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“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…”
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Posts for September, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 25

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Belgrade, Serbia; Durham, NC; Ft. Collins, CO/a>; Memphis, TN; Moab, UT; Richmond, VA; Sedona/Cottonwood, AZ; Soweto, South Africa; Sunderland, UK; Willemstad, Curaçao.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Wilmington/Rehoboth, DE.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, December 1962, page 21.

From ONE, December 1962, page 21.

J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson at the San Deigo’s Del Mar Turf Club, 1947.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
30 YEARS AGO: J. Edgar Hoover’s  Personal Interest in Gay Movements Revealed: 1984. An earlier cache of secret files detailing FBI surveillance on gay people had been released two years earlier (see Sep 9), but that release offered only a small glimpse of the magnitude of governmental spying. It would take an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Archives (now the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives) for the more important cache to be released under the Freedom of Information Act. That later release consisted of more than 5,800 papers, most of it very boring details of gay pride picnics and parades, and photocopies of magazines that were publicly sold on newsstands. Most documents focused on the Mattachine Society and ONE Magazine, the first openly gay magazine in America.

But one interesting set of papers revealed J. Edgar Hoover’s interest in the gay movement. According to a memo dated January 26, 1956, the Los Angeles field office had been asked to check on the November 1955 issue of ONE, which talked about gay people who worked for Time and The New Yorker. The LA field office concluded that the articles statement was “baseless” and recommended that “no reply be made.”

But scrawled in handwriting below the typewritten recommendation was the sentence, “I think we should take this crowd and make them ‘put up or shut up’.” Markings indicated that the handwritten statement was made by Hoover’s chief aide and lifelong special “friend” Clyde Tolson. Hoover and Tolson worked closely together in the day, ate all their meals together in the evening, were seen socializing in nightclubs, and took vacations together. When Hoover died in 1971, Tolson inherited Hoover’s estate, and accepted the flag that draped Hoover’s coffin. Tolson’s grave is just a few discrete yards away from Hoover’s in Congressional Cemetery.

Hoover also weighed in on the 1956 memo. Next to Tolson’s recommendation to keep the case files open and continue investigating was another inscription. “I concur,” it read, with the single letter “H” underneath. The next day, a telegram went to the Los Angeles office. “You are instructed to have two mature and experienced agents contact Freeman (the pseudonym for the article’s author), in the immediate future and tell him the bureau will not countenance such baseless charges appearing in this magazine, and for him to either ‘put up or shut up’.” It was signed, simply, “Hoover.”

The Los Angeles field office followed up on Hoover’s instructions and paid a visit to ONE magazine (see Jan 26), where they found ONE’s chairman, Dorr Legg (see Dec 15) who flatly refused to answer their questions. Nevertheless, the FBI file on ONE grew to more than a hundred pages over the next several months while Hoover and Tolson complained about the lack of incriminating evidence from the investigation.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Pedro Almodóvar: 1952. Born in a small town in La Mancha, the trajectory of his life was rather unremarkable in the late Franco era. He went to Catholic boarding school in preparation for the priesthood, but instead found his education in the local cinema. In 1967, he moved to Madrid with the goal of becoming a film director, but since Franco had just closed the National School of Cinema, Almodóvar got a job at the state telephone company where he worked for the next twelve years. But they weren’t wasted years; he also became involved with the underground experimental theater and cinema, learning his craft using a Super-8 camera he bought from his first paycheck from the phone company.

His first feature film didn’t come until 1980. Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap) was filmed on a shoestring budget by a team of volunteers working on the weekends. He later described the film as “full of defects. When a film has only one or two, it is considered an imperfect film, while when there is a profusion of technical flaws, it is called style. That’s what I said joking around when I was promoting the film, but I believe that that was closer to the truth.” Seventeen more films followed, most of them celebrating the sexy exhilaration of modern Spain. International fame came with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which established Almodóvar as a “women’s director” for his ability to solicit powerful performances from his actresses, which has brought about comparisons to George Cukor. It also introduced the world to Spanish actor Antonio Banderas. Banderas was featured again in 1990′s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, a sadomasochistic-themed film which earned a controversial X-rating in the U.S.

The decade’s end brought increasing critical acclaim, with 1999′s All About My Mother (with Penélope Cruz) earning an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 2002′s Talk to Her winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and 2009′s Broken Embraces (this time starring Penélope Cruz) and 2011′s The Skin I Live In (starring Antonio Banderas) earning Golden Globe nominations. His latest film, I”m So Excited, came out in 2013 to mixed reviews.

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, September 24

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Belgrade, Serbia; Durham, NC; Ft. Collins, CO/a>; Memphis, TN; Moab, UT; Richmond, VA; Sedona/Cottonwood, AZ; Soweto, South Africa; Sunderland, UK; Willemstad, Curaçao.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Wilmington/Rehoboth, DE.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The 5th Freedom (Buffalo, NY), July 4, 1974, page 2.

From The 5th Freedom (Buffalo, NY), July 4, 1974, page 2.t

When the Rathskeller held its grand opening in Rochester, New York, on January 20, 1974, the local gay paper, The Empty Closet, printed this brief announcement:

The RATHSKELLER (formerly the TURF) has been bought by FLORENCE AND JESS, long time friend of the gay set. They have cleaned it up and out, trying to build a clientel (sic) reminisent (sic) of the CHALET. Quiet, amiable drinking is always in at the RATHSKELLER.

The Rathskeller was one of the original sponsors of Rochester’s annual Gay Picnic, which is still going strong as part of Rochester’s annual Pride celebration. The Rathskeller’s location today is a desolate, empty lot, in a part of town that has clearly seen better days.

Thomas Jefferson “Jeffrey” Withers

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Your Elongated Protruberance”: 1826. In May of 1826, Thomas Jefferson Withers, a twenty-two year old law student known to his friends at South Carolina College as Jeffrey, wrote to his dear friend, James Hammond, 18, a letter which is both playful and quite frank about the physical nature of their relationship (see May 15). Hammond responded on June 3, but that letter appears to have been lost. Instead, what we do have is a follow-up letter from Withers which allude to that letter, which Withers praised for having “too much honesty of purpose” and in which Hammond, apparently, weighed the pros and cons of marriage. Withers’s reply to Hammond on September 24 went like this:

Your excellent Letter of 13 June arrived … a few weeks since … Here, where anything like a systematic course of thought, or of reading, is quite out of the question — such system as leaves no vacant, idle moments of painful vacuity, which invites a whole Kennel of treacherous passions to prey upon one’s vitals … the renovation of spirit which follows the appearance of a friend’s Letter — the diagram of his soul — is like a grateful shower from the cooling fountains of Heaven to reanimate drooping Nature. Whilst your letters are Transcripts of real–existing feeling, and are on that account peculiarly welcome — they at the same time betray too much honesty of purpose not to strike an harmonious chord in my mind. I have only to regret that, honesty of intention and even assiduity in excition [?] are far from being the uniform agents of our destiny here– However it must, at best, be only an a priori argument for us to settle the condemnation of the world, before we come in actual contact with it. This task is peculiarly appropriate to the acrimony of old age — and perhaps we had as well defer it, under the hope that we may reach a point, when ’twill be all that we can do–

l fancy, Jim, that your elongated protruberance –your fleshen pole — your [two Latin words; indecipherable] — has captured complete mastery over you — and I really believe, that you are charging over the pine barrens of your locality, braying, like an ass, at every she-male you can discover. I am afraid that you are thus prostituting the “image of God” and suggest that if you thus blasphemously essay to put on the form of a Jack — in this stead of that noble image — you will share the fate of Nebuchadnezzar of old. I should lament to hear of you feeding upon the dross of the pasture and alarming the country with your vociferations. The day of miracles may not be past, and the flaming excess of your lustful appetite may drag down the vengeance of supernal power. — And you’ll “be dam-d if you don’t marry “? — and felt a disposition to set down and gravely detail me the reasons of early marriage. But two favourable ones strike me now — the first is, that Time may grasp love so furiously as totally [?] to disfigure his Phiz. The second is, that, like George McDuffie, he may have the hap-hazzard of a broken backbone befal him, which will relieve him from the performance of affectual family-duty — & throw over the brow of his wife, should he chance to get one, a most foreboding glooming — As to the first, you will find many a modest good girl subject to the same inconvenience — and as to the second, it will only superinduce such domestic whirlwinds, as will call into frequent exercise rhetorical displays of impassioned Eloquence, accompanied by appropriate and perfect specimens of those gestures which Nature and feeling suggest. To get children, it is true, fulfills a department of social & natural duty — but to let them starve, or subject them to the alarming hazard of it, violates another of a most important character. This is the dilemma to which I reduce you — choose you this day which you will do … [Underlines in the original.]

James Hammond, indiscriminate wielder of his “fleshen pole.”

Hammond would indeed choose to marry, and through his wife he became the owner of a 10,000 acre plantation and 220 slaves. In fact, that young man of “flaming excess” and “lustful appetites” would, according to his own diaries, exercize his libido on three teenage nieces, a slave who bore him several children, and his own teenage daughter. And yet he served as Congressman, Governor and Senator for South Carolina, and became one of the South’s most prominent moralists and defenders of slavery. “I firmly believe,” he said while Governor, “that American slavery is not only not a sin, but especially commanded by God through Moses, and approved by Christ through his apostles.” Hammond invented the phrase “Cotton is King” during a Senate floor debate, and he argued that every society needed a lower caste in order to provide the luxeries that marked high civilization. Hammond’s arguments in support of the “peculiar institution” were highly influential, leading ultimately to his state becoming the first in the South to secede at the start of the Civil War.

Withers also married, in 1831, and he reached a measure of prominence as a journalist and “nullifier,” a lawyer and as a judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals. He represented his county in South Carolina’s secession Convention, and South Carolina as a Senator in the Provisional Confederate Congress. He was also a signatory to the Confederate Constitution, but resigned from his Senate seat and returned to South Carolina in 1861. His estate was destroyed in the war, and he died, “a professed infidel,” of dysentery in November, 1865.

South Carolina law carried the death penalty for sodomy until 1869, when the death penalty was abolished for all crimes except murder. A follow-up law in 1872 imposed a five year prison term and/or a fine of $500.

[Source: Martin Duberman. “‘Writhing Bedfellows’: 1826.” Journal of Homosexuality 6, no. 1 (1981): 85-101. Also available online here.]

Dr. Charles Socarides

Prominent Psychiatrist Calls for National Center to Treat Homosexuality: 1967. Dr. Charles Socarides, clinical assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine gave a lecture at a meeting at the National Institute of Mental Health, describing homosexuality as “condition of certainly epedemological proportions” and calling for the establishment of a national center for its research and treatment. “There is no place — hardly any place, I would say, in the United States — where a homosexual can go and say: I am a homosexual. I need help.”

Socarides been angling to establish himself as the nation’s leading authority on homosexuality for quite some time. Earlier that year, he had appeared on CBS’s notorious hour-long special program “The Homosexuals” (see Mar 7). In his NIMH lecture, he described homosexuality as a product of the “Pre-Oedipal” stage (according to psychoanalytic theories of development) — generally before the age of three — which was earlier than the generally accepted age in classical theories of sexual development. Socarides contended that his proposed theory would also hold up for “fetishism, transvestitism, sexual masochism, and exhibition,” and would lead to what he called a “Unified Theory of Sexual Perversion.” Socarides placed the burden of a homosexual’s development on his mother. “The homosexual’s mother is domineering and tyrannical,” he said. “The best way to describe her is as a crushing mother that will not allow the child to achieve his own autonomy.” He later added, “I don’t want to blame Mother for everything, but it comes down to this.”

Socarides described the NIMH as “ideally constituted” to set up a treatment and research center for homosexuality. “Such a national center will be started by one of the Western governments, and I hope it is here. … A comprehensive program is needed to diminish, reverse, and prevent this tragic human condition that involves such large numbers of the population.

Socarides’s suggesting was never adopted. Instead, the NIMH announced four days later the formation of a task force to recommend a research program on human sexuality, with a special focus on homosexuality. The twelve-member panel included professionals from the fields of psychiatry, psychology, law, sociology, anthropology and clergy. UCLA’s Dr. Evelyn Hooker (see Sep 2), whose groundbreaking research on homosexuality found that gay people weren’t inherently mentally disturbed (see Aug 30), was tapped to chair the panel. In 1969, that panel would release its report urging the decriminalization of homosexuality nationwide (see Oct 20). Socarides would become a bitter critic of the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders (see Apr 9). In 1992, he co-founded of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which continues to advocate for the “curing” of gay people of their “pathology.”

[Sources: Jean M. White. “Center to Treat Homosexuals Urged.” The Washington Post (September 25, 1967): A3.

Unsigned. “Task Force to Study Sexuality.” The Washington Post (September 29, 1967): A2.]

A candlelight vigil at the Backstreet Cafe following the shooting.

Mass Shooting in Gay Bar Kills One, Injures Six: 2000. Ronald Edward Gay spent his entire life hearing jokes about his surname. A former Vietnam vet, he become an alcoholic and drug abuser, and had just been divorced for the sixth time. His children changed their last names, he claimed, to escape the jokes. So when he finally had had enough, he decided to turn it around and take it out not on his tormentors, but on those who he believed had ruined his name. On September 24, 2000, the fifty-three-year-old drifter walked into the Backstreet Cafe in Roanoke, Virginia, pulled a 9mm handgun from his black trench coat and opened fire. One of the bar’s patrons, Anna Sparks, described the terror. “The guy was standing there with a trench coat on, and the gun was going pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and people were falling over everywhere, trying to get behind booths. He just stood there for a couple of seconds, then lowered the gun and walked out like nothing had happened.” When the shooting spree ended, Danny Lee Overstreet, 43, was dead in a pool of blood and six others were injured, one critically.

Danny Lee Overstreet (left), Ronald Edward Gay (right)

Gay had been at a different bar earlier that night asking where the city’s nearest gay bar was, telling patrons he wanted to shoot some gay people. One person gave him directions and then called the police, who arrived at the Backstreet Cafe shortly after the shooting. They found Gay about two blocks away. “He said he was shooting people to get rid of, in his term, ‘faggots,’” Lieutenant William Althoff of the Roanoke police told reporters. Gay told authorities that he became obsessed with fulfilling four “missions”: to stop corruption, to stop communism, to bring all Vietnam vets “out of the mountains”, and to stop the spread of AIDS by forcing all gay people to move to San Francisco. Gay pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and six malicious wounding charges and on July 23, 2001 was given four life sentences.

No homos.

“There Are No Homosexuals In Iran”: 2007. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York for the opening of a United Nations General Session when he made a side trip to Columbia University for a controversial speaking engagement. Some feared that Columbia would give the Ahmadinejad an open platform to spout his Holocaust-denying views unchallenged, but those fears evaporated when Columbia President LEe Bollinger’s opening remarks blasted him as “a petty and cruel dictator” for imprisoning and executing gay people, academics and journalists. “I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions,” Bollinger said before Ahmadinejad took the podium. “I do expect you to exhibit a fanatical mind-set.”

Bollinger’s expectations were met, as Ahmadinejad fielded questions from Bollinger and the audience. When asked about the death penalty that Iran imposed on gay people, Ahmadinejad tried to turn the subject to drug smugglers. But when pushed on the question by the acting dean of the School of International and Public Affairs John Coatsworth, Ahmadinejad gave his now-famous answer: ” Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you we have that.” Ahmadinejad’s answer was greeted with jeers, outrage, and howls of laughter.

Those comments came just a few months after photos made the rounds on the Internet of two teenage boys who were hanged after being found guilty of homosexual acts. Just two months after Ahmadinejad’s talk at Columbia, an Iranian member of Parliament said that gays in Iran deserved to be executed or tortured. We assume he was speaking hypothetically.

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, September 23

Jim Burroway

September 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, May 1972, page 17.

From David, May 1972, page 17.

When I go looking for information on a long-lost gay bar, the last place I expect to find it is Zillow. But lo and behold, there it is:

Originally a charming Victorian Age Carriage House, this property is most well-known as the previous location of long-time bar and nightclub the Napoleon Club, which existed on the site for over 40 years, from the 1950s until 1998, when the previous owner abruptly closed the door, forever. Although the fascinating history goes back even earlier as this site first opened as a speakeasy in 1929, called Nappies. The Napoleon Club was a Boston institution for many years and is now ready for a buyer of exquisite taste.

