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Posts for June, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Monday, June 23

Jim Burroway

June 23rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GAY, October 25, 1971, page 22.

From GAY, October 25, 1971, page 22.

 
It’s difficult finding any information about the Purple Lion. There are only a few mentions here and there, often of entertainers who were well past their peak trying to restart their careers at what the Los Angeles Times in 1972 called a “second-rate cabaret.” But another mention comes to us that same year from The Advocate, which review a performance by a much appreciated and underestimated jazz singer Ann Dee:

Ann Dee“I love too touch,” purrs Ann Dee as she reaches for the hand of a young man at ringside. Ann Dee does a lot of touching during the hour she performs at the Purple Lion. Most of it is accomplished by the voice, however, not the body. Her reaching out, the phrasing of words, tremor in the voice, are all reminiscent of Judy Garland. The comparison is inevitable. Coincidentally, one of Miss Dee’s best numbers, “Maybe This Time,” has been recorded by Garland’s daughter Liza on two previous albums, and is sung by her in the motion picture Cabaret.

When Ann Dee belts, she belts better than most, never screaming or screeching, but always remaining musical. Settling down to ballads, she has the ability to make a stupid song like Love Story’s “Where Do I Begin?” seem worthwhile, when of course it’s not. She could possibly make “Mary Had a Little Lamb” significant.

Her arrangement of “Son of a Preacher Man” sizzles. In contrast, “If,” made popular by the group Bread, is treated by the vocalist as if it were a delicate butterfly in her hand.

An attractive Max Seidler on piano, Slicks Hooper on drums, and bassist Al1an Jackson are Miss Dee’s musicians, or, as she puts it, “the other half of the show.” “My Life,” ” If We Only Have Love,” and ” Close to You” are among the other numbers excitingly interpreted by the songstress.

Ann Dee had owned a San Francisco night club in the 1950s, located in the city’s North Shore area popular with lesbians, gay men, and all-around bohemian types. She was credited for helping to launch the careers of singers Johnny Mathis and  Fran Jeffries and comedian Lenny Bruce. She died in Palm Springs in 2005 at the age of 85. I don’t know how long the Purple Lion lasted. The building is long gone and replaced with a strip mall.

[Source: Christopher Stone: "Revue Reviews: The Voice That Loves Too Much." The Advocate no. 81 (March 15, 1972): 27.]

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“5 Beastly Sodomiticall boyes”: 1629. The Puritans were having a particularly rough time of it in Old England in the early seventeenth century, leading to the first batch of them to board the Mayflower and establish the colony of Plymouth in New England in 1620. For those who remained behind, things only got worse when Charles I became King in 1623. The Rev. Francis Higginson, a preacher with a Puritan bent in the Church of England, left his parish and, in 1628, accepted an offer to join the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1629, the Company was granted a Royal Charter to establish a “plantation” in New England, and Higginson and several of his Puritan followers were given permission to establish a colony — and in the process, remove their troublesome lot from England.

Higginson obtained six ships, each armed with cannons to protect against pirates. The fleet set sail on May 1, 1629, with 350 Puritan settlers, 115 head of cattle, 41 goats and, apparently, five “beastly Sodomiticall boys.” An entry in his diary for June 23, 1629, reads:

Tewsday the wind n:E: a fayre gale. This day we examined 5 beastly Sodomiticall boyes, which confessed their wickedness not to bee named. The fact was so fowl we reserved them to bee punished by the governor when we came to new England, who afterward sent them backe to the company to bee punished in old England, as the crime deserved.

The laws of England held that the crime deserved death by hanging. We don’t know the fate of the “beastly boyes” after they arrived in old England.

Dale Jennings

Dale Jennings Cleared of Morals Charge: 1952. The nightmare began as many such nightmares did in Los Angeles in the 1950s. In February of 1952, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) was in a public men’s room at Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) when a man walked up to him with his hand on his crotch. Jennings wasn’t interested. “Having done nothing that the city architect didn’t have in mind when he designed the place, I left,” Jennings later explained. The man, however, insisted on striking up a conversation and following Jennings home. When they arrived at Jennings’s house, Jennings said good-bye and went inside, but the man decided to invite himself inside. The stranger continued to make sexual advance to Jennings — in Jennings’s own home — but Jennings refused. “At last he grabbed my hand and tried to force it down the front of his trousers. I jumped up and away. Then there was the badge and he was snapping the handcuffs on with the remark, ‘Maybe you’ll talk better with my partner outside’.”

