Posts Tagged As: Daily Agenda

Tennessee Church: God’s Wrath “Started To Fall On The Gays”

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2016

Johnson CityLast Tuesday, Pastor Jesse Price of Beech Cliff Pentecostal Holiness Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, put a message on his church’s sign reading, “God’s wrath may be getting started to fall on the gays.” Price told a local WCYB reporter:

Beech Cliff Pentecostal Holiness Church Pastor Jesse Price

Beech Cliff Pentecostal Holiness Church Pastor Jesse Price

“We are not trying to kill them. I’ve had a lot of signs up here that homosexuals need to be saved but they didn’t say anything about that on. The only thing I said here in this one that God’s wrath looks like it’s going to start being poured down on the gays.”

He said the sign should not be taken offensively, but alliances of the LGBT community feel differently.

Price added that this wasn’t his first anti-gay message.

The message has since been removed, but Price says he wouldn’t hesitate to repost the message again.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, June 20

We Are Orlando

Deonka Deidra Drayton

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old.

Her family called her “Dee Dee. She grew up in Eastover, South Carolina, where her father is director of God Cares Charities, a non-profit that runs several thrift stores.

DeonkaDeidraDrayton-3Deonka had a hard life. When she was a child, she suffered brain injuries when she was ejected from the family’s car during an accident. “She struggled growing up with the chemistry of everything in her changing,” her father, Shephard Drayton, said. “… She went through a lot of difficulty growing up.”

She left South Carolina and, as ex-girlfriend Ashleigh Alleyne said, Dank was turning her life around. “She was actually putting in effort, because we both hit rock bottom at the same time,” Alleyne said. “She pushed me to get through her issues, and I always tried to do the same for her.”

On that fateful night, Deonka was hiding in the bathroom, texting her more recent ex-girlfriend, Emmy Addison, telling Emmy what was going on. Dee Dee’s last text was at 2:34: “If I die, call my mom.”

Emmy-son-and-Dede-e1465864692502-1Emmy wrote that they had a cruise booked for September. “She was so excited to go. We had been on and off for nine years and felt we needed to take some space to figure things out. We were already talking about moving back in together after the cruise, if things went well. … We had only been separated for two months when one man’s hatred ended our dreams of getting back together. Now we’re never going to have the opportunity to not be separated anymore.” Addison added that their 2-year-old son keeps asking here where his mommy is.

Front and back covers of ONE magazine, June 1963.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE magazine, August 1953.

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

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

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

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

(d. 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 a gay man. Its depiction 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 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 in paperback, his career was set. He went on to author ten consecutive books to land on The New York Times’s Best Seller List, making him simultaneously among the most successful African-American authors and most successful 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.

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, June 19

We Are Orlando

KJMorris

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old.

Friends either called her Kimberly or KJ. She had played basketball at Post University, a private college in Connecticut in 1997, and she remained passionate about the sport. Narvell Benning, who was on the men’s basketball team, said, “I just remember after every single game she would give me a fist bump and tell me ‘Good game,’ It didn’t matter how bad of a game it was, she was always there.” She also enjoyed mixed-martial arts fighting.

While in college, she helped to form the university’s first LGBT organization:

1280_KJ_Morris_0612162239b“She always had this ability to make me more comfortable with myself,” said (Steve) Farina. “She introduced me to the Broadway show Rent. For a talent show in school, we did ‘Light My Candle’. I was Roger and she was Mimi. Kim always wanted to get into entertainment.”

“She loved being out there,” he continued. “In college we were really into resident life. She was a resident advisor. She had the ability to get the best of people and make them comfortable.”

Those people skills helped Morris, a huge basketball fan, get into security work at clubs in Massachusetts, where she also worked as a drag king known as “Daddy K” at Northampton spot Diva’s.

After college, she moved to Hawaii. Then a couple of months ago, she moved to Orlando to help her mother and grandmother. “She came back to move and to start a life,” said her mother, Deborah Johnson-Riley. She also said that KJ was enjoying Orlando. “She just had a smile from here to here. She just glowed.”

“Everybody that she met, I don’t know anybody that didn’t love her,” her mother said. “And she was such a good person, but they say the good die young.”

