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Posts for January, 2015

The Daily Agenda for New Year’s Day

Jim Burroway

January 1st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

Some three and a half decades ago, long before Scruff and Grinder, before Gay.com and AOL chat rooms, before the Internet and BBS’s — before all of that, some were still turning to computers, via computerized dating services like Datagay, to help them find their Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, as the case may be.

EMPHASIS MINE:
The Los Angeles Advocate closed out 1967 with a December editorial comparing the relatively free atmosphere LGBT people in San Francisco enjoyed compared to the near-daily examples official and unofficial harassment in Los Angeles and wondered why there was such a difference:

First of all, we have to bury the idea that SF’s gains were made simply because it is a “different city,” Homosexuals here have used this as an excuse for far too long. True, there was a certain set of conditions that led to the new freedom enjoyed by homosexuals there, but these conditions were man-made, not the result of Kismet — a few enlightened men in positions of power in the Police Department; a few strong and determined homophile organizations, SIR, CRH, and the Tavern Guild; and an unbelievably inept harassment of a big New Year ‘s Eve Ball a few years ago. It was the latter event that apparently triggered the homosexual resurgence, and the organizations were quick to capitalize on the police bungling. The results of the efforts by some hard working people are evident to those of us who visit that city.

Bars are flourishing. Arrests are at a minimum. SIR has almost 1000 members. The Tavern Guild is stronger than ever. The organizations sponsor a variety of public events. Many politicians openly court the homosexual vote. The October issue of SIR’s Vector Magazine carried eight political ads, including one by a candidate for Sheriff. Candidates for Mayor or their representatives spoke before homosexual groups during the campaign. …

The time must come soon when we in Los Angeles will have to test our political muscle, We may get whipped time and again, but if we learn from our defeats, we can still get stronger and do battIe again. One thing is certain, though — the LA organizations will have to unite in any political effort and bury all past enmities. This will be the real test of the homophile leaders. A massive drive to register homosexuals for voting must precede any serious political effort, and homosexuals must devote more of their energies to educating the heterosexual community about homosexuality. It’s worth a good try or two. We cannot believe that homosexuals enjoy second class citizenship.

– Editorial: “Politics by the Bay.” The Los Angeles Advocate, December 1967, page 12.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 130 YEARS AGO: English Criminal Law Amendment Act Takes Effect: 1885. English law had long held that homosexuality was an “abominable crime” punishable with death by hanging, but in 1861, the law was modified to provide imprisonment from ten years to life instead. But crime of sodomy was always difficult to prosecute because it required a witness and evidence that the sexual act had been fully consummated, complete with penetration and what we would call a happy ending. Obviously, that made convictions rare.

That changed in 1885, although the change may have been somewhat unintentional. During the middle of the nineteenth century, there was a growing concern over the dangers suffered by England’s daughters over the “gross indecencies” imposed upon them. But again, convictions were rare because the statute required that the sexual assault take place in a “public place.” And so on January 1, 1885, a revision to the criminal code raised the age of consent for girls from thirteen to sixteen, and it made “gross indecencies” punishable regardless of age and place a misdemeanor, punishable with up to two years imprisonment. It didn’t take long for “gross indecency” to be interpreted by the courts to include homosexuality. In fact, it would be under this statute that Oscar Wilde would be convicted and sentenced to the maximum two year term ten years later.

 50 YEARS AGO: San Francisco Police Raid New Year’s Day Ball: 1965. Early San Francisco LGBT-rights advocates had long recognized that much of the opposition to homosexuality rested on religious objections, and that if any progress was to be made, it was necessary to foster links between the gay community and the bay area’s religious leaders — at least those leaders who might be inclined to be supportive, whether publicly or privately. Earlier in 1964, Daughters of Bilitis founders Phyllis Lyon (see Nov 10) and Del Martin (see May 5), together with Glide Memorial Methodist Church, formed the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. CRH was notable for two reasons: not only was it the first organization in the U.S. to incorporate the word “Homosexual” in its name, but it was also the first organization to bring straight and gay people together to minister to the gay community.

And that opportunity for those early straight allies to get a first-hand taste of what gay people routinely experienced came on New Year’s Day of 1965, when CHR held a New Years Mardi Gras as a fundraiser at California Hall. When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department on December 23 of their planned costume party, the police tried to coerce the hall’s owners into cancelling the rental. Organizers again met with police on December 29, for negotiations which the ministers described “strained.” SFPD officials couldn’t understand why these ministers were arguing on behalf of gay people. Observing the wedding bands on the ministers’ fingers, one officer reportedly said, “We see you’re married. How do your wives accept this?” Their wives, the ministers explained, would be at the ball also, along with other members of their congregations. Police tried to question them on theology and warned them that they were being “used” by local homophile organizations, but the ministers persisted. Finally, the two parties reached a deal where police promised not to arrest anyone in costume, including those in drag.

A couple walks past police officers to attend the New Year’s Mardi Gras ball.

Those promises quickly proved empty. As guests began arriving at 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Day, they encountered police officers snapping photographs of everyone as they entered the building. The obvious attempt at intimidation deterred many — organizers expected 1500 to show up but only about 500 actually attended. Later that evening, police demanded entry into the building. Three CRH lawyers explained that the party was a private party under California law and that police could not enter without buying tickets or showing a warrant. The lawyers were arrested, along with a ticket-taker, and charged with obstructing an officer. Two other gay men were arrested for “disorderly conduct” after one of them tripped over a chair; police accused him of trying to kiss another man and both were hauled in.

Throughout the night, police repeatedly entered the hall to conduct “fire code inspections.”  The ball was scheduled to end at midnight, but organizers decided to end the ball an hour earlier. Their next job was to get their guests safely out of the building. One minister was threatened with arrest while escorting two guests to their cars.

Police photographer snaps photos of everyone as they enter California Hall.

For many of the straight attendees, this was their first exposure to routine police intimidation tactics against the gay community. Del Martin said, “This is the type of police activity that homosexuals know well, but heretofore the police had never played their hand before Mr. Average Citizen … It was always the testimony of the police officer versus the homosexual, and the homosexual, fearing publicity and knowing the odds were against him, succumbed. But in this instance the police overplay their part.”

The following morning seven of the ministers who had attended the party held a press conference where they described the pre-event negotiations and the resulting “intimidation, broken promises and obvious hostility” of the San Francisco Police. The American Civil Liberties Union agreed to represent those under arrest.

The New Year’s Mardi Gras party, occurring as it did some five years before Stonewall, proved to be a turning point for gay rights in San Francisco. As the Mattachine Society’s Hal Call (see Sep 20) recalled, “That was when we got newspapers, TV, and radio on our side. The police were so brutal. And with some respectable clergymen on our side, that was a turning point.” Phyllis Lyon said that it was “our first step into some kind of connectedness with the rest of the city.” City officials, embarrassed by the obvious police misconduct, responded by designating officer Elliot Blackstone as the first liaison between the department and the LGBT community. (At his retirement dinner in 1975, Blackstone was saluted by LGBT community leaders for his ensuing twenty years of advocacy and support.)

When the three lawyers’ trial began in February, the police department were still trying to figure out the legal basis for their actions. When asked why police were taking pictures of guests arriving at the ball even though no crime had occurred, one official replied that police “wanted pictures of these people because some of them might be connected to national security.” He also said that the contingent of more than a dozen officers and two photographers were needed because “we went just to inspect the premises.” After four days of prosecution testimony and before the defense could begin presenting their case, the judge ordered a directed verdict of “not guilty” after four days of prosecution testimony. One of the lawyers who had been arrested and charged, Herb Donaldson, would go on to become San Francisco’s first openly gay judge.

[Other sources: Kay Tobin. “After the ball…” The Ladder 9, no. 5 (February 1965): 4-5.

Unsigned. “Cross currents.” The Ladder 9, no. 9 (June 1965): 14-16.

Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 40.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007): 105-108.

LGBT Religious Archives Network. “Raid at New Year’s Day Ball at California Hall.”]

Los Angeles Gay Bar Raided: 1967. It all was sparked by the temerity of a kiss, when a small group of gay men at Silver Lake’s Black Cat bar, upon the countdown to midnight on New Years’ Eve, had the gall to kiss each other “on the mouth for three to five seconds” in the presence of about six undercover policemen who had infiltrated the gay bar. As soon as the pecks on the lips began, police identified themselves and began viciously beating and arresting the kissing offenders. As the melee widened, several people tried to escape to the New Faces bar across the street. Undercover officers followed and raided that bar as well. One of the New Faces workers was beaten so badly by police that they cracked a rib, fractured his skull and ruptured his spleen. Six Black Cat kissers were tried and convicted of “lewd or dissolute conduct” in a public place — legaleese for, in this instance, hugging and kissing.

Just as with the New Year’s Mardi Gras raid in San Francisco two years earlier, the Black Cat raid had the effect of galvanizing the gay community in Los Angeles. Gays turned out for protests and demonstrations in the months that followed, and they began to pass a newsletter around which quickly morphed into a local newspaper, The Los Angeles Advocate, which a few years later became the nationally-distributed Advocate. By the time a similar police raid took place in a dive bar in Greenwich Village two years later, the ground was well prepared for gays to come out nationally to declare their presence in society. In 2008, the Black Cat bar was declared a historical-cultural landmark by the city of Los Angeles, in a move that was partly inspired by the story of the Black Cat bar posted on BTB in 2006.

Homosexuality decriminalized: The first day of the year often marks the day in which new state laws take effect, which explains why on this day in history, a number of states officially decriminalized homosexuality effective January 1. Among the states that I know of in which laws prohibiting same-sex relations include: Arizona (1980), California (1975), Colorado (1971), Hawaii (1972), Illinois (1962), Iowa (1976), Maryland (1998 for oral, 1999 for anal), New Mexico (1975), North Dakota (1978). Ohio (1974), Oregon (1971) and Vermont (1977). (If you know of any others, please let me know in the comments below.)

