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Posts for June, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Monday, June 2

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the GPU News, MAy 1977, page 40.

 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Mama’s Boys” Deemed Unfit For Military Service: 1942. At a meeting in Boston of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Alexander Simon of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington, D.C., described the kinds of people who were more likely to end up in the psych wards after induction in the military:

…the chronic A.W.O.L’er; the lad who can’t stand the social gap between a private and Private First Class, the man or officer who can’t stand promotion, and the one who cant stand not to be promoted, the ‘Mama Boys’ who in peacetime (when there is no selective service) chose invariable the Navy and find that though the sea may be ‘Mama’ the Navy is definitely ‘Papa,’ and blow up promptly in the training station with the shock of the discovery; the lonely, the homesick, the timid, the despondent, the one who never took an order in his life; the one who can’t stand teasing, cussing, and dirty jokes, the alcoholic, the bad actor, the unexpectant father who gets a letter from the girl who met the fleet, the boy who didn’t know he was adopted until he went to get his birth certificate and who must find his own mother instead of fighting a war, the boy who wanted to study Diesels, but who was made a sergeant and had to keep drilling others, the Reserve Officer who thought the sergeant knew more than he did, the man with psychotic episodes prior to service and the man whose best friend went down on his sister ship.”

Dr. Simon commended the Boston draft board for being particularly adept at turning down those who he believed would later become troublesome in the military. According to the press report from Science Service, “This board not only turned down obvious mental disorders but also psychopathic personalities, asocial and criminal types, chronic alcoholics and homosexuals. In other words, Boston selectees were turned down if they seemed more likely than the average (1) to break down under strain or (2) to be trouble makers.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Candace Gingrich-Jones: 1966. The lesbian advocate and kid sister to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Candice publicly called her brother to task during his 2012 campaign for the GOP nomination for President over his support for California’s Prop 8. “What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions,” she wrote. “That’s really so ’90s, Newt. In this day and age, it’s embarrassing to watch you talk like that.” Things didn’t change much for Newt, certainly not while he was courting votes from the party’s Tea Party base. He spent much of that year running like it was still 1994. (It was only after the campaign was over that Gingrich conceded that the Republican party should begin to think about coming to grips with a distinction between a “marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state.”)

Candice has long been an outspoken advocate for gay rights, going as far back as 1995 when she became the Human Rights Campaign’s spokesperson for the National Coming Out Project. In 1996, she published her autobiography, The Accidental Activist: A Personal and Political Memoir, where she talked about growing up in a supportive family with a politically-active half-brother who treated her and her girlfriend with the utmost respect. It wasn’t until 1994, when the Republicans took control of the House and propelled Newt Gingrich to the Speakership that she noticed that his politics included close alliances with the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. When an enterprising reporter wrote about the lesbian half-sister of an anti-gay Speaker, she decided it was time to challenge her brother on his discriminatory politics. That propelled her on the road to political activism. In addition to her work at HRC, Candice made numerous appearances in print and on television, including in an episode of Friends where she officiated over a commitment ceremony. Today, Candace is married to her wife, Rebecca, and works as the HRC’s Associate Director for the Youth and Campus Outreach Program.

Zachary Quinto: 1977. He grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, raised by his mother after his father died of cancer when Zachary was only seven, attended Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic High School (where he won the Gene Kelly Award for best supporting actor in his school’s production of Pirates of Penzance), and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in 1999. In 2000, he made his first appearance on the short-lived NBC series The Others, which opened the way to guest appearances on several other programs before becoming a regular on Fox’s third season of 24 in 2003.

In 2007, it was announce that he would play the young Spock on the first installment of the Star Trek reboot. Leonard Nimoy, who played the original Spock, had casting approval over who would play his younger self. “For me Leonard’s involvement was only liberating, frankly,” Quinto said. “I knew that he had approval over the actor that would play young Spock, so when I got the role I knew from the beginning it was with his blessing.” His portrayal was widely praised, and he returned to the Star Trek reboot in 2013 with tar Trek Into Darkness He has remained busy on the stage, with appearances in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Tony Kushner’s Off-Broadway revival of Angels In America, and more in the American Repertory Theatre’s production of The Glass Menagerie.

Quinto came out publicly as gay in 2011 in response to the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo high school freshman. “[I]n light of jamey’s death,” Quinto wrote in his blog, “it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.” Even before he came out, Quinto was an active supporter of the Trevor Project, the nation’s leading organization for suicide prevention among LGBT youth.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, June 1

Jim Burroway

June 1st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Marriage Equality Goes Statewide: Illinois. Some same-sex couples have already been legally married in Illinois, particularly in Chicago’s Cook County, long before the law officially took effect today. Cook County began issuing marriage licenses last February after a Federal Judge ruled that there was no justification for forcing couples to wait until June 1. That ruling only applied to Cook County, but state’s Attorney General followed that with a statement encouraging the remaining counties to follow suit and begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Some did and some didn’t, but today none of it matters. Marriage equality is now the law throughout all of the state’s 102 counties. Today is also the day when those in civil unions can officially file paperwork to upgrade their unions into marriages, although for all practical purposes, they probably won’t be able to do that until tomorrow when county clerks offices open for regular hours. A few counties — tiny Montgomery County is one — have already said they will open today for special hours. Meanwhile, vendors across the state are already reporting that they are seeing a significant uptick in business ahead of the summertime marrying season.

Pride Events This Weekend: Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL;  Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Dresden, Germany; Düsseldorf, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Guerneville, CALos Ranchos, NM; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Santa Cruz, CA; Washington, DC; Winnipeg, MB.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Film Out San Diego, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON; AIDS Life Cycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 27, 1977, classifieds section, page 31.

Keller’s was located in the Keller’s Hotel building at the corner of Barrow and West Streets in Greenwich Village. The six-story hotel was built in 1897-8 for $68,000 near the Hudson River, and until 1911 it was the Knickerbocker Hotel before becoming the Keller, then the Keller Abington. Its proximity to the Port of New York made it an ideal hotel for transient sailors and dock workers, and wherever there are sailors and longshoremen, there’s, well, there’s all the stuff that they do. The corner street-level storefront had been a restaurant, bar or a saloon since at least the 1930s, and in 1956 it became Keller’s Bar, which was later reputed to be the oldest gay leather bar in New York City. Here’s one remembrance of what the place was like in in 1974:

It was a small, rather plain room, shaped like a shoebox. A door, with a window on each side. A rough wooden bar that ran the length of the room on the left. A pool table and jukebox on the right. A few strings of Christmas lights and dozens of handsome men crammed inside. The jukebox featured a mix of current soul and rock, along with the Ronettes singing “Walking In The Rain” and the Shirelles essaying “Chains”. Later “Shame, Shame, Shame” would play incessantly, as the patrons danced in place, and the bartender hollered in faux-annoyance.

Keller’s Bar in 1964.

In 1971, the New York-based weekly newspaper GAY called Keller’s “the mother and father of New York’s leather bars. The Landmarks Commission ought to put a plaque on the front of it.” The hotel became an SRO for indigent residents before closing in 1990. Keller’s bar soldiered on until finally closing in 1998. A decade later, GAY got its wish when the Renaissance Revival building qualified for Landmark status in 2007. Today, the Keller remains boarded up and vacant despite soaring real estate prices and widespread redevelopment throughout the neighborhood. The building’s secretive and eccentric owners have refused to invest a dime to preserve or develop the building (or any of their other properties), and have turned down all offers to buy it.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
115 YEARS AGO: New York State’s Mazet Committee Hears About “Fairie Resorts”: 1899. Corruption was so rife in New York’s Tammany Hall that a special state special legislative committee was formed to investigate the mess. But as it often happens today (and notwithstanding the city’s Democratic bosses’ renowned corruption), the Republican-led state investigation quickly took on a decidedly partisan tone. Upstate committee members took every opportunity to portray New York City as a den of rampant bribery, filth and degeneracy. Among those called to testify was Joel S. Harris, a police investigator, who told of the goings-on at Paresis Hall, a popular hangout for “sexual degenerates”:

I was with Mr. (John R. Wood, another investigator) last night at Paresis Hall, No 392 Bowery. I observed the actions of the persons congregated there. I saw and heard immoral actions and propositions by degenerates there. Captain Chapman came in about five minute to 1, as we stepped out. … We had been in the place about an hour or so; plenty of time for information to get from Paresis Hall to the stationhouse. Captain Chapman didn’t say anything to us, but I overheard him say to the proprietor … that he would not stand for any dancing on souvenir night, and he wanted it shut up. I have been in that place before, recently, three or four times, and I have on each occasion noticed the same conduct as I have just testified to. That is a well-known resort for male prostitutes; a place having a reputation far and wide, to the best of my knowledge. I have heard of it constantly. I have never had any trouble in going in. You go in off the street with perfect ease. These men that conduct themselves there — well, they act effeminately; most of them are painted and powdered; they are called Princess this and Lady So and So and the Duchess of Marlboro, and get up and sing as women, and dance; ape the female character; call each other sisters and take people out for immoral purposes. I have had these propositions made to me, and made repeatedly. There is not difficulty in getting into that place.

Paresis Hall was one of several well-known “fairie resorts,” located on the Bowery at Fifth Street near Cooper Square. It was a combination of a brothel, dance hall and all-around proto-gay bar, patronized by working class immigrants and by organized parties of the well-heeled, who visited the establishments on “slumming” tours. Gender norms were much more definitional in those days, and so it was a common understanding, even among the gay men themselves though not necessarily a universal one, that in any coupling one would play the man and the other would play the woman — with the “man’s” heterosexuality remaining intact. It would take a number of years before the separation of sexual identity and sexual orientation as two distinct concepts would take hold. And so at the turn of the last century, dressing in drag carried greater significance beyond a style of entertainment or an expression of gender-bending. And when prostitution thrown in, it was also, for some of those in drag, a way of making a living, although not all male prostitutes dressed in drag. Those who didn’t tended to escape notice from tourists and police inspectors. And those who did often found that paying a cut of of the revenues was often enough to entice most police inspectors to look the other way. “Fairie resort” owners were also in on the bribery schemes, which not only protected them from police incursions, but also, allegedly, resulted in lower tax assessments at Tammany Hall. All of which piqued the interest of the Mazet committee.

George P. Hammond, Jr., a produce dealer who was “spending a vacation in helping collect evidence” for the committee, also testified. He had been a member of the City Vigilance League, which had been established in 1892 in response to rampant police corruption in the city. He told the committee:

I know this place called Paresis Hall, and under your directions I have visited it a number of times. I have been in the place since April 1st to the present time fully half a dozen times. I knew of it before, as an officer of the City Vigilance League. I am in the produce business. When this committee began its sessions I took a vacation on the produce business and came in to help you. The character of the place is such that what we call male degenerates frequent the place, and it is a nightly occurrence that they solicit men for immoral purposes. They have one woman who goes there they call a hermaphrodite. These male degenerates solicit men at the tables, and I believe they get a commission on all drinks that are purchased there; they get checks. I have observed five or six of these degenerates frequent that place, possibly more; the last we were there we saw a greater number than we did previously. Those five or six are always to be found there; almost invariably you will find them there they go from there across the street to a place called Little Bucks, opposite, and from there to Coney Island. I have never had any difficulty in getting in; not the least; I have been received with open arms. There are two ways of going in, one way up through the barroom, the other through a side entrance; any way at all that suits you can walk in … They have a piano there, and these fairies or male degenerates, as you call them, they sing some songs.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 46-47.]

Police Impersonator Arrested in Blackmail Scheme: 1956. A small article in The Honolulu Advertiser highlighted a common danger that gay men faced in the 1950s:

A Honolulu fisherman has confessed he passed himself off as a vice-squad lieutenant to collect $27 “bail” money from a frightened restaurant worker, police said yesterday. [Note: $27 in 1956 is equivalent to about $230 today.]

The accused man, Bernal Waiwaiole, 28, of 1133 Maunakea St., is being held in custody until he puts up $50 bond for himself.

The 38-year-old restaurant worker told Detective Segundo Antonio he was resting on a bench in Waikiki shortly after midnight March 17 when Waiwaiole accosted him.

He said Waiwaiole flashed his wallet open and introduced himself as “Lt. Shaffer” of the vice squad. Then, he said, Waiwaiole demanded $25 “bail” money with the threat of locking him up.

The victim, frightened and with only $4.90 in his pocket, took a taxicab to his rooming house to borrow the balance of the money. Waiwaiole, who accompanied the restaurant worker, then demanded another $2.

The victim forked it over.

Waiwaiole was arrested Saturday morning after a friend of the restaurant worker told police about the incident.

20 YEARS AGO: Air Force Lab Suggests Development of “Gay Bomb”: 1994. In a scenario that sounds more like a Monty Python skit than an actual proposal for warfare, an Air Force lab suggested the development of some highly unusual non-lethal chemical weapons. According to a memorandum dated June 1, 1994, he Air Force’s Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, sought the development “Harassing, annoying, and “bad guy” identifying chemicals.

Three classes of chemicals were proposed. The first consisted of “chemicals that attract annoying creatures to the enemy position and make the creatures aggressive or annoying.” Rodents and stinging and biting bugs were suggested as suitable targets. The second class of chemicals would “make lasting but non-lethal markings on the personnel,” making them “easily identifiable (by smell or appearance) weeks later, making it impossible for them to blend with the local population.” If the chemicals had an irritating or annoying factor, so much the better. But it was the third category that was oddest of all:

Category #3: Chemicals that effect [sic] human behavior so that discipline and morals in enemy units is adversely effected [sic]. One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior. Another example would be a chemical that made personnel very sensitive to sunlight.

The brief memo conceded that such chemicals did not currently exist and “would need to be created. Manufacturing techniques would need to be developed for chemicals needed in large quantities.” Decontamination measures would also need to be developed. The entire development and testing program for all three categories of chemicals was projected to cost $7.5 million over six years, which was small potatoes for defense programs, even for 1994.

When news of the program broke in 2005, Marine Captain Daniel McSweeney told reporters that the memo was among hundreds of suggestions for non lethal weapons sent to the Pentagon each year, and said, “‘Gay Bomb’ is not our term. It was not taken seriously. It was not considered for further development.”

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 31

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL; Bradford, UK; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Dresden, Germany; Düsseldorf, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Guerneville, CA; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Los Ranchos, NM; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Santa Cruz, CA; Washington, DC; Winnipeg, MB.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Film Out San Diego, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON; AIDS Life Cycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GAY, October 25, 1971, page 8.

 
The weekly newspaper GAY described The End, located in what would later become the eastern end of West Hollywood, as “very popular with the young crowd, especially as an after-hours gathering spot. Music blasts from opening at 8pm ’til closing at God knows what time.” If the address is familiar to gay Angelenos, it’s because that’s where FUBAR is today.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Scientists Trace AIDS To 1951: 1986. The summer of 1986 looked to be another terrible year in the nearly five-year-old AIDS epidemic. To be precise, that should be the five-year-old known AIDS epidemic. The CDC first noted the new disease in 1981 with the death of five young men, “all active homosexuals” whose immune system had been mysteriously and severely compromised. Out of the 23,000 known cases of people with AIDS between 1981 and the end of 1986, 56% were already dead (PDF: 32KB/5 pages).

While anti-gay activists rushed to declare that the so-called “gay plague” was a divinely inspired “terrible retribution,” scientists sought to figure out where the deadly disease came from. It wasn’t long before doctors in Europe and Africa noticed that the new disease first reported in America was remarkably similar to a mysterious illness striking the Congo River basin of Zaire and was already spreading eastward to Uganda. Swedish doctors remembered an infant born in Zaire who had contracted a similar disease in 1975 and finally died in 1982. Others recalled a Danish surgeon who died in 1977 after working in the Congo River region. Preserved blood and tissue samples tested positive for HIV, and this sent scientists scurrying to identify earlier possible samples which may offer clues to the disease’s origin.

On May 31, 1986, a team of American scientists published a letter in the British journal The Lancet announcing that they were able to determine that a blood sample that had been taken from an unknown patient at a Kinshasa hospital in 1959 tested positive for HIV. Nothing was known of the patient — neither a name nor medical records survive — but we can certainly guess at the suffering he or she must have endured. Nevertheless, this finding was an early clue that the epidemic itself was much older than previously thought. Later genetic analysis of the virus in that blood sample would indicate that the virus had actually entered the human population sometime around 1931. And later analysis still would push that estimate back to around 1908. But as early as 1986, it was already clear that it was only the stigma surrounding the disease, and not the disease itself, that was then approaching its fifth birthday.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
195 YEARS AGO: Walt Whitman: 1819-1892. Usually I commemorate famous birthdays by providing a brief biographical sketch. But when describing the life of the great American poet, it strikes me as unseemly to describe a man’s life when he has already written all that needs to be said:

When I Heard At The Close Of The Day.

