly in 1992, Clarenbach was succeeded by Tammy Baldwin, who ran as the first openly gay candidate for the state house in Wisconsin history. Clarenbach then went on to become the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund from 1996 to 1997.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 24

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2014

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Museveni to Sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill Monday Morning: Kampala, Uganda. According to a tweet sent out late last night by a Ugandan governmental spokesperson, President Yoweri Museveni was set to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at 11:00 a.m. this morning, Uganda time (3:00 a.m. EST). This move comes exactly five years to the day after BTB first learned about that infamous anti-gay conference put on by Scott Lively and two other American Evangelicals in Kampala (see below).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, February 2, 1976, page 29.

 
I can’t find any information about this disco in the heart of Old San Juan. Near as I can tell, the address is (or, at least, recently has been) a high fashion boutique.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
10 YEARS AGO: President George Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment: 2004. With Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that nothing short of marriage would provide full equality for same-sex couples as required in the state’s constitution (see May 17), and with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s order that the county clerk begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples (see Feb 12), pressure had been building on President Goerge W. Bush, then running for a second term as President, to do something! And so, in lockstep with his conservative Christian base — and in keeping with his campaign strategist Karl Rove’s encouraging several important states (including, critically, Ohio) to place marriage bans on their ballots as part of a get-out-the-vote effort — Bush declared his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if enacted, would have permanently and nationally banished all same-sex marriages “or the legal incidents thereof.”

And in the typical black-is-white rhetoric that had become a hallmark of his administration, he blamed his decision on gay people. “After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,” he said. “Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.”

Declaring that “the voice of the people must be heard,” he urged Congress to “promptly pass… an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife,” during televised remarks from the White House’s Roosevelt Room. After urging that the nation consign gay Americans to permanent second-class citizenship, he called on the nation to begin the debate “without bitterness or anger.”

Log Cabin Republicans, who enthusiastically supported Bush four years ago after a closed-door meeting with the then-Texas governor, felt betrayed by the statement. Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said. “Log Cabin considers support for this amendment a declaration of war on gay and lesbian families and an attack on our sacred Constitution.” LCR political director Chris Barron (he would later go on to co-found GOProud), would later comment, “It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the president’s support for an anti-family constitutional amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships.” LCR would go on to withhold its endorsement of Bush for the 2004 election cycle.

Later in September, the proposed amendment would fail in the House, 227 to 186, with 290 votes needed to cross the two-thirds requirement to send a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification. The Senate had, by then, already failed to break a filibuster against the proposal.

L-R: Don Schmierer, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge

5 YEARS AGO: American Evangelicals Announce Anti-Gay Conference In Uganda: 2009. BTB became the first Western outlet to discover and report the shocking announcement that Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and a little-known staffer at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, Caleb Lee Brundidge, would join Holocaust revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for a three day conference in Kampala. Lively was already known to regular BTB readers for his involvement with the international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls (not to be confused with an unrelated Family Research Council initiative by the same name) and for his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he wrote that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” Knowing that Lively was bringing his brand of extremism to Uganda was very worrying. As I wrote at the time:

Lively’s brand of rhetoric is unusually vitriolic, even by some of the more ardent anti-gay standards. He regularly describes gays as being sick and“followers of the Father of Lies.” When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder in Sacramento. Lively contends that “civilization and homosexuals” are engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations.

The Kampala conference was organized by Steven Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Network. Lively had struck up a friendship with Langa during a tour of the African continent in 2002. Throughout the decade, Ugandan pastors adopted increasingly violent rhetoric against gay people, with one pastor, Martin Ssempa, leading hundreds of his followers in 2007 through the streets of Kampala demanding harsh punishments against gay people, and publishing the names and addresses of Ugandan gay rights advocates. Many were forced to go into hiding.

“Can anyone say AIDS?” Scott Lively calling AIDS a just punishment from God at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 7, 2009.

With Lively’s incendiary rhetoric being thrown into the mix, I didn’t know what would happen but I feared the worst. My worst fears, however, were nothing compared to what actually followed: a long series of anti-gay meetings and rallies, vigilante campaigns, rising violence and blackmail which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” in Uganda’s parliament in October, 2009. Lively, who had bragged that his 2009 conference was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” is being sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda in U.S. Federal Court under the Alien Tort Act. The lawsuit alleges that alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law which caused harm to the LGBT community in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliament approved the Anti-Homosexualty Bill last December. The death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” has reportedly been removed and replaced with a life sentence (as though spending a lifetime in the notorious Luzira prison were any better). Other penalties reportedly include: lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. Late last night, Uganda’s governmental spokesperson Tweeted that Museveni would sign the bill today at 11:00 a.m., exactly five years to the day after we first learned about that conference that started it all.

Since February 24, 2009, BTB has followed every twist and turn of the events in Uganda. Our compilation, Slouching Toward Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate, is a timeline and index of the nearly 600 posts that we have written documenting the events in Uganda since then. You can also follow our Uganda tag for more recent events.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, February 23

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 13

 
In 1972, San Francisco’s Castro and Market area was still known as Eureka Valley, a struggling Irish neighborhood that had seen better days. The real action for the gay community was on Polk Street near the Tenderloin, and the P.S. restaurant and coctail lounge, with its floor show, was a regular institution. The building now houses a cocktail lounge called Blur.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Suicide in St. Louis: 1892. When I wrote about this suicide in 2012, I didn’t know the date nor the name of the man in question. All I had was a written description of a man whose desperation over an unrequited (or a no longer requited) love led to his untimely and sad end. Charles H Hughes, editor of the Alienist and Neurologist (“Alienist” was an early term for psychiatrist) gave a talk before the Section of Mental and Nervous Diseases at the Pan-American Medical Congress in 1893 on “Erotopathia” — among the many early terms given to homosexuality before the word “homosexual” entered the English language — in which he gave the following account:

In February of the past year (1892), a quiet, cultured and gentlemanly appearing young man committed suicide by shooting himself at his room in a hotel in St. Louis. A combination of causes probably led to the despondency which ended in the rash act. Pecuniary embarrassment may have been one of them, but the chief cause, as elicited at the Coroner’s inquest, as testified by the male friend of whom he was enamored, was that he had a morbid attachment for that friend. He wrote long letters to him teeming with endearing words. They had roomed together, but at the time of the tragedy they were rooming apart. This was his second attempt at suicide. At the time of his death he carried a locket about his neck containing the picture of the man be loved. He was an educated professional man, kindhearted and of good address.

The following letters, written in a neat hand shortly prior to, and about the time of, his death, serve to show the erotopathic condition of this young man’s mind. They reveal the ardent feeling of the anxious, disappointed lover, much the same feeling as one madly in love might normally have for his heart’s idol of the other sex, but never but unnaturally and abnormally for one’s own sex, with homicidal and suicidal impulses of maddened desperation added.

My Dear Friend: — Are you ill, angry or merely careless? I looked for my usual Thursday’s letter Saturday morning. It came not. I then felt sure you would write me on Sunday. I watched for the postman. No letter. He has been here this A. M. and still no letter. It makes me not only unhappy, but very anxious — unhappy since I am deprived of all that is left me to care for or look forward to; unhappy in the thought that I have displeased you; in suspense and anxiety lest some bodily ailment has seized that goodly frame and rendered you unable to communicate with me. If I do not hear from you in a day or so I shall be frantic and unfit for anything. I sent the stud on Thursday, which must have reached you Saturday, and not later than Monday, in which case I should have heard from you by this time.”

My Dear Friend: — I have just returned from the Cathedral, where Bishop Tuttle preached. My mind is not in a very receptive frame, so I can hardly tell anything he said. The pass was all a myth. The only pass I have is one into eternity. I even sold my dress suit and my old clothes to raise the funds to get here on. I came, intending to first kill you, then myself. I shall only make an end of my own miserable existence. My Jove for you has been my ruin. I can no more live a life apart from you than I can fly. The past month has been the test and I cannot do it. There is but one thing which could save me, and that is to pass the remainder of my life in your presence. I shall do that anyhow, for to die in your arms relieves death of half its terrors. I wish it would come to me naturally and you would have nothing to dishonor or grieve you. It is cruel in me to do this act, for it will blight your life. I should be more cruel to myself to try and live without you. You have done all but the one right and effective thing to save and make me, but it has all failed. I would gladly beg, steal, do anything — forego riches, forget friends, home, kindred, but for a life of blissful association with you. My office and outfit are all intact and you can realize something on those things. Mr. C—- H—-, XI6 M—- Avenue, will see to the things. I appreciate all you did, and the effort and sacrifice you made for me. It was not in the right direction.