Keith Orr eulogized the bar’s closing in 1998:

Mind you, Napoleon’s was not so much a bar as it was a cocktail lounge, where drinks were served in real glass, patrons took the time to say hello to each other as they bellied up to the bar, and a dedicated group of regulars made the club as close to a gay version of Cheers as you could find. Many luminaries crossed the threshold, including Liza and Lorna’s mom, Judy; Liberace; and just about every chorus boy from every bus and truck show to set up camp in Boston’s Theater District.

For those of you who never had the pleasure, you missed out on one of the most amazing nocturnal experiences our little town had to offer. My favorite memory is from a night a couple of years ago. It was fairly early, before the evening crowd had arrived, and without any prompting, a fairly plain-looking guy in an Anderson Little suit moved from the bar and parked himself at the piano. Placing his drink atop a coaster, he launched into the most spirited rendition of “Oklahoma” that I have ever heard. I fully expected Shirley Jones to come around the corner in full costume to complete the scene. I imagined that he had just spent the whole day working downtown at a bank he managed, singing the song over and over to himself, and when that last teller cashed out, he beelined to Nappy’s to get it out of his system. And in true Napoleon’s tradition, the few patrons in the room either moved to join him around the piano or just smiled to themselves and sang along from their places at the bar.

The old club has been converted to a three bedroom, four bath, 2,400 square foot home that sold last summer for a cool $1.8 million.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
  Beacon Hill Resident Congratulates Beacon Hill for Its Tolerance: 1965. Residents of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill prided themselves on gentility, openness and tolerance, even as those virtues were being challenged in the tumultuous 1960s. And they had no compunction about patting themselves on their collective backs, as exemplified in a letter to the editor that was published in the September edition of the neighborhood’s newsletter, The Beacon Hill News:

The only people I would consider as being so-called undesirable elements are the “immature set”… The so-called odd-balls, beatniks, and homosexuals give the Hill the charm it has today, along with the elderly ladies and gentlemen who have been living in this area for so long.

It is amazing how the rich, poor, the young, old, the students, beatniks, and homosexuals can be so compatible within this little community in the heart of Boston. Eliminate the immature, who are included in all types, and you have the most prejudice-free community, where everyone minds his own business and lives side by side in almost complete harmony. This is an example of the way all communities should be in America. This is Beacon Hill. This is America.

I’m sure that those odd-ball students, beatniks and homosexuals may have had a considerably different perspective on their fellow neighbors’ tolerance, but the mere fact that a welcome mat for homosexuals could appear in the prestigious neighborhood’s newsletter (“Where the Lowells speak only to the Cabots, and the Cabots speak only to God”) ought to count for something.

[Source: “Cross-Currents” The Ladder (December 1965): 12.]

 

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
60 YEARS AGO: George C. Wolfe: 1954. The playwright and director grew up in Frankfort, Kentucky, where he first pursued his theater interests in high school. After college, he taught for several years in Los Angeles in New York, and earned an MFA in dramatic writing and musical theater at New York University. He began to gain national attention for the 1991 musical Jelly’s Last Jam, a story about jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton, which received eleven Tony nominations. In 1993, he directed Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, which won a Tony for best play that year. He also directed the sequel Perestroika the following year.

In 1995, Wolfe created Bring In ‘da Noise, Bring In ‘da Funk at the Off-Broadway New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, and took it to Broadway the following year. The musical tells the story, through tap dance, video montages, and commentary, of Black history from slavery to the present. The New York Times called it “beautiful and the dancing exuberant, but Funk is serious business, with vicious, funny send-ups of Uncle Tomism in Hollywood.” Bring In ‘da Noise received nine Tony nominations; the production won four Tony’s, including Wolfe’s for Best Direction of a Musical.

Wolfe continues to direct plays, including Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change and a 2011 Broadway revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, which won a Tony for Best Revival.

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, September 22

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), September 22, 1979.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), September 22, 1979.

DollysThe gays have always loved Dolly Parton, and Dolly Parton has had a special affinity for the gays, and especially for drag queens. At one time, Dolly herself entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest — and lost:

“They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated — made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything,” she said, laughing. “All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes. So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy.. but I got the least applause.”

As for the Warehouse in Cedar Rapids, the two-story industrial brick building that housed the club since 1978 had begun life in 1887 as the American Manufacturing Co., a maker of wood gunstocks and other handcrafted wood products. But more recently, the property was owned by the Knutson Metal Co. which operated a salvage yard on its grounds. City officials considered the property, located between a proposed city amphitheater and a park along the Cedar River, a “blight to the neighborhood and a drag on development,” while the Historic Preservationist Commission listed the building itself as one of eleven most endangered buildings in the city. In 2012, the city agreed to buy the property for $1.5 million. At last report, the city was still weighing its options for preserving the building and adapting it for public use.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Senator Dirksen Denounces Homosexual “Wreckers and Destroyers”: 1954. In the past decade, we’ve seen each successive election year bring with it worse examples of character assassination, blatant bold-faced lies, and other examples of negative campaign tactics than ever before. Each time, it just seems to get worse, and we often wish we could turn back the clock to a more innocent and civil time when Americans could always find a way to get along regardless of their differences. You know, like in the 1950s.

Yeah, like in the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) was labeling his political enemies radical communists and “sexual perverts.” And when Sen. Everett M. Dirksen (R-IL), who was then serving as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the upcoming 1954 mid-term elections, declared during a meeting of 1,100 Republican women that “never were the destroyers and traitors in government so busy” as during the 20 years of Democratic rule from 1933 to 1953. He told the women that since then, Republicans like himself and McCarthy (who was Dirksen’s political ally during the previous four years) were left to root out “the wreckers and destroyers, the security risks and homosexuals, the blabbermouths and drunks, the traitors and saboteurs.”

It is important to note though that ten years later, Sen. Dirksen, who by then was Senate Minority Leader, played a crucial role in delivering enough Republican votes to break  an 83-day filibuster by southern Democrats and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The press hailed Dirksen’s selfless bipartisanship for making possible one of the Johnson Administration’s signature pieces of legislation. Some things never change, but other things do.

And then there’s one other thing. The Federal Court House in Chicago, which was designed by the renowned modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is named the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. Last month, it was the scene of the most masterful exhibition of the utter emptiness of the arguments against marriage equality in all of jurisprudence.

Oliver Sipple pushes Sara Jane Moore as she fired as shot at President Ford. (Click to enlarge.)

Gay Man Saves President Ford’s Life: 1975. President Gerald Ford was in San Francisco to deliver a luncheon speech to a foreign affairs group at the St. Francis Hotel. Outside, Oliver Sipple, former Marine and Vietnam veteran, was in a crowd of about 3,000 people waiting for Ford to exit the building. Standing next to Sipple was Sara Jane Moore, although they didn’t know each other. Moore, ironically, was also working as an FBI informant, where she provided information on illegal firearms purchases. Earlier that day, she called federal authorities threatening to “test” Ford’s security, but she was ignored. The day before, San Francisco police picked her up on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, but they released her after federal authorities stepped in and said they would handle the matter. The Secret Service interviewed her that night, but let her go.

So there she was, and as Ford left the hotel, Moore pulled a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from her purse, pointed it at the President, and fired a shot. As she fired, Sipple reached out and grabbed her arm. Her shot missed Ford by just five feet. It was the second assassination attempt in a month — nearly thee weeks earlier, a follower of mass murderer Charles Manson had tried to take a shot at him in Sacramento. That time, the gun didn’t fire. This time it did, and Sipple was a hero. “All I did was react,” he said. “I’m glad I was there. If it’s true I saved the President’s life, then I’m damn happy about it. But I honestly feel that if I hadn’t reached out for that arm, somebody else would have.”

Sipple had been a fixture in San Francisco’s gay community for several years. He was friends with Harvey Milk, and worked on Milk’s first unsuccessful attempt at winning a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors. He was out to his friends, but closeted to his family in Detroit. Milk and other gay writers in San Francisco saw Sipple’s heroism as a perfect moment to gain some positive visibility for the gay community, but that was the last kind of attention Sipple wanted. When reporters asked about his sexuality, Sipple replied with a standard non-answer: “I don’t think I have to answer that question. If I were homosexual or not, it doesn’t make me less of a man than I am.”

But because Sipple was well known in the gay community — he volunteered for a gay service group and worked as a bartender at several gay clubs — it was impossible to keep the secret. Besides, Sipple hadn’t heard a word from the man whose life he saved, and Milk was convinced that it was because Sipple was gay. (The White House mailed a letter of appreciation four days after the assassination attempt.) But Sipple told friends that he wasn’t interested in the attention, “just a little peace and quiet.” That peace and quiet was shattered when The San Francisco Chronicle’s Herb Caen broke the story and it was soon picked up by wire services. Sipple’s Baptist mother publicly disowned him, and he soon found himself besieged by reporters. Sipple sued The Chronicle, Caen, and several other newspapers for invasion of privacy, but lost. The courts ruled that he had become a public figure on the day of the assassination attempt, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.

Sipple, who was on psychological disability because of wounds suffered in Vietnam, declined in the years following the assassination attempt. He drank heavily, became obese, and expressed regret for grabbing Moore’s gun. He died, alone, of pneumonia in his Tenderloin District apartment in 1989.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Hans Scholl: 1918-1943. Like all good German boys, he joined the Hitler Youth in 1933, where he quickly became a squad leader in charge of 150 boys. He also formed a special elite squad to train other future leaders in the movement. Reflecting, perhaps, his own growing apprehensions about the Nazi movement, his training squad became quite unorthodox. Based on a soon-to-be outlawed Deutsche Jungenschaft, Scholl’s squad took a decidedly irreverent stance. A favorite joke within the group was to ask, “What is an Aryan?” The answer was, “Blond like Hitler, tall like Goebbels, and slim like Goering.” After the Nazis launched a crackdown on dissent, Scholl’s squad was disbanded and several members were arrested. It was during those interrogations that authorities learned that Scholl was gay. He was brought up on charges of violating paragraph 175, Germany’s longstanding law prohibiting homosexuality between men. This time, Scholl was lucky: the judged dismissed Scholl’s relationship with another squad member as “a youthful failing” and acquitted him of all charges.

Left to right: White Rose members Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst.

Scholl and his younger sister, Sophie, both became committed anti-Nazis. As war broke out, Hans was studying medicine in Munich, and Sophie joined him there to study biology and philosophy in 1941. Her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, was an officer in the Wehrmacht fighting on the eastern front. Through extensive letter exchanges between Fritz and Sophie, historians have been able to piece together Sophie’s growing pacifism and Fritz’s alarm over the participation of German soldiers in mass killings of Jews and other atrocities. Meanwhile, Hans and two other students began a pacifist resistance movement called the White Rose, where they co-authored six anti-Nazi leaflets. When Sophie learned of her brother’s activities, she joined the group, which would grow to about a dozen members. As a woman, she was much less likely to be stopped by police while carrying stacks of leaflets to be distributed in several cities and through the mails.

The sixth White Rose leaflet.

The sixth White Rose leaflet.

In the summer of 1942, Hans and some of the other members of the White Rose was deployed to the Eastern Front to act as medics during the university’s summer break. When they returned, the group resumed its leafleting campaign, producing between 6,000 and 9,000 copies of their fifth leaflet, written by Hans and titled “A Call to All Germans!“, using a hand-cranked duplicating machine. The leaflet warned that Hitler was leading Germany to ruin and urged the people to join the struggle for “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states.” The sixth leaflet was written by Christoph Probst after the German defeat at Stalingrad, and announced that the day of reckoning was about to come for “the most contemptible tyrant our people has ever endured.” It was while the group was dumping thousands of those leaflets around the University of Munich that a custodian spotted Hans and Sophie. They were arrested and interrogated, along with several other members of the group. On February 22, 1943, Hans, Sophie and Probst were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

The sentence was carried out that very same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison. Sophie was first to be executed. Before the blade fell, she shouted, “The sun is still shining!” Hans’s last words were “Es lebe die Freiheit!” — Long live freedom! Over the next few weeks, other White Rose members were rounded up and were either executed or sent to prison camps. But the last word would be left for the White Rose itself. Copies of that last leaflet were smuggled out of Germany and handed to the Allies, who then air-dropped millions of copies all over Germany, ensuring that the White Rose would remain an unforgettable part of German history.

The translated text of six White Rose leaflets are available here.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, September 21

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TXPeterborough, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, CA; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 31, 1979, page 34.

From The Advocate, May 31, 1979, page 34.

Fanny’s opened in 1974 as the Castro was more or less completing its transition from a blue collar Irish neighborhood to a rainbow hued gay village. It appears to have lasted precisely a decade. It’s now an Indian/Pakistani restaurant.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
San Francisco Police Raid the Alamo Club: 1956. The raid on the Alamo Club (also popularly known as Kelly’s) could have been just another raid by San Francisco’s police on just another gay or lesbian club. As raids go, it wasn’t particularly remarkable. Thirty-six women were arrested during the Friday night raid, hauled to the city jail, and booked on charges of frequenting a house of ill repute, which was a rather typical charge that was levied against gay bar patrons in the 1950s and 1960s. They were held over the weekend until the following Monday, when they were finally brought before a judge. All but four pleaded guilty. That, too, was typical. While the charge was frequenting a house of ill-repute, many of those arrested that night undoubtedly believed they were actually guilty of the anti-prostitution law simply because being a lesbian itself also held quite a lot of “ill-repute” in society. Pleading guilty also had its practical merits: it meant no trial and no jail sentence. Just pay a fine and you’re on your way.

If anything was different about this raid, it was made different because the Daughters of Bilitis had decided to begin publishing a newsletter in right around that time. The Ladder’s second issue in November included a very brief account of the raid — about as brief as what I just described — while lamenting that only four of those arrested chose to plead not guilty. “We feel that this was not due to actual guilt on the part of those so pleading but to an apalling (sic) lack of knowledge of the rights of a citizen in such a case.” The Ladder reported that the raid was the topic for the DoB’s October 23 discussion meeting where a local attorney, Benjamin Davis, volunteered to speak on “The Lesbian and the law,” with special emphasis on citizen’s rights in case of arrest. And in a separate article in that same newsletter, The Ladder urged “positive and constructive action” in response to the raid:

Certainly there is a marked reaction of fear and retrenchment among the Lesbian population of San Francisco after the recent raid… A paralyzing fear has been heaped upon an ever-present dread of detection. The persecuted are seeking cover once again. The innocent are convinced of their guilt. The tolerant became intolerant of their fellows. Growth is stultified by a sludge of misunderstanding.

Where will it lead? To a miserable half-existence of apprehension, self-pity, cynicism, hopelessness and paralysis? In some cases, perhaps.

BUT THIS NEED NOT BE! NOT IF REACTION IS REPLACED BY ACTION — POSITIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION!

In the days before Miranda v Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court case which required that arresting officers brief those under arrest of their rights (“You have the right to remain silent…), police often took advantage of suspects’ ignorance of the law. The next issue of The Ladder reported on the attorney’s talk with an article boldly titled “Citizen’s Rights,” highlighting many of those very same rights:

“DON’T PLEAD GUILTY” was the recurrent theme that was sounded by San Francisco attorney, Ben Davis at the first public discussion meeting held by this organization in October. Mr. Davis stresses three primary rules to remember if ever arrested: Don’t plead guilty; call your attorney; don’t volunteer information — in fact, don’t talk to anyone about anything.

And to drive the point home, The Ladder reprinted a list of specific rights that are guaranteed to everyone under arrest. Because most people in the 1950s were probably unaware of them, The Mattachine Review had published an identical list eight months earlier for its mostly male gay readers, who were targets for police entrapment. The list, formulated by “the National Association for Sex Research, Inc., Hollywood, Calif.”, included these thirteen points:

CITIZEN’S RIGHTS IN CASE OF ARREST

1. An officer cannot arrest you without a warrant unless you have committed a crime in his presence or he has reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a felony. (Calif. PC 836)

2. If he has a warrant, ask to see it and read it carefully. If you are arrested without a warrant, ask what the charge is.

3. You are not required to answer any questions. You may, but do not have to give your name and address. If you are accused of a crime of which you are innocent, deny the charge. Go along, but under protest. Do not resist physically.

4. Do not sign anything. Take the badge numbers of the arresting officers.

5. If you are taken to jail, ask when you are booked what the charges are and whether they are misdemeanor or felony charges.

6. Insist on using the telephone to contact your lawyer or family.

7. You have the right to be released on bail for most offenses. Have your attorney make the arrangements or ask for a bail bondsman.