Of that list, Illinois is particularly noteworthy. When the state legislature adopted the wholesale revision of their entire criminal code earlier that year, they used the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide, which omitted homosexual acts as criminal offenses (see Jul 28). When the Illinois legislature followed suit, it became the first state in the nation to legalize consensual same-sex relationships.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
E.M. Forster: 1879-1970. Why did the author of such classics as Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India, stop writing novels after 1924 until his death in 1970? Papers released in 2010, which his “sex dairy,” indicate that his writing career ended after he lost his virginity to a wounded soldier while in Egypt, and later when he met his long-term lover, the married policeman Bob Buckingham. Forster felt that he could no longer reconcile his English middle-class characters with the reality of his affairs. In one diary entry, Forster wrote: “I should have been a more famous writer if I had written or rather published more, but sex prevented the latter.”

Before Forster’s lifelong conflict with his sexuality, he was well on his way to becoming a celebrated man of letters. His first novel, 1905’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, told the story of a young English widow whose relatives try to intervene in her love affair an Italian man. Forster returned to Italy as the setting for 1908’s A Room with a View, in which Lucy Honeychurch faces the choice between two men she met while vacationing with her cousin. Both books illustrate a kind of narrow-mindedness often present among middle-class English tourists while abroad. The also deal with conflicts between misguided bourgeois English propriety and matters of the heart. For 1910’s Howards End, Forster deals more directly with the social strata within Edwardian England’s middle classes. But his greatest success came with his 1924’s A Passage to India, drawn from his observations while traveling to India in the early 1920s to work as the private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas during the latter days of the British Raj.

Forster’s lifetime publication ended in 1924, but that didn’t mean he stopped writing altogether. He worked on a novel of a homosexual love story set in London, Cambridge, and Wiltshire, with parts of the story likely drawn from personal experiences. But given his reputation that had already been established with the earlier novels — and given that homosexual relationship between men was a criminal offense throughout Britain — Forster could see no way to out himself by publishing Maurice during his lifetime.

Based on the strength of his earlier works, Forster was elected an honorary fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life, doing relatively little save an occasional essay and an appearance on the BBC. He maintained his relationship with Buckingham, the “love of his life,” and became close friends with Buckingham’s wife, Mary. In 1964, three years before Britain finally decriminalized homosexuality, Forster complained to his diary, “Now I am 85 how annoyed I am with society for wasting my time by making homosexuality criminal. The subterfuges and the self-consciousnesses that might have been avoided.” He passed away following a stroke in their Coventry home in 1970, and Maurice was published eighteen months later.

James Hormel: 1933. The grandson of the founder of Hormel Foods made history of his own in 1999 when President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, making him the first openly gay man to represent to U.S. as an ambassador. Clinton first considered Hormel for Ambassador to Fiji in 1994, but following protests from Fiji, Clinton declined to submit Hormel’s nomination to the Senate. Instead, Hormel was named to the U.N’s Human Rights Commission in 1995, and he became an alternate for the U.N. General Assembly in 1996.

Clinton nominated Hormel for the Luxembourg post in 1997, but the Republican-controlled senate blocked his nomination for the next two years. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) compared homosexuality to alcoholism and kleptomania and other Senators and anti-gay activists called Hormel pro-pornography and anti-Catholic. Hormel was finally named Ambassador in May 1999 as a recess appointment. He was sworn in as ambassador in June with his partner holding the Bible, and his former wife, five children and several grandchildren in attendance.

Previously, Hormel had been one of the co-founders of the Human Rights Campaign in 1981, and he funded the Kames C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library in 1995. He currently lives in San Francisco with his partner, Michael P. Nguyen. His memoir, Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador, was published in 2011.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 31

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, January 1, 1977, page 3.

From This Week In Texas, January 1, 1977, page 3.

Mary’s opened in 1972 as a gay bar in Houston’s Montrose area, at around the time Montrose was just beginning to develop its identity as a gayborhood. It quickly established a rather wild reputation: “[T]he bar was known for having it’s own set of rules, one of which made it ‘illegal’ to wear underwear. And newcomers who violated the rule would have their underwear stripped from them and thrown to the rafters, past the trapeze that was normally manned by a naked bartender or patron.” As the years wore on, the bar also became something of a community center: “On a Friday night you could experience your favorite fetish out back, and on Monday you could attend a rally to support AIDS funding.” The bar changed ownership in 2003, and experienced a long, slow decline. It’s iconic outside mural was painted over in 2006, and the bar finally closed in 2009. The building now houses the Blacksmith coffee shop.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
LIFE Magazine’s “Homosexuals In Revolt”: 1971. In Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I (1981), there is the famous pun in which the Count de Monet tells King Louis XVI, “It is said that the people are revolting.” The king replies, “You said it. They stink on ice.” Ten years earlier, Life magazine found homosexuals revolting all over the place, in its year-end photo essay covering “the year that one liberation movement turned militant”:

It was the most shocking and, to most Americans, the most surprising liberation movement yet. Under the slogan “Out of the closets and into the streets,” thousands of homosexuals, male and female, were proudly confessing what they had long hidden. They were, moreover, moving into direct confrontation with conventional society. Their battle was far from won. But in 1971 militant homosexuals showed they were prepared to fight it.

…They resent what they consider to be savage discrimination against them on the basis of a preference which they did not choose and which they cannot — and do not want to — change. And while mist will admit that “straight” society’s attitudes have caused them unhappiness, they respond to the charge that all homosexuals are guilt-ridden and miserable with the defiant rallying cry “Gay is Good!” … Never before have homosexuals been so visible.

The photo essay consisted of eleven pages of angry gays, fists clenched and raised in the air, confronting police, marching in the streets, organizing, and, of course, wierding people out. Later in the essay came mentions of early gay rights groups and activists, including Frank Kameny (May 21), Jack Baker (see Mar 10), Rev. Ray Broshears (see Sep 27), Merle Miller (see Jan 17), and Rev. Troy Perry (see Jul 27) — each and every one of them a “militant.” As for the younger and more nameless “militants”:

Most of the young militants shown here are members of homosexual liberation’s most effective organization, New York City’s Gay Activists Alliance. …GAA has developed a form of protest called a “zap,” which is part picket line and part sit-in. … The activists claim that demonstrations offer them the best therapy for the humiliations inflicted by anti-homosexual society. “One good zap,” they say, “is worth six months on a psychiatrist’s couch.”

Life‘s follow-up article asked the burning question, “Is Homosexuality Normal or Not?”, and they tackled it pretty much the way everyone did back then: by talking to a lot of straight people about gay people, but without quoting from a single gay person. Featured in the article was noted anti-gay therapists Edmund Bergler (despite being dead for nearly ten years), Lawrence Hatterer (who conducted electric shock aversion therapy), Irving Bieber, and Charles Socarides — who would later go on to co-found the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The article tried to present a rundown on what makes gay men gay (there was virtually no mention of lesbians in the article), and then, without quoting from a single “homosexual militant”, asserted that these militants opposed all research on homosexuality. All of this led to the article’s final two paragraphs:

Whether liberationists choose introspection, militancy, or violence as a course of action, the basic stumbling block remains the same: heterosexual antipathy to homosexuality. Will this ever change? Dr. Hatterer has observed that society’s tolerance of homosexuality is increasing but he doubts that we will ever accept it as a desirable “alternative lifestyle.” Nonetheless he and virtually all other psychiatrists advocate repealing the laws that violate this minority’s civil rights.

On the question of “normality,” much remains to be learned. In opposing all inquiry, the militants expose fears of what science might find out about them. Dr. (Evelyn) Hooker’s task force on homosexuality makes the sensible recommendation that the National Institute of Mental Health fund a center for the study of all sexual behavior. “It is essential,” says the report, “that a study of homosexuality be placed within the context of the study of the broad range of sexuality, normal and deviant.”

[Source: “Homosexuals In Revolt” Life 71, no. 26 (December 31, 1971): 62-71. Available online via Google Books here.

“Is Homosexuality Normal or Not?” Life 71, no. 26 (December 31, 1971): 72. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Joe Dallesandro: 1948. His father was in the Navy and his mother just sixteen when Joe was born, and by the time he was five his mother was serving time for auto theft. The younger Dallesandro ended up on foster care before being reunited with his father in Queens. By age fifteen Dallesandro was expelled for punching the school principal and began to follow in his mother’s footsteps steeling cars. After wrecking one stolen car in the Holland Tunnel, he was stopped by police and shot in the leg. He was sentenced to a boy’s rehab center in 1964.

Dallesandro escaped a few months later, robbed a theater in Brooklyn, and fled to Mexico before eventually hitchhiking to Los Angeles. There, he took to hanging out at the bus station where, among the many lucrative offers, was one for modeling for Bob Mizar’s Physique Pictoral as part of Mizar’s Athletic Model Guild. After getting into more trouble in L.A., Dallesandro made his way back to New York, where he appeared in his first Andy Warhol film in 1967, the experimental 25-hour Four Stars. Dallesandro’s work with Warhol and Paul Morrissey changed everything:

“There’s no rhyme or reason why I wound up where I wound up,” says Joe, still sounding vaguely incredulous about his fate. “I walked into that place and everything changed. It wasn’t until Paul and Andy came into my life that I got what you might call ‘direction’. It was only then that I started to know what I wanted to do with my life. If I hadn’t met them I’d probably have ended up in prison because I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. When I got connected with Paul and Andy I got some good direction.”

The following year, his nude scenes in his role as a hustler in Warhol’s Flesh brought Dallesandro to somewhat more mainstream audiences. His comfortable nonchalance with nudity and his laid-back film presence made him the first explicitly-eroticized male sex symbol of the 1970s. His onscreen comfort in his beautiful skin extended to both genders, on screen and off. The New York Times‘ Vincent Canby nodded to Dallesandro’s bisexual appeal when he wrote, “His physique is so magnificently shaped that men as well as women become disconnected at the sight of him.” Warhol said simply, “In my movies, everyone’s in love with Joe Dallesandro.” Fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo called Dallesandro “one of the ten most photogenic men in the world.” Dallesandro’s crotch served as the cover art for the Rolling Stones’ 1971 album Sticky Fingers, and Lou Reed immortalized him as “Little Joe” in his 1972 hit “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Dallesandro’s collaboration with Warhol and Paul Morrissey continued, with Lonesome Cowboys (1968), Trash (1970), Heat (1972), and Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (both in 1974). Those last two were shot in Europe, where Dallesandro remained for the rest of the decade and appearing in a string of low-budget and alternative films. While abroad, Dallesandro’s foster mother died, his brother committed suicide (or died of auto-erotic asphyxiation, according to some accounts), his second wife sued for divorce, and he sank into a quagmire of drug and alcohol abuse.

