Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for June, 2015

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, June 21

Jim Burroway

June 21st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Biarritz, France; Bisbee, AZ; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Las Cruces, NM;New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Olympia, WA; Portland, ME; Regina, SK; Riga, Latvia (EuroPride); Shanghai, China; Springfield, MO; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Folsom East, New York, NY; Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA; Cedar Point Gay Days, Sandusky, OH; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, page 31.

One regular of Seattle’s Silver Slipper remembered that the clientele watched out for each other:

The Slipper was a women’s bar. It was a lesbian bar. Occasionally a man would come in, but he would be a gay man. He was kind of an oddity, you know? He was there because maybe he knew one of the bartenders, or maybe he was a friend or a brother of a customer there that night, or whatever. He had a legitimate tie, and nobody really minded that. But every once in a while mixed couple would come in. And you could pretty well tell, after a while, whether the men had a legitimate reason for being there, or whether he was with a woman friend or wife — and they were there looking for a lesbian to go home with them for perverse three-way kinds of [sex ?].

So when you would see a mixed couple zeroing in on a woman who was by herself and started buying her drinks, you knew what was going on. And other lesbians would move in to protect her, or they would try to intervene and either get her out — if she was too drunk to get out — somebody would take her either to her home or to their home, or to somewhere for the night. Or they would try to get the het couple to leave peaceably.

Or they would distract them, or as a last resort — and I saw this happen more than once. Some lesbian would go to the bar and get a beer, and come back and stumble and go, “Whoops!” and dump a beer on the guy. “Oh, I’m so sorry! Oh — spill over here! Somebody bring a rag!” And they would all pitch in and clean up, and then they would pack up and leave. And I saw that happen two or three times.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Meredith Baxter: 1947. Her first big break on television was in 1972, when she stared as Bridget in the short-lived CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. After the series was cancelled, she married her co-star, David Birney, which made her Meridith Baxter-Birney. A few years later, she landed a part in the painfully earnest drama Family (the show is credited for inventing what has become the bane of too-self-important television, the “very special episodes”) before lightening things up again as Alex P. Keaton’s mom on Family Ties. In between and afterwards, she starred in a number of made-for-TV movies and various television episodes.

Baxter divorced Birney in 1989, and she went back to using Meredith Baxter professionally. She married again in 1995, but divorced five years later. The National Enquirer reported in 2009 that Baxter was spotted on a lesbian cruise with a female friend. The ensuing speculation finally led to her coming out as a lesbian during an interview with Matt Lauer on Today. “I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with, and it was that kind of awakening,” she said. “I never fought it because it was like, oh, I understand why I had the issues I had early in life. I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships.” Her memoir, Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering, came out un 2011. She married her partner, Nancy Locke, in December 2013.

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, June 20

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Biarritz, France; Bisbee, AZ; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Cumbria, UK; Denver, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Grand Rapids, MI; Guadalajara, JAL; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Las Cruces, NM; Louisville, KY; Lyon, France; Nanaimo, BC; New Orleans, LA; Oldenburg, Germany; Oklahoma City, OK; Olympia, WA; Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Regina, SK; Riga, Latvia (EuroPride); Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Schenectady, NY; Shanghai, China; Sioux Falls, SD; Sitges, Spain; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Vienna, Austria; Wilton Manors, FL; York, UK; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Folsom East, New York, NY; Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA; Cedar Point Gay Days, Sandusky, OH; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), June 12, 1987, page 4.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), June 12, 1987, page 4.

I’m having a hard time trying to imagine how one could take “a comic” look at sexual expression in the AIDS era, although I guess gallows humor is not an altogether uncommon way of coping with such a crisis. Buck Harris traveled all the way from Cleveland to give the talk at San Antonio’s famed Bonham Exchange. The Cleveland Historical Society has a good writeup about Harris:

Looking back, it’s not surprising that the nation’s first gay and lesbian talk show was hosted by Cleveland native Buck Harris, a man at ease being the “first” in a number of public roles. In 1984, Governor Richard Celeste appointed Harris as the Ohio Department of Health’s gay health consultant, the first state in the nation to create such a position in response to the growing AIDS crisis. Shortly after his appointment, the Plain Dealer asked Harris for an interview regarding the crisis, insisting on referring to him as a “homosexual” (as opposed to gay) consultant, as was the newspaper’s policy at the time. Harris told the paper if they did not use his proper title, there would be no interview. The paper relented and, in 1985, for the first time used the word “gay” instead of the inflammatory alternative. A few short months later Harris made the P.D.’s 1986 “Happy New Year” list, the first openly gay person to make the cut. Later that year, Cleveland Magazine named Harris one of the 86 most interesting Clevelanders – again, a first for any openly gay Clevelander. And the bomb threat that greeted Harris and his staff that first radio broadcast? Not a first. As an outspoken and unapologetic AIDS activist, Harris was accustomed getting death threats. Escorted by police and armed with his brave “chin up” attitude, Harris and his crew aired the live broadcast as scheduled.

Harris’s appointment as the Ohio Department of Health’s gay health consultant became a campaign issue during the 1986 gubernatorial election. The powerful four-term former Gov. James Rhodes (R, of Kent State fame) was trying to mount a comeback against the Democratic incumbent:

Ad the Ohio Citizens for Decency and Health PAC, from The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 23, 1986, page 4-B. (Click to enlarge.)

Ad the Ohio Citizens for Decency and Health PAC, from The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 23, 1986, page 4-B. (Click to enlarge.)

Rhodes criticized Celeste for hiring gay activist Michael “Buck” Harris of Cleveland in 1984 as a consultant to educate gays about AIDS. Harris, who is not a doctor, crisscrossed the state, visiting gay bars and bathhouses and nightclubs to promote safe sex. He earned a reputation for his blunt messages. His work won national acclaim.

Rhodes saw Harris’ position as an example of Celeste’s gay-friendly agenda that was not good for the state. Rhodes urged the conservative group, Ohio Citizens for Decency and Health, to run newspaper ads exploiting the issue. In October 1986, the group placed in The Plain Dealer one of its ads titled, “Why Homosexuals Support Celeste.”

Rhodes and the group believed such a message would turn voters against Celeste.

“Under Governor Richard F. Celeste the gay and lesbian movement had made great progress,” the ad charged. The ad also misrepresented Harris’ work, and the efforts of the health department to educate Ohio students about AIDS.

“How can they instruct 8th grade students on the dangers of AIDS without revealing what homosexuals do to get AIDS?” the ad asked.

During the final days, Rhodes promised in a press release to make Harris the first person he fires. Rhodes said he would take the state’s AIDS education program “out of the hands of homosexual sympathizers.”

Rhodes was trounced in the election, 61% to 39%, which finally brought his political career to an end. Harris still resides in Cleveland where he operates a “buck naked” yoga studio.

Front and back covers of ONE magazine, June 1963.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
 “Let’s Push Homophile Marriage”: 1963. June is traditionally the month for weddings. This June may be a really auspicious one, especially, if as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the overwhelming majority of lower court decisions finding various state bans on same-sex marriage. More than fifty years ago, ONE magazine dared to imagine the possibility of “homophile marriage” in its June 1963 issue. Randy Lloyd, the article’s author, didn’t really touch on the legal or religious elements of same-sex marriage. Instead, he was writing about just the idea of two people forming a relationship and calling it marriage. That idea, limited as it was, was quite radical in the gay community. In fact, there was a very large contingent of gay men and women who felt that one of the only advantages of being gay was that you weren’t expected to settle down and get married. Lloyd didn’t see it that way:

There are many homophiles who, like me, find the homophile married life so much more preferable, ethically superior, enjoyable, exciting, less responsibility-ridden (contrary to a lot of propaganda from the single set), and just plain more fun — well, there’s no sense beating around the bush — the truth is, many of us married homophiles regard our way of life as much, much superior and as a consequence, mainly stick to ourselves and look down our noses at the trouble-causing, time-wasting, money-scattering, frantically promiscuous, bar-cruising, tearoom-peeping, street crotch-watching, bathhouse towel-witching, and moviehouse-nervous knee single set.

Now, before you scream “Snob!” I want to say that there are plenty of the single set who just as strongly and volubly look down on us. And it seems to me that lately in the pages of ONE their viewpoint has been way out of line in preponderance. And, frankly, I’m sick of it.

As you can see, Lloyd’s problem wasn’t so much in convincing straight people that gays should be allowed to marry. He had to begin first in convincing gay people that other gay people might have legitimate reasons to want to marry. One problem, Lloyd said, was that settled-down gay men and women just weren’t that visible in the gay community. But he also pointed out the larger problem of the heightened visibility from straight people that would befall couples who decided to set up house together:

I realize that much of the lack of publicity on the homophile married set, and the extent of it, is our own fault, or, if you prefer (depending on your point of view), the fault of circumstances. Marriage, it has been said, is a private affair. A homophile marriage is a very private affair.

In the first place. usually we’ve got more to lose — a house, two good jobs (often in the professions), and a happy personal relationship that has been tempered by the years. To find a married couple so endowed that would take their chances on, for instance, appearing as such in a TV show would be tremendously difficult. Not only jobs and material things are at stake but also personal relations with one’s relatives and in-laws. Instead of just one set of heterosexual parents and relatives, in a homophile marriage there are two sets. I have only siblings, all of whom accept my circumstances. But my lover has three aunts, very religious, who raised him through sacrifices, and he would not dream of causing them embarrassment and grief. It would be a very rare homophile marriage that did not have on one side or the other some good reason for shunning publicity.

Lloyd explored the various aspects of gay marriage, including marriage-like relationships in history as well as the practical problems which made those relationships so difficult in 1963. That difficulty included meeting others in an environment that forced everyone underground, finding someone who isn’t more damaged by the social pressures than yourself, and the lack of role models. To address that last concern, Lloyd provided several tips on how to navigate the difficult emotional and practical problems, things that straight people naturally absorb from their parents and peers. Some of the advice is common sense (“Cultivate the homophile married life,” “Expect to adjust,” If you hanker for a house, don’t ‘wait for marriage’ to buy one.”) and other advice that seems, well, dated (“If you don’t cook, look for somebody who can.”). And he closed by calling for the start of a new marriage movement:

There are many homosexuals, who neither desire nor are suited for homophile marriage, that ridicule what they call the “heterosexual” institution of marriage. This is only a clever twisting. Marriage is no more a strictly heterosexual social custom than are the social customs of birthday celebrations, funerals, house-warmings, or, for that matter, sleeping, eating, and the like. I participate in those, not because they are heterosexual or homosexual things, but because I am a human being. Being homosexual does not put one out of the human race. I am a human being, male and married to another male; not because I am aping heterosexuals, but because I have discovered that that is by far the most enjoyable way of life to me. And I think that’s also the reason heterosexual men and woman marry, though some people twist things around to make it appear they are merely following convention.

After all, there must be something to marriage, else what is the reason for its great popularity? Marriage is not anybody’s “convention”. It is a way of living and is equally good for homosexuals and heterosexuals.

I think it is high time the modern homophile movement started paying more attention to homophile marriage. … Homophile marriage is not only a strictly modern idea that proves our movement today is something new in history, it is the most stable, sensible, and ethical way to live for homophiles. Our homophile movement is going to have to face, sooner or later, the problem of adopting a standard of ethics. We have got to start laying the groundwork. I can’t think of a better way to begin than by pushing homophile marriage.

ONE magazine, August 1953.

This wasn’t the first time ONE magazine tackled the issue of same-sex marriage. Ten years earlier in August of 1953, ONE published an article by E.B. Saunders titled, “Reformer’s Choice: Marriage License or Just License,” where Saunders observed that the homophile movement was avoiding the topic of marriage (see Aug 20). “One would think that in demanding acceptance for this group, legalized marriage would be one of the primary issues,” Saunders wrote. “What a logical and convincing means of assuring society that they are sincere in wanting respect and dignity!” Saunders however argued the idea of gay marriage was preposterous because getting married would mean giving up freedoms, not gaining them. “We simply don’t join movements to limits ourselves! Rebels such as we, demand freedom! But actually we have a greater freedom now (sub rosa as it may be) than do heterosexuals, and any change will be to lose some of it in return for respectability.” And since he saw marriage as the primary avenue for “respectability,” he declared all of the efforts of the homophile movement doomed. “All of this energetic work merely produces a hole,” he concluded. “Any bomb can do that.”