As Jennings continued the story:

“I was forced to sit in the rear of a car on a dark street for almost an hour while three officers questioned me. It was a particularly effective type of grilling. They laughed a lot among themselves. Then, in a sudden silence, one would ask, ‘How long have you been this way?’ I sat on my hands and wondered what would happen each time I refused to answer. Yes, I was scared stiff. … At last the driver started the car up. Having expected the usual beating before, now I was positive it was coming–out in the country somewhere. They drove over a mile past the suburb of Lincoln Heights, then slowly doubled back. During this time they repeatedly made jokes about police brutality, and each of the three instructed me to plead guilty and everything would be all right.”

Jennings was formally arrested and charged with solicitation. While in jail, he called his friend Harry Hay. The two of them, along with several others, had founded the Mattachine Foundation two years earlier. Jennings’s troubles would soon become the fledgling organization’s first gay rights victory. Hay bailed Jennings out and the two set about devising a strategy for Jennings’s trial. Jennings would admit to being gay, but he would refuse to plead guilty and would forcefully defend himself against police witnesses. Meanwhile, Mattachine would support Jennings’s legal fight through its Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment, which raised money for Jennings’s defense. They hired George Shibley, an Arab-American lawyer who was well known for taking on controversial civil rights and union causes in the 1930s and ’40s. As Jennings later wrote:

The attorney, engaged by the Mattachine Foundation, made a brilliant opening statement to the jury in which he pointed out that homosexuality and lasciviousness are not identical after stating that his client was admittedly homosexual, that no fine line separates the variations of sexual inclinations and the only true pervert in the courtroom was the arresting officer. …

…The Jury deliberated for forty hours and asked to be dismissed when one of their number said he’d hold out for guilty till hell froze over. The rest voted straight acquittal. Later the city moved for dismissal of the case and it was granted.

News of that victory spread throughout the Mattachine Foundation, leading not only to its rapid growth, but also to unforeseen growing pains (see Apr 11). The following year, Jennings became the first managing editor of ONE magazine, the first nationally distributed publication for a gay audience. His account of his arrest and trial appeared in the magazine’s first issue, which helped to spread the news further. The case didn’t bring an end to official harassment of gay men by the Los Angeles police. That would continue for nearly two more decades. But it did signal to the nation’s fearful gay community that false charges could be fought and defeated. Sixty years ago, that was big news indeed.

[Source: Dale Jennings. "To be accused is to be guilty." ONE 1, no. 1 (January 1953): 10-13.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Alan Turing: 1912-1954. It’s hard to imagine what the 21st century would have looked like without him. The English mathematician, logician, and cryptanalyst practically invented computer science when he formalized the idea of “algorithm” and “computation” with the what became known as the Turing machine. It was a conceptual device, imagined to consist of an infinitely long tape which would be capable of write, read and changing arbitrary symbols, much as a hard drive can do so today. With that concept defined, he proved that relatively simple Turing machines would be capable of making computations — hence the very term computer that we use today.

A working replica of a Turing Bombe on display at Bletchley Park (Click to enlarge)

Turing became a Fellow at the University of Cambridge just four years after entering as an undergrad. He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton in just two years, just in time to head home to Britain before World War II. After a brief stint at Cambridge, he joined the famous Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, where he headed the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, the most important of which was the BOMBE, an electromechanical machine that could determine the settings for Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma machine. Turing’s Bombes were instrumental in Germany’s ultimate defeat when the Enigma code was cracked.

Following the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Lab (NPL) in London on the design of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). In 1946, he presented the design for the first stored-program computer. But because his work at Bletchley Park was classified, he found it difficult to translate what he invented there to the NPL. He left NPL in frustration and returned to academia at the University of Manchester, where he devised what is now known as the Turing Test. The Turing Test still serves as a standard for whether a computer could be considered “intelligent.” The test was simple: a computer could be considered a “thinking machine” if a human, through ordinary conversation, could not tell its responses apart from those of another human being. He then set about writing a program to play chess, but he was frustrated by the fact that there was no computer powerful enough to execute it.

It was in Manchester where, in 1952, he met Arnold Murray outside a theater and asked him for a lunch date. After a few weeks, the man spent the night at Turing’s house. Sometime later, Murray stole a gold watch and some other items from Turing’s home. Turing reported the crime to police. When police investigated, they asked Turing how he knew Murray. Turing, who had become relatively open about his homosexuality by that time, acknowledged the sexual relationship.