“This letter to you is all I leave behind. I cannot write anything to my parents. The blow will probably kill my mother. I shudder to think of it. We might have been happy together had it not been for W—-. The W—-, your brother’s family, your other rich friends, your high social and business standing, your high ideas of morality, which you never filled — but ’tis too late, the end must come. I don’t see why God did not let me die that Saturday night. I suppose there was some purpose waiting till you had made the outlay and sacrificed so much. You see, the end is all the same. Good-by, dear I—-, I won’t wish you happiness; you will never have that again and you will follow in my footsteps sometime. Men of our natures and sins must have their punishment, and ours comes in a terrible shape. You are mine in the light of heaven and no family ties can claim you from me in death. I pity you, but oh, to be free from all this agony of separation, suspense, doubt, is so welcome. May God deal with me according to my weakness. Keep my stud as long as you live. send my watch and ring to my mother. Let my last rites be attended by as little expense as possible. A pauper cannot expect to repose in a metallic casket. I am going to bed, to sleep and gain nerve to face my fate. I have felt it must be, and since I have known you, I knew you were to be the last straw. I have Joved you better than you have ever loved or will ever be loved again. Think kindly of that love sometimes. I am unworthy, but my love for you is worth a thought. Pray for my soul. Amen.”

Much more than a sentiment of warm friendship for one’s benefactor is breathed in these epistles of passion, desperation and love, with its sequel of chagrin and suicide, without remorse for, or full appreciation of, the unnatural character of his perverted love. Though his Christian training had taught him to regard his unnatural passion as a sin.

This is why I love BTB readers. Soon after this appeared on a 2012 Daily Agenda, BTB reader John Manion wrote to me after having sleuthed out the following information:

I noticed your St Louis suicide story, it sure caught my interest and I wanted to know a little more about those involved. I am into genealogy and I took it as a challenge to find out their names. I found more than I expected and got a little carried away, but, I am stopping here. I am forwarding the items to BTB. The following is from online sources (genealogybank.com, ancestry.com, google books, etc)

Dr Hughes lived in St. Louis and may have seen the letters firsthand. He states in your column that Breedlove and Judson roomed together for a while, which is something I do not think I have seen in the news, so maybe he talked with some of the people involved. There is a sketch of Dr Breedlove.

The date of the death was reported in the newspapers of the day as happening in the morning of Feb 23 1892 in St Louis at the Hurst’s Hotel. Between 8 and 8:30. The story was in many papers from coast to coast. The man who died was Dr. Charles Breedlove, a young dentist of age 28, born in 1864, a graduate of the University of Maryland. He was single. Dr Breedlove was the last of 4 children his parents had, the other 3 all died in early life and his family hails from the south. Of course, the family was completely surprised but supportive of their son, but did not know he was unhappy. His body was sent home to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where his family lived. His father was a medical doctor. His parents died in 1906, within a few months of each other. Charles Breedlove’s friends from Baltimore thought he was not sad and certainly slandered by Prof Judson.

The man he wrote the letters to was Isaac Judson, born in 1853. They had met in Sept of 1891 and became fast friends. He was 38 and single. He was a Yale graduate and spoke at his commencement ceremonies during his graduation. His dad went to Yale too and both were members of Skull & Bones. He was a professor of Greek and Latin at the St Louis High School. His family hails from the Northeast. He was suspended from teaching for a few days until a special committee could review the case. They exonerated him from any blame in the situation and allowed him to continue his profession “without prejudice”. After the suicide he stayed in St Louis until at least 1920, working as the Head Assistant in the School. He was always single up to the 1920 census, his last one. After that he returned to New York, and died there in 1926. His funeral notice does not mention family members. He was the youngest of 4 children, with one surviving brother.

Breedlove waited for him to arrive at the hotel, walk into the room, handed him a letter. Judson was reading it and behind him Breedlove shot himself in the head. Breedlove was wearing a charm around his neck, when opened was a picture of Judson. Breedlove’s letters gave the story a life it would not have had. His family and friends believed Prof Judson, had he cared enough, would have kept the letters private. That may not have been an option, as at least one other letter was found by the medical examiner.

Judson consulted a Dr Ware (he is a dentist!!) about the feelings Charles was having, and Judson didn’t understand what was going on. Judson “seemed horrified” as Dr Ware explained what it means. Judson told Dr Ware he had “never before heard of such a thing”. Judson “then resolved to throw Breedlove aside, and asked me the best way to do it.”

Dr Ware continued “Breedlove came to me once for treatment. When he offered to pay me I declined to take his money…..a few days later…we went to the theater together. I did not like the man from the start.”

Poor guy!

Prof Judson had a roommate. This is the one Breedlove was “intensely jealous” of, Prof Herbert A Wheeler, of Washington University of St Louis. His statement is Judson was introduced to Dr Breedlove last September by a mutual friend. “the two soon grew to be fast friends and frequent visits were made by them to one another’s boarding houses.”

Professor Wheeler was born in Brooklyn in 1859 Wheeler graduated in 1880 from the Columbia College School of Mines. Herbert A Wheeler got married at age 66. It was his first marriage. He did not have any children listed at age 71, the 1930 census. He died in March 11 1950 in St Louis County. He was the youngest of 5 children.

Judson taught school in Brooklyn, from 1877 to 1880.

John also sent a wealth of newspaper clippings and other documents, and he created a public family tree page at Ancestry.com in order to make this information accessible for other historians and genealogists.

[Original source: Charles H. Hughes. "Erotopathia -- Morbid eroticism." Alienist and Neurologist 14, no. 4 (October 1893): 531-578. Available via Google Books here.]

TIME Film Review Blasts “Victim” As “A Plea for Perversion”: 1962. The British Film Victim featured a plot steeped in homosexual blackmail. Starring Dirk Bogarde (see Mar 28) as a lawyer seeking to break up a blackmail ring after his gay client commits suicide, the 1961 film brought to mass audiences a key danger that gay people faced: “A law which sends homosexuals to prison is a charter for blackmail.” The film had been released in Britain in August of 1961, but because was barred from U.S. theaters because of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America’s (MPPDA) standards prohibited films with homosexual content.

The MPPDA changed its code five weeks later (see  Oct 3), and Victim saw its U.S. premiere on February 5, 1962. In a film review two weeks later, Time made it clear that they didn’t like it one bit:

Victim has a neat plot, deft direction by Basil Dearden, and the sort of grum good manners one expects of the British in these trying situations. It also has a careful performance by Bogarde, and it pursues with eloquence and conviction the case against an antiquated statute.

But what seems at first an attack on extortion seems at last a coyly sensational exploitation of homosexuality as a theme —and, what’s more offensive, an implicit approval of homosexuality as a practice.

Almost all the deviates in the film are fine fellows—well dressed, well spoken, sensitive, kind. The only one who acts like an overt invert turns out to be a detective.

Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an ass, a dolt or a sadist. Nowhere does the film suggest that homosexuality is a serious (but often curable) neurosis that attacks the biological basis of life itself. “I can’t help the way I am,” says one of the sodomites in this movie. “Nature played me a dirty trick.” And the scriptwriters, whose psychiatric information is clearly coeval with the statute they dispute, accept this sick-silly self-delusion as a medical fact.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, February 22

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball), Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Voice (Southern California ed.), January 15, 1982, page 28

 
Launched in 1980, Mr. Dillon’s boasted one of the more powerful sound systems on the West Coast and a dance floor of a thousand square feet. It closed in 1988, replaced by another club, Metro, which lasted about a year and the space sat empty for a few years. The space now houses Rich’s, which is still the largest gay club in San Diego.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Modesto Youth Gets Probation On “Morals Charge”: 1950. Vernon Edward Jensen, a clerk at a florist shop, pleaded guilty to what The Modesto (CA) Bee called simply a “sex perversion charge.” The circumstances behind the arrest aren’t described, except that

Jensen was one of nine recently arrested on perversion charges in a police roundup. Two of the nine were county teachers, Rolla H. Nuckles, 37, of 110 Roselawn Avenue, Modesto High School public speaking instructor, and Charles Lloyd Martin, 23, at 310 South Broadway, Turlock, who taught English and history at the Wakefield School there.