But in 1963, Lloyd wasn’t as gloomy about marriage, or about the gay rights movement for that matter. And many others turned to the idea of same-sex marriage, either legally or extra-legally, through the years. In 1970, Jack Baker and James McConnell tried to get married in Minneapolis (see May 18) and sued in state and federal court when their request for a license was denied. That ended with the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Most gay rights groups at that time were caught up in the broader sexual revolution rhetoric, and had little interest in pushing for something as conventional as marriage. That attitude remained through the 1970s and the 1980s. But when AIDS hit the gay community in the 1980s and partners found themselves blocked by law and relatives from caring for and properly burying their partners and remaining in the homes that they shared together, it finally dawned on a lot of people that they really were married, regardless of whether they had thought of themselves and each other that way or not. And so here we are, a little more than half-century later, and marriage is now at the forefront of the gay rights movement. And in just a few short years, we’ve already seen it expand in ways that Randy Lloyd probably never could begin to imagine.

[Sources: Randy Lloyd. “Let’s Push Homophile Marriage.” ONE 9, no. 6 (June 1963): 5-10.

E.B. Saunders “Reformer’s Choice: Marriage License or Just License.” ONE 1, no, 8 (August 1953): 10-12.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 60 YEARS AGO: E. Lynn Harris: 1955-2009. Raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, he attended the University of Arkansas where he became the first African-American editor of the university’s yearbook. After graduation, he worked in sales for IBM and Hewlett-Packard, but quit after thirteen hears to pursue his first love, writing. His first novel, Invisible Life, followed an African-American man’s journey of self-discovery as gay man, and themes of the struggle between acceptance and shame among African-American men on the “down low” would become a recurring theme in Harris’s oeuvre. Invisible Life first failed to find a publisher, so Harris he published it himself in 1991 and sold it out of the trunk of his car before he was finally discovered by Anchor Books in 1994.

After Invisible Life’s publication as a paperback, his career was set. He went on to author ten consecutive books which landed on The New York Times’s Best Seller List, making him simultaneously among the most successful African-American authors and gay authors for the past two decades. LGBT advocate Keith Boykin observed that Harris’s books encouraged the black community to talk openly about homosexuality. “It was hard to go on a subway in places in New York or D.C. and not see some black woman reading an E. Lynn Harris novel,” Boykin said. Harris died in 2009 in Los Angeles of heart disease. In 2010, the Los Angeles Times posthumously named Invisible Life as one of the top 20 classic works of gay literature.

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, June 18

Jim Burroway

June 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Biarritz, France; Bisbee, AZ; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Cumbria, UK; Denver, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Grand Rapids, MI; Guadalajara, JAL; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Las Cruces, NM; Louisville, KY; Lyon, France; Nanaimo, BC; New Orleans, LA; Oldenburg, Germany; Oklahoma City, OK; Olympia, WA; Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Regina, SK; Riga, Latvia (EuroPride); Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Schenectady, NY; Shanghai, China; Sioux Falls, SD; Sitges, Spain; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Vienna, Austria; Wilton Manors, FL; York, UK; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Folsom East, New York, NY; Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA; Cedar Point Gay Days, Sandusky, OH; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, June 1958, page 31.

Wouldn’t you just love to know what brought the manager from Washington, D.C., to North Platte, Nebraska? The location is now the parking lot for an ALCO discount store.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 First Gay Teen Character for Daytime Soap: 1992. The daytime dramas known as soap operas had been a staple of radio, and then television, for some sixty years, but by the 1990s, the genre was looking increasingly tired and outdated thanks to the popularity of daytime talk shows like Jerry Springer, Sally Jesse Rafael and Rikki Lake. With the soaps now competing with real-life drama (or at least a facsimile thereof) from these sensationalistic talk shows, producers understood that they needed to bring their story lines to the 1990s or loose whatever audience they still had.

ABC’s One Life to Live, which had been on the air since 1968 with a story line tackling women’s issues and race, seemed the obvious candidate to run a new story line exploring homophobia and the difficulties of being a gay teen. Billy Douglas (played by Ryan Phillippe), a newcomer to the town of Lianview, was reluctant to tell anyone about his homosexuality, especially his parents. He did, however, confide in the town’s compassionate pastor, Rev. Andrew Carpenter. But a scheming woman who Carpenter scorned (there’s always at least one in a soap opera) began circulating rumors around town that the pastor had been molesting Billy. In a dramatic scene, the entire town, led by Billy’s parents, confronted Carpenter and demanded that he resign, the pastor delivered a riveting sermon against the evils of prejudice and homophobia. This led Billy to take a public stand in support of Carpenter — and to come out to his parents.

In 2010, Phillippe talked about what it was like to play a gay teen in 1992:

Me and the guy who played my boyfriend might’ve held hands once or twice, but that was it. The age of those characters had something to do it, but things also weren’t as liberal in 1992. Still, I felt lucky to play the first gay teenager on television —- not just daytime but television, period. What was so amazing about that for me was the response I got through fan letters that my mother and I would read together. Kids who’d never seen themselves represented on TV or in movies would write to say what a huge support they found it to be. One kid said he’d considered suicide before seeing a character like him being accepted. I also heard from a father, a mechanic, who hadn’t spoken to his son since he came out. When our show came on in his shop, it gave him some insight and understanding as to who his son was, so it opened up communication between them. As much as you can write off how silly the entertainment industry can be, it can affect change and make people see things differently. That’s beautiful.

Phillippe’s character left Lianview to attend Yale later that summer, and Phillippe left One Life to Live for good in 1993. ABC announced One Life to Live’s cancellation in late 2011, with the last episode airing on January 13, 2012.

Agnes Goodsir

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Agnes Goodsir: 1864-1939. An Australia-born painter, Agnes Goodsir joined a mass exodus of artists from Down Under seeking the artistic stimulation and freedom that had blossomed in Paris in the early 20th century. That’s where Goodsir studied at the Académie Delécluse, the Académie Julian and then the Académie Colarossi.

Girl With Cigarette, 1925.

Girl With Cigarette, 1925.

Her constant companion was Rachel Dunn, who was depicted in several of her paintings, including Morning Tea (1925), Girl with Cigarette (1925), The Letter (1926) and The Chinese Skirt (1933). She was best known for her portraits including, reportedly, one of Mussolini. When she died in 1939, she left her remaining paintings to Rachel Dunn, who sent about forty to Agnes’s family in Australia and others to Australian galleries. The Agnes Goodsir memorial scholarship at the Bendigo Art Gallery, where her work first appeared, is named in her memory.

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, June 17

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Biarritz, France; Bisbee, AZ; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Cumbria, UK; Denver, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Grand Rapids, MI; Guadalajara, JAL; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Las Cruces, NM; Louisville, KY; Lyon, France; Nanaimo, BC; New Orleans, LA; Oldenburg, Germany; Oklahoma City, OK; Olympia, WA; Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Regina, SK; Riga, Latvia (EuroPride); Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Schenectady, NY; Shanghai, China; Sioux Falls, SD; Sitges, Spain; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Vienna, Austria; Wilton Manors, FL; York, UK; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Folsom East, New York, NY; Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA; Cedar Point Gay Days, Sandusky, OH; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), June 4, 1982, page 12.

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), June 4, 1982, page 12.

Dena KayeDena Kaye grew up singing gospel with her family around Houston. After high school, she switched to country and western and sang with bands in the Dallas/Fort Worth era. In an odd twist, she quickly found a gay following somehow and became one of the first national touring country and western acts willing to perform in gay bars in the 1980s.  “Gay people have been instrumental in helping me to advance my career,” she told San Antonio’s The Calendar. “Their support has been both inspiration and motivation to me. I’ll never forget the good times I’ve had, or the fine friends I’ve made.”

She also had the ability to bring all kinds of people together. When she made another appearance at Ab’s Westernaire, another San Antonio gay bar, the crowd from a neighboring straight C&W bar heard the music and joined the gay crowd. The straight bar’s owners even locked up their own place and joined the party. But despite opening for such luminaries as Hank Williams Jr., and Bobby Bare, she was never quite able to break into the big time.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Liberace Wins Libel Case: 1959. Liberace — his real name was Wladziu Valentino Liberace, but like Cher and Madonna he was known by a single name on stage — had become a piano-playing sensation in the U.S. in the 1950s. He started as a classical pianist, but he quickly added schmaltz and elements of Las Vegas showmanship (extravagant costumes, massive diamond rings, and his signature candelabra) to his repertoire of classics, show tunes, film scores and popular songs, all of which took his performances in a decidedly unclassical direction. His curly black hair, long eyelashes and bright smile made him a sex symbol for an odd collection of somewhat nerdy teenage girls, their middle-aged mothers and even their grandmothers — and for not a few gay men who understood what they were seeing. His flamboyance attracted questions about his sexuality, but those questions didn’t do much to dent the popularity of his his hit television series and packed concert halls.

But in 1956, a Daily Mirror columnist who went by the pen name Cassandra (real name: William Connor) wrote a scathing article the day after Liberace’s arrival in London for a live BBC broadcast and a European tour. If everyone else was willing to go along with Liberace’s persona of being sweet, sensitive, sensational and straight, Connor had no intention of playing along:

He is the summit of sex – the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. Everything that he, she and it can ever want. I spoke to sad but kindly men on this newspaper who have met every celebrity coming from America for the past 30 years. They say that this deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavored, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love has had the biggest reception and impact on London since Charlie Chaplin arrived at the same station, Waterloo, on September 12, 1921.

Liberace replied with at telegram: “What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank.” But he also decided to sue for libel. The case finally reached a London courtroom in 1959. On June 6, Liberace took the stand and denied that he was gay. He also denied that he was even a sex symbol. “I consider sex appeal as something possessed by Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. I certainly do not put myself in their class,” he said, prompting laughter in the court room. When Connor took the stand, he denied trying to imply that Liberace was gay, although he found it difficult to square that claim with his word choices for his column. The most damning phrase, according to news accounts of the day, was his use of “fruit-flavored.” Apparently that was not the phrase to be tossed around at just anyone.

With no proof of actual homosexual activity on Liberace’s part — there were no former lovers to testify, no police arrests to report — the jury returned a verdict of guilty against Connor and the Daily Mirror, and awarded damages of $22,400. But today of course we know what was true all along: that he was actually gay even though he never came out of the closet during his lifetime. His estate and many of his remaining fans continued to deny for many years the numerous reports that when he died in 1987, it was AIDS that killed him.

 Premiere of Documentary of Drag Queen Competition: 1968. The documentary The Queen makes its premiere in a theater in New York City. The film, shot almost entirely with hand-held cameras, is a primitive pre-Stonewall prequel to Paris is Burning, and follows the behind-the-scenes preparations for the Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant – a national drag queen competition in New York City. The conversations recorded in the dressing rooms about draft boards, sexual and gender identity, sex reassignment surgery, and being a drag queen captures a very specific time in LGBT history. If you are ever lucky enough to see it, keep a very sharp eye out whenever the camera pans to the audience. You might just get a quick glimpse of Andy Warhol in his trademark platinum wig.

 Guin “Richie” Phillips Murdered: 2003. One fine Wednesday in June, two fishermen pulled a suitcase out of Rough River Lake, located about midway between Elizabethtown and Owensboro, Kentucky. When they pulled it up and unzipped it, they found the grizley remains of Guin “Richie” Phillips, a 36-year-old gay man from Rineyville, near Elizabethtown. He was identified by some personal items and a University of Kentucky Wildcat tattoo on his shoulder. Phillips had disappeared on June 17.

When his mother reported her son missing, she told police that she feared that he had been harmed because he was gay. Her fears proved correct. Police arrested Joshua Cottrell, 21, and charged him with Phillip’s murder. Cottrell had been seen having lunch with Phillips in Elizabethtown, and they were seen together in Phillip’s truck that same day. Several days later, the truck was found abandoned in Southern Indiana. Prosecutors announced that they would seek the death penalty.

When the trial finally got under way in 2005, a mutual friend testified that Cottrell had bought a set of luggage at J.C. Penney’s and told the friend that he planned to do some travelling. Cottrell also said that he would “cold-cock” Phillips if he ever made a pass at him. Cottrell’s aunt testified that Cottrell had confessed to the crime but his family didn’t believe him. According to the aunt, Cottrell invited Phillips to his motel room and asked Phillips if he liked him. Phillips said yes, and Cottrell chocked him to death.

But Cottrell testified that Phillips came to his motel room uninvited, tried to kiss him, and tried to force him to into oral sex. Cottrell’s attorney told the jury that the killing was fully justified. “This kid is not a killer,” Scott Drabenstadt said during closing arguments. “This kid is not a robber. Yes, he did some very inappropriate things with the body. … But what set it all in motion, he was privileged to do. What set it in motion were the actions of a 36-year-old man.”