8. After an arrest without a warrant, a person must without unnecessary delay, be taken before the most accessible magistrate in the area where the arrest is made. The magistrate must hear the complaint and set bail. (Calif. PC 849)

9. Report any instances of police brutality which you observe to your attorney.

10. If you do not have an attorney by the time you are brought before a judge to plead, ask for additional time to obtain an attorney; or if this is not possible, plead not guilty and demand a jury trial.

11. You are entitled to a written statement of the charges against you before you are required to enter a plea.

12. You are not required to testify against yourself in any trial or hearing. (5th Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

13. If you are questioned by any law enforcement officer including the FBI, remember that you are not required to answer any questions concerning yourself or others. (5th Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

[Sources: Unsigned articles, The Ladder 1, no. 2 (November 1956): 5, 8.

Unsigned. “Citizen’s Rights.” The Ladder 1, no. 3 (December 1956): 2-3.

Unsigned. “A Citizen’s Rights In Case of Arrest.” Mattachine Review 2, no 2 (April 1956): 51.]

Amanda Bearse Comes Out Of the Closet: 1993. The Married… With Children star made headlines across the country when she became the first prime time actress to come out of the closet. Rumors about her sexuality had been floating around in the tabloids since 1991, but she wasn’t ready to deal with it. “The day I was outed was the anniversary of my brother’s death. I had woken up that morning thinking about my brother, and in the grand scheme of things, being outed didn’t matter.”

She came out under her own steam two years later in an interview with The Advocate. “I would love this interview to be the impetus for someone else to come forward,” she told reporter Steve Greenberg. “There are numerous celebrities, gay and straight, who contribute to our community. That buys us a lot of political power. I have friends who are more active who have… respected my pace. I guess with this interview I’ve stepped on the gas.”

Older, and with more insurance.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
70 YEARS AGO: Fannie Flagg: 1944. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Patricia Neal quickly discovered when she began her acting career that she wouldn’t be able to use her perfectly good birth name — the other already famous Patricia Neal had won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963. So at her grandfather’s and best friend’s suggestions, she became Fannie Flagg. She broke into doing local commercials and then became the host for a local morning television program.

Acting quickly gave way to comedy and writing, and in 1964 she joined Alan Funt’s Candid Camera as a staff writer. Her southern charm and sharp wit soon landed her spots on Password and the Match Game. She performed on Broadway and in a few movies, but perhaps her most interesting acting gig was as the beard for then-closeted Bewitched star Dick Sargent (see Apr 19); they were supposedly engaged to be married and were even introduced on the game show Tattletales by host Bert Convey as “Dick Sargent and his lady, Fannie Flagg.” Fannie herself was outed by her longtime lover, Rita Mae Brown, after the couple split in the late 1970s.

When the 1980s rolled around, Flagg turned more seriously to writing, which she describes as her first love. But that meant that she had to confront a huge hurdle — her severe dyslexia. She gave up her public appearances to focus on writing, and she very nearly became financially destitute in the process. The result was worth it though; her best-known novel, 1987′s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel, became a critically acclaimed movie in 1991. Flagg drew an important lesson from that experience because, despite the severe hardships, “I found out I was happier than I’d ever been because my priorities were straight and I was doing something I loved.” She currently divides her time between homes in Los Angeles and Birmingham.

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, September 20

Jim Burroway

September 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Columbia, SCDallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, CA; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special San Francisco travel section, page 11.

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special San Francisco travel section, page 11.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Asks, Gay Applicants Tell: 1966. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State G. Marvin Gentile testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee that thirty employees identified as “security risks” had left the State Department in 1965. Some resigned, others were dismissed following investigations. Twenty-eight of the thirty left “for homosexual reasons” and the other two for other reasons “such as excessive drinking, bad debts, and excessive use of leave.” Deputy Undersecretary for Administration William J. Crockett told the Committee that the State Department would pay closer attention to “preventive security,” which he described as simply asking applicants directly if they were homosexual. “We personally interview the applicant,” he said, “and it is surprising how many admissions we get to direct questions that we would never find out without the direct questioning.”

Triangulator In Chief

President Clinton Announces Signing of DOMA Into Law: 1996. President Clinton announced his signing of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which outlawed federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and which still allows states to ignore the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S Constitution and refuse to recognized valid marriages from other states. Clinton said that he signed DOMA to head off a federal constitutional amendment, but LGBT advocates grumbled that the act was less a defense of marriage and more a defense of his 1996 reelection campaign. Those suspicions were confirmed when the Clinton campaign released a radio ad bragging about his signing of DOMA and ran it on Christian radio stations across the country. In response to loud protests from LGBT advocates, the Clinton campaign pulled that ad two days later. Section 3 of DOMA, the portion of the law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was finally declared unconstitutional on June 26 of 2013.

Serving, defending.

DADT Repeal Goes Into Effect: 2011. It was an joyous celebration for the nation’s LGBT military service personnel when at the stroke of midnight, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally tossed into the dustbin of history where it rightfully belongs. One servicemember stationed in Germany came out to his father  — and to his unit — via YouTube. Another Navy officer married his partner at precisely one minute after midnight, and the co-founder of OutServe, “J.D. Smith” came out and revealed that he was actually Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried. Naturally, not everyone welcomed the breath of fresh air. The Family “Research” Council predicted that the demise of the ban on gays serving openly would lead to a rash of “new victims of sexual harassment or assault, the soldiers exposed to HIV-tainted blood, the thousands of servicemembers who choose not to reenlist rather than forfeit their freedom of speech and religion, and the untold number of citizens who choose never to join the military.” We’re still waiting for word on any of that happening.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Harold “Hal” Call: 1917-2000. Born and raised in Missouri, Call knew that he was gay from the age of twelve. But when he was inducted into the Army during World War II, he knew that sex would be out of the question. “If people were caught engaging in homosexual acts, some of them were shipped back to the states with less-than-honorable discharges. I thought it was a waste.” He went through Officer Candidate School and was promoted to Lieutenant before being shipped to the Pacific Theater. As an officer, if he had encountered people who were gay, he would have been required to have them dismissed from the service. But his approach was of a don’t-ask-don’t-tell variety. “Who was harmed? Nobody,” he recalled later. “That’s the way the armed forces should look at it. The armed forces could not operate without homosexuals. Never could. Never has. Never will.” He was promoted to regimental battalion commander, was wounded and received the Purple Heart, and left the Army as a captain in 1945.

He returned to Missouri and worked at several newspapers including the Kansas City Star. In August of 1952, he went to Chicago, where he and three friends were arrested for “lewd conduct.” After paying an $800 bribe, the charges were dismissed, but he was fired from the Star when his supervisor found out. So he and his boyfriend at the time packed up the car and moved to San Francisco, where Call quickly became involved with the Mattachine Foundation. He began attending meetings in February, and quickly rocketed to the top leadership.

It turns out that 1953 was a pivotal year for the group, which had been founded as something of a secret society, particularly where the organization’s leadership was concerned.  Part of the secrecy was an outgrowth of some of the Foundation original founders, some of whom (Harry Hay, in particular, see Apr 7), had been members of the Communist Party. Because the Foundation was founded in the midst of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red and Lavender Scares, the organization was set up so that nobody knew the names of the Mattachine leadership. But it was that very secrecy — and those early political connections among some of the leaders — which opened a wedge between the founders and many of the newcomers. “They all had communist backgrounds, every damn one of them!”, Call recalled. Those newcomers feared where the founders might take the organization. As Call later explained:

“Public protests were not part of our program. Not at all. we wanted to see changes come about by holding conferences and discussions and becoming subjects for research and telling our story. We wanted to assist people in the academic and behavioral-science world in getting the truth out to people who had an influence on law and law enforcement, the courts, justice, and so on.”

Everything came to a head in the spring of 1953 (see Apr 11) during a contentions convention when the old guard resigned, the Mattachine Foundation was disbanded and promptly reconstituted as the Mattachine Society, with Call as president. As he wrote two years later:

 It became apparent … that the original founders of the movement had built better than they knew. For there emerged from the convention a Society designed to carry out all functions of the Foundation, which agreed to disband. Gone were the “secret” orders, the questions of who was behind it all and the possibility of alternate motives. Established was an association of persons who knew and trusted the others within the group, and shared the zealous desire to alleviate a pressing social problem.

It may seem ironic, then, that the “conservative takeover” of the Society would lead to its leader being among the most publicly visible homosexuals in the country. In 1954, Call created and edited the Mattachine Review, and he founded Pan-Graphic Press, a publishing and book service company that became the Mattachine Review’s printer. In 1961, when San Francisco police raided the Tay-Bush Inn and arrested 103 patrons (see Aug 14), Call swung into action and deployed the Mattachine’s meager resources to provide bail money and legal representation. A month later, Call appeared on a documentary program produced by San Francisco’s Public Television station KQED called “The Rejected” (see Sep 11).  And in 1964 when Life magazine wanted to do a groundbreaking photo essay on the gay community in the San Francisco area (see Jun 26), Call made the arrangements with local bar owners for the photo shoots.

Hall Call, in the upstairs office of the Circle J Cinema. (1999)

Mattachine business wasn’t Call’s only interest. In the 1960s, Call’s Pan-Graphic Press printed a bar directory that had been compiled by a local bar owner by the name of Bob Damron, and anyone who knows anything about Damron’s Address Book knows the rest of that story. Call also became involved in local porn production (both in print and in 16mm film) and became the owner of a few private sex clubs in the Bay area.

Those interests soon surpassed his work in the Mattachine Society, even as he blurred his other interests with the Mattachine name. The Society had already ceased to exist as a national organization in 1961, although several independent groups in several cities continued to use the Mattachine name well up into the 1970s. One of those surviving Societies was Call’s outfit, which continued in name only into the 1990s, when Call described it as “in limbo.”  “It has a board of directors, and I’m the head queen, but we don’t have the strength of a powder puff,” he said.

From The Voice, January 16, 1982, page 12.

From The Voice, January 16, 1982, page 12.

Call’s energies, by then, had been devoted to running an adult theater in the Tenderloin. When he first opened his theater in 1973, he named it Cinemattachine, much to the consternation of other activists who already felt that he had turned the San Francisco society into a front for his private businesses when he gave the Mattachine Review’s business to his Pan-Graphics Press. Call later renamed his theater the Circle J Cinema, and it was exactly what you would imagine a theater with that name would be. Over his lifetime, Call amassed over 5,000 gay men’s sex videos and films, and he was an outspoken advocate for sexual freedom. He died in San Francisco in 2000. His papers are part of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles.

[Sources: Hall Call. “A brief history of the Mattachine Society” The Mattachine Review 1, no. 2 (March-April 1955), : 39.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights. An Oral History. (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 59-69.]

Rocking the Paradise

Chuck Panozzo: 1948. Do you remember the band Styx? I’m not sure how much play they get on classic rock radio these days, but they were huge from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. They were my favorite band in high school; I thought 1977′s The Grand Illusion was, you know, so deep. Anyway, bassist Chuck Panozzo co-founded the band with his fraternal twin brother, John. In 2001, Chuck came out as gay and as a person living with HIV, and since then he has been involved with AIDS awareness campaigns. His autobiography, The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life with Styx, chronicles the rise of Styx and the his own struggles to come to terms with himself.

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, September 19

Jim Burroway

September 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1977, page 22.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1977, page 22.

A Washington, D.C. entertainment guide in 2004 described Mr. P’s as “the oldest gay bar in the Circle” attracted “one of the oldest crowds,” which the writer defined as “30-and-ups.” Bitch! It went on: “In the evenings, patrons spill out onto the patio and head upstairs to the 2nd bar… The (Sunday) barbecues on the back patio are a good chance to meet some of the locals.” There’s a Mediterranean restaurant there today.

Mayor Abe Aronovitz

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Miami Mayor Dismisses Constitutional Concerns Over Anti-Gay Drive: 1954. Miami’s ongoing media-driven hysteria over the discovery of gay people in their midsts (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, and Sep 15) received further attention on the editorial page of The Miami News when staff writer Jane Woods highlighted the many battles between the combative mayor Abe Aronovitz and others on the City Commission and the local community:

Homosexuals brought the next trouble. In the pre-Kefauver days, says the Mayor, there were numerous bars in downtown Miami with gambling rooms upstairs or in the back. After open gambling was closed down, some of these bar operators turned these upstairs rooms into parlors, where homosexuals congregated, met each other, made love.

After Miami had a series of shocking crimes this summer, it was brought to the Mayor’s attention that many homosexuals took an intense pleasure in starting innocent young people off into an abnormal life. Many teen-age boys, to make money, had learned to feign abnormality to milk older homosexual men for all the money they could. Bar operators calculatingly making money from this traffic in human misery in the heart of downtown appalled him (Aronovitz), he says.

“The only effective step I knew to take was to bring the most intense public pressure to bear on Chief Headley (see Aug 26Aug 31, and Sep 1,) I have affection, and respect for Walter Headley and his ability. But I hoped that the men in the district, under him, directly able to do something about these bars, might be spurred into action if they felt the chief’s job as at stake. I knew they could, if they would, use technicalities of the law to force these places out of existence.

“What response do I get from my fellow commissioners? Mr. Hearn tells me that I am doing millions of dollars worth of harm by bad publicity, making it appear we are a houseful of perverts in Miami. Chief Quigg suggests that the intense police drive I advocate might violate constitutional rights of some men.”

Photo by Randolfe Wicker.

50 YEARS AGO: First Known Gay Rights Picket In America: 1964. For such a momentous occasion, one would think there’d be more written about it. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a whole lot. The picket took place in the middle of Manhattan, at the U.S. Army’s Whitehall Induction Center, in protest over the army’s failure to keep gay men’s draft records confidential. New York activist Randolfe Wicker (see Feb 3) organized it along with Craig Rodwell, who would go on to open the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, the first LGBT bookstore in the U.S. Another picketer was Renai Cafiero,who would go on to become  one of the first openly gay delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Other marchers included Nancy Garden and Jeff Poland of the New York League  for Sexual Freedom. Picket signs declared, “Homosexuals died for U.S., Too,” “Love and Let Love,” and “Army Invades Sexual Privacy.”  You can see Wicker’s original photos from that event here. If anyone knows a good source for more information on this, please let me know via email or in the comments below.

Totally straight.

An Ex-Gay Leader Walked Into A Bar: 2000. In 1998, the supposedly “ex-gay” John Paulk and his “ex-lesbian” wife Anne were the centerpieces of a massive publicity push by Focus On the Family to promote the pray-away-the-gay therapy offered by Exodus International. Paulk was the manager of Focus’s Homosexuality and Gender division, and he had also served as Board Chairman for Exodus since 1995. As part of their publicity campaign, the Paulks appeared on 60 Minutes and Oprah, as well as in full-page newspaper ads and on a 1998 cover of Newsweek. Their 1999 book, Love Won Out, became the title for a series of promotional ex-gay conferences put on jointly by Focus and Exodus.

On September 19, 2000, John Paulk traveled to Washington, D.C. on Focus business when he walked into a gay bar known as Mr. P’s in the heart of D.C.’s Dupont Circle gayborhood. In 2014, Paul described the pressures of living as an ex-gay spokesperson that led him to go to Mr. P’s that evening:

[E]ven as I pursued this career as a professional ex-gay man, and raised a family and loved my wife, I was in utter torment. I struggled off and on with addiction and wanting to take my life. I knew I was living on the inside as two people. I wanted to believe it was true so badly that not only did I lie to other people, I primarily lied to myself. I wanted my homosexuality to change, but the truth is: For all my public rhetoric, I was never one bit less gay. Behind closed doors, many of us in the “ex-gay” leadership at Focus on the Family would even admit this to each other — and we had this conversation many times: “We know our orientation hasn’t really changed. What has changed is our behavior. Our way of life. How we see ourselves. Our sexuality has not changed.”

But it only became harder to maintain the false veneer of heterosexuality, at home and at work. I was preaching to other adult gay and lesbian people a gospel that I no longer really believed in. More and more, when I’d have to get up and speak to crowds about my gay conversion, I felt like a wind-up toy. I’d go back to my hotel room, fall on the bed and start weeping. I thought, “If I have to go out and do that one more time, I will literally throw up.” I was in agony. I wasn’t easy to live with either. I was short with my children and took my anger and anxiety out on my devoted wife. I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Everything began to change in 2000, when I was photographed in a gay bar in Washington, DC. I had not gone into a gay bar since the late ‘80s, and I wasn’t looking for sex. I just wanted to be among my own kind, to feel at home, for a brief period.