The charge against Nuckles were dismissed two days earlier, after having been held in jail since January 27 at the recommendation of the Deputy District Attorney. But that didn’t shield him from having his name and address printed once again in the paper. There is no mention of what happened to Martin. As for Jensen, a psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Gladen, head of the Modesto State Hospital, said that he wasn’t a “psychiatric abnormal person”:

As quoted by the court, Dr. Gladen pictured Jensen as not a homosexual but as “foolish kid,” now highly penitent and disgusted with his past action, and deserving of another chance.

The court agreed, and sentenced him to three years probation, during which time “he must obey all laws, report to the probation officer at regular intervals, remain in the county and refrain from excessive use if liquor.”

I see these names in the papers and often wonder what happened to them. Whenever people were arrested on a “morals charge” or for “lewd vagrancy,” their names, addresses and places of employment were typically printed in the paper, and that publicity often made whatever official punishment they may have received mild in comparison to losing their job or being shunned by their families and neighbors. It must have been an extraordinarily humiliating experience for each of these three men. But sixty years later, those very details are sometimes the only thing which can truly remind us that these were real people suffering from this kind of official oppression and not just characters in long-forgotten newspaper clippings.

Like I said, I often wonder what happened to some of these people that I run across, so I went sleuthing on Ancestry.com. There, I found a Vernon Edward Jenson, born February 11, 1929 in Butte, California, who died in 1995 in Alameda. Unfortunately, that’s all I was able to find for him. I wasn’t able to come up with much of anything for Martin.

Rolla H. Nuckles from a 1933 college yearbook

But I may have found some interesting information on Nuckles, the teacher against whom the charges were dismissed. Rolla Hargiss Nuckles was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and attended the University of Kansas where, in 1932 and 1933, he was a member of the Dramatic Club, and in 1933 was president of the local chapter of the National Collegiate Players, “one of the many units in all nation-wide dramatic movements.”) That same year, he appeared on the Dramatic Club’s performance of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” where, according to the college yearbook, “Elizabeth Crafton stole the show and Rolla Nuckles wore lace.” Nuckles appears to have been quite the performer. As a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, he was described as “perhaps the most delectable tap dancer to nauseate the Hill in some years.” In 1938, he’s still there, teaching “radio speaking” for students at the University of Kansas’ radio station KFKU and directing radio dramas as well as theatrical plays. This seems to match pretty well with being a public speaking instructor in Modesto. A 1944 Corpus Christi city directory lists a Rolla H. Nuckles as a radio announcer for radio station KEYS. From there, the record runs dry, with the exception of the arrest in Modesto, until his death in 2000 in San Antonio.

Frank Kameny Becomes First Openly Gay Candidate for Congress: 1971. The U.S. Constitution grants each state voting representation in both houses of Congress, but because the District of Columbia isn’t one, its more than half-a-million residents are taxed without voting representation (even though its population is larger than Wyoming). But in 1971, Congress agreed to allow D.C. to be represented in the House of Representatives by a single by a non-voting delegate. On February 22, pioneering gay rights advocate Franklin E. Kameny (see May 21) filed his nominating papers and proclaimed himself “the first publicly declared homosexual ever to run for Congress.” In announcing his run, Kameny declared, “We intend to remind a government and a country, which seems in may ways to have forgotten it, exactly what Americanism means — that this is a country of personal freedom and individual diversity; that Queen Victoria is dead, and the Puritans are long gone.”

Kameny joined a crowded field of eight (soon narrowed to six after two candidates’ petitions were thrown out), led by front-runner Democrat Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, who had been an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Contrary to expectations, Kameny didn’t run a single-issue campaign. He spoke at forums and television appearances about welfare reform, crime, the Vietnam war, freeway construction, home rule for the District, and other issues in terms similar to other candidates. But, as he told one audience, his campaign added “a special concern for what America stands for in terms of human rights for minorities like homosexuals.” One audience member exclaimed, “Are you serious?” Kameny answered, characteristically, “Yes, I certainly am.”

The overarching theme of the campaign was personal freedom. “I offer you beyond what the other candidates offer,” he told one forum at Howard University, “a special sensitivity to personal freedom, the right to live your life as you choose to live it.”

At one point in the campaign, Kameny told reporters, “My candidacy is a special one and will be conducted in some special ways.” One of those special ways was a campaign event he held at 1:00 a.m. on an early Friday Morning at Pier Nine, one of the city’s largest gay bars at Half and T Streets SW. The goal was to make sure the gay vote became a visible one. “Even if we don’t win,” he said, “if we can get 5,000 to 10,000 votes, things will not be the same again. That many votes would not be overlooked. …We are part of society; we are citizens of Washington, and we love this city. We want to play an active role in the life of Washington.”

On March 23, Fauntroy, as expected, won and became the District’s first non-voting delegate to Congress. (He would also, years later, become an outspoken foe of marriage equality in the District and a supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment.) Kameny came in fourth with 1,841 votes. The vote count may have been small (only 1.6% of the total), but it did wind up changing the local political dynamic. In the following year, several candidates for the newly elected city school board went out of their way to court gay and lesbian voters.

[Sources: David R. Boldt. "Homosexual files delegate papers." The Washington Post (February 23, 1971): A17

William L. Claiborne. "Candidate seeks end to homosexual ban." The Washington Post (March 10, 1971): C1, C3.

Bart Barneas. "Kameny stresses personal freedom." The Washington Post (March 13, 1971): B1, B2.

"Kameny for Congress." The Rainbow History Project (Undated): Online.]

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, February 21

Jim Burroway

February 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball), Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Miami’s TWN (The Weekly News), October 21, 1987, page 52.

 
This lesbian bar in Maitland, Florida, just north of Winter Park near Orlando, closed just two years later and became a steak house.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oklahoma Prohibits Gay Teachers: 1978. When Oklahoma State Sen. Mary Helm (R-OKC) introduced the “Feature Fitness Statute” in the state Senate, she had more than just gay teachers in her sights. The bill would allow public schools to fire or refuse to hire anyone who engaged in “public homosexuality activity,” which the proposed broadly defined to also include not just sexual activity, but also “advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting public or private homosexual activities in a manner that creates a substantial risk that such conduct will come to the attention of schoolchildren or school employees.”

Think of what that meant. A straight teacher writing a letter to the editor supporting gay rights or, perhaps, denouncing the formation of a student KKK chapter in the public schools to bash gay people — which occurred in the northern suburbs of Oklahoma City soon after the bill was introduced (see Jan 25) — that teacher would be subject to being fired by the school board. But lawmakers weren’t focused on gay bashing, but on anyone who might publicly say that gay bashing was abhorrent. When the bill was introduced into the House by Rep. John Monks (D-Muskogee), he told reporters that the measure would allow school boards to “fire those who are afflicted with this degenerate problem … people who are mentally deranged this way.” (Monks was famous for saying stupid shit. In a successful effort to defeat a bill to ban cockfighting, Monks thundered, “In every country the communists have taken over, the first thing they do is outlaw cockfighting.”)

When the House passed the measure by a lopsided 88-2 vote without debate on February 7, the Associated Press speculated that “it is expected to face stiffer opposition in the Senate.” Fat chance. Anita Bryant, a former Miss Oklahoma who was fresh off of her victory in repealing a gay rights ordinance in Miami (see Jun 7), lobbied the state Senate to prohibit “the flaunting of homosexuality.” On February 21, the Senate passed the bill unanimously, and it quickly became law in April.

It took two years before the National Gay Task Force could even find a teacher willing to challenge the law. But after several false starts, the NGTF was finally able to bring a case to Federal Court challenging the law’s constitutionality. After the slow trek through the appeals process, the United States Supreme Court finally struck down the law in 1986 (see Mar 26).

Atlanta Gay Bar Bombed: 1997. Memrie Wells-Cresswell, of Snellville, GA, went to Atlanta’s Otherside Lounge to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Memrie had not told many people that she was lesbian, but the bombing that night at the popular lesbian bar would change all that. Five people were injured, but hers were the most serious: a three to four inch nail entered her arm and severed a brachial artery. When Mayor Bill Campbell mentioned her by name everyone suddenly knew her secret, including her employer who fired her. She later told The Advocate, “The company ended up giving me some hush money just to make me go away.”