1208_KJ_Morris_2_FacebookShe got a job as a bouncer at Pulse and loved it. Pulse owner Barbara Poma said that KJ “was a good fit for our family.” She was also about to get a job as an assistant basketball coach at a local school. Things really seemed to be lining up for her. Her former girlfriend, Starr Shelton, said, “She was so excited. She’d just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there. She was such a great person and so full of life. I can truly say heaven has gained an angel.”

KJ was among the earliest victims to be identified, and hers was among the first funerals held on Thursday. Among the speakers at her funeral was a Pulse co-worker, who was also working that night. “One thing I do remember of her, four nights a week, was her smile. She had the biggest smile, she would walk in the room and immediately it lit up,” Charice explained. “I want you guys to know the last time I saw her, she was smiling and laughing and enjoying life and she wants you all to continue to laugh and smile and enjoy life like she did.”

Sen. Lester Hunt, Sr. (D-WY)

Sen. Lester Hunt, Sr. (D-WY)

Sen. Lester Hunt, Sr. (D-WY) had an illustrious career. He served as governor of Wyoming from 1943 to 1949, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was popular enough to defeat the incumbent Republican Senator by a landslide. Hunt quickly became a harsh critic of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) slanderous Red and Lavender Scares.

McCarthy and his cronies got their revenge however when Hunt’s twenty-year-old son and namesake, Lester Hunt, Jr., (his nickname was Buddy) was arrested in June of 1953 for soliciting a male undercover vice cop in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square. Ordinarily, this being Buddy’s first offense — and with his father being a Senator — this would have been handled quietly. And that’s pretty much how things started out. Roy Blick, head of the D.C. vice unit was well known for his hardline stance on homosexuality in the District, but after meeting with Sen. Hunt’s administrative assistant, he agreed to seek a dismissal of the charges. U.S. Attorney Kitty Blair Frank concurred (The District was still under the direct control of Congress, with U.S. Attorneys criminal prosecutions in the city.) Everything seemed to have been taken care of. Buddy, who was a theology student, then went to Cuba for a summer practicuum with an Episcopal parish.

StylesBridges (R-NH) and Herman Welker (R-ID)

StylesBridges (R-NH) and Herman Welker (R-ID)

Nevertheless, rumors flew among the political class, and they quickly reached Sen. Styles Bridges (R-NH), who was chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee. The Senate was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans at the time, and if Hunt could be forced to resign, Wyoming’s Republican governor would appoint his replacement and the Senate would finally be under Republican control. Bridges and Sen. Herman Welker (R-ID), who had a longstanding reputation as one of the most conservative, most anti-communist, and most anti-gay Senators in Washington, They also called the Chief of Police, Robert Murray, to demand an explanation for why the charges were dropped. They summoned Blick to a meeting. It’s not clear what happened at that meeting, but when Blick was summoned again the next day for another meeting with Bridges and Welker, Welker ominously told Blick that he had heard “rumors” that Blick received a bribe to fix Hunt’s case. Blick denied the rumor. After that meeting, Block was called later that night from his home, for another late night meeting with Welker. This time, Welker claimed to have proof that Blick had been bribed. Blick denied the charge again.

By the time Buddy returned from Havana that autumn, Blick had been relived of his responsibility over the case, and U.S. Attorney Frank was replaced by another U.S. Attorney, Kenneth Wood, who re-filed the charges. Meanwhile, Welker turned to the popular University of Wyoming Athletic Director Glenn “Red” Jacoby, who happened to be a childhood friend of Welker’s as well as a close personal friend of Sen. Hunt’s. Jacoby was sent to deliver a message from one friend to another: “If Hunt would retire from the Senate at the end of this term and not run for reelection next year, the charges against his son would not be prosecuted.” But if Hunt refused to resign, Welker would make sure the case was smeared all over Wyoming. Jacoby refused to be the go-between, but he confided his part of the plot to Tracy McCracken, publisher of Cheyenne’s two newspapers, who passed the story on to Sen. Hunt.