WHEN I heard at the close of
     the day how my name
     had been receiv’d with
     plaudits in the capitol, still it was
     not a happy night for me that follow’d,
And else when I carous’d, or when my plans were accomplish’d,
     still I was not happy,
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health,
     refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in
     the morning light,
When I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing bathed,
     laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way
     coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food
     nourish’d me more, and the beautiful day pass’d well,
And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening
     came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly
     continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to
     me whispering to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover
     in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined
     toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast and that night I was
     happy.

This poem was originally part of a sequence of poems titled “Live Oak with Moss,” which tells the story of an unhappy affair with a man. When Whitman published the third edition of Leaves of Grass in 1860, he included them among the forty-five poems of “Calamus,” but re-arranged their order to obliterate the narrative. For the fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, two of the three poems dropped were “Live Oak ” poems, perhaps revealing that Whitman still feared that the poems told more than he could safely reveal. You can see the reconstructed “Live Oak” series at the Whitman Archive.

Bob Hull: 1918-1962. The future co-founder of the Mattachine Foundation grew up near Minneapolis. While a student at the University of Minnesota, Hull met Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24) — another future Mattachine co-founder — and they became lovers, briefly. After the war, Rowland became a Communist organizer, and Hull soon followed. In 1948, Rowland left the party and moved to Los Angeles. Hull followed him to L.A., but remained in the party where he met Harry Hay (see Apr 7). When Hay discussed his idea for forming a support organization for gay people with Hull, Hull shared the idea Rowland and Hull’s then-current lover, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21). Together with Hay’s lover, Rudi Gernreich, the five met in Hay’s home in the Silver Lake neighborhood and formed what would become the Mattachine Foundation (see Nov 11).

Hull’s role in the new organization was rather limited. He was best known for leading discussion groups and writing tracts for the group. As Mattachine grew and attracted new members, many of those new members were skittish over its founders’ Communist ties and the Foundation’s high degree of secrecy. Few knew the names of those in leadership positions, and the founders organized the individual discussion groups so that each one was compartmentalized. That way, if the FBI picked up one member  – remember, this was at the height of the McCarthy anti-Communist and anti-gay witch hunts — the other in the organization would be protected.

But by 1953, newer members, mostly conservative members from San Francisco led by Hal Call (see Sep 20), demanded that the secrecy surrounding the leadership be abandoned and the organization cleared of Communists. Hull voiced concerns that some of those northern members might tip off a Senate Committee that Communists had founded the organization and questioned whether the founders could withstand such an investigation. (In fact, two new members from the Bay area were already FBI informants.) After the Foundation’s first constitutional in April broke down in disagreement (see Apr 11), a second meeting was called for May, when Hay, Rowland, and Hull stepped down. The remaining members declared the Mattachine Foundation disbanded and announced the formation of the newly reconstituted Mattachine Society.

When Hull left Mattachine, he also left advocacy behind. He briefly joined up with Rowland’s short-lived gay-affirming Church of One Brotherhood, but Hull’s personal demons soon caught up with him. A lifelong introvert, Hull struggled with depression for which he underwent years of therapy. Just days after his lover left him, Hull killed himself on May 1, 1962.

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, May 30

Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL; Bradford, UK; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Dresden, Germany; Düsseldorf, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Guerneville, CA; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Los Ranchos, NM; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Santa Cruz, CA; Washington, DC; Winnipeg, MB.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Film Out San Diego, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON; AIDS Life Cycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 8.

 
This is one of those places where it’s hard to find any information. The Town and Country Club on Farnum Pike in Smithfield, Rhode Island, appears to have been a swim club with an Olympic-size swimming pool that went bankrupt in 1969. But when this ad was published in a New England gay bar guide in 1976, it was back in operation, perhaps under new ownership. Since no specific address is given for the Town and Country Club, it’s hard to know what happened to it. I don’t know for sure, but it may (or may not) be the same facility that was, until recently, the Effin Last Resort Club – a bar with an Olympic-sized swimming pool – which also went into receivership in 2013, only to open again as simply The Last Resort.

Paul Guilbert and Aaron Fricke

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Male Couple Attends Senior Prom After Obtaining Court Order: 1980. Aaron Fricke was a high school senior when he publicly came out as gay, started dating Paul Guilbert, and asked him to the Cumberland (Rhode Island) High School senior prom. The year before, Guilbert had tried to attend the junior prom with a male date, but he ran into opposition from both the principal and his father. This time, Fricke took the lead but, as before, the principal refused to allow the couple to attend, complaining that the publicity “upset other students, sent the community abuzz, and rallied out-of-state newspapers to consider the matter newsworthy.” It also earned Fricke five stitches under his eye when he was attacked in the hallway.

This wasn’t the first time that a gay couple tried to go to the prom. The year before, Randy Rohl, 17, and Grady Quinn, 20, attended a high school prom in conservative Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the full support of that school’s principal and several fellow students (see May 22). But this time in Rhode Island, Fricke first had to file a lawsuit in Federal court, charging that the school district was infringing on his First Amendment right to free speech. “I feel I have the right to attend,” he told the judge. “I feel I want to go to the prom for the same reason any other student would want to go.” The judge agreed (PDF: 60KB/7 pages), and not only ordered the school district to allow the couple to attend, but to beef up security in case there were any problems. And on this day in 1980, Fricke and Guilbert attended the prom, slow-danced to Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got The Night,” and the case of Fricke v. Lynch became an important legal precedent for other gay couples across the nation since then.

Fricke later wrote about his experiences in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He also collaborated with his father on another book about coming out, Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Christine Jorgensen: 1926-1989. She was born in the Bronx, and described herself as “frail, tow-headed, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games.” She also went by “George.” After a stint in the army following World War II, her identity as a woman was overwhelming — and her physical development as a man was underwhelming. As she attended dental school, she began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own and looked into sexual reassignment surgery. At the time, the only surgeries being performed were in Sweden. But at a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, she discovered Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Denmark’s Minister of Justice allowed her surgery to take place.

Christine’s surgery wasn’t the first of its kind, but that’s how it was portrayed on December 1, 1952 when the New York Daily News carried the front-page headline, “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” Within months, she was a national celebrity, and became the most written-about person in 1953. She tried to use her celebrity as an opportunity for education, which turned out to be a huge task. She acted in summer stock, toured the lecture circuit, wrote an autobiography, and made countless radio and television appearances. She was engaged to marry John Traub, but that engagement was called off. In 1959, she announced her engagement to Howard J. Knox, but the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license because Jorgensen’s birth certificate still listed her as a male. By the time they ended that engagement, Knox had been fired from his job over the publicity. Shortly before Jorgensen died in 1989, she said she had given the sexual revolution “a good swift kick in the pants.” She died of bladder and lung cancer just a month shy of her 63rd birthday.

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, May 29

Jim Burroway

May 29th, 2014

Today is Fag Day, or at least it was in 1917. I haven’t been able to find any information about what Fag Day was supposed to be, but it appears to have been a day when free cigarettes (“fags” in British slag) were distributed to wounded soldiers and sailors. Or it may have been a fundraising or donation day — here are some Fag Day fundraising badges. Reproductions of the posters are available in the U.K. and stateside.

[Thanks to BTB commenter TomTallis who alerted us to this last year.]

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL; Bradford, UK; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Dresden, Germany; Düsseldorf, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Guerneville, CA; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Los Ranchos, NM; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Santa Cruz, CA; Washington, DC; Winnipeg, MB.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Film Out San Diego, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON; AIDS Life Cycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine, June 1965, page 26.

 
The Golden Calf, located just south of Thomas Circle, operated from 1963 to 1970. It was a popular meeting place for the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The entire 14th Street corridor has been redeveloped over the past few decades, with the entire block now taken up with high-rise apartment buildings, condos and offices.

Gay rights advocate Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and Frank Kameny (see May 21) on the picket line in front of the White House.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Second White House Protest: 1965. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s there, does it make a sound? That’s the kind of question that may have been on the minds of members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. following the first ever gay rights protest in front of the White House the month before (see Apr 17). The group decided not to publicize the hour-long protest in advance because they didn’t want to give the police time to invent a reason to block their demonstration. But that also meant that there were no reporters or news cameras there either. As far as everyone outside the little group knew, it simply didn’t happen. But as Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Washington chapter recalled, the protest “went so well that we immediately decided to do a repeat, with advance publicity.” This time, they decided on a three-prong approach to get the word out: they sent a news release to major news outlets, handed out a mimeographed leaflet to passersby during the demonstration, and sent a follow-up release to news media after the protest ended.

Thirteen people showed up with picket signs, and this time there was considerable press coverage, including brief mentions in The New York Times, The Washington Star, the Associated Press, United Press International, and ABC television, whose East Coast viewers saw a line of respectable men (in jackets and ties) and ladies (in heels and skirts), protesting according to the dictates handed down by Kameny (“If you’re asking for equal employment rights, look employable!”). This protest would establish a pattern for future gay rights protests for the next four years.

“Polyester” Premieres: 1981. The John Waters film Polyester made its debut on the silver screen. Divine (see Oct 19) once again starred, this time as Francine Fishpaw, a suburban housewife whose world is thrown into chaos when her pornographer husband declares he’s been unfaithful, her daughter becomes pregnant, and her son is accused of breaking local women’s feet as part of his fetish. Nineteen-fifties heartthrob Tab Hunter (see Jul 11) appeared near the end as lounge-suit-wearing Todd Tomorrow who swept Francine off her sweep and proposed marriage — only to plot with Francine’s mother to embezzle her divorce settlement and drive her insane.

The film was notable for a unique technological breakthrough: it was presented in “Odorama,” in which theatergoers were handed scratch-and-sniff cards so they could smell along with the action. One of those odors was feces, leaving Waters delighted with the thought that his audiences actually “pay to smell shit.” Despite the film’s positive reception — it even got a positive review at The New York Times — it remains a scandal that Polyester has yet to earn any major cinematic awards.

Barney Frank Comes Out: 1987. Barney Frank became only the second member of Congress to confirm that he was gay, and the first to do so wholly voluntarily, when he told a Boston Globe reporter:

“If you ask the direct question: ‘Are you gay?’ the answer is yes. So what? I’ve said all along that if I was asked by a reporter and I didn’t respond it would look like I had something to hide and I don’t think I have anything to hide.”

Rep. Frank said that the disintegration of Gary Hart’s presidential campaign earlier that month over reports of his extra-marital relationship with a young model, and the recent revelation that Rep. Stewart B. McKinney of Connecticut had died of AIDS, had prompted his decision to come out. Of McKinney, Frank said there was “an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?’ I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.” On May 31, the Globe reported that most of his constituents were unperturbed by his announcement, and many were unsurprised.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
80 YEARS AGO: Nancy Cárdenas: 1934-1994. The poet, playwright, journalist, theater director and social activist was born in Parras, Coahuila in Mexico. She became a noted radio announcer at the age of 20 before turning to the stage. Her interest in literature became apparent in the 1950s when she participated in a public reading program, Poetry Out Loud followed in the 1960′s with the publication of her one-act play El Cántaro Seco (The Empty Pitcher).

In the 1970s, she became an acclaimed theater and film director. Her 1970 film, El Efecto de los Rayos Gamma Sobre las Caléndulas (The Effect of Gamma Rays on Marigolds), was a critical hit, earning the Theatre Critics Association Award. It was also very controversial for being gay themed. She drew death threats and the film was protested by the brother of then-President Luis Echeverría, which was no small thing: President Echeverría had been the hardline Interior Secretary during the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, when the Mexican government opened fire on protesting students ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics. But such was Cárdenas’s influence that not only was the film shown in the Mexican capital, but in a theater on Insurgentes no less — Insurgentes being one of the principal boulevards in Mexico city. It was a huge success.

She came out as a lesbian in 1974  during an interview on the public affairs television program 24 Horas. That act made her the first publicly declared lesbian in Mexico. That year she founded El Frente de Liberación Homosexual (FLH, the Gay Liberation Front). In 1975, she co-wrote with Carlons Monsivais the Manifiesto en Defensa de los Homosexuales en México. On October 2, 1978 as part of a commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre, she headed the first Gay Pride march in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. She continued her advocacy throughout the 1980s through her plays, poetry and public statements. She died in 1994 of breast cancer.

Gene Robinson: 1947. When he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New Hampshire in 2004, he became the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be elevated to the episcopate. His election was so controversial, he wore a bullet-proof vest during his consecration. In a BeliefNet interview the day after he gave a prayer at the opening of President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebrations, he talked about his journey toward coming to terms with his sexuality:

I’ve been the reparative therapy route. I did that. My own experience is it doesn’t work. I think what it does it that it teaches gay and lesbian people to become so self loathing that they are willing to not act in a natural way, and deprive themselves of the kind of love and support that makes life worthwhile, that makes sense of our own lives and being. I can’t be supportive of that. It only underscores the way the church has gotten this wrong. God doesn’t ever get it wrong but the church often does.

Bishop Robinson formally retired in January, 2013.

55 YEARS AGO: Rupert Everett: 1959. His 1981 role as a gay schoolboy in the stage version of Another Country proved to be his break, opening the way for his screen appearance in the 1984 film version with Colin Firth. In 1989, Everett moved to Paris and came out as gay, which he said may have damaged his career. Wags would say that the 1987 flop Hearts of Fire may have been a factor. But his appearance in the 1997 film My Best Friend’s Wedding and 2000′s The Next Best Thing showed that his career wasn’t entirely over — although it did appear that he would forever be typecast as the heroine’s gay best friend. In 2009, he told the British newspaper The Observer:

The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off… Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.

In recent years, Everett has remained active in British television and in the lead role of a London production of The Judas Kiss, about Oscar Wilde’s downfall and 1895 gross indecency conviction. And as a former sex worker himself, he has lately championed the decriminalization of sex workers and their clients. And ever the iconoclast, he criticized those who advocated for marriage equality in Britain, saying, “I find it personally beyond tragic that we want to ape this institution that is so clearly a disaster.”

Melissa Etheridge: 1961. Her debut album was completed in just four days after her record label rejected her first effort as too polished. That stripped down album, titled simply Melissa Etheridge, not only defined her sound, but it yielded a hit single, “Bring Me Some Water” and a Grammy nomination. In 1992, she won her first Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance on the strength of her third album, Never Enough. Her breakthrough album, 1993′s Yes I Am, was certified Platinum and garnered her a second Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her single “Come to My Window”. Her 2006 song “I Need to Wake Up” was recorded for Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

She came out publicly in 1993 and has been a committed gay rights advocate ever since. She is also a committed advocate on behalf of the environment and breast cancer research, having herself undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2004 and 2005. In an interview with Dateline NBC, she discussed her recovery and her use of medical marijuana while undergoing chemo. In 2011, she announced her separation from her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, after seven years together. They have two children, fraternal twins, who were born in 2006. Etheridge also has two children from her previous long-term relationship with Julie Cypher. In 2013, she announced her engagement to television producer Linda Wallem, although no date has been set.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

David Burtka: 1975. He began as an actor, first on the stage, and then in guest roles on The West Wing, Crossing Jordan and in seven episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Those appearances in Mother led to rumors that Burtka was romantically involved with one of the series’ stars, which finally prompted Neil Patrick Harris to publicly acknowledge in 2006 that he was gay. In 2010, Burtka and Harris, who have been together since 2004, became fathers to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. Birtka has cut back on acting to run a Los Angeles catering company and work as a full time chef.

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, May 28

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL; Bradford, UK; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Dresden, Germany; Düsseldorf, Germany; Göteborg, Sweden; Guerneville, CA; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lorraine, France; Los Ranchos, NM; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Queens, NY; Santa Cruz, CA; Washington, DC; Winnipeg, MB.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Film Out San Diego, CA; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON; AIDS Life Cycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, May 1959, page 15.

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

TODAY IN HISTORY:
95 YEARS AGO: First Pro-Gay Film Released 1919. The German silent film Anders als die Andern (“Different From the Others”) tells the story of a famous concert violinist, Paul Körner (played by Conrad Veidt, who later appeared in Casablanca as Major Heinrich Strasser) who falls in love with his student Kurt Sivers (Fritz Schulz). Both men experience disapproval from their parents, and Körner becomes the subject of a blackmail attempt. The real-life Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the famous German sexologist and gay-rights advocate (see May 14), makes several cameo appearances in the film. In one scene, he explains to Körner’s parents that their son “is not to blame for his orientation. is not wrong, nor should it be a crime. Indeed, it is not even an illness, merely a variation, and one that is common to all of nature.”

Hirshfeld’s appearances appear directed more toward the audience than the characters he’s speaking to. In one flashback scene, when Körner first meets Hirschfeld’s character after discovering that an “ex-gay” hypnotherapist was a fraud (some things never change), Hirschfeld tells him, “Love for one of the same sex is no less pure or noble than for one of the opposite. This orientation can be found in all levels of society, and among respected people. Those that say otherwise come only from ignorance and bigotry.”