Police found a second bomb just outside the bar, which they detonated with a robot. It had been placed there to harm police and medical workers responding to the first explosion. That fit a pattern established with two earlier Atlanta bombings, one at the Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996 and another at an Atlanta abortion clinic on January 16, 1997. Three days after the Otherside Lounge Bombing, police received a letter from an organization calling themselves The Army of God claiming responsibility. The letter threatened “total war” and promised more attacks against abortion clinics and gay people.

In 1998, Federal Authorities charged Eric Rudolph with the three Atlanta bombings and a fourth one at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. They spent the next four and a half years looking for him around the town of Murphy, North Carolina, where Randolph spent his teenage years. Murphy residents printed tee-shirts reading “Run, Rudolph Run.” He was finally captured there on May 31, 2003. He was well-groomed and well-fed, suggesting he had help in Murphy. On August 13, 2005, Rudolph pleaded guilty to all four bombings in a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid the death penalty. In an eleven page statement, he wrote, “Whether it is gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crimes laws including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed.” He also said that the attack on The Otherside Lounge was “meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington’s continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda.” He is currently serving four life sentences.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 20

Jim Burroway

February 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball), Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, a bi-weekly gay bar guide, August 2, 1976, page 7.

 
The Barefoot Boy Disco was immensely popular from about 1974 to about 1978 or 1979 (near as I can tell) that launched the careers of quite a number of major DJs of the era. Disco queen and former porn star Andrea True, whose “More, More, More” in 1976 became part of the disco canon, name-checked the Barefoot Boy in her 1977 single “New York, You Got Me Dancing” (“Dancing the night away / Oh what a joy at the Barefoot Boy”). The club late became Zeus (or Barefoot Boy at Club Zeus). It then became Stix in the early 1980s. A residential tower now stands where they once danced the night away.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Marcus Welby, M.D. Episode “The Other Martin Loring” Airs: 1973. Marcus Welby was America’s favorite doctor, and Marcus Welby, M.D. was the first program to hit number one in the Nielsen ratings for the perpetually struggling ABC. But America’s favorite doctor made a bad call in its fourth season when it aired an episode titled “The Other Martin Loring.” The episode centers around Loring, who consults Dr. Welby for being an alcoholic, overweight, depressed and diabetic. Relax, take it easy, don’t work too hard, Welby tells Loring. That night, Loring who goes home to his wife, who demand a divorce and custody of their son. When he threatens to countersue, Mrs. Loring says she won’t “hold anything back.” He later collapses under the strain and under Welby’s care again. One thing led to another, including a drunk-driving car accident. Eventually, Welby figures out that Loring is gay. Welby’s advice: Loring had a “serious illness” and he should suppress his desires and see a psychiatrist because his “tendencies” were “degrading and loathsome.”

Shortly before the episode’s scheduled air date, a script was leaked to the Gay Activist Alliance, which organized a protest of two dozen demonstrators at ABC’s New York headquarters. Another group of thirty activists entered the building, guided by a detailed map provided by someone within the network, and took over the thirty-ninth floor offices of the network’s top executives. “It was one of the first big actions we took,” Ron Gold, GAA’s media director, later recalled. “It was also one of the biggest mistakes we made. ABC offered to set up a meeting for two of us with their standards and practices person and the president of the network if the rest of us would go away. But we were afraid that we were going to get screwed over so we said no. That was very foolish because we didn’t get to talk to anybody. They thought we were crazy — and to a certain extent we were. But we were also justifiably paranoid.”

Other protests broke out in Los Angeles when the episode aired, and gay activists tried to launch a nationwide advertiser boycott. But the boycott fizzled, largely because the fractious gay activist community didn’t have the means to communicate with each other effectively, let alone to the general public. In a sense, LGBT-advocacy was still in its infancy, learning the ways of effective demonstration and publicity. But they were quick learners. More than a year later, when Marcus Welby, M.D. would air another homophobic episode (see Oct 8), gay activists were better prepared, and their actions would lead to seventeen ABC affiliates dropping that episode, and at least seven major sponsors pulling out.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp: 1872-1938. He succeeded his father as Earl at the age of eighteen when his father died of a heart attack during dinner in 1891. That was the start of a very prodigious political career. He became mayor of Worcester in 1895, and was given the post as Governor of New South Wales, Australia in 1899, while still only twenty-seven. But here, his inexperience showed. He was unpopular due to a series of gaffes, including the time he referred to Australia’s “birthstain” as a penal colony. Bored with the assignment, Beauchamp returned to Britain in 1900. In 1902, he joined the Liberal Party and married Lady Lettice Grosvenor. The couple would go on to have three sons and four daughters. When the Liberals came to power in 1905, Beauchamp took on a series of posts in the government, and he served as Liberal Leader in the House of Lords from 1924 to 1931.

Stories had circulated since the 1920s about parties Beauchamp threw at Walmer Castle. But it would be a return trip to Australia in 1930 that would be his undoing, as he was accompanied during the two month trip by young Liberal MP, Robert Bernays, who was also Beauchamp’s lover. Hugh Grosvenor, the Tory Duke of Westminster, was a staunch foe of the Liberals and, more to the point, developed a deep and abiding hatred for his brother-in-law. He summoned his sister and laid the evidence of Beauchamp’s homosexuality before her and urged her to divorce her husband. She never did file for divorce, but she left him immediately. The Duke also demanded that Beauchamp’s children testify against him, but they refused. Finally, the Duke took his information to King George V, who was shocked at the allegation. “I thought men like that shot themselves,” he muttered.

It appeared Beauchamp’s arrest and trail by the House of Lords was imminent. But there was one problem: during the depths of the Great Depression, the House of Lords was increasingly looked upon as a place of idleness and privilege, prompting calls for its abolition. A scandal like this would only worsen the its reputation. Also, Beauchamp was personally close to the King — he had carried the Sword of State at William’s coronation and served as Steward of the Household. Also, the King’s son, George, was seeing one of Beauchamp’s daughters, although that relationship soon ended. The King intervened, and sent three envoys to persuade Beauchamp to resign from all of his official posts and leave England by midnight.

Beauchamp fled England that night, taking a boat to the continent and traveling to the German spa town of Wiesbaden. His plan, which he had disclosed to two of his daughters before leaving, was to commit suicide by overdose. His children took turns traveling weeks at a time to Wiesbaden to remain with him at all times, watching over him. It was finally Hugh, his second son (and who was also gay) who finally persuaded his father from taking his life.

After recovering his wits at Wiesbaden, Beauchamp moved to Paris, Venice, Sydney and San Francisco, constantly moving between the four cities. The closest city to a home to him was perhaps Sydney, where he spent most of his time and was tempted to buy a house. But after Hugh’s death in 1936, Beauchamp was allowed to return to England to bury his son at the ancestral home of Madresfield Court, staying only a few days for fear of arrest. But the following year, shortly after George V’s death and George VI’s coronation, the charges were finally dropped and Beauchamp was allowed to go home for good. He died in 1938 of cancer while traveling to New York. His children remained loyal to him to the very end.

The Earl of Beauchamp is generally believed to have been model for Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Brideshead Revisited.

Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn

Roy Cohn: 1927-1986. Could there be a more despicable character in all of gay history? The Columbia Law grad showed signs of legal brilliance early, having been admitted to the bar at twenty-one, becoming an Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and playing a prominent role in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951. In 1952, Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) appointed him as chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the recommendation of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, where Cohn became known for his aggressive questioning of suspected Communists. Cohn brought in his good friend, David Schine as consultant to McCarthy’s staff. But when the young and handsome Schine was drafted into the army in 1953, Cohn embarked on a private campaign to ensure special treatment for Schine — light duties, extra leave, an exemption from overseas assignment — and threatened to “wreck the Army” if they didn’t accede to his demands. The bitter irony of all this is that while Cohn was pursuing special treatment for his special friend, McCarthy’s witch hunt extended beyond communists to also include gay people (See, for example, Mar 14, Jul 2, Sep 7).

Roy Cohn and David Schine on the cover of Time.

By 1954, McCarthy’s anti-communist and anti-gay witch hunt extended to the Army, which decided to fight back. During one exchange during a committee hearing, the Army’s head counsel, Joseph Welch, asked a McCarthy staffer about the origin of a photo of Schine and Army Secretary Robert Stevens, which had been doctored to omit the presence of Air Force Colonel Jack Bradley. Welch asked the staffer sarcastically, “Did you think it came from a pixie?” McCarthy interjected, “Will counsel (Welch) for my benefit define– I think he might be an expert on that– what a pixie is?” Welch responded, “Yes. I should say, Mr. Senator, that a pixie is a close relative of a fairy.” Others in the chamber who were in on the rumors, broke into laughter. Cohn later called the remark, “malicious,” “wicked,” and “indecent.”