But with homosexuality being illegal in England, Turing was charged with gross indecency, the same crime for which Oscar Wilde was convicted more than half a century earlier. Turing was given a choice between imprisonment or probation on the condition he underwent chemical castration via estrogen hormone injections. Turing chose the latter, but his conviction led to his security clearance being revoked, which seriously damage both his career and reputation. And as the Red Scare rose its ugly head in the early 1950s, and with gay men coming under growing suspicion for being a danger to national security, Turing found himself under increasing surveillance. His estrogen injections themselves may have added to his feelings of hopelessness; one of the side effects of the synthetic estrogen he was prescribed was depression. Finally on June 7, 1954, Turing’s cleaning woman found him dead in his bedroom with a half-eaten apple laying beside his bed. An autopsy revealed that he died of cyanide poisoning. That apple was never tested for cyanide, but it is believed that this was how he ingested the fatal dose.

After the secrets of Bletchley Park were declassified, Turing’s posthumous reputation as a war hero only added to growing recognition of his impressive contributions to computer science. In 1966, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) began awarding the Turing Prize for outstanding technical contributions to computing. His childhood home in London has been designated a English Heritage site with an official Blue Plaque. Another Blue Plaque was placed at his home in Wilmslow where he died, and today a third will be unveiled in front of King’s College at Cambridge. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally apologized: “On behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

In observance of Turing’s centenary of 2012, a petition to have him formally pardoned was circulated. But the request was denied Justice Minister Lord McNally who said: “A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted.” McNally added that the best response would be to “ensure instead that we never again return to those times.” Turing finally got a Royal pardon on Christmas eve of 2013 after a request from Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, June 22

Jim Burroway

June 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations Today: Barcelona, Spain; Biarritz, France; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Durango, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Ft. Myers, FL; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lander, WY; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OKOlympia, WA; Oslo, Norway (Europride); Portland, MESardinia, Italy; Saskatoon, SK; Shanghai, ChinaToronto, ON (WorldPride);Wuppertal, Germany.

Other Events Today: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Frameline 38 International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 18, 1982, page 23.

 
Before the rainbow flag became the ubiquitous symbol for the LGBT community, the greek letter Lambda (λ) was the common symbol to identify all things gay. One writer of the day explained the significance:

Lambda is commonly known as the eleventh lower case letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally the letter was a picture symbol for the scales, the figure of justice. In time, the Lambda became more abstract in the resemblance to the scales of justice. It is represented as a concept of qualities if balance. Greeks believed that balance was a reconciliation between two opposites and as such was not a stable state, but one needing continuous adjustment.

Ancient Spartans wore their Lambda asa symbol of their unity. Many times it was worn as a logo on their shields as it signified the special balance which they felt must exist between an individual and the state. They believed that the demands of society should never interfere with each person’s right to be totally free and independent. Each Spartan recognized that only in a common bond could they hope to preserve their existence as a free and equal people. As Rome rose to power, the Lambda was borrowed since it’s overall shape was suggestive of a flame. It was used as a symbol for “Lampas”; their latin word for torch.

In the 1960’s, when the quest for Gay liberation began to emerge as an organized movement after the famous Stonewall riots, the lambda was selected asa Gay symbol due to its famous historical associations. The Lambda symbolizes justice, balance and the conciliation of opposites, unity, and the relationship of man and his society; freedom, equality and independence of the individual, and light. Gay people feel that the Lambda has those qualities which best represent their objectives.

As a symbol of freedom for Gay people, the Lambda has come to represent the “light of knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance.” It promises hope for a new future with dignity, for Gay men and women everywhere. Today, the Lambda is recognized as a unique international symbol for Gay rights, for sexual liberation, for justice and enlightenment; as well as for a needed balance in the acceptance of differences by and with all humanity.

[Source: "What's A Lambda?" Arizona Gay News 2, no. 40 (October 7, 1977): 13.]

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Robert Hillsborough Murdered: 1977. A brutal murder nearly four decades ago in San Francisco has been largely forgotten today, but at the time it was credited for catalyzing that city’s gay community and awakening the bay area to the growing violence against gay people. On the night of June 21, 1977, Robert Hillsborough, 33, and his roommate, Jerry Taylor, 27, went out to a disco for a night of dancing. They left sometime after midnight and stopped for a bite to eat at the Whiz Burger a few blocks from their apartment in the Mission District.