That “gay panic defense,” despite the testimony from Cottrell’s own relatives, was all that was needed to convince the jury to reject the more serious charge of murder in favor of second degree manslaughter. They recommended 30 years, but Kentucky law limited the term to twenty. Phillips’s brother told a reporter, “I think they were looking at my brother being a homosexual when they made their decision to pick the lesser charge.” Cottrell was sentenced to the maximum twenty years. He is now more than half way through his term and has been eligible for parole since 2007.

Carl Van Vechten, self-portrait, 1934.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 135 YEARS AGO: Carl Van Vechten: 1880-1964. A writer and a photographer, Carl Van Vechten was fascinated with African-American culture and became a patron on the Harlem Renaissance. In 1926, he published his controversial 1926 novel Nigger Heaven, which portrayed the intellectuals, political activists, workers, and others who inhabited the “great black walled city” of Harlem. The book by a white author split Harlem down the middle: Langston Hughes was among the book’s fans and defenders (Hughes even wrote new poems to replace the songs used in the book’s first printing), while W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke condemned it as an “affront to the hospitality of black folks.”

The question of whether a white man could truly know the Black experience lies at the very heart of the controversy surrounding Van Vechten’s life. Some of Van Vechten’s affinity for African-Americans can be traced to his wealthy family while growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His father endowed a school for African-Americna children, and he instructed his sons to always address the family’s employees with “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, regardless of their race. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he moved to New York to become the music and dance critic for The New York Times. In 1913, he took a year-long trip to Europe where he met Gertrude Stein and helped to get her work published.

In the 1920s, he began publishing novels himself, many of which containing sly and witty references to homosexuality. His 1923 novel, The Blind Bow-Boy includes a character he called “the Duke of Middlebottom,” whose stationery sported the slogan, “A thing of beauty is a boy forever.” It was about this time that Van Vechten emerged as a notable advocate for Black culture, writing articles in Vanity Fair celebrating the music of the Harleem Renaissance — the blues, jazz and spirituals which he said were the only authentic American musical forms. He also promoted writers of “the New Negro movement”: Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, among others. In the 1930, Van Vechten took up photography and became known for his portraits of some of the leading artists of the day, including Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, Pearl Baily, Josephine Baker, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson — the list is nearly endless.

Although Van Vechten had married the Russian-born actress Fania Marinoff in 1914, Van Vechten was gay. This was evident when his papers were unsealed twenty-five years after his death in 1964:

As the 25-year mark drew near, scholars assumed they were about to unveil Van Vechten’s diaries. “They said, ‘Of course, this is going to be exciting, and let’s open those journals and have a party,’ and the curator said, ‘Well, I don’t think so…’ It was a good instinct.” The few people who did attend the 1989 opening, including Willis, were shocked by what they found: 18 scrapbooks of graphic homoeroticism, full of mischief and devoid of explanation.

…Van Vechten collected newspaper clippings chronicling Harlem drag balls, early sex-change operations (“GI Who Turned Woman is a Happy Beauty”), court cases for “morals charges,” and abuse incidents. He assembled more restrained, if still theatrical, black and white photographs of male nudes, both Caucasian and African American, which most scholars think are mostly or entirely the work of Van Vechten. Nothing escaped him: Photos of ambiguously homoerotic Greek vases, labeled in childishly rounded handwriting, nestled against newspaper cutouts of male wrestlers locked in combat.

Emily Bernard’s 2012 biography, Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White, explores the contentious racial and sexual intersections between the multiple worlds that Van Vechten inhabited and chronicled.

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, June 16

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, March 5, 1981, classifieds section, page 23.

Rawhide opened in 1979 and its name said it all. It was a serious, cruisey, low-frills place that catered to the leather/levi crowd. Its black walls were decorated with Tom of Finland posters and a beat up motorcycle hung from the black-painted ceiling above a red-velvet pool table. The landmark bar closed last year after the landlord nearly doubled the rent from $15,000 to $27,000 per month. The building today houses yet anther one of those West Coast pizza chains that are infecting the gentrifying Chelsea neighborhood. The landlord, without even the slightest hint of irony, hailed the new tenant as “something with a little more local flair where the community would like to patronize.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Philadelphia’s Packer Street-Gloucester City Bridge Named for Walt Whitman: 1954. Walt Whitman spent his last nineteen years in Camden, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. More than sixty years later, the Delaware River Port Authority’s Special Committee on Bridge Names voted unanimously to name a suspension bridge, then under construction connecting nearby Gloucester City, New Jersey to Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue, for Camden’s adopted hometown hero in advance of the centenary of the first publication of Leaves of Grass.

The announcement was made, the Centenary was celebrated in 1956, and the bridge’s construction continued with its opening slated for the spring of 1957. That should have been the end of the matter.

And it would have been, until Father Edward Lucitt, director of the Holy Name Union of the Diocese of Camden, Monsignor Joseph McIntyre, and seven other Holy Name Society leaders in Southern New Jersey wrote to complain that “Whitman himself had neither the noble stature or quality of accomplishment that merits this tremendous honor, and his life and works are personally objectionable to us.”

That letter, from December 16, 1956, was motivated by a series of articles in the Camden diocesan weekly newspapers by Rev. James Ryan, who denounced Whitman as a third-rate poet and a scandal to decency. Other Catholic publications picked up on the controversy and went through Whitman’s published work with a fine tooth comb. They criticized a line in Section 32 of “Song of Myself” where Whitman praises the irreligiosity of animals (“They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God”), and especially, of course, “As I Lay With My Head in Your Lap, Camerado.” In January 1957, the Committee received 467 copies of a mimeographed form letter, signed by clerics, nuns and lay people from across Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, which mixed moralizing with then-common red-baiting rhetoric:

Gentlemen:

We oppose the naming of the new $90,000,000 bridge as a memorial to Walt Whitman for the following reasons:

(1) He is not great enough to deserve this honor. In what way has he inspired or influenced American democracy for good?

(2) He boasted of his immoralities and published immorality as a personal experience.

(3) He held Christianity in contempt, and affirmed himself as the new savior of mankind.

(4) He attempted to teach rebellion against the natural law of God, and the right order established by the tortured experience of the centuries.

(5) His political philosophy, dusted off the scrap heap during the depression, as the Voice of the Common Man, has proved alien to Jeffersonian Democracy, and he is now the Poet Laureate of the World Communist Revolution.

Because the naming of the Bridge in his honor would raise him to the status of a national hero, give aid and comfort to the enemies of our established order of morality and democracy, make the teaching of religious concepts difficult, and bring the common stamp of morality in our heritage into contempt, we ask you to drop Whitman’s name from the Bridge.

Not all Catholics were on board with the anti-Whitman campaign. An editorial in The Ave Maria, published at Notre Dame University, warned against the foolishness of wasting the moral weight of Catholic opinion on “less important matters” when there were other things to worry about (such as the showing of “obscene movies” and “legislation authorizing the distribution of birth control literature.”) The New York Times picked up on the story, which led to a counter-campaign by those who either supported honoring Whitman or resented Catholic interference in public affairs. For at least one letter writer, Whitman’s sexuality was not an issue. “Michael Angelo was a homosexual,” he wrote to the committee. “Why don’t they destroy the Sistine chapel?” Another letter to The New York Post expanded on that theme:

(They) “want to take Whitman’s name off that bridge because he may have been abnormal sexually. If they succeed, their next job is to remove Michelangelo’s statues from the Vatican, tear down St. Peter’s Basilica and throw out all copies of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Da Vinci was actually arrested on a charge of perversion and Michelangelo’s sonnets suggest far more than any of Whitman’s poems.”

In the end, there appears to have been little desire among River Authority officials to consider changing the name. By the time the Walt Whitman Bridge opened to traffic on May on May 16, 1957, the controversy was over and mostly forgotten. Ten years later when the New Jersey Turnpike Authority renamed one of its service areas for Whitman, no one objected. Today, the Walt Whitman Bridge is a part of Interstate 76, which is known locally in the Philadelphia area as the Schuylkill Expressway.

[Source: Joann P. Krieg. “Democracy in Action: Naming the Bridge for Walt Whitman.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 12, no. 2 (Fall 1994), 108-114. Available online here.

“Dal McIntire” (Don Slater) “Tangents.” ONE Magazine 4, no. 3 (March 1956):7.]

Rocky Horror Show Premieres: 1973. The stage musical The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London at the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs, a tiny 63-seat venue set aside as a project space for new works. Starring Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter — a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” — the musical (set in Ohio!) follows the adventures of young lovers Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who came to the doctor’s castle to call a cab because their car has a flat tire. The production featured lots of catchy songs (“Time Warp” and “Science Fiction, Double Feature”), risqué sexuality and of course, lots of makeup. The show was an instant hit, and the cast was signed for a soundtrack album right after the show’s second night. By the time the show closed seven years and four venues later, it has gone through 2,960 performances and picked up several added songs along the way.

The Rocky Horror Show opened on Broadway on March 10, 1975, but critics panned it and the show closed just three weeks later. That same year, the play was adapted for the film and retitled The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It became a must-see cult classic that has kept art houses in business for the next four decades. Because it is still officially in limited release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest-running theatrical release in film history.

Sen. Lott Likens Gay People to Alcoholics, Sex Addicts, Kleptomaniacs: 1998. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) appeared on Armstrong Williams’s program to talk about abortion, disciplining children (he said he used a belt on his occasionally) and his childhood (growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s and early 1960s was a “good time in America.” And he also spoke on the controversial subject of same-sex marriage, two years after the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act. Williams asked Lott what he thought about homosexuality. Lott replied, “You still love that person and you should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts. You should try to show them a way to deal with that.” He said his own father had had a problem with alcoholism, adding, ”Others have a sex addiction or are kleptomaniacs. There are all kinds of problems and addictions and difficulties and experiences of this kind that are wrong. But you should try to work with that person to learn to control that problem.”

President Bill Clinton’s press secretary Michael D. McCurry blasted Lott’s statement, saying it showed how difficult it was getting things done “when you’re dealing with people who are so backward in their thinking. For over 25 years, it’s been quite clear that sexual orientation is not an affliction, it’s not a disease, it is something that is part of defining one’s sexuality.'” Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) seized on Lott’s remarks to demand that Clinton’s nomination of openly gay James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg to be brought to the Senate floor, a move that had been blocked by Lott. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) came to Lott’s defense: “I abide by the Bible… I do not quarrel with the Bible on the subject.” The controversy eventually blew over and Lott kept his job as Senate Republican leader until 2002 when, at a party honoring the 100th birthday of Sen. Strom Thurmond (S-SC) who had run for President as a segregationist Dixiecrat candidate in 1948, Lott said that if Thurmond had won, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years.” Those remarks finally led to his resigning his leadership position.

Del Martin (left, 87) and Phyllis Lyon (right, 83)

Longtime Gay Activists Become First Same-Sex Couple to Marry in California: 2008. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin of San Francisco had been together for fifty-five years when they were finally married at city hall. Their wedding capped a lifetime of advocacy for gay equality. In 1955, they and six other women founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization in the United States. Phyllis edited the DOB’s newsletter The Ladder beginning in 1956, and Del edited The Ladder from 1960 to 1962. They also took turns as head of the Daughters until 1964, when they helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. Phyllis was also the first open lesbian to serve on the board of the National Organization for Women in 1973. Meanwhile, Del was heavily involved in getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008, that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the state constitution, and issued a temporary stay to give the state time to implement the necessary changes in its forms and procedures. That stay expired at 5:00 p.m. on June 16. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom selected Phyllis and Del for the honor of being the first same-sex couple in California to marry in a ceremony began at precisely 5:01 p.m.

Phyllis and Del enjoyed two months of officially wedded bliss before Del passed away in August of that year.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Lou Sullivan: 1951-1991. The pioneering transgender activist had begun identifying as a “female transvestite” in 1973. Two years later, he moved to San Francisco and began identifying as a female-to-male transgender — and as a gay man. This didn’t sit well with the so-called gender specialists of the day, who saw sexual orientation and gender identity as, more or less, the same thing — gay men really “wanted to be women,” just like male-to-female transgender people, with only the degree of that “want” distinguishing the two. The idea that someone born female who identifies as a male but who also is attracted to other men — that just blew their minds, with many saying it just wasn’t possible.

So when Sullivan sought surgery, he was consistently denied it because, as far as the so-called gender experts were concerned, he was a woman who liked men and therefore there was nothing to “fix.” Sullivan was able to obtain hormones from doctors who were not associated with gender clinics, and he began lobbying the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (now known as WPATH, World Professional Association for Transgender Health), to recognize that, despite what the “experts” said, he really did exist. Sullivan wrote the first guidebook for FtM people, and he spent the rest of his life as an advocate and an educator on the clear distinctions between sexual orientation and gender identity. His efforts eventually paid off, and in 1986 he was able to undergo genital reconstructive surgery. Later that year, he was diagnosed with AIDS, which exposed him to yet another kind of stigma. Just before he died in 1991, he wrote, “I took a certain pleasure in informing the gender clinic that even though their program told me that I could not live like a gay man, it looks like I’m going to die like one.” The Lou Sullivan Society continues to serve the FtM community in the San Francisco Bay area.

