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Posts for August, 2014

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 20

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Cornwall, UK; Derry/Londonderry, UK; Erie, PA; Galway, Ireland; Kassel, Germany; Lansing, MI; Manchester, UK; Mocton, NB; Norfolk, VA; Salem, OR; Sligo, Ireland; Stockton, CA; Toledo, OH; Torquay, UK; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: Big Bear Adventure Weekend, Big Bear Lake, CA; Michigan March to the Capital, Lansing, MI; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Fountain, May 1979, page 12.

From Northwest Fountain, May 1979, page 12.

Rafters, at 739 S.W. Park Avenue in Portland was on the second floor of a larger gay entertainment complex that also included the Embers supper club/lounge downstairs and the adjoining Focal Point tavern on S.W. Ninth Avenue. The location today will soon become an office tower across the street from Nordstrom’s.

ONE magazine, August 1953.

ONE magazine, August 1953.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
ONE Magazine Debates “Homosexual Marriage”: 1953. The push for marriage equality has often been measured in years. Some of the more amazingly short-sighted have asserted that “the revolution began” when Prop 8 was challenged in Federal District court in 2009. Others with somewhat longer memories can remember the excitement of Massachusetts becoming the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004 (see May 17), or the Netherlands becoming the first country in the world to offer marriage equality in 2001 (see Apr 1), or Hawaii almost becoming the first jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriages in 1993 (see May 5). Those with longer memories may recall the battle Mike McConnell and Jack Baker waged to get a marriage license in 1970 (see May 18).

Discussions about same-sex marriage had taken place in the gay community long before all of that. But with gay relationships themselves still criminalized throughout much of the U.S. and the mental health professions considering homosexuality a mental illness, marriage was considered a much lesser priority. ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay publication, had called for a push for “homophile marriage” in 1963 (see Jun 19). In 1959, ONE published “Homosexual Marriage: Fact or Fancy?” Its author had been in a relationship for eleven years which he very much likened to a marriage, and proceeded to offer advice on the ingredients that made for a successful  marriage.

Marriage License Or Just License?

But ONE‘s first discussion of gay marriage came in its very first year of existence, in 1953. Written by a ONE reader who signed his name “E.B. Saunders,” the article’s title, “Reformer’s Choice: Marriage License or Just License?”, predicted the tug-of-war between assimilationists and liberationists that would dominate the gay rights movement for the next half century. It also records some of the pre-pill/pre-sexual revolution/pre-women’s liberation-era assumptions about what was considered acceptable behavior. Overall, it’s a fascinating time capsule, left by of a group of people who were still trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted.

The activists in the early homophile movement believed they knew what they wanted. First and foremost, ONE and the Mattachine Society wanted the “reform” of anti-gay laws, which criminalized gay relationships in all fifty states. That word, reform, was carefully chosen so as not to draw the charge that they were encouraging people to adopt what was seen as an immoral lifestyle. To speak boldly of “repeal” during those years of the Lavender Scare would have been, politically, like touching a third rail. The backlash, it was feared, would have been devastating. But the reason ONE and Mattachine wanted those laws “reformed” was obvious: they wanted people to no longer face arrest for having homosexual sex. This made gay people among the earliest proponents of sexual liberation — or sexual “license,” depending on your viewpoint.

ONE and Mattachine also wanted the “acceptance” of gay people, a goal they sought to achieve by educating the broader society of the “homosexual’s problems.”  But Saunders wrote that if ONE and Mattachine really wanted society’s acceptance, then their efforts would be doomed unless they adopted an agenda that included the one thing that society found most worthy of acceptance: marriage.

…Then you sit back and try to visualize our society as these well-meaning enthusiasts would have it. And suddenly you realize that their plans are impossible! They have missed one of their most essential points and committed a basic and staggering error.”

…Image that the year were 2053 and homosexuality were accepted to the point of being of no importance. Now, is the deviate allowed to continue his pursuit of physical happiness without restraint as he attempts to do today? Or is he, in this Utopia, subject to marriage laws? It is a pertinent question. For why should he be permitted permiscuity (sic) when those heterosexuals who people the earth must be married to enjoy sexual intercourse? The answer does not lie in the fact that the deviate cannot reproduce: this is irrelevant to the effect upon society of his acceptance as a valuable citizen.

This effect would be one of immense consternation for it would be a legalizing of promiscuity for a special section of the population — which, incidentally, now begs for its rights on the very grounds that it desires the respectability and dignity of all other citizens. It is not likely that either of these would be attained by a lifting of legal sex constraints for this group alone. Actually such a change would loosen heterosexual marriage ties, too, and make even shallower the meaning of marriage as we know it… Heterosexual marriage must be protected. The acceptance of homosexuality without homosexual marriage ties would be an attack upon it.

Let’s pause a minute and let this amazing point sink in. Saunders is saying t — in 1953! — that acceptance of gay people without letting them marry (or, more to the point expecting them to marry; this is, after all, 1953) would be an attack on straight marriages!

Saunders obviously overstated the constraints marriage placed on people’s behavior, as the Kinsey Reports of 1948 and 1953 had already shown (see Jan 5 and Aug 14). A large number of married people were already findings ways to be promiscuous. Marriage did little to lessen the constraints of sex, legally or otherwise. But marriage did have one important value: society placed a very high value on it. If gay people really wanted to be accepted, then Saunders argued that they should be fighting for the one thing that would open the doors to acceptance:

Yet one would think that in a movement demanding acceptance, legalized marriage would be one of its primary issues. What a logical and convincing means of assuring society that they are sincere in wanting respect and dignity! But nowhere do we see this idea prominently displayed either in Society publications or the magazine ONE. It is dealt with in passing and dismissed as all-right-for-those-who-want-it. But it is not incorporated as a keystone in Society aims — which it must be before such a movement can hope for any success.

Saunders saw some practical problems that would need to be addressed if they were to press for gay marriage. Some of those problems were a reflection of the rigid gender roles that were still prevalent in the early 1950s. “For instance, should the Mr. And Mrs. idea be retained? If so, what legal developments would come of the objection by the ‘Mr.’ that ‘Mrs.’ doesn’t contribute equally?” He wondered how childrearing and adoption would work. Gay people marry would society come to expect them to perform childrearing duties like everyone else? “Would the time come when homosexuals would be forced to care for children as part of their social duties? How many homosexuals would actually want to bring up a child?”

A Philadelphia gay wedding, ca 1957. This photograph was part of a set that was deemed inappropriate by a photo shop in Philadelphia and never returned to the customer. From the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

A Philadelphia gay wedding, ca 1957. This photograph was part of a set that was deemed inappropriate by a film processor in Philadelphia and never returned to the customer. From the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

Saunders saw the idea of two men or two women vowing to remain together, monogamously, for the rest of their lives “a dubious proposition.” Here again, he apparently hadn’t absorbed some of the statistics from the Kinsey report that found those expectations a dubious proposition for large numbers of heterosexual couples But he acknowledged that social pressure made for an additional and significant obstacle for gay couples. Those in a visible same-sex relationships risked arrest, eviction and unemployment, factors which tended to dampen the enthusiasm for such arrangements.

That’s why many of the early homophile activists saw sexual liberation as the only viable option. But that would be inimicable to the monogamous expectations of a homosexual marriage. “The concept of homosexual marriage cannot come into being without a companion idea: homosexual adultery,” with all of its societal and legal sanctions. For the sexual outlaws of 1953, would such a price for acceptance be worth it?

[T]his acceptance will cause as great a change in homosexual thinking as in the heterosexual — perhaps greater. No more sexual abandon: imagine! Me, married? Yes, a great change in the deviate himself, yet nothing in the literature of the Mattachine Society and little of ONE is devoted to initiating and exploring this idea of necessary homosexual monogamy. The idea seems stuffy and hide-bound. We simply don’t join movements to limit 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. Are we willing to make the trade? From the silence of the Society on the subject, perhaps not.

What a turn! After challenging the homophile movement to embrace gay marriage in order to advance the cause of  acceptance, he backtracks somewhat and indirectly questions whether gay people really knew what they wanted.

It is unfortunate that enthusiasm demands more action than thought, and that necessity often makes us run wildly before we’ve decided exactly where we’re running (although we may be quite sure of what we’re running from). Commendable as the Society is, it appears that there is yet to be conceived in its prospectus a concrete plan for the homosexual’s place in society. Until we know exactly where we’re going, and the stuffy and hide-bound — who can help us exceedingly — might not be willing to run along just for the exercise. When one digs, it must be to make a ditch, a well, a trench: something! Otherwise all of this energetic work merely produces a hole. Any bomb can do that.

The homophile movement did somehow manage to converge on a consensus, and that consensus leaned toward “just license” — or “liberation,” in the language of the next decade. Over the next several months, readers responded more or less that way in letters to ONE responding to Saunders. One questioned the either/or proposition between the marriage license and “just license” by pointing to Scandinavia where “sex laws are sane, (heterosexual) marriage still exists, home is sacred, and mother is honored.” Another wondered why Saunders seemed intent on imposing restrictions rather than expanding options. “In the year 2053, he asks, are we to be allowed to continue our pursuit of physical happiness without restraint as we attempt to do today? Well, why the hell not? What is this tendency on the part of some people to seek more and more restrictions?” Another scoffed: “It seems preposterous to me to use a sexual behavior yardstick for present and future generations of homosexuals which does not even meet the needs and actions of most present day heterosexuals, much less their probable future needs. … I would also be for the legalized marriage of homosexuals who desire this. And, I am one who desires this. But, E.B.S.’s naiveté regarding heterosexual chastity before marriage astounds me.”

The homophile movement didn’t adopt Saunders’ call for gay marriage. It also came to realize that its plaintive pleas for “acceptance” and “understanding” of the 1950s would never produce the kins of changes they were looking for. By the time the decade ended, the push was on for license — liberation, in the lingo of the following decade – among gay activists like Frank Kameny who demanded that the rights of gays and lesbians be respected solely because it was their birthright as citizens. By the time Stonewall came around, the lure of liberation made the idea of marriage seem irrelevant (although visionaries like Baker and McConnell saw things differently). But the AIDS tragedy of the 1980s had a way of injecting cold hard reality into the equation. There’s nothing like losing a partner to a terrible disease to focus one’s mind on all that was lost, and on all of the vulnerabilities — legal, financial, and social — that gay people were exposed to when they were denied access to marriage. The revolution may have picked up steam as the twentieth century began to draw to a close, but the seeds of discontent were already sown at least a half a century earlier.

[Sources: E.B. Saunders. "Reformers Choice: Marriage License or Just License?" ONE 1, no. 8 (August 1953): 10-12.

"Letters." ONE 1, 10 (October 1953): 10-15.

"Letters." ONE 1, 11 (November 1953): 18-24.]

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 19

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. (Photo by Pat Rocco, see Feb 9.)

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. (Photo by Pat Rocco, see Feb 9.)

Who’s the grooviest guy in L.A.? “It’s about time we all settled this question, so let’s join in and find him,” proclaimed Sam Winston in kicking off The GROOVY GUY contest. Sponsored by the ADVOCATE and the HAYLOFT, the area-wide contest seeks to find the all-round attractive male from the standpoint of looks, build, and whatever else it takes to make The GROOVY GUY.

The final choice will take place at a gala pageant at the Hayloft on August 19. Any bar or combination of bars that wants to enter a candidate for the title may do so. Each entering bar may run a contest of its own or choose its entrant by any other method. They must make their choice by July 20, however. Each contestant will make appearances during August before the night of the pageant at the Hayloft and at his sponsoring bar. At the finals, each aspiring GROOVY GUY will parade before the judge twice once in a bathing suit and once in blue jeans and tee shirt.

The first contest in 1968 drew seven contestants and about 150 people to the Hayloft’s parking lot. (The bar itself was too small to handle the crowd.) Danny Combs won that year.The Advocate gushed:

Winner Danny Combs, who lives in Long Beach. is a fairly muscular young man with a 28-inch waist. He stands five feet nine inches and weighs 160 pounds. Other assets include blue-green eyes, a warm ready smile, and other things.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. The winner won a color TV.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. A member of the audience won a color TV.

To get an idea of those “other things,” you can see some NSFW photos here. Combs was sponsored by The Patch, a bar that had undergone a bout of police harassment just two days earlier (see Aug 17) and lived to tell about it. The 23-year-old model won a Groovy Guy Trophy and prizes including a trip to San Francisco with a night at the Ramrod, and a $25 gift certificate from a Los Angeles clothing store.  The runner-up was Dave Waldor, who owned the Valli Haus restaurant. He won a Polaroid camera and a dinner for two at a competing restaurant, Keith’s in the Valley. Sponsoring bars included Blue Angel West, De Paul’s, Klondike, Le Tomcat, Ramm’s Head, Right Pocket, River Club, Sax Club, Seventh Keg, and the Tonky Honker.

In 1969, the Los Angeles Advocate was renamed simply The Advocate andbegan national distribution. That year’s Groovy Guy contest was much larger, attracting 18 contestants and an audience of 1,500. That year was notable because organizers allowed same-sex dancing, which was still illegal at the time. (A “late entry from the LAPD,” as portrayed by one of the contest’s organizers, “interrupted” the swimsuit competition.) Proceeds went to the recently-formed Metropolitan Community Church (see Oct 6). By 1971, the event was becoming so popular that other Groovy Guy contests started appearing in other cities across the U.S.  That same year, the Los Angeles contest was moved to the Sheraton Universal Hotel.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

In 1972, the contest was moved to the Grand Ballroom of the International Hotel in Century City. Organizers tried to expand the contest to emphasis “the whole man” and not just the bodily attributes with the introduction of a Mr. Congeniality Award. It was about as successful as you would imagine it to be. By then, Groovy Guy had gotten so big that it had become too much of a distraction for the tiny Advocate staff. That was the last year for Los Angeles’ Groovy Guy, but not for the gay male pageant. Two other local gay publications took it over for 1973 and renamed it the Groovy Stud Contest (1973), then the California Groovy Guy Contest (1974-1977), then the Data Boy Pageant (1978, 1979), then the Super-Men Pageant (1980-1987).

[Other sources: "Where the Acton Is! The Groovy Guy Contest!!" The Los Angeles Advocate (July 1968): 2.

"Groovy Guy Pageant Scores." The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 3.

"Not Just a Body: Groovy Guy Contest to Stress 'Whole Man'." The Advocate (May 24, 1972): 7.]

Frank Kameny

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: Frank Kameny “Throws Down The Gauntlet” Over Security Clearance Denials: 1969.Benning Wentworth was an electronics technician for a private research contractor for the U.S. Air Force when, in the spring of 1966, he was accused of homosexuality and his eleven-year security clearance was revoked. Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., and who himself had been fired by the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality, worked as Wentworth’s counsel in an appeal before the Industrial Security Clearance Review Office in the Department of Defense. The Pentagon justified its blanket denial of security clearances to gay people by claiming gays were subject to blackmail. Kameny pointed out the obvious flaw in that logic: Wentworth was out — he even appeared in a press conference about his hearing — and it’s impossible to blackmail someone over their homosexuality if the whole world knows about it. In his opening remarks, Kameny described a different unnamed person, known only as OSD 66-44, who was allowed to keep his clearance as long as he spent the rest of his life in the closet and pretended to be straight. But for Wentworth and others, that was not longer an option. The logic behind the two cases made no sense whatseover. Kameny declared:

The Department got its satisfaction out of OSD 66-44, whoever he may be. We hope he sleeps soundly these days, poor man. OSD 66-44 may have compromised. He may have knuckled under. He may have crawled. He may have groveled. He may have submitted to Departmental blackmail of the most contemptible kind.

We will not. We stand our ground.

We throw down the gauntlet, clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously.

We state for the world, as we have stated for the public, we state for the record and, if the Department forces us to carry the case that far, we state for the courts that Mr. Wentworth, being a healthy, unmarried, homosexual male, 35 years old, has lived, and does live a suitable homosexual life, in parallel with the suitable active heterosexual sexual life lived by 75 percent of our healthy, unmarried, heterosexual males holding security clearances; and he intends to continue to do so indefinitely into the future. And please underline starting with the word “and intends to do so into the future”. Underline that, please, Mr. Stenographer.

Despite the obvious problems with the Pentagon’s reasonings for withdrawing Wentworth’s clearance, Kameny lost that case. Over the next three decades, the Pentagon and other agencies began to allow gay and lesbian Americans hold security clearances, but the policies were inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary. President Clinton signed Executive Order 12968 in 1995 (see Aug 4) finally prohibited all agencies from citing homosexuality as a reason for denying a security clearance once and for all.

You can read Kameny’s entire opening statement in the Wentworth case here,

Paul Cameron

Anti-gay Extremist Paul Cameron Hired As Congressional Adviser: 1985. This Associated Press Report appeared in newspapers nationwide:

A Psychologist who believes homosexuals should be quarantined has been hired as an expert on AIDS by a congressman who sits on the House subcommittee overseeing research on the disease, a newspaper reported Sunday. Paul Cameron of Lincoln, Neb., was hired for a $2,000, one-month tenure to advise Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., on homosexuality and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the Register of Orange County reported. Cameron, who says the quarantine should be ordered to stop the spread of disease, has linked homosexuality to criminal behavior, including mass murder and child molestation. Dannemeyer, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health and environment, said he trust Camerin as an adviser even though the psychologist has been expelled from the American Psychological Association and repudiated by the Nebraska Psychological Association.

Not only was Cameron kicked out of the APA and censured by the NPA, he was also denounced by several other professional organizations for gross and unethical misrepresentations of legitimate scientific research. Cameron would go on to say that medical extermination of people with AIDS might be a legitimate consideration, and in 1999 he wrote admiringly of how the Nazi’s “dealt with” homosexuality. Dannemeyer’s record on LGBT issues was little better. In 1986, Dannemeyer was the only prominent politician to support Lyndon LaRouche’s Proposition 64 in California, which would have labeled AIDS a disease subject to quarantine. In 1989, Dannemeyer read into the Congressional Record Cameron’s graphic description of gay sex, “The Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do.” Dannemeyer left the House in 1992 to try to run for the Senate seat for California, but he lost in the primary.