When they left the burger joint, they were accosted by a gang of young men shouting epithets at the two. Hillsborough and Taylor ran into Hillsborough’s car as several of the attackers climbed onto the car’s roof and hood. Hillsborough drove off, and thought that he left his troubles behind him. What he didn’t know was that others were following in another car. They parked just four blocks away near their  apartment, and had gotten out of the car at 12:45 a.m. four men jumped out of another car and attacked them. Taylor was beaten, but he managed to escape and flee to a friend’s apartment. Robert wasn’t so lucky. He was brutally beaten and stabbed 15 times by 19-year-old John Cordova who was yelling, “Faggot! Faggot!” Some witnesses also reported that Cordoba yelled, “This one’s for Anita!” Neighbors were awakened by the commotion, and one woman screamed that she was calling the police, which prompted the four attackers to flee. Neighbors rushed to Hillsborough’s aid, but it was too late. Hillsborough died 45 minutes later at Mission Emergency Hospital. Cordoba and the three other assailants were arrested later that morning.

Because Hillsborough was employed as a city gardner, Mayor George Moscone followed longstanding practice and ordered flags at City Hall and other city properties to be lowered to half-stalf. He also directed his anger to Anita Bryand and California State Sen. John Briggs, who was running for governor and an anti-gay platform. Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Miami, which resulted in the defeat of a gay rights ordinance three weeks earlier (See Jun 7), had inspired Briggs to hold a new conference in front of city hall the week before Hillsborough’s death to announce a campaign to remove gays and lesbians from teaching. Moscone called Briggs an anti-homosexual “demagogue” and held him responsible for “inciting trouble by walking right into San Francisco, knowing the emotional state of his community. He stirred people into action. He will have to live with his conscience.”

Hillsborough’s death also struck a deep nerve in the gay community. “We live in a paranoid state,” said Harvey Milk, who was preparing his run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, “and the death of Robert is only the culmination of a lot of violence that’s been directed at us.” San Francisco’s Pride celebration, which took place just a few days later, attracted a record-breaking 300,000 people, and it became an impromptu memorial march as participants erected a makeshift shrine at City Hall.

Cordova was charged with a single count of murder, along with Thomas J. Spooner, 21. The other two passengers in the car were not charged. Charges were later dropped against Spooner. Cordova was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jimmy Somerville: 1961. The Scottish pop singer had his moment in the sun in the 1980s as lead singer with the synth pop group Bronski Beat.  Those of us of a certain age might remember “Smalltown Boy,” which dealt with homophobia, family rejection, bullying and the loneliness that comes with growing up in a homophobic society. That song became a gay anthem in 1984 and peaked in the top five throughout much of Western Europe, and hit number one on the U.S. dance charts.  In 1985, Somerville left Bronski Beat and formed the Communards, which scored a dance hit with a cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” After the Communards split in 1988, he embarked on an off-again on-again solo career. His 2009 album Suddenly Last Summer, contained acoustic versions of songs from his iPod. In 2011 Somerville released a dance EP, Bright Thing.

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35 YEARS AGO: Jai Rodriguez: 1979. He was the “culture vulture” for Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He’s has also done some acting and some singing. In 2002, he created his own musical cabaret show, titled “Monday Night Twisted Cabaret,” which ran at New York gay club xl for a year. In 2005, he created and performed his own one night stage show, “Jai Rodriguez: xPosed,” which told the story of Rodriguez’s life and struggle to come out to his religious family. In 2012, he was a regular in the short-lived ABC sitcom, Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 21

Jim Burroway

June 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Barcelona, Spain; Biarritz, France; Beaumont, TX; Berlin, Germany; Butte, MT; Chicago, IL; Columbus, GA; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Durango, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Ft. Myers, FL; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Lander, WY; Lisbon, Portugal; Longview, TX; Louisville, KY; Nanaimo, BC; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Oldenburg, Germany; Olympia, WA; Oslo, Norway (Europride); Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Sardinia, Italy; Saskatoon, SK; Shanghai, China; Schenectady, NY; Sioux Fall, SD; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Toronto, ON (WorldPride); Wilton Manors, FL; Wuppertal, Germany; York, UK.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; AIDS WAlk, Oakland, CA; Frameline 38 International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, page 31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 20

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Barcelona, Spain; Biarritz, France; Beaumont, TX; Berlin, Germany; Butte, MT; Chicago, IL; Columbus, GA; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Durango, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Ft. Myers, FL; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Lander, WY; Lisbon, Portugal; Longview, TX; Louisville, KY; Nanaimo, BC; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Oldenburg, Germany; Olympia, WA; Oslo, Norway (Europride); Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Sardinia, Italy; Saskatoon, SK; Shanghai, China; Schenectady, NY; Sioux Fall, SD; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Toronto, ON (WorldPride); Wilton Manors, FL; Wuppertal, Germany; York, UK.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; AIDS WAlk, Oakland, CA; Frameline 38 International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, July 1958, page 28.