A few of the patrons there, employees at the Human Rights Campaign, recognized him immediately and watched as Paulk ordered a drink and struck up conversations with other bar patrons. One of the HRC staffers called Wayne Besen, who was also working at the HRC at the time and who had already written about the ex-gay movement. When Besen arrived twenty minutes later, he found Paulk on a barstool chatting with patrons. Besen confronted Paulk and tried to photograph him, but the bar’s bouncer, citing house rules prohibiting photography, stepped in and asked Besen to leave. Besen waited outside the bar, and when Paulk finally came out the front door, Besen snapped another photo as Paulk was leaving.

Fleeing Mr. P’s.

Besen immediately called several reporters. The first to express an interest was Southern Voice’s Joel Lawson, who broke the story two days later. In Paulk’s first public statement, he claimed that he only went to Mr. P’s to use the restroom. Besen countered, “I didn’t know that using the bathroom involved 40 minutes of socializing in a bar and offering drinks to strangers.” Paulk was called back to Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs where he was placed on probation and removed as Board Chair at Exodus International (although he remained a member of the board on probationary status). But he somehow managed to weather the controversy. Paulk remained in his position at Focus, and he continued to be the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.

In 2003, he finally decided to step down from Focus. He and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, where he started a catering business. While Anne continued to write books and speak at ex-gay conferences, John dropped out from the movement altogether. Over the past year, the two have gone their separate ways altogether. In April, John renounced his prior association with the ex-gay movement, saying “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated.” He followed that a week later with a formal apology: “I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past. Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused. From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.”

John and Anne’s divorce was finalized in June of 2013. Anne Paulk remains active in the ex-gay movement, after having helped to a break-away group of former Exodus ministries following Exodus president Alan Chambers’s acknowledgment that change in sexual orientation was not possible. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
80 YEARS AGO: Brian Epstein: 1934-1967. He was already well on the way to becoming a successful businessman as manager of the record departments at his father’s chain of radio and hi-fi stores in Liverpool, when he began to hear the buzz surrounding a local band. He decided to attend a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club and was blown away by what he heard. “I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humor on stage — and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.” The band called themselves the Beatles. Epstein signed on as their manager, and within five months he had paid Decca records out of his own pocket to record a studio demo. He shopped it around, but none of the major labels were interested until George Martin at EMI’s tiny Parlophone label heard them. He liked what he heard and signed the band. The rest, as they say, is history.

Epstein’s sexuality wasn’t generally known until several years after his death in 1967. The band, of course, figured it out right away, probably owing to Epstein’s interest in the band’s appearance on stage. Epstein is credited for creating the early Beatles’ look — the collarless suits and ties, the mod haircuts, the synchronized bow at the end of their performances. John Lennon was known to make a few sarcastic comments about Epstein’s sexuality, but the band mostly accepted him as one of their own. Rumors later swirled that Lennon and Epstein had an affair while vacationing in Barcelona in 1963, but Lennon denied it in a Playboy interview in 1980. “It was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship,” he said. Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, (Epstein had been Lennon’s best man when they married in 1962) have always maintained that the relationship was platonic.

After Epstein died in 1967 from an overdose of the barbiturate Carbitral, the band began its downward spiral. Much of that downfall was attributed to tensions between McCartney and Lennon, who argued over who should take over the band’s management. They were never able to come to an agreement, and the relationship between the two men continued to deteriorate.

Eighteen years after the Beatles broke up, they were among the earliest entrants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney credits Epstein for making the Beatles one of the most successful bands in the world. “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian,” he told a BBC documentary in 1997. Epstein was finally induced into the Hall’s Non-Performer’s Section in 2014.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 18

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, April 1957, page 2.

Finding books on homosexuality in the 1950s was just about impossible for most people. These just weren’t the kind of books one would have found at the book shop on Main Street. And if the local library had them, they would have likely been kept locked away and only the stern school-marmish librarian had the key. A few unconventional bookstores, like this one catering to the Greenwich Village arts crowd, found that they could fill the void and augment their business by advertising in alternative newspapers and magazines like ONE. I can’t find any information about the Village Theater Center Bookshop, except to note that it was located two blocks from where the seminal Stonewall Rebellion would take place in 1969, and one block from where the Oscar Wilde Book Shop would relocate itself in 1973.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Donald Webster Cory/Edward Sagarin: 1913-1986. He was once hailed as the “Father of the Homophile Movement,” with considerable justification. No one else can lay claim to inspiring so many gay men and women to join a homophile movement during the sexually-fearsome 1950s than this unlikely married Jewish perfume salesman from New York. Writing under the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory, he published The Homosexual In America: A Subjective Approach in 1951, and it would  become unquestionably the single most influential book in the early gay rights movement in America. It was the first major publication to provide an exhaustive overview of a kind of gay life that was largely underground and out of sight of ordinary Americans. He discussed gay bars, drag queens, relationships, and marriages — as convenience and as cover (including his own, to his wife Gertrude since 1936, although by all accounts they were devoted to each other throughout their lives). He even provided a lexicon of gay slang. But most importantly, he wrote of homosexuals as “an unrecognized minority” on par with other minorities who were struggling for recognition in America:

We homosexuals are a minority, but more than that, an intensified minority, with all of the problems that arise from being a separate group facing us that are faced by other groups, and with a variety of important problems that are unshared by most minorities. The ethnic groups can take refuge in the comfort and pride of their own, in the warmth of family and friends, in the acceptance of themselves among the most enlightened people around them. But not the homosexuals. Those closest to us, whose love we are in extreme need of, accept us for what we are not. Constantly and unceasingly we carry a mask, and without interruption we stand on guard lest our secret, which is our very essence, is betrayed.

But what really pushed the boundaries was his unequivocal call for the full integration of gay people in public life. “I am convinced,” he wrote, “and will presently attempt to demonstrate, that there is a permanent place in the scheme of things for the homosexual — a place that transcends the reaction to hostility and that will continue to contribute to social betterment after social acceptance.” He was also an early proponent of what we today would call multiculturalism, saying that the diversity of minorities — ethnic, religious, racial and sexual minorities — strengthens and enriches a democratic society. “[H]omosexuality — fortunately but unwittingly — must inevitably place a progressive role in the scheme of things,” he argued. “It will broaden the base for freedom of thought and communication, will be a banner-bearer in the struggle for liberalization of our sexual conventions, and will be a pillar of strength in the defense of our threatened democracy.”

But if one were to try to look back with perfect 20-20 hindsight, one might detect occasional flashes of conservatism in The Homosexual In America, but it’s hard to see it given the very conservative times in which the book appeared. He accepted without question the consensus in the psychological world that homosexuality came about as a result of a disturbed home life. But then so did a large number of other gay people, who believed what the professionals told them and accepted it without question. But what set Cory apart was his argument that the mental health professions were powerless to make straight the homosexual and, further, that there was no need to try. Homosexuals may have come from disturbed homes, he reasoned, but that didn’t mean that they were disturbed themselves. Whatever disturbances they did possess came from the stresses of coping with a majority that had no use for them.

An early advertisement for Donald Webster Cory’s “The Homosexual In America.” (Click to enlarge.)

Over the next six years, The Homosexual in America went through seven hardcover printings, was re-issued as a mass market paperback in 1963, and was translated into Spanish and French. It inspired a movement and drew to it those who would shape that movement for the next two decades. Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who was instrumental in getting the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973, credited Cory’s book with inspiring her to become involved:

What got me started in the movement was a book I found in 1953, which had been published two years earlier. It was called The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach, by Donald Webster Cory. The book was fascinating because, now that I look back on it, Cory’s book was very much a call to arms. Cory said that we ought to be working to gain our equality and our civil rights. … At that time, it was a very challenging book because it was saying, in effect, that we could stand up and do something for ourselves and change our situation.

Cory continued writing for the pioneering homophile magazine ONE and served as a contributing editor for the magazine’s first three years. In one article for ONE, he spoke out against those who “pleaded for acceptance from the world at large” while at the same time expressing intolerance toward effeminate men, a position that resonates still today. He established the Cory Book Service, a book-of-the-month club that provided subscribers hard to find gay-themed books. He also was a sought-after lecturer in the U.S. and Europe.

Cory’s importance to the early homophile movement gave very few hints of how reactionary and hostile he would wind up being to the very movement he helped to inspire. But many began to notice something of a shift in 1963 when Cory co-authored The Homosexual and His Society with John LeRoy (pseudonym for Barry Sheer, a New York Mattachine member and Cory’s lover at the time). Cory still argued, forcefully, for the full acceptance of gay people in society, and he argued that the first duty of mental health professionals wasn’t to “cure” gay people, but to “eliminate the personal distress and anxieties that arise as a result of social hostility.” But he challenged those in the homophile movement who rejected the idea that gay people were emotionally disturbed, going so far as to argue that there was no such thing as a “well-adjusted homosexual.”  Cory repeated and reinforced that contradictory line in his 1964 book, The Lesbian In America. A reviewer in the Daughters of Bilitis’ newsletter, The Ladder, found him “inconsistent and unconvincing in labeling lesbians as basically disturbed (or sick?), as he does part of the time, and at the same time advocating an end to discrimination against them in government service, in the armed forces, and in society generally.”

A turning point for Cory would come in 1965 when he ran for president of the Mattachine Society of New York. In March of that year, the Washington, D.C. chapter, under the leadership of Frank Kameny, had adopted a formal position that “homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance or other pathology in any sense but is merely a preference, orientation or propensity on a par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality.” (See Mar 4.) Cory’s opponent, Dick Leitsch, wanted the New York chapter to adopt a similar resolution, calling illness question “the greatest obstacle in the path of the homosexual community’s fight for full citizenship in our Republic.” The vote for the chapter’s leadership position became a referendum on whether gay people were ill or not. Cory lost that election, but he also lost more than that. He lost the respect of his fellow activists. Kameny, in a letter just before the election, warned Cory of his increasing irrelevance:

You have become no longer the vigorous Father of the Homophile Movement, to be revered, respected and listened to, but the senile Grandfather of the Homophile Movement, to be humored and tolerated at best; to be ignored and disregarded usually; and to be ridiculed at worst.

Cory retreated from the homophile movement almost immediately, leaving behind the Donald Webster Cory pseudonym once and for all. As Edward Sagarin, he graduated from New York University’s sociology program in 1966. His dissertation was titled “Structure and Ideology in an Association of Deviants” — that association being the Mattachine Society — where he described, in the third person, his embittered version of events leading up to his defeat the previous year. “The Mattachine Society has little regard for the truth,” he wrote. “It is part of a movement that participates in blackmail.” Sagarin used that dissertation as the basis for a chapter in his 1969 book, Odd Man In: Societies of Deviants in America, in which he argued that Alcoholics Anonymous was the proper model for what a gay organization should be. While American readers had no clue about the connection between Sagarin and Cory, many in the homophile movement knew exactly who he was. But because of an unwritten code of honor that came about during the Lavender Scare of the 1950s, outing him was out of the question. A book reviewer for the Daughters of Bilitis’ The Ladder clearly chaffed at the restriction. “Could it be that he is one of the homosexuals who has surrendered … to the ‘sick sick sick school?”, she asked. “Right, but I assure you that if you knew who this man really is, then you’d wonder, really wonder, for he is as responsible for the founding of the homophile movement as any other single man.”

That code of honor finally broke down in 1974 when Sagarin attended the American Sociological Society’s annual convention and spoke on a panel titled, “Theoretical Perspectives on Homosexuality” to criticize the gay rights movement. Laud Humphreys, who founded the Sociologists’ Gay Caucus later that same year, sharply challenged Sagarin during the Q&A period while alternately calling him “Professor Sagarin” and “Mr. Cory” as feigned slips of the tongue. Humphreys then went in for the kill: “And where did you get your data?” Sagarin clenched his fists and said, “I am my data.” He then left the stage in tears, and from that point on he withdrew from discussing homosexuality altogether. He died of a heart attack on June 10, 1986.

Many have described Sagarin as a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde figure. As Donald Webster Cory, he remains a pioneer in the early gay rights movement. The year in which The Homosexual In America appeared, the country was in the grip of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red and Lavender Scares, and Cory’s treatise rang out as both a radical declaration for equality and a pioneering examination of contemporary gay society. The Homosexual In America today should occupy a prime spot in the gay rights canon. But as Edward Sagarin, he would become an intractable foe of the very movement he helped to inspire. For that, Kamany’s prediction came to fruition: the once-vigorous Father of the Homophile Movement is today disregarded and ignored.

[Sources: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987): 86, 88.

“Florence Conrad” (Florence Jaffy). Book Review: “The Lesbian In America.” The Ladder 9, no. 1 (October 1964): 4-7.

Donald Webster Cory. The Homosexual In America: A Subjective Approach (New York: Greenberg Publisher, 1951).

Martin Duberman. “Donald Webster Cory: Father of the Homophile Movement.” In The Martin Duberman Reader: The Essential Historical, Biographical, and Autobiographical Writings (New York: The New Press, 2013): 172-205.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 111-112.

James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 529-530.

Stephen O. Murray “Donald Webster Cory (1913-1986)” In Vern L. Bullough’s (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 333-343.]

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, September 17

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Enid, OK; Pasadena, CA; Peterborough, ON; Provo, UT; St. Cloud, MN; Valdosta, GA.

Other Events This Weekend: Everybody’s Perfect 3 LGBTIQ Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland; Queer Lisboa 18 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA; Pride Day at King’s Dominion, Richmond, VA; Out On the Mountain at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia CA (Friday only).

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), May 1974, page 11.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), May 1974, page 11.

Milwaukee’s The Ball Game opened in May 1974 in a building that had been home to gay bars going back to at least 1964. The new owners completely remodeled the place making it “a whole new ball game” and adopted the tag line, “where you’ll never strike out.” The Ball Game hosted a number of shows, drag contests, pageants, and, naturally, softball and other sports teams. It was one of Milwaukee’s longer running bars, but by the turn of the millennium the Ball Game’s location was no longer the center of gay nightlife. The Ball Game was finally called in August of 2012.

lachs01

TODAY IN HISTORY:
35 YEARS AGO: First Openly Gay Judge Appointed to the Bench: 1979. The news wires across the country buzzed with news that California’s Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Stephen M. Lachs, “an avowed homosexual“, as a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. He had searched as a Superior Court commissioner for nearly five years, while also serving as a board member fothe Los Angeles Gay Community Services Centre. Lachs recognized his appointment as “an important step” for gay rights. “There probably are millions of lesbians and gay men in the country who are performing their jobs very well and yet are in positions where they feel they cannot allow their sexual preference to be known. This is hopefully something we will tart seeing the end of.”

He also recognized that his appointment on the bench might be controversial. “I feel that it could present problems. Judges come up for reelection and surely it could be an issue. I wold hope that when I stand for re-election, (voters) would consider my work on the bench.” His hope was well-founded, and he remained on the bench until his retirement in 1999.

Reagan

President Reagan Mentions AIDS for the First Time: 1985. According to urban legend, President Ronald Reagan never mentioned AIDS during his presidency. Or, according to another version of urban legend, he he did mention it, but not until 1987. The truth is that Reagan didn’t talk much about AIDS during his administration after so many thousands had suffered such early and agonizing deaths — in sharp contrast to the government’s vigorous and immediate response when 34 military veterans (and presumably not homosexual ones) died from Legionellosis — Legionaries Disease — at an American Legion convention in 1975. And the truth is that it was on this date in 1985 when Reagan finally mentioned AIDS, four years and some 12,000 deaths after first reports of the disease in 1981. The brief mention came at a news conference when a reporter asked about the budget allocation for research:

Q: Mr. President, the Nation’s best-known AIDS scientist says the time has come now to boost existing research into what he called a minor moonshot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the Nation’s health workers and even its schoolchildren. Would you support a massive government research program against AIDS like the one that President Nixon launched against cancer?

President Reagan: I have been supporting it for more than 4 years now. It’s been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for ’86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.

A reporter also asked whether he would send his children, if they were younger, to a school with a child who has AIDS. He responded:

It is true that some medical sources had said that this cannot be communicated in any way other than the ones we already know and which would not involve a child being in the school. And yet medicine has not come forth unequivocally and said, ‘This we know for a fact, that it is safe.’ And until they do, I think we just have to do the best we can with this problem. I can understand both sides of it.