1 YEAR AGO: Marriage Equality Arrives in New Zealand: 2013. Immediately after the New Zealand Parliament passed a bill granting marriage equality in a 77-44 vote, House members and visitors in the gallery sang “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional Maori love song. Poking at the ever-present rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis, Green MP Kevin Hague told reporters, “Hopefully it will push the Aussies into doing something.” His hopes went unfulfilled, but in August New Zealand became the thirteenth nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Renee Richards

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
80 YEARS AGO: Renée Richards: 1934. The Yale-trained eye surgeon, author and professional tennis player completed her transition to female in 1975. After transitioning, she moved to California and re-established a successful practice as an ophthalmologist while playing in amateur tennis tournaments. After a local reporter covering a tennis tournament revealed that she had transitioned, she decided to end her practice and become a tennis pro with the hopes of raising awareness for transgender people. When tried to enter 1976 U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association suddenly came up with a previously unknown “born-women only” policy and demanded that Richard submit to chromosomal testing to confirm her eligibility to compete. She sued, and in 1977 she won the right to play as a woman.

1977 US Open Tennis ChampionshipThat year, she was a finalist in women’s doubles with Betty Ann Stuart at the U.S. Open, but lost in a close match to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stöve. Richards won the 35-and-over women’s singles. She continued playing until 1981, and she ranked as high as 20th overall in 1979. She later became Navratilova’s coach, but Richards would always be known more for her transitioning than for her tennis career.

But if transgender people were looking to Richards as an advocate for them, she would disappointed them again and again. In 1999, she told People magazine:

This route that I took was not easy. But the compulsion was so great, I couldn’t turn it off. You can’t turn it off by throwing away all of your women’s clothes or joining the Navy. I had to do it. I wish that there could have been an alternative way, but there wasn’t in 1975. If there was a drug that I could have taken that would have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was—as a totally intact person. Since there wasn’t, my alternative might have been suicide. …I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow.

In her 2007 autobiography, No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life, she describes the challenges and the freedom that came with her decision to transition, while expressing her frustration over the intense public scrutiny that concentrated so much attention on it. A New York Times profile revealed her to be “surprisingly conservative”: her idea of marriage “demands a man and a woman” (“It’s like a female plug and an electrical outlet,” she said), and she called the 2004 decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow transgender people to compete “a particularly stupid decision.” Her own lawsuit to play in the U.S. Open was different, she said, because at age forty, “I wasn’t going to overwhelm Chris Evert and Tracy Austin, who were 20 years old.” She reiterated those views in the 2011 documentary Renee,: “Transsexuals have every right to play, but maybe not on a professional level because it’s not a level playing field.” Having resumed her surgery practice after retiring from tennis, she continued practicing in Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., until her retirement in 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 Monday, August 18

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, a New York City gay bar guide, July 24, 1978, page 63.

From Where It’s At, a New York City gay bar guide, July 24, 1978, page 63.

So, the Elmhurst area of Queens has the most unusual street addressing scheme I’ve come across in the U.S. After a bit of hunting, I was finally able to find the location, an old wedge-shaped building at the corner of Broadway and 77th Street across the street from Elmhurst Hospital.

mfAR Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

amfAR Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
President George H.W. Bush Signs the Ryan White CARE Act: 1990. Since the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, the nation’s response to the deadly disease was chronically and woefully underfunded. Much of the resistance to increased funding stemmed from open hostility to the diseases two of the main risk groups; gay men and intravenous drug users. If there was any sympathy toward the disease, it was reserved almost exclusively for hemophiliacs, who were infected by tainted blood products. They were deemed the only “innocent” victims of the disease, and Indiana teenager Ryan White was their most visible symbol. By 1990, the first of the most meaningful treatments, AZT, became available, but its cost of $10,000 per year (over $19,000 in today’s dollars) made it beyond the reach of all but the most wealthy patients.

In hearings held in early 1990, the House Budget Committee heard testimony in Los Angeles and San Francisco about the challenges in providing care. Mervyn Silverman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, warned that up to one million HIV-positive Americans were at risk of becoming ill with full-blown AIDS. Others declared that it was finally time to treat AIDS like any other natural disaster. By the spring, members of the House and Senate were gearing up to prepare major legislation to help pay for treatment. The legislation would provide block grants to states to provide testing, counseling and early low-cost treatment to those with HIV who had no other ways to pay for it. It also would provide additional finds for urban centers where health care systems were already strained by the epidemic, and provide medical care for expectant mothers with HIV.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Different versions of the legislation passed the House and Senate, but they were far apart in the specifics. When the final version was hammered out in conference, it went back to both chambers for approval. During the House debate, the White House signaled its opposition to the bill, saying “The bill’s narrow approach, dealing with a specific disease, sets a dangerous precedent, inviting treatment of other diseases through similar arrangements.” By then, the bill had been named the Ryan White CARE Act after the teen died the previous April and his mother, Jeanne White, testified on Capital Hill.

North Carolina bigot Jesse Helms led the opposition in the Senate, but his filibuster threat was thwarted when the bill arrived on the Senate floor with sixty-six co-sponsors, more than enough to end debate. Both houses voted overwhelmingly for the bill’s final passage in voice votes between July 31 and August 4. Sensing that any White House veto would be quickly overridden, President Bush quietly signed it on Saturday, August 18, 1990.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Marcel Carné: 1906-1996. A major figure in poetic realism, French filmmaker Marcel Carné bgan working in silent film as a camera assistant. In the mid-1930s, he went to England to work on Alexander Korda’s Knight Without Armour (1937) while also directing Jenny (1936), which was the start of Carné longtime collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. Carné had the misfortune of being in France during Germany’s invasion, where he continued working in Vichy.

Filmmaking is always a complicated enterprise, doing so in wartime under a repressive dictatorial regime added another set of difficulties when Carné began work on what became his most highly acclaimed film, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise). He had to work around Vichy restrictions, shooting the film in two parts to comply with Vichy’s 90-minute limit. Starving extras made off with food before banquet scenes were shot. Some of those extras were Resistance fighters, who used the cover of daylight filming to allow them to meet together. Set designer Alexandre Trauner and music composer Joseph Kosma, both Jews, had to work in secrecy. The main quarter-lile long set was destroyed during a storm, electricity was as intermittent as the funding, film stock was rationed, key personnel were reassigned to other projects by authorities, and production was suspended following the Allied landing at Normandy. After Paris was liberated in 1944, production resumed, but one of the actors was sentenced to death by the Resistance for collaborating with the Nazis; all of his scenes had to be re-shot with a replacement. When Children of Paradise was finally released as a single three-hour film (and without an intermission), it became an instant success, remaining at the Madeleine Theater for the next 54 weeks.

Children of Paradise would be the pinnacle of Carné’s career. Riding on the success of Children of Paradise, Carné’s next film, Les Portes de la Nuit was given the largest budget in the history of French film. It flopped, and it would be Carné’s last collaboration with Prévert. In the 1950s, Carné was eclipsed by the French New Wave, and his films, except for 1958′s  Les Tricheurs were typically panned by critics. Openly gay, Carné often cast his partner, Roland Lesaffre, in many of his films. Carné made his last film in 1976. But Children of Paradise was never forgotten. It was voted “Best Film Ever” in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in 1995, and was restored and re-released on Blu-ray in 2012. Carné died in 1996.

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, August 17

Jim Burroway

August 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PACharlotte, NC; Fargo/Moorehead ND/MN; Madgeburg, Germany; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Prague, Czech Republic; Pueblo, CO; San Jose, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, July 1968, page 19.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, July 1968, page 19.

Patch manager Lee "The Blond Darling" Glaze

The Patch’s manager, Lee “The Blond Darling” Glaze

The Patch opened on April 7, 1968 on the Pacific Coast Highway in the Wilmington area of southern Los Angeles next to Long Beach. It quickly became one of the more popular gay night spots in the Los Angeles area thanks to its live music and a policy that allowed men to dance together. Soon after, the police commission called the owners and set a series of demands: no minors, no drag, no groping, only one person at a time in the restrooms, and no male-male dancing. The Patch agreed, as a price for staying in business, but when that business quickly fell off, they resumed allowing dancing. When the police commission objected, the Patch vowed to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. The commission backed down, but LAPD found other ways to harasses the bar: arbitrarily ticketing parked cars, refusing to arrest area teens who threatened patrons. The local PTA got wind of the Patch’s existence and circulated a petition to close the bar down. Even the local musician’s union showed up to cause trouble, despite the bar’s hiring a union band and paying above scale. Manager Lee Glaze was undeterred:

“John Q. Public has to wake up to the fact that he has to accept us, he says, “We exist. Straights have to learn to live with it. We know that we’re not acceptable anywhere but in our own society. We have to have a place to go. If they close up our clubs, we’ll all have to take to the streets.”

[Source: "'Patch' Fights Three-Way Battle. The Los Angeles Advocate (August 1968): 3, 25.]

L.A. Police check ID's of more Patch patrons outside the bar.

L.A. Police check ID’s of more Patch patrons outside the bar.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Flower Power Protest Against Los Angeles Police: 1968. From the day The Patch opened four months earlier, the popular Los Angeles Bar fought a series of battles just to stay open. The Los Angeles police tried to prohibit dancing to in the joint, the local musician’s union demanded the Patch put up a week’s worth of wages for any bands they hired, and the local PTA was trying to drive it out of town. If that weren’t enough, local youths who hung out at a nearby hamburger stand made a sport out of threatening and harassing bar patrons. Whenever anyone from the bar tried to call the police, the police would simply threaten to arrest the patron, while giving the local toughs a free reign.

Things came to a head on Saturday, August 17 when the Patch’s manager, Lee Glaze, noticed a couple of vice cops in the room. During a break in the music, Glaze got up on stage, pointed out the cops, and chided the LAPD for sending such “homely” vice officers. The vice cops left, but returned a little later at around midnight with five or six uniformed officers in tow. As the band kept playing, the officers fanned out and began checking I.D.’s as the band kept playing. They arrested two of the patrons and charged them with lewd conduct. Glaze was outraged at the accusation. The two had been competing for a third man’s attention and weren’t the least bit interested in each other. As Glaze remembered later, “How could you possible arrest two queens who hated each other?”

This wasn’t a full on police raid. The police understood that they didn’t need to conduct a full raid to close a bar down. Ordinarily all it would take would be for the police to show up and ask for a few I.D.’s and the bar’s patrons would go scrambling for the door. Make a few arrests, and the patrons would never return and the bar would be out of business. Glaze wasn’t about to let that happen at his bar. He jumped back onto the stage, and with the police looking on, he urged the audience not to be intimidated by the police. “It’s not against the law to be a homosexual,” he said, “and it’s not a crime to be in a gay bar.” He then announced that the Patch would provide bail money and a lawyer for the two who had been arrested. He stepped down from the stage, the band resumed playing, and a most remarkable thing happened: nobody left. The crowd of 250 kept dancing as though nothing happened.

Glaze left to find out more about the charges and bail amount at the police station. He then returned a short while later with a crazy idea. “Anyone here own a flower shop?” he asked from the stage. Of course, someone did. “Go clean it out,” he shouted, “I want to buy all your flowers.” He then invited everyone to go down to the Harbor Division station after the bar closed.

The Flower Power protesters later that morning after the two detainees were released.

The Flower Power protesters later that morning after the two detainees were released.

About twenty-five hardy souls took him up on the call, and the group camped out — in the best meaning of the word “camp” — all night in the station’s waiting room staging what has become known as the Flower Power Protest as a bewildered desk sergeant looked on. “One flower hits me, and you’re going to be charged with assault on a police officer,” the sergeant said, intimidating exactly no one in the room. Troy Perry (see Jul 27), who would later that year found the Metropolitan Community Church, happened to be there and later recalled what happened:

When we arrived at the police station, Lee told the officer at the desk, “We’re here to get our sisters out.” The officer asked, “What are your sisters’ names?” When Lee said, “Tony Valdez and Bill Hasting,” the officer had this surprised look on his face and called for backup. They didn’t know what to do with all the gay men waiting in the lobby. …Lee showed me you don’t have to be afraid of the police. Once that happened, it encouraged me to become a gay activist.

The bondsman soon arrived, posted bail, and left, saying that the two should be out in a few minutes. The police had other ideas, and held the two for several more hours before finally dropping the charges and releasing them at dawn.

It’s easy to under-appreciate the significance of the Flower Power protest.  For the first time in memory, a gay bar not only survived the aftermath of a police raid after so many failed before, but thrived, thanks to the bar manager’s taking on the police on their home turf. The protest inspired several others in the Long Beach area to form legal defense funds, gay community forums, and even the world’s first Christian denomination founded specifically to meet the needs of gay people. The Los Angeles Advocate, which later became the national gay newsmagazine The Advocate, called the courageous action “a remarkable sight.”

[Additional source: Dick Michaels. "Cops Join Hoods in Harassing Bar." The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 5-6.]

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan Declares “A Culture War” in America: 1992. Dissatisfied with President George H.W. Bush’s more moderate policies in pursuit of a “kinder, gentler America,” former Nixon speechwriter and Reagan communications director Pat Buchanan launched a primary challenge against Bush’s 1992 re-election campaign. Buchanan’s loud opposition to immigration, multiculturalism, abortion and gay rights earned him the nickname of “Pitchfork Pat.” It also got him a surprisingly strong New Hampshire primary showing with 38% of the vote against the incumbent’s 53%. Buchanan may have come in second, but by exceeding expectations by a large margin, many saw his showing as a win of sorts. Through the rest of the primary season, Buchanan collected three million votes and earned a spot as keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in Houston.

A few weeks before the GOP gathered in the Astrodome, former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and with his wife Hillary, promised that voters would get two Clintons for the price of one. Clinton and his running mate, Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, were leading in the polls by a substantial margin, and the GOP needed to work hard at rallying its socially conservative base. Buchanan delivered the goods in his opening night prime-time speech, in which he brought “Culture War” into the political lexicon:

Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choice religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.

We stand with President Bush for right-to-life, and for voluntary prayer in the public schools, and against putting American women in combat. And we stand with President Bush in favor of the right of small towns and communities to control the raw sewage of pornography that pollutes our popular culture.

We stand with President Bush in favor of federal judges who interpret the law as written, and against Supreme Court justices who think they have a mandate to rewrite our Constitution.

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton and Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

Buchanan ended his speech with a call to arms: “We must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country.” Televangelist Pat Robertson and Marilyn Quale, wife of Vice President Dan Quayle, gave similarly sharp speeches, but Buchanan’s stood out. It brought the GOP delegates to their feet, but outside the arena his speech wasn’t quite as well received. One TV commentator remarked, “The most significant delegate here in Houston this week is God.” Anthony Lewis wrote in the New York Times, “The sleaze was so thick on the ground in Houston, the attacks so far-fetched, that some people may be tempted to dismiss them as funny. Not I. I remember Joe McCarthy.” George Will was similarly dismayed. “The crazies are in charge,” he wrote. “The fringe has taken over. … No wonder the Republicans must beg people to come into their shrinking tent. The fringe on that tent’s entrance is forbidding.” But the most succinct reaction came from Texas political pundit Molly Ivins, who said, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

[Additional source: Timothy Stanley. The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2012): 2-6, 210-211.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAY:
Kurt Hiller: 1885-1972. The German essayist and political journalist was an early influential writer of the German gay rights movement in the first few decades of the twentieth century. In 1908, he joined the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the world's first gay rights organization which had been founded in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14 ). "In the final analysis, " he wrote in 1921, "justice for you will be the fruit only of your own efforts. The liberation of homosexuals can only be the work of homosexuals themselves."

§175: Die Schmach des Jahrhunderts! In 1922 he published §175: Die Schmach des Jahrhunderts! ("Paragraph 175: The disgrace of the century!"), the title of which referred to the German penal code which criminalized homosexual activity between men. It was widely distributed, including to members of the Reichstag, during the debates on the sexual penal code in the 1920s. In 1929, Hiller took over as chairman of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, after Magnus Hirschfeld stepped down to focus his attention on the Institute for Sexual Research.

After the Nazis came to power, they banned both the Institute and Committee. Hiller, a gay pacifist socialist Jew, had more than enough reasons to land on the Gestapo's radar. He was arrested and spent time in various concentration camps before being released on the brink of death in April of 1934. He fled to Prague later that year to avoid another arrest, then to London in 1938 just ahead of the German armies. While in London, he continued to write for the German exile press. In 1955, he returned to Hamburg, and tried to resurrect the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1962. That idea didn't take root, but Hiller nevertheless continued to write on behalf of the gay rights movement. He published numerous articles and essays in the influential Swiss gay magazine Der Kreis. In 1965, Der Kreis returned the favor with a five-page commemoration for Hiller's 80th birthday. Hiller died in 1972.

Monty Woolley

Monty Woolley: 1888-1963. Born Edgar Montillion Woolley in New York to a wealthy family, Monty grew up among the crème de la crème of society. A Bachelor's degree from Yale (with Cole Porter as a very close friend and classmate, see Jun 9), Master's degrees from Yale and Harvard, he became an English professor at Yale with Thornton Wilder (see Apr 17) and Pulitzer honoree poet Stephen Vincent Benét among his students. Wooly began directing on Broadway in 1929, and his second career of acting in 1935 at the age of forty-eight.