 
It’s summertime, which means it’s party time on Fire Island, where the gays have been doing just that since first few decades of the twentieth century. Cherry Grove and the Pines were among the rare places where people could relax, let their guard down and not worry about a disapproving straight society. Society is not nearly as disapproving today, thank goodness. But other than that, not much else has changed on Fire Island — except the prices.

Front and back covers of ONE magazine, June 1963.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
 A Push for “Homophile Marriage”: 1963. June is traditionally the month for weddings, and last June was an especially auspicious month for marriage equality when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. U.S. In the past year since Windsor, state and federal district judges in twenty states have turned to that ruling again and again to declare portions of those states’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, while the Obama administration has pushed the U.S. government to grant legal recognitions to all legally married same-sex couples throughout the U.S. as much as legally possible. (There are still some limitations to what the Veterans Administration and Social Security Administration can do without Congressional action.)

More than fifty years ago, ONE magazine dared to imagine the possibility of “homophile marriage” in it’s June 1963 issue. Randy Lloyd, the article’s author, didn’t really touch on the legal or religious elements of same-sex marriage. Instead, he was writing about just the idea of two people forming a relationship and calling it marriage. That idea, limited as it was, was quite radical in the gay community. In fact, there was a very large contingent of gay men and women who considered one of the only advantages of being gay was that you weren’t expected to settle down and get married. But Lloyd saw it differently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE magazine, August 1953.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, June 19

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Barcelona, Spain; Biarritz, France; Beaumont, TX; Berlin, Germany; Butte, MT; Chicago, IL; Columbus, GA; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Durango, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Ft. Myers, FL; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Lander, WY; Lisbon, Portugal; Longview, TX; Louisville, KY; Nanaimo, BC; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Oldenburg, Germany; Olympia, WA; Oslo, Norway (Europride); Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Sardinia, Italy; Saskatoon, SK; Shanghai, China; Schenectady, NY; Sioux Fall, SD; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Toronto, ON (WorldPride); Wilton Manors, FL; Wuppertal, Germany; York, UK.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; AIDS WAlk, Oakland, CA; Frameline 38 International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), December 12, 1986, page 10.

 
Faith has always been a very important source of inspiration, consolation, and fulfillment for large numbers of LGBT people. Religious institutions have also been for many, many more, a source of pain, humiliation and abuse. But there have also been a few bright spots here and there. Of the four represented here, three are still serving the needs of San Antonio’s LGBT Christians: The Episcopal Church, the Metropolitan Community Church and River City Living Church. Ahem.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 1 YEAR AGO: Exodus International Announces Its Closure: 2013. In a dramatic and emotional plenary talk during the opening night of the Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, California, Exodus International President Alan Chambers announced that the 37-year-old organization would no longer continue.

The day began with a far-reaching apology for the “trauma … shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope” that former clients and members of Exodus-affiliated ministries had experienced. But more than a corporate apology, it was also a very personal one for Chambers:

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

The formal apology ended with a note of more announcements later that night at the conference, which we later learned was the close of Exodus’s final chapter. That chapter opened eighteen months earlier when Chambers appeared at a conference of the Gay Christian Network in Orlando and acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” He also acknowledged that he, too, was still attracted to other men (while also remaining in love with and devoted to his wife). Later that month, Chambers withdrew his organization’s support for the particular form of conversion therapy known as Reparative Therapy. In May, when Exodus board member Dennis Jernigan went to Jamaica — where homosexuality is a felony punishable with ten years’ imprisonment — to speak in support of its anti-gay laws. Chambers swiftly responded with a statement opposing criminalization of homosexuality and Jernigan resigned. Also that year, Chambers condemned the Family Research Council for honoring a pastor who called gay people “worse than maggots” and that God had an “urban renewal plan for Sodom and Gomorrah,” and he declined to oppose a California law that bans sexual orientation change therapies for minors.