The acting is stilted, as is common for that era, and the plot is fairly predictable. Körner reports Bollek for blackmail and has him arrested. In retaliation, Bollek exposes Körner. Both men wind up in court, and both are found guilty, despite Hirshfeld’s testimony on Körner’s behalf (and another soliloquy for the audience). The judge has mercy on Körner however, and sentences him only to one week. Disgraced and shunned by his family, Körner kills himself. Sivers also tries to kill himself, but Hirschfeld intervenes. “You have to keep living; live to change the prejudices by which this man has been made one of the countless victims. …Justice through knowledge!”

Many prints of the film were burned by the Nazis after they came to power in 1933, and censorship laws prevented its general viewing. Only small fragments of the film survives today. Here is a clip which includes on of Hirscheld’s cameos (beginning at 3:10):

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Daughters of Bilitis Convention Program.

Daughters of Bilitis Hold First National Convention: 1960. When Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, the tiny group only had eight members (see Oct 19). Five years later, and the Daughters were large enough to hold its first biennial convention at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco. The DoB’s press release announcing the convention was met mostly with silence except for a few sprinkles of condescension here and there. The San Francisco Chronicle’s smarmy columnist Herb Caen typified the latter when he who wrote, “Russ Wilden, if nobody else, will be interested to learn that the Daughters of Bilitis will hold their nat’l convention here May 27-30. They’re the female counterparts of the Mattachine Society — and one of the convention highlights will be an address by Atty. Morris Lowenthal titled ‘The Gay Bar in the Courts.’ Oh brother. I mean sister. Come to think of it, I don’t know what I mean.”

The first full day of the convention drew two hundred women to the historic Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street, along with the San Francisco police who checked to make sure the ladies were wearing ladies’ clothing. As the Daughters had long emphasized outward conformity in the hopes that it would put larger society at ease, they were already prepared for the “inspection.” Del Martin (see May 5) invited the police inside to verify that everyone — well, the women, anyway — were wearing dresses, stocking and heels. After the convention ended, Helen Sandoz (see Nov 2)) ended her report in the DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder with a note of thanks to everyone who attended, including those who were undercover: “Thank you, DOB, ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control); Vice Squad, professional folk… thank you all for letting us see you and letting you see us.”

Ma Vie en Rose: 1997. The Belgian film Ma Vie en Rose (“My Life in Pink”) premiered in France. It’s the story of a young child named Ludovic (Georges Du Fresne), who insists that she is a girl and talks of marrying her best friend, a boy who lives next door. When the film opened in the U.S., it received an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, even though the film has minimal sexual content, minimal violence, and mild language. Nevertheless, the film was critically acclaimed and won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

YouTube Preview Image

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, May 27

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, May 1972, page 15.

 
Milwaukee’s Neptune Club appears to have only lasted about a year: “Neptune Club is believed to have been Chuck Cicirello‘s first gay bar. He later opened the Factory, which was to become the legendary Milwaukee dance/ disco bar, followed by Factory 2 and 3, and other bars in later years.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Homosexual Ring Broken Up”: 1948. A veteran University of Missouri journalism professor was arrested and charged with sodomy as Prosecutor Howard B. Lang, Jr. described to reporters fantastical tales of “mad homosexual parties” in Columbia, Missouri. According to the Associated Press on the day of his arrest:

The prosecuting attorney said he had issued a warrant for the arrest of E.K. Johnston, for 24 years a member of the faculty of the university’s school of journalism, after a long investigation into abnormal sex orgies here and other central Missouri cities. Two other men were held in the Boone County jail on similar charges. They are Willie Coots, a gift shop employee here, and Warren W. Heathman, 35, Rolla, Mo., an itinerant instructor for the Veteran Administration’s farm training program.

Lang said both had signed statements, implicating Johnston as a principal in what he called a homosexual “ring” at Johnston’s apartment which Coots had shared for the last 15 or 16 years. At least of score of University of Missouri students and other residents here, Lang said, also are implicated in the ring. No charges have been filed against any one except Coots, Heathman and Johnston, but several are being held in jail for investigation or as material witnesses.

Heathman, Lang reported, told a near-fantastic story of “mad parties” at Johnston’s apartment and at a cabin near Salem, Mo., in which as many as 30 members of the “ring” gathered to boast of conquests and to indulge in homosexual practices.

Johnston was released after posting a $3,500 bond (that would be nearly $35,000 in today’s money), and the university fired him the next day. Johnson initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of sodomy, but after the other two testified against him, he changed his plea to guilty in exchange for four years’ probation under a $2,000 bond. Terms of the probation included “cessation of homosexual practices.” The others also pleaded guilty and were placed on probation.

Johnston was just one of a large number of students and faculty who were caught up in a wider anti-gay witch hunt then taking place on the UM campus, spearheaded by the university’s vice president Thomas A. Brady. In the late 1940s, the university had gained a reputation as a “safe haven” for gay people, and the state legislature exerted pressure to get them out of the university. The university set up an investigative committee under Brady’s guidance, and the committee set about identifying gay students and faculty based on the interviews with those who were offered immunity  in return for testifying against the others. That investigation led Johnston’s arrest along with several other students:

“Phillip,” a former MU student interviewed by Jim Duggins of the GLBT Historical Society, describes running into a gay friend who’d been caught “at a party out in the woods in Salem, Mo., in a cabin, having a wild time.”

“The university got rid of everyone,” Phillip says. “Each student who had been involved had his transcripts stamped, ‘This student will not be readmitted to the University of Missouri until he is cleared of charges regarding homosexual activities.’ That’s why one kid killed himself right away, and others killed themselves during the ensuing months. It was just tragic.”

Phillip and the other interviewees also discuss the 1948 dismissal of MU advertising professor E.K. Johnston. “E.K. Johnston had been at the party,” Phillip says. “He was immediately dismissed; the chancellor of the university, or whoever it was, said, ‘We had no idea. Such a respected man,’ though Johnston had been talked about for years.”

Professor Johnston moved to Kansas City, where he lived until his death in 1990.

Russia Decriminalizes Homosexuality: 1993. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality on this date,. Since 2006, Moscow gay rights advocates have attempted to commemorate the anniversary of this historic event by conducting a gay pride march in Moscow. And every year, Moscow authorities have suppressed the march, usually violently. In 2013, Russia upped the ante when President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure which ostensibly bans distributing “pro-homosexual propaganda” to minors, but which is so broadly written as to ban virtually all pro-LGBT advocacy anywhere in Russia.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Marijane Meaker: 1927. The American novelist and short story writer is known among lesbian pulp fiction fans as Vin Packer, and among fans of young adult fiction as M.E. Kerr. Her 1952 paperback, Spring Fire, is often considered to be the first lesbian pulp novel. Maker worked on the novel while working as a proofreader at Gold Medal Books. She got Spring Fire published there by posing as a literary agent representing an author named “Vin Packer.”

Spring Fire, was a hit, but the nature of the audience caught Gold Medal Books by surprised. “Spring Fire was not aimed at any lesbian market,” Meaker said in 1989, “because there wasn’t any that we knew about. I was just out of college. We were amazed, floored, by the mail that poured in. That was the first time anyone was aware of the gay audience out there.” Thrilled with Spring Fire’s success, Gold Medal sought more stories from Vin Packer, who proceeded to produce twenty pulp fiction novels between 1952 and 1969.

Inspired by Donald Webster Cory’s groundbreaking book The Homosexual in America (see Sep 18), Meaker’s second persona, Ann Aldrich, published a series of nonfiction works to describe the the lesbian experience in 1950s America. We Walk Alone appeared in 1955 to mixed reviews. While it was an eye opener to general audiences, lesbians weren’t so taken with it, with many of those criticisms being played out in the pages of the Daughters of Bilitis’ newsletter The Ladder. Aldrich’s 1958 follow-up, We, Too, Must Love (1958), did little to win over her lesbian critics. Del Martin (see May 5) wrote:

Your intentions are admirable, Miss Aldrich, but somehow we feel that you have not reached your objective. You have glossed over that segment of the Lesbian population which we consider to be the “majority” of this minority group. We refer to those who have made an adjustment to self and society and who are leading constructive, useful lives in the community in which they live. While we will grant you that the “average” Lesbian, like any other “average”, makes dull reading, you must concede that without inclusion of this group you have not painted a well-rounded and true picture of Lesbian life. …Lesbian life which you have depicted may be likened to a similar study of heterosexual life in which only the Skid Road characters and the well-to-do are delineated. …Surely in your 18 years of Lesbian experience you have met those capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation.”

Meaker a successful young adult fiction writer as M.E. Kerr beginning in 1972, writing about topics which weren’t usually covered by books for that audience: racisms, absent parents, homosexuality and, later, AIDS. She also wrote four childrens’ books as Mary James. Her first book as M.E. Kerr, 1972′s Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!, had as a central character an overweight girl, and was listed by the School Library Journal as one of the 100 most significant books for children and young adults. She also wrote four books for younger audiences under the pseudonym Mary James.

Returning to themes of her own life, Meaker had a contentious relationship from 1959 to 1961 with the eccentric author Patricia Highsmith (see Jan 19), which Meaker wrote about in the 2003 memoir, Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s. Meanwhile, a whole new audience has rediscovered her pioneering pulp fiction work, with collectors driving up prices on remaining original paperbacks and Cleis Press re-releasinga large number of titles since 2011 in paperback and for Kindle.

Chris Colfer: 1990. If you watch Fox’s “Glee,” you know him as Kurt Hummel, the fashionably gay kid who is routinely bullied in school. He had auditioned for the role of Artie Abrams, but the show’s creators were so impressed with Colfer that they created the role of Kurt especially for him. Colfer, who is gay himself, says that he was accepted by his family but often bullied in school. You can see Colfer’s video for the “It Gets Better” project here.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, May 26

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2014

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day set aside to remember those who gave their lives for this country. With the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2011, gay and lesbian service members have been able to serve their country openly and with honor and pride. And gays and Lesbians, both servicemembers and their civilian spouses and loved ones, can also, without shame or fear, remember and honor the sacrifices of their loved ones. That, in particular, was perhaps one of the cruelest aspects of DADT and prior bans on gays and lesbians serving, and dying, openly. In prior years, loved ones were made to mourn in silence. In 1961, ONE magazine published a poignant letter from one such World War II army veteran who still mourned another who didn’t come home:

Dear Dave:

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theater in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show for 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player -= competition –miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theater and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea –pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.

The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

Brian Keith

[Source: Brian Keith. "Letter to a G.I." ONE, 9, no. 9 (September 1961): 19.]

Pensacola

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events Today: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events Today: International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 3, 1979, page 21.

 
The Monster was an enormously popular bar and disco in the 1970s and early ’80s. In 1979, as Hurricane Frederick was bearing down on the Keys and the governor ordered a general evacuation, the Monster stayed open and hosted a hurricane party for those who didn’t make it off the island. The bar closed in 1983, and the site is now home to Hog’s Breath, a popular tourists’ open-air bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Massachusetts Buggery Law: 1697. After the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies were united into the new Massachusetts Colony, a revision to the old Massachusetts Bay Law of 1672 revised its old sodomy law. The death penalty remains, but now “Buggery” is defined to include bestiality as well as sodomy:

For avoiding of the detestable and abominable Sin of Buggery with Mankind or Beast, which is contrary to the very Light of Nature; Be it Enacted and Declared … That the same Offence be adjudged Felony … And that every Man, being duly convicted of lying with Mankind, as he lieth with a Woman; and every Man or Woman that shall have carnal Copulation with any Beast or Brute Creature, the Offender and Offenders, in either of the Cases before mentioned, shall suffer the Pains of Death, and the Beast shall be slain and Burned.

Massachusetts abolished the death penalty for sodomy and bestiality in 1805.

First Known Intersex Actress On Film: 1976. She made her debut on the screen in the 1976 movie Drive-In. Set in small town Texas, the story portrays a slice of life as the town’s teens gather at the local drive-in to watch a disaster flick. The film’s movie-within-a-movie (the movie being screened at the drive-in) is a hilarious sendup of action movies. Among the cast is Katherine Connella (billed as Neely Richlond) who plays a student and is the first intersexed person to star in a motion picture. Katherine’s biography, released in 2001, describes her experience of being born and growing up a combination of genders.

Maryland Adds Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Hate Crime Law: 2005. Five days after vetoing a bill that would provide domestic partnership for same sex couples, Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) signed a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crime law. Conservative religious groups naturally protest.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Sakia Gunn: 1987-2003. If she were alive today, she’d be celebrating her twenty-seventh birthday. Instead, she didn’t quite make it to sweet sixteen. On May 11, 2003, she and her friends were waiting for the #1 New Jersey Transit bus in downtown Newark when they were propositioned by two men. The girls rejected their advances by declaring themselves to be lesbians. The men attacked, and when Gunn fought back, one of the attackers stabbed her in the chest. After both attackers fled, Gunn was rushed to the hospital where she died. The murder became the subject of several protests in Newark, and more than 2,500 people attended her funeral.

One of the attackers, Robert McCullough, was arrested and charged with murder. In a tale that could have come from a bad comedy sketch, McCullough claimed that Gunn died after she ran into his knife. He eventually agreed to a plea bargain in which the murder charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea for manslaughter, aggravated assault and bias intimidation. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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 Sunday, May 25

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, November 11, 1979, page 35.

Irish brewer James Everard opened the Everard Baths in 1888 in an old renovated church building. It was intended to operate as a Turkish bath for the general public, but by the 1920s it had already become popular with gay men and picked up the nickname “Everhard.” Police raided the premises in 1919 and arrested nine customers and the manager for lewd behavior, and arrested fifteen more in another raid in 1920. But despite those raids, the Everard Baths remained a major gay venue through the succeeding decades. Well-known patrons over the years included Gore Vidal, Rudolf Nureyev, Lorenz Hart, Truman Capote and Ned Rorem.

In 1977, a fire broke out in the Everard, killing nine customers and injuring ten more (see below). The fire destroyed the top two floors of the four-story building. After the building was rebuilt, the Everard reopened in 1979, and remained open for another seven years. It finally closed for good in April 1986 in a city-wide campaign by New York mayor Ed Koch to shut down all of the city’s bathhouses in response to the AIDS epidemic. The building is still there and houses the Yung Kee Wholesale Center.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Oscar Wilde Convicted: 1895. Author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. He made his mark in literature in The Picture of Dorian Gray (an annotated edition with some of the more homoerotic themes restored was released in 2011). His essays made him a respected man of letters, while his popular plays (Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and especially The Importance of Being Earnest) burnished his reputation for sophisticated wit.

But the wild success of Earnest, which premiered February 14, 1895, was quickly eclipsed by Wilde’s conviction and sentencing for homosexuality. Four days after the premiere of Earnest, Wilde was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensberry (see Feb 18). Wilde, who was involved with the Marquess’s son, Alfred Douglass, ignored the advise of his friends and sued the Marquess for libel. That proved disastrous. During cross-examination, Queensberry’s lawyer asked Wilde whether he had ever kissed a particular young man, Walter Grainger, in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.” Queesnbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admssion for not kissing Grainger: it wasn’t that Wilde didn’t like kissing men, but that he didn’t want to kiss this particular “ugly” man.

In short order, Wilde lost the case (see Apr 5). The next day, he was arrested and charged with gross indecency. His first trial began on April 26, with Wilde pleading not guilty. It was during that trial that Wilde uttered these famous lines under cross-examination:

Charles Gill (prosecuting): What is “the love that dare not speak its name”?

Oscar Wilde: “The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

Despite that admission, Wilde’s first trial ended in a hung jury. But a second jury on May 25 found him and another friend guilty. Justice Alfred Wills sentenced them to the maximum sentence allowed by law: to two years of hard labor:

Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man pf honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials. That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.

It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried. that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.

I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

[Cries of "Oh! Oh!" and "Shame!"]

Oscar Wilde: And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?

The court adjourned.

The Redl Affair: 1913. Col. Alfred Redl was a Galician native from a poor family in what is now Ukraine but was then a part of the Austrian Empire. He joined the Austrian army where his keen intelligence and facility with languages outweighed his poverty-stricken background and opened doors into the officer corps. That was a rarity, since officers were nearly uniformly drawn from the rich and the politically well-connected. Redl was appointed to the counter-intelligence service, and his innovations quickly led the way to a series of promotions which led to his becoming the service’s chief in 1907. In 1911, Redl was honored with the Expression of Supreme Satisfaction, which was a personal honor bestowed by Emperor Franz Josef himself.

But while that was happening, Redl was also an spy for Russia, starting probably around 1903 (although the Austrian Empire’s official rendition of events had him starting only in 1912). How he became a spy for the Austria’s arch enemy isn’t clear, but we do know that Russia became aware of Redl’s homosexuality as early as 1901, and it is believed that Redl was blackmailed. Before World War I broke out, Redl handed over Austria’s plan for invading Serbia, revealed the names of Austrian agents in Russia, and underestimated Russia’s military strength to the Austrian military. The results were disastrous for Austria. With Russia and Serbia knowing Austria’s moves ahead of time, it is estimated that Redl may have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Austrian soldiers and civilians.