His upper-crust background made him a natural for his most famous performance in the 1939 Kaufman and Hart comedy The Man who Came to Dinner. His portrayal of meddling and obnoxious prima donna radio star Sheridan Whiteside who visits a family in Ohio and winds up spending a month there, ran for 783 performances and rave reviews. Woolley signed with 20th Century Fox in the 1940s and appeared in the 1942 film adaption of The Man Who Came to Dinner with Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called the comedy the "most vicious but hilarious cat-clawing exhibition ever put on the screen, a deliciously wicked character portrait and a helter-skelter satire. (Woolley) spouts alliterations as though he were spitting out orange seeds ...A more entertaining buttinsky could hardly be conceived." Time said, "Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside with such vast authority and competence that it is difficult to imagine anyone else attempting it."

“My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102, and when she had been dead three days, she looked better than you do now.”

“My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102, and when she had been dead three days, she looked better than you do now.”

Indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone else. It suited his personality perfectly. And one cannot talk about Woolley without mentioning an incident at a dinner party, when after dinner he suddenly belched. A woman seating nearby glared at him. He glared back: “And what did you expect, my good woman? Chimes?” Woolley liked that line so well that he made sure it was written into his next film role.

His character-defining beard and mustache were as much a star as he was; fans affectionately nicknamed him “The Beard.” His hand and beard prints were both cast in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his appearances in The Pied Piper and Since You Went Away, playing crusty but lovable curmudgeons. but his sharp-tongued portrayal of the acerbic Sheridan Whiteside would come to define the rest of his career. Off screen, Woolley insisted that he was easy to get along with. Friends agreed, saying he was unusually generous and the life of every party. Yet when people saw him in a restaurant, it seemed they wouldn’t leave him alone until he finally dispatched them with an acerbic insult. Only then would they walk away deliriously happy. But when he bought a home in Saratoga Springs, Florida, he got to know and love the townspeople, and they returned his affection by electing him mayor in a write-in vote. He declined the offer, but showed his appreciation by giving a special performance of The Man Who Came to Dinner. “My heart lies in Saratoga Springs,” Monty said. “In Saratoga, I’m not Monty. I’m Edgar and that makes me happy indeed.”

At about the same time, Woolley met Cary Abbott, and the two moved in together in Saratoga Springs. After about five years together, Abbott suddenly died in 1948, leaving Woolley bereft. The kind and generous Woolley soon began drinking and becoming the acerbic old man he portrayed on screen. Even his good friend Cole Porter abandoned him, although part Porter’s disapproval came from Woolley’s affair with an African-American handyman. Woolley continued to appear in small roles in the 1950s, including a life television performance of The Man Who Came to Dinner, in a production that was condensed into a miserable forty-five minutes. He hated the result and critics agreed. Woolley died of kidney and heart disease in 1963 at the age of seventy-five.

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, August 16

Jim Burroway

August 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Doncaster, UK; Fargo/Moorehead ND/MN; Kelowna, BC; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Montréal, QC; New Westminster, BC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Prague, Czech Republic; Pueblo, CO; Regensburg, Germany; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; AIDS Walk, Denver CO; Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, July 2, 1977, page 29.

From This Week In Texas, July 2, 1977, page 29.

From the Austin Chronicle:

The windows were tinted, and everyday at 4 o’clock, the firemen at the No. 1 fire station would jog down to the river and come back up the street. You could set your watch by it. Four o’clock they’d come, jogging up in front of those windows. Big ol’ hunky men with no shirts, and you’d get your shots all ready, and as they went by, you’d toast them with your shots. They couldn’t see in the windows, but we could certainly see them as they went by. One of my fave memories there: I was there one afternoon, and a part of the bar, the drink rail, broke off. Well, here are a dozen big ol’ cowboys taking off their boots and trying to hammer it back in. There were two young lesbians sitting at the end of the bar watching this entire charade of these macho guys trying to put this bar back together gingerly … like it was a Ming vase. Without saying a word, they walk out to their truck; they come back in with an electric saw, a piece of lumber, nails, hammer, and said, “Get out of the way, boys!” And rebuilt the end of the bar. It is a stereotype come to life. – Rob Faubion.

The location is now the alternative night club Elysium.

TexasMedicalJournal1893.12

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Texas Doctor Proposes Castrating “Sexual Perverts”: 1893. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, which introduced his theory of evolution to the masses in 1859, also had a profound effect on biologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists and social theorists. The theory, in simplified form, held that species evolved through a process of natural selection which weeded out the weaker and less capable variations of the species. Darwin wasn’t the first to propose the theory; others proposed the theory as far back as the eighteenth century. But Darwin succeeded in providing a trove of evidence from his travels around the world to illustrate the theory in action.

The theory of evolution opened as many questions as it answered, and the main question on the minds of social theorists struggling to understand the impact of the industrial revolution was this: If nature selected out the weaker and defective members of a species, what happens when man’s technological advances intervenes in that natural process? The answer, they said, could be found in the cities throughout Europe and North America: poverty, disease, alcoholism, crime, family violence and moral depravity. They proposed an opposing theory, the theory of degeneration, which held that human beings, now that they were shielded from the natural course of evolution, were in danger of producing offspring who “de-generated” from their parents in an imperfect form — think of a xerox copy of a bad xerox copy. According to the theory, Alcoholics begat alcoholics, criminals begat worse criminals, rapists begat more violent rapists. And, of course, negroes begat negroes. Degeneracy theory was always, at its core, a highly racist one.

As pessimistic as the theory was, it did have its positive contributions: it spawned the hygiene movement which began mandating safe housing, clean food, proper sanitation, limitations in child labor and other protections, and universal education. In the glass-half-empty category, the theory of Degeneration was part of the shift from regarding homosexuality as a crime to be severely punished, to being a malady to be addressed “scientifically” — namely by the nation’s doctors and insane asylums (along with the brave few who countered that gay and gender-variant people harmed no one and should be left alone). But far more darkly, Degeneracy Theory would very quickly soon give rise to Eugenics, which provided a dark answer to the question of what to do with the unfortunate products of degeneration (from which the word “degenerates” first came).

Dr. F.E. Daniel

Dr. F.E. Daniel

Eugenics came in two forms: positive Eugenics (the hygiene movement was but one example), and negative Eugenics, which included sterilization programs aimed at severing the generational capabilities of the degenerate line. On August 16, 1893, Dr. F.E. Daniel of Austin, Texas, and editor of the Texas Medical Journal, delivered an address before the World’s Columbian Auxiliary Congress titled, “Should Insane Criminals or Sexual Perverts be Permitted to Procreate?” The main perversions that Daniel was worried about were rape and masturbation, the latter of which was believe to be the cause of insanity. For the case of sexual criminals judged to be insane, there had already been calls for castration in lieu of hanging, partly because it was believed that hanging someone who was insane constituted a breach of justice. Daniel also held that view, but, ever the humanitarian, he considered hanging to be an extreme, cruel, and ultimately ineffective form of punishment. And so he added an additional reason to consider castrating criminals who, despite their obvious degeneracy, were nevertheless judged to be sane:

In this country, and recently, several writers have advocated castration. Dr. W. A. Hammond’s paper on the subject will be recalled by all present. Dr. Frank Lydston (Va. Medical Monthly) in reply to a question from Dr. Hunter McGuire as to the cause of so much rape by negroes in the South, advises castration as a remedy for the evil; and there is much wisdom in the advice. He would castrate the rapist, thus rendering him incapable of repetition of the offense, and of propagating his kind, and turn him loose — on the principle of the singed rat — to be a warning to others. Dr. Lydston says, and very truly, that a hanging or even a burning is soon forgotten; but a negro buck at large amongst the ewes of his flock, minus the elements of manhood, would be a standing terror to those of similar propensities. Dr. Orpheus Everts (Lancet Clinic, March, 1888,) would castrate all convicted criminals, thus arresting the descent of their respective vices of constitution.

Daniel found Everts’s advice too extreme: “innocent persons are sometimes convicted of crime, and we might cut the wrong man.” But Daniel did believe that sexual crimes were in a special category because, he argued, it was almost impossible to draw a line between sanity and insanity where sexual crimes were concerned:

In light then of the very evident doubt as to the sanity of those who commit sexual crimes, and therefore, of their responsibility; and particularly as it is impossible in the present state of our knowledge to draw a line and say where, in mental alienation, unsoundness to the extent of irresponsibility for acts exists, I would substitute castration as a penalty for all sexual crimes or misdemeanors, including confirmed masturbation.

…The lower animals limit production, and eliminate the weaker by battles between the males for the possession of the female; and certain of the rodents, the squirrel I am told, castrate the young males. But with civilized man the procreative function, and the right to exercise it ad libitum seems to be something sacred; it is respected, even in those who have, by their misconduct, outraged society, and forfeited all other rights, civil, religious and political. Is it not a remarkable civilization that will break a criminal’s neck, but will respect his testacles? [sic]

A number of asylums were already beginning to sterilize both their male and female patients. Daniel argued that if those programs were extended to sexual criminals, it could usher in a new age of sexual continence within a generation:

While we can not hope ever to institute a Sanitary Utopia in our day and generation, it would seem within the legitimate scope and sphere of Preventive Medicine, aided by the enactment and enforcement of suitable laws, to eliminate much that is defective in human genesis, and to improve our race mentally, morally and physically; to bring to bear in the breeding of peoples the principles recognized and utilized by every intelligent stock-raiser in the improvement of his cattle; and in my humble judgment the substitution of castration, as advocated above, for the useless and cruel execution of criminals, is the first step in the reformation. I predict that in twenty years the beneficial results of castration for crimes committed in obedience to a perverted (diseased) sexual impulse will be established and appreciated.

Rape, sodomy, beastiality [sic], pederasty and habitual masturbation should be made crimes or misdemeanors, punishable by forfeit of all rights, including that of procreation; in short by castration, or castration plus other penalties, according to the gravity of the offense.

[Source: F.E. Daniel. "Castration of sexual perverts." Texas Medical Journal 9, no. 6 (December 1893): 255-271. Available online at Google Books here.]

MiamiDailyNews1954.08.16

60 YEARS AGO: “Great Civilizations Plagued by Deviates”: 1954. “It seems melodramatic to talk about the downfall of nations and homosexuals in the same breath. But historians are quick to point out that moral degeneracy and the destruction of some of the greatest civilizations in the world were tied hand in hand.” How many times have you heard that one before? Those words came from the opening paragraphs of The Miami Daily News’ final installement in a three part series that formed part of its overall campaign to whip up anti-gay hysteria in South Florida (see Aug 13 and Aug 15). The campaign began in earnest just two weeks earlier when William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, was murdered by two men in a rolling-the-queers robbery scam (see Aug 3). That murder led officials to the discovery of a “colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregating mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.” Simpson may have been murdered, two straight men may have been arrested and charged with the crime, but as far as the local newspapers were concerned, it was the homosexuals who were guilty of the whole mess, and they promptly launched a media-driven campaign that resulted in more raids and arrests by area police departments (see Aug 13, Aug 14).

ONE, January 1954.

ONE, January 1954.

The papers had been itching for just such a campaign for a few years. There had been a round of raids on gay bars and beaches earlier in 1953, which got the attention of ONE magazine, which wrote about Miami’s brief anti-gay campaign in January 1954. Despite all the bad news, ONE managed to find a silver lining. In contrast to Miami Beach police chief Romeo Shepard and Dade County Sheriff Tom Kelly, Miami Police Chief Walter Headley had established a policy of letting gay bars operate more or less undisturbed when he became chief in 1948. By letting bars operate in an area that became known as “Powder Puff Lane,” he felt he could keep a better eye on the city’s gay population. Besides that, drag shows were popular with tourists and “If I ran all of the homosexuals out of town, members of some of the best families would lead the parade.”

Headley’s refusal to crack down earned ONE’s praises, which published an open letter, written by Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) and addressed to Headley, applauding his “refusal to wholeheartedly support the current hysteria concerning homosexuality.” Jennings sent copies of the letter and the January issue to Shepard, Kelly, other Dade county officials and the two Miami newspapers. In July of 1954, three weeks before Simpson’s murder but soon after another media panic over the rape and murder of a young girl in southwest Miami, The Miami Herald, armed with a copy of ONE’s approval of Headley’s policies, went on the attack:

Police have erred in permitting perverts to assemble here — to corral them in places which are “on limits” to them. … Miami’s “powder puff lane” is a civic disgrace … [and] an invitation to all sex deviates in the United States to come here for sanctuary.. . . When large numbers of perverts are present in a community, the peril is multiplied. The example and temptation to our youth is vile.

A few weeks later, The Herald blasted Headley again for “setting-up a Powder-Puff Lane … The practice harks back to the days of red light districts, sordid political partnerships, and payoffs, and dark age police methods.” The Herald also referred to ONE’s article commending Headley’s policies: “Miami’s Powder-Puff Lane has made the city a concentration center of the gentry from all over the nation. They even have a national publication which applauds Miami and its police methods [and] condemns those cities which will not coddle them.”

Dr. Paul Kells

Dr. Paul Kells

Following Simpson’s murder, the afternoon Daily News wasn’t about to let its morning rival get the upper hand in the contest for who could out-vilify the local gay and lesbian community. For its third installment of its “educational” series on homosexuals, News staff writer Jack Roberts went all out, charging that homosexuality caused the fall of Greece and Rome. Unmentioned, of course, is that all great civilizations come to an end sooner or later, and by the time Rome fell it was an officially Christian nation. Roberts credited his defective understanding of history to “well-known Miami psychiatrist” Dr. Paul Wells, who had been featured in the first installment of the series (see Aug 13):

Dr. Kells pointed out that the spokesman for homosexuals in the Los Angeles area (editor of a magazine for homosexuals) constantly crusade for a legitimate place in society. “But in all their arguments, they fail to look at the other side of the picture,” said Dr. Kells. “The most important thing to consider where moral degeneracy can lead to.”

The article gave a brief rundown on the “all-out war against homosexuals” being waged by Shepard and Kelly. “I simply want them to get out of town,” Shepard said. Kelly’s goal was the same: “I will keep on harassing the homosexuals until they understand they’re not wanted in Dade County.” But the News blasted Headley for his “reluctance to bother perverts.” Nevertheless, representatives of the Dade County-area law enforcement agencies had formed a study group to come up with ideas on how to deal with the problems. Attorney E.F.P. Brigham, chairman of the group, described to the News their suggestion of a sexual psychopath law:

If a sexual deviate is accused of molesting a child, or any person for that matter, and manages to beat the charge ni court, the state will still have the right to order a mental examination for the offender. If the person is found to be a sexual psychopath (and that does not necessarily mean insane) the state will then have the right to institute civil action to put that person in the asylum for the rest of his or her life or until such time as a cure can be effected.

Brigham says he has no doubt that the legislators will approve of new laws to curb sexual psychopaths. “But I’m afraid they will balk at the money it will cost to provide asylum facilities, “he said. “I’m afraid they will look on the pervert problem as one belonging to Miami and not the state as a whole.”

…”It is most important to take these people away from society,” said Brigham. “By establishing a worthwhile asylum, it may be possible to cure some of these psychopaths and help them lead normal lives. We are going to cite case after case of children being violated to the Legislature to prove our point. It seems foolish to try to save a few tax dollars when so much is at stake.

When Brigham made his suggestion, twenty states already had similar sexual psychopath laws on the books. Florida enacted a sexual psychopath law in 1955, but it was declared “unconstitutionally vague” a year later.

[Additional sources: "Miami Junks the Constitution." ONE 2, no. 1 (January 1954): 16-21.

Fred Fejes. "Murder, Perversion, and Moral Panic: The 1954 Media Campaign against Miami's Homosexuals and the Discourse of Civic Betterment." Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, No. 3 (July 2000): 305-347]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Pierre Seel: 1923-2005. Pierre’s troubles began when his watch was stolen while he was in a public square in his Alsace home in 1939. The watch, a gift from his godmother, had sentimental value, and so he reported the theft to police. The square where the theft occurred was a well-known cruising ground for gay men in the area, but since homosexuality was not illegal in France, there shouldn’t have been much of a problem. But local police added his name to a list of gay men they were maintaining, and when the Germans invaded in 1940, that list fell into Gestapo hands. Seel was picked up in 1941, was beaten, had his fingernails pulled out, and raped with broken rulers. Two weeks later, he was sent to the Schirmeck-Vorbrück camp near Strasbourg, where the beatings, tortures and rapes continued. He wore a blue bar on his uniform instead of the pink triangle — The blue bar was reserved for Catholics and “a-socials” — but the nature of his “crime” was well known. “There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” he later recalled. “Other prisoners, even when between themselves, used to target them.” He and his camp were made to stand and watch as his eighteen-year-old boyfriend was stripped naked in the center of the yard and torn apart and devoured by german shepherds. That scene would haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life.

After six months of starvation, torture and forced labor, Seen was set free without an explanation. What’s more, he was made a German citizen when Alsace was informally annexed by Germany, and he was drafted into the army and sent to the Eastern Front. After the war, he made his way back to France. He took his family’s advice and went deeply underground about his sexuality, and married in 1950. The marriage was a difficult one, and it finally fell apart in 1978. In 1979, Seel happened to attend a debate in a bookstore for the launch of the French edition of Heinz Heger’s book, The Men with the Pink Triangle. Two years later, Seel went public with his story when the Bishop of Strasbourg denounced the performance of the French translation of the play Bent, which was based on Heger’s book. From then on, Seel became an advocate for the recognition of gay victims of the Nazis, particularly those from the Alsace and Moselle regions of France. In 1994, Seel published his own memoir, I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual. In 2000, he appeared in the American-made documentary, Paragraph 175. When the documentary premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, Seel traveled to Germany for the first time since the war and received a five-minute standing ovation.