All of this together has resulted in a general exodus of several member ministries from Exodus, with many of them forming a much more hard-core Restored Hope Network. The Exodus Conference in 2012 went ahead much as before although there were a number of differences in message and tone from before. But by the time the 2013 conference came around, it was obvious that what remained of Exodus was now much smaller. The conference schedule was significantly scaled back, and attendance was down to about three hundred, versus the thousand or more that was typical for previous conferences.

Chambers opened the conference by recalling the “scandal” of the previous eighteen months. “The scandal has been about finally sharing things about myself and about this ministry and about these issues that I’ve learned along the way,” he said. “Never in a million years did I dream that some of the things that I’ve shared would become the controversies that they are today, or the scandals that they are today, or would have ripped our ministry apart in the way that it has ripped our ministry apart. I tell people all the time I’m not smart enough to create a scandal like that. And therefore I’m convinced that the scandal is of God’s making.”

And what were those scandals? Saying that almost nobody changed their sexual attractions, and admitting that he also continued to “experience same-sex attractions.” Another scandal was a theological one: proclaiming that “that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, no matter how we behave, when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we have an irrevocable relationship with Jesus Christ. And what that means is what I just said.” He continued:

We in the church have been motivated by fear. It is our fear that keeps us straight, it is our fear that keeps us off of all sorts of chemicals, it’s our fear that keeps us looking a certain way, and acting a certain way, and living a certain way, and treating anybody who doesn’t live and act in those ways like sinners in the hands of an angry God. It is fear that is the biggest motivator for people in the Body of Christ to act in the religious way that they do. My true story is I spent the majority of my life pretending that I was something I’m not because I was afraid of the Church. And I was afraid that they might be right, that that’s how God felt too.

And it has been the most amazing journey for me to come to the realization that my Father in Heaven will never abandon me. He will never turn his back on me. He won’t turn his back on me even if I turn my back on him. … And you know what that means? All sorts of people will live in all sorts of ways that you might not endorse or condone. But let me let you in on a secret: you’re not God and it doesn’t matter what you think anyway.

He also listed as another scandal the fact that they had acknowledged the damage that they had done to  many of those who had been involved with Exodus. He described meeting a number of ex-gay survivors, an experience he described as “excruciating,” as “they told stories of abuse and pain, missed opportunities, awful words were spoken to them, stories of abuse and pain from the Church and even from Exodus.” Turning back to the apology that had been released earlier that day, he said that he heard from a number of people who were angry that he apologized:

“There is a concerted effort in parts of the Church to disqualify me from my rightful place as a son, simply because we dared to say we were sorry to people who deserved an apology. …We’re not going to control people anymore. We’re not going to tell then how they should live. We’re not going to be responsible for what they’re doing. It’s not our job. You are not the Holy Spirit.”

And finally, he acknowledged that Exodus had become a rules-based religious institution, “focused on behavior and sin management, and short on grace. … and it is for these reasons, and for other reasons, that we the International Board of Directors for Exodus and many within our leadership believe it is time for Exodus to close.”

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, June 18

Jim Burroway

June 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Barcelona, Spain; Biarritz, France; Beaumont, TX; Berlin, Germany; Butte, MT; Chicago, IL; Columbus, GA; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Durango, CO; Edinburgh, UK; Ft. Myers, FL; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Iowa City, IA; Juneau, AK; Knoxville, TN; Lancaster, PA; Lander, WY; Lisbon, Portugal; Longview, TX; Louisville, KY; Nanaimo, BC; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Oldenburg, Germany; Olympia, WA; Oslo, Norway (Europride); Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Salem, MA; Salisbury, NC; Sardinia, Italy; Saskatoon, SK; Shanghai, China; Schenectady, NY; Sioux Fall, SD; Springfield, MO; Syracuse, NY; Thessaloniki, Greece; Toronto, ON (WorldPride); Wilton Manors, FL; Wuppertal, Germany; York, UK.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; AIDS WAlk, Oakland, CA; Frameline 38 International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, May 1968, page 10.

 
Animal print swimming trunks, a matching “swim coat,” and a “swim cup of foam rubber for under swimwear” to finish out the ensemble. What more could you want? Ah Men was both a West Hollywood clothing store and a line of clothing that was sold from 1962 through the early eighties. They eventually had additional stores in the Silver Lake area and in Houston, but they did most of their business through their catalogue which, because of its special appreciation of the male body, was especially popular with gay men throughout the country. In that way, Ah Men set the standard for the International Male clothing catalogues of the 1980s and 1990s.

