Posts Tagged As: Daily Agenda

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 12

Van Cliburn’s historic performance at the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, 1958.

(d. 2013) In 1958, the Soviet Union, flush with the technological success of Sputnik, inaugurated the first International Tchaikovsky Competition to showcase the Soviet’s cultural superiority. But twenty-four year old Van Cliburn’s astounding performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 resulted in a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. With an American clearly the crowd favorite to take what was supposed to have been a Soviet showcase, the judges reportedly sought Khrushchev permission. “Is he the best? Then give him the prize!” so the story goes. Cliburn returned to the U.S. to a hero’s welcome, becoming the first and only classical musician to be treated to a New York ticker-tape parade. His 1958 Grammy-winning recording of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto became the first classical album to go platinum and was the best-selling classical album for more than a decade. It would eventually go on to go triple platinum and is still available for download in the internet age.

Van Cliburn’s return to Moscow, 2011

In 1962, he became the artistic adviser for his own namesake competition, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held every four years in Ft. Worth, Texas. His own competition now rivals the Tchaikovsky in international stature. He continued performing and recording through the 1960s and 1970s, but after the deaths of his father and manager, he took a hiatus from public life. He came out of retirement in 1987 to perform at the White House for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhael Gorbachev. In 2011, Van Cliburn returned to the XIV Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, where he served as an honorary juror and was treated like a rock star. He died in 2013 at his Ft. Worth home of bone cancer at the age of 78. His funeral was held at the gay-friendly Broadway Baptist Church, and his obituary listed his sole survivor as “his friend of longstanding, Thomas L. Smith.”

He was named for show business, named by his father after a 1950s Western television series. He is a talented actor and singer, working on stage, film and television. His biggest film role to date was as gay 9/11 hero Mark Bingham in the 2006 Oscar nominated United 93, though he was not yet out. Publicly at least. He came out to his parents at the age of 19. His conservative Christian family — including his brother who pastors a large evangelical church and often appears on Pat Robertson’s CBN — encouraged him to enroll in an Exodus International program, but he quietly refused. Fortunately, his family has mostly come around since then.

Jackson came out publicly in 2008, in an interview with the New York Times. That same year, he appeared in a New York production of Damn Yankees with Jane Krakowski and Sean Hayes. In 2009, he opened on Broadway in a revival of Finian’s Rainbows. He has also had recurring roles on television with NBC’s 30 Rock and Fox’s Glee. In 2008, he released a CD with Michael Feinstein, The Power Of Two, which was based on their critically-acclaimed night club act that led to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. Jackson followed that with another acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert with the New York Pops in  Cheyenne Jackson’s Cocktail Hour: Music of the Mad Men Era, a show that he reprised on New Year’s Eve of 2012 at the Kennedy Center. He released two more albums: I’m Blue, Skies in 2013, and Renaissance in 2016.

He is an avid LGBT rights supporter, and in 2011, he appeared in the New York stage reading of Dustin Lance Black’s play, 8, based on on the Proposition 8 trial transcript. In 2011, he married his husband, physicist Monte Lapka, after New York legalized same-sex marriage. The couple had been together since 1999, but they wound up divorcing in 2013. He married actor Jason Landau the following year.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 11

We Are Orlando

Oscar and Simon at Niagara Falls

Oscar and Simon at Niagara Falls

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old.

Oscar Aracana-Montero

Oscar Aracana-Montero

Oscar was one of nine siblings who moved from the Dominican Republic to Florida with his father many years ago. Simon was from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and moved to florida about a decade ago to be with his mother. They both were studying at a bilingual college in Orlando, where Oscar was taking business courses, and Simon was studying accounting while working the world’s largest McDonalds in Orlando. They had been together for several years, and bought a home together last year. The family they created included three pet chihuahuas.

Simon Carrillo

Simon Carrillo

They loved to travel. On the night they died, they had just returned from a vacation in Canada where they visited Niagara Falls. The State Department issued humanitarian visas to relatives in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela so they could travel to Orlando.

50 YEARS AGO: Oklahoma County Attorney Curtis Harris revealed that 26 teachers and school administrators in Oklahoma City have resigned following a six month investigation into “alleged homosexual activity.” Harris said that his office was being “pressured” by prominent citizens to cut back on his investigation, but he was defiant. “It won’t work,” he said. “The investigation will continue.” He did say though that his investigation of late had been hampered when his assistant, investigator Albert J. Hock, suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

Alex Higdon, Executive Assistant for Oklahoma City schools had a different set of figures, saying that as far as he knew only twelve had resigned, “but of course we may not have known about it when they resigned.” He also said that the school board conducted its own investigations rather than work in tandem with the County Attorney. “If evidence substantiates the charges, the person is asked to resign,” he said.