The mother of Ryan White, the 13-year-old teen with AIDS who was forced to attend classes via telephone because his Kokomo, Indiana school district prohibited him from going to school, was disappointed that Reagan didn’t take the opportunity to tell parents they shouldn’t fear that their children could catch AIDS through casual contact. And Rep. Gary Studds (D-MA) disputed Reagan’s statement that AIDS research was a top priority:

“… The president said last night it is one of the top priorities of the last four years,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in an interview Wednesday. “Under those circumstances, it is more than a little difficult to imagine why he has never mentioned it once before in public.”

…At his news conference Tuesday night, Reagan, responding to reporters’ questions, said more than $500 million had been spent to try to find ways of combatting AIDS, a fatal virus which attacks the body’s ability to fight disease. But Studds said Reagan’s requests to Congress for fiscal years 1982 through 1986 were far less than that amount, and the money was appropriated only because Congress went beyond administration requests. “The administration’s request for the five fiscal years in question, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’85 and ’86, adds up to $213.5 million,” Studds said. “The way I read that, it’s less than ‘over half a billion’ by a substantial amount.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Roddy McDowall: 1928-1998. The child actor began appearing in British films at the age of ten, but the bombing of London during World War II interrupted his career when McDowall was among thousands of British children sent to the safety of America. A year later, his role as Huw Morgan in How Green Was My Valley made him a household name. He followed that success with 1943′s Lassie Come Home, where he met lifelong friend Elizabeth Taylor. That same year, he appeared as the son of Wyoming ranchers who was given a colt to raise in My Friend Flicka of the two films, McDowall later recalled, “I really liked Lassie, but that horse, Flicka, was a nasty animal with a terrible disposition. All the Flickas – all six of them – were awful.”

“Nuthin’ like an invigorating swim to build a man’s appetite. So, it was off to raid the icebox for Tab and Roddy. As luck would have it, Mrs. McDowall had a delicious chocolate cake, hot dog sandwiches ready.” — from a photo spread titled “Calling All Girls” in the June 1953 issue of Movie magazine. (Click to enlarge)

By his late teens, McDowall began the tricky transition from teen idol to adult actor. He did this by leaving Hollywood and going to New York to study acting. After winning a Tony award for Best Supporting Actor as Tarquin in Jean Anouilh’s The Fighting Cock, he returned to Hollywood. In 1963, he played Octavian in Cleopatra for which he was an early favorite for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, he was disqualified when Fox studios mistakenly submitted his nomination under the Best Actor category. He most famous role is one in which no one sees his face — under heavy makeup in four of the five original Planet of the Apes films. But that didn’t prevent him from being one of Hollywood’s more recognizable faces, thanks to television appearances including The Twilight Zone, The Carol Burnett Show, Columbo, Hollywood Squares, and as “The Bookworm” in the 1960s camp classic Batman.

McDowall never married, and died of lung cancer in 1998. Like most actors of his generation, he also never came out. He was probably one of Hollywood’s most trusted celebrities; he was known among his friends as a man of kindness and who could keep a secret (his disdain for Flicka notwithstanding). Besides one rumor of his having a relationship with Montgomery Clift, the nicest man in Hollywood managed to avoid the most intrusive (and career-limiting) aspects of the rumor mill during his lifetime

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, September 16

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907.

From The Alienist and Neurologist, (an early psychiatric journal), 1907.

From the ad copy: “It gives a long and pounding stroke, medium and side stroke, short and rubbing motion.”

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
100 YEARS AGO: The Severe Effects of Masturbation: 1914. Non-procreative sex has long been seen as a terrible problem in Western society. Biblical prohibitions against adultery, onanism (masturbation), and lying with a man as one lies with a woman are obvious sources for that disdain of sex for sex’s sake. Add to that the scourge of the clap (gonorrhea) and, worse, the pox (syphilis), both of which were incurable for several centuries and only reinforced the perceived dangers of all forms of non-procreative sex, including masturbation. Today, we see the manual method as being perhaps the safest of safe-sex practices, but until the first third of the twentieth century, that idea was far from acceptable, even among a number of medical authorities. And believe it or not, those who warned against the health dangers of masturbation had science — well, proto-science, anyway — to back them up.

Before the mid-1800′s when germ theory began to take root, the mechanisms by which syphilis and gonorrhea were spread were poorly understood. People could only go by what they saw, and what they saw was that those who were more likely to contract these diseases were those who had a lot of sex. And in a time when people didn’t talk about the deed, those who “had a lot of sex” were those who were rather infamously having a lot of sex — those who were patronizing prostitutes, but also young men with, shall we say, time on their hands. And what happens when time is up? Two things: seed is spilt and exhaustion sets in, at least momentarily. And it was the second thing, that momentary “weakening,” which was believed to be the very opportunity which diseases seized upon to enter the body and take root. The reasoning went like this: since weak people got sick, and sex made people weak, it’s only logical that sex, especially lots of sex, made people sick.

Now for women – who were already the “weaker sex” – it was easy to believe that an excessive number of orgasms alone left them vulnerable to disease But what about men? Well, that momentary exhaustion following orgasm — that afterglow, we call it today — wasn’t the only problem. According to medical science — science!, mind you — that very loss of semen added another dimension of vulnerability to those otherwise virile, hearty men. That belief was expressed in a book published in the early 1700s by an unknown London doctor and clergyman. The title was, quite simply, was Onania; or, the Heinous SIN of Self-Pollution, and All its Frightful Confequences, in both SEXES, Confider’d. With Spiritual and Phyfical Advice to Thofe, who have already injur’d themfelves by this abominable Practice. And feafonable Admonition to the Youth of the Nation, (of both SEXES) and thofe whofe Tuition they are under, whether Parents, Guardians, Mafters, or Miftreffes.

The title page alone will leave you spent.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, the loss of semen — it turns out that spilling that vital seed willy-nilly placed an inordinate strain on the blood supply:

The blood is made into Seed, which is further elaborated and purify’d in the Epidydimides, from whence by the Vafa deferensin, it is carried into the Veficulæ Seminales, where it is laid up till by contractions of thofe Veficulæ, it is carried through the Proftate into the Urethra, and forc’d through the Capuit Galinaginis, which hinders the voluntary running of it. The oftner these Veficulæ Seminales are emptied, the more is made for the Tefticles, and consequently the greater Confumption of the fineft and moft Balfamick part of the Blood.

Blood was well-recognized as, well, the lifeblood of the human body. When blood was spilled, life was in danger, and it often ended. And so it stood to reason that if the “finest Baslamic part of the Blood” was used to replenish the supply of semen, then male vigor was threatened any time that precious supply was squandered. Do it too often, and life itself was in peril.

Silly, isn’t it? But once an idea takes root, it often remains stubbornly planted long after the germ of its genesis is long forgotten. So let’s fast forward some two hundred years. The microscope confirmed the role of germs and viruses in causing diseases, and antiseptics made hospitals places where people recovered, not places where they went to die. As for beliefs about non-procreative sex, many in the medical profession began to understand that the spilling of a little seed here and there wasn’t something to get too worked up about. But it took a long time for that knowledge to become universal, even among medical professionals. And part of the reason for it is that now the feared harms of masturbation were no longer just physical, but generational, thanks to Degeneration Theory (see Sep 9 for an introduction). Now masturbation’s not just physically harmful, but its assault on the nervous system causes mental and emotional harms which then became embedded in the offsprings’ hereditary make-up and were then passed down through the generations. So the theory went.

“The results of masturbation”: the Blum is off.

By 1914, Degeneration Theory had mostly run its course, but its ghosts still ran heavy in medicine and the social sciences. For evidence of that, you need look no further than the September 1914 issue of the American Journal of Urology featured the last of a four part series on the deleterious effects of masturbation by Dr. Victor Blum, of the Vienna General Polyclinic. In his final installment, titled simply “Results of Masturbation,” he posed the question: “Is masturbation a primary affection, or is it the result of a special neuropathic disposition?” An answer of “neither” was quickly ruled out:

It is denied by some authors that the act of masturbation is essentially different from the normal satisfaction of the sexual needs. Both arise from the same source, the human sexual instinct; both are physiologically and mechanically very similar actions; and yet clinical experience teaches that masturbation has an entirely different effect upon the nervous system from natural coitus. We have considered this question thoroughly elsewhere, and came to the conclusion, that habitual masturbation in some way represents an injury, in spite of the apparent identity of the two actions in their individual acts, because it is an abnormality of the sexual life.

The severe effects of masturbation, however, only occur when the injury affects an originally non-resistant nervous system, that is, when the unnatural sexual life is added as a specific agent to a nervous constitution.

When masturbation leads to severe nervous disorders in otherwise quite normally constituted men, we must suppose the cause of this to be the immoderate sexual activity in early youth, a time when the sensitive organism cannot bear without injury the repeated severe shocks to the nervous system resulting from the sexual acts and perhaps also from the frequent seminal losses.

As you may have guessed, these breathtaking conclusions were not arrived at by anything remotely resembling the Scientific Method. No experiments, no studies, no controls, no analysis. Just one declarative statement following upon another. And while Degeneration Theory did add an additional concern to the effects of masturbation, there still lurked the primordial belief that semen loss was still an issue. Blum himself dismissed it, but the journal’s editor, William J. Robinson, felt compelled to interject with a parenthetical paragraph to re-introduce the eighteenth-century “fact”:

It is my positive conviction that in some people the mere withdrawal of a certain amount of semen can have a disastrous effect on the economy. … For as soon as the seminal vesicles and the testicles are emptied of their reserve semen, the latter at once begin to elaborate new semen, and in the process of elaboration valuable vital material is withdrawn from the economy, material which evidently is of great importance to the brain and spinal cord-in short, to the entire nervous system.

Didn’t we just read something very similar to that from two hundred years earlier? The only difference here is that masturbation didn’t exhaust the blood supply, but the central nervous system’s “economy”. Robinson then bowed out and let Blum resume his conjectures:

The principal injurious effect manifested is upon the nervous system, from the early suffered and frequently repeated severe shocks of the sexual act, and upon the general health, since in every sexual activity a cooperation of other organs is unavoidable. Thus we see disturbances occur in the circulatory and respiratory systems and in the functions of the visceral organs. The results of onanism upon the individual organs we have already reported in the chapter on sexual neurasthenia. The relations between masturbation and mental and psychic changes in the youthful masturbator have also been treated in that chapter.

If the reader has any doubts, Blum closes with the case of a twenty-year-old “unfortunate, who made his confession in the form of a letter”:

“My present state is a sad one. Unfounded fears, quick exhaustion of the entire body, especially of the hands and feet; poor memory, anger at the least trifle and especially pleasure in quarreling. I am fond of seeking lonely places, where I can sit all day and meditate on my lost happiness of youth. I should be happy to wander, if I could only go far, far away from Vienna.

“I get up in the morning more tired than when I went to bed, and have a morbid sleepiness so that I often sleep during my office hours. My complaints are: pain in urinating, pain in the feet and hands, then also in the hips and the head. The way in which I seek satisfaction is to rub the penis so long or to move to and fro so long on the bed until the pleasure comes, often in the reclining position, often in the standing during the day three or four times and alas! oftener sometimes. The penis will not relax until the semen is emptied, which causes terrible pains. When the semen has been evacuated I am weak and cannot recover for twenty to thirty minutes, while the heart beats strongly and I have difficulty in breathing. Afterwards I can urinate only with difficulty, often with tears in my eyes.

“…To conclude, I fear that the end of these sad youthful errors will be madness; as the books all say at the end, there is no hope for me, and the madhouse threatens me. I have come to this supposition by reading the so-called popular scientific books — thus incurable! Especially the book entitled ‘Masturbation and its Terrible Results,’ let no other thoughts arise in me than those of the madhouse.”

So let that be a warning to you.

[Sources: Anonymous. Onania: or, the Heinous Sin… 9th ed. (London: Fliz. Rumball: 1723). Available online here.

Victor Blum. “Results of masturbation.” American Journal of Urology 10, no. 9 (September 1914): 410-414. Available online here.]

Billy Glover (left) with his one-time partner and lifelong friend, Melvin Cain.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Billy Glover: 1932. There aren’t many people still around who were part of the homophile movement of the late 1950s. Those few who are, are a tremendous treasure to the LGBT community. A native of Bossier City, Louisiana and an alumnus of Louisiana State University (where he says he had “more fun than learning”), Billy Glover was drafted in the army in 1955, only to be discharged in 1956 for “acting up” — his words — with another man after learning that he wouldn’t get to go to Germany after training at Fort Benjamin Harrison.

He moved to Los Angeles, where he saw ONE magazine at local newsstands. Intrigued, he decided one day to show up at ONE’s office, where he met Jim Kepner, one of the magazine’s principal writers. Kepner advised him to go to the Mattachine convention in Denver. That experience led Glover to decide to work full time for the movement. He spent a few weeks working for Hal Call (see Sep 20) in San Francisco before returning to ONE in Los Angeles. He worked first as a volunteer, then as the organization’s first paid employee after Kepner left in 1960. Glover’s role, at first, was mostly as a gofer. He helped to distribute copies of ONE to local newsstands and package the magazines in their brown paper wrappers for mailing to subscribers. He did much of the bookkeeping, and in 1962 held the title of Secretary of Social Services.

By 1964, infighting was mounting within ONE, Inc., largely due to two powerful personalities who saw ONE’s future in two entirely different ways. Dorr Legg (see Dec 15), envisioned the organization’s main mission as educational. He established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies, the organization’s educational arm which became the first institution to provide LGBT studies in the U.S. (even going so far as to gain accreditation with the State of California.) Don Slater (see Aug 21), ONE magazine’s editor, also saw the organization’s main mission as educational, but believed that the magazine, along with the organization’s vast archives (Slater was also ONE’s archivist), was the best way to further that mission. The split came to a head during a rancorous board meeting in January, 1964, when Slater pressed the board to elect Glover to fill a vacancy. Legg and his faction opposed the nomination, and balloting went into the night and well into the next day. The debacle led two board members to resign in disgust, and allegations of vote rigging made the legitimacy of two more members’ positions questionable. Nevertheless, the group held together, tenuously, until April, 1965, when Legg, with his allegedly “packed” board’s backing, effectively fired much of ONE’s editorial staff – at least those who hadn’t resigned in anger.

Slater saw that as more evidence that Legg was determined to shut down the magazine and transfer all of the organization’s resources to his fledgling Institute. The following Saturday night, Slater, Glover, and Slater’s partner, Tony Reyes, entered ONE’s darkened offices, packed up the magazine’s assets and archives, and moved the operation, lock stock and barrel, to a new location “for the protection of the property of the corporation.” For three months, confused subscribers received two competing issues of ONE in the mail, one published by ONE, Inc., and the other by Slater’s The Tangent Group, named for a popular column in ONE. In the ensuring court battle, ONE, Inc. was allowed to keep its name. But, partly because ONE’s governance was in shambles, the Tangent Group was allowed to keep its assets.

Glover stayed with Slater and the Tangents Group, which later incorporated as the Homosexual Information Center with Glover as its president. He worked on the committee which organized the 1966 protest, known as “the motorcade,” which protested the exclusion of gays from the military, and he was part of the 1969 protest against The Los Angeles Times over its refusal to print an advertisement because it contained the word “homosexual” (see Nov 5) Glover returned to Louisiana in 1989 for family reasons, although he remained active in HIC.

Glover was never much of a leader, per se, in the gay rights movement. Instead, he has been just one of its many foot soldiers who happened to play some rather pivotal roles when called upon to do so. That seems to be the particular example he has set, and it is the advice that he passes on to others: when you have a cause you believe in, get involved:

You don’t have to know anything at first. You don’t even have to become a “leader” or “expert” but just being there to help and support each other is the main benefit to you and the cause. And when you look back years later, as I have, you will see that by luck you seemed destined to do what you have done, and you can have no regrets for what you didn’t risk doing since you took a chance and followed what seemed like a dream. As one of ONE’s founders said in the fifties, to actually someday see people like us marching down Hollywood Boulevard proudly and to have lived to see that day multiplied around the nation is enough.

Billy turns 82 today, and is living in his old family home on Bossier City where he’s still active online with his prolific and informative emails, some of which ends up on his blog.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, September 15

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where it's At, September 1, 1975, page 57.

From Where it’s At, September 1, 1975, page 57.