Hunt declined the “invitation.” The trial was held in October, with Sen. Hunt and his wife in attendance. While the arrest was a classic case of entrapment, the judge didn’t see it that way. He found Buddy guilty and sentenced him to thirty days in jail or a $100 fine (worth about $900 today). Hunt paid the fine, but his assistant later said that it was the first time he had “seen a man die visibly.”

At least one Washington newspaper carried the story, on page 5, but it failed to catch on publicly. Most Wyoming papers refused to run the story. But that didn’t mean Hunt’s enemies didn’t forget. In December, 1953, while the Hunts were back home in Wyoming, their Washington, D.C. home was broken into and ransacked. “Every drawer had been turned upside down, and every cranny had been looked in,”, Hunt., Jr. later said. “It was obviously some kind of a search.” Only two token items were missing: a camera and a pair of binoculars. No one was ever arrested.

The following April, bolstered by opinion polls showing that Hunt would likely win re-election, he announced that he would run again. Sens. Bridges and Welker tried another tack. They got White House staff to offer Hunt a higher-paying job as Chairman of the Federal Tariff Commission if he quit his Senate seat. That post paid $15,000 a year ($134,000 today) versus $12,000 as a Senator ($107,000 today). Hunt turned it down, knowing he’d be forced to explain why he took a higher-paying job in exchange for turning the Senate over to Republican control. Welker then let it by known that while many Wyoming papers refused to run the story of Hunt, Jr’s. arrest, Welker would make sure that the story wound up “in every mailbox in the state.” He even printed up 25,000 flyers to send out. On June 8, 1954, Hunt announced that he was withdrawing from the race. Citing health concerns, he said, “I shall never again be a candidate for elective office.”

Sens. Bridges and Welker won. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was already feeling the walls closing in around him when, during the famous McCarthy-Army hearing held on June 9, lawyer Joseph Welch blasted McCarthy with the question everyone else was asking: “Have you no sense of decency?” The hearings ended a few days later with McCarthy’s reputation in tatters. Struggling to find his footing, again, McCarthy declared on the Senate floor that he would open an investigation into an unnamed Senator who he claimed was bribing D.C. police. He didn’t name Hunt, but it was pretty obvious that McCarthy’s nemesis was in his crosshairs. The next morning, Hunt brought his hunting rifle to his Senate office and shot himself at his desk. He died two hours later in the hospital.

Lester Hunt's funeral

Lester Hunt’s funeral

News reports had it that Hunt killed himself because he was despondent over his health. But privately, Senate colleagues knew differently. On June 21, Sen. Edwin Johnson (D-CO) rose on the Senate floor to speak of his colleague:

Lester Hunt was a warm-hearted friendly soul…Politics to him…was based on warm friendship, courtesy, kindness, gentleness and good will toward all men. He was ill-prepared for the cruel, brutal, rough aspect of national partisan politics. He thought evil of no one, and his gentle nature was shocked into panic, that persons whom he liked and respected would destroy him in the cause of national partisan politics, when he was wholly without guilt. Perhaps his devoted friends in the Senate took too much for granted his capacity to accept barbaric treatment…To have such a lovable person die of a broken heart in our midst is indeed a tragedy.

The details of Hunt’s blackmail and suicide had circulated through Washington’s political class and became just one more factor, albeit an unspoken one, in the Senate’s vote to censure McCarthy in December. But that vote was taken too late to save the GOP’s majority. The November mid-terms elections delivered both the House and Senate into Democratic hands. The GOP-controlled lame duck Senate nevertheless had some more business to attend to, including a memorial for members who had died recently. Sens. Bridges and Welker were among those eulogizing Hunt. Hunt’s cousin, William Spencer, learned of their eulogies and was outraged. He wrote to Welker:

I was shocked when I read this. It recalled to my mind so vividly the conversation with Senator Hunt a few weeks before he died, wherein he recited in great detail the diabolical part you played following the unfortunate and widely publicized episode in which his son was involved. Senator Hunt, a close personal friend of mine, told me without reservation the details of the tactics you used in endeavoring to induce him to withdraw from the Senate, or at least not to be a candidate again. It seems apparent that you took every advantage of the misery which the poor fellow was suffering at the time in your endeavor to turn it to political advantage. Such procedure is as low a blow as could be conceived. I understood, too, from Senator Hunt, that Senator Bridges had been consulted by you and approved of your action in the matter.