[Source: UPI. “26 Resign in Teacher Deviate Quiz.” The Washington Post (July 12, 1966): A3.]

Denis Lemon

Denis Lemon

In the United Kingdom, private citizens can, with the permission of the court, initiate a private prosecution for criminal offenses if public prosecutors decline to do so. Mary Whitehouse, co-founder of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, had appointed herself the guardian of the nation’s morals in 1963. She began her campaign by directing her ire at the BBC for allowing the words “bloody” and “bum” to be uttered over the airwaves. At one point she declared that the BBC’s director-general was “the one man who more than anybody else who had been responsible for the moral collapse in the country.” In 1976, the NVALA announced plans to revive prosecutions under Britain’s archaic blasphemy laws, which hadn’t seen a successful prosecution since 1921. Most people thought the law was effectively dead, including just about everyone in the legal system.

In June of that year, the London-based Gay News published a poem by James Kirkup titled “The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name.” Kirkup’s poetry had appeared in the paper before, but this one, about a Roman centurion who had sex with Jesus after the crucifixion and which described Jesus as having had sex with a number of other male figures before his death, caught Whitehouse’s attention sometime in November. How a poem published in Gay News came to her attention is anybody’s guess. But after failing to get the backing of church leaders for a blasphemy trial, she applied for permission to prosecute Gay News and its editor, Denis Lemon, for blasphemy. Permission was granted, and the trial began on July 4, 1977 in Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) before Judge Alan King-Hamilton.

Mary Whitehouse, Judge Alan King-Hamilton

Mary Whitehouse, Judge Alan King-Hamilton

Over the course of the week, the Judge ruled on a number of motions that systematically stacked the entire proceedings against Gay News and Lemon. He disallowed expert witnesses in literature and theology, and he even prohibited Lemon from explaining why he published the poem. The judge later wrote in his autobiography that during the trial he felt “half-conscious of being guided by some superhuman inspiration.” His inspiration left the defense with only two witnesses, a novelist and journalist, and their testimony was limited to the good character of the paper. On Monday, July 11, Lemon and his paper were found guilty. The next day, the Judge fined Gay News Ltd £1,000 (£5,600 today) and ordered it to pay four-fifths of Whitehouse’s legal bills, which came to another £7,763 (£43,500 today). Lemon was personally fined £500 (£2,800 today) and given a suspended sentence of nine months’ imprisonment. Lemon appealed, and the Appeals Court tossed out his suspended sentence, but kept the rest of the verdict and fines intact. Lemon then appealed to the House of Lords, but lost.

Fortunately for Gay News, the whole episode resulted millions of pounds of free publicity and little financial cost, thanks to the donations which poured in to the Gay News Fighting Fund, a separate trust fund set up specifically to fight the charges. Gay News‘ readership ended up growing from 8000 to 40,000. but it ended up folding anyway in 1983 due to other financial pressures separate from the blasphemy trial. The blasphemy law was finally abolished in 2008, although it remains a criminal offense in Northern Ireland.

(d. 1941) She was born in London three months after her uncle Oscar Wilde’s arrest for homosexuality. Known as Dolly, she inherited much from her uncle: her looks, her cutting wit, her charms, her poise, and her artful turn of a phrase. Those talents held her in good stead in the salons of Paris between the wars. She first traveled to France in 1914 to serve as an ambulance driver during World War I, where she had an affair with another ambulance driver, Standard Oil heiress Marion “Joe” Carstairs, who after the war become a renowned speedboat racer (“the fastest woman on water”).

Her longest relationship though began in 1927 and lasted until her death, with the American writer Natalie Clifford Barney. Dolly was a gifted storyteller and writer, but she never pursued a career in writing. Her drinking and addiction to heroin may have gotten in the way. In 1939, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but refused surgery. The next year when Germany invaded France, Dolly fled to London, where she died in 1941 of “causes unascertainable,” a possible allusion to a drug overdose or to alternative treatments she sought for her cancer.