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Miami Passes Anti-Gay Ordinance, Launches “Super-Secret Inquiry”: 1954. The Miami City Commission took a somewhat comical turn in responding to the newspaper-driven anti-gay hysteria campaign (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, and Sep 7) when it unanimously voted to earmark $5,000 — that’s $43,000 in today’s money — so that city manager Arthur Evans could launch what was described by The Miami News as a “super-secret investigation of morals and gambling conditions in Miami.” The Commission also voted 4-1 to approve an ordinance which made it a violation for persons of the same sex to “embrace, caress or dance in public or to adopt mannerisms or facial makeup or dress of the opposite sex.” The News didn’t indicate what the penalty for violating the ordinance would be.

Earlier that week, Miami’s mayor Abe Aronovitz announced that he was drawing up an ordinance which would prohibit Miami bar owners from selling liquor or bear “to known sex perverts” and direct the offending bars be referred to the State Beverage Department with a recommendation that their licenses be revoked. In announcing that proposal, Aronovitz said, “I think it is a far greater menace to sell liquor to perverts than to minors.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Ann Bannon: 1932. Born Ann Weldy, the future “Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction” experienced her first stirrings over her sexuality while a sister at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the early 1950s. Noticing that a younger sorority sister was being flirtatious with an older one, she felt both awkward and fascinated. “I saw a lot of it happening and I didn’t know what to make of it. I don’t even know how to put it—I was absolutely consumed with it, it was an extraordinary thing.”

She nevertheless married after graduating in 1954 — becoming Ann Holmquist in the process — and soon became the mother of two children. But she clearly couldn’t put her sorority experience out of her mind. She had read two lesbian novels: Radclyffe Hall’s dismal 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness — practically required reading for every lesbian in the 1950s — and Vin Paker’s Spring Fire from 1952. Because Spring Fire was set in a boarding school, Bannon could more easily identify with that story line. She also decided to try her hand at fiction writing. She wrote to Packer — real name Marijane Meaker — asking for advice on how to get published. To her surprise, Meaker answered with an invitation to meet in Greenwich Village. There, the young mother could see “Emerald City, Wonderland, and Brigadoon combined —- a place where gay people could walk the crooked streets hand in hand.”

Odd Girl Out, first edition cover, 1957.

Ann Weldy Hulmquist then took the pen name of Ann Bannon, wrote Odd Girl Out based on her own sorority experience, and saw her book published by Gold Medal Books in 1957. It became the second best selling original paperback that year. Between 1957 and 1962, she wrote four others — I Am a Woman, Women in the Shadows, Journey to a Woman, and Beebo Brinker. But with the completion of her fifth novel, Bannon decided that her writing career had run its course. She went back to college to earn a master’s and a doctorate in linguistics, and became a professor and, later, an associate dean at Cal State in Sacramento. She remained largely unrecognized, although her novels were rediscovered and re-issued several times over the years. Occasionally, one of the university librarians would bump into her and comment on a new edition the library received, or a student would find out who she was.

It wasn’t until her difficult marriage ended in a bitter divorce in the 1980s and she retired in the late 1990s, that she finally began to realize how important those little mass market paperbacks were to generations of lesbians who had little other media or literary representations to draw on. As Bannon recalled in 2002:

To the persistent surprise of many of us, and of the critics who found us such an easy target years ago, the books by, of and for women found a life of their own. They — and we — may still not be regarded as conventionally acceptable ‘nice’ literature, as it were — but I have come to value that historical judgment. We wrote the stories no one else could tell. And in so doing, we captured a slice of life in a particular time and place that still resonates for members of our community.

In 1997, her work was included in Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, a collection of authors who had made the deepest impact on the lives and identities of gays and lesbians, which was used as a college textbook for LGBT studies across the country. In 2004, three of her novels were translated into an award-winning play titled “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles,” which had two successful runs in New York in 2007 and 2008. The second run was staged with Lily Tomlin and her partner Jane Wagner as executive producers. In 2008, Bannon was given the Pioneer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation. She still tours the country, visiting paperback-collecting and pulp fiction conventions, and she is often invited to speak at colleges and universities. You can find out more at her web site.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, September 14

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VTNags Head (Outer Banks), NC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

From Parleé, July 1975, page 32.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

“No establishment shall make facilities available for the purpose of sexual activities where anal intercourse, vaginal intercourse, or fellatio take place. Such facilities shall constitute a threat to the public health.” So reads the New York state code in Section 24-2.2. The code was adopted in the early 1990s over the objections of HIV/AIDS advocates. New York City had been closing down bathhouses since the mid-1980s. But the Wall Street Sauna somehow managed to escape all of those efforts until 2004, when a New York Appeals Court sided with the City and ordered the Sauna closed.

The Sauna’s opened in 1974, and its location one 1 Maiden Lane just four blocks from the New York Stock Exchange made it instantly popular with area businessmen. An article for the Village Voice in 1976 described the Sauna as “where businessmen get their rocks off during the lunch hour (it’s called “funch”).” After the AIDS crisis led to the shuttering of other bathhouses and sex clubs, the Wall Street Sauna soldiered on with the owners insisting, implausibly, that men were not using their facility for sex. Finally the New York Heath Department ordered the Sauna closed in February, 2004, but part of the sauna reopened a week later after the owners agreed to a court order that all sexual activity would be prohibited. But health inspector reported seeing sexual behavior in April, and the city appealed the lower court’s ruling. On July 8, the state appeals court sided with the city and ordered the Sauna closed once and for all.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Disgusting Depravity: 1822. The following notice appeared in the September 14, 1822 edition of The Times of London:

DISGUSTING DEPRAVITY — On Monday last Benjamin Candler, late valet to the Duke of Newcastle, was committed to Lincoln Castle by Sir R. Heron, Bart., charged with an unnatural offence. On the same day was committed to the same place by the Alderman of Grantham, William Arden, Esq., of Great Pultney-street, Golden-square, London, charged with the same offence; and on Tuesday was committed to the Castle , by the Alderman of Grantham, John Doughty, of Grantham, joiner, charged with the same. A discovery of the abominable intercourse which had been carried on it, it is stated, was made through the circumstance of a letter from Rantham, intended for the valet at Clumber, but accidentally not addressed on the outside, falling into the hands of the Duke of Newcastle. His Grace, on discovering the nature of the contents, proceeded with due caution for furthering the purposes of justice, and the consequence has been the commitment of the above persons to Lincoln Castle for trial at the next assizes. The person committed as an Esquire, was apprehended in London after the first examination of the others at Grantham, and was brought down in safe custody in one of the mail coaches on Sunday morning. We understand that he had apartments at Grantham during the last hunting season.

The “unnatural offence” was a capital crime, and the three men were hanged at Lincoln Castle on March 21, 1823.

25 YEARS AGO: ACT UP Protests At NY Stock Exchange: 1989. Chaining themselves to a banister at the New York Stock Exchange and unfurling a sign reading “SELL WELLCOME,” five AIDS activists protested the price set by Burroughs Wellcome for AZT, the only drug that had been approved in the U.S. to fight AIDS. Burroughs Wellcome had been charging from $7,000 to $8,000 per year for the drug, which was far beyond the ability for many people to pay. Four days later, Burroughs Wellcome announced a twenty percent reduction in the wholesale price of the drug. A spokesman denied that the announcement was connected to the high profile protest.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
60 YEARS AGO: David Wojnarowicz: 1954-1992. In November of 2010, G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, made the executive decision to remove a short silent film A Fire in My Belly by David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” The film, which included a twelve-second scene of ants crawling over a crucifix, was denounced by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue as anti-Catholic “hate speech.” Clough removed the video after complaints from soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), but he neglected to consult co-curator, gay activist and art historian Jonathan David Katz, about the decision. “It was an incredibly stupid decision. I am flabbergasted that they rose to the bait so readily,” he said in an interview after the video was removed. The irony, which was not lost on anyone, is that the whole point of “Hide/Seek” was to highlight the role of sexual difference in American portraiture, including the effects of marginalization (hence, the “hide”). Katz saw history repeating itself:

In 1989 Senator Jesse Helms demonized Robert Mapplethorpe’s sexuality, and by extension, his art, and with little effort pulled a cowering art world to its knees. His weapon was threatening to disrupt the already pitiful federal support for the arts. And once again, that same weapon is being brandished, and once again we cower.

Untitled (One Day This Kid…), 1990. Click to enlarge.

Wojnarowicz, who at 37 died of AIDS in 1992, wasn’t one to cower, although he certainly had the kind of life experiences which might have encouraged him to do so. Born in Red Bank, New Jersey he grew up with an exceptionally cruel and abusive father. After his parents divorced, he and his siblings were bounced back and forth between parents — at one point, his father kidnapped them and took them to Rural Michigan — until they finally ended up with their mother in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. By the time he was sixteen, he ran away from home and was living on the streets. He supported himself through prostitution and became fascinated with the social outcasts he met in abandoned warehouses and on street corners. His graffiti soon morphed into elaborate paintings on the walls of abandoned buildings. At one point, he spent some time in Paris with his sister, where he became more serious about photography and painting. When he returned to New York, his unique brand of confrontational street art found an audience alongside other underground artists like Keith Haring (who Wojnarowicz didn’t get along with).

Wojnarowicz had a combustible personality. When one gallery damaged one of his paintings and refused to repair it, Wojnarowicz retaliated by taking a tire iron to the gallery’s pristine white walls. In 1989, Wojnarowicz wrote a blistering essay, “Postcards form America: X-rays from Hell,” which blasted several public figures, Cardinal O’Connor in particular (“this fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas”). The essay appeared in an exhibition catalogue, prompting the National Endowment for the Arts to rescind its funding for the show. This made Wojnarowicz the newest bogeyman for the religious right. But when the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon copied, distorted, and disseminated Wojnariwicz’s image in a pamphlet as part of a campaign against the NEA, Wojnarowicz sued the AFA and won a historic Supreme Court case which is forever enshrined as David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association (see Apr 8).

Which, of course, makes the Smithsonian’s actions in 2010 all the more relevant. Here is the version of A Fire in My Belly which led the Smithsonian to crumple like a bad suit against Donohue’s charges of blasphemy. This same video was also projected onto the exterior walls of the National Portrait Gallery during a protest over the Smithsonian’s censorship.

YouTube Preview Image

David Wojnarowicz’s life is chronicled in Cynthia Carr’s definitive biography Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz, which was released in 2012.

Another one for his fans.

Ben Cohen: 1978. The former England Rugby Union player for Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks, Cohen was already a well-liked gay icon before retiring from professional rugby in 2011. He often speaks highly of his gay following, a fan base which he has rewarded by almost never wearing a shirt. In 2010, he released this video as part of the “It Gets Better” project and, since retiring, he has devoted his time to the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which he established as the world’s first foundation dedicated to combating anti-gay bulling and homophobia. He was inspired by two things in his life: his father was killed when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked, and Cohen’s clinical deafness (he has about a 33% hearing loss in each ear) has made him keenly aware of how being different can make someone stand out.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 13

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Charlottesville, VA; Chula Vista, CA; Greensboro, NC; Pride Humboldt/Eureka CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Nags Head (Outer Banks), NC; Savannah, GA; Spartansburg, SC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

From the Albatross (Houston, TX), October 1, 1965, page 8.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From 1965 to 1968, Houston had a gay newspaper called the Albatross. In its issue published on October 1, 1965, the Albatross welcomed a new advertiser from Lake Charles, Louisiana:

Lounging around the Calcasieu at THE GASLIGHT with genial hostess, Georgia, and associates, Rene and Giselle doing a good Saturday biz. A new sponsor of THE ALBATROSS, The Gaslight bows into this issue with their ad and invites all of their friends of other towns and cities to stop in for hospitality cognizicant (sic) of fair Lake Charles. Your reporter truly enjoyed the flavor of drinks… atmosphere… and well-rounded personalities who makeup (sic) the GASLIGHT! Come see Georgia!

The Gaslight didn’t seem to last very long. Its advertisements were gone by 1968. The building today houses a hair salon.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 “Inter Christianos Non Nominandum”: 1892. Talking about homosexuality in the nineteenth century was extremely difficult for one simple reason: if you wanted to talk about it in English, words literally failed. There was no such word as “homosexuality” or anything else resembling it in the English language. Sure, words like “buggery” and “sodomy” were available, but they suggested a criminal or sinful view of homosexuality. And because the emerging medical and psychological professions wanted to approach the subject from an objective, scientific standpoint (or, more precisely, a nineteenth-century approximation of an objective, scientific standpoint), they avoided those words as much as possible. The problem though was that there were no other words to turn to. Where English failed, sometimes Latin would suffice: “peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nominandum, or “that horrible crime not to be named among Christians.” But even that was unacceptable, since it still referred to that thing as a “horrible crime.” What they really wanted was something that would uphold the illness model that was beginning to gain acceptance among the more enlightened elements of learned society. But nothing came, at least not in English (see May 6). And so or the better part of a century, it remained unnamed — or at best, awkwardly named — among clinicians, doctors, sociologists or anthropologists either.

During a meeting of the Medical Society of Virginia held at Allegheny Springs on September 13, 1892, Dr. Irving C. Rosse, professor of Nervous Diseases at Georgetown University took his stab at this problem during his lecture, “Sexual Hypochondriasis and Perversion of the Genesic [procreative] Instinct.” Those listed perversions included many things, including what he called, “the superannuated subjects of spermatorrhœa (nocturnal emission) and venereal excesses now relegated to quacks and the advertisements of religious newspapers.” It was those quacks and advertisements which, he felt was the real cause of the “sexual hypochondria” he was seeing. Through much of the nineteenth century, non-procreative sex (and any discharge of semen in non-procreative activity, including nocturnal emissions) was widely believed to be the cause of all sorts of mental and physical ills. These beliefs came from many sources (see Mar 4, Jul 5Oct 16, for example), but in the minds of many in the medical and mental health fields, those beliefs were confirmed by observing that a lot of people in insane asylums masturbated. Because this belief was so widespread, doctors saw all kinds of people in their offices who feared that they may go mad unless their impulses were cured (see Sep 16, for example).

Hence the unnecessary “sexual hypochondria” that Rosse believed was increasing in the population, which he blamed on ignorance and sexual superstitions that plagued society. Rosse contended that leaving the entire field of discussion to nonscientists set a dangerous course. “The Manœuvers of either sex to produce the venereal orgasm independently of the conditions of normal coitus, and known comprehensively as genital abuse, merit the scientific study of the psychiatrist and neurologist, owing to the prevalence and spread of sexual crime and the fact that legal medicine calls for clearer knowledge upon this point.” Rosse tried to add to that “clearer knowledge,” although he too was hobbled by a number of superstitions that were accepted as scientific fact. He described several case studies, personal observations and newspaper accounts, including several accounts of homosexuality among various tribes, cultures, a few infamous clubs in New York City. He even described two male elephants in a zoo which he observed caressing each other in a manner “prohibited by the rules of at least one Christian denomination.” But Rosse lamented that medical professions, who were “clearly the only persons qualified to give trustworthy information in regard to sexual matters,” were hobbled by their timidity in addressing the topic in plain English.

So squeamish are some English-speaking people on this point that they have no terms to designate the “nameless crime” that moves in the dark. Many of the Continental writers, however, make no attempt to hide the matter under a symbolic veil, and deal with it in terms as naked and unequivocal as those used by the old historians, from whom hundreds of citations might be made, and this too without incurring the reproach of pedantry.

In fact, it would be Continental writers who would eventually provide the English language with the words that we would eventually use to talk about all sorts of sexual matters. The German word “Homosexualität” finally made its English appearance at around 1894, but it was slow to catch on as the anglicized “homosexuality” (see May 6). Rosse pointed to other words which he felt might be useful: “irrumation” and “fellatrice,” as he rendered them in a quasi-English form. I don’t know whether he paused during his talk to define them, but when Rosse’s lecture was published in the November 1892 edition of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, he helpfully provided these definitions in the footnotes:

These terms not being Englished the following definitions are given:
Irrumare: penem in os arrigere.

Fellatrix: dicitur ea quæ vel labris vel lingua perfricandi atque exsugendi officium peni præstat.

That’s right, like the peccatum illud horribile, Rosse reverted to Latin for his definitions of what we now know as active and passive fellatio. Rosse’s protestations notwithstanding, the lifting of the symbolic veil among English language writers would have to wait another generation before sexuality would cease to be inter christianos non nominandum.

[Source. Irvine C. Rosse. “Sexual hypochondriasis and perversion of the genesic instinct.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 17, no. 11 (November 1892): 795-811. You can find contemporary discussions of his lectures published in other medical journals here, here and here.]