Ironically, Redl’s innovations in Austria’s counter-intelligence service proved to be his undoing. When Redl was promoted up and out of the counter-intelligence service, his successor and protégé, Major Maximilian Ronge, became aware of some suspicious envelopes, stuffed with cash but no note, being delivered to the Vienna post office for a Herr Nikon Nizetas for General Delivery (in other words, with no address; the post office was to hold the envelopes for Nizetas to pick up). Because of the large sums of money involved and evidence that the envelopes may have come from Russia, Ronge personally led the investigation. To Ronge’s surprise, it was Redl who arrived at the post office to claim the envelopes. When Ronde and a group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer where Redle was staying, Redl cordially invited them into his room and admitted his crimes. Redl then asked to borrow a revolver. Knowing what would come next, Ronge and his men left a Browning pistol and left, waiting outside the hotel for the sound of the gunshot. Redl removed his uniform, wrote one last farewell letter, and shot himself.

At first, Emperor Franz Josef tried to keep the circumstances behind Redl’s suicide under wraps, but Redl’s death soon became a rallying point for a number of factions within the government. Aristocrats pointed to Redl’s humble background to demand that the officer corps be returned to its all-aristocratic foundations. His Galician upbringing brought all Slavs in the officer corps under suspicion, despite the fact that Redl was ethnically German. And a rumor that Redl was Jewish, despite his Roman Catholic upbringing, stoked yet another wave of anti-Semitism in central Europe.

But more crucially, the Redl Affair became a worldwide symbol of the vulnerability of high-level government officials to blackmail, particularly where homosexuality was concerned. During the Cold War, the Redl Affair, along with the 1951 defection to the Soviet Union of British spies Guy Burgess and Don MacLean, reinforced the argument that gay people could not be trusted in government, and during McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the 1950s, homosexuality and communism were further linked as twin threats to national security (see Feb 28Mar 14Mar 23, Apr 13Apr 18, Apr 22Apr 26, Apr 27May 2May 19, and May 23).

Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee.

Florida Legislative Committee Calls Schools “Veritable Refuge for Practicing Homosexuals”: 1961. That charge was levied in a report by the Florida Legislative Investigations Committee, which was Florida’s homegrown version of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares from a decade earlier. Known popularly as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, state Senator and former acting Governor Charley Johns, it was established in 1956 to investigate alleged communist links to the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1957, the Legislature broadened the committee’s mandate to investigate gays in the state’s colleges and universities. In 1961, just as that mandate was about to expire, the Johns committee issued a biennial report to the Legislature which claimed that it found a “call ring” in an unidentified populous county which put teenage boys “through what amounts to a regular course in training in homosexual acts. When properly trained they are made available to older homosexuals the same as female prostitutes.”

The report, filed by Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), the committee’s chair, claimed that the investigation was ongoing and three men had been arrested, but provided no other details of the alleged ring. ONE magazine was skeptical of the charges:

It seems to this reporter that there have been entirely too much acceptance of alleged happenings as reported by investigative bodies or individuals who are never required to give absolute and irrefutable proof. We have for years been hearing about supposed homosexual “rings” and “clubs” that serve their memberships play-boy style. I defy anyone to show me one.

ONE was right to be skeptical, as no such case has ever hit Florida’s newspapers as far as I’ve been able to determine. But the report did tally the damage the committee had done to people lives as of 1961. Since 1959, 39 teachers’ certificates had been revoked and fourteen more cases were pending before the state Board of Education (see Apr 22 for the case of five teachers from St. Petersburg) “The committee is in possession of sworn testimony concerning homosexual conduct in excess of 75 additional public school teachers,” the report added, but added that disclosure of details would derail its investigations.

The Florida Legislature approved an additional appropriation to the Johns Committee and renewed its charter for another two years. In 1963, the Committee said that its work still was not done so the Legislature renewed its charter again for two additional years. In 1964, the fruits of that “exhaustive investigation” were finally made public when the Johns Committee issued its final report, “Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida” (see Mar 17). Known as the “purple pamphlet” for the abstract purple cover that was added to obscure the more provocative photos inside, the report was blasted as an exercise in taxpayer-funded pornography. The Legislature responded to the controversy by finally pulling funding for the committee and forcing its disbanding.

Everard Bathhouse Fire Kills Nine: 1977. In 1976, the fire officials ordered the Everard to install a sprinkler system. By May 1977, the sprinklers had been installed but they hadn’t been hooked up to a water supply yet when, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 25, 1977, a mattress fire broke out. Occupants when through several fire extinguishers trying to put out the flames before finally calling the fire department. By the time firefighters arrived, about 80 to 100 occupants had managed to flee the building, but nine customers weren’t so lucky. Seven died from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one from injuries after jumping from an upper floor.

Identification of the victims was complicated by the fact that many of them had registered under assumed names. Friends wound up identifying them rather than family. They were: Hillman Wesley Adams, 40, South Plains, NJ; Amado Alamo, 17, Manhattan; Anthony Calarco, age unknown, The Bronx; Kenneth Hill, 38, Manhattan; Brian Duffy, 30, address unknown; Patrick Knott, 38, Manhattan; Ira Landau, 32, Manhattan; Yosef Signovec, 30, a Czech refugee whose address was unknown; and James Charles Stuard, 30, Manhattan, who was a well-known DJ at the club 12 West.

(Note: This video of the fire erroneously give the date as 1975.)

YouTube Preview Image

The fire destroyed the top two floors. They were rebuilt and the Everard reopened in 1979, only to close again in 1986 during a campaign by New York mayor Ed Koch during the AIDS epidemic.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Ian McKellen: 1939. His roots are in theater, mainly Shakespeare, where he continues to perform in a number of state productions in Britain. But beginning in 1969, he branched out in film and television, covering a wide range of genres from drama (And the Band Played On, Gods and Monsters), to mystery (Six Degrees of Separation, The Da Vinci Code), to action and fantasy (X-Men, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as Gandolf).

McKellen was among the earliest actors to come out publicly as gay. He came out in 1988 during a BBC interview while discussing the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, which stated that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” (see May 24). According to a 2003 interview, McKellen said he visited Environment Secretary Michael Howard (who was responsible for local governments) to lobby against the bill. Howard reaffirmed his approval of Section 28, and in a defining moment of chutzpah, asked McKellen to leave an autograph for Howard’s children. He did. It read, “Fuck off, I’m gay.” McKellen remained politically active and co-founded the British gay-rights group Stonewall in 1989. In 2007, he became a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organization that provides support to homeless and troubled LGBT youth.

McKellen is properly called Sir Ian McKellen. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts. He was also named a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to LGBT equality in 2008.

Anne Heche: 1969. She got her start on the NBC soap opera Another World, where she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991. Appropriate, given that so much of her life reads like a soap opera. She was the daughter of a Baptist choir director who disclosed his homosexuality to his family just before dying of AIDS in 1983. That same year, her brother died in a car accident. Four years later, Heche launched her acting career with Another World as soon as she got out of high school. From there she took a series of roles in television and film, including If These Walls Could Talk (1996), Walking and Talking (1996), Wag the Dog (1997), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997).

It was at about that time that Heche began dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres. They had said they would get a civil union if it became legal in Vermont, but they broke up in August, 2000. Just hours after news broke of their relationship ending, she appeared that the rear door of a house in Fresno County wearing nothing by shorts and a bra, asking if she could take a shower. She had curled up on the couch for a nap when sheriff deputies arrived. She told officers that she was “God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship.” She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was released a few hours later.

That episode became the stuff of tabloid headlines and served as a turning point in her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy (which she wrote in only six weeks), where she described the her sexual abuse by her father, and her subsequent emotional problems and drug abuse. Meanwhile, her mother, Nancy Heche capitalized on her daughter’s fame and became an important speaker at ex-gay conferences where she claimed that her prayers “cured” Anne’s lesbianism. Anne, who is bisexual, says that her mother’s campaign is “a way to keep the pain of the truth out.” In 2011, Anne said that she doubted that she would ever reconcile with her mother.

In 2001, Heche married a cameraman who she met during DeGeneres’s 2000 standup comedy tour, and had a son the following year.  They divorced in 2007. That same year, she moved in with actor James Tupper, who was her co-star in the ABC comedy-drama Men in Trees (2006-2008). She had her second son with Tupper in 2009.  Last March, the USA Network announced Heche has been cast in its upcoming action adventure drama series, Dig, which will premiere later this year.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 24

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2014

Alkmaar

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; AIDS Walk, Honolulu, HI; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Parlee, July 1975, page 26.

 
The Hamptons on Long Island used to be quite the summertime gay hot-spot in the 1970s, but rising real estate prices pushed the younger party-goers to Fire Island and left the Hamptons to older, more affluent gay couples who aren’t up for partying until 4:00 a.m. A 2003 New York Times profile of the gay Hamptons reported, “Today there is no gay bar anywhere between Southampton and Montauk, and the gay Hamptons have become a staid place where people socialize over dinner and talk of kitchen renovations and children’s play dates. The area’s gay population has grown older, richer and more coupled-up.” The last gay bar became a straight bar in 2001 when the owners decided they could make more money that way.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Pat Buchanan Declares AIDS “Awful Retribution”: 1983. “The sexual revolution has begun to devour its children,” proclaimed Pat Buchanan in a New York Post op-ed that was relayed in newspapers across America. “And among the revolutionary vanguard, the Gay Rights activists, the mortality rate is higher and climbing.”

By 1983, the known AIDS epidemic was about to reach its two-year mark. A general panic was spreading in the gay community, and a general backlash was brewing everywhere else. Buchanan fueled that backlash with this op-ed, warning that no homosexual should be permitted to handle food. He also warned that the Democratic party’s decision to hold their 1984 convention in San Francisco would leave their delegates wives and children at the mercy of “homosexuals who belong to a community that is a common carrier of dangerous, communicable and sometimes fatal diseases.” And he attributed all of it to divine retribution with his now-infamous money-quote: “The poor homosexuals… they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.”

Buchanan had a flair for the dramatic turn of the phrase, having served as an opposition researcher and speechwriter for President Richard Nixon. He would go on to become communications director for the Reagan White House from 1985 to 1987. In 1992, as Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination for President, he again called AIDS “nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways” (see Feb 27). His speech before the Republican National Convention later that summer brought the term “culture war” to a nationwide audience.

Britain Enacts Section 28: 1988. When Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party swept into Government in 1979, it brought with it sweeping changes throughout Britain touching on all levels of society. With “Thatcherism” came a wholesale transformation of the economy, widespread cuts in social programs, open warfare with trade unions, and a retrenchment on a wide range of social issues including homosexuality. British society’s attitudes towards gay people hardened further during the early 1980s as AIDS began to take root in the U.K.

But in areas in which either the Labour or Liberal Party held sway, gay rights activists were able to get a number of local councils to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies. The Greater London Council authorized several grants between 1981 and 1984 to local gay groups and the London Lesbian and Gay Community Centre in Islington, and in 1985, the Labour Party called for an end to all legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. When the Daily Mail, in its characteristic alarmist fashion, discovered the book  Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin by the Danish author Susanne Bösche in a school library, all hell broke loose.

On December 2, 1987, Conservative MP David Wilshire responded to the outcry with a proposed amendment to the Local Government Act to prohibit local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” or teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” in schools. The clause which later became known as Section 28, was inserted at the committee stage on December 7, debated in Committee on December 8, and was adopted by the full House of Commons on December 15. The House of Lords approved it the following spring, and the law took effect on May 24, 1988.

The law had its intended effect. Where local governments had previously allowed gay groups to meet on government property and libraries to keep LGBT publications, many now were reluctant to do so. It also had an unintended effect: Section 28 almost singlehandedly revived the gay rights movement on a national scale. Ian McKellen came out on the BBC and helped to found Stonewall, while Peter Tatchell established OutRage!, and the two spent the next decade campaigning against Section 28. In 1997, Labour was swept back into Government in a landslide victory, but the first two legislative attempts to repeal Section 28, both in 2000, were defeated in the House of Lords. After another Labour landslide in the 2001 elections, opponents of Section 28 made another run at repeal again. in 2003. This time it was successful, and the repeal went into effect on November 18, 2003.

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, May 23

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2014

Birmingham

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; AIDS Walk, Honolulu, HI; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 3, 1979, page 33.

 

IML, 1979.

This weekend marks the 36th annual International Mr. Leather weekend in Chicago, otherwise known as Peter LaBarbera’s favorite springtime festival. The first IML, which took place exactly 35 years ago earlier this week, was an expanded version of an earlier contest that the Gold Coast bar had been staging since the early 1970s. The Mr. Gold Coast competition became the bar’s most popular promotion, and by 1979 the contest needed a larger venue. So the Gold Coast rented the ballroom at the Radisson Hotel, recruited Tom of Finland as one if the judges, and organized an entire weekend of activities. David Kloss of San Francisco was the first International Mr. Leather. Today, IML is a fundraising project for the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

The Gold Coast, which opened in June of 1958 as the city’s first leather bar, closed its doors on February 10, 1988. The building was still standing in June 2011, but was demolished in October.

Cyril Wilcox,  the Harvard undergrad whose suicide launched Harvard’s ant-gay Secret Court.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Harvard’s Secret Court: 1920. On May 13, 1920, Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard sophomore, committed suicide. He had been struggling with his grades and with his health, and returned home to recover. While at home, he told his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. George apparently reacted very badly to the news, with Cyril’s suicide following shortly after. Soon after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters. One was a gossipy letter from a gay classmate, and another was from a recent graduate. Armed with those letters, George demanded that Harvard’s acting Dean, Chester N Greenough rid the college “of this pernicious scourge.” Greenough consulted with Harvard President Abbot Lowell and formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became known as the “Secret Court.”

Acting Dean Chester N. Greenough, who led the investigations for the Secret Court.

The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. At least one student committed suicide following his expulsion. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed guilty. The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.

In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from newspaper staff, the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced. He called the reports “extremely disturbing” and the court’s actions “abhorrent.” Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan responded to Summers’s statement by saying that “Harvard embraces bathhouse values”:

Harvard’s code is now based on Summers’ values, which hold that the old moral code of Christianity, which teaches that sexual relations between men are unnatural and immoral, is “abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university.” Harvard has not only turned its back on its Christian past, it has just renounced its Christian roots as poisoned and perverted. If Harvard is educating America’s leaders, this country is not Slouching Toward Gomorrah, we are sprinting there.

[More information can be found in William Wright's Harvard's Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals]

State Department Announces Tougher Scrutiny for Job Applicants: 1950. By May of 1950, the State Department had withstood blistering attacks from members of Congress over allegations of homosexual employees allegedly posing as security risks (see Feb 28Mar 14Mar 23Apr 18Apr 26, May 2, and May 19). On May 22, the State Department’s top security officer, R.W. Scott McLeod, announced steps in the hiring process to try to address those criticisms and ordered his aides to be “completely ruthless” on passing on new job applicants who had a hint of security issues. According to news reports, McLeod said that someone who made a single mistake in the past might be able to “cancel it out” with good performance since then, with one exception. He said that a single homosexual act, no matter how long past, would make the employee subject to blackmail and would never be hired.

Eugene Oregon Voters Defeat Gay Rights Ordinance: 1978. Anita Bryant’s successful campaign to defeat a Miami non-discrimination ordinance in 1977 (see Jun 7)) Launched a wave of ballot measures in cities across the country the following year. Voters in St. Paul, Minnesota repealed their ordinance by more than a two-to-one margin (see Apr 25) and Wichita, Kansas voters bested that two weeks later with a five-to-one vote (see May 9). Anita Bryant’s Protect America’s Children had poured $20,000 into those battles ($74,000 in today’s dollars), which were enormous sums for city elections.

The juggernaut next moved on to Eugene, Oregon two weeks later, where residents were asked to vote on whether to approve a gay rights amendment to the city’s human rights ordinance. The amendment would have extended existing prohibitions of housing, employment and public accommodations discrimination to include sexual orientation. The Eugene City Council had passed the amendment on November 28. It would have gone into effect thirty days later, but a group quickly formed, calling themselves the Volunteer Organization Involved in Community Enactments (VOICE), and they managed to collect 10,000 signatures in less than two weeks to place the amendment on the next primary election ballot.

With Eugene being home to the University of Oregon and known for being friendly to more progressive brand of politics, the gay community felt that this fight would give them the best chance to turn back the tide. Early polling looked promising, which showed voters about evenly split. According to local news reports, VOICE and the pro-gay Eugene Citizens for Human Rights (ECHR) “conducted vigorous but restrained that lacked the inflammatory rhetoric of campaigns on similar gay rights proposals in other communities.” While VOICE sought examples of brochures and advertisements from the other campaigns, they elected to focus their message less on morality and religious beliefs, and more about whether gay people deserved “special” protections under the law. ECHR, similarly, shunned assistance from outside groups. ECHR coordinator Candy Hansen said, “Eugene is Eugene and we want to win this for the people of Eugene.”