85 YEARS AGO: Born Arthur Gelien in New York, he was given his stage name by his first agent. His good looks quickly made him a teen idol in the 1950s as he appeared in more than forty films throughout his career. That career was threatened however when, in 1955, Confidential magazine reported Hunter’s 1950 arrest in an innuendo-laden article, but Hunter’s studio-arranged “romances” with Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds succeeded in rescuing his reputation. In his 2005 memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Hunter talks about his relationships with Anthony Perkins, Rudolph Nureyev and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, along with many anecdotes about other stars he met: Roddy McDowell, Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Mitchum, Fred Astaire, Linda Darnell. But by 1959, his career was on the downhill slope towards spaghetti westerns and dinner theater.

Hunter revived his career twenty years later through a most unlikely vehicle, when he co-starred with Divine in John Water’s Polyester (1981). Hunter had so much fun doing that, that he decided to produce another film he and Divine could star in, Lust In the Dust (1985). “Making out with Divine, that’s beyond the bravery of coming out,” he said. “But he had a sense of humor about the glamour he was caught in. He’s a great sport, and a great star.” Hunter described those films as “a high point in my professional life.” He now lives near Santa Barbara with his longtime partner of more than thirty years.

75 YEARS AGO: (d. 1981) The Novosibirsk native embarked on a very brief career as an actor before switching to playwriting. Although none of his works were published in his lifetime by the Soviet press, he is now recognized as a founder of modern Russian gay literature. His sexuality, which was criminalized at the time, mirrored the Soviet experience in which the mere existence of a lot of people was grounds for state repression. His dissident writing and his sexuality made him a double target, and he was placed under close surveillance by the KBG. When he was called to the KGB for his first “interview,” he fainted. When he died of a heart attack in 1981, many believed that his death was hastened over the pressure of official scrutiny. When he died, he was carrying a manuscript for “Under House Arrest,” which scattered and blew down the street when he collapsed. Other versions of the manuscript survived and was published several years after his death.

Kharitonov claimed his sexuality as a gift that gave him special insight into the human condition. In his brief gay manifesto, The Leaflet, Kharitonov compares the repression that gay people experienced in Russian society to the anti-Semitism experienced by Russia’s Jews. He also saw the artistry of Russia’s Jews and gays as being the product of that repression. “The best flower of our shallow people is called like no other to dance the dance of impossible love and to sing of it sweetly.”

70 YEARS AGO: (d. 1990) He was an LGBT activist and film historian, best known as the author of the 1981 book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. The book was the result of a live lecture with film clips that he had presented at colleges, universities and small art-house cinemas throughout the 1970s. His concern over how LGBT people were presented in the popular media led to his becoming a co-founder for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Russo became involved as a gay rights activist immediately following the Stonewall uprising — in fact, he was among the crowd outside the Stonewall Inn as the riot broke out. He went on to become a leading figure in the Gay Activists Alliance, one of the early pro-gay groups to form in New York City in Stonewall’s wake. In the 1980s, he became involved in ACT-UP as a result of increasing frustration over city, state, and federal government inaction and footdragging in the face of a mounting AIDS epidemic.

He died in from AIDS in 1990 but his work continued to gain a wider audience when HBO created a documentary film version of The Celluloid Closet narrated by Lilly Tomlin. In 2011 a family-authorized biography by Michael Shiavi, Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press. In 2013, HBO returned with another feature about Russo, this time a documentary titled simply Vito.

The Samoan from Hawaii was an NFL defensive lineman for nine years, beginning with the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. After a stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997, he went to Atlanta, where he reached the Super Bowl in 1999. He ended his career the following season with the Carolina Panthers. In 2002, he came out as gay on HBO’s Real Sports, making him the third NFL player to come out (after David Kopay and Roy Simmons). In 2006, he released his autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL, and he has actively campaigned on ending homophobia in sports. In 2010, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge with his boyfriend, but those charges were dropped with his boyfriend saying it was all a misunderstanding.

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 10

We Are Orlando


Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old.


Juan P Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old.

Luis and Juan went to the same high school together, Jose Campeche High School in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico They also owned and operated a salon together, the Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine Salon in Kissimmee. Luis did makeup and managed the business, and Juan styled hair. “Everyone knows about this beauty salon,” a friend and patron said. “They loved people. They lived to help people.” They had worked together on the Belleza Latina pageant, and they were at Gay Days at Disney World the previous weekend.