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

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

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

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

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

Agnes Goodsir (top), Girl With Cigarette, 1925 (bottom)

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, June 17

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, August 1974, page 67.

 
When Broadway Sam’s was renovated in 1972, it was decked out with a new front, ceiling, multicolored lights and a new 12 foot by 22 foot solid Plexiglass dance floor, which meant that it was ready-made for a few years later when the club became Banana’s disco. The location is now a parking lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carl Van Vechten, self-portrait, 1934.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, June 16

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gentlemen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So when Sullivan sought surgery, he was consistently denied it because he was gay. He was able to obtain hormones from doctors who were not associated with gender clinics, and he began lobbying the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (now known as WPATH, World Professional Association for Transgender Health), to recognize that, despite what the “experts” said, he really did exist. Sullivan wrote the first guidebook for FtM people, and he spent the rest of his life as an advocate and an educator as among the first to argue that there was a clear distinction to be made between sexual orientation and gender identity. His efforts eventually paid off, and in 1986 he was able to undergo genital reconstructive surgery. Later that year, he was diagnosed with AIDS, which exposed him to yet another kind of stigma. Just before he died in 1991, he wrote, “I took a certain pleasure in informing the gender clinic that even though their program told me that I could not live like a gay man, it looks like I’m going to die like one.” The Lou Sullivan Society continues to serve the FtM community in the San Francisco Bay area.

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

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, June 15

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations Today: Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Bisbee, AZ; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Edmonton, AB; Key West, FL; Luleå, Sweden; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Nanaimo, Vancouver BC; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Regina, SK; Shanghai, China; Sitges, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Vienna, AustriaWuppertal, Germany.

Other Events Today: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Cedar Point Gay Days, Cedar Point, OH; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The (Washington) Blade, December 1976, page 5.

 
Hagerstown, Maryland’s Colonial Hotel appears to have been built sometime around 1917 as a five-story building with a mansard roof. The top floor was destroyed by a fire sometime in the middle of the 20th century, and the mansard roof was replaced with a flat one and the building shrank to four floors. Records indicate that Charles R. Smith and Billy Lee Anthis bought the building in 1974, and renovated the hotel. This may be when the lounge became the Bull Ring and began attracting a gay clientele from throughout Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, northern Virginia and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The building still stands in Hagerstown’s downtown historical district, with the upper floors rented out as low-income apartments.

Sen. Clyde Hoey

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Senate Committee Orders “Pervert Inquiry”: 1950. The Senate Committee on Expendatures in the Executive Department ordered an investigative subcommittee to investigate Washington D.C. police allegations that an estimated 3,750 gays and lesbians were being employed by the federal government (see May 19). Sen. Clyde R. Hoey (D-NC) was named to head the investigation. “The paramount objective is to protect the Government and the public interest,” he explained, and promised the investigation will make “every effort to obtain all the pertinent facts” but without “subject(ing) any individual to ridicule.

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 14

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2014

Individualism in the original thirteen-star flag

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

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

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

Fifty star flag measurement specification

Today, the flag’s design is carefully regulated by the General Services Administration’s specification DDD-F-416E (PDF: 1.16MB/34 pages!), with precise measurements and colors defined according to the CAUS Standard Color Reference of America. But very few commercially-made flags adhere to that standard: the measurements and aspect ratios are almost always wrong and the colors are typically off. Those that do are called Government Specification or G-Spec flags. The rest of us make do with whatever the particular manufacturer decides it will be. In some ways, things never really change much after all.

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Bentonville, AR; Bisbee, AZ; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Casper, WY; Chemnitz, Germany; Edmonton, AB; Grand Rapids, MI; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Luleå, Sweden; Lyon, France; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Nanaimo, Vancouver BC; Nantes, France; Nashville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Regina, SK; Sacramento, CA; San Mateo, CA; Shanghai, China; Sitges, Spain; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Wuppertal, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Cedar Point Gay Days, Cedar Point, OH; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, August 1974, page 58.