That win didn’t happen. The vote was 22,898 to 13,427 — 63 to 37 percent. It was the best margin yet for the gay community, but still a landslide defeat. Turnout among college students was low, which may  partly explain why the polling looked so much more favorable. Lynn Greene, a campaign coordinator for VOICE was ecstatic. “We’ve shown that a liberal community will oppose legislation destructive to moral standards. “It shows that you don’t have to be religious to see that this kind of ordinance can negatively affect the community. The idea that this is a human rights issue is a facade, and people recognize that.” VOICE director Larry Dean called the vote a reaction against a “swing in morals” and said that even in liberal Eugene, voters weren’t ready to endorse what amounted to an “acceptance of homosexuality.” “If they (the gay community) cannot win here, they can’t win anyplace, except perhaps San Francisco.”

That same night, Dean received a congratulatory telegram from Anita Bryant, who praised “the Christian public and all the citizens of Eugene who worked and voted against legalized immorality. Let us continue to reach out in Godly love to all homosexuals who want deliverance, while opposing at the threshold every attempt of the militant homosexuals to represent their lifestyle as ‘normal’ and to impose it on us and our children.” Meanwhile, Edward Rowe, the Executive Director for Protect American’s Children reiterated his denial that his group was directly involved with VOICE’s campaign. “We worked only indirectly with the people in Eugene. There was consultation with our office in Miami Beach and the groups in Wichita and St. Paul. There was no funding in this case.”

While VOICE supporters were celebrating at a Chuckwagon steak house, the gay community and its allies marched quietly from the Eugene Hotel to the courthouse in a candlelight parade.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 22

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
White House to Host First-Day-Of-Issue Dedication of Harvey Milk Stamp: Washington, DC. The White House Office of Public Engagement, the United States Postal Service and the Harvey Milk Foundation will host a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp at the White House. The event will feature remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, and other guests including the Co-Founders of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk and Anne Kronenberg.

You can watch the festivities live beginning at 3:00 p.m. E.D.T. at www.whitehouse.gov/live. You can also follow it on Twitter using the hashtag #HarveyMilkStamp.

Buffalo

Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; AIDS Walk, Honolulu, HI; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
Harvey Milk, an avid amateur photographer, got the idea of opening his own camera shop after a developer ruined a roll of his film. He opened Castro Camera in 1972 on Castro Street in an area known then as Eureka Valley, a rough and tumble Irish neighborhood that had seen better days and was what we would politely call today “in transition.” Because of cheap rents, Eureka Valley was experiencing a new influx of gay people fleeing higher rents elsewhere. The Eureka Valley Merchants Association took a dim view of the gay-owned businesses opening up on their street and tried to keep Milk from getting a business license. Milk banded together with other gay businesses in the area and formed the Castro Village Association and organized the Castro Street Fair in 1974, which was a monster success. Thus Eureka Valley vanished and “the Castro” was born. Milk became known as the “mayor of Castro Street,” and Castro Camera served as an unofficial community center and official campaign headquarters when Milk launched his political career.

Randy Rohl and Grady Quinn.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
35 YEARS AGO: First Gay Couple To Attend High School Prom: 1979. Randy Rohl, a 17-year-old senior at a Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, embarked on the most quintessential high school rite of passage: attending the senior prom. His date wasn’t so quintessential: his friend, 20-year-old Grady Quinn. The couple wore matching powder blue tuxes, rose boutonnieres and matching silver pierced earrings.

Rohl wore his sexuality rather lightly, especially considering the times and the locale. He later told a friend that it wasn’t meant to be a political act. He just wanted to go to the prom. The school’s principal, Fred Stephens, granted permission for the couple to attend the dance, saying “My belief is that people need their rights protected. Homosexuals have rights.” Rohl told reporters, “The principal was very concerned for my well-being.”

And aside from a few pre-prom threats (which brought out a police presence in case anything came from those threats), and some raised eyebrows and a heavy media presence with glaring bright lights, it all went off without a hitch. . The couple danced five times. “The first one was a slow dance,” Rohl told reporters, “and people were a little surprised to see two guys dancing together.” The Washington Post reported that they got was a lot of extra room on the dance floor. But when the faster disco tunes were played, they attracted less attention.

“I think it’s rather sad that my date and I have to get more publicity or more acknowledgement from the press than any other couple,” he said. “I don’t think we’re any more worthy of special attention. Yes, maybe it’s a milestone in gay rights, but it’s being made into more of a freak show.” He also said that despite the threats, several students came over and congratulated the couple. “A lot of people were really glad we stuck to your guns and went.”

According to the National Gay Task Force, this was the first time an acknowledged gay couple attended a high school prom together in the U.S., even though the two were just friends. (Grady Quinn was the partner of a local gay rights activist.) This would be Randy Rohl’s only act as an activist. After high school, he moved to Minneapolis to attend college, and retreated back into private life. He died on December 31, 1993 from AIDS.

[Additional source: "'It's a Good Feeling,' Says Gay Who Took Boyfriend to His Prom." The Advocate, no. 271 (July 12, 1979): 7.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Harvey Milk: 1930-1978. Known as the Mayor of Castro Street, Harvey Milk finally succeeded in becoming California’s first (and the nation’s fourth) openly gay non-incumbent candidate to win a political office for two reasons: he refused to hide who he was; and he made it his mission to build alliances with groups that other gay activists thought were impossible to reach. So to those who knew Harvey well weren’t surprised when his 1977 as San Francisco City Supervisor that he was good terms with conservative supervisor Dan White. White, a former cop, was supported by the city’s police union whose leaders were angry over city policies which they considered to be soft on crime and homosexuals. The local media ate it up as the two made joint appearances on local talk shows where they both talked warmly of each other. Harvey began to privately telling friends that he thought White was “educatable,” and that the two might actually be able to work together.

But all that changed when Milk wound up voting against White’s proposal to bar a psychiatric treatment center from opening in White’s district. White retaliated by voting against Milk’s gay rights bill (it passed anyway), and for the next several months, White would not speak to Milk or his aides. Other supervisors noticed that White stopped spending as much time at his office in City Hall, and he was sullen during the weekly board meetings. White abruptly resigned on November 10, 1978. When he had a change of heart a few days later, Mayor George Moscone refused to commit to re-appointing him to the board. On November 27, 1978, White snuck into City Hall and confronted Moscone in his office, and shot him twice in the abdomen, then twice more in the head. He then walked down the hall to Milk’s office. After arguing with Milk, White shot him three times in the chest, once in the back and twice in the head.

Milk’s short political career changed the face of LGBT politics. During the 1978 campaign against the Briggs Amendment which would have required the firing of gay teachers and any school employee who supported gay rights, Milk insisted on aggressively confronting the anti-gay campaign by raising the visibility of the gay community. The campaign against the Briggs Amendment was also a campaign against the closet. He told a crowd during San Francisco’s Gay Pride that year:

“On this anniversary of Stonewall, I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets… We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I’m going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives.”

Mark Bingham: 1970-2001. A true hero, Mark Bingham was among the passengers who stormed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 after it had been hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. His personal bravery was well known before that fateful day. His boyfriend of six years, Paul Holm, recalled that Bingham had thwarted two attempted muggings, one at gunpoint. His friends recalled that he proudly showed off the scars he received during a running of the bulls in Pamplona. During the hijacking, Bingham, who was sitting in first class, made a brief call to his mother. She later called him back after learning of the other 9/11 attacks and said the flight was being used on a suicide mission. Bingham has been honored with several others for bringing the aircraft down and preventing a much greater loss of life.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 21

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Will Pennsylvania’s Governor Appeal Yesterday’s Marriage Ruling? Yesterday’s ruling by a Federal District Judge declaring the state’s laws against same-sex marriage unconstitutional has really put Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in a no-win position. His office demurred yesterday on whether the governor would seek a stay and appeal.  “The opinion’s just been published. We’re currently reviewing all the legal issues presented in the opinion,” said Joshua Maus, a spokesman for Corbett’s legal office. Recent polling already puts Corbett’s approval ratings in the 20s and 30, and he trails Democratic businessman Tom Wolf, who handily won yesterday’s primary. With recent polling showing that Pennsylvanians approve of marriage equality by a 57 to 37 percent margin, any attempt to reverse yesterday’s ruling and putting a stop to those joyous wedding photos will likely hurt his approval ratings even more. On the other hand, if he throws in the towel, he runs the risk of losing his conservative base, which he’s clearly making a play for today when he kicks off his re-election campaign in Canonsburg with Texas Governor and failed presidential candidate Rick Perry by his side. No matter which course he chooses, his already uphill battle for re-election appears to have gotten much steeper.

Maspalomas

Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; AIDS Walk, Honolulu, HI; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 31, 1979, page 19.

The Elephant Walk — named after the Elizabeth Taylor movie, and not the early 1970s fratboy hazing ritual — opened in the Castro on November 27, 1974. Inspired by the massive plate glass windows at the Twin Peaks Tavern (which is still in business), Fred Rogers opened the bar with similarly large, clear windows because he wanted a bright, cheerful place with a view onto the street where he could sit, relax, and chat with friends. It was a huge success. Sylvester (see Sep 6) often performed there on Sundays, and the bar featured daily brunches that were served until 3:00. p.m.

The Elephant Walk saw a lot of good times and a lot of hard times. In 1979, the bar was almost destroyed by rioting San Francisco police officers after the gay community rioted downtown following the light sentence given to Dan White for murdering gay rights activist Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, but the bar quickly recovered and reopened. In 1985, bar manager Jack McCarty and his lover were vacationing in Greece when their return flight, TWA 847, was hijacked and diverted to Beirut. They were released and returned to the U.S. seventeen days later to a hero’s welcome. In 1988, the bar was destroyed in a four-alarm fire that consumed the upper floor of the building, and thus, the Elephant Walk came to an end. After years of reconstruction, the building today houses a restaurant called “Harvey’s,” in honor of Harvey Milk whose camera shop was just up the street on the same block.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
35 YEARS AGO: White Night Riots: 1979. On this date, Dan White was found guilty in the shooting death of San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT advocate Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Unfortunately, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder, and sentenced to a paltry seven years in prison. (He would only serve five.) The jury bought the defense arguments that White was suffering from diminished capacity due to depression and an overload of junk food, a defense that has since been derided as the “Twinkie defense.”

The gay community was already angry with the police and fire department, which had raised money for White’s defense. That anger boiled over when the verdict was announced, leading to rioting at City Hall. Police officers — their badges were covered with black tape to prevent identification — broke up the riot. Later that night, San Francisco police staged a retaliatory raid on the Elephant Walk, a gay bar in the Castro, shouting “”dirty cocksuckers” and “sick faggots” while attacking patrons and shattering a large plate glass window. For the next two hours, police officers indiscriminately attacked passers by on the street.  Fred Rogers, the bar’s owner, described the melee:

A tactical squad had charged the doors, smashing news cameras attempting to record the raid. Once inside they made a sweep from the front of the 1,800-square-foot room all the way to – and over – the bar, swinging their clubs at anything that moved. Or didn’t. Brian, one of the bartenders, was sporting head bandages. He said that it all happened fast, without warning. There was no place to hide. Behind the bar I could see our industrial-strength, stainless-steel blender. It bore the deep imprint of a police baton, mute testimony to the fierceness of the assault. My cocktail waitress, Paula, was just finishing her first week on the job when the assault began. Luckily, she found refuge behind a closed gate in the kitchen area. She said that she had not seen such police brutality since her days on the UC-Berkeley campus.

Later that night, a freelance reporter overheard a group of police officers celebrating at a downtown bar. “We were at City Hall the day [the killings] happened and we were smiling then,” one officer said. “We were there tonight and we’re still smiling.” Gay leaders refused to apologize for the riot at city hall, and an investigation into police misconduct in the Castro and City Hall ended without any charges being filed.

Wesleyan University Offers Specialized Transgender Housing: 2003. Wesleyan University of Middletown, Connecticut announced that it would become the first American college to offer special housing option to accommodate transgender students. Incoming freshmen will have the option of living in a new “gender-blind” floor of a dormitory without specifying their gender. According to the new university policy, those who choose to live in the gender-blind area “will be assigned a roommate without the consideration of gender.” Mike Whaley, dean of student services, estimated that there were twelve to fifteen transgender students on the 3,000-student campus. But after opposition and obstruction from other members of the administration, the transgender housing policy was very nearly scrapped a year later when the dean in charge of student housing refused to pair students who were not of the same “biological gender.” Finally, with input from mental health professionals and transgender advocates, a new policy was implemented in 2010.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Raymond Burr: 1917-1993. He started out as a stage actor, landing on Broadway in 1941 for Crazy with the Heat. It didn’t take long for him to switch to the silver screen for the film noir classic Raw Deal (1948). He was adept at playing the heavies, as an aggressive prosecutor in A Place in the Sun (1951), and as the murder suspect in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). But he is best know for his two long-running television roles, in Perry Mason (1957-1966) and Ironside (1967 -1975). Like most gay actors, Burr rarely spoke about his private life. His official biography listed three marriages, but later investigations could only verify the second one. What has been verified is that Burr enjoyed a long 35-year relationship with his partner, Robert Benevides, who he met on the set of Perry Mason. Benevides was not only his life-long partner until Burr’s death in 1993, but together they owned an orchid business(orchids were one of Burr’s passions) and then a vineyard. Benevides still operates the Raymond Burr vineyards today.

Frank Kameny: 1925-2011. Easily one of the giants of the American gay rights movement, Frank Kameny fell into it when he was fired from his job as an astronomer with the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality (see Dec 20). Kameny took on the U.S. Civil Service Commission and argued his appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case. They missed out on quite case. Kameny wrote his own petition to the Supreme Court, in which he denounced the government’s ban on hiring gay people as “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.”

Throughout his lifetime, Kameny placed himself in the middle of many first in the gay rights movement. He founded the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society in 1961, a group which distinguished itself for its aggressiveness. In 1965, Kameny helped to organize the first gay rights protest in front the White House (see Apr 17), the Pentagon (Jul 31), the U.S. Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), and the State Department (see Aug 28). That same year, Kameny published a ground-breaking essay which declared the gay rights movement’s independence from the mental health professions and its shoddy pseudo-scientific research on homosexuality, proclaiming, “We are the true authorities on homosexuality” (see May 11). That bold, landmark declaration proved a turning point from or the gay rights movement, which soon shifted from a position of deference to professional authorities who declared that gays were mentally ill, and toward an eight year struggle to convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders (see Dec 15). In 1968, Kameny created the slogan “Gay is Good” (see Aug 12) and in 1971 he was the first openly gay candidate for Congress (see Feb 22).

Kameny has been recognized as a national treasure; his papers are now a part of the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian holds several of Kameny’s picket signs and other artifacts in its collection. His home is now recognized as a D.C. Historic Landmark, and in 2009, he received an official apology for his firing from the Office of Personnel Management. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 86.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, May 20

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Another Possible Ruling on a State’s Marriage Equality Ban: Harrisburg, PA. There are at least five separate lawsuits pending in federal courts challenging Pennsylvania’s law banning same-sex marriage. One of those lawsuits was brought by the ACLU on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians in Harrisburg. Both the ACLU and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agreed to forgo a trial and asked the judge to issue a summary judgment based solely on the submitted briefs. Federal District Judge Judge John E. Jones III is expected to issue his ruling sometime today. The ACLU has organized six Decision Day Rallies later today, which they hope will be in celebration for marriage equality. Those rallies are set to take place in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie and at the Capitol Steps in Harrisburg.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington), June 1976, page 9.

 
Three gay bars and a restaurant managed to squeeze themselves into a single building just off of Philly’s tony Rittenhouse Square. The main bar, 247, opened on the ground floor in 1971 and remained in business until 1996. The building today is the site of an Irish pub.

L-R: Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo

TODAY IN HISTORY:
30 YEARS AGO: AIDS Virus Identified: 1983. In a paper published in the US journal Science, a team from France’s Pasteur Institute, led by Luc Montagnier, described a suspect virus which had been isolated in a patient who had died of AIDS. Montagnier’s groundbreaking work led to the determination by US researcher Robert Gallo in 1984 that the virus was indeed the cause of AIDS. Gallo named his virus HTLV-III, and promptly claimed credit for discovering the virus. But the rest of the world began calling it the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV. A three year acrimonious spat between Gallo and Montagnier ensued over who was the first to discover it. The dispute was finally settled after intensive negotiations resulting in both parties being awarded credit, and everyone lived happily ever after. As it were.

Photo of an Amendment 2 Protest from the Nov. 11, 1992 issue of Out Front.