By 1980, Dallesandro decided to move to New York, kick the drugs, and eventually dry out. Dallesandro’s movie career then received its second breath with minor roles in The Cotton Club (1984, as the mobster “Lucky” Luciano), Sunset (1988), and Cry-Baby (1990). He also appeared in several guest roles on television, including Miami Vice and Matlock. But since the 1990s, Dallesandro had been semi-retired from acting. At last report, he and his third wife were happily managing an apartment complex in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Higdon: 1962. Who says playing flute in a Tennessee high school band is a dead end? It certainly wasn’t for Jennifer Higdon, who majored in the instrument at Bowling Green State University where she also began composing. After graduation, she served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. Her one-movement tone poem blue cathedral, inspired by her brother’s death from cancer, has become among the most performed modern orchestral works by a living American composer. Her Violin Concerto, which premiered in 2009 in Indianapolis, was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. That same year, her Percussion Concerto won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Higdon lives with her high school sweetheart, Cheryl Lawson, in Philadelphia, where Higdon teaches at the Curtis Institute, where she holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Compositional Studies.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 30

Jim Burroway

December 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, December 22, 1978, page 16.

From Arizona Gay News, December 22, 1978, page 16.

Phoenix’s Band Box was so named for the live bands and other performers that had played there.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Beauford Delaney: 1901-1979. His mother had been born into slavery and never learned to read or write. Because of her experiences, and in keeping with the family’s hard-fought position of respectability in Knoxville where his father was a Methodist minister, the values of dignity, education and a keen awareness of injustices were paramount in the Delaney household. Beauford and his younger brother, Joseph, developed an interest in art at an early age, when they drew copies of pictures they saw on Sunday school cards and the family Bible. As a teenager, Beauford got a job at a local sign company, where his work was noticed by Lloyd Branson, Knoxville’s best known artist. Delaney became Branson’s apprentice and, with Branson’s backing, moved to Boston to study art in 1924. His escape from the Jim Crow south opened up a huge world, where he learned the essentials of painting techniques, was first exposed to the black activist politics, and experienced his first intimate encounter with another young man.

Beauford Delaney, “Can Fire In The Park”, 1946

By 1929, Beauford used up Boston and moved to Harlem, which coincided with the great artistic and political flowering known as the Harlem Renaissance. Despite being penniless during the early crushing years of the Great Depression, Delaney found an affinity with the “multiple of people of all races [who] spend every night of their lives in parks and cafes.” As he wrote in his journal, their courage inspired him to believe that “somehow, someway there was something I could manage if only with some stronger force of will I could find the courage to surmount the terror and fear of this immense city and accept everything insofar as possible with some calm and determination.”

That calm and determination became the subject of some of his greatest works. Delaney eventually found work here and there — as a bellhop, telephone operator, doorman, janitor — while also finding, slowly, an audience for his paintings. He rubbed shoulders Georgia O’Keefe and Henry Miller, and became close friends with author James Baldwin (see Aug 2), and yet he remained an isolated individual, presenting carefully crafted faces to the people he encountered depending on where he was. To his neighbors in Greenwich Village, where his studio was, he was part of a larger gay (and mostly white) circle of friends; in Harlem, he kept his other life hidden. The decidedly macho world of modernist and impressionist art in New York undoubtedly added to his isolation. Those who knew him saw an introverted and private person, one who had apparently never formed any lasting romantic relationships.

Beauford Delaney, “Nativity Scene,” 1961.

In 1953, Delaney moved to Paris where he found a greater sense of freedom in an already well-established expatriate community of ex-patriate African-American artists. His paintings shifted from the figurative images of his New York period to more of an abstract impressionist exploration of color and light. But by 1961, his mental and physical health began to deteriorate, problems which were compounded by continuing poverty, hunger, and heavy drinking. Baldwin remembered, “He has been starving and working all of his life – in Tennessee, in Boston, in New York, and now in Paris. He has been menaced more than any other man I know by his social circumstances and also by all the emotional and psychological stratagems he has been forced to use to survive; and, more than any other man I know, he has transcended both the inner and outer darkness.”

Delaney returned briefly to the U.S. in 1969 to visit family, but he was dogged by paranoia and hallucinations. He returned to Paris in 1970 and tried to resume working, but it became increasingly clear to his friends that he was no longer capable of living independently. In 1975, he was hospitalized, then committed to St. Anne’s Hospital for the Insane. He died there in 1979, and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Denaley’s work was mostly forgotten through much of the 1970s and 1980s, despite his influence on fellow artists. In 1986, Baldwin wrote that Delaney was “the first living proof, for me, that a black man could be an artist. In a warmer time, a less blasphemous place, he would have been recognised as my Master and I as his Pupil. He became, for me, an example of courage and integrity, humility and passion. An absolute integrity: I saw him shaken many times and I lived to see him broken but I never saw him bow.”

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, December 29

Jim Burroway

December 29th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1989, page 8.

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1989, page 8.

John Addington Symonds (left) and Edward Carpenter (right)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“The Most Beneficial Results Accrue from the Sexual Relations Between Men”: 1892. John Addington Symonds was an English poet and literary critic who, although married and a father, was an early advocate of male homosexuality (see Oct 5). Edward Carpenter was a poet, socialist philosopher, and an early gay advocate — and among the very few who lived openly as a gay man in Victorian England (see Aug 29). In 1892, Symonds was beginning his collaboration with sexologist Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) for Ellis’s first installment of his six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex, when Symonds wrote to Carpenter to discuss some of the topics he intended to cover. While Ellis intended to stick strictly to a psychological discussion on homosexuality (or Sexual Inversion, as it was called at the time), Symonds was keen to open the topic up to historical and ethical considerations:

It is a pity that we cannot write freely on the topic. But when we meet, I will communicate to you facts which prove beyond all doubt to my mind that the most beneficial results, as regards health and nervous energy, accrue from the sexual relations between men: also, that when they are carried on with true affection, through a period of years, both comrades become united in a way which would be otherwise quite inexplicable.

The fact appears to me proved. The explanation of it I cannot give, & I do not expect it to be given yet. Sex has been unaccountably neglected. Its physiological & psychological relations even in the connection between man & woman are not understood. We have no theory which is worth anything upon the differentiation of the sexes, to begin with. In fact, a science of what is the central function of human beings remains to be sought.

This, I take it, is very much due to psychologists, assuming that sexual instincts follow the build of the sexual organs; & that when they do not, the phenomenon is criminal or morbid. In fact, it is due to science at this point being clogged with religious & legal presuppositions.

…My hope has always been that eventually a new chivalry, i.e.., a second elevated form of human love, will emerge & take its place for the service of mankind by the side of that other which was wrought out in the Middle Ages.

…How far away that dream seems! And yet I see in human nature stuff neglected, ever-present — pariah and outcast now — from which I am as certain as I live, such a chivalry could arise.

Whitman, in Calaumus, seems to strike the key-note. And though he repudiated (in a very notable letter to myself) the deductions which have logically to be drawn from Calamus, his work will remain infinitely helpful.

[Source Chris White’s Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality: A Sourcebook (London, Routledge, 1999): pp 92-94.]

Catholic Church Reaffirms Opposition to Homosexuality: 1975. It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But on this date in 1975, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — think of it as the Vatican’s equivalent of the Justice Department (so to speak) — issued Persona Humana, addressing “certain questions concerning sexual ethics.” On the subject of homosexuality, the Congregation stated:

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

The same statement also reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to premarital sex, extramarital sex and masturbation (which it also branded “an intrinsically and seriously disordered act”).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Billy Tipton: 1914-1989. It wasn’t until his death in 1989 when it became widely known that the American jazz pianist, saxophonist and bandleader was a transman. Early in his career, Tipton performed as a man while continuing to present as a woman otherwise, but by the 1940s, he had transitioned his gender identity fully to male — except for when he went home to his family, where he became Dorothy again, leading fellow musicians to believe he was lesbian.

By the 1950s, Tipton was identifying solely as a man. It was during that time when he was awarded a recording contract with Top records, for whom he recorded two albums of jazz standards. The albums were reasonably successful, and he was given the opportunity to sign a contract for four more. He declined the offer, and took his Billy Tipton Trio to Spokane where he performed weekly at a downtown nightclub called Allen’s Tin Pan Alley and worked as a talent broker at the Dave Sobol Theatrical Agency. He also entered into at least five heterosexual relationships, including a common-law marriage with Kitty Kelly with whom Tipton adopted three sons. One son, William, remembered Billy as a good father who loved to go on Scout camping trips. It was William who would learn that his father had been born a woman, when he was looking on as paramedics tried to resuscitate him after collapsing with a hemorrhaging peptic ulcer.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 28

Jim Burroway

December 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, December 27, 1975, page 13.

From This Week In Texas, December 27, 1975, page 13.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Closeted Anti-Gay Activist Dies of AIDS: 1986. Terry Dolan, who helped to found the National Conservative Political Action Committee, was pretty well known in elite gay circles. According to Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On, when playwright Larry Kramer recognized him at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party, he walked up to Dolan and threw a drink is his face. “How dare you come here?” he shouted. “You take the best from our world and then do all those hateful things against us. You should be ashamed.”

Among those awful things was sending out fundraising letters for NCPAC, which claimed that “Our nation’s moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians).” Meanwhile, Dolan had, at the time of that 1984 encounter with Kramer, had just ended an affair with a male epidemiologist at the New York City Health Department, and was then enjoying everything the gay social scene had to offer.

Dolan knew how to raise money. “The “shriller you are,” he said in 1982, “the easier it is to raise money.” He had honed those skills at NCPAC, and during the late 1970s as part of the leadership of Christian Voice, a pre-Moral Majority right wing anti-gay group. And those skills he honed during those years have been the recipe for anti-gay activists ever since.