Roy Cohn, four months before he died in 1986.

Cohn later forced to resign from McCarthy’s staff due to growing outrage over his tactics. He returned to New York and entered private practice, where his clients included mafia figures, the New York Yankees, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and Studio 54 owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. He was friends with Barbara Walters (she served as his “beard” for a while), columnist Walter Wenchell, and North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms. While publicly closeted and working actively against gay rights, he partied at the best gay bars and threw lavish parties in New York and Provincetown. In 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS. He used his connections to jump to the head of the line for treatment with the then-scarce and experimental AZT. By the time he died in 1986, he maintained his public denial both of his homosexuality and his disease — he said it was “cancer.” In Tony Kushner’s Angels In America, Cohn is portrayed as a power hungry, self-loathing hypocrite who is dying of AIDS while haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. Cohn’s name is also on a panel of the AIDS memorial quilt. It reads, “Roy Cohn: Bully, Coward, Victim.” A fitting eulogy if there ever was one.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, February 19

Jim Burroway

February 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, SA; National Student Pride, London, UK; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Elevation: Utah Gay Ski Week, Park City, UT; Arctic Pride, Rovaniemi, Finland; Bear Essentials, Sydney, NSW; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW; Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball), Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 5, 1981, page 25

 
From what I can gather, the Express may have closed sometime in the 1990s, and perhaps re-opened as Deja Vu, and then it became the Express again in 2002 when the club’s last owners bought the business. They kept it going until January, 2013.

Deputies check patrons’ identification during a raid at Hazel’s Inn.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Raid on Hazel’s Inn: 1956. San Mateo County Sheriff Earl Whitmore, accompanied by deputies, Army military police, state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents and members of the California Highway Patrol, began the raid by striding into Hazel’s Inn, a gay bar in Sharp Park, south of San Francisco, and announced simply, “This is a raid!” Patrons were ordered to line up in single file and pass before a group of officers at the rear of the door. Those who were recognized by undercover agents as being gay were ordered to step to one side and loaded into a waiting van outside. About 88 of the 200 or more patrons were singled out and taken away to be fingerprinted, their mug shots taken, and charged with vagrancy for being a “lewd and dissolute person” and for committing “acts outraging public decency” — common misdemeanor charges used against those deemed to be engaging in “immoral” acts, which in this case was, basically, being caught in a gay bar. The bars owners were also charged with operating a dance establishment without a license (some patrons were seen dancing to a jukebox).

Sheriff Whitmore told the press, “The purpose of the raid is to make it very clear to these people that we won’t put up with this sort of thing.” The American Civil Liberties Union of San Francisco’s Executive Secretary Ernest Besig took exception to that reasoning. “As far as can be ascertained, none of the patrons of the tavern were misbehaving or breaking any laws when the arrests occurred,” he wrote in the chapter’s newsletter. “The complaint seems to be that these men were making the tavern a ‘hang-out.’ Of course, there is no law against that, so long as their activity was lawful. …The ACLU is investigating the matter and the local staff counsel will appear on behalf of some of the alleged homosexuals at the court hearing.”

Those who were arrested were told by law enforcement officers and their bail bondsmen that if they forfeited bail, all further proceedings would be dropped. Thirty took the deal and on March 1, the remaining 57 were arraigned. About 30 entered not guilty pleas and requested jury trials, which were set for March 26 and 27. The judge offered to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct in exchange for guilty pleas, and all but three took him up on that offer. (I don’t have any further information on what happened to the three who didn’t.)

[Sources: Unsigned. "Civil Liberties Union looks into mass arrests." Mattachine Review 2, 2nd special issue (March 1956): 4-5.

Unsigned. "American Civil Liberties Union acts to appeal California's lewd vagrancy laws after convictions resulting from mass raids and arrests." Mattachine Review 2, no. 3 (June 1956): 3-4, 36.]

15 YEARS AGO: Billy Jack Gaither Murdered: 1999. The thirty-nine year old Sylacauga, Alabama resident was beaten to death with an axe handle, covered with kerosene, and burned on a pile of old tires. His attackers said that he had propositioned them, so killing him was the only logical thing to do.

On February 19, Billy Gaither went to The Tavern, a Sylacauga nightclub, where he had been friends with the owner, Marion Hammond, for twenty years. Gaither was a regular there, if he wasn’t at the Tool Box in Birmingham forty miles away. Hammond remembered that he was nonchalant about his sexuality. ” If they walked over to Billy Jack and they say, ‘Are you gay?’ he’d say, ‘Yes, and I love it.’ You couldn’t hurt his feelings on it, so we wasn’t worried about it.”

Another regular, Steve Mullins, 25, also started to hang out at the Tavern. His presence wasn’t so benign. He sometimes showed up wearing racist t-shirts and harassing African-American customers. He was known locally as a wannabe tough-acting skinhead. “He tried to walk around like a bully, but he wasn’t,” Hammond said. “He was mostly talk.” His buddy, a construction worker named Charles Butler, Jr., was quieter.

Gaither had a reputation for getting along with pretty much everyone, so nobody’s eyebrows were raised when Gaither left The Tavern that night with Mullins and Butler. The three drove to a remote area where Mullins and Butler beat Gaither, stuffed him into the trunk, and went for supplies: kerosene, matches, an axe handle and old tires form Mullins’s home. They then drove to the banks of Peckerwood Creek in neighboring Coosa County. They poured kerosene on the tires and set them ablaze. Then they pulled Gaither out of the trunk of his car. He tried to stand up and they beat him with the ax handle, cut his throat, and threw him onto the pile of burning tires. They moved Gaither’s car to another dirt road and set it on fire. It was found the next day.

After spending a night in jail for an unrelated offense, Butler went to police to tell them about the murder, saying God told him to confess. Butler claimed the gay panic defense, telling the police, “Well, sir, he started talking, you know, queer stuff, you know, and I just didn’t want no part of it.” Mullins also confessed, with the two blaming each other for taking the lead in the killing, but neither expressing remorse. In June, Mullins pled guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty and agreed to testify against Butler, who was also found guilty. he victim’s father, Marion Gaither, had asked that Mr. Butler not be sentenced to death, saying, “I can’t see taking another human beings life, no matter what.” Both men were sentenced to life with out parole.

Lisa Pond (left) and Janice Langbehn (second from right) with three of their four children as they prepared to board an RFamily cruise ship.

Miami Hospital Denies Access to Partner of Dying Patient: 2007. Janice Langbehn, her partner of nearly 18 years, Lisa Pond, and three of their four children flew from Oregon to Miami to board a cruise Miami to the Bahamas. But Pond suffered a brain aneurysm while in Miami before they could board the ship. Pond was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where a social worker told Langbehn that they were in an “anti-gay state” and that they needed legal paperwork before Langbehn could see Pond. But even after a friend in Olympia faxed the legal documents showing that Pond had authorized Langbehn to make medical decisions for her, Langbehn was refused permission to visit Pond or to make any medical decisions. She was even refused basic information about Pond’s condition. It was only because of the intervention by a Catholic priest who was called to perform last rites that Langbehn was able to spend a few minutes with Janice before she died.

After Pond died, the cold shoulder continued. Hospital officials refused to provide Langbehn with Pond’s medical records, and the county refused to provide her with Pond’s death certificate, items needed for their two children’s Social Security benefits. Langbehn sued, but a Federal Judge dismissed the lawsuit, based on the narrow fact that Pond was in the trauma unit where rules about visitation were more restrictive. “The court’s decision paints a tragically stark picture of how vulnerable same-sex couples and their families really are during times of crisis,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. After the Judge’s ruling, President Barack Obama ordered new regulations on hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples for all facilities receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Those new rules went into effect in 2010. In 2011, Janice Langbehn was named one of thirteen honorees of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 18

Jim Burroway

February 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 44.

If you’ve been enduring weeks of repeated snowstorms and much-below-normal temperatures, now might be a good time to book a trip to Key West for some fun-in-the-sun relief. Key West has long been known as a very gay friendly location, with a good number of resorts and guest houses catering the the gay and lesbian markets, with many of the resorts for gay men being clothing optional. In 1983, the Lighthouse Court advertised itself as “an exquisitely relaxed compound.” The Lighthouse Court is still in business, but it has changed a bit since then. In 2005, it was mentioned in a New York Times article asking “Is Key West Going Straight?“: “You can feel the change at the Lighthouse Court, a popular – some would say notorious – gay-only Whitehead Street guesthouse that recently went ‘all welcome,’ the local euphemism for accepting heterosexual guests as well as gays.”