France still has an uneasy don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy where German collaboration is concerned, and Seel’s opening of old wounds didn’t go down easy. In the 1980s and 1990s, he received numerous death threats, and was attacked and beaten by youths shouting homophobic epithets following an appearance on French television. The mayor of Strasbourg refused to shake his hand during a commemoration ceremony. But the distance of time has allowed some recognition of historical realities to take root. Seel received official recognition as a victim of the Holocaust in 2003, and in 2008, three years after his death in Toulouse, his adopted city, a street was renamed in his honor. The plaque reads, “Rue Pierre Seel — Déporté Français pour homosexualité — 1923-2005″.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, August 15

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Doncaster, UK; Fargo/Moorehead ND/MN; Kelowna, BC; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Montréal, QC; New Westminster, BC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Prague, Czech Republic; Pueblo, CO; Regensburg, Germany; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; AIDS Walk, Denver CO; Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 19. Click to enlarge.

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 19. Click to enlarge.

The Pleasure People was a gay business complex located about three and a half miles northwest of downtown Toledo. It consisted of a bar and disco called the Open Closet, an adult bookstore Secor Adult News, and the O.C. Baths. Other than that, I can find little else about these businesses. If you know anything about them, please feel free to leave a comment.

Dr. Charles L Dana

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Sexual Perversions “As Rare As They Are Disgusting”: 1891. The August 15th edition of the Medical and Surgical Reporter included the text of a clinical lecture given by Dr. Charles L. Dana, M.D., who taught at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School. Dana’s talk, “On Certain Sexual Neuroses,” focused mostly on the dangers of masturbation — which was thought to cause various physical health problems and mental disturbances –  and his treatments to “cure” his patients from the “vicious habit.” But he touched on a number of other sexual “perversions” as well, which he categorized this way:

The Sexual Psychoses are Divided into,

A — The Vicious Habits, such as masturbation, &c.
B — The Sexual Perversions, these are classified as

  1. Masturbation, sexual murder and anthropophagy.
  2. Flagellation.
  3. Exhibitionism
  4. Stercophily
  5. Contrary Sexual Instincts of which Pæderasty and Bestiality are examples.

C — Excessive Sexuality: –

  1. Sexual precocity
  2. Senile sexuality
  3. Satyriasis
  4. Nymphomania.

Of the sexual perversions I shall say nothing except that they are happily as rare as they are disgusting, and are usually an evidence of mental deterioration. They are sometimes, however, acquired vices being the result of a continual search for new sexual stimuli on the part of voluptuaries.

In 1891, the term “contrary sexual instinct” was commonly deployed to described homosexuality — the term homosexuality itself had not yet entered the English language (see May 6). Its conflation with bestiality and pederasty goes back centuries, as laws against sodomy typically made no distinction between the three.

But as I said, Dana’s article dealt chiefly with masturbation and another condition that was seen as equally injurious, nocturnal emissions (which carried the diagnosis of spermatorrhea). Both, which represented the expenditure of seed and energies for purely recreational purposes (or, in the case of nocturnal emissions, no purpose at all), were believed to be debilitating, particularly for young men and women. For one sixteen year old patient who masturbated “weekly and sometimes daily,” Dr. Dana prescribed quite a number of treatments:

He was placed on bromides, taken from school, and kept at work out doors. But his emissions continued. I saw him a month ago, and prescribed atropia and bromides, twice a day, noon and night, with a drachm of flud extract of salix nigra at night. Beside this, cold steel sounds were introduced into the urethra for ten minutes, three times weekly. He was made to take cold sponge baths daily, and was given an impressive lecture on the necessity of stopping his bad habits. He is very much better now, and on the high road to recovery.

[Source: Charles L. Dana. "On certain sexual neuroses." Medical and Surgical Reporter. 65, no. 7 (August 15, 1891): 241-245. Available online at Google Books here.]

MiamiNews1954.08.15

60 YEARS AGO: “How Los Angeles Handles Its 150,000 Perverts”: 1954. “Is Greater Miami in danger of becoming a favorite gathering spot for homosexuals and sexual psychopaths? It happened in Los Angeels and it could happen here.” That was The Miami Daily News’ opening line in the second of three articles that appeared on the front page on Sunday, August 15, 1954 as part of the News’ and Miami Herald’s ongoing campaign to whip up anti-gay hysteria in South Florida. The first article had appeared two days earlier (see Aug 13) featuring a local psychiatrist who characterized homosexuality as “worse than drug addiction or alcoholism” because “there is little hope for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable pattern.” Now the News with another “educational” installment to describe what would happen if Miami became overrun with homosexuals the way Los Angeles did. ONE Magazine, the first nationally-distributed pro-gay magazine in the United States, managed to catch the News: attention:

In California the homosexuals have organized to resist interference by police. They have established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a “normal” group, a so-called “third sex.” They number 150,000 in Los Angeles, their leaders say. They claim kinship by nature with some of the leading literary and business figures in the nation.

…Thad F. Brown, deputy chief of detectives for the City of Los Angeles, told The Miami Daily News that homosexuals and sexual psychopaths “are a tremendous problem in this city.” Chief Brown said a special detail works out of the vice squad to control homosexuals gathering in public places. … “This thing is like cancer, said Chief Brown. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. We process about 150 homosexuals a month who are caught in the act.”

… The police in Los Angeles have a policy of harassment. “We keep a constant check on bars and restaurants where they hang out,” Brown said. “We try to get the licenses of the places catering to them.”

The News described the January 1954 edition of ONE, which had criticized Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard for a series of raids at the 22nd Street beach in 1953. “Last Thursday Chief Shepard pulled another raid at 22nd Street,” said the News (see Aug 13), “and will probably get another roasting from the magazine published in Los Angeles.” The News then warned that Miami may well end up like Los Angeles, maybe worse:

Miami and Los Angeles have much in common. Both have mild climates; both are vacation centers, ar in the midst of rapid growth and are cosmopolitan in attitude. In other words, Miami could follow a pattern to that of Los Angeles in regard to deviates. Florida’s laws for the punishment of the sexual psychopath are not nearly as harsh as California law. Punishment for homosexuals caught in the act is light.

Lee Mortimer

New York Mirror Columnist Blasts Mattachine Society: 1961. Lee Mortimer, a columnist for the New York Mirror, had an unusual beat: he began his career as a crime reporter before becoming a Broadway and Harlem nightclub gossip columnist. He traded in sensation with a popular series of gossipy books about crime in the U.S., with titles like New York Confidential, Chicago Confidential, Washington Confidential, and U.S. Confidential, the latter of which drew libel lawsuits from two members of Congress. Those salacious books, which purported to describe the seedy underside of urban life, often included derisive descriptions of limp-wristed, sashaying and lisping homosexuals. On August 15, 1961, Mortimer decided that New Yorkers needed to know about the local chapter of the Mattachine Society which had been in existence since 1956, and wrote the following for his column in the Mirror:

DEPT. OF STIFLED YAWNS: There’s an international group known as the Mattachine Society, Inc. with headquarters at 1133 Broadway; which acts as a sort of defense agency for homosexuals. It talks loudly and stridently about their “civil rights” and lobbies to secure legislation making such disgusting practices legal. That has been done in many continental countries. The campaign is well on the way to reaching its objective in England, a country in which homosexualism has always had a head start… In a letter signed “Albert J. de Dion, chairman” the statement is made that the society was in back of my “campaign” to rid the town of hoodlums who preyed on these “unfortunates,” but now it seems to be having second thoughts. “Fighting to keep criminal elements from our city is very commendable and deserves our support. But to attack a defenseless minority such as homosexuals is not in the best of American traditions.” I now ask whether it is in the best of American traditions to encourage the degenerates who roam our streets at night. I say these so-called “unfortunates” are no defenseless minority but a huge, well-organized, wealthy, defiant, politically powerful, intelligent community, spreading across national borders, with loyalty to no country, no law or no code, except their fellow deviates.

Ohio Secretary of State Ted W. Brown

Ohio Refuses to Incorporate Gay Organization: 1972. Secretary of State Ted W. Brown (R) refused to accept the articles of incorporation for the Greater Cincinnati Gay Society. The organization’s proposed articles of incorporation said the group was formed “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality as a valid life style whenever and wherever possible by legal, political or other means.” Brown refused to approve, file and record the articles of incorporation because “homosexuality as a valid life style has been and is currently defined by statute as a criminal act.” In a radical interpretation of Ohio law, Brown held that just talking about it, apparently, was also against the law under Ohio’s anti-sodomy and solicitation statutes.

The three men who filed the articles — Powell Grant, Jack Busse, and Robert Dugan — appealed Brown’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking the court to order Brown to accept the incorporation request. While the case was pending, the Ohio Legislature undertook a massive revision to the Ohio Criminal Code (now routinely referred to as the Ohio Revised Code), and in the process eliminated the anti-sodomy and anti-solicitation laws. But the majority of the court appeared not to have gotten that memo. On July 10, 1974, four of the seven justices sided with Secretary Brown. They acknowledged that homosexuality was no longer illegal, but held instead that “promotion of homosexuality as a valid life style is contrary to the public policy of the state.” The minority pointed out that because Ohio had decriminalized all private sexual activity between consenting adults, there was nothing even remotely illegal about the Society.

In 1976, Brown apparently had a change of heart when he approved the filing of articles of incorporation for the Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. In 1978, he lost his seat to his Democratic challenger in a very close race.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 14

Jim Burroway

August 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Doncaster, UK; Fargo/Moorehead ND/MN; Kelowna, BC; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Montréal, QC; New Westminster, BC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Prague, Czech Republic; Pueblo, CO; Regensburg, Germany; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; AIDS Walk, Denver CO; Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), August 13, 1982, page 18

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), August 13, 1982, page 18.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” Published: 1953. The first half of what is collectively and colloquially known as “The Kinsey Report” appeared in 1948 with the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (see Jan 5). That volume revealed that the human male in America was having a hell of a lot of sex: pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, self sex, oral sex, masochistic sex, sadistic sex, and, most shockingly, gay sex. The book was controversial, but somewhat less so than you might imagine. After all, boys will be boys, even in 1948, and sexual experiences were more or less seen as coming with the territory. Sure, there were criticisms: it wasn’t statistically rigorous, the sample wasn’t representative, he relied too much on questionnaires distributed among prison populations. And while the “how many” and “how often” is what was talked about most, the fact that there was any kind of data on an activity that everyone did but nobody talked about, helps to explain the first volume’s success. Now, all of the sudden everyone was talking about it — as science, not smut, which made all the difference in the world.

The reception for the second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953 was very different. Kinsey anticipated some of its criticisms based on methodological complaints about the first volume. He purged the inmate and other atypical populations, and he listened more carefully to what statisticians were telling him. But he couldn’t correct all of his shortcomings. Clyde Klucknohn, a Harvard University anthropology professor, in a book review for The New York Times, said the book was “a brilliant and arguable contribution for which we are all in their debt,” but it was nevertheless “not a definitive treatise.” “The honest title would have been: ‘Some Aspects of Sexual Behavior in American Females (Primarily Educated, Protestant, Regionally Localized, Adolescent through Middle-Aged).’”

Time, August 24, 1953.

But other criticisms of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female went way beyond the statistical, largely because this time, we’re not talking about boys being boys, but the fairer sex and the flowering of female desires. Finding out that more than 90% of women had indulged in sexual petting, 66% dreamed about sex, 62% masturbated, about half had given blow jobs, half had had sex before marriage, a quarter had cheated on their husbands, and a sixth had had sex with another woman at least once in their lives (also: “Homosexual contacts are highly effective in bringing the female to orgasm.”) — all of that was seen as an attack on American Motherhood and her apple pie.

Kinsey was branded an enemy of religious propriety and American values. Rep. B. Carroll Reece (R-TN) chaired a House committee to investigate alleged ties between Kinsey and the Communist Party. The Rockefeller Foundation, which had provided funding for Kinsey’s studies, cut him off. Kinsey spent the next two years trying to find another benefactor, and the stress took its toll. He died in 1956 at 62 following years of declining health. The fallout from the two volumes would have a chilling effect on large scale statistical studies of human sexuality for the next 40 years. When AIDS appeared on the landscape in 1981, the Kinsey reports, flawed as they were, were still the only significant source of information on human sexual behavior on which to base a response.

Reactions to Sexual Behavior in the Human Female weren’t universally negative. A few found the volume’s titillation entertaining, and it certainly cut a wide swath through popular culture. But most importantly, many women found comfort in discovering that they weren’t sexual freaks, that many other women also enjoyed sex in all of its various forms. And despite their many methodological shortcomings, the Kinsey reports opened an entire field of study that was ripe for exploration. Pioneers often get things wrong; Columbus died believing he found a western route to the East Indies. But pioneers do one thing very well: they point the way for other explorers to carry on the work of discovery.

60 YEARS AGO: Nineteen Arrested in Miami Bar Raids: 1954. Miami’s media-driven anti-gay hysteria showed no signs of letting up (see Aug 3Aug 11Aug 12). Just the day before (see Aug 13), Florida’s acting governor threatened to replace Dade County Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling and ”failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” It’s unknown what actions Sheriff Kelly took to curb gambling, but it only took him a day to put together a raid on several of the city’s gay bars. Nineteen were arrested, and a photo of one of the drag queens (sans wig) was splashed onto the front page of The Miami News:

Front page news.

Raiders Seize 19 in Pervert Roundup.

Nineteen suspected perverts were arrested early today in Miami and Miami Beach by raiding deputy sheriffs. The men were booked on vagrancy charges and held for a venereal disease check. One suspect was released in custody of his attorney. Deputies did not name the suspects.

Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly said his deputies had been watching bars where perverts had been seen and had made floor plans of each place to be visited.

Deputy Gerald Butler said Dr. M.J. Takos, Dade County Venereal Disease Control director, checked each person brought in by deputies. Dr. Takos decided which men were to be held.

Places on the list included the Good Hotel, Stockade Bar, Echo Club, El Morocco Bar, Sambo Bar, Circus Bar, Charles Hotel Bar, DeMarco Bar, Alibi Bar, Shanticleer [sic] Bar, Leon and Eddies, the Little Club, and Singapore Lounge, Butler reported.

Deputies taking part in the raids included Earl Venno, Bill McCrory, Bob Thomas, Paul Huizenga, Dick Shelton, Al Hickland, Frank Cilencion, and Joe Gorman.

Butler said the deputies were warned against “unnecessary rough stuff.”

Sheriff Kelly said “we don’t want perverts to set up housekeeping in this county. We want them to know that they’re not welcome.”

Kelly said he had been told by the health unit that five cases of primary syphilis have been reported in male homosexuals this months and the figure was considered “alarming.”

San Francisco Police Arrest 103 In Tay-Bush Inn Raid: 1961. San Francisco Mayor George Christopher faced a serious challenge to his re-election in 1959 from city Assessor Russ Wolden, Jr., who planted a story under a banner headline, “Sex Deviates Make San Francisco Headquarters,” in the weekly San Francisco Progress (see Oct 7). Wolden charged that Christopher allowed “this unsavory wicked situation … to fester and spread like a cancerous growth on the body of San Francisco.” If Wolden hoped he would bring the entire city up on arms, he was successful beyond his dreams — but not in the way he planned. Over the next three weeks, San Francisco’s three dailies investigated the story and backed the incumbent, condemning Wolden for acting “beyond the pale of decent politics.” The concern wasn’t that Wolden had attacked a persecuted minority, but that he had “stigmatized the city” and “degraded the good name of San Francisco.”

Christopher won re-election by a landslide, but he was determined that he would never again be susceptible to the charge of being soft on vice. One way of demonstrating his commitment was to launch a series of highly publicized gay bar raids, with the San Francisco Police Department coordinating their attacks with the California Alcohol and Beverage Control Board. The ensuing series of raids through the summer culminated in the largest vice raid in the city’s history, when 89 men and 14 women were arrested at the Tay-Bush Inn just a few bocks northwest of Union Square. Witnesses reported that police first allowed “respectable looking” and politically connected customers to leave quietly before beginning the round-up. Hal Call (see Sep 20), the San Francisco gay rights activist who headed the Mattachine Society, recalled, “Ethel Merman just missed getting busted on that night by about fifteen minutes. She was starring in Gypsy, and she’d gone up to the Tay-Bush with some gay friends after the show.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that three paddy wagons made seven trips between the after-hours bar and the city jail. It was, the Chronicle said, “vaguely reminiscent of leading sheep from a packed corral.” Despite 103 arrests, authorities complained that another 139 intended detainees managed to slip away. Those arrested included actors, actresses, dancers, a state hospital psychologist, a bank manager, an artist and an Air Force purchasing agent, and the San Francisco Examiner listed every one of their names, addresses, occupations and employers.

They were all charged with frequenting a disorderly house. The evidence, according to prosecutors: “The majority of the males affected swishy-hipped walks, limp-wristed gestures, high-pitched voices and wore tight pants…. The women were mannish.” About one in five or six were given an additional charge of lewd conduct, because they were seen to be dancing together or kissing. and because five or six couples were dancing, the Tay-Bush Inn was fined $400. The Mattachine Society paid for lawyers, and the charges for visiting a disorderly house were eventually dropped for all but two. Mayor Christopher responded, “We found as always that some arrests are very difficult of prosecution because Courts demand total, complete, and unequivocal evidence, but we think we’re on the right track.”

But Christopher’s train soon derailed. The Chronicle’s reporting on the administration’s campaign against gay bars had been becoming increasingly critical against the police. Before the Tay-Bush raid, one columnist questioned where gay people would go if police succeeded in closing down all the gay bars. One possibility was unpalatable to readers: they might end up going to straight bars. When the Tay-Bush was raided, the Chronicle portrayed the patrons sympathetically, as ordinary middle-class, otherwise respectable citizens. It also described Bob Johnson, the Tay-Bush’s twenty-seven year old owner, as something of a martyr, who “seemed more concerned about his patrons than himself.” Responding to growing media criticism, Christopher pressured police chief Thomas Cahill to tone down the publicity and abandon the department’s massive, centrally-coordinated raids.

[Sources: Christopher Lowen Agee. The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014): 98-101.

Edward Allwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 39.