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, June 15

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), August 2, 1976, page 14.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), August 2, 1976, page 14.

Ordinarily, the ads we feature here are for businesses from times gone by. This time, I’m making an exception for Manhattan’s Candle Bar, which has been in continuous operation as a gay bar since at least 1958. But after some fifty-seven years in business, BTB reader Phillip informs me that the Candle will be extinguished by the end of this month. The only reason the Candle lasted this long is because the business owner also happened to own the building. Otherwise, rising rents might have driven it out a long time ago:

Robert Ader bought the four-story building at 309 Amsterdam Ave. in 1985; when he died, his sister Michelle Ader took over the management.  But Ader has sold the building, which was listed for $6.95 million and the new owner is not interested in keeping Candle Bar open, said Demarko, who regretted that the bar couldn’t be saved.

The Candle will close on June 22. The Bitter Queen has more on the Candle Bar’s history:

The premises has existed as a gay bar since 1958 when it was opened by George Fluss; however, it was a short run for Fluss.  He lost his liquor license in 1959 for permitting “homosexual activities” on the premises according to New York State Liquor Authority records.  Fluss went on to work at other gay bars and restaurants in the early 1960s including at the Pines & Dunes Yacht Club on Fire Island and the Coat of Arms at 140 East 53rd Street.

Ralph Pansini took over the 309 Amsterdam Avenue space in 1960 under the name Candlelight Lounge, and continued to operate it as a gay bar.  Pansini wore a wire for New York District Attorney Frank Hogan’s investigation into corruption at the State Liquor Authority.  The investigation brought down SLA head Martin Epstein and agency fixer Hyman Siegel who specialized in licensing cases.

Sen. Clyde Hoey

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 65 YEARS AGO: Senate Committee Orders “Pervert Inquiry”: 1950. The year 1950 is better known as marking the start of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s infamous Red Scare witch hunt. But, in the spirit of first things first, the national scare over imagined Reds in America was actually preceded by a now often-forgotten Lavender Scare. The Lavender Scare began quietly enough earlier that year when Deputy Undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy revealed in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee that the State Department had gotten rid of 91 employees accused of being homosexual (see Feb 28). His testimony almost didn’t make the papers, but Republican and southern Democrats unhappy with President Truman’s civil rights policies, seized on that admission to stoke fears of, according to one uninformed estimate, as many as 3,750 “sex perverts” in the Federal Government’s employment (see May 19).

That wild guess was given to the Senate Committee on Expendatures in the Executive Department by Police Lieutenant Roy Blick, head of the Washington, D.C. police department’s vice squad. The Senate Committee then ordered an investigative subcommittee to investigate those charges. Sen. Clyde R. Hoey (D-NC) was named to head the investigation. “The paramount objectuive is to protect the Government and the public interest,” he explained, and promised the investigation will make “every effort to obtain all the pertinent facts” but without “subject(ing) any individual to ridicule.

The New York Times reported that Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), who had already made numerous allegations concerning Communists and homosexuals in the federal government, agreed to remove himself from the panel,”to avoid being in a position of judging his own allegations.” Sen. Andrew F. Schoeppel (R-KS) was named to take his place. Other panel members were Sens. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME), John McClellan (D-AR), James Eastland (D-MS), Herbert O’Conor (D-MD) and Karl Mundt (R-SD).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Neil Patrick Harris: 1973. NPH has successfully smashed two important acting barriers. A former child actor, he has successfully navigated the difficulties of becoming an adult actor in Broadway, film, and television. And he has also navigated the difficult transition from assumed-straight actor to a highly visible gay one, with partner David Burtka and twin children who were born in 2010. And as a very visible gay actor, he still manages to play straight roles on film and television. In addition, he has been an acclaimed host for the Tony Awards in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He didn’t host the 2010 Tonys, but that year he did win an Emmy for hosting the 2009 Awards, and he won two more Emmys for hosting the 2011 and 2012 Tonys. His winning ways continued with his performance in the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which he won a Drama Desk Award and a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.

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 14

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:

Individualism in the original thirteen-star flag

It’s Flag Day, a day established in 1916 to commemorate the Second Continental Congress’s adoption of the Stars and Stripes on June 14, 1777. The original 1777 specification for the flag was simple: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” That was it. Consequently, there were as many early American flag designs as there were flag designers.

An eighteen star, eighteen stripe flag, commemorating Louisiana’s entry into the union.

In 1795, the number of stars and stripes rose to fifteen in honor of Vermont and Kentucky’s entry into the union. As more states entered, flag makers added stars and stripes accordingly, although some flag makers decided having too many stripes made their flags look a little too busy. They took the initiative of going back to thirteen stripes for the original thirteen states. In 1818 when there were twenty states in the union, Congress decided to curb the potential stripe explosion and adopted the thirteen stripe flag with twenty stars, while specifying that new stars would be added as needed each July 4. But the stars’ remained unregulated, and flag makers continued to demonstrate a great deal of creativity throughout the nineteenth century. When Arizona and New Mexico became the 47th and 48th states in 1912, Congress finally got around to declaring a uniform design for the stars and stripes.

Fifty star flag measurement specification

Today, the flag’s design is carefully regulated by the General Services Administration’s specification DDD-F-416E (PDF: 1.16MB/34 pages!), with precise measurements and colors defined according to the CAUS Standard Color Reference of America. But very few commercially-made flags adhere to that standard: the measurements and aspect ratios are almost always wrong and the colors are typically off. Those that do are called Government Specification or G-Spec flags. The rest of us make do with whatever the Chinese manufacturer decides it will be.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Des Moines, IA; Edmonton, AB; Evansville, IN; Ft. Smith, AR; Göteborg, Sweden; Juneau, AK; Key West, FLLos Angeles, CA; Luleå, Sweden; Maplewood/South Orange, NJ; McKinney, TX; Nanaimo, BC; Napa, CA; Nyack, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Rockland, NY; Saskatoon, SK;Shanghai, China; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ONWashington, DC; Winnipeg, MB; Wuppertal, Germany.

Other Events This Weekend: Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From LXIX (Houston, TX) February 1, 1978, page 28 (Source.)

From LXIX (Houston, TX) February 1, 1978, page 28 (Source.)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Sexual Inversion Among Women in Spain: 1914. Not much has been written about lesbians in the historic literature, where most of the focus was on gay men. But Douglas C. McMurtrie, the New York editor of the Urologic and Cutaneous Review came a cross an article in a Spanish journal by the criminologist Bernaldo de Quiros and decided that the information was “of sufficient originality to warrant an abstract in English.” Using the term “tribadism” for lesbianism, McMurtrie went on to summarize de Quiros’s paper:

In certain cases, particularly those of congenital inversion with or without reference to physically inverted characteristics, tribadism develops, from instinctively digressive tendencies, in centers where there are segregated members of the female sex. There are various centers of this sort: convents, boarding-schools, manufacturing establishments, etc. Sapphic love affairs are very prevalent in tobacco factories. In explanation of this a new cause has been mentioned; namely, the irritation which the flying tobacco dust produces. Until recently, there was, near the tobacco factory of Madrid, a tavern which, had the proprietor known any classical mythology — beyond that pertaining to Bacchus, could have been christened “To the Island of Lesbos.”

Among the prostitutes, inversion is frequent, as also with some female criminals. The prison and hospital are centers of initiation into the practices of tribadism. Tribades are seldom permitted in brothels. Whenever recognized, they are found living independently. We have become acquainted with some who act as “men” and keep their beloved locked up at home while they go out on business to earn by their degraded profession, means for their mutual maintenance and provision for their needs. Admitting the frequency of homosexuality among prostitutes, it is necessary at the same time, to consider at least, the paradoxical hypothesisof Kurella, according to which prostitution is a partial inversion in woman, this being evidenced by the absence of feminine honor — which is obvious — and by the failure of ordinary sexual practices to give them satisfaction.

One of the great struggles that writers about homosexuality were forced to endure was to wrap their brains around the possibility that sexuality and gender roles were somehow separate. Men and women were defined according to both who they were anatomically, and according to what they did behaviorally. Men had penises and did men’s work; women had vaginas and performed women’s tasks, and the idea that the two parts of the definition could be decoupled in any meaningful way was beyond the imagination of most observers. That failing is not altogether their fault; it was also beyond the imagination of most gays and lesbians of that era as well. Where today we would simply see two men or two women in a same-sex relationship, that observation would have proved extremely difficult to understand a century ago. And so there was a considerable effort to figure out in these same-sex relationships who was the man and who was the woman, a task that McMurtrie candidly admitted was a difficult one:

It is difficult to picture the dualism of the sexes and the roles played by the different characters in this kind of love. One criterion of inversion which has been taken, is the development of the clitoris, either congenital or acquired by manipulation; this organ corresponding in the homology of sexual dualism to the male penis. The tribades whom we questioned on this point answered in various ways. The “man” is the masculine, not by reason of extraordinary development of the clitoris, but rather by the manifestation of characteristics which they, with their knowledge of the psychology of the other sex, consider as masculine. The “male” tribade is such through her impulse of domination, through her masculine impetus, and especially, according to the eloquent love-confession of one of these women, “because she is the one who does the beating.” The normal woman or the inverted woman lives under the “rule of the club” and in the delivery of mitigation of “the beating” that the differentiation is accomplished. …The “male” tribade likes to imitate a man in actions and occupations. They also adopt masculine nicknames.

[Source: Douglas C. McMurtrie. “Sexual inversion among women in Spain. Urologic and Cutaneous Review 18, no. 6 (June 1914): 308. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Boy George: 1961. George O’Dowd’s first stage name was Lieutenant Lush when he performed with Bow Wow Wow. That tenure was short lived: he was booed off the stage. He then joined up with drummer (and regular boyfriend) Jon Moss (previously of The Damned and Adam and the Ants), bassist Mikey Craig and guitarist/keyboardist Roy Hay. They called their group In Praise of Lemmings and then Sex Gang Children. When they finally realized that they had a androgynous Irish singer, a black bassist, a Jewish drummer and an English keyboardist, they decided to call themselves Culture Club, with Boy George as the frontman. Their debut album Kissing to Be Clever was released in 1982, and their single “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” became an international hit. “Time (Clock of Heart)” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” gave them the distinction of being the first group since the Beatles to have three Top 10 hits in the U.S. from a debut album. Their next album Colour By Numbers, did almost as well, with “Church of the Poison Mind” and “Miss Me Blind” hitting the Top Ten in the U.S. and “Karma Chameleon” holding the #1 spot for three weeks (and for six weeks in the U.K.).

Boy George left Culture Club behind in 1986 when his relationship with Moss soured and he began descending into a nasty heroin addiction. He went into rehab, but part of his treatment added prescriptions for narcotics to deal with the heroin withdrawal. He ended up trading one addiction for another. He had a few modest hits as a solo artist, including the title song from the movie The Crying Game in 1992. He wrote the score for the London musical Taboo, which was based on his life and earned him a Tony nomination for Best Musical Score. But his troubles continued to follow him. In 2005, he was arrested in New York for cocaine possession and filing a false burglary report. The drug charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to the false report. He was sentenced to five days of community service, fined $1,000 and ordered into drug rehab. In 2008, he was arrested and charged with assault and false imprisonment. He was convicted and sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment. He was released after four months and was placed under home detention. In 2010, he released Ordinary Alien, which he followed in 2013 with This Is What I Do.

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, June 13

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Athens, Greece; Beaumont, TX; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Chemnitz, Germany; Des Moines, IA; Edmonton, AB; Evansville, IN; Ft. Smith, AR; Göteborg, Sweden; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Juneau, AK; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Angeles, CA; Luleå, Sweden; Maplewood/South Orange, NJ; McKinney, TX; Nanaimo, BC; Nantes, France; Napa, CA; Niagara Falls, NY; Nyack, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Rockland, NY; Rome, Italy; San Mateo, CA; Saskatoon, SK; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Warsaw, Poland; Washington, DC; Weimar, Germany; Winnipeg, MB; Wuppertal, Germany; Youngstown, OH; Zagreb, Croatia.

Other Events This Weekend: Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The (Washington) Blade, June 1977, page 4.