John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Marquess of Queensbury Accuses Oscar Wilde of Being a “Somdomite”: 1895. British playwright Oscar Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “To Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between Wilde and his son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. Queensbury had ferocious arguments with his son, trying to get him to stop seeing Wilde, but Bosie refused. Queensbury even threatened to go public with what he knew, but Bosie refused to back down. So on February 18, 1895, Queensbury followed through on his threat.

This action led to a long string of events which eventually led to Wilde’s disgrace, imprisonment, exile in France, and early death. Perhaps all that could have been avoided if Wilde had decided not to sue Queensbury for libel. His friends advised him against it, but he may have felt he had little choice. Having been called out publicly like that, declining to sue might be taken as an admission of guilt. Unfortunately, Wilde’s libel case collapsed when Queensbury’s lawyer asked whether he had ever kissed Walter Grainger in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.”

Queensbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admission that attraction was the reason he didn’t kiss him.  In short order, Wilde lost the case, and was charged with gross indecency. Wilde’s first criminal trial ended in a hung jury but the second one resulted in Wilde’s conviction and sentence to two years at hard labor.

British Quakers Publish “Toward a Quaker View of Sex”: 1963. A report published by an influential group of eleven Quaker scholars challenged what it considered a hidebound view of sexuality among Christians. The groundbreaking report insisted on the basic similarity of homosexual and heterosexual emotional experience and placed the two on an equal moral footing, insisting that the morality be judged by the same standard.

“Surely it is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters,” the authors wrote. “One must not judge by its outward appearance but by its inner worth … We see no reason why the physical nature of a sexual act should be the criterion by which the question whether or not it is moral should be decided. An act which expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual.”

The report asserted that “sexuality, looked at dispassionately, is neither good nor evil — it is a fact of nature.” it also explored the meaning of morality itself. “It seems to us,” the report continued,” that morals, like the Sabbath, were made for man, not man for morals, and that as society changes and modes of conduct with it, we must always be searching below the surface of human behavior, to discover what is in fact happening to people, what they are seeking to express, what motives and intentions they are satisfying, what fruits good or bad, they are harvesting.”

Towards a Quaker View of Sex was not an official Quaker statement on sexuality. But because it was published by the Literature Committee of the Friends Home Service Committee, it would prove to be a profoundly influential document among Quakers for the next several decades. You can read the full report here (PDF: 117KB/7 pages).

North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) Forms: 1966. Following the success of the East Coast Homophile Organizations’ (ECHO) efforts to organize several gay rights groups for coordinated actions (see Oct 10), forty activists from the East and West Coasts, the Midwest and Texas met in Kansas City for a planning conference for what would become the first attempt at a national coalition of gay rights groups. Fifteen organizations were represented at the Kansas City meeting which was moderated by the Rev. Clarence A Culwell, a straight UCC minister who headed the San Francisco-based Council of Religion and the Homosexual (see Jan 1). The conference agreed to sponsor public meetings in several cities for Armed Forces Day, May 21, to discuss gays and the draft. It also agreed for a follow-up meeting in San Francisco in August to solidify the organization and plan further actions.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, February 17

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, August 2, 1976, page 18.

 
Not be confused with the more famous Sandpiper on Fire Island, this Staten Island disco was often known as Carmine’s Sandpiper. It wasn’t a gay bar per se — I’m led to understand there were no gay bars in Staten Island at that time, though I’m open to correction — but the Sandpiper was known as a very gay friendly venue since the 1950s. Located in a frame house on a residential street, the Sandpiper was a modest bar during the week, but hosted DJ’s and drag shows on the weekend. Sometime in the 1970s, the Sandpiper became Club Brazil, a full-on gay bar and popular disco. The building has since been torn down and replaced by a cookie-cutter duplex.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Laredo D.A. Defends City’s Reputation: 1953. The District Attorney for Laredo, Texas, defended his fair city’s reputation against allegations made by a Mexican newspaper in Nuevo Laredo, just a cross the border, that there were homosexual activities taking place on the American side of the line. D.A. James Kazen was responding to a series of articles by El Manaña, a morning daily with wide circulation in both communities, which claimed that many prominent citizens of Laredo were involved in homosexual activities, and promised to run a list of names in a future article. Kazen denounced the stories as “wholly untrue,” and successfully appealed to Judge R.D. Wright to reconvene a grand jury to investigate the reports. Kazen did acknowledge that there were homosexuals on the streets of Laredo — but only four, and two of them were outsiders who had only recently moved to town.

Chicago Police Raid Lesbian Bar: 1961. Chicago police, like New York Police, were always raiding gay bars, often for the same reasons. As in New York, gay bars in Chicago tended to have mob connections, and police raids were planned according to whether the proper protections were paid to the proper officers on the force. While the raids were a routine feature of gay life in Chicago, each one nevertheless was added insult to the daily difficulties of gay life. In March of 1961, a Chicago woman who went by the name of Del Shearer (a pseudonym she used throughout her career in activism) wrote to the Daughters of Bilitis’ newsletter The Ladder to describe the latest insult:

On February 17, shortly before midnight, the police arrested some 52 people, herded them off to a Chicago jail, and charged them with presence in a disorderly house. According to Illinois statutes, all “owners, agents, and occupants” thereof are subject to arrest. First, not all were arrested. It was determined by the arresting officers on the basis of “fly fronts” who was to be taken in — “fly fronts” which were made in women’s slacks by legally owned and operated manufacturers are not illegal and thus they do not constitute disorderly conduct. Second, on the night this raid occurred, there was no apparent violence, disturbance of the peace, disorderly assembly, or legal violation. At the station those women wearing “fly fronts,” regardless of whether they wore lipstick, long hair, or earrings, were made partially to undress in order to determine whether they wore jockey shorts.  (I suppose they will now be charged with indecent exposure.) It now appears that those arrested at the discrimination of the police are to appear in courts in March, where they will face the charge against them.

Though I do not wish to go into the details of their fifteen-hour detention period, I will say that the conditions of the lockup itself, as well as their treatment, violated more than a few Illinois laws.

After briefly describing the raid — we don’t know what bar was raided on that night — Shearer then went on to vent her frustration with the general feeling of resignation the gay community had about the raids:

Gay people have let their fears overpower their conscience. They’re afraid of publicity and newspapers, of public condemnation and the loss of their families’ love. They’re afraid of the big, black, threatening cloud that hangs above each and every one.

The object of the homosexual to live without fear of discrimination and persecution will never be attained without a fight. If the gay element wants its freedom, it has no choice but to fight, for freedom in this country or any country is not a thing given or guaranteed to anyone who does not hold it in highest esteem. The word fight is a frightening word.

Gay people, like many Americans, think in terms of jobs, money, reputation, and prestige. Like most Americans, they feel these are more important than either ethics or morals. For this reason, they seem to be primarily concerned about their own necks. Not only have they lost sight of their own rights, but they seem completely to have forgotten homosexual posterity. No legal miracle is going to free us or those who come after us.

If we ever hope to win our battle, we must fight. First, we must unshackle ourselves from fear, for it alone is our omnipresent enemy. We fear sacrifice, though sacrifice is called for. In any war — physical, social, civil, or international — both sides suffer; in the course of warfare, before or after, all involved must suffer. We are afraid to suffer in battle, though it may well be that our sufferings will be augmented a thousand times if we do not fight. If we do not fight, we will continue in ever-increasing numbers to be made the target of society’s and the police’s blows. We will continue to be ridiculed, persecuted, denied our legal rights, and falsely prosecuted at the command of our discriminating master. Are we to be bound as children by the fear which disorganizes us? Are we to think as children of the world filled with honey trees and sugarplum trees, where we will live happily ever after? We are a minority group and because we are, we consider ourselves orphans of society, without parents to protect us and without love. Orphans grow up, though, as we must. When they realize that they have to look out after their own interests, the sky becomes the limit. Our case is not radically different.

…Homosexuals everywhere have been made the scapegoat of society. The prejudices held against us are in most cases built out of sight of the very same scientific findings and theories with which Americans in this scientific age so cleverly rationalize their behavior — but not that of their fellow man. How long will we sit quietly and watch society kindle the flames beneath the stakes on which we burn with our own legal and moral rights?