They had been together for sixteen years and owned the salon together for seven. People remembered them for their joy and their generosity. The often gave their services for free to women who had been victims of domestic violence. One customer remembered, “They would take the shirt off their back to help others. If someone wasn’t smiling, they would try to make them smile. They were good, kind people.” They often provided free services to when who had been victims of domestic violence.

The two were at Pulse to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Another friend was supposed to join them. “I used GPS and got lost,” she said. “It kept sending me to the wrong address. They sent messages, ‘Are you coming, are you coming?’ but I never got there.”

The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1766.250 YEARS AGO: The following story was reported in the July 1766 issue of London’s Gentleman’s Magazine for July 10:

A discovery of a very extraordinary nature was made at Poplar, where two women had lived together for six and thirty years, as man and wife, and kept a public house, without ever being suspected; but the wife happening to fall sick, and die, a few years before she expired, revealed the secret to her relations, made her will, and left legacies to the amount of half what she thought they were worth. On application to the pretended, she at first endeavoured to support her assumed character, but being closely pressed, she at length owed the fact, accommodated all matters amicably, put off the male, and put on the female character, in which she appeared to be a sensible well-bred woman, though in her male character she had always affected the plain plodding alehouse-keeper. It is said they had acquired in business money to the amount of £3000 [£470,000 today]. Both had been crossed in love when young, and had chosen this method to avoid further importunities.

[Source: “Historical Chronicle: July 10.” The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1766): 339. Available online via Google Books here.]

Randol Mill Park

In 1984, the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington was having a problem at Randol Mill Park. It seems that the popular park had become a well-known venue for men (often heterosexually-married men) to solicit sex with other men. Its notoriety even earned it a listing in Bob Damron’s Address Book, a popular pre-internet national guide to gay bars, businesses, organizations and cruising areas.

City council members weren’t pleased. The last thing that Arlington’s city fathers wanted was for the city to gain a reputation for gay friendliness. Council members Jim Norwood, Richard Green and Leo Berman had recently protested a gay adaptation of Edward Albee’s (Mar 12Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe at Theater Arlington, saying the play was “inappropriate to community standards.” City Council ordered the police to step up patrols in the park and adopted a resolution asking Dallas-area newspapers to publish the names of those arrested for public lewdness. “I think the thing they fear more than anything else is public exposure,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Gary Bruner, with no hint of irony. The Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News and the Arlington Daily News all said they would refuse to do so. Said Times Herald Editor Will Jarret, “That’s not our function. We shouldn’t be instruments for public officials to punish or embarrass people.”

But after less than a year’s worth of increased patrolling and enforcement by Arlington police, the Mid-Cities Daily News reported, “We have not heard nearly as much about the problem as last year.” But for whatever reason, the Klan was still excited over queers in the park. The Klan’s “exalted cyclops” of the Ft. Worth kalvern, Bill Walton, announced that his group would be holding a picnic at the park to send a message that gays weren’t welcome. The Daily News responded, “Given the choice between sharing a park with homosexuals or a bunch of white-sheeted, racist, hate-peddling losers, we think we would prefer the homosexuals.”

Well sure, given the choice.

When the Klan held their picnic three days later — sans white sheets — Scott Patrick, the exalted cyclops of the Garland klavern, sounded disappointed with what he found — or didn’t find. “I expected the situation to be a little more blatant. I’m sure all the publicity kept it out.” With none of those dreaded homosexuals in sight, Walton was left with no option but to complain about other groups. “Would you believe I actually had a Jew ask if a Jew could come to one of our meetings,” he told a reporter. “I said ‘no.’ A Jew would have about as much chance of attending as a nigger. You’ve got to admit they aren’t as intelligent as we are.”

[Additional sources: “Arlington City Officials Order Crackdown on Homosexual Activity.” Dallas Voice 1 no. 18 (September 7, 1984): 1.]

Marcel Proust145 YEARS AGO: (d. 1922) He is best known for just one work, the monumental seven-volume novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, known in English as In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past. But that alone has secured his reputation as one of the greatest authors of all time.