DrewPearsonDetail

Drew Pearson’s column of June 21 (Click to read the whole column)

Hunt’s blackmail remained hidden from the public until Drew Pearson, the popular muckraking political reporter, published an exposé three days after Hunt’s death in his nationally-syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round. He had been following the story for several months, and wanted to publish an account of Bridges’s and Welker’s blackmail attempt in December of 1953, at about the time of the break-in of the Hunts’ home. But Hunt’s office convinced Pearson not to run it. When he did publish it on June 22, this time exposing everything he knew, Senate Republicans launched a fierce counterattack to discredit Pearson. Admittedly, Pearson wasn’t hard to discredit; his columns typically veered more towards sensationalism than balanced journalism, but his political enemies did succeed in pressuring the Capital Transit Company, D.C.’s privatized streetcar monopoly which depended on Congressional favors to keep their streetcars running, to pull their sponsorship of Pearson’s weekly television program.

In 1959, Hunt’s blackmail and suicide served as inspiration for Allen Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Advise and Consent. In the novel, and the 1962 political-noir film that was based on it, Sen. Fred Van Ackerman of Wyoming blackmails Utah Sen. Brigham Anderson over a gay affair after Anderson derailed the confirmation of the President’s pick for Secretary of State. Like Hunt, Anderson shot himself in his Senate office.

But as gripping as that story was, Advise and Consent was still fiction, and the real story of Hunt’s suicide remained largely untold. It would take another several decades, long after Bridges’s and Welker’s deaths, after their personal papers became available to researchers, and after former aides became more willing to talk, when Rodger McDaniel could finally put all of the pieces together, definitively, in his 2013 book, Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt (also on Kindle).

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.”

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 18

We Are Orlando

LuisSVielma

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

A native of a small town near Acapulco, Mexico, Luis, was an Emergency Medical Services student at Seminole State College. He loved his job at Universal Studios, where he was a ride attendant at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, mourned Luis in a Twitter post featuring a smiling Luis in a Hogwarts uniform.

Josh Boesch worked with Luis at Universal and said, “He was always a friend you could call. He was always open and available.”

Olga Glomba, who also worked with Luis at Universal, said Luis was “a funny, sweet, nerdy guy without a mean side. He just wanted to make people smile.”

Universal employees and friends also gathered on Tuesday at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to pay tribute to Luis and Xavier Serrano, another shooting victim who worked there as a parade performer.

LuisSVielma-2

LuisSVielma-1Luis had visited Disney World hours earlier during the day of the shooting and posted a photo to Facebook with several “true friends who become family,” according to the caption. Boesch said that Vilema posted on social media about going to Pulse the night he died.

His funeral mass is scheduled for today.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta issued a report saying that the strange occurrences of the skin cancer known as Kaposi’s sarcoma, and the rare and rarely-deadly Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia that was killing gay men for more than a year (Jun 5), may be spread by some kind of an infection. The report, which appeared in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said that researchers in Southern California interviewed eight living patients with KS and/or PCP, and the close friends of seven others who had died, and found:

Within 5 years of the onset of symptoms, 9 patients (6 with KS and 3 with PCP) had had sexual contact with other patients with KS or PCP. Seven patients from Los Angeles County had had sexual contact with other patients from Los Angeles County, and 2 from Orange County had had sexual contact with 1 patient who was not a resident of California. Four of the 9 patients had been exposed to more than 1 patient who had KS or PCP. Three of the 6 patients with KS developed their symptoms after sexual contact with persons who already had symptoms of KS. One of these 3 patients developed symptoms of KS 9 months after sexual contact, another patient developed symptoms 13 months after contact, and a third patient developed symptoms 22 months after contact.