Romer v. Evans: 1996. On this date, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision striking down Colorado’s Amendment 2 to the state constitution which would have disenfranchised that state’s LGBT citizens from the right to petition their state and local governments for laws banning discrimination.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, rejected Amendment 2 supporter’s arguments that the ban on anti-discrimination laws were meant solely to deny LGBT people “special rights”:

[W]e cannot accept the view that Amendment 2′s prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint. They can obtain specific protection against discrimination only by enlisting the citizenry of Colorado to amend the State Constitution or perhaps, on the State’s view, by trying to pass helpful laws of general applicability. This is so no matter how local or discrete the harm, no matter how public and widespread the injury. We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society.

…(Amendment 2) is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence. …We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.

Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer joined Kennedy in the majority opinion.

Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, considered Colorado’s attempt to disenfranchise an entire class of people “unimpeachable under any constitutional doctrine hitherto pronounced.” Pointing to the Bowers v Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court Decision which declared that sodomy laws were constitutional, Scalia wrote, “If it is rational to criminalize the conduct, surely it is rational to deny special favor and protection to those with a self-avowed tendency or desire to engage in the conduct.” Seven years later, the Court would correct that contradiction in Lawrence v Texas, which finally struck down anti-sodomy laws in the 13 states where such laws were still in effect.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Cher: 1946. She started out as one-half of the husband-and-wife singing duo Sonny & Cher with their 1965 hit, “I Got You Babe.” After a string of hits and a popular television series, their marriage ended and Cher’s solo singing career took off. She also became an Academy Award winning actress, winning a Best Actress award for her role in 1987′s Moonstruck. In 2002, Cher began her Farewell Tour, after which she said she would retire from show business. The tour lasted three years, and at some point she re-named it the “Never Can Say Goodbye” Tour. But in 2005, she finally retired the show and retired herself. Then she retired from retirement in February 2008 for a show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas which lasted until February 2011. A recent single from the 2010 Burlesque soundtrack is fitting: “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me.” Last year, she released her 26th solo studio album after a twelve-year gap, Closer To The Truth.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, May 18

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chisinau, Moldova; Kraków, Poland; Long Beach, CA; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various cities and dates; Bearcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Brighton Heroes Run, Brighton, UK; Bear Watch, Galveston, TX; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, July 1973, page 22.

 
The Noble Roman opened in 1970 on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, in a space that had been a supper club. It became a gay bar somewhat by accident: “The Roman was particularly popular because its heterosexual owner was overwhelmingly concerned with profit; she left event planning and day-to-day management to the all-gay staff. [Mary] Kester’s lax attitude permitted the bar’s popular free stage—the venue hosted innumerable drag acts, politely-received ventriloquism shows, and musical numbers. …The owner’s carefree management style had positive and negative effects on the community. The Noble Roman was an early site of faux gay weddings, and drag queens received a small stipend for their Sunday performances on its free stage. When it came to paying bills, her ownership was detrimental—the bar closed several times due to mortgage truancy.” Kester  sold the bar in 1976 and the new owners turned it back into a straight establishment. The address today is now home to a restaurant called the Wild Onion.

Mike McConnell and Jack Baker applying for a marriage license in Minneapolis.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Marriage In Minnesota: 1970. Mike McConnell met Jack Backer in 1966 on a blind date at a Halloween party in Oklahoma where they were both 24-year-old grad students. On Baker’s 25th birthday, they became “betrothed,” as they put it, in a private ceremony, and moved in together. They moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and that’s when they met activists Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny. “That’s what lit our fires of pride,” recalled McConnell. “These fine people were willing to say, ‘Look, I’m as good as anybody else.’ That’s all I needed to hear.”

In April, 1970. McConnell accepted a job at the University of Minnesota’s library and Baker enrolled as a first year law student. Three weeks later, on this date in 1970, the couple applied for a marriage license in Minneapolis. Their presence caused a minor stir among nervous office workers. Baker told them, “If there’s any legal hassle, we’re prepared to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. This is not a gimmick.” There were legal hassles. Not only were the denied a license, but the university fired McConnell when news of their application hit the papers. A federal judge blocked McConnell’s firing. He called the episode “rather bizarre, but concluded that “An [sic] homosexual is after all a human being and a citizen…. He is as much entitled to the protection and benefits of the laws… as others.” Unfortunately, that decision was reversed on appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case.

Meanwhile a state judge, ruling on the marriage case itself, sided with county officials and ordered them not to issue a license. While McConnell and Baker appealed that decision, McConnell legally adopted Baker in August 1971, which allowed them at least some of the benefits of marriage (inheritance, medical decision-making, even reduced tuition for Baker). Later that same year, they managed to obtain a marriage license from a clerk in Blue Earth County, Minnesota and were married by a Methodist minister. But in October, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Baker v. Nelson that state law prohibits same-sex marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal “for want of a substantial federal question,” Baker v. Nelson became an established precedent.

In 2012, Minnesotans defeated a proposed constitutional amendment, placed on the ballot by a Republican-controlled legislature that would have permanently barred same-sex marriages in the state. Voters also elected a Democratic-Farm-Labor (DFL, the state Democratic party’s name in Minnesota) majority in both houses of the legislature. Elections have consequences, and the new legislature passed a marriage equality bill in 2013, which Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) quickly signed into law. That law went into effect on August 1. Baker and McConnell weren’t among those to line up for marriage licenses that day. As far as they were concerned, the license they obtained in Blue Earth County was still valid and they saw no need for another one. They still live a quiet life together, well out of the spotlight, in Minneapolis.

[Source: Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price. Courting Justice: Gay Men And Lesbians V. The Supreme Court (New York: Basic Books, 2001): 163-171.]

Therapist Warns of Homosexual Epidemic: 1970. New York psychiatrist Charles Socarides warned the nation’s physicians in the May 18, 1970 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, that “Homosexuality is a medical disorder which has reached epidemiologic proportions; its frequency of incidence surpasses that of the recognized major illnesses in the nation.” Socarides, who had appeared three years earlier on the infamous CBS documentary “The Homosexuals” (see Mar 7), had become a nationally-recognized authority on the so-called “disease” of homosexuality and its cure, and so his article in the AMA’s prestigious journal carried considerable weight. Socarides chided his fellow physicians for not taking the new epidemic seriously:

Attempts to obfuscate the fact that homosexuality is a medical problem have not been met head on by those most qualified to clarify the situation.  Only in the consultation room does the homosexual reveal himself and his world. No other data, statistics, or statements can be accepted as setting forth the true nature of homosexuality. All other sources may be heavily weighted by face-saving devices or rationalizations or, if they issue from lay bodies, lack the scientific and medical background to support their views. The best that can be said for the well-intentioned but unqualified observer is that he is misguided because he does not have and can not apply those techniques which would make it possible to discern the deep underlying clinical disorder or to evaluate the emotional patterns and interpersonal events in the life of a homosexual.

Socarides distinguished between two types of homosexuals: the “obligatory” and the “episodic.” Only the former were true homosexuals as he put it. “The latter is characterized by isolated homosexual acts without the stereotypy, the compulsivity, of the former.” As for the former:

There is a high incidence of paranoia or paranoid-like symptomatology in overt homosexuals. This is related to the medical fact that overt obligatory homosexuality is either a fixation or regression to the earliest stages of ego development. As a result, archaic and primitive mental mechanisms belonging to the earliest stages of life characterize the homosexual’s behavior. Also, homosexuality, obligatory or not, can be seen in the schizophrenic in his frantic attempt to establish some vestige of object relations as an expression of the fragmented and disorganized psychic apparatus with which he has to struggle.

Socarides argued that because homosexuals were suffering from a mental illness, they should not be penalized legally for consensual activities “so long as it is not accompanied by antisocial or criminal behavior.” Despite increasing calls to decriminalize homosexuality, homosexual behavior was still criminalized in every state except Illinois (see Jul 28). Socarides cautioned that ” any change in the legal code should be accompanied by a clearcut statement as to the nature of obligatory homosexuality, its diagnosis as a form of mental illness, and a universal declaration of support for its treatment by qualified medical practitioners.” And only those “qualified medical practitioners,” he concluded, were qualified to pass judgment whether gay people were sick:

It is vitally important to realize this fundamental point: the diagnosis of homosexuality can not be self-made, imposed by jurists, articulated by clergy, or speculated about by social scientists. … If the homosexual is to be granted his human right as a medical patient, issues which becloud his status should be clarified. Above all, the homosexual must be recognized as an individual who presents a medical problem.

The whole issue of homosexuality must be transformed into one more scientific challenge to medicine which has time and again been able to alleviate the plaguing illnesses of man. With this respected leadership on the part of the physician, we will see a surge of support for the study and treatment of the disorder by all the techniques and knowledge available through the great resources and medical talent of the United States.

[Source: Charles W. Socarides. "Homosexuality and medicine." Journal of the American Medical Association 212, no. 7 (May 18, 1970): 1199-1202.]

First Published Report Of New “Exotic” Disease Among New York Gays: 1981. June 5, 1981 is typically cited as the date of the first published report on a new disease which would become known as AIDS, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a notice concerning five previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles who died from rare infections which were normally easily curable (See Jun 5). But the first published report actually appeared in a New York gay newspaper a month earlier, tucked inside an issue of the New York Native on page seven. Dr. Lawrence Mass, who wrote a regular health column for the small weekly, had heard rumors of several new exotic diseases striking down gay men in Gotham. Some were coming down with a rare kind of a skin cancer that had previously only affected older Jewish or Mediterranean men. Others were stricken with a rare form of pneumonia which typically only appeared in people with severely suppressed immune systems such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and transplant recipients. There were also a host of other odd diseases that gay men were coming down with, but so far nobody had figured out that there might be a single cause to link them all together.

After Mass was assured by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that there was no evidence of an emerging “gay cancer,” Mass wrote an article titled, “Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded,” which began:

Last week there were rumors that an exotic new disease had hit the gay community in New York. Here are the facts. From the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Steve Phillips explained that the rumors are for the most part unfounded. Each year, approximately 12 to 24 cases of infection with a protozoa-like organism, pneumocystis carinii, are reported in the New York City area. The organism is not exotic; in fact, it’s ubiquitous. But most of us have a natural or easily acquired immunity.

“What’s unusual about the cases reported this year,” Mass explained, “is that eleven of them were not obviously compromised hosts. The possibility there exists that a new, more virulent strain of the organism may have been ‘community acquired.’” But Mass reported that there was not enough evidence (yet) to make a clear connection between the new disease and the gay community.

It wouldn’t be long before that link was made. Chroniclers of the AIDS crisis now recognize Dr. Mass as being the first to write about the emerging epidemic in print. Dr. Mass went on the help found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and was the principle author of the organization’s Medical Answers About AIDS through four revisions spanning ten years.

Papa Choux’s defiant ad stating they “will never allow this charade.” (Click to enlarge.)

30 YEARS AGO: CA Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Discrimination Decision for Lesbians Denied Restaurant Seating: 1984. On January 13, 1983, Zandra Rolon and Deborah Johnson made dinner reservations at Papa Choux, a very elegant Los Angeles restaurant. They specifically reserved a “Romantic Booth” in the restaurant’s Intimate Room, which featured sheer curtains around the booths, strolling violinists, and a measure of privacy. When they arrived for dinner, they were seated at the reserved booth, at first, but then they were told that they had to move. The manager told them, falsely, that a city ordinance prohibited such seating.

The couple filed suit, and were represented by civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who told reporters, “We intend to end this dinner discrimination and give Papa Choux’s their just desserts.” Papa Chou’s owner, Seymour Jacoby, countered with a newspaper ad declaring that “Papa Choux’s will never allow this charade. It would certainly make a mockery of true romantic dining.” But Rolon and Johnson won, and the case was upheld on appeal.

On May 18, 1984, the California denied the restaurant’s request for a hearing, and Jacoby took out another ad saying that “true romantic dining died on this date.” Allred countered, “This is not the death of romance. It is the death of discrimination.” A few days later, about 100 or so bar customers gathered for a “wake” as the restaurant closed its six curtained booths.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Patrick Dennis: 1921-1976. The name given him at birth was Edward Everett Tanner II, but his father had already begun calling him Pat before he was born, and so Pat he remained throughout childhood. When he published his 1955 novel, Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade, based on growing up with his real life Aunt Mame Dennis, it became one of the best-selling books of the 20th century and gave him the name the public would know him by. The book remained  on the New York Times bestseller list for 112 weeks, and became the basis for the movie Auntie Mame in 1958 starring Rosalind Russell. But that wasn’t fabulous enough. It went on to become a Broadway musical in 1966 starring Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur. From there it became a Hollywood musical starring Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur. Mame’s outrageous main character defined camp. Mame’s commitment to imagination and style can best be summed up in her most famous line: “Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death. Live!”

Dennis married in 1948 and had two children. He struggled with his bisexuality and was said to have been a fixture in Greenwich Village. He tried to commit suicide at one point, and after years of leading a double life, he decided to leave his family after he had fallen in love with another man. By the 1970s, his novels fell out of favor and out of print. His caviar tastes and extravagant nature, not unlike those of his quasi-fictional Mame, soon had him flat broke. He began a second career as a butler, and a rather anonymous one at that, having reverted back to using his real surname. He worked at the estate of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, where it is said that his employers had no idea who he really was. He died in at age 55 of pancreatic cancer.

Top: Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood. Bottom: Isherwood sitting for Bachardy

80 YEARS AGO: Don Bachardy: 1934. He met the famous writer, Christopher Isherwood (see Aug 26), on Valentine’s day when he was eighteen and Isherwood was 48, and they remained together as partners until Isherwood’s death in 1986. Bachardy still lives in the house they shared together in Santa Monica. It’s a shame that virtually every biography about Bachardy starts with that association with the acclaimed author because he is a talented painter in his own right. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Slade School of Art in London. His first one-man exhibition was held in 1961 at London’s Redfern Gallery. Most of his work is portraiture, and several of his sketches appeared in Isherwood’s novels.

If Bachardy was sometimes overshadowed by his relationship with Isherwood, he seems to have come to terms with it. But it did pose problems between them earlier in their relationship. During a particularly difficult period when Bachardy was studying in London, they almost broke up. Isherwood imagined what it would be like to live without Bachardy, and wrote A Single Man in which Bachardy’s character was already dead before the novel began. If you know the novel’s story, the result is not a happy one.

But they did remain together, and were life-long collaborators as artists and as a couple, sharing in each other’s successes. As Bacardy explained in the 2007 documentary Chris & Don. A Love Story:

I don’t take any credit for what’s happened to me in my life. It all seems fate — my destiny and Chris’s destiny. We were actually exactly what the other wanted and needed, whether we knew it or not. Well, Chris knew it. I didn’t for a long time …. I know that Chris would agree that the last ten years or so were our best — not the early years when we were younger and beautiful, but the later years when we really just enjoyed each other’s company and worked together in a variety of ways. It all just enhanced our basic unity — unity with each other, our harmony.

They continued collaborating, even as Isherwood was dying of cancer, when Bachardy would sketch him every single day, sometimes nine or ten times. “Chris was in a lot of pain towards the end,” he told The Sunday Times. “But he had sat for me so often over the years, and I knew this was something we could still do together. Each day, I could be with him intensely for hours on end.” On the day he died, Bachardy kept working on a sketch, a sketch of the man’s body with whom he had spent his entire adult life. “Chris would have been proud of me,” he said in the documentary. “He’d have said ‘that’s what an artist would do.’ And that’s what an artist did.”

[Source: Chris Freeman. "Lives in Art: Isherwood and Bachardy." The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 15, n0. 5 (September-October 2008) 30-33.]

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 17

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brussels, Belgium; Chisinau, Moldova; Eilat, Israel; Kraków, Poland; Long Beach, CA; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil; Springfield, IL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various cities and dates; Bearcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Brighton Heroes Run, Brighton, UK; Bear Watch, Galveston, TX; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

 
During its heyday, this Boston club had something for everyone: a jazz club, a cruise bar, one dance floor for rockers, another for disco, and a roof top deck with food and a view of Fenway Park. The club closed in 1988 after about fifteen years in business in the aftermath of a police bribery scandal. Documentary filmmaker Vincent-Louis Apruzzese said: “It was a big story at the time, and is probably the reason it closed. The owner videotaped policemen taking bribes at the club. I asked for the footage, and it does exist, but is in court records now.” The 1270, for some, was literally a life saver, providing refuge for gays and lesbians from the occasional gay-bashing baseball fans leaving Fenway. Today, it’s the gentrified Baseball Tavern, catering to Red Sox fans and tourists.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gays Cured Worldwide: 1990. It’s amazing that it took so long, but the World Health Organization finally removed homosexuality from the tenth edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (also known as ICD-10). It took the WHO nearly seventeen years to catch up with the American Psychiatric Association, and when they did they followed the APA’s same cautious approach by including the diagnosis of “Ego-Dystonic Sexual Orientation,” for those who were troubled by their homosexuality. That diagnosis served as a loophole allowing therapists to continue to try to “cure” gay people of a mental disorder that no longer existed. The APA removed that diagnosis from its list of mental disorders in 1987. It is still in the WHO’s list of disorders.