Proust’s father was a prominent surgeon and his mother was the well-read daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from Alsace. He was born in Paris just two months after the Franco-Prussian War and during the bloody suppression of the French Commune. Food and fuel shortages during the uprising contributed to widespread hunger and worry, both of which greatly affected Proust’s mother when he was born. He was described as a sickly child, and wasn’t expected to survive infancy. He had his first serious asthma attack at the age of nine, and continuing illnesses often interrupted his education. Nevertheless, he excelled in literature and was awarded with numerous honors in school. He was published in several literary magazines in 1890 and 1891, and he co-founded a literary review in 1892. His asthma rendered him something of a solitary figure, and he was eternally devoted to and, in many ways, dependent on his mother. He lived in the family apartment with his parents until 1905, when his mother died and left him bereft. (His father had died two years earlier.)


Marcel Proust (seated), with Robert de Flers and and Lucien Daudet, 1892.

Proust’s pursuit of male companionship began rather early in life. At Lycée Condorcet, Proust made friends with Jacques Bizet, the son of the famous composer, and Daniel Halévy, the composer’s nephew. At age seventeen, Proust fell in love with Bizet, but his mother, suspecting that the two had become lovers, forbade her son from seeing him. In 1891, Proust met Oscar Wilde and invited the famous British writer to dine with him and his parents. In a possibly apocryphal story, Wilde’s sensitivities were offended by the Proust’s heavy, dark Victorian furniture and left, saying “How ugly is everything here.” Whether the story is true or not, Proust would later, unsympathetically, allude to Wilde’s fall in Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. In 1892, Proust sat for a photo with the playwright Robert de Flers and Lucien Daudet, whose reputation was that of “a handsome young man, curled, well-dressed, pomaded, painted and powdered.” Proust’s mother was scandalized by the photo, his right arm resting on Proust’s shoulder, and forbade Proust from circulating copies of it. That, too, would appear in Jean Santeuil, a novel which wouldn’t see the light of day until it was published posthumously in 1952.

Proust pursued a number of relationships with other men, although he was eager to avoid the tag of “homosexual” himself. In a letter to the André Gide, the gay author who had published his groundbreaking defense of homosexuality in 1911, Proust said that he could write very extensively about homosexuality, as long as he didn’t ascribe it to himself. In fact, homosexuality appears as a recurring theme throughout À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, especially in the later volumes, where Proust shows himself unusually knowledgeable about the difficulties of being a closeted gay man.

After his mother died in 1905, Proust was bereft, mourning her for the rest of his life. He moved from his parents’ apartment, taking much of the heavy furnishings with him, and moved to another apartment where he lined his bedroom with cork to shut out the noise, and hung heavy curtains that were never opened. And that’s when he set about writing the epic novel that would define his entire career. By 1912, his manuscript ran 1,200 pages and he began looking for a publisher.

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann's Way), 1913

Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), 1912

After being turned down by three publishing houses, Proust resorted to self-publishing the first volume, Swann’s Way, in 1913. At the time, it was advertised as the first installment of a three-volume novel. The second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, was ready for 1914, but it was delayed five years because of the war. That gave Proust plenty of time to revise and expand the entire series. When In the Shadow was finally published, it was awarded the Prix Goncourt that year. The third volume, The Guertmantes Way (1920/1921) came out in two installments, as did the fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah (1921).

Between 1919 and 1922, Proust worked incessantly on the remaining volumes, rarely leaving his cork-lined bedroom. He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess in 1922, just after the second installment of Sodom and Gomorrah was published. That would be the last volume that Proust would oversee publication. His brother would oversee the publication of the rest of Proust’s great opus over the next five years. The fifth volume, The Prisoner, came out in 1923. Proust had written it during the publication hiatus during the war, along with the sixth volume, The Fugitive, which came out in 1925. From an editorial standpoint, The Fugitive proved to be the most troublesome, appearing as it did without Proust’s final revisions and corrections. Three later editions, one in 1954 and two others in 1987, incorporated corrections later found in the  Bibliothèque Nationale and in papers found by a relative. The final volume, Finding Time Again, which Proust had mostly written when he was writing the first volume, was published in 1927.

À la Recherche du Temps Perdu saw its first English translations between 1922 and 1930,  by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, who gave the work the English title Remembrance of Things Past, a phrase taken from one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. When the Modern Library released an updated translation 1992, it gave the title as In Search of Lost Time, which more closely captures the original French. Penguin Classics is in the process of producing a new, revised translation, with the final volume expected to be released in 2018. Two recent biographies had rounded out our understanding of Proust: Edmund White’s Marcel Proust: A Life (2009) and William C. Carter’s identically titled Marcel Proust: A Life which was released by Yale University Press in 2013.

Because Proust:

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