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that's how they rolled.

L-R: Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, in matching outfits. Because that’s how they rolled.

 FBI Memorandum Calls for Information on Gay Government Employees: 1951. As Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) twinned Red and Lavender Scares continued to wreck havoc with thousands of innocent lives across America, Herbert Hoover’s FBI was determined not to be left behind in the contest to see who could be more anti-Communist or anti-homosexual. On September 13, 1951, the FBI issued another of its many regular Bureau Bulletins to its field offices with that week’s set of instructions. Bulletin Number 38 touched on a number of topics: the interstate transportation of stolen cattle, new rules on intra-bureau correspondence, changes to travel regulations, charges for long distance calls, a request to provide information “on any Communist Party member or sympathizer (who) is contemplating travel abroad,” and a lengthy request for information on any known or suspected homosexuals among government employees:

(F) SEX DEVIATES IN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SERVICE — The Seat of Government has been receiving an increasing number of reports, arrest records, and allegations concerning present and past employees of the United States Government, who assertedly are sex deviates. The Bureau has no investigative jurisdiction over sex deviates, but when an allegation is received that a present or former civilian employee of any branch of the United States Government is a sex deviate, such information is furnished to the Un1ted States Civil Service Commission. If the person is presently employed by the United States Government, the employing agency is likewise furnished a summary of the information. Information concerning members of the National Military Establishment 1s furnished to the Intelligence Unit of that particular agency.

All of the police departments throughout the country were notified in the May, 1950,issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and again by letter dated July 26, 1950, to place a notation on the arrest fingerprint card that the subject was an employee of the Federal Government. They were also requested to set forth the name of the Department or Agency and the position occupied. Hence, it will be unnecessary to solicit this information from the police departments. Normally, a fingerprint card with the above-described data on it will suffice if the fingerprint card has been furnished to the Bureau’s Identification Division.

Whenever information is received in the field, either from the police, a complainant, or through any other sources of information, it w111 be necessary to consolidate the information and transmit it to the Bureau by letter captioned as above. This letter should include (1) the name of the alleged sex deviate as well as the name of any other alleged deviates with whom he associated, (2) the date and place that the alleged act of sexual perversion occurred, (3) the identity of the individual’s United States Government employment, (4) any other pertinent facts, including the [illegible] where the person 1s arrested.

Your letter should specifically point out the source of the information, whether or not that information should be treated as confidential, or whether the name of the source may be used by the Bureau in disseminating the information to the United States Civil Service Commission and the employing agency.

Whenever information of this nature is received during the course of a regular Bureau investigation, such should, of course, be incorporated in the regular investigative report and it will be unnecessary to furnish the information to the Bureau by supplemental cover letter.

With specific reference to Loyalty of Government Employees cases, it has been the Bureau policy to accept information of a derogatory nature relating to the character and personal habits of an employee if volunteered. Such information has been reflected in an investigative report as information volunteered and no attempt has been made to develop this data by supplemental inquiry. This policy is now changed to the following extent: when information is received during the course of a full field loyalty investigation or a preliminary inquiry indicating the person under investigation is a sex deviate, this allegation should be completely and fully developed and the facts reported. This procedure must be placed in effect immediately and followed closely.

[Source: “FBI records regarding Sex Offenders Foreign Intelligence; Sex Degenerates and Sex Offenders; Sex Perverts in Government Service, 1950 – 1966.” Response to a Freedom of Information Act request from GovernmentAttic.org (Dated May 6, 2009, posted Aug 21, 2009): 28-29. Posted online here (PDF: 2MB/42 pages).]

 30 YEARS AGO: Broward County Fires Employee with AIDS: 1984. In January 1984, Todd Shuttleworth learned that he had AIDS. Eight months later, he was fired from his job as budget analyst for Broward County, Florida. News reports at that time indicate that it was already well known that AIDS could not be casually transmitted, but his boss, John Canada, defended the firing, saying, “We just couldn’t take the chance of anything happening to employees or to anyone visiting the office.” The following January, Broward County fired a second employee, mail clerk Donald Fanus. County Administrator Floyd Johnson defended that firing on the same grounds: “I have wrestled with it. I have a responsibility to protect all of Broward County’s workforce, and the general public that is served by the workforce.”

Fanus, who had developed Kaposi’s sarcoma, declined to appeal his firing, but Shuttleworth chose to fight. As he explained in a 1986 op-ed published in the Sun-Sentinel, he had nothing to lose:

Every young gay who learns to accept him or herself has more guts, courage and moral strength that all the Bible-thumping bigots and fag-bashing punks combined.

One does not choose to be gay or, I presume, “choose” to be straight. But there are many choices that have been made by many people during the AIDS crisis. Broward County officials chose to ignore their own doctor`s advice and decided to fire me. They chose not to bother to contact the acknowledged AIDS experts at the AIDS clinic in Miami, at the Centers for Disease Control, or at state or national public health departments. They denied my request for a hearing to present medical and scientific evidence to show that my dismissal was based on their irrational fear rather than rational decision-making, or the facts.

A few months ago, when the Human Relations Board first ruled that my firing as a budget analyst due to AIDS was unwarranted, County Administrator Floyd Johnson responded by saying that he had always tried to be fair to employees with AIDS. The choices he`s made in this effort included immediately terminating my health insurance and firing me without severance pay. The educational benefits I needed to complete the few hours left for my master`s degree were discontinued and it took my former employers more than a year to replace a lost paycheck despite numerous letters and phone calls and an obviously desperate need.

My life insurance was cut off and I was informed by the insurance company that in order to be eligible for extended coverage my former employer would have to initiate the required paperwork. Twenty-six months, and several phone calls and letters later, my former employers never displayed the common decency of even acknowledging my request. Only recently, nearly a year after the Human Relations Board first ruled against the county and county officials were forced to change their AIDS policy, did I receive an offer of back pay and reinstatement.

Surely that is not fair.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Shuttleworth sued the county, which was the only known public employer in a major metropolitan area to declare an official policy to fire people with AIDS. Nancy Langer, spokesperson for Lambda Legal, remarked, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a government being so stupid as to put down in black and white a policy of discrimination.” Noel Pfeffer, Broward’s deputy general council and author of the policy, countered, “The chances of transmission to other county employees appear to be somewhat remote. On the other hand, you’re not transmitting a common cold.”

More than two years later, and just before the case was to go to trial, Broward County offered Shuttleworth his job back. But the window to accept the offer was exceptionally brief. Shuttleworth was in San Francisco undergoing treatment, and could not make it back to Fort Lauderdale in time to answer the offer. ACLU lawyer Larry Corman told reporters that the job offer shows that the county realizes it made a mistake. “Everybody recognizes the county is acknowledging that Todd doesn`t represent a health risk to the people with whom he has casual contact,” he said. “I will never understand why it took so long for them to recognize this and try to minimize their losses.” But the county’s attorney, Gordon Rogers, admitted that the offer was a cynical ploy to “(cut) off any obligations to him” for any future insurance claims. With his AIDS being a pre-existing condition, he would not have been reinstated.

In December 1986, just three days before Shuttleworth’s $15 million lawsuit was to go to trial, he and Broward county settled out of court. Shuttleworth got his job back along with $190,000 in compensation, medical costs and legal  fees. Broward county refused to admit wrongdoing, but agreed to follow federal regulations barring discrimination in future cases. Unfortunately, Shuttleworth’s health had deteriorated in the intervening two years. After a week at work, he became ill again and returned to San Francisco for treatment. On July 25, 1987, Shuttleworth died at the age of 34.

 Jerry Falwell Blames Gays For 9/11: 2001. The ashes were still smoldering at the site of the World Trade Center, the western facade of the Pentagon, and an abandoned strip mine in rural Pennsylvania. The relatives, friends and co-workers of three thousand dead were still grappling with their loss, and three hundred million Americans were still numb from shock. The search for victims had just barely begun, the search for heroes led to the first responders in New York and Washington, D.C. and the 33 brave passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, and the search for the guilty case a glare on Islamists extremists. At least that’s the reaction of normal people. For others obsessed with a wider net of enemies, that wasn’t enough. On Thursday, September 13, 2001, Jerry Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, and together they accused a wide assortment of enemies responsible for the worst tragedy to strike American soil since Pearl Harbor:

YouTube Preview Image

Falwell: What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

Robertson: Well Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

Falwell: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

Robertson: Oh, yes.

Falwell: And I know I’ll hear from them for this but throwing God out successfully with the help of the court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools… The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, “you helped this happen.”

Robertson: Well I totally concur.

The next day, Falwell reportedly apologized in a phone call to CNN, but it wasn’t much of an apology. “I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize,” he told CNN, before citing scripture to back up what he originally said. “I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says ‘living by God’s principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,” he said.

Robert Indiana

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Robert Indiana: 1928. His original name is Robert Clark, the adopted son of an oil company manager and his wife in New Castle, Indiana. Young Robert was moved around Indiana 21 times in his first seventeen years of life. After serving three years in the military, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949 to 1953, then at Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh College of Art from 1953 to 1954.

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (Source)

The Sixth American Dream (USA 666) (1964-1966). (source)

He then returned to New York and began making creating his iconic paintings and sculptures, often consisting of numbers and short words like EAT (often paired with DIE) and HUG. His EAT/DIE series (1962) was inspired by the last word spoken to him by his mother shortly before she died. By then, he had already adopted the surname of Indiana to better reflect the Americanness of his work. In 1964, he received a commission from the Museum of Modern Art for a Christmas Card design. His design featured the words “Love is God.” Playing off of the word LOVE, Indiana created a series of images that resulted in his most popular image of all: The four red block letters against a blue and green background, with each letter taking up an entire quadrant and the O on the top right quadrant tilted.

LOVE struck a resonant chord with the emerging youth culture of the mid-1960s, becoming one of the most widely copied images of all time. The image graced bumper stickers, tee-shirts, key chains, coffee cups, towels, jewelry and just about anything else a logo could be stamped, silkscreened or printed on. Unfortunately, Indiana failed to copyright his signature design, and so he didn’t profit from its popularity, although he did receive a $1,000 commission to create a version for a U.S. postage stamp. When the stamp came out in 1973, it became the most popular stamp ever issued by the U.S. post office.

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

Peace Falls in Terror (2003, source)

The art establishment turned its collective nose up at Indiana, more so because of the popular success of LOVE rather than the actual artistic merit of his wider work. In 1978, he moved to an old abandoned Oddfellows Hall in Vinalhaven, Maine, where he set up a home and studio and continued painting and creating sculptures. Being openly gay in rural Maine didn’t endear him to locals, and he often found the front plate glass windows in the old Oddfellows Hall broken out. He eventually boarded them up. After 9/11 in 2001, he painted images of American flags on the plywood. He also painted a series he called the Peace Paintings, which were exhibited in New York in 2004.

In 2008, Indiana returned to his LOVE design and created HOPE, and donated the proceeds from its reproductions to then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. HOPE raised more than a million dollars. For Valentine’s Day 2011, he created a special Google Doodle based on LOVE. That same year, as 12-foot LOVE sculture sold at auction for $4.1 million.

 Randy Jones: 1952. The Village People’s original cowboy, Jones grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where he was the founder of his high school’s drama club. It was his exposure to theater which gave Jones a leg up with Jacques Morali decided to hastily assemble a permanent group of singers to tour in support pf a surprise hit for what was, until then, a non-existant band of disco singers. Until then, the Village People were simply Victor Willis (the cop) and five dancers in costumes. Jones replaced Dave Forrest in 1978 (two others were replaced with more seasoned performers at the same time) and the Village People was born. Jones remained with the Village People from 1978 to 1980, and then rejoined the group in 1987 through 1991. Since then he has recorded several solo albums and continues to perform in New York and elsewhere. In 2013, Jones married his podner of 29 years, Will Grega, in New York City.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, September 12

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Charlottesville, VA; Chula Vista, CA; Greensboro, NC; Pride Humboldt/Eureka CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Nags Head (Outer Banks), NC; Savannah, GA; Spartansburg, SC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Come Out!, the Gay Liberation Front's official newspaper, January 10, 1970, page 2.

From Come Out!, the Gay Liberation Front’s official newspaper, January 10, 1970, page 2.

Kathy Braun wrote the following description of another of the GLF’s Gay Community Dances for the April 1970 edition of Come Out!:

The Dance, by Kathy Braun.

On Friday, February 6, GLF held another of its continuing series of dances at Alternate U — 530 6th Ave, The purposes which we set out for the dances were, to provide an alternative to the exploitive gay bars in the city, to raise money for a GLF Community Center, and to politicize the homosexuals hanging around this town.

This particular dance was held a sa benefit for COME OUT with any money over the needs of the paper to go back into the Community Center Fund. The dances are sponsored by the Aquarius Cell and anybody wishing further information on any detail may check with the people involved. $667, was netted profit, and as of publication, no determination has been made about the distribution to the paper and the center.

ART REVIEW
The light show, by , [sic] seemed good. To tell the truth, I was paying more attention to the people but at the next dance I’ll give it more attention. The choice of restricting the light show to a section of the floor was superb in that it provided people with a choice instead of imposing a show on them.

The records played were exciting, danceable, and at the right volume. My current favorite song is “And the World will be a Better Place” but I couldn’t even tell you if it played since I go around singing in my head all the time, in counterpoint to “Everyday People.”

The dancing was of the usual superlative quality. Them queers can sure shake a leg.

As theatre, Beck & Malina couldn’t ask for more. I couldn’t certainly. 600 people, music, lights, costumes, kissing, seductions, promises made, truths explored, conflicts, politics. Hit it, sisters & brothers.

ANALYSIS
Alternative to the Gay Bars — Sensational. Who wants to go to a bar when you can get 600 dancing partners, a light show, and free coat check all for a contribution of $1.50, with drinks only a quarter.

Raise Money for Center — Hotcha! $943 in the safe deposit box already. Right on!

Politicize — This is the beauty part. Although I feel that GLF is not unified on its specific approach to politics (and need it be?) the underlying theory that prevails is that effective politics must be based on CARING ABOUT PEOPLE and it is this theory which permeates the actions of every member of GLF and communicates directly to the people who come to the dances. Although there are some people who get together and talk politics, most people are simply dancing, looking, listening, groping, drinking, laughing, having fun, being CARED about. Gorgeous.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 John Vassall Arrested for Spying: 1962. No one ever bothered to ask how a low level British Admiralty clerk earning £908 a year was able to afford a home in London’s Dolphin Square apartment complex, which had been home to such illustrious residents as Charles de Gaulle, C.P. Snow and Sir Oswald Mosley. Nor did they pay much attention to his 36 Savile Row suits, three cashmere overcoats, tailored silk shirts, or exotic holidays.

They should have, particularly since Vassall held a Top Secret clearance with the Royal Navy. But British investigators didn’t begin poking around until December 1961, when a KGB agent, Anatoli Golitsin, defected to the United States and spilled the beans about Soviet agents working in the West, including two spies in the Admiralty. MI5 agents decided that one of them might by Vassall, but didn’t act for more than a year. Then in June of 1962, another KGB agent, Yuri Nosenko, began providing further evidence of Vassall’s spying. Even then, MI6 held off for three more months, until September 12, 1962, when Vassall was finally arrested and charged with spying for the Soviet Union.

Vassall confessed immediately: about the spying, about the cameras and films hidden in his apartment, about the documents that he stole, and about how he got into the spying business for the Soviets. It began in 1952 when he was a member of the Naval Attaché at the British Embassy in Moscow, where he found himself socially isolated on several fronts: a Brit in Moscow, a common civil servant among upper-class officers and diplomats, and, crucially, a homosexual at a time when it was illegal both in Britain and in the Soviet Union. Through a Polish worker at the embassy, Vassall became connected with Moscow’s gay underground. In 1954, he was invited to a party — which was actually a classic “honey trap” set up by the KGB — where Vassall was encouraged to become extremely drunk, and where he was photographed in compromising positions with several men. The Soviets used those photos to blackmail Vassell, and he became their agent for the next eight years.

In 1956, Vassall was assigned to the Admiralty, where he photographed secret documents and passed them to his KGB handlers in exchange for money. The documents he passed to the Soviets included specifications for British radar, torpedoes, nuclear weapons, anti-submarine equipment, and tactics. When Golitsin defected in 1961, the Soviets ordered Vassall to stop working and return his camera. Then Nosenko began providing information about Vassall to the CIA in Geneva right about when the Soviets gave Vassall his camera back and ordered him to resume spying. It is now suspected that Nosenko, who never defected and whose information about other spies proved to be unreliable, may have set Vassall up to protect a more valuable spy at the Admiralty. When Vassall made his full confession following his arrests, he insisted that he had not stolen some of the documents that Golitsin said he stole.