But four years later, Dolan himself was dead of AIDS at the age of 36. The following May, The Washington Post published an article about “the cautious closet” of Terry Dolan. His brother, Reagan White House speechwriter Anthony Dolan, was livid and took out a two-page ad in The Washington Times, arguing that “the greatest and most malicious falsehood in this story was its entire thrust, its basis: the claim that my brother lived and died a homosexual.” But Dolan did live and die a homosexual, and a deeply closeted one at that. But despite his brother’s and family’s best efforts, the secret was out, and no amount of wishful thinking otherwise would ever change that fact.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, December 27

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, a magazine catering to gay motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts. December 1983, page 22.

From Club Scene, a magazine catering to gay motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts. December 1983, page 22.

Kindred Spirits is described as “a women’s alternative” for Houston, Texas.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“An Evil Force In Our Land”: 1708. That was a sermon against “sodomites” delivered by a British preacher, according to historian Rictor Norton:

The Societies for Reformation of Manners was founded in 1690 and there were about twenty such Societies by 1701. They aimed to clean up public vice, and focused particularly upon prostitution. The leader of the Societies, Reverend Bray, was obsessed with sodomy, which he called “an evil force invading our land” in the sermon he preached at St Mary’s Le Bow before the Societies for Reformation of Manners on 27 December 1708. Bray directed several raids from 1707 through 1709, in association with Constables who were themselves members of the Societies. By their annual meeting in 1710 they were able to boast that by their means “our streets have been very much cleansed from the lewd night-walkers and most detestable sodomites.” Our knowledge about the homosexual subculture of London at that time is exactly coterminous with the investigations of the Societies for Reformation of Manners. It is not accurate to say that the gay subculture was “born” at that time, only that it was “uncovered” by these campaigning moralists.

A Stranger “Declared Himself in Favour of the Crime of Sodomy”: 1720. Historian Rictor Norton has a treasure-trove of British history at his web site. Here’s another excerpt, from The London Journawhich reported the following:

Some Days since a Gentleman meeting another on the Royal Exchange, though a Stranger to him before, was presently acquainted with him, and told him, he was captivated with the fineness of his Person, and then declared himself in favour of the Crime of Sodomy; and warmly sollicited him for his Company to an adjoyning Tavern. This stun’d at first, the other; but collecting himself in order to view the Monster, and have an Opportunity to punish and put him to shame, he agreed to meet him the next Day at a Tavern by the Exchange; but before they met, the Gentlemen acquainted the Master of the House with the Matter, and several Persons were got ready on the Signal to enter the Room. Accordingly, when every thing within was ready for Action and the Alarm given, the People rushed in. The Guilty Person was not able to rectify some Indecencies he was in. Upon this they gave him the Cold Bath with several Pales [i.e. pails] of Water thrown in his Face. Thus restoring Speech and Motion to him, he cursed and swore in a very outragious manner, and endeavoured to fling himself out of the Room, but they would not part with him till he had been well rubbed down with some Oaken Towels, prepared for that purpose; after which they kick’d him out of the House.

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The Daily Agenda for December 26

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Data Boy,December 23, 1982, page 29.

From Data Boy,December 23, 1982, page 29.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: Body Build of Male Homosexuals: 1959. In many ways, just about everyone (including most of the mental health community) saw gay people, particularly gay men, as being so alien as to almost constitute a different species. Well, maybe not a different species literally, but for some, gay men were at least some sort of a mutation of homo sapiens, and were not like just any common man on the street. On December 26, 1959, the august British Medical Journal published a short paper by Dr. A.J. Coppen, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London who believed that he had proven, on the basis of physical measurements of just thirty-one gay men, that there was a distinct body build associated with homosexuality in men — and it was the same body build associated with mental patients.

He came to this determination by measuring the shoulders and hips of three groups of people. “The homosexual group,” he wrote, “consisted of 31 patients who had been either exclusively homosexual or predominantly homosexual, with only occasional heterosexual activity. The patients had attended the Maudsley Hospital primarily for homosexuality; the majority had been referred from the courts after they had been convicted of homosexual offences.” Because a number of them had “psychiatric symptoms” of “mainly depression or anxiety” (is there any wonder?), he included “another control group of 22 heterosexual neurotics, … as any differences found in the homosexuals may be related to the differences widely reported in psychiatric patients rather than to their specific sexual abnormalities.” The third group, a control group, consisted of 53 members of a business organization “who were attending for mass radiography,” and who agreed to be part of the study.

For all three groups, Coppen measured the circumference around their shoulders (biacromial) and hips (bi-illiac), calculated an equivalent diameter (he doesn’t say how), and used those measurements to determine what he called an “androgyny score” (3 x biacromial – x bi-iliac diameters, in cm.). Coppen scoured the literature to provide evidence to support his contention that such a score could detect deficiencies in masculinity in men — because, as they all knew in the 1950s, all homosexuals suffered from this very deficiency:

Raboch (1957) found a decreased biacromial diameter in hypogonadal men and in men with female sex chromatin. Lindegard (1956) showed that size of penis was correlated with the androgyny score. Patients suffering from pre-eclamptic toxaemia and frigidity have been found to have abnormally masculine androgyny scores (Coppen, 1958). Thus there is evidence that subjects who suffer from certain abnormalities related to sexual function will show abnormalities in their androgyny score. The hypothesis tested in the present investigation is that homosexuals have abnormally feminine androgyny scores.

And with those measurements, Coppen determined that:

Androgyny ScoresThe results show that homosexuals have a decreased androgyny score and biacromial diameter compared with the control group. This difference, however, is not specific for homosexuality, as the neurotic patients in this study also differ from the controls to approximately the same extent as regards both androgyny and biacromial width. The androgyny score does not discriminate between homosexuals and controls better than does the biacromial diameter, though, as the Chart shows, three homosexual patients have very low androgyny scores, outside the range of the other two groups. It appears, therefore, that homosexuals are similar to people with other psychiatric disorders in having decreased breadth measurements, but that their sexual abnormality is not specifically related to these. Rather it seems that the homosexual is influenced by the similar (unknown) factors that produce the abnormalities in body-build found in other psychiatric patients.

This article from 1959 is an interesting holdover from an early path of investigation that is reminiscent of nineteenth-century Phrenology. That discarded science is perhaps best known today for its busts and diagrams of human skulls with dotted outlines of areas denoted with labels like “Friendship” or “Adhesiveness” (see Aug 6). Phrenologists believed that different areas of the brain consisted of “organs” relating to different character traits. Early on, they also believed that it was possible to determine the different developmental levels of these “organs” by relating them to the shape of an individuals skull with its various bumps and bulges.

That last theory was soon discarded, but the idea that an individual’s character traits could somehow be imprinted on that person’s physical development was firmly established in the scientific imagination. In the late 1800s the Italian Cesare Lombroso, who is credited for founding the discipline of Criminology, drew on phrenology, Degeneracy Theory (see Aug 16Sep 9, or Oct 26 for brief explanations) and Social Darwinism to argue that criminality was an inherited trait rather than an impulse of human nature. Lombroso argued that criminals, would-be criminals, and other “defectives” could be diagnosed via their anatomical features such as the shape of the forehead, ear sizes, limb sizes, asymmetrical features and other “stigmata of degeneracy.” The appearance of children with Down’s Syndrome, for example, only seemed to confirm these theories.

By the end of the first third of the twentieth century, such theories had been largely discarded. But some of the ideas that took root in those theories took a lot longer to die off.  Texts on homosexuality right up through through the 1950s often had several paragraphs dwelling on the physical characteristics of their study subjects, and some even included nude photos to illustrate purported masculine deficiencies. By the late 1950s, those descriptions had mostly disappeared from the literature, which make this 1959 article something of an interesting anachronism.

[Source: A.J. Coppen. “Body-Build of Male Homosexuals.” British Medical Journal no. 5164, vol 2 (December 26, 1959): 1443-1445. Available online here.]

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The Daily Agenda for Christmas Day

Jim Burroway

December 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 56.

All of us at BTB wish you a wonderful and happy Christmas.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
TIME Magazine’s “Object Lesson”: 1950. Col. Alfred Redl was Austria-Hungary’s masterful chief of counter-intelligence, having set up a massive espionage network in Russia. But when the Russians discovered evidence of his homosexuality in 1903, they blackmailed him into becoming, for the next eleven years, a double agent. In 1913, Austria-Hungary officials learned of Redl’s treachery. A group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer, and left a revolver behind in Redl’s room when they left. Redl wrote a last farewell letter and shot himself (see May 25). Thirty-seven years later, Time magazine wrote about the growing Lavender Scare taking hold in the U.S. (see Feb 28, Mar 14Mar 23Apr 18, May 15, May 19, Jun 15, Jul 17, Dec 15), and recalled the Redl Affair, as that whole mess had been known, as an “object lesson” on the what it called the dangers of allowing gay people to work for the U.S. government:

Last week, a Senate investigating committee resurrected the case of Alfred Redl as an object lesson for the U.S. For 27 weeks, North Carolina’s frock-coated Clyde Hoey, with three other Democratic Senators and three Republicans, had been quietly looking into a sordid matter: the problem of homosexuals in the Government. The problem had been the subject of nervous explanations, joke-cracking and effective campaign sneers ever since last February, when Deputy Under Secretary of State John Peurifoy offhandedly told Congress that State had gotten rid of 91 employees for homosexuality (see Feb 28).

Senator Hoey’s investigators had compiled a shocking history. They had found a record of homosexuality or other sexual perversions among workers in 36 of 53 branches of government, as well as in the armed forces. Between Jan. 1, 1947 and last April, 4,954 cases had come to light among some three and a half million people in Government service. Most were in the armed services, which are far larger than civilian Government departments and traditionally aggressive at searching out perverts.

There were 574 cases involving civilian Government employees and 69 are still under investigation; in all the other cases the accused had either quit, been cleared or fired. The investigators found the greatest batch of civilian cases—143—in the State Department. State had cleared or gotten rid of all but a dozen whose cases were still pending. A surprise second in the totals was the Veterans Administration, with 101 cases. Others: Atomic Energy Commission, 8; EGA, 27; Congress’ legislative agencies (Library of Congress, congressional employees, etc.), 19; White House office, none.

…The investigators feared that some sex perverts would inevitably go undetected in Government jobs, but most federal bureaus and agencies, they concluded sharply, had been lazy or downright negligent about cleaning house. The Senators recommended tighter laws and harsher punishment for sex perversion in the District of Columbia, more intensive examination of job applicants.