Hal Call. "Calling Shots." Mattachine Review 7, no. 9 (September 1961): 12-14.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1940-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 39.

Del Martin. "Editorial: Fire Hoses Next? The Ladder 5, no. 12 (September 1961): 14-15.]

Los Angeles Passes AIDS Non-Discrimination Ordinance: 1985. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance protecting people with AIDS from discrimination in employment, housing and health care, making L.A. the first major city in the U.S. to pass such a measure. Before the vote, Councilman Joel Wachs, who introduced the measure, told the council, “We have an opportunity to set an example for the whole nation, to protect those people who suffer from AIDS against insidious discrimination.”

Wachs said that discrimination was a pressing problem. “There are a large number to cases of discrimination out there, where people are being fired, evicted and can’t get into an apartment because they have AIDS,” he said. Wachs also noted that half of the people with AIDS who file complaints die before their complaints are investigated. The city council opted for civil penalties instead of criminal penalties because civil proceedings are much faster. The ordinance provided for compensation for actual damages, costs, and attorney fees, and also provided for punitive damages. Councilman Ernani Barnardi hoped that the ordinance would have the effect of educating the public and calming the hysteria.

Wachs served on L.A.’s city council from 1971 to 2001. He came out in 1999 as he was preparing a 2001 run for the Mayor’s office.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Richard von Krafft-Ebing: 1840-1902. The Austro-German psychiatrist’s principal work, Psychopathia Sexualis was more than just the Kinsey Report of 1886; it single-handedly established sexology as a serious field of study. The last edition, his twelfth, included 238 case histories of human sexual behavior, and popularized such terms as sadism, masochism, fetishism, and the newly-coined word, homosexuality (see May 6). It was written specifically for psychiatrists, physicians, and judges in a dense academic style in order to discourage its purchase by lay readers. The most sordid parts, he wrote in Latin to further discourage casual reading.

A native of Baden, Germany, Krafft-Ebing studied medicine and psychiatry at the University of Heidelberg. He taught at the Universities of Strasbourg, and then at Graz, where he also served as superintendent of the Feldhof mental asylum. When he arrived at the asylum, he found that it was operated more as a dungeon than a treatment facility, and he fought for its reform, a fight which was ultimately unsuccessful. But it led him to publish the Text-Book of Insanity in 1879 to promote therapy rather than imprisonment for the mentally ill.

In Krafft-Ebing’s study of insanity, he often encountered sexual practices which were routinely characterized as causes of insanity or dismissed as vile criminal practices, but which were otherwise little studied. This deficiency in the scientific literature led to what would turn out to be his life’s work. Psychopathia Sexualis catalogued a wide range of sexual practices, from masturbation, impotence, fetishisms, necrophilia, lust-murder — you name it. The practices were carefully categorized as paradoxia (sexual desire at the wrong time of life), hyperaesthesia (excessive sexual desire), anaesthesia (absence of sexual desire) and, the largest, paraesthesia (which he called the perversion of the sexual instinct).

Krafft-Ebing’s notable achievement with Psychopathia Sexualis is that it allowed psychiatry to claim authority over sexual knowledge, where previously it was seen as a religious or criminal problem. Before Psychopathia Sexualis, sexual behavior that was not directed toward procreation — especially promiscuity and masturbation — was believed to cause insanity. Psychopathia Sexualis flipped that understanding around, and argued that “deviant” sexual behaviors were the result of a more fundamental mental disorder. For homosexuals in particular, he concluded that gay people were suffering from a kind of a biologically-based anomaly, one which occurred sometime during gestation, which resulted in a “sexual inversion” of the brain.

Despite Krafft-Ebing’s efforts at objectivity, he was never able to escape the nineteenth-century assumptions that regarded recreational sex as a perversion of the sex drive. But in his later years, Krafft-Ebing’s opinions became more lenient toward gay people. He was among the first to sign Magnus Hireschfield’s petition for the repeal of Germany’s Paragraph 175, which criminalized sexual behavior between men. In his last article on homosexuality, published in Hirschfeld’s Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Types, Krafft-Ebing described his earlier views of homosexuality as pathological as being one-sided, and advocated instead that gay people should be treated with sympathy and compassion. However condescending that viewpoint was, it was also, at least, an improvement. But in the end Krafft-Ebing’s work had the practical effect of extending Victorian morality for most of the next century by merely replacing religious moralism with a scientific gloss. It would take nearly nine decades after Psychopathia Sexualis’s publication before the American Psychiatric Association would finally cut through that gloss once and for all and remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders (see Dec 15).

The 1894 English translation of Psychopathia Sexualis, which is credited with introducing the word “homosexuality” into the English language, is available for free at Google Books here

Sibilla Aleramo: 1876-1960. Reared outside of Milan where her father managed a glass factory, young Rina Faccio was unable to continue her education beyond the elementary level. At fifteen, she began seeing a man ten years her senior, who raped her at her father’s factory. Rina didn’t tell her parents what happened, and instead wound up marrying him. A year and a half later, she had a son, and eight years later she left her husband and moved to Rome. Her new lover, the journalist Giovanni Cena, convinced her to turn her story into a fictionalized memoir, Una Donna (A Woman), which she published in 1906 under the pen name of Sibilla Aleramo.

Aleramo became active in politics and the arts, which is how she came to meet the Italian feminist Lina Poletti at the First National Congress of Women in Rome. The two women entered what is described as a volatile relationship, even as Aleramo remained with Cena. In her letters to Poletti, she wrote that she didn’t feel at all guilty about being in love with both of them at the same time; Poletti answered that the dual relationships threatened Aleramo’s sanity. Aleramo’s relationship with Poletti ended after a year. Aleramo went on to become one of Italy’s leading feminists, and Una Donna is now considered an Italian classic as the first outspokenly feminist Italian novel. She remained active in feminist politics until her death in 1960.

Horst B. Horst: 1906-1999. The German-American fashion photographer was born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in Weißenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany. He studied at Hamburg’s Kunstgewerbeschule before going to Paris to study under Le Corbusier. That’s where he met Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene and became his photographic assistant and lover. In 1931, Horst began working with Vogue directly, and in 1932 he had his first exhibition in Paris. It was a sensational success, and in the next two years he would photograph Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Daisy Fellows, and a whole passel of European royalty and near-royalty.

In 1937, Horst made a move to New York, where he met Coco Chanel. He would photograph her fashions for the next three decades. The following year, he met the British diplomat Valentine Lawford, and they would build a life together as a couple until Lawford’s death in 1991. Horst also adopted a son.

The Mainbocher Corset (1939)

Horst’s 1939 photo of the exceptionally controversial Mainbocher Corset is perhaps his most famous photo. The Corset itself created a furor in pre-war Paris, where it marked an abrupt break from the past due to its radical silhouette and its reintroduction of an article of clothing that is more associated with the Victorian era. Horts’s photo of the Corset however was anything but Victorian.

In 1941, Horst applied for U.S. citizenship, and in 1943 he joined the U.S. Army as a photographer, three months before he took the oath of citizenship when he officially became Horst P. Horst, partly, it is said, because his surname sounded too much like top Nazi official Martin Bormann’s. After the war, Horst’s photos illustrated international high society for Vogue. Subjects included every First Lady beginning with Bess Truman, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Oscar de la Renta, Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Doris Duke, Cy Twombly, and just about every European royalty still in existence. Madonna’s 1990 music video for her song “Vogue” recreated many of Horst’s photos, including the Mainbocher Corset, much to the displeasure of Horst who was displeased that she didn’t seek permission to use his photos nor acknowledge his work. His last photograph for British Vogue was in 1991 with Princess Michael of Kent. He died in 1999 at the age of 93.

50 YEARS AGO: Mark Pocan: 1964. Pocan became active in local politics in Madison soon after graduating and opening his own print shop, when he was gay-bashed by two men with baseball bats as he was leaving a gay bar. He worked in the local LGBT community before winning a seat on Dane County’s Board of Supervisors from 1991 to 1996. In 1998, he succeeded Tammy Baldwin when she gave up her seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly to run for U.S. House of Representatives. In 2013, Pocan against succeeded Baldwin when she vacated her seat in the House of Representatives and was sworn in as Senator. As a result, Pocan made history by becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative. This also made Wisconsin the first state to send openly gay representatives to both Houses of Congress. In 2006, Pocan married his partner in Toronto, even though their marriage is not recognized in Wisconsin. That may change soon, thanks to a June ruling by a Federal District Judge declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional,

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 13

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Cardiff, UK; Charlotte, NC; Doncaster, UK; Fargo/Moorehead ND/MN; Kelowna, BC; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Montréal, QC; New Westminster, BC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Prague, Czech Republic; Pueblo, CO; Regensburg, Germany; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Taos, NM.

Other Events This Weekend: Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; AIDS Walk, Denver CO; Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 7

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 7

The Bay Area Reporter published this brief review in 1971: “Drop in on TOTIE’S sometime for fun and relaxation. They have a game there where Totie or Al will get on the phone to Joe Roland of THE GANGWAY and play Boss Dice for rounds for both places. One can get awfully tittly while observing this.” Totie’s was on Larkin Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, just a block off of Polk Street when that was San Francisco’s Castro before the Castro became the Castro. Tottie’s appears to have opened sometime in 1971. I don’t know how long it lasted, but Totie’s was still listed in this 1977 city directory. More recently, the address was another bar called Olive, but that business has closed.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Thirty-Five Arrested in Miami Beach Raid as Governor Threatens to Replace Sheriff: 1954. The wave of anti-gay hysteria in Miami continued apace (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12), with Florida’s acting governor, Charley E. Johns, getting in on the act. Johns became acting governor when Gov. Dan McCarty died in 1953. He would later return to the State Senate and head the infamous Johns Committee which revived a statewide Red and Lavender Scare,  with investigations of alleged communists, homosexuals, and civil rights advocates among the students and faculty of Florida’s schools and university system. The Miami News reported that Johns was looking for an excuse to replace Dade County sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling and for “failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” The News continued: “Public indignation over two recent sex murders and police revelations that Miami is host to a colony of some 5,000 homosexuals might be used to accuse the sheriff of lax law enforcement.”

In a separate report that same day, The Miami News reported that Miami Beach Police had raided a section of the beach the day before:

Two of six suspected homosexuals arrested by Miami Beach police in a raid on the 22nd Street bathing area were convicted of disorderly conduct today and ordered to pay $10 fines.

Beach police arrested 35 men yesterday afternoon in a raid planned by Police Chief Shepard. All but six were released after questioning at headquarters. The six kept in custody were charged with disorderly conduct by reason of failure to give a good account of their actions.

City Judge Lawrence Hoffman dismissed cases against four of the six today but warned them to stay away from the 22nd Street bathing area.

“Chief Shepard intends to make good his plan to make Miami Beach undesirable to homosexuals,” Judge Hoffman told the suspects.

ONE magazine, quoting from an article in The Miami Herald, paraphrased the Miami Beach action this way:

Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard personally led a”flying squad of raiders” who fearlessly “swooped down on the public bathing area at 22nd street and the ocean and herded 35 males to headquarters for questioning.” Two headed for the deep sea but were pulled in by lifeguards … “The raid was executed with all the advance planning and secrecy of an amphibious landing”; … Romeo explained there’d been “numerous complaints” of “males who ‘act mighty like girls.’” Six were booked for disorderly conduct for failing to give a good account of themselves. (What does that mean? A cash transaction, perhaps? — L.P.) The rest released after questioning. Charges later dropped against all but two, who were fined $10 each. Some had worn bathing suits “that caused snickers from police” — bikinis and such, “shocking pink, daring cerise and leopard skin pattern.”

[Additional sources: Lyn Pedersen (pseudonym of Jim Kepner). "Miami Hurricane." ONE 2, no. 9 (November 1954): 4-8.

Fred Fejes. "Murder, Perversion and MoralPanic: The 1954 Media Campaign against Miami's Homosexuals and the Discourse of Civic Betterment." Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, no. 3 (July 2000): 305-347.]

Dr. Paul Kells

Dr. Paul Kells

60 YEARS AGO: A Disease Worse than Alcohol: 1954. On the same day that The Miami News printed the front-page article about the nineteen queers who had been arrested in Miami Beach, the paper still wasn’t finished with its anti-gay crusade. Across the bottom of the front page was the first of a series of three articles purporting to inform the general public about the “condition” of homosexuality. Titled “Psychiatrist Looks At Deviates: A Disease ‘Worse Than Alcohol’,” the article featured Dr. Paul Kells, a “noted Miami psychiatrist, whom The Miami Daily News asked to supply answers to questions regarding sexual deviates.” The News introduces the subject this way:

In the past few days Miamians have learned that this community has become infected by a large colony of sexual deviates. The word “infected” is used advisedly, since homosexuality is a social disease. It can be worse than drug addiction or alcoholism. There is little hope for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable pattern.

Most of the article follows a Q&A format, with the first question appearing to draw some sort of a line between homosexuals and “sexual psychopaths.” What line exactly is drawn however is anybody’s guess:

Q Are all homosexuals potential child molesters, sadists (those who enjoy causing others pain) and masochists (those who enjoy pain and humiliation for themselves?)

A. No. The sexual psychopath, of which homosexuality is only one form, is the extreme sex deviate classification from which emerges the child molester and sadist. The sexual psychopath has no feeling of social responsibility, much in the manner of the hardened criminal who has no understanding or regard for the law, the psychiatrist explained.

The sexual psychopath preys on both sexes. He or she might consort with homosexuals as a means of getting money or any other objective. The psychopathic personality frequently has a feeling of great superiority over others, disregarding at all times the need of conforming to social laws.

As for whether homosexuals were born that way:

No. …”It is usually a matter of experience which makes a person a homosexual,” the doctor stated. “It’s ‘possible’ for anyone to become a homosexual, but people are not born to be such.”

It is in this statement that Miamians can clearly see their problem. In a community where there are only a few homosexuals, the chance for exposure to such practices are negligible.

Not all homosexuals want to gain converts, but those who do can be extremely aggressive, the doctor explained. The most aggressive is the psychopathic personality, who also lacks understanding of social responsibility.

“The shy homosexual has a sense of social responsibility and will go to great extremes to conceal his plight,” said the psychiatrist. “This type lives in constant fear of being exposed and will marry and have families to conceal its sexual behavior.”

… Dr. Kells pointed out that “normal” homosexuals are acceptable to society when their sex behavior is not known. “The sexual psychopath is never acceptable,” he said. “And there is the important question involved in creating laws. The ‘normal’ homosexual should be separated from the sexual psychopath.”

Q. Do perverts tend to congregate in the same area or town?

A. Yes, but only certain types.

“No Obits”: 1996. For the first time in more than seventeen years, the San Fransisco weekly Bay Area Reporter made the news because of a lack of news: there were no obituaries of AIDS victims in the August 13, 1996 edition. The rate of obituaries had been declining for the previous two years following the introduction of the so-called “AIDS cocktail,” which surprised scientists and AIDS advocates alike for its effectiveness in halting and even reversing the health declines of those on medications. According to an AP article at the time, “The few days leading up to Monday’s deadline for submitting obits were tense at the newspaper. In the previous two weeks, none had been delivered until the last minute. ‘It was like watching a no-hitter in baseball unfolding,’ (news editor Mike) Salinas said. “We didn’t really want to discuss it until it became obvious that it was going to happen. We held our breath waiting.’” But the obit never came by the time the deadline arrived, and the paper celebrated with a front-page headline proclaiming “No Obits.”

10YEARS AGO: Australia Amends Marriage Law To Ban Same-Sex Marriage: 2004. The opposition Labor party joined the governing right-of-center Liberal Party under Prime Minister John Howard to pass an amendment to Australia’s marriage law to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment specified:

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

The bill had been introduced by Liberal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock just two months after the UK’s Civil Partnership Act had been proposed. Labor shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced that same day that Labor would not oppose the amendment. Labor’s support wasn’t universal. Anthony Albanese, Labor MP for Grayndler, said the bill was the “result of 30 bigoted backbenchers who want to press buttons in the community.” The bill’s critics challenged the government’s priorities, asking why there was a such a rush to ban same-sex marriage when the proposed anti-terrorism law hadn’t been voted on yet. Government and Labor responded by switching the schedule for the two bills and passed the anti-terrorism law first before approving the amendment in June. In the SEnate, both parties joined to cut off debate, a move that Democrat leader Sen. Andrew Bartlett roundly condemned: “This is just an absolute disgrace … (you are saying) we have to do it now, otherwise society will crumble and the world will end. You are saying, ‘It is urgent that we take away as many freedoms and rights from people as possible and do it really quickly before they notice and get a chance to be upset about it’.” But that is exactly what they did, and on August 13, the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 38-6.

Bills to provide marriage equality have been introduced in Australia’s Parliament in 2006 and 2009, but they have gone nowhere. In May 2013, then-former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who had previously opposed marriage equality, announced that he had changed his position and now supports it. Rudd then ousted Prime Minster Julia Gillard, who had been a staunch opponent of marriage equality, as head of the Labor Party on June 27. Rudd’s Labor was ahead in the polls in the run-up to the September 7 federal election, but it ended up losing 17 seats in the House of Representatives, and with it, the goverment, to the Liberal/National coalition headed by Tony Abbott. Abbot is an outspoken foe of marriage equality, despite having a lesbian sister.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Gluck: 1895-1978. The British painter was born Hannah Gluckstein, but she insisted on being known only as Gluck” — “No prefix, suffix, or quotes.” She resigned as vice president of an art society when her name appeared on the letterhead as “Miss Gluck.” And just as she kept her identification simple, her style of painting was also not part of any particular artistic school. Gluck established herself as a painter of floral arrangements which became popular among interior decorators, including floral designer Constance Spry, who would be Gluck’s lover from 1932 to 1936.