Shearer went on to found a Chicago chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis later that year. In 1964, she was the only woman to appear among five panelists for a televised two-hour discussion on WBKB (Channel 7, which later became WLS-TV). Shearer also served as the national vice president for the Daughters of Bilitis. But there were limits to how far she was willing to take the fight. She resigned from the DOB governing board in 1965 due to her strong disagreement “at this time or in the very near future” with the tactic of picketing by East Coast homophile groups (see Apr 17, May 29, Apr 18, Jun 26, Jul 4, Jul 31, Sep 19, and Oct 23). And with her resignation, she also left the homophile movement entirely.

“Chicken And Bulls” Blackmail Ring Busted: 1966. A massive, multi-state blackmail ring stretching from Chicago to New York To North Carolina was broken with the arrest of nine extortionists, with eight more being sought. As The New York Times reported, the gang employed “chickens” (including college students and at least one bodybuilder) who posed as young gay men who would allow themselves to be picked up by other gay men, usually travelling businessmen, to go back to the hotel. Once there, the “chicken” would beat and rob their victims and leave. A few hours later, other men — the “bulls” — posing as policemen would arrive at the hotel for another shakedown. Saying that they had arrested a homosexual prostitute with the victim’s wallet in his possession, the “police” needed to victim to go to the station to make a statement. Fearing exposure, the victim would often offer a bribe to the “police” to make the whole problem go away. In another version of the shakedown, “police” would burst into the hotel room just when the men were in a compromising state of undress, and the shakedown would begin with the threat of arrest.

The gang’s success hinged on several factors: homosexuality was illegal everywhere except Illinois, and even there the mere threat of being publicly exposed was enough to induce the victim to do just about anything to avoid having his reputation, career and family life ruined. The ring’s longevity — it would later be revealed that it had been in operation for about a decade — was further aided by the fact that none of the victims went to the police. And why would they? They already thought they were dealing with the police. Actual police corruption was so rampant, with many of them operating their own blackmail schemes using many of the same tactics, victims had no way to tell the fake cops from the real.

To further add to the confusion, some members of the gang actually had police connections, allowing the gang to imitate police officers with a great deal of precision. John J. Pyne, the ringleader of the gang, was a retired Chicago policeman. In his home, the FBI found police badges and identification papers for almost every state, along with a variety of blank arrest warrants, charge sheets and extradition forms from several jurisdictions. As the investigation and trials unfolded over the next two years, investigators would learn that millions of dollars were extorted from over a thousand victims. The victims themselves were no lo-lifes. They included university deans, professors, military officers (including a navy admiral and two generals), several well-known actors, TV personalities (including, it’s been said, Liberace, who refused to testify before a grand jury for fear of ruining his career), and at least one U.S. Congressman. Their boldness knew no limits. Twice, they confronted Rep. Peter Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) in his Capitol Hill office, took him to a private plane to fly to New Jersey, and brought him directly to a bank where he paid a total of $50,000. They pulled a prominent surgeon out of an operating room, forcing his colleague to finish the surgery. They even went into the Pentagon and escorted Admiral William Church out of the building and to a bank where he handed over $5,000. Church later committed suicide to avoid testifying before a grand jury against his blackmailers.

Church’s suicide (and Liberace’s reticence) was indicative of the greatest problem that the FBI and New York Police Department faced in trying to break the case: almost none of the victims were willing to talk to police, let alone testify. If there is a silver lining in the whole affair, is is probably the fact that investigators had to figure out how to set aside their own prejudices, and through persistence and discretion, build a foundation of trust between themselves and the victims. The Mattachine Society was enlisted as a go-between so that victims might feel less exposed. Some judges, where they could, allowed victims to testify anonymously, or allowed victims to testify about the blackmail without going into any sexual details. These accommodations were a complete turnaround from the way law enforcement and the courts had dealt with gay people during the Lavender Scare of the 1950s. Press coverage was also markedly different. With the roster of victims including the cream of society, it was much easier to portray them with considerable sympathy. As one law enforcement official told The Times, “Extortion of money from well known persons who are homosexual or bisexual is a persistent problem. We want to alert these people who come from all walks of life that such extortion schemes exist and we want to impress upon them also that New York City detectives are no part of this disgusting racket.”

Over the next two years, various members of the ring were tried, with most found guilty and sent to prison. Pyne was sentenced to two consecutive 20-year federal prison terms. Weightlifter John Fellabaum, a ringleader who posed as a muscle-bound “chicken,” angered the judge when he forced a witness, an antiques dealer from Maine, to take the stand and publicly out himself, after which Fellabaum immediately changed his plea to guilty. The judge was outraged. “I have been sentencing people for twenty-seven years and it has been a a long time since I have come upon a case that was so revolting as your case. I think you are so steeped in filth that as I read the report I cringed, and my flesh crept as I read the depth of inequity to which you allowed yourself to sink.”

[Sources: William McGowan. "The Chicken and the Bulls" Slate (July 11, 2012). Available online here.

Angus McLaren. Sexual Blackmail: A Modern History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002): 239-242.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Friedrich Alfred Krupp: 1854-1902. Fritz had every advantage available to one born to Germany’s most prominent industrialist family. Named for his grandfather who founded the family firm in 1811, and heir to the vast steelmaking, mining, and armaments conglomerate assembled by his father, young Fritz, at the relatively young age of 33, stepped in as head of the Krupp empire when his father suddenly died. Under Fritz, the Krupp firm developed nickel steel which would revolutionize battleship armor and cannons, and created a shipbuilding works which would go on to build Germany’s first U-Boat in 1906. Fritz also cultivated a very close working relationship and personal friendship with the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, which proved especially fruitful. His wealth and business acumen was such that crowned heads of state often negotiated contracts with him personally, while his tact and charm allowed him to resolve touchy problems whenever they arose.

Fritz’s first love though wasn’t business, but oceanography, a hobby he would pursue throughout his life. Because of poor health, he frequently traveled to the Mediterranean where he could indulge his hobby, along with another — young, exotic men. From 1898, he took up a semi-permanent residence on Capri, where he could pursue both pleasures, well out of sight of his wife and family. He was also generous with the local community, so much so that the Capri council made him an honorary citizen.

But because the burdens of business required him to spend a considerable amount of time in Berlin, he sent several of his favorites to the Hotel Bristol and arranged for their employment there with the understanding that when he was in town, they were to attend to him rather than their duties. The men quickly proved unsuitable to their tasks.

Between his time in Capri and the men he had stashed away in Berlin, stories began to leak out in the Italian press, and insinuations began to make their way into the German papers in 1902. As the stories began to leak out, Krupp’s wife was confined to a mental asylum — whether it was due to her distress or to ensure her discretion, it’s hard to say. Finally, on November 15, the Social Democratic magazine Vorwärts published an article, titled “Krupp in Capri, which boldly accused Krupp of homosexuality, including his fondness for Adolfo Schiano, an 18-year-old barber and amateur musician.

Krupp requested an audience with the Kaiser, but one week later, on the day they were to meet,, Krupp was found dead in his home, apparently of suicide, although the circumstances surrounding his death were never revealed. No autopsy was ever performed, and Krupp’s body was placed in a closed casket. Within days, Krupp’s wife was released from the asylum; her sanity apparently was miraculously restored. In a speech at Krupp’s funeral, the Kaiser denounced the Social Democrats for “lying” about Krupp’s homosexuality. His heirs then launched a libel suit against Vorwärts, but it was quietly dropped a short time later.

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, February 16

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Brighton Half Marathon, Brighton, UK; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; SF Bear Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 48.

 
I don’t have much information about the Texas Drilling Company, except that it was located in the Virginia-Highland area of Atlanta. Which means that we’re now referencing three very different geographies in one little establishment. (Reminds me of the first Latino gay bar I went to, the Arizona Mining Company in El Paso, Texas.) The Texas Drilling Company was apparently an important incubator for Atlanta’s cowboy and leather scene. It closed in 1985 when the neighborhood changed from biker bars to frat house hangouts. The building, which had earlier been a neighborhood grocery store, now houses the Fontaine Oyster House.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Katharine Cornell: 1893-1974. She shared the title of “The First Lady of the Theatre” with Helen Hayes; as good friends and colleagues, they each deferred the title to each other. While Hayes is probably more well known today, Cornell’s own acting and contributions to the theater are legendary. Part of her success can be attributed to her collaboration with her husband, Guthrie McClintic, a successful director and producer. Their marriage was both professional and one of convenience: Cornell was lesbian and McClintic was gay. She was a member of New York’s “sewing circles, with relationships with Tallulah Bankhead and Mercedes de Acosta, among others. Meanwhile, McClinctic directed Cornell in every play since their marriage.