[Source: “Object Lesson.” Time (December 25, 1950): 10.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Albert Cashier: 1843-1915. It’s unclear when Jennie Irene Hodgers undertook a male identity, but by 1862 the Irish native was living in Illinois when he decided to enlist in the union army. He enlished as Albert Chashier and served in Company G as part of the Army of the Tennessee under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Company G fought in the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign and at Guntown, Mississippi. Cashier’s fellow soldiers noticed that he was small and standoffish, but thought little about it. He was once captured by the Confederate army, but escaped back to Union lines after overpowering a guard. He remained in the Union army until he and the rest of his company were mustered out in 1865.

After the war, Cashier worked as a private handyman for Illinois State Senator Ira M. Lish at his estate in Saunemin. Cashier also workd as a farm hand, church janitor, and cemetery worker. As a man, Cashier registered and voted in elections long before women’s suffrage came into being, and he claimed a veteran’s pension. He successfullly maintained his male identity until 1911, when he was hit by a car and broke his leg. The attending physician discovered his biological gender, but in an amazingly forward-thinking move, the physician decided to respect Cashier’s privacy, sharing the secret only with the superintendent of the Soldiers and Sailors Home at Quincy, where Cashier was then living. It was only after Cashier’s mind deteriorated and he was moved to Watertown State Hospital in 1913 when attendants discovered his birth gender and forced him to wear a dress. But when Cashier died on October 10, 1915, he was buried in his Civil War uniform and given a full military funeral. His grave stone in Saunemin cemetary simply reads: “Albert D.J. Cashier. Co. G., 19 Ill. Inf.” Sometime in the 1970s, a second tombstone was placed with Cashier’s birth name added.

Quentin Crisp: 1908-1999. He was always a gender-bending raconteur, even going back to when he was the object of endless teasing in elementary school. In 1926, he studied journalism at King’s College London, but switched to art at Regent Street Polytechnic. He also visited the cafes and pubs of Soho’s Old Compton Street, which is still the heart of the gay community in London. It was then that he decided that his life’s work would be “making the existence of homosexuality abundantly clear to the world’s aborigines,” and he did so by developing the flamboyant style that would become his signature. When World War II broke out, he tried to join the Army, but was rejected on medical grounds — “sexual perversion” was the diagnosis. He remained in London during the Blitz, and placed himself at the service of American G.I.’s, so to speak. That’s where Crisp picked up his love for all things American.

In 1968, he achieved success with his third book, an autobiography he titled The Naked Civil Servant. The title referred to his job as a paid nude model for government-supported art schools, which he described as “like being a civil servant, except that you were naked.” The book at first didn’t sell well, but it led to a documentary featuring him talking about his life while sitting in his flat filing his nails. That documentary eventually led to the 1975 television adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant, featuring John Hurt as Crisp. Crisp’s second career as professional raconteur and lecturer was launched, touring Britain with his one man show, and moving to New York permanently in 1981 to fulfill a longtime dream. Before moving to the States, he was reportedly asked at the US Embassy in London if he were a practicing homosexual. He replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect.” But his sharp-tongued wit also got him in trouble. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, he recklessly joked that AIDS was the latest “fad.” He made a pact with a New York performance artist named Penny Arcade that he would live to be a hundred years old, with a decade off for good behavior. He died just one month before his 91st birthday.

Here he is in a Q&A session in Los Angeles following a lecture on style:

Also, parts three and four.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, December 24

Jim Burroway

December 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), December 1976, page 12.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), December 1976, page 12.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Brenda Howard: 1946-2005. “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why Gay Pride Month is June tell them “A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.” That’s how New York area gay rights activist Tom Limoncelli euglogized Brenda Howard shortly after her death in 2005. Howard was among the thirty-seven women and men who founded the more militant Gay Liberation Front shortly after the Stonewall rebelion in 1969. She helped to organize a one-month anniversary commemoration of Stonewall, and then created the Christopher Street Liberation Day March a year later for Sonewall’s first anniversary. She later pushed to expand the commemoration to a whole week, to be known as “Pride Week” and encouraged similar observances in cities across American. Those efforts led to her being known as “The Mother of Pride.”

After GLF broke up, Howard moved over to the Gay Activists Alliance to chair its Agitprop Committee and Speakers Bureau with it’s message, “Gay is great, be proud if you’re gay, don’t mess with us if you’re not.” In 1987, she helped to found the New York Area Bisexual Network and became active in BiPAC and BiNet USA. She died of cancer on June 28, 2005, on the very day of the thirty-fifth Pride Parade of New York.

Lee Daniels: 1959. The actor, producer and director became the first African-American to solo produce an Academy Award winning film with 1992’s Monster’s Ball, which earned a Best Actress accolade for Halle Berry. Daniel’s directorial debut came in 2006, with Shadowboxer, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Mo’Nique, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and R&B singer Macy Gray. In 2009, he scored another major success with Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. Featuring Gabourey Sidibe in the title role of Claireece “Precious” Jones and Mo’Nuque as her mother, the film told the difficult story of an obese and illiterate teen growing up in the projects of Harlem who suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse from her mother (played by No’Nique) and was impregnated twice by her father. It was Sidibe’s first professional acting job, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Daniels himself was also nominated for Best Director.

His 2012 film The Paperboy, a 1960s erotic thriller starring Matthew McConaughy, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray and Scott Glenn, opened to decidedly mixed reviews. The strong cast appears to have saved the film from ignominy. The Village Voice Film Poll sprinkled best actor/actress nominations for just about about the entire cast, but nominated Lee Daniels for Worst Film. His 2013 film, The Butler, is a historical fiction centered on an African-American White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whittaker). It opened to much more positive reviews and top box office sales during its first three weeks.

Ricky Martin: 1971. Born Enrique Martín Morales, the Puerto Rican singer first achieved fame as a member of boy band Menudo before embarking on a solo career in 1991. His early popularity in Latin markets was boosted by his appearance in the second season of a Mexican telenovela, Alcanzar Una Estrella (“Reach for a Star”) in which he played a member of a boy band which achieves fame and fortune. In 1999, Martin found crossover appeal with the singles “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “She’s All I Ever Had,” from his first English language album. That was followed with “She Bangs” in 2000. In 2007, he took a break from recording, but returned again with a new album in 2010, along with his autobiography, Me. Shortly before the book came out, Martin acknowledged the truth behind the worst-kept secret of the decade, the fact that he’s gay. In 2011, Martin became a Spanish citizen (his grandmother is Spanish) in what was seen as a possible prelude to an upcoming marriage with his partner, economist Carlos Gonzales, although that marriage didn’t happen. The couple split by January 2014. Martin is currently raising twin boys, Matteo and Valentino.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, December 23

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 52.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), December 1977, page 52.

The Wreck Room Bar opened in July 1972 as the city’s first cowboy/levi/leather bar. It had three rooms and a small outdoor patio, and in keeping with the “wreck” theme, a back room featured a T-Bird’s front end sticking out of a wall and the room with the pool table was decorated with hub caps and chain link fencing. Barrels of free peanuts were set around the bar and the floor was littered with shells. By the following year, it was the home base for the Silver Star Motorcycle Club which later morphed into a leather club. Its anniversary parties were legendary. Beginning around 1976, two streets surrounding the bar were blocked off for a free corn roast and brat/burger fry. The bar also sponsored the Wreck Room Classic invitation softball tournament on Memorial Day weekends.

By the late 1980s, the death of one of the owners from AIDS, competition from other bars, the neighborhood’s redevelopment coinciding with the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design’s rehabbing an old industrial building across the street all contributed to the bar’s slide. The Wreck Room hosted its final anniversary party in 1994, and its building was purchased by the design school and converted into a student center.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wild Bill Dannemeyer’s Op-Ed on Gays in the Military: 1991. “Dob’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers, has been gone since 2011 (see Sep 20), and the controversy surrounding gays serving openly has largely disappeared. But in 1991, the debate was well underway over whether the Defense Department should rescind its decades-long policy of prohibiting gays in the military. In the pre-DADT era, the ban was a matter of DoD policy, not the law. Conservatives then, as now, wanted to keep the ban in place, and few were more hard core about it — or more obnoxious — than Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-CA). On December 23, 1991, he was true to form in his op-ed lambasting gay people with his usual class:

A very poor joke asks: What is meaner than a pit bull with AIDS? The guy who gave the dog AIDS, of course. This could be the fightingest son-of-a-gun in the whole Army. But should he be?

I have seen how aggressive the lunatics of ACT-UP can be-rioting in the streets, smashing windows, fighting with anyone in disagreement-and have often thought how effective they might be on the front lines of combat. But does this prowess and compunction for destruction automatically certify the few and the proud?

…Many people still believe that homosexual sodomy is a perverse behavior, that someone choosing to do so isn’t playing with a full deck. Survey after survey of military personnel supports this belief. …For homosexuals to blame others for reacting adversely to their chosen lifestyle is absurd. The notion of punishing “homophobes” (the label applied to people who find homosexual sodomy repugnant) in the military as perverts rather than those persons who define their very existence by a sex act is itself perverse…

Those were the arguments against gays in the military in the early 1990s. When Bill Clinton ran for President, he promised to overturn the ban. But as soon as he was sworn into office, he ran into a buzz saw of opposition led by fellow Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. In 1993, Congress shifted the ban from administrative policy to legal imperative with the passage of the Defense Authorization Bill, which included the codification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. According to Servicemembers United, 14,346 soldiers, sailors and airmen/women would be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” over the next eighteen years.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, December 22

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, December 23, 1977, page 12.

From Arizona Gay News, December 23, 1977, page 12.

The city of Tucson found itself in the gay bar business quite by accident a year later, in November of 1978, when it purchased Tucson House, a high rise apartment building on 1455 N. Miracle Mile, which the city intended to turn into public housing for senior citizens. City council members were surprised to learn that a tiny strip mall in front of Tucson House, which housed Jekyll and Hyde’s and its sibling gay disco, the Last Culture, was part of the same real-estate deal, making the city the clubs’ new landlord. While Tucson overall was quite gay friendly for its day — the city council would pass a broad anti-discrimination ordinance a month later — anti-gay council member Ricard Amlee was aghast. “I don’t want to use city funds to finance any of their operations,” he said, apparently ignorant of the fact that the two bars were now paying the city “four figures each month” for rent and still had eight years to go on their lease.