10 YEARS AGO: Massachusetts Becomes First State With Marriage Equality: 2004. Six months earlier, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a 4-3 ruling, found that the state could not bar same-sex couples from marrying and gave the legislature 180 days to “take such action as it may deem appropriate” before issuing licenses to gay couples (See Nov 18). The state Senate responded by asking whether civil unions would suffice, but the four justice who made up the majority of the original decision wrote, “”The dissimilitude between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’ is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status.”

Republican Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement supporting an amendment to the state constitution which would have banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions (reversing a 2002 campaign promise that he had made to gain the endorsement of the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts) but the legislature narrowly defeated it. The second proposal, a compromise amendment which would have banned marriage equality only,” mustered enough support, with Romney’s reluctant support (he still preferred the first proposal) to be held for a second vote a year later (proposed constitutional amendments require 25% support in two consecutive years before being passed on to voters). Meanwhile, the legislature took no action to implement the court’s decision.

On May 17, the day the court’s decision was due to go into effect, Gov. Romney cited a 1913 law prohibiting non-residents from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage would not be valid in their home state, and instructed town clerks to deny marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples. The 1913 law, which had been enacted to block interracial marriages for out-of-state couples subject to Jim Crow laws in their home states, hadn’t been enforced in decades.

When the compromise proposed constitutional amendment came up for a second vote in 2005, Gov. Romney withdrew his support, saying that it confused voters who wanted to ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions. The measure lost the necessary support in the legislature. Romney then backed a revival of the first proposed amendment which would have banned marriage and civil unions both, but that proposal failed to gain the necessary 25% support in the state legislature in 2006. Romney left office in 2007, and the  so-called “1913 law” was repealed in 2008. In the past ten years, the sky has not fallen, civilization did not collapse, and Massachusetts continues to enjoy the lowest divorce rate in nation.

 

10 YEARS AGO: IOC Allows Trans People To Compete In Assigned Gender: 2004. The International Olympic Committee ruled that post-operative transgender people will be able to compete in events in Athens according to their self-identified gender, provided the new gender is legally recognized and the athlete is two years into post-operative hormonal therapy. IOC Medical Commission Chairman Arne Ljungqvist announced the rule change in response to the increasing numbers of transgender athletes attempting to qualify for Olympic competition. “Although individuals who undergo sex reassignment usually have personal problems that make sports competition an unlikely activity for them, there are some for whom participation in sport is important,” he said. The IOC’s rule change came about after it become apparent that case-by-case evaluations were insufficient. Transgender advocates criticized the post-operative requirements, noting that many athletes cannot afford the surgeries where national or private health insurance doesn’t cover it.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Howard Ashman: 1950-1991. Playwright and lyricists, Ashman first achieved acclaim for his collaboration with Alan Menken on Little Shop of Horrors. That collaboration put the songwriting duo on a course for greater hits to come. In 1986, Ashman wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation and wrote the lyrics for two new songs, “Some Fun Now” and “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space.” The latter of two received an Academy Award nomination. In 1989, he was co-producer, lyricist and occasional writer for Disney’s The Little Mermaid. It was his idea to give Sebastian the Crab a Jamaican accent, and the calypso song, “Under the Sea,” earned Ashman and Menkin the 1989 Oscar for Best Original Song. Asman died in 1991 of complications from AIDS shortly after completing work on the Disney films Beauty and the Beast and before he could complete Aladdin. Ashman was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 2001, and Beauty and the Beast is dedicated to him. Ashman was survived by his partner, architect William Lauch.

Annise Parker: 1956. The Houston native had worked for over 20 years in the oil and gas industry as a software analyst, but she was never far from public service. In 1986, she was president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, which is the South’s oldest LGBT organization. Taking the position at the height of the AIDS scare was daunting “It was a scary, very different time,” she said. “The two most visible lesbian activists in Houston were myself and Sue Lovell (who later became a City Council member). We had regular death threats, our tires slashed, vandalism.”

But the narrow focus of LGBT politics wasn’t a good fit for her. “I was bored with gay stuff,” she said. “I threw myself just as hard into 10 years of neighborhood activism.” That neighborhood activism led to her becoming president of the Neartown Association in 1995, and in 1997 she won an at-large seat on Houston’s City council, making her the first openly gay individual elected to citywide office in Houston. In 2003, she won her bid to become city controller, the second highest office in city government. But her greatest triumph came in 2009, when she overcame blistering attacks from anti-gay groups to win the race to become Houston’s mayor on December 12, 2009. When she assumed office on January 2, 2010, Houston became the largest U.S. city to have an openly gay mayor.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, May 16

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brussels, Belgium; Chisinau, Moldova; Eilat, Israel; Kraków, Poland; Long Beach, CA; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil; Springfield, IL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various cities and dates; Bearcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Brighton Heroes Run, Brighton, UK; Bear Watch, Galveston, TX; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, May 5, 1977, page 3. Available online here (PDF: 449KB/12 pages).

 
Tucson’s Front Runner opened in 1977 in the space that had previously been another gay bar, Lucky Pierre’s. The new owners bought the old business, closed it down, and renovated the building into a discotheque featuring a sound system that “has just arrived in time from New York with two direct drive turntables, mixer, tape deck and the best in sound Cerwin Vega speakers.” Early plans included a special promotion called the “weekend workout” from noon to 5 p.m.: anyone wearing cutoffs, shorts or body shirt could get draft beer for 35¢ and bottle beer for 60¢. Today it’s just a generic, nondescript commercial building that’s just sitting there wondering where the party went.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Homosexual Coed Tries to End Life”: 1950. That was the headline of a brief United Press article, datelined May 16 in Seattle:

A 25-year-old University of Washington co-ed, who police said admitted being a homosexual for the last eight years, was in jail today after threatening to kill herself.

The pretty coed, whose name police refused to divulge, telephoned the police department late yesterday and told officer Kenneth Dahl she had a high-powered 30.06 rifle “and I’m going to use it.”

“I haven’t anything else to live for,” she sobbed hysterically.

Dahl persuaded her to give him her address and he would try to help her out of her trouble. Meanwhile, four prowl cars were sent speeding to the rooming house district adjacent to the university campus. In the basement of one of the houses officers found the woman with the rifle she had taken from a locker.

Detective L.W. Webb said she begged to be locked up. She said she just “gave up” and after quitting school last week decided she might as well kill herself. The woman told officers she had wanted to become a social worker but every time she applied she was turned down because of her affliction. She said she was from Los Angeles and that she had been studying zoology at the university before she quit.

Webb said the girl would be examined by a psychiatrist today and “probably be committed to a mental institution.”

Tamara de Lempicka (top) and “Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti),” 1925 (bottom)

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Tamara de Lempicka: 1898-1980. The Polish Art Deco painter known as “la belle Polonaise,” she personified the glamor of the Great Gatsby society of the interwar years. In 1978, The New York Times called her the “Steel-eyed goddess of the automobile age.” Her famous self-portrait, Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti) portrayed a woman who was utterly free, independent, and self-assured. Automobiles provided women with a freedom and mobility that they had never known before, and the portrait’s depiction of a 400 horsepower Bugatti added raw speed and power to the mix.

During the roaring twenties, Tamara lived the bohemian life in Paris, hanging out with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and André Gide. She was famously, infamously bisexual, and she scandalized society with her very public affairs. She reveled in her notoriety. “I live on the fringe of society,” she announced, “and the rules of normal society have no currency for those on the fringe.”

In 1928, she was commissioned to paint a portrait of the mistress of Baron Raoul Kuffner. By the time she was finished, she replaced the mistress’s position, and eventually became Kuffner’s wife in 1933. In 1939, the couple took an “extended vacation” to America, and ended up staying through the Second World War, where she became a favorite in Hollywood. But by the time the War ended, her style was no longer popular. She switched from using a brush to a pallet knife, but critics savaged her work. She retired from active painting in 1962, determined never to show her work again.

In subsequent years, she not only complained that the paints and materials were now inferior to the “old days,” but that people in the 1970s lacked the qualities and “breeding” that inspired her art. After her husband died, she moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1978 to rejoin the society of aging artists and aristocrats. By then, the art world was rediscovering the Art Deco era and her paintings were rediscovered and became highly sought after. She died in 1980, and her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatepetl.

Top: Liberace’s signed photo to his mother. He was always Walter to her. Bottom: Liberace’s transparent closet.

95YEARS AGO: Liberace: 1919-1987. Born Wladziu Valentino Liberace, he was known as Lee to his friends, Walter to his family, and Liberace to everyone else. His father, a french horn player, loved music but his mother saw it as an unfordable luxury. His father prevailed, taking his children to concerts and insisting on excellence in their music lessons. Liberace later recalled, “My dad’s love and respect for music created in him a deep determination to give as his legacy to the world, a family of musicians dedicated to the advancement of the art.”

On “Mr. Showmanship’s” terms, the advancement of the art took on an entirely new meaning. The word “synonymous” doesn’t do justice to the connection between Liberace’s name and flamboyance. He raised eyebrows by wearing a relatively simple white tuxedo at the Hollywood Bowl in 1952, and he continued to wear it so he could be easily seen in darkened concert halls. But it didn’t take long before that gave way to sequined jackets, then entire rhinestone-encrusted, fur-trimmed monstrosities that were “just one tuck short of drag,” as he put it. In the 1950′s he installed a Plexiglas lid on his piano so as to not obstruct the view; by the 1960s his pianos were often encrusted with jewels and mirrors. And then there was the candelabrum. Always the rococo candelabrum. His entrances at the start of his Las Vegas shows were legendary. Sometimes he’d step out of a sequined limousine that rolled onto stage (driven by his very young and handsome lover, Scott Thorson), sometimes he flew in by invisible wires. After making a grand runway walk, he’d hold out his arms to show off his outfit and yet, “I hope you like it! You paid for it!” The audience roared back their approval.

He was as out as any closeted gay man could possible be, and as closeted as every fearful performer was determined to be. But the difference between Liberace and everyone else is that, his verbal denials aside — he even sued London’s Daily Mirror in 1956 when they questioned his sexuality in print and, incredibly, won! — he didn’t otherwise put a lot of effort into trying to fool his audience while on stage. Art critic Dave Hickey, in his essay “A Rhinestone as Big As The Ritz,” I think, put it best:

He never came out of the closet; he lived in it like the grand hypocrite that he was, and died in it, of a disease he refused to acknowledge. But neither, in fact, did Wilde come out of it, and he, along with Swineburn and their Belle Époque cronies, probably invented the closet as a mode of subversive public/private existence. Nor did Noel Coward come out of it. He tricked it up with the smoke and mirrors of leisure-class ennui and cloaked it in public-school double entendre. What Liberace did do, however, was Americanize the closet, democratize it, fit it out with transparent walls, and take it up on stage and demand our complicity in his “open secret.” …”A bit like cousin Ed, ain’t he,” my grandfather said. Getting it but not saying it.

Scott Thorson and Liberace

In 1982, Thorson, by then Liberace’s 24-year-old lover of five years, sued Liberace for $113 million in palimony after they broke up. The lawsuit made for sensation headlines, but Thorson wound up settling for a pittance. Liberace’s closet remained sealed right up until he died in 1987. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest due to congestive heart failure brought on by sub-acute encephalopathy. Before he died, Hank Greenspun, publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, wrote in a front-page story that he had known Liberace for 40 years and that he, Greenspun, had the medical records, laboratory reports and other documentation to prove that Liberace had AIDS. Liberace and his handlers continued to deny the reports. After Liberace’s death, Thorson published a tell-all book, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace, in which Thorson described the “tender love” he shared with Liberace and their reconciliation at Liberace’s death bed. But despite that, and even despite Betty White’s 2011 revelation that she was a beard for some of Liberace’s dates for publicity’s sake, Wikipedia had an entire section devoted to “allegations of homosexuality” until 2013. That question was apparently settled in the public’s mind, once and for all, when HBO’s biopic, Behind the Candelabra, based on Thorson’s book and starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as Thorson, premiered in May.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 15

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brussels, Belgium; Chisinau, Moldova; Eilat, Israel; Kraków, Poland; Long Beach, CA; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil; Springfield, IL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various cities and dates; Bearcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Brighton Heroes Run, Brighton, UK; Bear Watch, Galveston, TX; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 24, 1972, page 11.

 
San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) has been the center of the city’s leather scene since the 1960s, when the famous Tool Box opened in 1961. The Barracks opened in 1972 as a combination hotel/bar/bathhouse, with emphasis on the latter and each room set up to cater to a different fetish fantasy. By the late 1970s Folsom’s Miracle Mile, as that stretch of Folsom Street came to be known, featured nearly thirty bars, clubs, and retail shops within walking distance of each other. One magazine described the Barracks this way: “The Folsom Barracks created a world standard as to what baths could be in terms of hotness, honesty, outstanding music and general outrageousness.” The Barracks closed in 1981 for renovation, but was destroyed in a fire that was described as the worst since the 1906 earthquake.

Jefferson Withers

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Writhing Bedfellows”: 1826. Few intimate letters between men survive from the early nineteenth century, which makes this one so remarkable. Back when the nation was young, Jefferson Withers, 22, wrote to his dear friend, James Hammond, 18, a letter which is both frank and playful — even “campy”:

Dear Jim:

I got your Letter this morning about 8 o’clock, from the hands of the Bearer . . . I was sick as the Devil, when the Gentleman entered the Room, and have been so during most of the day. About 1 o’clock I swallowed a huge mass of Epsom Salts — and it will not be hard to imagine that I have been at dirty work since. I feel partially relieved — enough to write a hasty dull letter.

I feel some inclination to learn whether you yet sleep in your Shirt-tail, and whether you yet have the extravagant delight of poking and punching a writhing Bedfellow with your long fleshen pole — the exquisite touches of which I have often had the honor of feeling? Let me say unto thee that unless thou changest former habits in this particular, thou wilt be represented by every future Chum as a nuisance. And, I pronounce it, with good reason too. Sir, you roughen the downy Slumbers of your Bedfellow — by such hostile — furious lunges as you are in the habit of making at him — when he is least prepared for defence against the crushing force of a Battering Ram. Without reformation my imagination depicts some awful results for which you will be held accountable — and therefore it is, that I earnestly recommend it. Indeed it is encouraging an assault and battery propensity, which needs correction — & uncorrected threatens devastation, horror & bloodshed, etc. …

[The letter goes on for two more pages on unrelated matters, then signs off--]

With great respect I am the old
Stud,
Jeff.

James Henry Hammond

Withers would later become a judge in South Carolina and delegate to the conferences that established a provisional government for the Confederacy. He also served as a Congressman for the Confederacy from South Carolina. Hammond became a Congressman, Senator and Governor of South Carolina, and one of the South’s more important advocate for slavery as a Christian institution, as a blessing and a moral good. the greatest of all the great blessings which a kind Providence has bestowed upon our glorious region.” Slavery was also, according to Hammond, “is not only not a sin but especially commanded by God through Moses and approved by Christ through His Apostles.” Hammond’s personal diaries revealed he made sexual advances on his three teenage nieces, and he detailed his sexual relationship with a slave who bore him several children, and his sexual exploitation of her twelve year old daughter who bore several more children. Neither Withers nor Hammond, from the standpoint of American history, come across as admirable people, yet Hammond has become a modern-day hero for David Barton and others who promote the “Christian Nation” view of American history.

But all of that came later. Meanwhile back in 1826, Hammond replied to Wither’s letter  on June 3, although that letter is now lost. But Withers followed with another  letter the following September (see Sep 24.)

[Source: Martin Duberman. "'Writhing Bedfellows': 1826." Journal of Homosexuality 6, no. 1 (1981): 85-101. Available online here.]

Homosexual Drives As Menstrual Cycles: 1950. This was a time when Congress was preoccupied with two color-coded scares: The Red Menace of imaginary communists hiding in every cupboard and The Pink Menace of homosexuals working in federal offices. Congressman Arthur L. Miller (R-Nebr) was particularly incensed over the latter. He was also a doctor and a surgeon, which made this speech during a committee hearing particularly strange:

Some of these people are dangerous. They will go to any limit. These homosexuals have strong emotions. They are not to be trusted and when blackmail threatens they are a dangerous group. … It is found that the cycle of these individuals’ homosexual desires follow the cycle closely patterned to the menstrual period of women. There may be three or four days in each month that this homosexual’s instincts break down and drive the individual into abnormal fields of sexual practice.

Episcopal Church Allows Ordination of Gay Deacons: 1996. An Episcopal Church court threw out a heresy charge and ruled that an Bishop Walter C. Righter, did not violate the church’s core doctrine when he ordained openly gay Barry Stopfel as a deacon, the rank below that of a priest, in the Dioceses of Newark in 1990.

Phyllis Lyon and and Del Marton

California State Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriages: 2008. In a 4-3 decision, the California State Supreme Court ruled:

“[T]he language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In addition, because the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples imposed by section 308.5 can have no constitutionally permissible effect in light of the constitutional conclusions set forth in this opinion, that provision cannot stand.”