Gluck’s Medallion, 1937

Gluck’s reputation was grounded in her portraits, beginning with her own 1925 self portrait, wearing a shirt, tie, suspenders, beret and smoking a cigarette. Her best known painting, Medallion, is a dual portrait of Gluck and Nesta Obermer, who became Gluck’s partner after her relationship with Spry ended. She painted it in 1936 to commemorate what she called her marriage to Obermer on May 25. Gluck called it her “YouWe” painting, and it was later used as the cover of the Virago Press edition of The Well of Loneliness.

In 1944, Obermer decided to end her relationship with Gluck, complaining that Gluck had become too demanding and possessive. Gluck then entered a tumultuous thirty-year relationship with Edith Shakelton Head, the first female reporter in Britain’s House of Lords. Gluck’s emotional health deteriorated as she descended into depression, and her painting suffered because of it. But she managed to revive herself in the 1950s when she became alarmed at the declining quality of paints and canvases. With the backing of two important museums and the Arts Council of Great Britain, she embarked on a decade-long campaign to convince the Standards Institution to establish new standards for cold-pressed linseed oil, canvases, and the naming and defining of pigments.

With that success behind her, Gluck returned to the easel using special handmade paints supplied by a manufacturer who agreed to meet her exacting standards. She painted several more paintings, including one of a decomposing fish head on the beach titled, Rage, Rage against the Dying of Light. She mounted a successful solo show in 1973, her first since 1937. It would be her last. She died in 1978.

Herb Ritts, self portrait.

Herb Ritts: 1952-2002. The fashion and celebrity photographer is probably known more for who he photographed than for his photos themselves, which is a shame considering the quality of his work. His trademark was in his highly geometric, classic style, often evoking Greek classism. But his access to superstars came naturally, having grown up in Brentwood where many of them were either neighbors or friends of neighbors. His subjects ended up including just about everyone in Hollywood, beginning with photos of his friend, Richard Gere, taken before either of them were famous. When Gere used those photos for publicity, Ritt’s reputation was set. He photographed Brooke Shields for the cover of Elle in 1981, and he shot the cover photo for Olivia Newton-John’s album Physical that same year.

Ricard Gere, 1977

In addition to shooting every star and starlet in Hollywood, Ritts photographed the Dalai Lama, Michael Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Hawking. His fashion photography included books for Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Calvin Klein (including Marky Mark’s famous underwear shoot), Donna Karen, Valentino, and many more. He also directed music videos for Madonna, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Chris Issak, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez.

In 1989, Ritts published MEN/WOMEN, a two-volume box set which explored the classic beauty of the male and female bodies. 1991′s Duo extended that exploration to nude gay couples. Notorious, published in 1992, saw Ritts return to celebrity portraiture. In 1994, he broke completely from his typical subjects with the publication of Africa, a study of the stark African l andscape, its wildlife and the Maasai people who make their home there.

In the 1980s and 1990s he also threw himself into fundraising for HIV/AIDS groups like anfAR, and he did so long before Elizabeth Taylor made it fashionable. Always open about his own HIV-positive status, Ritts died in 2002 of pneumonia.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, August 12

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

From Arizona Gay News (Tucson), August 5, 1977, page 4.

The Arizona Gay News provided more details about the big weekend:

This city is putting the welcome mat out for all of its Gay brothers and sisters from Tucson. Plans for a Gay weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 12, 13 and 14, have just been completed. Spearheaded by the Ramrod’s congenial owner, Marty, all the Phoenix Gay Community have joined in a united effort to show their hospitality.

Plans have been made through the girls bike club, Riders of the Sun, to host their sisters from Tucson, and the Sons of Apollo [a gay male motorcycle club -- JB] will host their gay brothers. If you do not have any accommodations, bring a long a sleeping bag and your hosts will make the necessary arrangements.

Riders of the Sun were to sponsor a buffet at the Unlimited on Friday, and the Sons of Apollo planned on hosting another buffet on Saturday at the Ramrod. Brunch was planned for Sunday at the Nu-Towne Saloon. The Nu-Towne is still in business today, and is known for two things: it is Phoenix’s oldest continually-operating gay bar, and it’s Sunday grill and beer bust is still hugely popular. (The Ramrod was featured on Jan 29)

Click to view the full broadsheet.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
  Captain Nichols Hanged for “Buggery”: 1833. Yes, that was the actual British legal term for homosexual activity, and it was a capital offense until 1861, when the laws were finally relaxed to allow for life imprisonment. But that change came almost thirty years too late for Captain Henry Nichols. In 1833, the London Courier printed the following account:

Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, who was one of the unnatural gang to which the late Captain Beauclerk belonged, (and which latter gentleman put an end to his existence), was convicted on the clearest evidence at Croydon, on Saturday last, of the capital offence of Sodomy; the prisoner was perfectly calm and unmoved throughout the trial, and even when sentence of death was passed upon him. In performing the duty of passing sentence of death upon the prisoner, Mr. Justice Park told him that it would be inconsistent with that duty if he held out the slightest hope that the law would not be allowed to take its severest course. At 9 o’clock in the morning the sentence was carried into effect. The culprit, who was fifty years of age, was a fine looking man, and had served in the Peninsular war. He was connected with a highly respectable family; but, since his apprehension not a single member of it visited him.

You can also read a different account from another popular broadsheet by clicking the above image.

[via ExecutedToday.com, which goes to show that there really is a blog for everything.]

 60 YEARS AGO: Miami News Reports On Trial of Gay Informant: 1954. That summer, greater Miami was swept up by an unprecedented wave of media-driven anti-gay hysteria, triggered, in part, by the murder of a male Eastern Airlines flight attendant earlier in August (see Aug 3, Aug 11). Meanwhile, bars and beaches were being raided and gay men were  being convicted under Florida’s sodomy law. The Miami News on August 12 reported on one such case involving a gay man and a reputed police informant who was apparently himself gay. Because The News’s report leaves open far more questions than it answers, I will just repeat it in full.

Informant Escapes Jail Term in Pervert ‘Turnabout’ Trial.

By Larry Birger
Miami Daily News Staff Writer

A self-styled police informer escaped trial on sex charges today when a convicted homosexual refused to press a complaint which he had filed at the suggestion of City Judge Cecil C. Curry.

Odom’s photo from the Miami News

The case against truck driver Leonard M. Odom, 24, of 3523 SW 14th Ter., was dispatched so quickly that the name of the complainant’s attorney escaped reporters.

The convicted homosexual, Walter G. Quester, changed his mind and dropped charges against Odom of committing lewd and lascivious acts.

Judge Curry asked the unidentified attorney for Quester: “Why did you drop the charges?”

“I don’t know,” the lawyer replied. “I wasn’t here yesterday.”

The attorney was referring to the unusual court session at which the judge had turned on the chief witness against the defendant at Quester’s hearing on charges of lewd and lascivious acts.

On the basis of Odom’s testimony, concerning a “date” he claimed he’d had with Quester to get information for the police, Quester was convicted and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Then Curry told Odom, “It looks to me as if you’re just as guilty as the defendant.” He suggested to Quester that he file counter-charges against Odom, which was done.

Before today’s hearing Odom’s lawyer, Morey A. Rayman, said he would move that Curry disqualify himself as presiding judge on grounds he had prejudged the defendant.

This report raises all sorts of questions. Was Odom really working as a police informant? Or did he decide to try to claim that’s what he was doing in order to try to get out of being charged himself? What — or who — led Quester to drop the charges against Odom?  And with Odom’s name, address, and photo published in the paper, what happened to him after the trial was over?

It really is quite possible that there were two victims in the sordid mess, each one trying to make the best of a very bad, no-win situation. These are the kinds of stories that appear briefly in newspapers across the country and then, just as quickly, disappear. These are also the kinds of stories I would love to be able to track down. In searching Ancestry.com, there was a Walter G. Quester who died in 1987 in Broward County, Florida, and a Leonard M. Odom who died in Madison, Florida in 1997. Were these the guys mentioned in this article?

 “Gay Is Good” Adopted As National Homophile Slogan: 1968. The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), an umbrella group with representatives from twenty-six local and national gay rights organizations, was formed two years earlier, and from the very beginning they were hampered squabbles between the member groups. At the core, they were hampered by a lack of a unifying vision of where the gay community needed to concentrate its meager resources and energies. When they finally met in Chicago just a few weeks before the contentious Democratic National Convention, a whole host of fault lines had emerged: along generational lines with younger members being influenced by civil rights and anti-war protests, along gender lines as lesbians became increasingly impatient and distrustful as the dominant male leadership gave short shrift to their concerns, and along geographic lines between the more “militant” East Coast and the less confrontational West Coast factions.

Although the delegates failed to form a unified national organization, they did manage to accomplish two things. First, they passed “Homosexual Bill of Rights”, which was proposed by the Resolutions Committee chaired by Daughters of Bilitis president Shirley Willer (see Sep 26). The Homosexual Bill of Rights consisted of these five points:

  1. Private consensual sex between persons over the age of consent shall not be an offense.
  2. Solicitation for any sexual acts shall not be an offense except upon the filing of a complaint by the aggrieved party, not a police officer or agent.
  3. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not be a factor in the granting or renewing of federal security clearances or visas, or in the granting of citizenship.
  4. Service in and discharge from the Armed Forces and eligibility for veteran’s benefits shall be without reference to homosexuality.
  5. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not affect his eligibility for employment with federal, state, or local governments, or private employers.

Their second accomplishment would prove to be more enduring, when the convention formally adopted Frank Kameny’s “Gay is Good” slogan as the official slogan of the movement. The full resolution read:

BECAUSE many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups suffer from diminished self-esteem, doubts and uncertainties as to their personal worth, and from a pervasive false and unwarranted sense of an inferiority and undesirability of their homosexual condition, and from a negative approach to that condition; and

BECAUSE, therefore, many individual homosexuals, like many of the members of many other minority groups, are in need of psychological sustenance to bolster and to support a positive and affirmative attitude toward themselves and their homosexuality and to hae instilled into them a confident sense of the positive good and value of themselves and of their condition; and

BECAUSE it would seem to be very much a function of the North American Homophile Conference to attempt to replace a wishy-washy negativism toward homosexuality with a firm no-nonsense positivism, to attempt to establish in the homosexual community and its members feelings of pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, in being the homosexuals that they are and have a moral right to be (these feelings being essential to true human dignity), and to attempt to bring to bear a countervailing influence against negative attitudes toward homosexuality prevalent in the heterosexual community; and

BECAUSE the Negro community has approached similar problems and goals with some success by  the adoption of the motto or slogan: Black is Beautiful

RESOLVED: that it is hereby adopted as a slogan or motto for NACHO that

GAY IS GOOD

The vote was unanimous, perhaps the only point of unanimity in the convention. Kameny saw his slogan’s adoption as being a critical step toward changing the internal self-perceptions that many in the gay community had of themselves. Just a few years earlier, he persuaded his own group, the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., to pass a resolution declaring that homosexuality was not a mental illness (see Mar 4), a vote that was very controversial locally and nationally. This showed Kameny that if the gay community wanted psychiatry to stop regarding gay people as mentally ill, then gays and lesbians themselves would have to change how they saw themselves:

In order that we might hear something good to offset all this negativity, I came up with the slogan “Gay is good” in 1968, in parallel with the slogan “Black is beautiful” coined around the same time for similar psychological reasons. Upon careful analysis, it quickly became clear that as long as we were classified by organized psychiatry as being mentally ill or emotionally disturbed, we were never going to be granted any kind of remedy for the cultural ills besetting us. Society was not going to offer protection to a bunch of “loonies,” which is what psychiatry of that day made of us…

Psychiatry would eventually change its mind about five years later. For countless millions of gay people, it would take longer. But Kameny didn’t just fight to change how the laws pr psychiatry treated gay people. He fought so that gay people to see themselves as fully equal to everyone else as people. In 2007 when his papers and artifacts were accepted by the Smithsonian Institution, Frank reflected in an email to me:

I’ve said, for a long time, that if I’m remembered for only one thing, I would like it to be for having coined “Gay is Good.” But never did I expect that that would make its way to the Smithsonian. I feel deeply contented.

[Sources: Ronald Bayer. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987):89-91.

Frank Kameny. "How It All Started." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health 13, no. 2 (2009): 76-81.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
 Radclyffe Hall: 1880-1943. Influenced by the writings of Havelock Ellis, Radclyffe Hall described herself as a “congenital invert,” typically dressing in masculine clothing and living her lesbian on her sleeve. Her nickname, “John,” was bestowed on her by her first partner, the German singer Mabel Batten. When Batten died in 1916, Hall had already fallen in love with Batten’s cousin, the sculptor Una Troubridge, and the two of them would remain together for the rest of Hall’s life. Hall’s first novel, the long and dreary The Unlit Lamp, didn’t sell well. But her next books — a comedy titled The Forge, a more serious volume titled Unlit Lamp, and another comic novel A Saturday Life, established Hall as a novelist of serious talent.

Her lasting fame however would come with her 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness, the only one of her eight novels with an overt lesbian theme, although the subject had come up in some of her short stories. There was nothing sexually explicit about he novel, yet it became the subject of a sensational obscenity trial in Britain which resulted in all copies of the novel being ordered destroyed. Its publication in the U.S. came about only after a long court battle. After the fireworks were over, the New York Court of Special Sessions cleared the book for publication in 1929, and it has been continuously available in the U.S. ever since then.

Radclyffe Hall (right) with Una Troubridge

Hall and Troubridge were important figures in lesbian circles in London, Paris and elsewhere in Europe, where Hall would be easily recognized by her tailored jackets, ties, socks and close-cropped hair. Her appearance wasn’t particularly shocking in the 1920s, where androgynous appearance among women was considered tres chic. But as the decades wore on, it became her most consistent visual identity in keeping with her self-identification as a member of “the third sex.” Britain’s sensational press was only too happy to play up that image. During the height of the furor over the British obscenity trials, newspapers routinely published photos of her which depicted her in the most masculine way possible, often cropping the photo above her waist on the many occasions when she wore a skirt with a man’s jacket.

The Well of Loneliness would be the only source of information about lesbianism for many women right on through the 1960s. Hall herself said that she had received more than 10,000 letters about her novel, many of them thanking her from grateful lesbians. When she died in 1943 of colon cancer, The Well of Loneliness had been translated into fourteen languages and was selling more then 100,000 copies per year. Nineteen-fifties editions of The Ladder, the newsletter for the Daughters of Bilitis, often wrote of The Well of Loneliness in reverential tones, and many anonymous letters to the editor from across America citing the book as a lifeline for many women coming to terms with their own sexuality.

 Gladys Bentley: 1907-1960. The Harlem Renaissance blues singer was known as “Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs.” Her “sophisticated songs” were obscene parodies of famous blues standards and popular songs, which she sang in the speakeasies of Harlem, often while brazenly flirting with the women in the audience. She was famous for her powerful voice, her girlfriends, and her manner of dress, in  her signature tuxedo and top hat. In the 1930s, she headlined at Harlem’s Ubangi Club, an “exotic” (read: gay) club where she performed with a chorus line of drag queens as backup. She was successful enough to acquire a Park Avenue apartment, a fancy car, servants, and, she claimed at one time, a white wife in New Jersey.

But by 1937, the popularity of Harlem began to wane, so she moved to Los Angeles to be with her mother. She continued to carve out a place for herself there in the underground gay scene, performing at such popular lesbian bars as Joquins’ El Rancho in Los Angeles and Mona’s in San Francisco.

But when the straight-laced fifties came around, Bentley abandoned her trademark tuxedo, began wearing dresses, and, in a 1950 article for Ebony, claimed to have cured her lesbianism through hormone treatments. She also claimed that she married J. T. Gibson, a newspaper columnist, who later denied that they had ever met. She did marry a man who was sixteen years her junior, although they eventually divorced. In 1960, she was on the verge of being ordained a minister for the Temple of Love in Christ when she died of pneumonia at age 52.

Sometime in the 1950s, she appeared on Grocho Marx’s You Bet Your Life, in a dress.

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, August 11

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

From David, a Florida gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May 1972, page 44.

AlleyRoomFireThe Alley Room was part of a three-bar complex in Miami Beach. The main bar in front was the South Wind Lounge, with the Cub Room off to the side and the Alley Room in the back. The bar and a neighboring liquor store were gutted by a fire on June 2, 1975. The fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. and a dozen or so patrons and employees made it safely out as flames engulfed the building and shot through the roof, lighting the night sky throughout the area and attracting a crowd of spectators from nearby hotels and apartment buildings. “Miami Beach Fire Chief Albert Bishop said that the flames apparently were fed by the contents of hundreds of bottles of liquor which burst under the heat,” reported the Miami News. A hardware store and a bingo parlor on the same block sustained smoke damage. The liquor store was able to undergo repairs and get back into business, but the South Wind and Alley Room are now an empty lot.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 60 YEARS AGO: Miami Police Detective Calls On City to “Face Pervert Problem”: 1954. The murder earlier this month of William T. Simpson, a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant (see Aug 3) blew open another round of frantic anti-gay hysteria in Miami, particularly after the Miami Daily News wrote that the murder revealed a hitherto-unknown “colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregating mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen’.”

Not to be outdone, the Miami Herald jumped into the fray with a front-page article by Miami police detective Chester Eldridge titled, “Official urges society to face pervert problem.” He wrote that Miami had been lucky, so far: “We are extremely fortunate that there have been no more violent crimes in Miami involving them. The sex pervert or deviate is an individual who has reached the age of reason, yet knowingly disregards the idea of reproduction. They compromise a group that ranges from relatively harmless homosexuals to the fierce sadist who horribly mutilates and tortures his victims.” He estimated that there were somewhere from five to eight thousand homosexuals in Miami, and urged the state to build more psychiatric hospitals “so they can be removed as a social blight and become useful citizens.”

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): p 3.]

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, August 10

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; New Westminster, BC; Reykjavik, Iceland; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The MedicalStandard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

From The Medical Standard, 1888, page xxxiii. Available online here.