Nomad Village’s owners were unusual: a gay husband and straight wife team who bought the property in 1959 and planned to build a small resort that would appeal to families. Randall and Betty Goodwin build a dozen A-frame cottages, and a three story main building that included a store, a bar, and apartments above. But when they learned that growing numbers of gay men were coming to the area for the summer, Randall decided to open The Other Room at the Nomad as a separate gay bar so there wouldn’t be any fights with his straight bar patrons. “I didn’t start out to have a gay bar, but it just sort of happened.” he said. “It’s generally accepted that straights think I caused what was called ‘the gay problem’ in the area, but it’s not true. Gays were already coming from Washington, DC. … it just made sense economically to open the Nomad to the gays.”

Keeping the Nomad open was a constant battle for the Goodwins.  They not only had to contend with hurricanes and tornados, they also faced legal problems with their liquor license, and their property was rezoned out from under them from commercial to residential in 1972, all in a bid to drive them out from business. They spent the next decade fighting the county to get their zoning restored. They also had to contend with their children being picked on in school because of the business. But Nomad Village stayed in business and continued operating for four decades. Sometime before 2000, the Goodwins went into semi-retirement and moved to Florida, returning to Delaware in the summertime to re-open the Nomad for several more seasons. They finally sold it off around 2003, and the property was razed soon after.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Delaware Police Announce “Morals” Roundup: 1961. A state investigation in a “morals case” ended with the arrest of fifteen men, aged sixteen to twenty-seven years. As The Mattachine Review commented, the sixteen-year-old “unfortunately gives authorities a valid reason to conduct the investigations,” although it is unclear from the Wilmington Evening Journal’s article of June 13 whether that was the focus of the investigation or merely something police discovered sometime after it began. The investigation started on April 6 when police officers in Newark arrested Vance H. Middleton, 37, who “admitted participating in immoral acts.” Police went to his home and “seized a mass of obscene pictures and literature and photographic equipment and original photographs. It was through these photographs that the identity of many of those in the investigation was established.” Through a kind of a snowballing operation in which each contact was interrogated in order to obtain the names of other contacts, police surmised that “The Newark parties drew persons from throughout Delaware, Elkton, Philadelphia and New York” and that “most of the immoral activity centered in the Newark-Brookside area of week-ends.” One man, James M.F. Short, 31, of Newark and Wilmington, was charged with “63 morals charges by state police” and was being “held for psychiatric treatment on the Newark charges.”

A reader sent a copy of the Wilmington Evening Journal’s article to The Mattachine Review, and added the following details.

Police pressure is terrible throughout the state, they are pressuring homosexuals that are picked up to name and identify all their acquaintances. They even go to the places where they are employed, call them off the job and not even permit them to inform their employers they are leaving. They then are held as long as the police desire to hold them and generally cost the respective employee his job (which the police clearly envision because of their actions). When they are picked up, they are taken to the station for interrogation, subjected to a contingent of police officials’ questioning, and their actions and conversation filmed and tape recorded for the entirety of their stay. Their legal rights are denied on a wholesale basis, and none of them as yet has taken any action against the police.

Of course, in some towns down state, attorneys will not even defend a prospective client against the police even on charges other than homosexuality. (Proof of that statement In the Delaware State News, Dover, Delaware)

Short, one of the defendants in the case, attempted to implicate a State Trooper, so, of course, the numerous charges placed against him clearly indicate how the police plan to handle him.

[Sources: “15 Arrests in Morals Case End State’s Investigation.” Wilmington (DE) Evening Journal (June 13, 1961). As reprinted in the The Mattachine Review 7. no. 7 (June 1961): 27-28.]

Letter to the editor. The Mattachine Review 7. no. 7 (June 1961): 27.

Harold Call. “Calling Shots.” The Mattachine Review 7. no. 7 (June 1961): 4-5.]

20 YEARS AGO: LGBT Leaders Welcomed to White House With Rubber Gloves: 1995. Relations between the LGBT community and the Clinton Administration were at a low point in 1995. Instead of repealing the ban against gays in the military, the Clinton Administration negotiated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with conservative Democrats and Republicans. Instead of filing a Justice Department brief with the Supreme Court to weigh in on a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s Amendment 2 which would have banned civil rights protections for gay people, Attorney General Janet Reno sat on her hands. But with the White House beginning to cast an eye toward the 1996 elections, they realized that they needed to do something to try to placate a seriously pissed off constituency.

So on June 14, the Clinton Administration invited 40 gay leaders, including state senators and representatives, city council members, judges and other elected officials from around the country, to a special White House meeting. The meeting’s purpose was to announce that Marsha Scott, a deputy assistant to President Clinton, was being named as White House liason officer for gay and lesbian issues. They were also there to learn about a new 30-member presidential advisory council on HIV/AIDS. But before the meeting even got started, things got off on the wrong foot when the LGBT leaders were greeted at the White House by Secret Service agents who had put on rubber gloves before granting them access. The activists were furious when agents told them they were wearing the gloves to protect themselves from HIV. “For that to even happen at the White House shows they haven’t a clue about AIDS,” said Act-Up spokesman Steve Michael. “It just shows where they’re at.”

What was supposed to be a grand kiss-and-make-up session quickly turned into yet another embarrasment for the administration. Secret Service director Eljay Brown issued a statement saying that he regretted “the unfortunate actions” taken by his agents. “It is not the policy of the Secret Service to wear gloves merely based on known sexual preference.” The Treasury Department, which had jurisdiction over the Secret Service, was asked to investigate. White House press secretary Mike McCurry said, “It’s safe to say the chief of staff (Leon Panetta) and others were distressed by that and believe it to be an error of judgment.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Paul Lynde: 1926-1982. He studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with fellow students Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae, Patricia Neal, Jeffrey Hunter and Claude Akins. Imagine what that class must have been like. After graduating in 1948, he moved to New York and became a stand-up comic and a Broadway actor. In 1960, he appeared in Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie, as well as in its film adaptation in 1963. But most of his work was in television, where he appeared in numerous sitcoms (he was Uncle Arthur in Bewitched) and lent his voice to animated cartoons. He is probably best known as the “center square” for the game show Hollywood Squares with host Peter Marshall, where Lynde became famous for his one-liners and double entendres. They say his sexual orientation was an open secret in Hollywood. It’s hard to imagine any secret being more open than his. Especially considering Hollywood Squares answers like these:

Peter Marshall: In the Wizard of Oz, the lion wanted courage and the tin man wanted a heart. What did the scarecrow want?
Paul Lynde: He wanted the tin man to notice him.

Marshall: Is the electricity in your house A.C. or D.C.?
Lynde: In my house it’s both.

Marshall: What do you call a man who gives you diamonds and pearls?
Lynde: I’d call him “darling”!

Marshall: It is the most abused and neglected part of your body– what is it?
Lynde: Mine may be abused but it certainly isn’t neglected!

Marshall: Paul, in what famous book will you read about a talking ass who wonders why it’s being beaten?
Lynde: I read it, “The Joy of Sex.”

Marshall: Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?
Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Marshall: According to the old song, what’s breaking up that old gang of mine?
Lynde: Anita Byant!

And here are a couple more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcqNowVkav8

Lynde was enormously popular, but several attempts to give him his own shows invariably ended in low ratings and swift cancellations. Audiences loved him, but only in small doses. This will give you an idea of how powerful his presence was: we may remember his appearances on Bewitched, but he only appeared on that show ten times throughout its eight year run.

Also working against him were skittish TV executives, who were concerned his homosexuality and his worsening alcoholism and substance abuse. When he was sober, he was well-loved by his fellow performers. When Lynde won an Emmy for Entertainer of the Year in 1976, he immediately turned the statue over to host Jackie Gleason, who had never won an Emmy, saying that Gleason was “the funniest man ever.” But when he was drunk, he was one of the most out-of-control drunks to inhabit the planet. In 1965, he was partying with a young actor (and alleged lover) in Lynde’s room at San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake hotel when the actor fell from the eighth-floor window to his death. That tragedy was hushed up, which saved Lynde’s career but did little to sober him up. He was repeatedly arrested for his drunken behavior, including one arrest in1978 outside of a gay bar in Salt Lake City which led to his being dropped from a guest appearance on the Donnie and Marie show.  That same year, he was banned from the campus of Northwestern University after unleashing a horrendously racist tirade at a black professor in a nearby Burger King.

Lynde left Hollywood Squares in 1979 (some say he was fired for being drunk and belligerent on the set), but came back a year later, clean and sober. He also started living a much quieter life outside the studio, hosting dinner parties at home and apologizing to friends and co-workers. But a lifetime of hard living had already taken its toll and he died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 55.

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, June 12

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Athens, Greece; Beaumont, TX; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Chemnitz, Germany; Des Moines, IA; Edmonton, AB; Evansville, IN; Ft. Smith, AR; Göteborg, Sweden; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Juneau, AK; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Angeles, CA; Luleå, Sweden; Maplewood/South Orange, NJ; McKinney, TX; Nanaimo, BC; Nantes, France; Napa, CA; Niagara Falls, NY; Nyack, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Rockland, NY; Rome, Italy; San Mateo, CA; Saskatoon, SK; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Warsaw, Poland; Washington, DC; Weimar, Germany; Winnipeg, MB; Wuppertal, Germany; Youngstown, OH; Zagreb, Croatia.

Other Events This Weekend: Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Contact, March 1974, page 4.

It may have been “The place” in 1974, but Mae’s Cabaret looks like it was located a good safe distance — about twenty miles — from Jackson. When I put this ad up last year, I lamented that I wasn’t able to find out anything about the place. Thankfully, a BTB reader filled in the blanks:

I grew up in Jackson. Jack Myers ran Mae’s Cabaret, first when it was on Hwy 49, it was raided by the Jackson police. Jack Myers met with the Chief of Police who didn’t find anything wrong with female impersonation and Mae’s Cabaret continued to have legal drag shows.

Later the bar relocated downtown on Farish and Capitol streets. The bar then moved to the old Amite theater and from there it transitioned into a gay black club named Bill’s Disco. Bill’s Disco had an amazing stage and the drag performers were world class, always being billed as, “Miss This That and The Other…” and “Miss So and So At Large…” The girls literally needed wheel barrows to haul the tips off the stage.

Around the time Mae’s Cabaret turned into Bill’s Disco, Jack opened another bar downtown named Jack’s and then eventually Jack and Jill’s. Two things I’m reminded of when I hear Mae’s Cabaret, It was the one and only place for gay people in Jackson so the kids would use it as a slur against little gay boys like, “Yeah they’ve got a date later tonight at Mae’s Cabaret…” and when I was first realizing I was gay there was a rumor of a gay serial killer that was stalking the place. I don’t know if there is any truth to that or if it was some propaganda to keep little gay boys like me away.

It didn’t work as you have read.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Loving v. Virginia: 1967. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were an unusual couple. They had long crossed the racial barrier as friends in rural Central Point, Virginia: she was Black and Native American, he was white. But friendship turned to dating, and when Mildred became pregnant at the age of 18 in 1958, they decided to go to Washington, D.C. to elope. When they returned home, a group of police officers invaded their house late at night hoping to catch them in the act of having sex (which would have been a crime because of their racial differences). Mildred pointed to the marriage license that they had hung on the wall, hoping that it would protect them. Little did she know, but that license was proof that they had committed another crime. Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibited any “colored” person with so much as one drop of African American or Indian blood from marrying a white person. Miscegenation was a felony, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. The couple pleaded guilty on January 6, 1959, and they were sentenced to one year, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on the condition that they left Virginia.

The Lovings moved to D.C., and in 1963 the ACLU began a series of motions and lawsuits alleging that Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Those lawsuits eventually made their way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, along with similar laws in fifteen other states. In the unanimous ruling, the Court held that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Despite this ruling, anti-miscegenation laws remained on the books for several years to come, despite their being unenforceable. In 2000, Alabama voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal its anti-miscegenation law, although even then more than half a million — 40% — voted to keep it.

Mildred and Richard were never political people. After the Supreme Court victory, the couple returned to Virginia and raised three children. Richard died in 1975 at the age of 41 when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Mildred lost her right eye in the accident. She passed away in 2008 of pneumonia at the age of 68. But a year before she died, she issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which she saw the fight for the freedom to marry as unfinished business:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 85 YEARS AGO: Jim Nabors: 1930. The Sylacauga, Alabama, learned to sing at his high school and church, and didn’t get into acting until he attended the University of Alabama. After graduating, he eventually landed his first job in television: cutting film for a television station in Chattanooga. He eventually decided to move to Los Angeles because of his asthma, where he began singing and acting in a local Santa Monica cabaret. That’s where he developed a character similar to the one we would later come to know as Gomer Pyle: a naive, golly-gee southern bumpkin with a high-pitched voice and thick accent would would launch into a nearly operatic baritone when singing. That’s where Andy Griffith discovered him, and signed to play a gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. Nabor’s character was so popular that he soon ended up with his own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, which ran for five seasons from 1964 to 1969.