In hindsight, we know that HIV typically has an incubation period of from a few months to ten years or more. Knowing what we know today, we can’t really say that those patients had actually infected each other in the ways this report tentatively suggested, Nevertheless, in 1982, this evidence suggested something very notable:

The probability that 7 of 11 patients with KS or PCP would have sexual contact with any one of the other 16 reported patients in Los Angeles County would seem to be remote. The probability that 2 patients with KS living in different parts of Orange County would have sexual contact with the same non-Californian with KS would appear to be even lower. Thus, observations in Los Angeles and Orange counties imply the existence of an unexpected cluster of cases.

What to make of this cluster?

One hypothesis consistent with the observations reported here is that infectious agents are being sexually transmitted among homosexually active males. Infectious agents not yet identified may cause the acquired cellular immunodeficiency that appears to underlie KS and/or PCP among homosexual males. If infectious agents cause these illnesses, sexual partners of patients may be at increased risk of developing KS and/or PCP.

The report cautioned that the evidence, so far, was inconclusive. It acknowledged another hypothesis that “KS or PCP does not lead directly to acquired cellular immunodeficiency, but simply indicates a certain style of life.” At the time, all sorts of “style of life” questions were still being investigated. The number of sexual partners, multiple STD infections, drug use — especially poppers — these were all under suspicion. Nearly a year later, France’s Pasteur Institute would identify a suspected virus (May 20). That finding was confirmed by American researchers almost another year after that.

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

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

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

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

Phillippe’s character left Lianview to attend Yale later that summer, and Phillippe left One Life to Live for good in 1993. He went on to appear in the films I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Crash (2004). One Life to Live’s last episode aired on January 13, 2012.

Agnes Goodsir

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

Girl With Cigarette, 1925.

Girl With Cigarette, 1925.

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 17

We Are Orlando

LuisOmarOcasio-Capo

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

LuisOmarOcasio-Capo-2Omar was originally from Cleveland, where his mother still lives. a former teacher remembered him as “a ray of sunshine.” Omar’s sister, Belinette Ocasio-Capo said that Omar wanted to be a star. “He was one of the most amazing dancers,” she said. “He would always call me and say, ‘I’m going to be the next Hollywood star.’ He really did want to make it and be known. …Now his name ended up being all around the world, like he wanted — just not this way.” She said that Omar was due to audition for a play on Tuesday.

His cousin, Leonarda Flores, also remarked on his outgoing personality. “He did not care, he loved himself, and he loved others. He was very open, he lived who he was. He knew he was beautiful, he knew it, and he flaunted it.”

His 70-year-old coworker at a Starbucks located in a Target in Kissimmee found him brash at first, but she warmed to him after getting to know him. “I realized he had a very outgoing personality,” said Claudia Mason. “His sense of humor was definitely his defining personality trait. …Omar got along with everyone. Young, old, male, female, gay, or straight, it didn’t matter to Omar.”

FacebookTribute

LuisOmarOcasio-Capo-1Omar loved dancing. His friend Daniel Suarez-Ortiz said, “The reason why he moved to Orlando was for his acting and dancing career, and it hurts that he is not able to do that anymore.” The last image that his friends have of him is a video showing him dancing around Pulse with his friends. The Snapchat video was taken at about 12:30 a.m., just a couple of hours before the gunman opened fire.

In November 2015, after the massacre at Paris’s Bataclan nightclub, he updated his profile picture in solidarity with the French victim. This week, an entire cabin full of JetBlue passengers showed their solidarity with Omar’s grandmother.

I didn’t want it to be a political speech. I just wanted to share what was in my heart, and that’s what came out.

…I think it’s pretty sad that a speech by a Lieutenant Governor in Utah is getting this much attention just by saying that we should love each other. I mean, how low is the bar in our country?

You can see Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s speech and read a transcript here.

His real name was Wladziu Valentino Liberace (May 16), but like Cher and Madonna and other gay icons, he was known by a single name. 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 had long provoked questions about his sexuality (Oct 7), but those questions didn’t do much to dent the popularity of 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. Liberace’s pop idol status also probably helped. One upper-middle-aged lady on the jury gave Liberace what was described as “a broad wink” and mouthed “it’s all right” before the verdict was read. Spectators also picked up on the signal, and murmurs of “he won” spread through the courtroom. She later turned up at his hotel and told reporters that she thought he was wonderful — “a real smasher.” This was after she

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.

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.

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Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.