The clubs are long gone, although building is still there (that stretch of Miracle Mile was renamed as the southern portion of Oracle Road to reflect a realignment several blocks to the north), and houses a family and youth counseling non-profit organization.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
President Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law: 2010. It all came down to the wire during the closing days of the 111th Congress. If it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) when all hope for DADT’s repeal appeared to be dead, President Barack Obama never would have been able to place his signature on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. But sign it he did, and that act kicked off a nine month process to implement DADT’s repeal. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell officially came to an end on September 20. Since then, DADT’s end has been largely considered a non-event within the military. Even Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who had been on record as opposing DADT’s repeal, now says he is “very pleased with how it has gone.”

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 21

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, December 18, 1976, page 23.

From This Week In Texas, December 18, 1976, page 23.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Time Magazine’s “Opportunistic Diseases”: 1981. Nearly seven months had passed since the CDC had issued its first notice of a puzzling new condition that was appearing in gay men (see Jun 5). A month after the CDC raised the alarm, the New York Times picked up the story (see Jul 3). But beyond that, the news was slow to spread outside of a few gay publications (and most of them were gun shy). In fact, the media seemed to go out of its way to keep from looking at AIDS. Randy Shilts described the problem in And the Band Played On:

The difference, (the CDC’s James W.) Curran knew, was media attention. Once Toxic Shock Syndrome hit the front pages the heat was on to find the answer. Within months of the first MMWR report, the task force had discovered the link between tampons and the malady. Back in 1976, the newspapers couldn’t print enough pictures of flag-draped coffins of dead American Legionnaires. However the stories just weren’t coming on the gay syndrome. The New York Times had written only two stories on the epidemic, setting the tone for noncoverage nationally. Time and Newsweek were running their first major stories on the epidemic now, in late December 1981. There was only one reason for the lack of media interest, and everybody on the (CDC’s) task force knew it: the victims were homosexuals. Editors were killing pieces, reporters told Curran, because they didn’t want stories about gays and all those distasteful sexual habits littering their newspapers.

The December 21 edition of Time (which featured Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi on the cover) placed the article titled “Opportunistic Diseases” deep inside. The article provided little context, information, or hope. Truth be told, there was little to give of any of those thus far. No one knew what caused it, nor did they even know what to call it. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome wouldn’t get its official name until July 1982. Time, instead, focused on the prevailing image of gays as diseased, while simultaneously expressing surprise that lesbians weren’t coming down with the strange new infections. Of the speculations about the disease, Time wrote:

One possible culprit in the syndrome is cytomegalovirus, which is known to weaken immune defenses and can be transmitted in semen more than a year after infection. In a recent study, traces of CMV were found in 94% of homosexual men, as opposed to 54% of heterosexual men. U.C.L.A.’s Dr. Michael Gottlieb believes that CMV does contribute to the immune deficiency, but, he points out, both the virus and homosexuality “have been around for thousands of years.” Thus, he concludes, “there is a piece of the puzzle missing.”

The missing link could be “poppers,” drugs like amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate, which are said to enhance orgasm. More than 85% of the CDC patients admitted to inhaling them. Another possible explanation is the so-called immunologic overload theory, says San Francisco’s Dr. Robert Bolan. Homosexuals with many sexual partners often contract numerous venereal diseases, intestinal disruptions (gay bowel syndrome), mononucleosis and other infections, explains Bolan. “This constant, chronic stimulation to their immune system may eventually cause the system to collapse.”

All of those theories would soon be proven wrong, although some of them would continue to linger among the conspiratorially-minded AIDS deniers who insist, against all evidence to the contrary, that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) doesn’t cause AIDS. It’s been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Time proved that aphorism wrong.

Kirk Murphy, in 2003

“The darkness keeps calling and I must go”: 2003. With those words written on a suicide note, Kirk Andrew Murphy ended his life in a New Delhi apartment. ““I’ll never forget this as long as I live,” said Frank, his supervisor back in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the first outside of India to receive the news. “I got a phone call from the account manager who reported to me. It was midnight or one o’clock in the morning. I was totally shook up.” Frank contacted Kirk’s sister, Maris, in New York, and together they went to India for the funeral.

What happened seemed utterly senseless to Maris, but seven years later she would learn something that would suddenly make so many things about her brother click. That’s when she learned that in 1970, when Kirk was just about to turn five years old and Maris herself was just an infant, their mother took Kirk to see a specialist at UCLA’s Gender Identity Clinic after a well-known researcher appeared on television to warn parents that gender-variant children would grow up to be homosexual. According to that researcher, UCLA had a new program, paid for with federal grants, to prevent homosexuality in children. Kirk’s mother saw that program and made an appointment. Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers, who worked with Kirk for about nine months before pronouncing him “cured.” Rekers went on to build a career on Kirk’s case, which Rekers mentioned in nearly twenty journal articles, chapters, and books. As late as 2009, referring to Kirk as “Craig,” Rekers wrote:

Follow-up psychological evaluations three years after treatment indicates that Craig’s gender behaviors became normalized. An independent clinical psychologist evaluated Craig and found that post-treatment he had a normal male identity. Using intrasubject replication designs, this published case was the first experimentally demonstrated reversal of a cross-gender identity with psychological treatment, and the journal article on this case was among the top 12 cited articles in clinical psychology in the 1970s

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

Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, it is true that Rekers’s initial case report did become one of the most widely cited articles in the 1970s. But to say that Kirk had “become normalized” according to Rekers’s definition turned out to be misleading, to put it extremely mildly. Rekers’s went on to become an important anti-gay activist. He co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983 and served as its first chairman and CEO. He also became an important figure in the ex-gay movement, serving on the Scientific Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). All that came to an end in 2009 when Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp, two from the alternative newsweekly Miami New Times, photographed Rekers at Miami International Airport as he returned from a European vacation in the company of a handsome male escort.

In 2011, BTB was privileged to bring you the real story of Rekers’s most famous case history. In our award-winning investigation, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, we interviewed Kirk’s family, friends and associates, and we revealed the horrible treatment that Kirk and his brother went through while under UCLA’s care, and we learned of its terrible aftermath. We also investigated the state of psychology in 1970 and its evolution in the decades since, we looked into the claims that Kirk received “independent” follow-up evaluations indicating that he was healthy and straight, and we tried to get to the bottom of who exactly was in charge of Kirk’s treatment at the hands of that inexperienced grad student.

You can find all of that information here, along with statements from Kirk’s brother and sister, eulogies from family and friends, links to original published reports about Kirk’s case and the controversy it generated among behavioral therapists, and more information on the ex-gay movement and attempts to change sexual orientation.

If Kirk were alive today, he would be 48. He is still missed by his mother, sister, brother, and everyone who knew him.

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, December 20

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, December 1963, page 24.

From ONE, December 1963, page 24.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Frank Kameny Fired From Government Job for Being Gay: 1957. Frank Kameny was a World War II veteran and Harvard-trained astronomer working for the Army Map Service. In Eric Marcus’s compendium of oral histories, Making History, Kameny described the events that led him to a lifetime of LGBT advocacy:

When I was on assignment in Hawaii in November or December of 1957, I got a call from my supervisor in Washington, D.C., to come back at once. I told him that whatever the problem, it could wait a few days, and I returned to Washington at the end of the week. As soon as I got back, I was called in by some two-bit Civil Service Commission investigator and told, “We have information that leads us to believe that you are a homosexual. Do you have any comment?” I said, “What’s the information?” They answered, “We can’t tell you.” I said, well, then I can’t give you an answer. You don’t deserve an answer. and in any case, this is none of your business.” I was not open about being gay at that time — no one was, not in 1957. But I was certainly leading a social life. I went to the gay bars many, many evenings. I’ve never been a covert kind of a person, and I wasn’t about to be one simply because I was working for the government. I’ve never been one to function on the basis that Big Brother may be looking over my shoulder.

So they called me in, and ultimately it resulted in my termination. They did it the way the government does anything: They issued a letter. They said they were dismissing me for homosexuality. I was in shock.

…Keep in mind I had been training all of my life for a scientific career, for this kind of occupation. I was not at all familiar with the job market. When I was thrown out, I had nowhere to go. Perhaps if this had happened five or ten years later, I would have had a professional reputation to fall back on, but in this case I didn’t. For a long time I applied for jobs in astronomy, but there was nothing. Ultimately, in 1959, I got a job doing something in physics. My bachelor’s degree is in physics, in the area of optics.

But meanwhile, I had decided that my dismissal amounted to a declaration of war against me by my government. First, I don’t grant me government the right to declare war on me. And second, I tend not to lose my wars.

Kameny launched a string of appeals, first through the Civil Service commission itself, then through the courts. He took his appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — writing his own brief (which is available here) declaring the discrimination he experienced “a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society, and a violation of all that this nation stands for.” The Supreme Court denied his petition in 1961.

Kameny went on to co-found the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which in 1963 launched a long campaign to overturn the federal employment ban on gay people and to overturn the district’s sodomy law. In 1965, he organized the first picket line in front of the White House in support of gay rights (see Apr 17), followed by several other protests throughout that year. He was also an instrumental player in the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971, he became the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when he ran for D.C’s non-voting Congressional delegate (see Feb 22). In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission notified him that they had changed their policies and were now allowing gay people to work in federal jobs (see Jul 3). In 2009, the U.S. government officially repudiated Kameny’s firing when John Berry, the openly gay Director of the Office of Personnel Management, delivered a formal apology during a special OPM ceremony in his honor. Upon receiving the apology, Kameny tearfully replied, “Apology accepted.” He passed away in 2011 at the age of 86. You can read his full biography here.