I think it’s awesome that Google has digitized so many medical and mental health journals from the nineteenth century and up to 1920, and put them online. It would be almost impossible for an armchair researcher like myself to dig up some of the historic stories that appear in the Daily Agendas like the one below from 1888. Just a few years ago, it would have required expensive travel to a major university library, and even then it would be hit-or-miss whether that library would allow access to them. But here they are, available with just a few well-placed search terms in Google Books. Other valuable resources have been Archive.org and the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Today’s ad comes from The Medical Standard, a medical journal from Chicago,  from the same volume which brought us news of a transman in Iowa. The combination desk and surgical table reminds us how far we’ve come. In the August edition of the journal, Dr. J.A. McGaughy of Chicago reviewed the new piece of furniture, which he had been using for the past year “in various gynecological and general surgical procedures”:

This table presents the following advantages: It is peculiarly simple in construction; the ball-and-socket joint constitutes its chief mechanism; it can be changed with ease; it does not obtrude any suggestion of an operation as it presents the appearance of a neat writing desk when not in use; it is adapted to any operative procedure and is especially commended for the ease with which a Sims’ position can be obtained. The table has passed beyond the experimental stage. A year’s use has demonstrated its value. It is manufactured in Chicago.

The fact that McGaughy’s review appears to quote directly from the ad copy suggests that sponsored content is an old questionable practice that predates Buzzfeed by more than a century.

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

The outer walls and a guard tower of the old Ft. Madison Penitentieray (Source.)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Transman Discovered In Iowa Prison Hospital: 1888. A regular column in the nineteenth-century journal The Medical Standard included a roundup of items submitted by doctors from each of the 38 states, several territories and a number of Canadian provinces. Many of the notices amounted to little more than gossip: the practice of a “voodoo doctor” in Georgia, a doctor in Illinois who was charged with criminal assault “by a hysterical female,” a “magnetic healer” in Kentucky “who is is ‘curing’ hypochondriacs and hysterical females in great numbers at Bowling Green.” (Women were commonly diagnosed with “hysteria” in the nineteenth century; its cure was sometimes a hysterectomy.) Among those notices was this case from Iowa:

A case of sexual perversion has been discovered in the Ft. Madison penitentiary. A woman from her early youth had dressed in male attire, was universally regarded as a man, married and lived with a woman as a husband. She was recently arrested for horse-stealing and sent to the penitentiary; in the hospital of which her sex was discovered.

This is all I know about the man in question, although I’ll certainly keep my eyes open. The Ft. Madison penitentiary was established in 1839, seven years before Iowa’s statehood. The old facility, expanded several times over the years, is still in use today as the Iowa State Penitentiary, making it the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi, although that distinction is set to end in a few months when a new facility opens and the 175-year-old facility will finally be retired.

[Source: "State Items. Iowa." The Medical Standard 4, no. 2 (August 1888): 60. Available online at Google Books here.]

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

The New Mexico State Hospital, now the Behavioral Health Institute.

Letter to a Probation Officer: 1965. Throughout much of the twentieth century, the mental health professions were exceptionally slow to come to grips with the distinction between sexual orientation (defined according to the gender one is attracted to) and gender identity (defined according to the gender in which one views oneself). Until relatively recently, it was broadly believed that every man who “wanted” to be a woman was gay, and that every gay man secretly wanted to be a woman. The magnitude of suffering inflicted on gay and transgender people due to this ignorance is incalculable; it is also illustrated by a letter that one psychiatrist, Rodolfo M. Bramanti, of the New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico, wrote to a probation officer. Bramanti published the letter in the August, 1965 edition of the journal Southwestern Medicine to discuss “some of the medical, legal and social problems that homosexuality creates”:

Dear Mr. M …… .

This letter is in reference to Mr. Peter M., a previous patient in this Unit, who was released on ….. , I have been quite concerned ever since in trying to secure the best solution to his problem, and, as I promised you in our telephone conversation, in the following I will try to discuss this case and summarize the conclusions at which I have arrived.

…I think he belongs to the group that modern psychiatry knows as sociopathic personality, sexual deviation (also called sexual perversion), in whom the only manifestations of the disorder are in the sexual sphere. The pervert suffers from an anomaly of the sexual drive and gets satisfaction either in some other activity than that of complete heterosexual intercourse, or, in some deviant activity, acts that are not accepted bv our morals, customs or laws.

Peter, as the generality of homosexuals, has a tendency to be immature in his reactions, is easily depressed and discouraged, frequently frustrated, emotionally unstable, dependent and self-indulgent, and involved in love affairs with other men which end in disappointments, frustrations and suicidal thoughts. These could have the appearance of psychotic symptoms, but, altogether, do not constitute the well-defined picture that characterizes the schizophrenic.

…The problem, as I see it from a practical standpoint, is that we are dealing with a youngster, who at the present time shows all the emotional feelings of a female, even though he has the complete appearance of a male. Due to his abnormal urges he has been indulging in homosexual relations and creating a difficult problem in his community.

Bramenti launched into a long and wide-ranging dissertation on the attitudes of society towards homosexuality, a dissertation that cites the Judeo-Christian tradition, the 19th century Napoleonic code (which dropped all sanctions against homosexuality), and, surprisingly, the rigidity of gender binaries, leading Bramanti to conclude that “our laws and the community attitudes in this respect are not only unscientific but unjust.”

Bramanti then discussed the range of therapeutic options available to Peter, and it is here that it becomes rather obvious to anyone reading it today that Peter’s problem wasn’t so much that he was a gay man in a homophobic society, but that she was a transgender person among professionals who hadn’t the slightest clue about what that distinction meant:

Peter came to this hospital with the idea that an operation could be performed to make him apparently, at least, more female_ In other words, he completely refused the idea to become a male: even more, he was disgusted, disappointed because his physical appearance did not fit with his female mind and he thought that medical science could convert him into what he has been longing to be.

Bramanti briefly describes the case of Christine Jorgensen (who Bramanti insists on calling “Chris Jorgenson”), the first celebrity transgender person to be written about in the popular press (see May 30). Bramanti considered the option of gender reassignment for Peter:

Can we advise such an operation in the case of Peter M … ? There are many factors to be considered. In fact, could we legally sanction such an operation? Should a surgeon agree to perform it? Is it justified from the religious point of view to try to transform what God decided? In the event that the operation is performed, should he be considered as a man or as a woman in spite of the fact that he will be lacking the male sexual characteristics as well as those of a female.

I feel that with all these drawbacks. we can hardly advise such a porcedure and, p;actically, we rule it out as a prospective solution of this problem.

Investigating the option of gender reassignment, in hindsight, appears to be the most logical course of action based on what we know today. Had Peter been under the care of a mental health professional who was knowledgable about gender identity issues, there may well have been a more positive outcome. But just when Bramanti brought up the most logical option, he retreated from a scientifically-valid position to an entirely religious-based one.

Bramanti then considered other therapeutic options for Peter: hormone treatments to “accentuate the masculine characteristics,” electroconvulsive therapy, and psychoanalysis, all of which he rejected because he believed they would fail to provided the hoped-for outcomes. Convinced as Bramanti was that he is dealing with a homosexual problem, he even quoted, in its entirety, Sigmund Freud’s famous letter to an American mother (see Apr 9), the very letter in which Freud said that homosexuality was “nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation.” That, apparently, didn’t phase Bramanti, who then considered an institution in California “that takes care of sexual perverts,” only to discover that they only handled people who were genuinely psychotic. He also considered “Labortherapy,” which, he said, “may also be, as you very well pointed out, good.” Bramanti contacted the head of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department, who told him that Peter “could have good chances for such a program, provided that he wear clothes according to his sex, which, as you know, the patient refuses to do.”

After considering that there is nothing that can be done clinically to “change Peter’s condition,” Bramanti made the following six recommendations, which, given the tortuous journey he took to getting to them, turned out to be somewhat-for-1965 enlightened:

1) Take an understanding attitude toward his sexual behavior by explaining to his family, his relatives and members of the community that Peter M. should be accepted the way that he is.

2) Alleviate his emotional tensions, his frustrations, anxieties and periods of depression. In this sense, psychotherapy, adjusting him to his inversion, is the type of therapy recommended, if financially feasible. Some psychopharmacologic agents could also help him in achieving this end.

3) Punishment is by no means indicated. The best thing one can do is treat him as politely as one would anyone else. He, on his part, of course, should be expected to abide by the ordinary rules of decency such as applied to relationship between men and women, namely, he should not seduce others nor force himself on people who are not interested in his company. He should not flaunt his desires in public by dressing in clothes of the opposite sex or otherwise and he should not embarrass those around him by making love or about it in public.

If he behaves himself and controls himself as discreetly as people with heterosexual desires are expected to do, his private life should be of no more concern to anyone else than should a normal person’s. Putting him in jail or in a hospital results only in providing him and the other inmates or patients with added opportunities for abnormal sexual activity.

4) Due to the tendencies of being immature in his reactions, easily depressed, discouraged and frequently frustrated, he could be a suicidal risk: therefore, close supervision by the Probation Officer is in order.

5) The tentative idea of placing him in Vocational Program for the purpose of training him as a beautician should be encouraged, if he would agree to dress as a man during the training period.

6) It is also felt that a priest could help by providing him with support.

[Source: Rodolfo M. Bramanti. "Letter to a probation officer on a case of homosexuality." Southwestern Medicine 46, no. 8 (August 1965): 253-257.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Mark DotyMark Doty: 1953. “I’ve always been a poet who wrote about urban life because I love the layers and surprises and the jangly complexities of cities,” he once said. “I feel at home in cities, being a gay man. It’s a place of permission and possibility.” He is the author of several collections of poetry, notably his 1995 award-winning Atlantis, which was inspired by his partner’s death from AIDS the year before. 1997′s Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir also chronicles his partner’s diagnosis, illness and death, as well as Doty’s grief afterwards. Another memoir, Dog Years, is about two dogs that Doty had acquired as companions for his dying partner. The book is not only about the character of his dogs, and also about “everything we cannot talk about,” as one reviewer put it. In the end, the book was less about how Doty took care of his partner and the dogs, but of how the dogs took care of him. It is truly a dog-lover’s love song.

In 2008, he won the National Book Award with Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. His 2010 The Art of Description: World into Word is reflection not just on the art of writing, but also on the art of seeing what one wishes to write about.

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan: 1963. The British transplant to America is an author, political commentator and a seminal blogger, having begun blogging before blogging was cool, with The Dish being one of the highest trafficked blogs on the net. Sullivan describes his views as politically conservative — he supports a flat tax, privatizing social security, and supports free markets in health care. If you read him with 1995 in mind, you’d pretty much agree: he’s conservative. And he has developed conservative arguments against the use of torture, his opposition to capital punishment, his concerns over the growing influence of “Christianism” (as he distinguishes it from Christianity) in American politics, his grudging support for Obamacare, and his strident advocacy for same-sex marriage.

Because conservatism has changed to such a radical extent in America, those positions have opened him up to accusations of being a raving liberal. He supported George W. Bush in 2000, but went with Kerry, reluctantly, in 2004 over disagreement with Bush’s conduct of the wars and his position on the Federal Marriage Amendment. In 2008, Sullivan enthusiastically supported Obama and developed a fixation on Sarah Palin. He supported Obama again in 2012, and appears to have all but given up hope for a reformed GOP. In 2013, he took The Dish completely independent, financially and technically, from the Daily Beast.

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, August 9

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

A Very Special Pride Mention Goes Out To: Entebbe, Uganda. 

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, August 19, 1982, page 29.

From the Advocate, August 19, 1982, page 29.

The first games were held in San Francisco in 1982. They were originally to be titled the Gay Olympic Games, but the U.S. Olympic Committee sued and won a court order on August 9 (see below) blocking the games’ use of the word “Olympic.” Organizers spent the next three weeks furiously striking the word “Olympics” from their printed materials, making the events simply the Gay Games. They’ve been the Gay Games ever since. The Ninth Gay Games kick off today in Cleveland, Ohio, with track and field events also taking place in nearby Akron.

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a "Butch gal that had stars in her eyes."

An unknown, undated photo from Provincetown, from Esther Zidel, a “Butch gal that had stars in her eyes.”

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Provincetown Moves to Get Rid of the Gays: 1952. The following brief AP article appeared in papers nationwide:

Mass. Tourist Resort Acts to Halt Sex Perversion
Provincetown, Mass. — Selectmen of this Cape Cod mecca for summer tourists asked townspeople to support them in an attempt to rid the town of “a large homosexual element.”

The Selectmen’s action came after receipt of a letter from a summer visitor who said her two sons have become victims of a group whose meeting places, she said, are on the sand dunes in the daytime and at bars at night. She said she was leaving after 10 summers’ residence here.

There’s no mention of how the visitor’s sons became “victims” (or what they were doing in the bars at night). But at least now you know why there are no homosexuals in Provincetown anymore.

Kameny

Frank Kameny Becomes First Openly Gay Man to Speak Before a Congressional Committee: 1963. In yesterday’s episode, Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) had introduced legislation that singled out the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. to strip it of its financial solicitation permit that had been granted by city officials the year before under the Charitable Solicitations Act. Mattachine had qualified for the permit as an educational organization advocate for the end of laws against homosexuality and to advocate for laws to protect gay people from discrimination. The House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia had convened to hear testimony for Dowdy’s proposed legislation, but adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor just as Mattachine president Frank Kameny was about to speak.

When the subcommittee resumed, Dowdy declared that opposition to the bill that had been expressed the day before left him “shocked and speechless.” He then was joined by other committee members in demanding that Kameny turn over the Mattachine’s list of members, which Kameny refused to do. Dowdy then charged that the Mattachine Society, like the Communist Party, was a secret organization “dedicated to changing laws that were designed for the public good.” Kameny responded the Mattachine Society’s goal was, in fact, to legalize private acts between consenting adults. He also protested that the issue before the subcommittee was not the morality of homosexuality, but the right of the Society to advocate for gay people through “the legal exercise of its freedom of expression.” Dowdy exploded: “What kind of expression are you talking about? Are you taking about sexual expression?” He later added, “Down in my country if you call a man a queer or a fairy, the least you can expect is a black eye.” Kameny replied that even Texas had gay people. Dowdy retorted, “Maybe, but I never heard anyone brag about it.”

Kameny was joined by Monroe Freedman, a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s national policy, adopted six years earlier, placed the organization on record as supporting the constitutionality of sodomy laws, a position that it would maintain until 1967. Freedman emphasized that he didn’t necessarily support the Mattachine Society’s goals. “The issue,” he told the committee, “is not whether we agree with the aims of the Mattachine Society, but whether we are going to interfere with their right of free speech. The National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union is not concerned with the success of failure of the Society in presenting its views. It is concerned solely with its freedom of expression.” The committee then pressed Freedman for details of his own personal life and whether he was acting as the group’s lawyer. Seven times during the hearing he denied being a member or acting on behalf of the Society. Dowdy then asked Freedman whether his superiors at George Washington University knew he was defending the Society’s rights before the committee. “No,” Freedman replied after a long pause, “but I’m sure they will be before very much longer.”

Dowdy’s bill passed the House but died in the Senate. Kameny never turned over the Society’s membership list to Congress or anyone else, but he did relish the free publicity the hearings gave to his group, thanks to two days of coverage in Washington newspapers and a favorable editorial in the Washington Post.  As for Dowdy, he retired from Congress in 1973 following convictions on conspiracy, bribery and perjury charges.

Two posters: One with the "Gay Olympic Games" title intact, and one with the word "Olympic" blacked out.

Two posters: One with the “Gay Olympic Games” title intact, and one with the word “Olympic” blacked out.

USOC Blocks the Gay Olympics from Using the World “Olympic”: 1982. Dr. Tom Waddell got the idea for the Gay Olympics while running across a gay bowling tournament on television. He envisioned a quadrennial sports festival open to all, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, age, or skill level. He and a few friends formed the United States Gay Olympic Committee in 1980 and began making plans. Their first challenge however would illustrate one of the key problems that would dog the committee for the next two years. They tried to incorporate as the Golden State Olympic Association, but the state of California said they couldn’t use the word “Olympic” in the name. They incorporated instead as San Francisco Arts and Athletics, Inc.

Waddell then sought permission from the United States Olympic Committee in 1981 to use the word “Olympic.” At about the same time, the USOC got wind of the group’s plans and sent a letter demanding that the group stop using the word. Waddell at first agreed to to the USOC’s demands, but changed his mind after attorneys from the ACLU told him the USOC was on shaky legal ground. He resumed calling the event the Gay Olympics, and even got San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein to proclaim August 28 to September 5 the “Gay Olympics Games Week.” The USOC sued, claiming trademark infringement, and on August 9, the judge issued an injunctions prohibiting the San Francisco group from using the word “Olympic.”

Waddell was incredulous. Before a gathering of reporters, he listed the many other Olympics that didn’t raise the USOC’s ire: the Special Olympics, Wheelchair Olympics, Junior Olympics, Police Olympics, Armchair Olympics, Explorer Scout Olympics, Xerox Olympics, Rat Olympics Armenian Olympic, and a Crab Cooking Olympics. “The bottom line is that if I’m a rat, a crab, a copying machine or an Armenian, I can have my own Olympics. If I’m gay, I can’t.” Others were similarly surprised. Sports Illustrated pointed out the irony that “the ancient Olympics, an all-male event in which participants competed in the nude, was staged by a society in which homosexuality flourished. ”

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games' swimming events.

Athletes taking part in the 1982 Gay Games’ swimming events.

The games opened officially as the Gay Games, but Congressman Phillip Burton and San Francisco Supervisor Doris Ward defined the court order during the opening ceremony and called the games the Gay Olympics. The games themselves were a success, with 1,300 athletes from 12 countries participating.