Nabors was among a handful of actors who were openly gay among friends and co-workers, but who were never put publicly. “I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it. Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all,” Nabors said recently. What made Nabors so unusual is that he never bothered to play the game of “dating” women for publicity’s sake. There was one rumor going around that Nabors had “married” Rock Hudson in the early 1970’s, sparked by a joke invitation that went out among friends which said that Hudson wold take the last name of Nabor’s character and become “Rock Pyle.” When fan magazines found the invitation, they turned the joke into a story, causing embarrassment for both men. It’s also the only time I know of when Nabors gave the standard 1960s response to why he wasn’t married. “I love kids,” he said. “But I’ve been so busy with my career that I really haven’t given marriage much thought.”

After CBS decided to re-vamp its lineup and cancel all of its “cornball” programs (which constituted almost all of the network’s comedic lineup by 1969), Nabors briefly hosted his own variety show and made several guest appearances on other programs, including a few children’s television programs. But by the mid-1970s, he was pretty much done with TV, and move to Hawaii, where he and his then-longtime partner and now husband, Stan Cadwallader, have made their home.

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, June 11

Jim Burroway

June 11th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Athens, Greece; Beaumont, TX; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Chemnitz, Germany; Des Moines, IA; Edmonton, AB; Evansville, IN; Ft. Smith, AR; Göteborg, Sweden; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Juneau, AK; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Angeles, CA; Luleå, Sweden; Maplewood/South Orange, NJ; McKinney, TX; Nanaimo, BC; Nantes, France; Napa, CA; Niagara Falls, NY; Nyack, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Rockland, NY; Rome, Italy; San Mateo, CA; Saskatoon, SK; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Warsaw, Poland; Washington, DC; Weimar, Germany; Winnipeg, MB; Wuppertal, Germany; Youngstown, OH; Zagreb, Croatia.

Other Events This Weekend: Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 30.

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 30.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
50 YEARS AGO: Life Magazine Opposes Decriminalization: 1965. A year before, Life magazine published a groundbreaking essay on “Homosexuality in America,” (see Jun 26), which was notable for being one of the earliest relatively balanced portrayals of gay life in California. Gay rights advocates had hoped that the article might portend more positive press for gay issues, at least in the pages of Life, but that hope proved short-lived. In 1965, there was a proposal before the New York legislature to repeal that state’s sodomy law, which banned “deviant sexual intercourse” between unmarried persons. If passed, New York would have become only the second state, after Illinois, to decriminalize consensual sexual behavior between gay adults (see Jul 28). Life, in an unsigned, self-contradictory and illogical editorial in its June 11, 1965 edition, opposed the move:

As readers of LIFE’s survey of homosexuality in America will remember, the “gay world” (actually a sad world) is coming increasingly above ground in many big cities and is lobbying for more sympathetic treatment. Homosexuality is frequently curable, but jail is the last place to expect a cure, and the laws restricting it are notoriously ineffective. Enforcement is either nonexistent or unjust and repugnant because of its peep-hole and entrapment methods. …

But the legislative debates have produced some robustious arguments on the other side. In Albany one legislator, who favored lifting the sanctions against adultery but not against homosexuality, explained that “after all, there are more of us than there are of them.”

There are more cogent arguments for retaining the laws against homosexuality. Its practice can and does break up families; and protection of the family is a legitimate area for legislation. Repeal would imply an indifference that society cannot afford. Until it finds a better way of discouraging the practice, a statute at least expresses society’s disapproval.

The proposal failed to make it into law, and New York’s sodomy law would remain on the books until 1980 when the New York Court of Appeals struck it down as unconstitutional.

[Source: “The law and the homosexual problem.” Life 58, no. 23. (June 11, 1965): 4.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Wilma Burgess: 1939-2003. Before Chely Wright came out, there was k.d. lang. But before k.d. lang — before everyone, in fact — there was Wilma Burgess. The difference with Burgess however was that she never really came out. She was always out, throughout her career. She enjoyed recording romantic ballads, but in a break from most “girl singers,” she avoided recording gender-specific songs whenever she could. A southerner from Orlando, Wilma wasn’t much interested in country music when she first began singing professionally. But when she attended an Eddie Arnold concert, she was struck by the emotional honesty of Arnold’s music. She made her way to Nashville in 1962 where she cut her first single. “Confuses” didn’t really go anywhere, but it got her a contract for Decca Records.

After a several singles, she landed pay dirt in 1965 with “Baby,” which peaked at #7 on the country music charts. That same year, she purchased Patsy Cline’s old home in Nashville. In 1966 she recorded two more notable hits, “Don’t Touch Me” and “Misty Blue,” which became her signature song. That song was eventually covered by the man who inspired her to perform country music, Eddie Arnold. She had several more Top Forty country hits, but by the mid-1970s she decided to retire from the music business. She then opened the Hitching Post, Nashville’s first lesbian bar, where she regularly performed. She died suddenly in 2003 of a massive heart attack.

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, June 10

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Athens, Greece; Beaumont, TX; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Chemnitz, Germany; Des Moines, IA; Edmonton, AB; Evansville, IN; Ft. Smith, AR; Göteborg, Sweden; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Juneau, AK; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Angeles, CA; Luleå, Sweden; Maplewood/South Orange, NJ; McKinney, TX; Nanaimo, BC; Nantes, France; Napa, CA; Niagara Falls, NY; Nyack, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Rockland, NY; Rome, Italy; San Mateo, CA; Saskatoon, SK; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Warsaw, Poland; Washington, DC; Weimar, Germany; Winnipeg, MB; Wuppertal, Germany; Youngstown, OH; Zagreb, Croatia.

Other Events This Weekend: Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 15, 1972, page 13.

EMPHASIS MINE:
Vincent Bugliosi died last Saturday at the age of 80. He’s best known as the Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson for the 1969 murders of Actress Sharon Tate and six others. His book about the trial, Helter Skelter, became the biggest selling true crime book in history.

That will forever be Bugliosi’s legacy. But there’s more to Bugliosi’s career worth remembering. In 1972, he ran as a Democrat for Los Angeles County District Attorney, and one very visible part of his campaign included courting the gay community. This was at a time when most candidates would consider such a move political poison, and where Los Angeles Police Chief Ed Davis made a career of constantly cracking down on the homosexuals. On April 27, 1972, Bugliosi toured sixteen gay bars, with reporter Rob Cole from The Advocate in tow:

Bugliosi chats with a customer at the Bunkhouse.

Bugliosi chats with a customer at the Bunkhouse. (Walt Blumoff/The Advocate)

He visited 16 of them, from a little neighborhood watering place where old friends drop in for a beer, to a hustler hangout where he couldn’t believe the painted “women” were men, to the leather places where there’s no doubt about who’s a man (and you better believe it, Mary), to the huge, crowded “Bitter End West,” where the kids pack in to gyrate to the frantic strains of acid rock and nobody much cares what sex you are. Along the way, the 37-year old Bugliosi learned a lot about the gay community, and the gay community learned something about him. …

It became clear almost immediately that Vince was no plaster saint. He was uneasy about the tour and its possible effect on the WASP bedroom communities whose support he so desperately needs, He was badly shaken at one point by the comment of a man in one of the leather bars that “You’ve got a lot of guts to come into a gay bar like this.”

That conversation took place at a place called the Bunkhouse, on Santa Monica near Silver Lake. Out in the car on the way to the next bar, Bugliosi turned to Cole and Dave Glascock, the former Gay Community Alliance president who organized the tour, and asked what the man’s comment was all about. That led to this lengthy exchange:

COLE: Vince. you’re giving me an interesting insight into your personality. … The question the guy asked you in the bar, I’m sure, was directed to the basic fear that the average straight male has of the homosexual in his haunts. I’m sure that’s what he meant.

BUGLIOSI: Why would anyone have a fear of a homosexual?

COLE: Well. let me ask you that question. Because this is telling me a great deal about you when you say this. The average man would know the answer. He would not be able to express it too well, but…

BUGLIOSI: The only thing I can think of, he would fear that the homosexual would approach him sexually, you mean? Because if that’s the answer. there’s no problem. He’s not interested , he says, ” I’m not interested .” What’s the problem? No, I’m serious… (Dave has begun to laugh.)

…COLE: I think the average male is terribly afraid of being somehow, branded…

BUGLIOSI: You mean, a third party might say, well, he’s in the company of homosexuals, ergo, he must be a homosexual?

…Vince’s response was to shake his head. He still didn’t really understand.

Bugliosi speaking at a stop at the Black Pipe. (Walt Blumoff/The Advocate)

Bugliosi speaking at a stop at the Black Pipe. (Walt Blumoff/The Advocate)

For decades, the LA Vice Squad had routinely raided gay bars throughout the city and entrapped people suspected of being gay on city streets. Chief Davis inherited those policies when he got the job in 1969, and he found those policies very much to his liking. Raids, harassment and bogus arrests continued unabated. At a stop at Woody’s Hyperion, Bugliosi had a few things to say about Davis, “who thinks that homosexuals are criminals.”

“And I was speaking to Davis a couple of weeks ago on the phone, and I told him that if I become DA, I’m not going to put up with hiSs nonsense, the LAPD coming into bars, y’know, and harassing people. I’m just not going to put up with it. And if they make those arrests, there’s not going to be any prosecution. And I’m going to get on television, and I’m going to bad-mouth Davis. This has got to end; there’s no question about it, no question about it …

Unfortunately, Bugliosi didn’t win that election. He narrowly lost to the longtime Republican incumbent Joseph Busch. Bulgiosi ran again in 1976, but lost again. The raids and arrests under Davis continued.

[Source: Rob Cole. “Touring the gay bars with the DA candidate.” The Advocate, no. 86 (May 24, 1972): 1, 2, 19.]

Michael Stark (L) and Michael Leshner (R)– later known as “the two Michaels” — kiss after marrying in Superior Court in Toronto on June 10, 2003.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Ontario Registers First Same-Sex Marriage in North America: 2003. Nearly a year earlier, on July 22, 2002, the Ontario Superior Court issued a 3-0 ruling in the case of Halpern et al. v. Canada, finding that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights. While also finding that current statutes didn’t prohibit same-sex marriage, the court stayed its ruling for two years to give the federal government time to pass legislation implementing same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs, seven same-sex couples who were suing for the right to marry, appealed the lower court’s stay and asked that the decision take effect immediately. On June 10, 2003, the Court of Appeals for Ontario agreed, and struck down the lower court’s stay, and that afternoon Michael Stark and Michael Leshner became the first gay couple to legally marry.

The next day, the Attorney General of Ontario announced that he would comply with the ruling. But while the Ontario Appeals Court ruled on Canadian law, its jurisdiction was limited to Ontario. Nevertheless, the province was the first jurisdiction in North America to provide same-sex marriage. (Massachusetts wouldn’t begin marrying until almost a year later: see May 17.) On February 24, the provincial legislature enacted Bill 171, (“An Act to amend various statutes in respect of spousal relationships”) which cleaned up several Ontario laws to bring them into accord with the court rulings. Meanwhile, other provincial courts began issuing similar rulings — British Columbia in 2003; Quebec, Yukon Territory, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004; and New Brunswick in 2005. By the time Parliament enacted marriage equality nationwide in July of 2005, only Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and Northwest Territories had yet to act on marriage equality.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Anita Berber: 1899-1928. She lived fast and died young, and along the way came to epitomize the anything-goes attitude of the Weimar Republic. She moved to Berlin at the age of 16 to become a cabaret dancer and a film dancer by the age of 20. Audiences took her art quite seriously early in her career as one of the pioneers of modern expressive dance. Some of her dances were set to music by Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, and Camille Saint-Säens, and she was known for her erotic gestures and exotic costumes — or no costumes at all.

Her nude dancing and androgynous-for-the-era looks — she bobbed her hair and died it fiery red — those things alone would have been the chatter classes plenty to chatter about. Klaus Mann described her this way: “One dances hunger and hysteria, fear and greed, panic and horror… Anita Berber —- her face frozen into a garish mask under the frightening locks of the scarlet coiffure —- dances the coitus.” Shocking the seen-it-all Weimar audiences wasn’t an easy thing to do, but Berber’s increasingly macabre performances soon earned her the nickname, “The Priestess of Depravity.” Her Dances of Depravity, Horror and Ecstasy included dances with such titles as “Byzantine Whip Dance,” Cocaine,” “Morphine,” and “Suicide.”