VermontSupremeCourt

Vermont Supreme Court Rules State Must Recognize Same-Sex Unions: 1999. In a unanimous decision, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state must provide the same benefits, protections and obligations to same-sex couples as it does to heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court left it up to the legislature to decide how it would end the discrimination, either through marriage or through civil unions. Most state political leaders opted for the latter. State Attorney General William Sorrell, predicted, “It would likely be a civilly sanctioned relationship that would, for all intents and purposes, have the benefits and protections a traditionally married couple would have but wouldn’t be called a marital relationship. They wouldn’t be called spouses, they’d be called domestic partners, and for a number of people, that makes an enormous difference.” Gov. Howard Dean concurred, saying that same-sex marriage “makes me uncomfortable, the same as anybody else.”

The argument for Civil Unions won the dayBeth Robinson, the lawyer for the winning plaintiffs, dismissed that idea and pressed for full marriage. “The Legislature will come to understand that as a practical matter, you can’t call it something different and have it be truly equal.”

It would take another decade before the Legislature would come to that understanding, opting instead to go for civil unions, which Gov. Dean signed into law 0n April 26, 2000. It took effect on July 1, 2000. In 2009, the Legislature revisited the issue again and passed a same-sex marriage bill with bipartisan support, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Jim Douglas (R). The legislature then overturned the governor’s veto, and same-sex marriages finally became available in the Green Mountain State on September 1, 2009.

Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Utah.

Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Utah.

1 YEAR AGO: Judge Strikes Down Utah’s Marriage Ban in First Post-Windsor Federal Decision: 2013. In a surprise early Christmas gift (the decision hadn’t been expected for another month or so), Federal District Judge Robert J. Shelby declared that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage vilated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Judge Shelby’s was the first Federal ruling in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. US four months earlier. That Windsor decision, which declared that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act violated the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process clause. Judge Shelby relied heavily on the Windsor decision in striking down Utah’s law, even including Justice Antonin Scalia’s blistering dissent Windsor as part of his analysis:

The Constitution’s protection of the individual rights of gay and lesbian citizens is equally dispositive whether this protection requires a court to respect a state law, as in Windsor, or strike down a state law, as the Plaintiffs ask the court to do here. In his dissenting opinion, the Honorable Antonin Scalia recognized that this result was the logical outcome of the Court’s ruling in Windsor:

In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion … is that DOMA is motivated by “bare… desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.

133 S. Ct. at 2709 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court agrees with Justice Scalia’s interpretation of Windsor and finds that the important federalism concerns at issue here are nevertheless insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

…And Justice Scalia even recommended how this court should interpret the Windsor decision when presented with the question that is now before it: “I do not mean to suggest disagreement … that lower federal courts and state courts can distinguish today’s case when the issue before them is state denial of marital status to same-sex couples.”

Judge Shelby then took the unusual step in declining to stay his ruling, which meant that marriage began almost immediately in Salt Lake City and several other county offices. The state’s Attorney General’s office was in turmoil — John Swallow had resigned the month before in the wake of multiple corruption investigations — and so things were a bit disorganized in their efforts to get a stay. The Tenth Circuit quickly denied Utah’s pleas, as did Judge Shelby when the state tried to go back to him again. The state then decided to try to go to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay, but first they would have to engage outside counsel to do it since their own staff had proved incapable in the lower courts. Utah finally filed its request on New Year’s Eve and the high court finally issued its stay on January 6, but not before some 1300 same-sex couples were legally married.

Since then, federal judges have followed Judge Shelby’s lead in striking down marriage bans in Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi. All of those rulings following more or less the same findings as Judge Shelby’s ruling in Utah. Meanwhile, the Tenth Circuit upheld Judge Shelby’s ruling on June 25, 2014. Utah then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 6, the Supreme Court refused to consider Utah’s request, along with similar requests from Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. Marriages resumed once again in Utah along with the other four states. (Marriages are currently on hold in Texas, Michigan, Florida, Missouri and Mississippi pending appeal.)

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Elsie de Wolfe: 1865-1950. She was the legendary interior designer who finally put gloomy victorian styles out of its misery. And for that, she is hailed as America’s first decorator and her designs, nearly a century later, are still just as fresh today as they were bold in at the turn of the last century. She began her creative life as an actress in the 1890s, but her appearances were appreciated more for her stylish clothes than for her performing abilities.

At about 1887, she began what was called a “Boston marriage” with Elisabeth “Bessie” Marbury, a New York socialite, literary agent, and business manager with such illustrious clients as Oscar Wilde (see Oct 16), George Bernard Shaw, and Sarah Bernhardt. The two bought and restored Villa Trianon in Versailles, France, where de Wolfe became enamored with the light colors and brightly-lit rooms that defined French style. She then drew on those influences as she set about redecorating Marbury’s New York home by throwing out all of that dark Victorian furnishings and cluttering bric-a-brac. New York’s high society took notice. When a group of wealthy women formed the exclusive Colony Club, de Wolfe was tapped to design the clubhouse’s interiors. The Colony opened in 1907 and with it, de Wolfe’s reputation was set.

A photo from A House In Good Taste, 1913.

Instead of the dark paneled rooms and heavy atmosphere common with men’s clubs, The Colony featured light draperies, pale walls, wicker furniture, chintz — she became known as “the Chintz Lady” — and light, lots of natural light. Her design practice exploded overnight, with commissions for private houses, clubs, opera boxes, and a dorm at Barnard College. Her 1913 book, The House in Good Taste, became an instant classic which still offers timeless advice today. As she explained, “I opened the doors and windows of American and let the air and sunshine in.” That same year, her design business took up an entire floor of offices on Fifth Avenue. In 1915, she was commissioned to design a brand new townhouse for Henry Clay Frick, then the wealthiest man in America. That commission alone made her a very rich woman.

De Wolfe was an iconoclast in many ways. She single-handedly turned the design profession from a “man’s world” into one in which women could excel. She embroidered her own pillows with the motto, “Never complain, never explain.” At her home in France, she had a dog cemetery where each headstone carried the epitaph, “The one I loved the best.” And speaking of France, When World War I came along, she broke from all expectations by volunteering to become a nurse — where she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor for her work with mustard gas victims. In 1926, she scandalized French society with her grand entrance to a society ball dressed as a Moulin Rouge dancer while turning handsprings — at the age of 61 — her many years of practicing yoga did well for her. Her marriage that same year to the diplomat Sir Charles Mendl was also a surprise because, as The New York Times dryly observed, “When in New York she makes her home with Miss Elizabeth [sic] Marbury at 13 Sutton Place.” Her marriage now made her Lady Mendl, immortalized in the Cole Porter lyric:

When you hear that Lady Mendl, standing up
Now turns a handspring landing up-
On her toes
Anything goes!

When World War II broke out, Mendl and de Wolfe moved to Hollywood. After the war, they returned to Villa Trianon where de Wolfe died in 1950.

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, December 19

Jim Burroway

December 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

Entre’ Nuit opened at at 4516 McKinney Avenue in Dallas sometime in mid-November of 1971. According to an announcement in Our Community, Entre’ Nuit boasted “a stunning parquet wood dance floor (the largest in Dallas), luxurious carpeting, wall-to-ceiling mirrors, a neo-Grecian classical facade and interior columns, spacious T-rooms, and billiards table.” But opening a gay club was a dicy proposition, as Our Community reported in January:

The beautiful Entre’ Nuit had been opened less than a month, and was already one of the favorite gathering places for the gay folks of Dallas. But on the morning of Sunday, December 19, at about 7: 00 A.M., someone (for reasons unknown) burned it. An off-duty policeman was the first to spot the flames, but by the time the fire department was able to bring the fire under control, the back half of the bar was completely gutted. Three jugs of gasoline had not burned. One was in the center of the parquet wood dance floor, another was placed near the bar, and the third was close to the entrance.

Bill and Joe, owners of the Entre’ Nuit have no idea who burned the bar nor do they know of any motive for anyone doing so. But one thing is certain: the Entre’ Nuit will not be closed for long. Completely redone, and with much the same decor, it will reopen shortly after the first of the year. So everyone attend the Entre’ Nuit New Year’s party even if it will be a little late this year.

Most gratifying is the way other bar owners have rallied together and have offered a reward ($800 so far) for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this latest burning.

Entre’ Nuit wasn’t the only establishment targeted that night:

Sunday night, December 19th, at 3: 15 A.M., the manager of the King of Clubs had just closed the club and was driving away with friends when he happened to look back and see a man with a can (perhaps gasoline) in the shadows of the building. The manager and his friends quickly stopped the car and gave chase to the prowler who ran down a side street and was lost in darkness. From the other side of the building, another man ran in a different direction. When the friends and manager reentered the club to call police, they head still a third man run across the roof, jump off, and disappear into the night. The police came, made a thorough search, and promised the club would be checked several times a night from now on. For added precaution, a security guard will be in the building at all times.

The paper then addressed the speculation that these might have been “gay-on-gay crimes”:

It was pure luck that this attempted burn-out was thwarted. With the burning of the Swinger, the Entre’ Nuit, and the vandalism of the Villa Fontana, the gay community is getting a little fed up with this crap, and is patronizing the victims of these “gay against gay?” crimes. One wonders who gains? Who is the loser – the real loser? The Swinger and the Villa have reopened and is doing more business than ever before. The Entre’ Nuit will reopen soon too. Gay bars are like gay people themselves: we’ve been imprisoned, murdered, and brutalized all through history. Yet we always come back — stronger.

From the 1980s to the late 1990s, that entire area of McKinney Avenue underwent a massive gentrification — although that particular area adjoining Highland Park was never exactly down on its heels.  The building where Entre’ Nuit was housed is now a trendy boutique.

[Source: “Arsonists Burn Another Bar.” Our Community (January 1972): 8.

“King of Clubs Saved from Arsonist.” Our Community (January 1972): 11. Full copies of Our Community are available online here.]

An abandoned building of the Norfolk State Hospital, via Flickr.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
“Exaggerated Human Nature”: 1895. What is Insanity? Who better to ask than an insane man:

Said a patient in the Norfolk (Nebraska) Hospital: “I am not insane; this man is not insane; that man is not insane. There is no such thing as insanity; it is simply an exaggerated form of human nature.”

Insanity is a type of civilization, the offspring of humanity’s progress, the step-child of Nature, the penalty inflicted for brain-development. Indeed, it is in itself an abnormal form of brain-development, an exaggerated type of human nature. It is a little plant that has sprung from the footworn pathway traversed by the mighty cavalcade coming down the vast reaches of human civilization, human culture and human competition. It may be regarded as a proud flesh of the mind — a preternatural development or derangement of the protoplasmic cells. When the clock of civilization struck its sunrise hour, man everywhere was an unclad savage, drunken, greedy, treacherous and beastly. To fill his stomach and to find a comfortable place to sleep completed the apex of his ambitions and gratifications. It was his normal state.