Cornell’s acclaimed Broadway roles include the title character of George Bernard Shaw’s Candide, Countess Ellen Olenska in The Age of Innocence, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street — and that’s just before the Great Depression. Her career continued unabated through the 1950s. Her appearance in the title role of 1936′s St. Joan won her a bevy of honorary degrees from several colleges and universities, and she won a Tony Award for Best Actress for Antony and Cleopatra in 1947. After McClintic died in 1961, Cornell decided to retire rather than work with another director. She restored the 300-year-old Association Hall on Martha’s Vineyard, which was later rename the Katharine Cornell Theater. She died of pneumonia in 1974, and was buried next to the theater named in her honor.

John Schlesinger: 1926-2003. The British director of film, stage, television and opera became one of the more influential figures in Britain’s post-war entertainment industry. He began acting in a small number of small parts in films shortly after leaving Oxford. In the mid-fifties, he began directing short documentaries for the BBC. His first feature film came in 1961 with Terminus, a documentary set on a London train station. It earned him a Venice Film Festival Gold Lion a British Academy Award. He then set about making fictional feature films beginning with the award-winning A Kind of Loving (1962), which was the sixth most popular movie in Britain that year. A string of films followed, many of which were set in “swinging London” of the 1960s, and which established Schlesinger as an influential part of the British New Wave.

His first American film, 1969′s Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, became the first and only X-rated film to win an Oscar. It actually won three: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. By today’s standards, the film is much less daring than its x-rating would suggest. The rating came from the story line in which Joe Buck (Voight), a Texas transplant, becomes a hustler soon after arriving in New York. He also begins a relationship of sorts with a con man by the name of “Ratso” Rizzo (Hoffman). MPAA pointed to the film’s “homosexual frame of reference” and its “possible influence upon youngsters” in giving it an X-rating. (It has been reclassified as an “R” with no edits to the original film.) In 1994, Midnight Cowboy was designated as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation by the U.S. National Film Registry. In 1970, Schlesinger was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Schlesinger went on to make a string of films, some portraying the underbelly of society, others focusing on unusual and often flawed characters, including Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), The Day of the Locust (1975), Marathon Man (1976), Yanks (1979), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), Pacific Heights (1990). In 1999′s The Next Best Thing, he paired Madonna and Rupert Everett for a one-night stand between a gay man and a straight woman.

Schlesinger lived quite openly with his partner, Michael Childers, since the late 1960s, although he didn’t publicly address his sexuality until 1991, when Sir Ian McKellen was attacked for being the first openly gay person to be knighted. Schlesinger was one of a dozen British gay and lesbian artists who signed a letter coming to McKellen’s defense.

In 1998, Schlesinger underwent a quadruple heart bypass, and then suffered a stroke in 2000. He remained in poor health until 2003, when he was taken off of life support and died the following day.

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, February 15

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Brighton Half Marathon, Brighton, UK; Arizona Gay Rodeo, Phoenix, AZ; SF Bear Weekend, San Francisco, CA; Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Boston’s Gay Community News, June 24, 1983, page 14.

 
Located just northwest of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, the Marquee was the only gay bar of three clubs owned by Don Holland. The other two were Man Ray and Campus. The building today houses the Phoenix Landing, “an alternative Irish bar.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Michael Swift’s “The Gay Revolutionary”: 1987. Think back to what the beginning of 1987 was like. AIDS was ravaging the gay community, with nearly 25,000 dead and AZT, the first U.S. government-approved treatment for HIV therapy, wouldn’t become FDA approved for another month. The year would be the year of the cri de coeur, with ACT-Up’s formation that year being the most visible manifestation of the growing anger over the apparent indifference on the part of public officials in New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as the overt hostility that the epidemic engendered in much of conservative Christianity.

Another cry rang out from Boston, although it was little noticed at the time. Just another crazy essay from the often-provocative Gay Community News. This one, written under the byline of Michael Swift was printed and then soon forgotten, until two years later when Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-CA) read it into the Congressional Record:

We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all male clubs, in your houses of Congress, wherever men are with men together. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding. They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us.

…All laws banning homosexual activity will be revoked. Instead, legislation shall be passed which engenders love between men.

All homosexuals must stand together as brothers; we must be united artistically, philosophically, socially, politically and financially. We will triumph only when we present a common face to the vicious heterosexual enemy.

If you dare to cry faggot, fairy, queer, at us, we will stab you in your cowardly hearts and defile your dead, puny bodies.

…We shall be victorious because we are fueled with the ferocious bitterness of the oppressed who have been forced to play seemingly bit parts in your dumb, heterosexual shows throughout the ages. We too are capable of firing guns and manning the barricades of the ultimate revolution.

Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.

From there, the essay became the anti-gay establishment’s favorite example of the so-called “homosexual agenda.” Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition put out a notorious video, “Gay Rights, Special Rights,” which repeated passages from the so-called manifesto and paired it with ominous music and pictures of children. In the 2001 book, Bringing Up Boys, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson cited Swift’s essay (retitling it “Goals of the Homosexual Movement”) as evidence that parents must protect their children from homosexuals. “Guard them night and day when they are young,” he wrote. “Don’t send them into a public bathroom alone.” In more recent years, the so-called manifesto has gone international — from Latvia and Russia, to Uganda and Jamaica — and it still re-emerges from time to time here at home.

But every time the essay is repeated by anti-gay extremists, they always carefully omit a vitally important component of the piece, just as that component was skipped when Dannemeyer read it into the Congressional Record. And for the essay to serve their purpose, it’s critical this crucial piece be left out, because it’s impossible to understand the true nature of the essay without it. That piece that they always leave out is this, the prologue:

This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.

The name of the essay’s author, Michael Swift, should also be a clue. Nobody knows who the real author is, but the essayist clearly took his cue from the famous satirist Jonathan Swift, whose 1729 essay A Modest Proposal – in which the other Swift suggested that the easiest way to ease the crushing poverty in Ireland was for the Irish to sell their plentiful babies as a food delicacy for the rich — created a wave of outrage in England for the way that he savaged the condescending attitudes of those behind many of the illogical solutions that had been proposed at that time.

The 20th-century Swift’s essay, similarly, satirized the attitudes behind some of the worst homophobic expressions that were then being unleashed in 1987, by perfectly mimicking how those homophobes imagined the worst of the “militant homosexuals.” He mimicked their prejudices so well that they took it as a genuine manifesto, and it’s that accomplishment which makes it, I think, a perfect satire. But it’s also ironic that those whose attitudes Michael Swift satirized so well found such a nearly perfect weapon in that very same essay. Michael Bronski, who had been a features writer for Gay Community News when the first essay ran, later developed second thoughts about it. In 2003, Bronski said, “We printed it thinking that it was sort of funny. It’s been picked up by all these lunatic right-wing fringe people. In retrospect, it’s caused so much… it keeps getting quoted as being serious by people on the right and it simply was making a political point, using humor. I personally would, knowing how much it’s been misrepresented, I would think twice about printing it then.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Edwin Cameron: 1953. As far as closets go, the outspoken Justice on South Africa’s Constitutional Court has obliterated the biggest ones: he’s gay and he’s HIV-positive. Justice Cameron was a human rights lawyer during Africa’s Apartheid years in the 1980s, where he co-drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium, and was the first director of the LAIDS Law Project. As Apartheid crumbled, he worked to safeguard human rights, including the rights of LGBT people, in the new Constitution of South Africa.

In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed him an Acting Judge of the High Court, an appointment that became permanent in 1995. By then, he had long been out of the gay closet, but in in 1998, after a poor black woman living in a township in Durban went on the radio to talk about having AIDS and was killed three weeks later, he decided it was time to come out of the HIV closet. “I thought if [this woman], without any protection, living in a township, not behind a palisade like I do in my middle-class suburb in Johannesburg, not with the income of a judge, not with the constitutional protection… I thought that I should speak out…”

In 1999, he became an Active Justice on the Constitutional Court before being appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2000. In 2009, he was made a permanent Justice of the Constitutional Court by President Kgalema Motlanthe.

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?

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