The decision took effect on June 16, 2008, when gay rights pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s 55-year relationship was solemnized by the first official same-sex wedding in San Francisco. But two weeks earlier, California’s Secretary of State reported that marriage equality opponents had turned in enough signatures to place a proposed amendment banning same-sex marriages on the November ballot. Prop 8 passed, but was later declared unconstitutional in Federal Court. That decision is now working its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel has upheld the lower court’s ruling but narrowed its reasoning. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to rule on the merits because the appellants lacked standing. That sent the case all the way back to the Federal District Court which declared Prop 8 unconstitutional in the first place, making that original decision the one that stuck.

Jasper Johns’s “Map,” 1961 (Click to enlarge.)

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jasper Johns: 1930. He probably best known for his 1955 painting Flag, which is, just as its name implies, simply a painting of an American Flag. His focus on the mundane as subjects have led some to consider him a pop artist with an abstract impressionist streak, but it’s probably more accurate to see him as a ne0-Dadaist. Flag exemplifies that movement by taking an object or a popular image imbued with intense meaning and removing it from its context and thereby reducing it to a simple abstract design. Map (1961) does the same thing. It’s an ordinary map of the United States portrayed in an abstract impressionist style which reduces the iconic image to a series of color splotches and shapes. Flags, maps, stenciled words and numbers — all of these mundane yet symbolic images were subjects for Johns’s paintings.

Jasper Johns receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johns was born in South Carolina and studied for three semesters at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York to study briefly at the Parson’s School of Design in 1949. After a stint in the military during the Korean War, Johns returned to New York where he met Robert Rauschenberg and they became lovers for eight years. It was through his connection with Rauschenberg that Johns was discovered by the art world.  When prominent gallery owner visited Rauschenberg’s studio in 1958 and saw Johns’s work, he offered Johns a show on the spot. At that debut show, the Museum of Modern Art anointed Johns as a major figure in the art world by purchasing three of his paintings. By the 1980s, John’s paintings fetched higher prices than any other living artist in history. In 2011, Johns was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, making him the first painter to receive the award since 1977.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 14

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brussels, Belgium; Chisinau, Moldova; Eilat, Israel; Kraków, Poland; Long Beach, CA; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil; Springfield, IL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various cities and dates; Bearcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Brighton Heroes Run, Brighton, UK; Bear Watch, Galveston, TX; Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

 
I don’t have any information about the Ruins of Indianapolis, except that it was, for a while, a popular Indianapolis dance bar. Later, the address was home to a lesbian dive bar called Ten, which apparently closed sometime in the past year or so. The entire building is now vacant and boarded up.

P.M. Pierre Trudeau: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: Canada’s Parliament Votes to Decriminalize Homosexuality: 1969. In 1967, Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced a large omnibus bill, The Criminal Amendment Act of 1968, in the 27th Canadian Parliament, which, if passed, would have had far-ranging effects on Canadian Law. The bill proposed, among other things,to allow provinces and the federal government to set up lotteries, expand laws on gun possession, impose penalties on drinking and driving, regulate misleading advertising, allow abortions and contraception, and decriminalize homosexuality. In 1968 when Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced he was stepping down as Prime Minister and head of the Liberal party, Trudeau sought the party’s leadership and won. After elections that summer, Trudeau became Prime Minister and John Turner became Trudeau’s Justice Minister. Turner re-introduced the massive omnibus bill into the 28th Parliament and described it as “the most important and all-embracing reform of the criminal and penal law ever attempted at one time in this country.”

The most controversial elements of the bill, the provisions legalizing abortion and same-sex relationships, drew the sharpest criticism from the opposition. The government fought back amendments from Conservative and Creditiste party members to leave the homosexuality sanctions intact. MP Marcel Lambert (PC-Edmonton West) asked, “If it is right to remove the legal sanction from acts of homosexuality between consenting adults … and from certain acts between husband and wife, why do we not remove a whole gamut of offenses, including attempted suicide and other acts involving an individual only and not other human?” MP Andrew Fortin (Creditiste-Lotbiniere) claimed that homosexuality “like tuberculosis,” could be brought under control with proper treatment. MP Rene Matte (Criditiste-Champlain) found the whole debate an abomination, saying it was “almost scandalous to see representatives of the people being obliged to discuss these questions.” England had decriminalized homosexuality two years earlier, but Matte declared, “we’re not obliged to follow the decadence of England.”

Justice Minister Turner countered that the removal of homosexuality from the criminal code would merely lift “the taint or stigma of the law,” and repeated the government’s position that “areas of private conscience, private behavior had better be left to private judgment,” and added that a law that was not enforceable was not a good law. Trudeau also rose to defend the provisions, telling reporters that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” After the acrimonious debate finally came to a close, the criminal code amendments dealing with abortions and homosexuality cleared the House of Commons late on Wednesday night, May 13, 1969, in a 149-55 vote.

You can see the CBC’s archival newsclips of Trudeau speaking to reporters about decriminalizing homosexuality and other provisions of the omnibus bill here.

A diagram from 1971 of a system to deliver electric shock aversion therapy to gay men. (Click to enlarge.)

“Shock Doc” Protested at APA: 1970. Gay advocates had long observed that the APA’s labeling of homosexuality a mental disorder served as a handy excuse to enforce widespread discrimination and legal sanctions against LGBT people in all areas of life. What’s more, psychiatry’s attempts to cure homosexuality were often physically torturous, with electric shock aversion therapy a not uncommon method. One of the stars of aversion therapy, an Australian psychiatrist by the name of Nathaniel McConaghy, was in San Francisco Francisco to read a paper American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, and gay advocates saw it as a perfect opportunity to confront the organization. As McConaghy coolly described the methods he used — his patients’ penises were wired to measurement devices and they were shown porn; once twinge of arousal and they were delivered powerful electric shocks — gay advocates in the crowd began shouting “vicious!” and “torture!” and “where did you take your residency, Auschwitz?”

When the moderator announced the next session, the gay advocates exploded and demanded to be heard. The moderator refused, and the meeting broke down into shouts and recriminations. Conference chairman Dr. John Brady told the protesters to restrain themselves, whereupon one demonstrator shouted back, “We’ve restrained ourselves for 5,000 years!” Another psychiatrist shouted back, “It won’t hurt to restrain yourselves for another half-hour. Another physician reportedly called for the police to shoot the protesters. Most psychiatrists left the room, but some stayed and the conversations that ensued over the next three years finally led to the APA’s delisting of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

In 1981, McConaghy was still unapologetic about his treatment of gay people. In an article he published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, he was still presenting the results of his electric shock experiments on gay men. He defended his work as ethical and continued to voice resentment over the interruption of his presentation eleven years earlier. By the mid 1980′s he abandoned aversion therapy, but he kept trying to cure an illness that no longer existed.

Somehow, his colleagues’ esteem for him remained intact. After he died in 2005, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published a memorial lauding him as a pioneer in behavioral therapy who “inspired many to pursue truth and beauty through his example.” The memorial was notable for three things: 1) it briefly mentioned his attempts to cure gay men and painted his response to the “near riot” of 1970 as heroic (“He remained a fearless champion of the application of scientific methods to the study of human sexuality.”), 2) the memorial neglected to mention his use of electric shock therapy, and 3) the memorial was unsigned.

40 YEARS AGO: First LGBT Civil Rights Bill Introduced in Congress: 1974. Rep. Bella Abzug, the Democratic Congresswoman for Manhattan and part of the Bronx, was a civil rights attorney before she entered Congress, where she became an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and opponent of the war in  Vietnam. Her stands earned her the nickname “Battling Bella,” along with a position on President Richard Nixon’s famed “Enemies List.” On this date in 1974, Rep. Abzug introduced the first federal gay rights bill, the Equality Act of 1974. The bill, which would have banned discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, went nowhere then, and similar efforts to ban discrimination have come to naught in the 39 years since then.

The proposed Equality Act of 1974 can be viewed here.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Magnus Hirschfeld: 1868-1935. Sometimes known as “The Einstein of Sex,” German-born Magnus Hirschfeld was the most prominent advocate of gay emancipation in his day. In 1897, Hirschfeld co-founded the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee), whose first project was to repeal Germanys infamous Paragraph 175, which criminalized homosexuality between men (women were unmentioned in the anti-gay code). While the committee managed to gather signatures of some 6,000 Germans calling for repeal, the committee failed in its goal. In 1919, Hirschfeld founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Science), and he became widely recognized as a prolific writer and speaker on sexual minority issues. He also figured in film history, when he made a cameo appearance in the 1919 film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others, see May 28), the first film to portray a homosexual love story in a sympathetic light.

While Germany’s Wiemar Republic saw homosexuality becoming somewhat accepted in Berlin, extreme right-wing forces reacted with violence. In 1920, Hirschfeld was attacked and severely wounded in Munich after a conference, and in 1921 his skull was fractured in another attack. From 1929, Nazis repeatedly disrupted his lectures. In 1930, Hirschfeld began a lecture tour of the United States, which was expanded to a world-wide tour. By the time he returned to Europe in 1932, conditions in Germany had become so dangerous that he decided not to return to Berlin. On May 6, 1933, the Nazis attacked and destroyed the Institute for Sexual Science, and on May 10, they burned its library and files, the largest of its kind in the world. Hirschfeld wandered Europe before settling in Nice, France in 1934. He died there in 1935, with his death coming also on this very same date in history.

Julian Eltinge: 1881-1941. He was, perhaps, America’s first famous drag queen. One story has it that he first donned women’s clothing at the age of ten for an appearance in Boston. Another one suggests that his mother helped him to dress in drag at a very young age to perform in the saloons in Butte, Montana, and that his father nearly beat him to death when he found out. Eltinge himself claimed that he learned to perform drag as a member of Harvard’s Hasting Pudding Club, but in fact he never attended school there.

At any rate, we do know that he was performing drag onstage and touring Vaudeville after the turn of the century, and unlike most female impersonators at the time, he didn’t place farcical caricatures of women for laughs. He sought to create the full illusion of actually being a woman. He toured Vaudeville under the his last name “”Eltinge,” which gave no hint of his gender. He sang, he danced, he recited soliloquies, and at the end of his act, he stepped forward on stage, and in a dramatic gesture emulated later in the 1982 film Victor/Victoria, he reached up and removed his wig to the surprise of his often unsuspecting audience. He arrived on Broadway in 1907 at the Alhambra Theater, and through the next decade he was reputed to be the highest paid stage actor. He started appearing in films in 1914, and by 1920, had one of the most lavish mansions in Southern California, where he lived with his mother.

Eltinge countered rumors of his homosexuality offstage by presenting a unrelentingly masculine presence in public. He smoked cigars, was an amateur boxer, got into bar fights, and had long engagements with women. Funny though, he never married. “I am not gay,” he protested, “I just like pearls.” But by the 1930;s, his heyday was over. He gained weight and started drinking as his career took a nose-dive. He was reduced to performing in a Hollywood nightclub catering to a gay clientele, but local laws intended to contain the “homosexual menace” banned dressing in drag. Eltinge had to perform in a tuxedo alongside mannequins dressed in his outfits. He’d point to them while enacting his characters. He died in 1941, reportedly of a brain hemorrhage, although some suspect suicide. His will, dated October 13, 1938, stated “I declare that I am a bachelor” and left everything to his mother.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, May 13

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Virginia Marriage Challenge Goes to the Fourth Circuit: Richmond, VA. In February, a federal judge ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in one of two lawsuits filed in Virginia seeking marriage equality for sam-sex couples. The couples in that first case, Bostic v. Schaefer (previously Bostic v. Rainey), were represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, of Prop 8 fame. A second case brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, Harris v. Rainey, has been put on hold while the first case goes before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear oral arguments today. While the court will hear the  Bostic v. Schaefer case, it has granted the ACLU’s and Lambda Legal’s request to join in oral arguments with Olson and Boies, over the California pair’s objections.  Oral arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 E.D.T.

Arkansas Supreme Court.

Arkansas Supremes To Consider Marriage Stay Request: Little Rock, AK. Nearly three hundred same-sex couples have managed to get marriage licenses in five Arkansas counties by the close of business yesterday, with more expected to line up today. Those marriages have been taking place in Carroll County (Eureka Springs), Marion County (Yellville), Pulaski County (Little Rock), Saline County (Benton), and Washington County (Fayetteville). Later yesterday, Carroll County stopped issuing licenses after the local prosecutor issued a statement saying, “there was a law left on the books prohibiting a county clerk from issuing a marriage license to persons of the same gender. This  law was not addressed by Judge Piazza, and because of this, we advised the county clerk to stop  selling marriage licenses to persons of the same gender.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for the state Attorney General’s office requested yesterday that the state Supreme Court issue a stay against Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Piazza’s late Friday ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court set a deadline of noon today C.D.T. for the plaintiffs to respond. The Arkansas Times says, “It is unclear how quickly the Supreme Court will rule. It normally issues opinions on Thursdays, but in extraordinary cases sometimes issues them immediately.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 21.

 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Cambio de Sexo” Premieres: 1977. Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death in 1975 brought a new permissiveness in Spanish film-making, and Catalonia-born director Vicente Aranda probed the limits in what was acceptable in a still-conservative society. Cambio de Sexo (“Change of Sex”), which debuted on May 13, 1977 to critical acclaim, starred Victoria Abril as José Maria, a shy, introverted teenager living in the outskirts of Barcelona. Bullied and harassed by his schoolmates, José is expelled from his school. His father tries everything to “cure” him of his effeminate mannerisms, including, in a pivotal scene, taking him to a strip club in Barcelona. But unbeknownst to his father, one of the acts in the strip club is a pre-operative transgender. The father, clueless to the situation and determined to see his son lose his virginity, insists that José goes home with the stripper. Let’s just say the entire experience is revelatory as José understands that he was actually meant to be a girl. But the movie is more than just a story of the teen’s metamorphosis into a young woman. The transgender theme served as a reflection of the larger social changes which were just beginning to overtake Spain.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Bea Arthur:
1922-2009. After serving thirty months in the Marine Corps as one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve. Her enlistment officer wrote that she was “officious — but probably a good worker — if she had her own way!” That would have described just about every one of the characters she would portray on television. After working on and off Broadway, she landed the breakout part as Maude Findlay on Norman Lear’s groundbreaking sit-com All in the Family. The Maude character was Edith Bunker’s cousin who was the polar opposite of bigoted Archie Bunker. That 1971 episode led to her own spin-off in 1972, Maude. As the theme-song said, she was “uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing.” The series tackled women’s liberation, menopause, drug and alcohol addiction, and spousal abuse. In one memorable two-part episode which aired two months before Roe v Wade, Maude decided to terminate a late-life pregnancy with an abortion. Maude ended in 1978.

After a few other roles in television and the movies, she landed the role of Dorothy Zbornak in the hit series Golden Girls. Between Maude and Golden Girls, Arthur became an LGBT icon. The Advocate in 1999 asked her why she thought that was. “You play strong, honest people,” she said, “and gays buy it because it’s real and it’s slightly anti-establishment.” She was certainly real. Also she was on Broadway in Mame, so there’s that, too. Arthur died in 2009, after a battle with cancer. Three days later, the lights of Broadway dimmed for one minute in her honor.

Armistead Maupin: 1944. He was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He began working as a newspaper reported in Charleston, S.C. before he moved to San Francisco in 1971 to work for the Associated Press, In 1976, he released the first installment of his Tales of the City serials, first in a now-defunct Marin County newspaper and later in the San Francisco Chronicle. Those columns were re-worked into a series of books in 1978. In 2007, Maupin married his husband Christopher Turner in Vancouver. During a trip to Australia in 2011, Maupin and his husband were denied the use of a restroom at a saloon in Alice Springs where they were having lunch. The bartender told them to go across the street because their rest room was reserved for “real men.” “So we did what real men do and crossed the street to the visitor’s center where we filed a complaint,” Maupin wrote. “Impressively we received an e-mail apology from the bartender that afternoon. Fair dinkum, mate. Next time don’t [expletive] with the poofters.”

Alan Ball: 1957. Screenwriter, director, actor and producer Alan Ball was born in Atlanta George and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in theater arts. He has written two films, American Beauty (for which he won an Oscar for best original screenplay) and Towelhead. He is more familiar to television audiences for his role as creator, writer and producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under (for which he won an Emmy in 2002) and True Blood, a series that has been seen as a paper-thin allegory for the LGBT community. Ball has called the comparison “kind of lazy”, adding “I just hope people can remember that, because it’s a show about vampires, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously. It’s supposed to be fun.”

Ball not only has to contend with critics, but in 2011 he and his partner, actor Peter Macdissi, got tangled in a legal tussle with their neighbor, Quentin Tarantino, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the pair’s collection of exotic birds constantly emit “blood-curdling” and “pterodactyl-like screams” each day which have disrupted Tarantino’s work as a writer. That lawsuit between neighbors was quietly buried six feet under.

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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