 
The Florida-based gay photographic and lifestyle magazine David described Annie’s Odds and Ends this way: “Annie’s Odds ‘n’ Ends at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and 12th Ave, caters to the female set and keeps a clean, congenial atmosphere for the girls to relax in and meet new friends. No hassles here. Dance, play pool and enjoy yourself is the order of the day.” The building is still there and is home to a sports bar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 13

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Bentonville, AR; Bisbee, AZ; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Casper, WY; Chemnitz, Germany; Edmonton, AB; Grand Rapids, MI; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Luleå, Sweden; Lyon, France; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Nanaimo, Vancouver BC; Nantes, France; Nashville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Regina, SK; Sacramento, CA; San Mateo, CA; Shanghai, China; Sitges, Spain; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Wuppertal, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Cedar Point Gay Days, Cedar Point, OH; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

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

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

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

TODAY IN HISTORY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here are a couple more:

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, June 12

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Bentonville, AR; Bisbee, AZ; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Casper, WY; Chemnitz, Germany; Edmonton, AB; Grand Rapids, MI; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Luleå, Sweden; Lyon, France; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Nanaimo, Vancouver BC; Nantes, France; Nashville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Regina, SK; Sacramento, CA; San Mateo, CA; Shanghai, China; Sitges, Spain; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Wuppertal, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Cedar Point Gay Days, Cedar Point, OH; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Contact, March 1974, page 4.

 
It may have been “The place” in 1974, but Mae’s Cabaret looks like it was located a good safe distance – about twenty miles — from Jackson. This is just the kind of place that I would love to know more about, but so far all I have is this lone ad from an early gay newspaper out of Houston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, June 11

Jim Burroway

June 11th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Bentonville, AR; Bisbee, AZ; Blackpool, UK; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Casper, WY; Chemnitz, Germany; Edmonton, AB; Grand Rapids, MI; Huntington, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Luleå, Sweden; Lyon, France; Memphis, TN (Black Pride); Nanaimo, Vancouver BC; Nantes, France; Nashville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Regina, SK; Sacramento, CA; San Mateo, CA; Shanghai, China; Sitges, Spain; Spokane, WA; Strasbourg, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; Thunder Bay, ON; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Wuppertal, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Zurich, Switzerland.

Other Events This Weekend: Lesbian and Gay Stadtfest, Berlin, Germany; Cedar Point Gay Days, Cedar Point, OH; AIDS Walk, Long Beach, CA; Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma, CA; Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Contact (Houston, Texas), February 5, 1975, page 25.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, June 10

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, February 2, 1976, page 50.

 
Harry’s Back East was a longtime gay bar whose origins went back to at least 1968. In 1971, the weekly newsmagazine GAY called it “the busiest bar in New York any night.” It probably owed its popularity to its reputation as a simple, laid-back and friendly establishment. At least one story has it that Judy Garland paid a visit there in 1969 shortly before she died. The front bar area was a narrow space, with a very long bar in front that ran the length of the front room and just about every item imaginable hanging from its ceiling — toys, dolls, musical instruments, you name it. In the back was a dance floor, adorned with a disco ball and a large red light connected to a light switch at the front bar that the bartender could flip whenever the cops came in. When the red light came on, that was everyone’s signal to stop dancing together and act innocent — whatever that meant — lest the cops start arresting them for “lewd” conduct. If the owners were current on their bribes, then the cops would leave, the red light would go out, and everyone would go back to doing whatever they were doing before they were so rudely interrupted. But if the bribes had gone unpaid, the cops would stay and become a general nuisance, making everyone uncomfortable until either all the patrons left or the owner arrived and paid up. Harry’s survived that era and soldiered on until 1982 when it finally closed. The location’s latest incarnation appears to have been a restaurant that has recently closed.

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

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

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

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

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

Otto Dix, The Dancer Anita Berber, 1925.

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

Judy Garland’s legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.

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

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

That and those ruby shoes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Monday, June 9

Jim Burroway

June 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Just US, 1975, page 38.

 
The Pier was a two-story club, originally with a restaurant downstairs and a dance bar upstairs. The restaurant had a peculiarly 1970s novelty: telephones at each table with a unique phone number so people could call each other at different tables. While phones like these were novelty gimmicks at straight bars and restaurants, at the Pier they served a particular purpose, where the phones were used to circumvent old liquor laws which required patrons to remain seated at a table with their drinks. Later, the restaurant was renovated out of existence and the Pier became a two-story disco with a staircase connecting the two floors. Today, the building houses a gay entertainment complex consisting of two clubs: a drag bar downstairs (Zigfield’s), and a male strip club upstairs (Secrets).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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