Vassall was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, of which he served ten. A public enquiry the following year, known as the Vassall Tribunal, tried to determine who in the Admiralty was to blame for the lax security oversight. Tam Galbraith, Civil Lord of the Admiralty, who was Vassall’s boss, was singled out for special scrutiny amid rumors that the he and Vassal had been lovers. Galbraith was declared innocent on all accounts, as were his other superiors in the Admiralty.

Vassall’s arrest also reignited the debate over Britain’s criminalization of male homosexuality. Five years earlier, the Wolfenden Commission had recognized that making gay men criminals exposed them to blackmail and extortion, and recommended that criminal penalties be lifted (see Sep 4), but Parliament refused to act. Now, it seemed that the time was right to revisit that decision. Peter Black, writing for the Daily Mail in 1963, argued:

The point is that though homosexuals  are no more inclined to treachery than you are. the law as it stands gives the Communists a lever against them which they have over nobody else.  If Vassall had not been a homosexual, and subject to this law, the Russians might have got him anyway. I think he had a predisposition to treachery. But they could not have blackmailed him into it.

Homosexuals are specially vulnerable to blackmailers because they cannot appeal to the protection of the law. The  blackmailer threatens him  with exposure. It he goes to the police exposure is what he’ll get anyway; for the police can, and sometimes do, charge the victim for participating in the offences he is being blackmailed about. So the law sharpens the threat of exposure and sharpens the wits of those vulnerable to it.

Those arguments however went nowhere, and homosexual relations between men remained a criminal act until 1967 (see Jul 28).

After Vassall’s release from prison in 1972, he wrote Vassall: The Autobiography of a Spy, which was published in 1975. He then changed his surname to Phillips and lived out the rest of his life in obscurity. He died in 1995 of a heart attack at the age of 71 in St. John’s Wood, north London. In 2006, details of his confession were released by the National Archives.

 45 YEARS AGO: Gay Liberation Front Protests Village Voice: 1969. More than two months had passed since the landmark Stonewall uprising, but New York’s news media was still unable to grapple with what that night of defiance really meant. On the day following the riot, The New York Times buried its story on page thirty-three, where it didn’t even bother to mention why the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were fighting. The New York Daily News reported the whole thing, on page thirty, from the police’s point of view (“3 Cops Hurt As Bar Raid Riles Crowd”). The Daily News followed on  July 6 with their infamous report, “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.”

If it weren’t for the Village Voice’s extensive coverage, much of what we know about Stonewall might have been lost to history. The Voice did have one advantage that New York’s more powerful media didn’t: it was located on Christopher Street, just a few doors down from the Stonewall. The July 3 edition of the weekly newspaper featured two front page stories about the riot: “Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square” by Lucian Truscott IV, who reported what took place outside of the Stonewall. A second reporter, Howard Smith, arrived at the scene during the first raid just as police were loosing control of the crowd. Smith got caught up inside the bar where police had retreated for protection from the crowd. Smith described that experience in “From the Inside: Full Moon Over The Stonewall.”

While the Voice’s reporting on the rebellion was the most thorough and detailed of all the city’s news outlets, it wasn’t above the kind of mocking tone and prejudicial stereotypes that were typical at that time. Truscott wrote of “the forces of faggotry,” the “blatant queens” with “limped wrists and primed hair” battling police, which he described as “the city’s finest.” Smith’s report was less colorful, yet he couldn’t resist calling one lesbian a “dyke.” In his July 10 Voice column, Walter Troy Spencer called the riot “the Great Faggot Rebellion,” and laced his entire column with sneering disdain (“…a lot of that weekend’s swishy cruising on the streets around the Stonewall had gotten flamboyant and aggressive…”).

From the Village Voice, August 7, 1969, page 46. (Click to enlarge.)

From the Village Voice, August 7, 1969, page 46. (Click to enlarge.)

Immediately following the riot, the gay community began to organize. In August, the newly formed Gay Liberation Front (see Jul 27) tried to place two small ads in Village Voice. One ad in the free Bulletin Board section on page two was to publicize the GLF’s community dances, and the other one, a paid ad for the classified section, was to announced the forthcoming publication of the GLF’s new newspaper, Come Out! The second ad was supposed to have the headline “Gay Power to Gay People,” but Voice staff deleted the lead-in without notifying the GLF.  They also changed the Bulletin Board ad to read “Homophile Dance” instead of Gay Community Dance.”

When the August 7 edition of the Voice came out, GLF members discovered the deletions. At the GLF’s next general meeting, there was a great deal of discussion about the Voice’s unilateral editing of the ads. They decided to give it another try and place another ad to advertise the Gay Community Dance planned for September 5th. The ad was accepted, but the person who placed the ad received a phone call from someone at the Voice the next day to say that it was Voice policy to refuse to print obscene words in classified ads and that the using the the word “gay” to refer to, well, gay people, was obscene — even though the Voice routinely accepted, without question, ads for apartments from landlords specifying “no gays.” The Voice saw itself as one of the most liberal papers in the country, and it defined its liberalism as allowing its writers to say anything they wanted. That meant that writers were allowed to write about “faggots” and “blatant queens” with the full support of editors and management. even though no writer would have dreamed of using derogatory language to describe blacks or other minority groups. But that freedom ended at the Voice’s advertising, where the Gay Liberation Front was barred from using the word “gay.” They weren’t even allowed to use the word “homosexual.” That, too, was just as bad as “gay.”

GLF Protesters in front of the Voice. From Come Out!, November 11, 1969, page 11.

GLF Protesters in front of the Voice. From Come Out!, November 11, 1969, page 10.

The Gay Liberation Front struck back with a protest at the Village Voice on Friday morning, September 12 at 9:00 a.m, demanding a meeting with publisher Ed Fancher. The protest went on all day as Fancher stubbornly refused to meet with the group. Later that afternoon, a protester tried to place a classified ad reading, “The Gay Liberation Front sends love to all Gay men and women in the homosexual community.” That ad was rejected. But soon after, Fancher agreed to meet three of the protesters’ representatives. This is how the premiere issue of Come Out! described the meeting:

Once inside and upstairs, the representatives encountered a cry of outrage that GLF has chosen the Village Voice as a target (sooo liberal we are). The suggestion was made that we negotiate the three points in dispute I )changing classified ads without knowledge or consent of purchaser, 2) use of the words “Gay” and “homosexual” in classifieds, and 3) the contemptuous attitude of the Village Voice toward the Gay Community. GLF explained that the two issues involving classified ad policy were not negotiable and that the substance of the paper should be of legitimate concern to a responsible publisher. Ed Fancher replied that the Village Voice exercised no censorship of its articles, and that if a writer wanted to say derogatory things about faggots, he could not in good conscience stop him. Fancher also said that we had no right to tamper with “freedom of the press.”

This GLF accepted with the absolute understanding that Gay Power has the right to return and oppose anything the Village Voice staff chooses to include in the paper. On the Classified Ads policy he conceded completely. He said that not only would the Voice not alter Ads after payment, but that in Classified Ads the words “Gay” and “homosexual” per se were no longer issues. One of the GLF representatives in the upstairs office stepped to the window facing Seventh Avenue and flashed the V for Victory sign to the waiting crowd below. WE HAD WON!

The Voice’s next edition didn’t see fit to report on the protest at its front door, but the GLF’s tiny ad did appear in that issue’s Bulletin Board.

From the Village Voice, September 18, 1969, "Bulletin Board" on page 2: The Gay Liberation Front ad that was so "obscene" (Click to enlarge.)

From the Village Voice, September 18, 1969, page 2: The Gay Liberation Front ad that was so “obscene” (Click to enlarge.)

[Sources: Untitled article. Come Out! 1, no. 1 (November 11, 1969): 10. Available online here.

Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 88-91.]

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 11

Jim Burroway

September 11th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Athens GA; Benidorm, Spain; Burlington, VT; Charlottesville, VA; Chula Vista, CA; Greensboro, NC; Pride Humboldt/Eureka CA; Idaho Falls, ID; Nags Head (Outer Banks), NC; Savannah, GA; Spartansburg, SC.

Other Events This Weekend: Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany; Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America, Chicago, IL; Kings Island Pride Night, Cincinnati, OH; Best Buck in the Bay Gay Rodeo, San Francisco, CA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Michelle International Souvenir Program, 1962. Available online here.

From the Michelle International Souvenir Program, 1962. Available online here.

San Francisco’s Club Dori didn’t start out as a gay bar when it first opened in 1961, but it quickly became one when Doris “Dori” Jennings realized that the city’s gay population was largely educated, professional, very sociable, and often had disposable income. Club Dori quickly became one of San Francisco’s most popular gay bars:

Tucked away on Presidio Avenue near California Street in the shadow of the old Jewish Community Center, Club Dori was one of the city’s first neighborhood oases of its kind for discreet, upscale, professional homosexuals. Within a year or two after it opened its doors to the gay community in the mid-sixties, it was the “in” place where gay men could walk in the front door and come out of the closet for a few hours. Men whose careers would be jeopardized by exposure of their sexual preference — city officials, legislators, attorneys, bankers, stockbrokers, doctors and TV anchors, among others — flocked to Club Dori. …Scores of men who were revered for their contributions to the mainstream world, yet were still society’s outcasts for their clandestine personal lives, found refuge and respect at Club Dori. Over time, Dori herself became the “queen mother” to a generation of young gay men who blazed the way for a citywide coming out party during the liberalized 1960s and 1970s.

Dr. Karl Bowman explaining Kinsey’s 1948 study on KQED’s “The Rejected.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 KQED Airs “The Rejected”: 1961. The year was a monumental one as American opened itself to the modern world in ways that it hadn’t done before. The youngest elected president in history had just taken the oath of office, succeeding the oldest president then in history, Hollywood was about to relax its ban on overt displays of homosexuality (see Oct 3), and Jess Stearn’s book, The Sixth Man, provided the sensational claim that one in six men in America was “affected” by homosexuality. KQED, San Francisco’s public television station, had a reputation for tackling controversial subjects, and now the time was ripe to tackle what was perhaps one of the most controversial topics of all.

The idea for a documentary on homosexuality came to John W. Reavis, Jr., who spent several months researching and conducting background interviews with experts with backgrounds in medicine, anthropology, religion, law, government and business. He also sought the participation of members of the Mattachine Society. Initially titled “The Gay Ones,” Reavis tried to sell the documentary to the major networks. But finding no backers there, Reavis found a ready reception with KQED’s co-founder Jonathan Rice and general manager James Day.

Over the objections of one of the board members who threatened to resign, Reavis’s documentary project, now renamed “The Rejected,” went forward with a $100 budget and filmed segments featuring interviews anthropologist Margaret Mead (her own lesbianism wasn’t revealed at that time) and Mattachine members Hall Call (see Sep 20), Don Lucas and Les Fisher, who spoke openly as gay men. Episcopal Bishop James Pike spoke of gay people as being just like “anyone else with an illness,” deserving compassion and care. San Francisco psychiatrist Karl Bowman countered the suggestion that homosexuality was an illness, let alone a curable one. “The attitudes of some people is to try to treat it in an entirely punitive way,” he said. Albert Bendich, a lawyer and former ACLU attorney called statutes seeking to outlaw same-sex conduct “not enforceable.”

Mattachine Society executive director Howard Call and secretary Don Lucas, during a filmed interview for “The Rejected.”

Call explained that part of his group’s aims was “to dispel part of this stereotyped picture” and to change the law against homosexuality. Reavis shared the goal of dispelling stereotypes, carefully constructing the program to establish a gay stereotype in the minds of viewers and then methodically destroying that stereotype. According to Reavis’s original proposal for the documentary, “the viewer should be left, if anything, with a feeling he is confused and that society as a whole is confused about homosexuality.” One brief segment was even filmed at San Francisco’s famed Black Cat bar (see Aug 28)

The hour-long documentary aired at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, September 11. Typical of most programs about homosexuality, “The Rejected” did not include lesbians. But it was perhaps the first scripted documentary to discuss homosexuality from a calm and rational point of view. Response was mostly positive. KQED was inundated with letters following the broadcast, with many of them requests for transcripts. Only a tiny minority, 3% according to station officials, wrote to complain. “The Rejected” also received critical acclaim, with the San Francisco Chronicle saying “KQED handled the subject soberly, calmly and in great depth.” It also received national notice, and was broadcast on several other public TV stations between 1961 and 1963, including in Tucson, Los Angeles, Portland and New York. Despite that, no film of the program is known to exist. Only the transcripts and news reports remain.

[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 41-42.

Bob Connelly. “A television coming out story from 1961.” The Advocate (September 21, 2011): available online.

Stephen Tropiano. The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV (New York: Applause Theater and Cinema, 2002): 5-7.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 150 YEARS AGO: Marc-André Raffalovich: 1864-1934. Born in Paris to Russian Jewish emigrés, Raffalovoch studied in Oxford and settled in London in 1882, where he opened a salon in the 1890s. It seemed only natural for him; his mother kept a successful salon in Paris, attracting such notable figures as Sarah Bernardt, Colette, and Gustave Moreay. But Oscar Wilde found the younger Raffalovich’s events wanting. “Dear André! He came to London to found a salon and only succeeded in opening a saloon.” Raffalovich, in turn, was uncomfortable with what he took to be Wilde’s wild sexuality.

Raffalovich published several works poetry and fiction between 1884 and 1896, but few were notable except for their omission of gender when describing the object of his desires. Non-fiction was where Raffalovich made his reputation. In 1896, he published Uranisme et Unisexualité, which established him as an expert on homosexuality. It is also where Raffalovich laid out his argument that homosexuality was only pure and noble when practiced by a “sublime invert” — who fulfills his desires not through his sexuality but through artistic endeavors and spiritual friendships. This naturally put him on a collision course with other gay advocates such as Edward Carpenter and Magnus Hirschfeld, the latter who Raffalovich accused of advocating for moral decline and the destruction of whole generations. In 1897, Raffalovich started work in  Annales de l’unisexualité, and Les Chroniques de l’unisexualité, in which he embarked on an ambitious effort to document everything ever published about homosexuality. These works remain useful to historians to this day, and they remain perhaps his most important work.

But soon after, Raffalovich turned away from the subject. In 1892, he met John Gray (See Mar 2), a young poet in Oscar Wilde’s circle of friends (some say Gray was the inspiration for Dorian Gray). Raffalovich followed Gray into Catholicism, and after Gray was ordained a priest and assigned to a parish in Edinburgh, Raffalovich followed him there, too, purchasing a home nearby and provided important financial support for the parish. Raffalovich established another salon there where guests included novelist Henry James, art scholar Herbert Read, and sculptor Aelred Whitacre. Raffalovich and Gray maintained separate homes, but their friendship was known as something more than that of “just friends,” despite being very formal with each other in public. When Raffalovich died suddenly in 1934, Gray was devastated. He became ill and died just four months later.

 Kristy McNichol: 1962. Born and raised in L.A., she got her start in acting with the help of family friend Desi Arnaz. In 1976, she was cast for the part of Buddy Lawrence for the ABC drama series Family, which was one of those oh-so-earnest “real life issues” dramas that often made 1970s television so unwatchable. McNichol’s Buddy (in my opinion) was perhaps the only thing that made the program bearable, for which she earned two Emmys for Best Supporting Actress. (There must have been something in the water on the Family set; the program also featured Meredith Baxter (see Jun 21).) It helped that her off-screen personality was as engaging as her acting skills, making her a popular guest on talk shows and Battle of the Network Stars. She began her film career in 1978 in The End, starring Burt Reynolds, before moving on to more notable turns in 1980′s Little Darlings and 1981′s The Nights the Lights Went Out in Georgia. She also earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Neil Simon’s Only When I Laugh.

It looked as though McNichol was going to be one of those rare child stars to successfully navigate the treacherous transition to adult acting, when her behavior become erratic and her attendance on sets unreliable. Rumors swirled that she was using drugs, but it turns out that she was actually suffering from bipolar disorder. When she was diagnosed in 1992, she decided to retire from acting. Since then, she’s been teaching acting at a private school in L.A., and she’s been active in local charity work. In 2012, she surprised almost no one when she decided to come out as a lesbian after reading about several suicides of LGBT teens.

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

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

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