Otto Dix, The Dancer Anita Berber, 1925.

But after a while, audiences began dismissing her work as exhibiting nothing more than shock value. Her off-stage behavior only reinforced her notoriety, thanks to her enthusiastic bisexually, insatiable sexual appetite, legendary drug use, and the rough crowd of boxers, prostitutes and homosexuals who she partied with. She spent her evenings touring the city’s clubs wearing nothing but her trademark makeup and nothing more except a sable coat, which she would have a waiter ceremoniously  remove. Her antique brooch carried her nights’ supply of cocaine, but her favorite drug was a mixture of absinthe and ether, which she mixed in a bowl and swirled about with a white rose before eating the pedals. While dancing in Zagreb, she publicly insulted the Yugoslav King and spent six weeks in prison. Her three short (mostly sham) marriages only added to her provocative image. By the time Otto Dix immortalized her on canvas in 1925, he offered a searing portrayal of her dissipative lifestyle, showing a woman who looked much, much older than her twenty-six years. In the summer of 1928, she collapsed on the stage of a Beirut nightclub and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. With her body already ravaged by years of drug use, she didn’t last the year. When she died in November, a friend said that “she had the mask of a mad old hag.” She was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Judy Garland’s legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.

Judy Garland: 1922-1969. A straight friend of mine, shortly after I came out to him, asked me to explain “the Judy Garland thing.” What was I to say? The Rainbow reference seemed obvious to me — Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the rainbow flag — but that didn’t explain why she meant so much to so many generations of gay men. (I would later learn that the rainbow flag was meant to symbolize diversity, not Judy Garland. Silly me.) I then turned to the song’s lyrics, but it turns out they are incredibly simple — almost a throw-away. So it’s not the song itself either. Instead, I think the explanation begins with how she sang about her yearning to find a land of happiness somewhere over there, where “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” And if birds can fly overt there, “why then, oh why can’t I?”

Why can’t I? — that’s the plaintive refrain that every LGBT person has uttered at some of the most painful moments of their lives, at least for those who spent any significant time in the closet. Judy’s life also had its painful moments, including a marriage to the barely-closeted gay director Vincente Minnelli, a nervous breakdown, morphine addiction, alcohol problems, you name it. But her Carnegie Hall comeback concert in 1961 was called by many “the greatest night in show business history.” The resulting two-record recording, Judy At Carnegie Hall, spent thirteen weeks on Billboard’s number one spot and won four Grammies. If you’ve never heard it, you are missing out on a night of mutual love between Judy and a house full of “friends of Judy.” And it’s that resilience which, I think, explains the “Judy Garland thing” more than anything else.

That and those ruby shoes.

Maurice Sendak: 1928-2012. He was known for more than a dozen books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously his 1963 best-seller Where the Wild Things Are, which revolutionized the children’s book genre and established his career. But that wasn’t his favorite book. That would be 1981’s Outside Over There. Nor was it his most controversial book. That would be his 1970 award-winning In the Night Kitchen, about a boy who dreams of flying to a magical kitchen. The boy also happens to lose his clothes early in the book, and images of a naked flying boy placed the book on the American Library Association’s list of “frequently challenged and banned books.” In September 2011, HarperCollins published Sendak’s Bumble-Ardy, his first new book in 30 years.

Sendak remained publicly closeted most of his life, despite a fifty year enduring relationship with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn. Sandak wasn’t even out to his parents, Polish Jewish immigrants whose relatives died in the Holocaust. “All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy,” he once said. “They never, never, never knew.” Glynn died in May 2007, and Sendak came out in a 2008 interview, saying that the idea of a gay man writing children books would have hurt his career when he was in his 20s and 30s. But when Sendak died in 2012 at the age of 83, he was hailed by The New York Times as “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century.” Another picture book, My Brother’s Book, was posthumously released in 2013.

Dustin Lance Black: 1974. Growing up in a Mormon family, Black’s early childhood included fears of going straight to hell. “I had my first crushes on a boy neighbor when I was like six, seven. I knew what was going on, I knew I liked him, but what Texas did and what the culture of growing up Mormon, growing up military [reinforced], was, the very second thought I had, ‘I really like that boy, and it’s not just as a friend,’ the very second thought was, ‘I’m sick, I’m wrong, I’m going to hell. And if I ever admit it, I’ll be hurt, and I’ll be brought down.'” No wonder he became withdrawn, intensely shy, and had thoughts of suicide. “I was a pretty dark kid, because I had an acute awareness of my sexuality, and was absolutely convinced that I was wrong.”

He says that darkness lifted when he went off to college, came out during his senior year and graduated with honors from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. Much of his career as a screenwriter, director, and producer has touched on LGBT themes. In 2000, he wrote and directed the gay romance films The Journey of Jared Price and Something Close to Heaven, followed by the documentary, On the Bus, which followed six gay men on a road trip to Burning Man. But his own burning passion was the desire to bring the life of Harvey Milk to the screen. The problem for Black was how to convey the “emotional heartbeat” of the story:

“It was tough. It was clearly, in my mind, a gay movie. I wasn’t so interested in the politics, I wasn’t so interested in Dan White; I was interested in this man who, to me at least, was a father figure to his people — to people who lost their fathers, their parents and their families because of their sexuality. Here was this father figure, and it was something I craved!”

Milk was a critical and commercial success, and Black won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2009.

Black has turned his writing skills to other topics as well. He leveraged his Mormon background as one of the screenwriters (and the only Mormon writer) for HBO’s Big Love, and he wrote the sceenplay for 2011’s J. Edgar. In 2010, Black narrated the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition, which portrays the heavy investment made by the LDS church in California’s Proposition 8. In 2011, Black wrote the play 8, which is based on the actual transcripts in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the federal court challenge against Prop 8. Black wrote the play after a federal court blocked the release of the trial’s video recordings. (Black is a founding board member for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the suit against Prop 8.) Black has been in the news again lately, after Olympic diver Tom Daley came out in December because “I met someone and it made me feel so happy, so safe, and everything just feels great.” That someone was Black, and the two now live together in London.

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, June 9

Jim Burroway

June 9th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), June 1982, page 28.

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), June 1982, page 28.

An “undesirable” discharge from the Navy, 1948 (click to enlarge).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Newsweek on “Homosexuals in Uniform”: 1947. “Although Army regulations strictly forbade the drafting of homosexuals, scores of these inverts managed to slip through induction centers during the second world war. Between 3,000 and 4,000 were discharged for this abnormality; others were released as neuropsychiatric cases. Last week, with most of the records on homosexuals tabulated, Army medical officers, for the first time, summed up their strange story.”

That strange story, in retrospect, was that gay people came from all walks of life. But in 1947, neither the Army nor Newsweek in its June 9, 1947 story could wrap their heads around that fact. Newsweek was also surprised to learn that gays were, on average, intelligent, not particularly feminine, and “as a whole, these men were law-abiding and hard working. In spite of nervous, unstable and often hysterical temperaments they performed admirably as workers. Many tried to be good soldiers.” If gay soldiers were “nervous,” that undoubtedly came from the consequences of being found out. “Once this abnormality was detected, the man was usually evacuated by the unit doctors to a general hospital where he received psychiatric treatment while a military board decided whether or not he was reclaimable. A good number begged to be cured, but doctors usually doubted their sincerity, and recommended discharge.”

But being discharged was far from the end to these soldiers’ problems. During the first half of the war, they were brought up on court-martial, punished and dishonorably discharged. But by 1943, courts-martial were overwhelmed by the rising caseload, so the Army decided to let them go with an administrative “blue” discharge — neither honorable or dishonorable, and so named for the color of paper they were printed on.

The suspiciously vague nature of blue discharges made it very difficult when these soldiers hit the job market. In an economy where nearly every able-bodied man served, one’s discharge papers were as important to obtaining a job as a diploma or good references. In fact, discharge papers were considered among the most important references one could have — from Uncle Sam himself. And when the vast majority of those job applicants could present their honorable discharges to their prospective employers, these blue discharges stood out, and not in a good way. On top of that, the Veterans Administration routinely denied benefits to blue discharge holders, despite the law’s explicit language stating that only dishonorable discharges were grounds for denial of benefits. As of July 1, 1947, the situation was about to get worse: “Instead of leaving the service with the vague and protective ‘blue’ discharge, the homosexuals who had not been guilty of a definite office would receive an ‘undesirable’ discharge.”

Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Congress Allows Indefinite Confinement of “Sexual Psychopaths” in Washington, D.C.: 1948. The nation’s capital had experienced explosive growth through the New Deal and World War II. And in the relatively short time period, the sleepy Southern town became a major bustling East Coast city, with all of the attendant problems and anxieties which comes with rapid urban growth. Among those anxieties were worries over a declining moral environment in the growing city. In response, Congress passed and the President Harry Truman signed Public Law 615 on June 9, 1948 which provided for the indefinite interment and treatment for “sexual psychopaths” in the District. (Before D.C. was given Home Rule with an elected mayor and council in 1973, the district was ruled directly by Congress and administered by a three-person appointed commission.) The Miller Act, as it was popularly known, defined a “sexual psychopath”  as a:

“person, not insane, who by a course of repeated misconduct in sexual matters has evidenced such lack of power to control his sexual impulses as to be dangerous to other persons because he is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, loss, pain, or other evil on the objects of desire.”

The act specifically excluded rape or assault with intent to rape. Those charges were handled as normal criminal complaints. But according to this new law, the U.S. Attorney was empowered to initiate proceedings against anyone else — even if they hadn’t been charged with a crime — to have them committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital until the superintendent “finds that he has sufficiently recovered so as not to be dangerous to other person.” The act refers to the individual as “the patient”, not the accused or the defendant. It was the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney, after reviewing “information… from any source” to decide whether to initiate proceedings. And  those proceedings were civil proceedings, not a criminal one with constitutional guarantees against self-incrimination that a criminal procedure would guarantee. Instead, the accused “patient” was required to submit to an examination by two psychiatrists and was required to answer their questions which became part of the official record.

The law’s wording suggested the aim was to keep dangerous people off the streets, but the vague definition of “sexual psychopath” left the door open to all sorts of abuse. U.S. Attorney Sidney Sachs, who helped draft the legislation, recalled in 1964 as a guest speaker at a conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) — this was long after he left the Justice Department for a position in private practice — that the law was an open invitation to abuse:

“Though it’s not right,” Mr. Sachs admitted, the courts generally take the path of least resistance when the mental condition of someone accused of sex crime “comes into question”: they commit him to Washington’s mental hospital. There the  overworked psychiatrists “write brief reports” on the person. And when his trial comes up, it’s “just perfectly understandable then” that the doctors’ judgment is chiefly relied on.

A women in the audience challenged the merit of the Miller Act by pointing out — and Mr. Sachs had to agree — that condemnation to psychiatric incarceration is potentially worse than jail because the person could languish in a mental hospital forever. Then a man bluntly asked the prime question: “Would I, as a habitual practicing homosexual, be called a sexual psychopath?” “I think that you would be,” Mr. Sachs replied. Yet, he reminded us, “everything that’s on the books that is oppressive to homosexuals is not carried out to the letter.”

According to a paper read at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1950, the law’s reach did, in fact, extended to “habitual practicing homosexuals” in consensual relationships. Dr. Francis Tartaglino of St. Elizabeth reported that as of March 1, 1950, twenty-four patients had been admitted to the hospital’s maximum security ward under this new law, “including 2 non-coercive homosexuals and 1 aggressive sodomist.”

[Sources: Bernard A. Cruvant, Milton Meltzer, Francis J. Tartaglino. “An institutional program for committed sex deviants.” American Journal of Psychiatry 107, no. 3 (September 1950): 190-194.

Lily Hansen, Barbara Gittings. “East Coast Homophile Organizations — Report ’64. Part Two: Highlights of ECHO.” The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 10-11.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Cole Porter: 1891-1964. American songwriters could match the sophistication, wit, and discreet naughtiness of Let’s Do It (1928), You Do Something To Me (1929), Love for Sale (1930), Anything Goes (1934), Let’s Misbehave (1937), Well Did You Evah! (1939) or Too Darn Hot (1948). That barely scratches the surface of Porter’s musical output. He was born to a wealthy family in Peru, Indiana, and after graduating from an exclusive prep school, he studied law, first at Yale (where he wrote two of Yale’s football fight songs that are still played today), then at Harvard for his graduate studies. But after finally deciding that he was more interested in music, he left Harvard Law and enrolled in Harvard’s music program. In 1917, he moved to Paris to lend his hand at the war effort, and where his luxury Paris apartment became the scene of lavish parties.