When he commenced to enlarge his cranial sphere, when he began to expand the horizon of his thought-realm, he started the development of a subtle, an inscrutable agency, which has developed rough corners, exaggerated eccentricities and uncontrollable proclivities. In the slow and leisurely peregrination or the mad stampede at times of humanity adown the corridors of the past, in the jostle, the clash, the strife, the crowd, the crush, the greed, the vices and the mistakes, do we wonder that here and there should occur exaggerations, excrescences and abnormal protuberances of the functions of the mind?

Dr. J.H. Mackay was the superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane in Norfolk, Nebraska, where presumably he had that enlightening exchange with an inmate. He talked about his tenure there at an 1895 meeting of the Missouri Valley Medical Association in Kansas City. But imagine the horrors that patient, and others, must have endured under Dr. Mackay’s direction:

A unique fact in connection with the insane is that any injury producing pain, such as a scald, burn or corporeal punishment, as well as a shock or fright, has a remarkably salutary influence in brightening up the minds of the insane. Recently a patient in this hospital severed the external jugular vein and was in rigors from hemorrhage when found. The vein was ligated and the patient made a good recovery and improved very rapidly, his mind becoming much clearer than previous to the injury. Instances are on record by the score where accidents of scalding and other injuries involving pain have resulted in the recovery of patients suffering from melancholia and acute mania. It would be interesting to try the results of scorching the soles of the feet, or of administering corporeal punishment or blood-letting, fright and shock in some of the chronic cases of insanity and confirmed melancholia and mania. I am of the candid belief that such treatment would result in good to the patient. It may be claimed that such treatment is barbarous. No treatment is barbarous that benefits a patient and releases his mind from the fog and gloom of insanity, however painful that treatment may be.

Mackay’s beliefs were rather typical for the late 1800s. He was a firm believer in Degeneracy Theory (see Aug 16, Sep 9, or Oct 26 for brief explanations) and the older pseudo-science of phrenology (see Aug 8 for a brief introduction), and he touched on both theories in his talk. Those beliefs led him to the conclusion that all mental illness and criminality — Mackay didn’t see the difference between the two — were actually physical ailments of some sort, with its roots either in the patient’s heredity or his misshapen skull. He presented his sketches of skulls to prove his point:

MackayDrawingsThe next is a drawing of the skull of another murderer. Do you see the deposit of bone along the suture. It is nearly one-fourth of an inch thick. Who knows but what the abnormal condition of that poor fellow’s skull led him to be a criminal? and yet he was hanged. What was accomplished by killing him? …A representation of the skull of a Flathead Indian is also shown here. The Flathead is one of the most cruel and bloodthirsty of races. It is well known that the sloping angle is produced almost wholly by artificial means. What the shape of the skull may have to do with his vicious nature I leave to you to judge. The drawing of a normal skull is introduced for purposes of comparison. …

The malformations of which I have spoken exhibit peculiar types of exaggeration or atavism. Certain portions of the brain are abnormally developed; others are practically annihilated, crowded upon and crowded out until the patient has become mentally lop-sided. unbalanced and uncontrollable. Genius, incoherence, imbecility, criminality and perverted sexualism run riot, unrestrained and unbridled by the individual. Two-thirds of all the patients are sexual perverts. Homosexuality, sexual inversion, masturbation, urnings et id omnia genus ail nauseam are the rule.

There were also the “men-haters” among the women:

There are men-haters among the women — women whose sexual system has been starved or perverted or abused; old maids with acquired or inherited sexual perversion, starvation or inversion; married women whose maternal instinct and sexual nature have been extinguished by hard work, poor diet, frequent child-bearing and nursing, and the dreary, monotonous, pleasureless, changeless grind of a quarter of a century, more or less, of married life.

Because Degeneracy Theory held that things would only get worse, Mackay was a proponent of what had become known as tEugenics (see Nov 10 for an explanation; see Aug 16 for another example of Eugenics advocacy). Mackay’s proposal was particularly draconian.

It goes without saying that to be effective any effort to improve the physical characteristics of our race must antedate the birth of the individual. We need laws to abridge the life of all monsters that do not conform to the type of man, to quarantine or prohibit the public exhibition of museum freaks, and to prevent, as far as possible, the birth of such. A judicious inspection by the state of all children before reaching puberty would serve the double purpose of discovering abnormal conditions of mind and body, and afford an opportunity for the application of means, as far as possible, to remedy them, and the segregation of those totally unsuited mentally or morally to propagate their species. In this way only can we hope to prevent insane and half-witted girls becoming pregnant. Rigid restraint, quarantining and unsexing of criminals, insane, rapists, imbeciles and those who spread specific diseases.

Mackay was a political appointee of the Populist/Democrat Gov. Silas Holcomb, and took over the state hospital in Norfolk soon after the Governor took office in 1895. Mackay resigned his position in the summer of 1896. No explanation was given for his departure, but his wife filed for divorce the following year — a rarity and a scandal at that time — claiming “extreme cruelty and inhumane treatment,” and adultery. He died in Houston in 1922 at the age of 57.

[Source: J.H. Mackay. “Exaggerated human nature.” Medical Arena 4, no. 12 (December 1895): 353-361. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Michelangelo Signorile: 1960. After graduating with a degree in journalism at at Syracuse University, the Brooklyn native returned to New York where he got his first job at a public relations firm which specialized in placing stories about their entertainment clients in gossip columns. That naturally meant that he was collecting and trading in gossip, which is where he noticed the double standard in how the media glamorized the heterosexuality of celebrities while maintaining a veil of silence around anything that might be remotely gay. But it wasn’t until his friends began dying in the early years of the AIDS crisis that he began to draw a line from gay invisibility to the ease with which media and public officials could turn a blind eye on what was happening. He became an activist in 1988 when he joined ACT UP, which led to his arrest during a speech by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) who was the Vatican’s point man on Catholic orthodoxy and the author of papers against homosexuality and against condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Signorile had gone simply to watch the protesters, but as he heard the Cardinal speak, he thought of the homophobia he had experienced growing up in the church, and he couldn’t contain himself. As he wrote later in Queer In America: Sex, The Media, and the Closets of Power:

Suddenly, I jumped up on one of the marble platforms, and looking down, I addressed the entire congregation in the loudest voice I could. My voice rang out as if it were amplified. I pointed at Ratzinger and shouted, “He is no man of God!” The shocked faces of the assembled Catholics turned to the back of the room to look at me as I continued: “He is no man of God—he is the devil!'”

So yeah, he was arrested, and another gay rights activist was born.

Signorile is considered the pioneer of the controversial act of outing public figures. He was the co-founding editor of OutWeek, where, in a weekly column called “Gossip Watch,” a watch column of the city’s gossip columns, he railed against the media’s double standard on how they treated gay and straight public figures, and he argued that this double standard drove the gay community to invisibility in the midst of an growing health catastrophe. He outed Hollywood producer David Geffen, who was promoting Guns ‘N’ Roses and comedian Andrew Dice Clay, two acts which were attacked for crude anti-gay lyrics and “jokes” about the AIDS crisis. He also outed gossup columnist Liz Smith and, perhaps most famously, publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes (see Mar 18). It was actually Time magazine which coined the term “outing,” but Signorile always considered the term itself biased. He preferred to call what he did “reporting,” and insisted that it was no different from the same kind of reporting that media outlets routinely do with straight people.

Signorile later worked at the Advocate and Out magazines, and he also wrote columns for Gay.com. In 2000 he began working in internet radio, and that led to hosting The Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM OutQ beginning in 2003. This past year, his program moved to a broader audience on SiriusXM’s Progress 127, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. EST. He has written three other books, including Life Outside: The Signorile Report on Gay Men and Hitting Hard, a collection of essays and columns. His 1996 book, Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends and Coworkers was an exceptionally valuable book to me as I was beginning my own journey of coming out.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, December 18

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1974, page 10.

From The Empty Closet (Rochester, NY), December 1974, page 10.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York Court of Appeals Strikes Down Sodomy Law: 1980. New York became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to legalize homosexuality when the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, struck down the New York’s consensual sodomy law. In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that the law violated Constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, noting that the law banned anal and oral sex only when those acts were performed by unmarried couples. Married couples were exempt under the law. Writing for the majority, Judge Hugh Jones wrote:

“We express no view as to any theological, moral or psychological evaluations of consensual sodomy. It is not the function of the Penal Law or our governmental policy to provide for the enforcement of moral or theological values. …the People have failed to demonstrate how government interference with the practice of personal choice in matters of intimate sexual behavior out of view of the public and with no commercial component will serve to advance the cause of public morality or do anything other than restrict individual conduct and impose a concept of private morality chosen by the State.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Jay Bakker: 1975. Having grown up in front of television cameras as the son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker at their Christian theme park home in Charlotte, North Carolina, he was deeply affected when his father’s empire came crashing down. His father was sent to prison for financial irregularities and mail fraud, and his family was subsequently ostracized by fellow Evangelicals. For Jay, that led to a downward spiral of rebellion and drug abuse. But he eventually turned his life around and committed himself to a different vision of Christianity, one with God as a loving and accepting being rather than a God of judgment and wrath. In the process, he became a very different kind of minister, an “evangelical punk preacher,” as he describes himself. Jay’s experience of being outcast informed his own philosophy of inclusiveness which extends to LGBT people. In the 2006 documentary One Punk Under God, Jay is seen explaining why he supports same-sex marriage to a congregation that is not ready to accept that message:

In 2011, Jay Bakker released his book, Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self and Society, in which he says that it’s grace, not religion, that he believes in. “Religion can be a very dangerous thing,” he told NPR. “It’s a constant reminder to me to be careful.” He co-founded Revolution Church in 1994, which meets every Sunday afternoon at a bar in Brooklyn. In 2013, Jay has moved to Minneapolis where he established another Revolution Church location. He has also released a new book, Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed: Walking with the Unknown God.

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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