That was where he met Linda Thomas, a rich Kentucky divorced socialite who was eight years his senior. She was reportedly aware of Porters homosexuality — his affair with Ballet Russes star Borish Koncho in 1925 wasn’t much of a secret — but they both found marriage mutually advantageous. For Porter, a wife like Linda afforded a respectable heterosexual front, and for Linda, Porter’s success and growing fame only enhanced her social position. And besides, he was genuinely kind to her, which was very unlike her abusive first husband.

In 1928, Porter returned to Broadway, where he found considerable success and offers from Hollywood. The Porters moved there in 1935, but Linda didn’t appreciate Cole’s increasingly open dalliances with other men. She moved back to their home in Paris, and Porter became about as openly closeted as any other Hollywood A-gay. A severe horse riding accident in 1937, which left Porter with a permanently-crippling leg injury, brought the Porters back together, but they reconciled with an apparently renewed understanding. Linda was more than just a beard to Porter: by all accounts they were very close, at least in a spiritual or emotional sense. Yet throughout their marriage, Porter also had significant relationships with several men, including Boston socialite Howard Sturges, architect Ed Tauch (who inspired “Easy to Love”), choreographer Nelson Barclift (who inspired “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”), actor Robert Bray, and longtime companion Ray Kelly, to whose children Porter left half of his royalties when he died in 1964. (Linda preceded him in death ten years earlier.) Porter’s life was significantly de-gayed in the 2004 biopic De-Lovely: The Cole Porter Story with Kevin Kline in the starring role. William McBrien’s 1998 biography however provides a much more complete picture of Porter’s life.

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, June 8

Jim Burroway

June 8th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1985, page 10.

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1985, page 10.

Vancouver’s Hotel Dufferin has been in continuous operation as a hotel since it opened in 1911. Since at least the 1970s, the Dufferin has also been an important center of gay life. In 1980, the hotel’s main club was Streets, which was decorated as an indoor streetscape with fake storefronts and two giant stone lions on either side of the dance floor. Streets later became the Dufferin Pub, known simply as the Duff to patrons. Through all of its incarnations, it hosted Canada’s longest running drag shows. The shows came to an end in 2007, after the hotel was sold to developers who gentrified the whole place into the Moda Hotel. “They dropped the axe. They lopped the head off the queen,” said one fan. “It took a great chunk of a lot of people’s hearts out.”

Gov. Reubin Askew

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Florida Bans Gay Marriage and Adoption: 1977. Florida’s gay community took a triple whammy today. Just one day after Miami voters overwhelmingly sided with Anita Bryant to rescind an anti-discrimination ordinance, Governor Reuben Askew (D) signed into law additional two anti-gay measures affecting gay people statewide. The first banned same-sex marriage and the second banned gay adults from adopting.

State Sen. Curtis Peterson, (D-Eaton Park) sponsored both bills, and said that the new laws tell homosexuals, “We are tired of you and wish you would go back in the closet.” He continued: “The problem in Florida is that homosexuals are surfacing to such an extent that they are infringing on average, normal people who have a few rights, too.” The bills sailed through the legislature with little opposition and became effective immediately upon Askew’s signing.

In 2008, Florida voters made same-sex marriage even more illegaler when they passed Amendment 2. In 2010, a Florida appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that found the adoption ban unconstitutional.

First Gay Days at Disney World: 1991. It started as a very modest idea: a time for about 3,000 gays and lesbians in central Florida to enjoy a day at Orlando’s top attraction — and to become more visible. “Twenty years ago, there were hardly any visible portrayals of our community other than the pride parades,” Chris Alexander-Manley, president of Gay Days Inc., told Time in 2010. He was also one of the volunteers who helped organize the first event in 1991. He said, that the media tended to show “the drag queens and the extremes, the leather people, but that’s only a small part of the overall community.” To increase their visibility, gay attendees wore read shirts in the park. And it was that very visibility which caught the attention of anti-gay activists. The Southern Baptist Convention launched a boycott of all things Disney, despite the fact that Disney never sanctioned the event. Disney always instructed their employees to treat the first Saturday of June just like any other Saturday, which put the SBC in an odd position of, I guess, demanding that Disney ban red shirts or something.

Gay Days at Disney World has grown from that modest 3,000 assemblage to an estimated 150,000 participants in recent years. And with that growth the nature of the event has changed somewhat. There are still family events taking place catering to LGBT families, but they occur alongside pool parties, dance raves and other circuit party-style activities of a more specifically adult orientation. But within the confines of the park itself, it’s all about Mickey Mouse and Magic Mountain and getting the kids in line for the spinning teacups. And despite ongoing grumbling from social conservatives — Disney typically issues refunds to families offended by the sight of red shirts — Gay Days continues to appeal to the kids in all of us.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Peter Jepson-Young: 1957-1992. The Vancouver, BC doctor was known to millions across Canada simply as Dr. Peter, host of a regular segment on the CBC’s news broadcast called The Dr. Peter Diaries. That platform made Dr. Peter the country’s best-known educator for AIDS and HIV awareness. Dr. Peter’s approach was uniquely personal: he documented, on his own program, his experiences both as a doctor and as a person with AIDS. He began his weekly segment in 1990, after he was unable to continue his medical practice because of his deteriorating health. He brought a sense of humor to his weekly video diaries, and his frank discussion of AIDS helped to break down stereotypes and stigma surrounding the disease. His Diaries continued for more than two years, until a few weeks before he died in November 1992. Shortly before he died, Dr. Peter had also established the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation to provide care for people with HIV/AIDS.

In 1993, the CBC and HBO jointly produced a 45-minute documentary, The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter, which consisted of excerpts from his video diaries. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Today, all 111 episodes are available on the CBC’s website.

Mary Bonauto: 1961. If you’re in a state where you’re allowed to marry, then you have Mary Bonauto to thank. The civil rights attorney, lauded as “our Thurgood Marshal,” has been working with the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) since 1990, playing key roles in methodically building the legal foundation through a series of court cases which eventually opened the doors, at least part way, to marriage equality for same-sex couples. As Roberta Kaplan told The New York Times in March 2013, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.”

Bonauto began her work at GLAD by litigating several employment discrimination, custody and free speech cases throughout New England. Seven years later, she was co-counselor for three Vermont couples seeking a marriage license. The goal was full marriage, but at that time it was still difficult to make a legal case. Instead, Baker v. Vermont compelled the Vermont legislature to enact the nation’s first civil union law in 2000. The following year, Bonauto took another crack at marriage as lead counsel for Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. That led to the landmark 2003 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court which led the Bay State to become the first in the nation in marriage equality. She was also co-counsel in the Connecticut court case which prompted that state legislature to enact a civil union law.

Bonauto next set her sights set on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as lead counsel for Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, one of five federal cases which challenged DOMA’s constitutionality. In that case in 2010, a Federal District Court in held that DOMA violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision. The case then went on to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court chose to hear the appeal for Edith Windsor instead and that case ended up dooming DOMA in June 2013. Two years later, Bonauto was before the Supreme Court again in April, this time urging the court to strike down gay marriage bans nation wide as litigant for Obergefell v. Hodges. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision by the end of this month.

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 7

Jim Burroway

June 7th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Anchorage, AK; Asbury Park, NJBirmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Pride Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON;Conway, AK; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Dresden, Germany; Edmonton, AB; El Paso, TX; Guerneville, CA; Honolulu, HI; Indianapolis, IN; Lander, WY; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Ranchos, NM; Milwaukee, WI; New Paltz, NY; Niagara Falls, NY; Oxford, UK; Pine City, MN; Queens, NY;  Salt Lake City, UT; Santa Cruz, CA; Tulsa, OK; Washington, DC.

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

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Days Disney, Orlando, FL; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1977, page 48.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Voters Rescind Gay Rights Ordinance: 1977. The Dade County Commission approved an ordinance in January of 1977 that would outlaw discrimination against gay people in employment, housing and public services (see Jan 18). Miami joined about 40 other communities around the nation had similar anti-discrimination laws in effect.

Reaction from local Christian conservatives was swift. Former beauty queen and Florida Orage Juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant learned about the ordinance when it was denounced from the pulpit at Northwest Baptist Church. She sprang into action, creating a group called “Save Our Children” to overturn the ordinance at the ballot box. Fearmongering about “access to children” would be the group’s main focus. She told one audience, “Some males who would become teachers even want to wear dresses to work and flaunt their homosexuality in front of our children.” To another, she warned,  “When the law requires you to let an admitted homosexual teach your children and serve as a role model for them, it’s time to stop being so tolerant.” She also blamed homosexuals for the weather. “Do you know why California has a drought? Because a Southern California city passed a gay rights ordinance. That’s God’s way of punishing civilizations that are tolerant of homosexuals.”

Bryant’s mean-spiritedness reportedly cost her a planned syndicated television series when producers backed away from the controversial singer. This gave her a chance to reveal her persecution complex. Declaring that “the blacklisting of Anita Bryant has begun,” she claimed that in losing that job, “it destroys the dream that I have had since I was a child.” Gay rights leader and local businessman Bob Kunst relished the irony. “She wants to cause gays to lose their jobs and she complains because she has lost a job. The lady is a hypocrite.”

Miami HeraldDays before the vote was to take place, Florida Gov. Ruben Askew was asked about the Miami campaign at a news conference. “If I were in Miami,” he responded, “I would have no difficulty in voting to repeal that ordinance.” He also said that he had no known gay people on his staff, and he wouldn’t hire any. Askew had been seen as being among a new breed of open-minded Southern Democrats, and his name was often mentioned as a potential Presidential contender.

The final vote wasn’t even close. When the special election came around, the final tally was 202,319 to just 89,562. Dade County voted overwhelmingly to jump onto Anita Bryant’s bandwagon. Bryant responded, “The laws of God and the cultural values of man have been vindicated,” and she announced that she would take her campaign to other cities across America.

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, June 6

Jim Burroway

June 6th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Aarhus, Denmark; Anchorage, AK; Asbury Park, NJ; Bergen, Norway; Birmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Pride Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, ON;Charleston, WV; Columbus, GA; Conway, AK; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Dresden, Germany; Edmonton, AB; El Paso, TX; Fresno, CA; Guerneville, CA; Honolulu, HI; Indianapolis, IN; Innsbruck, Austria; Lander, WY; Lille, France; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Ranchos, NM; Milwaukee, WI; New Paltz, NY; Niagara Falls, NY; Nicosia, Cyprus; Oxford, UK; Pine City, MN; Queens, NY; Sacramento, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Santa Cruz, CA; Spencer, IN; Split, Croatia; Tulsa, OK; Washington, DC.

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

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Gay Days Disney, Orlando, FL; AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel; Identities Queer Film Festival, Vienna, Austria.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 51.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 140 YEARS AGO: Thomas Mann: 1875-1955. The German author, social critic and 1929 Nobel Prize winner mined the rich material of his own life and family for many of his novels, including the Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, and A Death in Venice, the latter of which is credited with introducing homosexual themes in the general culture. Mann married in 1905 and had six children, but when his diaries were unsealed in 1975, they revealed his struggles with his sexuality.

Mann’s political views began on the conservative end of the spectrum, with his support for the authoritarian policies of Kaiser Wilhelm II. But after the Great War, he became increasingly liberal, and his staunch support of democratic principles led naturally to his strident denunciations of Nazi policies. The Manns were vacationing in Switzerland when Hitler came to power in 1933 and they never returned home. Mann soon resettled in Southern California and recorded several anti-Nazi speeches which were broadcast into Germany during World War II by the BBC. After the war, he returned to Switzerland, where he died in 1955 of atherosclerosis.

Harvey Fierstein: 1952. His acting debut was in 1971, when he appeared in Andy Warhol’s only play PorkHe’s most famous as the actor and playwright of the Tony Award-winning Torch Song Trilogy (1982), the story of a drag-performer’s search for true love and family. He the wrote the book for La Cage aux Folles (1983) which garnered him another Tony Award. He won another Tony, this time for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for his role as Edna Turnblad in the Broadway version of John Water’s Hairspray (2002). Film credits include the film version of Torch Song Trilogy and Woody Allen’s Bullets over Broadway, and as Mrs. Doubtfire‘s makeup artist brother. He’s also lent his distinctive gravelly voice to a number of cartoons, including a 1999 HBO special based on his children’s book The Sissy Duckling, and guest appearances in The Simpsons and Family Guy. In 2012, he wrote the book for the stage version of Kinky Boots. His new play, Casa Valentina opened this year on Broadway and has been nominated for four Tonys, including Best Play.

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?

Newer Posts | Older Posts