Meanwhile the lawsuit made its way through the court system. The Federal District Judge not only found for the USOC, but ordered the SFAA to pay the USOC’s court costs. When the SFAA came up short, the USOC placed a lien on Waddell’s House. The SFAA appealed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, ruling that the USOC’s trademark ownership trumped the Gay Games’ First Amendment rights to the word “Olympic.” The case finally made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on June 25, 1987, upheld the USOC’s trademark in a 7-2 decision, and ruled for the USOC on the SFAA’s Equal Protection claim in a 5-4 decision. Waddell died sixteen days later of AIDS. After he died, the USOC finally lifted its lien against his house.

Eileen Gray, with the Bibendum chair and the E1027 table.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Eileen Gray: 1878-1976. She was born the youngest of five children to an aristocratic family near Enniscorthy in southeastern Ireland. Her father was a painter who encouraged his children’s artistry and independence. Eileen studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, and in 1900 she went to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where she became enthralled with the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. She then moved to Paris to continue her studies and became immersed in lacquer design in particular, and in designing furnishings in general.

One of the many projects she collaborated on was the design of a modern home called E-1027. That 1924 project is where her most famous design, the E1027 table, emerged. It was also during this period when she mixed in lesbian company in Paris, while she herself was bisexual. But her life and her work was interrupted by World War II, and when she returned to Paris at war’s end, she led a mostly reclusive life. Much of her work was forgotten until 1968, when a magazine article revived interest in her work. The E1027 table, along with the Bibendum Chair and several other of her designs, went into production once again and became modern furniture classics. She died in Paris in 1976. In 2009, an armchair she designed between 1917 and 1919 was sold at auction for over $28 million, setting an auction record for 20th century decorative art.

Amanda Bearse: 1958. The director and comedienne is best known for her role as the highly annoying Marcy D’Arcy on Married… with Children, which ran on Fox between 1987 and 1997. She also appeared in a few films, including 1985′s Fright Night and 1995′s Here Come the Munsters. But it was during her time on Married… With Children that she was able to indulge her interest in TV and film directing. She wound up directing more than 30 episodes from 1991 to 1997, and she also directed episodes of more than a dozen other television sit-coms since then.

When she came out publicly in 1993 in an interview for The Advocate for National Coming Out Day, she became the first prime time actress to do so. She described it as a liberating experience. “I know that sounds sort of clichéd, but it really was very liberating. That one thing, that one big secret is out. For a lot of people, it was just a confirmation of what they thought about me. I mean, I look like the girl next door, but I was always kind of off-center.”

55 YEARS AGO: Michael Kors: 1959. The American designer of women’s sportswear launched his namesake line at the precocious age of 22 for Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and other top line department stores. In 1997, he became the creative director for the French fashion house Celine, but left six years later to focus on his own line, a move that has paid off handsomely. He dressed a trove of celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Catharine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Garner, Joan Allen, and Alicia Keys. Michelle Obama wore his black sleeveless dress for her official portrait as First Lady. He added menswear to his collection in 2002.

Kors had been a judge for the Bravo reality television series Project Runway, but he decided to leave after ten seasons. Kors married his partner, Lance LePere, in August 2011 in New York.

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, August 8

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

From ONE magazine, May 1955, page 23.

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Congress Holds Hearings on Mattachine Society: 1963. “If these people are a charitable organization promoting homosexuality, I’ve grown up in a wrong age,” Rep. John Dowdy (D-TX) said as the House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia opened hearings on a bill to strip the Mattachine Society of Washington of its fundraising permit. The permit had been award to the group by D.C. officials in August 1962 when the group demonstrated that it qualified for the permit under the Charitable Solicitations Act. Mattachine president Frank Kameny (see May 21) then sent a statement to members of Congress along with excerpts from the Society’s constitution. Noting that gays were barred from federal employment, military service and security-sensitive positions in the private sector, Kameny blasted federal laws as “archaic, unrealistic, and inconsistent with basic American principles. … Policies of repression, persecution, and exclusion will not prove to be workable ones in the case of this minority, any more than they have, throughout history, in the case of other minorities.”

Kameny’s letter ended with an offer to meet with members of Congress. Dowdy, instead, introduced a bill in July which specifically singled out the Mattachine Society for revocation of its permit. A second section of the bill would provide that no solicitation permits could be issued unless the District’s Commissioners determined that the “solicitation which would be authorized by such certificate would benefit or assist in promoting the health, welfare and morals of the District of Columbia.”

During the subcommittee’s hearing on August 8, city officials joined the District Republican Committee in opposing the measure on constitutional grounds. Dowdy was indignant at the opposition. “You contrast that with permitting the solicitation of funds for perversion and morality. Which is more important to the community?” Noting that Congress had passed laws designed to curb the Communist Party, he continued, “As far as I know, all the security risks that have deserted the United States have been homosexuals. Do you place them on a higher plane than communists?” Rep. Basil Whitener (D-NC) joined the fray, asking if the Commissioners “want to repeal the section of the Criminal Code dealing with sodomy.” Kameny was also there. He was just beginning to read a prepared statement when the hearing was suddenly adjourned due to a quorum call on the House floor. His testimony would resume the following day.

a-liebenthal-wojnarowicz

David Wojnarowicz (see Sep 14)

David Wojnarowicz Successfully Sues the American Family Association: 1990. The University of Illinois art gallery hosted a retrospective of David Wojnarowicz’s collages called Sex Series, in which, interspersed among larger scenes depicting social control and violence, were smaller images of sexual activity. While the series was called, Sex Series, the sexual content was hardly the point. “The images I use are just naked bodies, sometimes engaged in explicit sex acts,” he explained. “I know that they are loaded images but I’m not just putting sex images on a wall, I’m surrounding them with information that reverberates against whatever the image sparks in people.”

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon's flyer. Click to enlarge.

Untitled, from Sex Series, 1990. The small image at the upper right corner depicting a man performing oral sex on another man appeared in Wildmon’s flyer. Click to enlarge.

A $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts paid for part of the cost of the show’s catalogue. Shortly after the show closed, the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon sent out about 200,000 flyers to Congressional representatives, Christian radio stations, and AFA supporters, titled “Your Tax Dollars Helped Pay For These ‘Works of Art’,” with fourteen images identified as Wojnarowicz’s “works of art.” The “works” were actually small, selected details from the Sex Series, cut from the context of the larger images and the overall work. The flyer also included a small detail of another of Wojnarowicz’s 1979 collage Genet. That detail depicted Christ shooting up with a needle and tourniquet. To add to the mailing’s drama, the flyer was sealed in a separate envelope marked “Caution — Contains Extremely Offensive Material.”

In the process, Wildmon effectively became a collage artist in his own right, appropriating isolated details of images from Wojnarowicz’s works to create a separate work of his own. That was the basis Wojnarowicz’s lawsuit, charging Wildmon with slander and copyright infringement. In his court affidavit, Wojnarowicz charged that “the images represented in the Pamphlet to be my work have been so severely mutilated that I could not consider them my own.” He also told the Washington Post that the AFA had “creat(ed) pieces of their own. They’re not even my pieces, when they’ve gotten through with them.”

CheckIn David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association and Donald E. Wildmon, Federal District Judge William C. Connor ruled in Wojnarowicz’s favor. The Judge ordered the AFA to send a “corrective mailing,” as approved by the Court, to everyone the sent the original pamphlet to, explaining the misleading nature of the original mailing. But because Wojnarowicz was unable to demonstrate any financial repercussions stemming from the AFA’s mailing, the judge only awarded him damages of $1. It would be the first time that an artist successfully sued a right-wing organization. Wojnarowicz insisted on a hand-signed check from Don Wildmon personally, with the idea of using the check in a future collage. Wojnarowicz never found a suitable work for the check, but he never cashed it either. Today, that check is housed in the Special Collections of the Fales Library at New York University.

[Source: Richard Meyer. Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002): 255-261.]

Rudi Gernreich

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Rudi Gernreich: 1922-1985. The in Vienna, the only child of a well-to-do Jewish family, he was already drawn to fashion when, on a 1924 family trip to Italy, as he later remembered, “I trailed around after a lady who was obviously of ill repute. . . . Her attire was outrageous, and I was terribly attracted to her.” Back home, he was already spending a lot of time at his aunt’s dress shop, drawing designs and learning about fabrics. His father committed suicide in 1938, and when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, Rudi and his mother fled to California. At sixteen, he took a job in a mortuary, washing bodies. “I grew up overnight,” he later recalled. “I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy.”

He began studying art at Los Angeles City College and the Los Angeles Art Center School, but soon abandoned art for dance and joined Lester Horton’s dance troupe. He danced and made costumes for the company, while also freelancing as a fabric designer for Hoffman California Woolens. His work with the dance company would also be influential later, as it taught him about how clothing moves on a body.

It was at about this time that Gernreich entered a brief foray into gay rights. In 1950, he began a relationship with Harry Hay (see Apr 7). Gernreich had just been convicted in an entrapment case, and so he was eager to become one of the five founding members of the Mattachine Society later that year (see Nov 11). But Gernreich never came out publicly. In 1952, he met his partner, Oreste Pucciani, who was chairman of UCLA’s French Department (and who was instrumental in popularizing Sarte among American academics), and the two remained partners for the rest of Gernreich’s life. By 1953, Gernreich had dropped out of the Mattachine Society just as his fashion career started to take off.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich's favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Peggy Moffitt, Gernrich’s favorite model, in the Monokini, 1964.

Gernreich’s approach to fashion can be seen as am unrelenting campaign to free women from the constraints of traditional sex roles as well as the literally constraints clothing placed on women’s bodies. He invented the idea of unisex clothing for men and women. He also designed the first t-shirt dresses, see-through blouses, and thong bathing suits. While most of his designs — their bright colors, their innovative fabrics and patterns, and their easy comfort — were highly influential trendsetters in the 1960s, his more famous designs were those which involved draping women in less rather than more. Writing for the New York Times, Christopher Petkanas remarked, “When Gernreich designed a mini, he meant it.” His 1964 inventions — a topless bathing suit he called a Monokini, and an unpadded see-through bra called the “no bra” — presaged the braless and topless women’s liberation movement almost a decade later. But they also looked downright Victorian when, twenty years later, he invented the Pubikini, with a low-cut “V” to reveal that down there. That came out just four weeks before he died of lung cancer. Pucciani, who survived him, created an endowment in Gernreich’s memory to the American Civil Liberties Union for the advancement of gay rights.

Randy Shilts: 1951-1994. The pioneering gay journalist came out relatively early, while still in college at the age of 20, when he ran for student government with the slogan “Come Out for Shilts.” That was in 1971, when coming out was still something of a novelty. It also meant that when he graduated at the top of his class in 1975, he had trouble finding a job. After working freelance, including several articles he wrote for The Advocate which was then a Los Angeles-based monthly newspaper, Shilts was finally hired in 1981 by the San Francisco Chronicle as perhaps the first openly gay reporter in the American mainstream press. The following year, he published The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, the critically acclaimed biography of the slain San Francisco Supervisor and personal friend, Harvey Milk.

When he went to work for the Chronicle, he was given the gay beat. But this quickly proved to be no ordinary ghetto beat, because that very same year a new disease was stalking the gay community. Shilts would wind up devoting much of his career to covering the disease and its impact on medicine, politics, society and, specifically, the gay community itself. His second book, 1987′s And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic brought him international fame. While Shilts was praised for bringing attention to the AIDS crisis, he was also criticized for popularizing the mythology surrounding “patient zero,” an Air Canada flight attendant by the name of Gaëtan Dugas, who was unfairly portrayed as the central figure in bringing AIDS to America. Shilts’s book didn’t make that allegation directly, but Shilts’s naming Dugas as patient zero turned him into the book’s villain. In 2013, Shilts’s editor admitted that he convinced Shilts to make Dugas the “first AIDS monster” as an attention-getting literary device.

“We lowered ourselves to yellow journalism. My publicist told me, ‘Sex, death, glamour, and, best of all, he is a foreigner, that would be the icing on the cake,’” said Shilts’ editor, Michael Denneny, in an interview. “That was the only way we could get them to pay attention. … Randy hated the idea. It took me almost a week to argue him into it.”

It worked. When the book first came out, the New York Times, Newsweek and other publications said they weren’t interested in reviewing a book that criticized the Reagan administration’s and medical establishment’s response to the AIDS crisis. But when new publicity materials focused on Dugas as  “the Quebecois version of Typhoid Mary,” as Shilts called him, the New York Post jumped all over it with the headline, “The Man Who Gave Us AIDS.” And the Band Played On shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for five weeks, and was nominated for a National Book Award. Despite criticisms of its treatment of Dugas, And the Band Played On proved to be a monumentally important work. Before its release, AIDS activists and researchers struggled to draw attention to the growing epidemic. The book is credited for adding thousands to the growing AIDS activist movement, and it remains one of most essential documents of the early political history of the AIDS epidemic in America.

Shilt’s third book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, was released in 1993, just as the fight over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was heating up. But by then, Shilts was already ill from the disease he covered in And the Band Played On. In fact, he had been tested for HIV while writing And the Band Played On, but he declined to be told the result, concerned that knowing it would interfere with his objectivity. He became ill with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a common opportunistic disease, in 1992, and developed Kaposi’s sarcoma a year later. He dictated the last chapter of Conduct Unbecoming from his hospital bed, but he lived long enough to see that book make it to print and to see And the Band Played On made into an HBO movie. He died in 1994.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 7

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the journal Medical Era, Chicago, 1901.

From the journal Medical Era, Chicago, 1901.

How’s that for a Throwback Thursday?

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Philadelphia’s Homophile Action League Founded: 1968. Five months had passed since Philadelphia police raided Rusty’s, a bar that was popular with local Lesbians (see Mar 8). The Daughters of Bilites had organized a chapter in the City of Brotherly Love the year before, and chapter members were furious at their treatment during the raid. They were eager to directly confront the city’s political establishment, but the national organization’s rules dictated that the national board had to approve of all activities deemed “political,” especially if they involved protests. Ada Bello recalled, “It was difficult to get authorization from the administration of DOB. We couldn’t find the president — remember, it was before cell phones and email — and we felt that it was hampering our ability to react… And so we thought, ‘Why not start another organization — one whose middle name is Action!’” On August 7, 1968, the Philadelphia DOB chapter voted to dissolve itself and re-form as the Homophile Action League, or HAL. Bello and Carole Friedman announced the organization’s purpose in the first HAL newsletter:

This newly formed group, open to both men and women, has adopted the name “Homophile Action League,” and has as its main purpose “to strive to change society’s legal, social and scientific attitudes toward the homosexual in order to achieve justified recognition of the homosexual as a first class citizen and a first class human being. … “We are not a social group. We do not intend to concentrate our energies on “uplifting” the homosexual community, for such efforts would be sadly misplaced. It is our firm conviction that it is the heterosexual community which is badly in need of uplifting.

Pioneering gay rights advocate Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), who later joined HAL, recalled that “there hadn’t been any really concerted effort on the political scene until HAL was organized and began to attract some men.” HAL would become the main representative of the gay community to the city’s power brokers until the early 1970s, when it would, in turn, be displaced by the more aggressive Gay Liberation Front.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
James Randi: 1928. Known as “The Amazing Randi,” the Canadian-born magician turned debunker took up magic while spending thirteen months in a body cast following a bicycle accident. He dropped out of school at 17 to join the carnival circuit and performed as a psychic in Toronto nightclubs. But when he recognized that some of the tricks of the trade were being presented as supernatural, he decided to blow the lid off of the scams.

Among his earlier revelations was in the late 1960s, when he “wrote” a successful astrological column by cutting up other astrological columns and randomly assigning those predictions to astrological signs and dates. In 1972, Randi seized the skeptics’ spotlight by publicly challenging the claims of Uri Geller, a popular performer of the television talk show circuit, famous for supposedly bending spoons telepathically. Randi claimed Geller used standard magic tricks to perform his paranormal feats and demonstrated how Geller performed his stunts. Geller sued Randi for $15 million for defamation, and lost.

Randi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, later renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Over the years, he has tackled psychics, UFOs, faith healers, psychic surgeons, and other charlatans. In one bizarre episode, a believer in psychic phenomenon refused to be persuaded and tried to turn the tables on Randi. When Randi was demonstrating Geller’s spoon-bending tricks, an audience member shouted, “You’re a fraud because you’re pretending to do these things through trickery, but you’re actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it.” An atheist, Randi has a special empathy for victims of religious scams and faith healers, and was instrumental in exposing W.V. Grant, Earnest Angley, and Peter Popoff, who Randi exposed live on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show in 1986.

Randi became a U.S. citizen in 1987. Since then, he’s recovered from two major bouts with cancer, and in 2010 he came out as gay after seeing the 2008 biopic Milk. During an appearance at an annual skeptics’ convention in 2013, Randi announced that he and his partner of 27 years had just gotten married in Washington D.C.

Christian Chávez: 1983. Fans of Mexican telenovelas will recognize him as Giovanni Méndez López in the 2004-2006 series Rebelde. The plot centered around a group of high school students at a private boarding school in Mexico City who formed a pop band. Several cast members including Chávez went on to form a real two-time Latin Grammy nominated band known as RBD.

In March 2007, a magazine published photos of Chávez getting married to his Canadian boyfriend. He promptly acknowledged his homosexuality, asking his fans for their understanding and acceptance. But in true pop music fashion, Chávez and his husband divorced in 2009 after an apparently stormy two years, complete with rumors of domestic violence.

In 2013, Los Angeles Real Estate Agent Ben Kruger, who had been dating Chávez for at least a year, called 911 and obtained a restraining order after reporting that Chávez had tried to kill him with a knife during a domestic altercation. The ensuing publicity led to Univision’s decision to scuttle a planned talk show that Chávez was to host. Later that year, Chávez tweeted photos and posted on YouTube in which he said that he had attempted suicide. Soon after, Kruger released details about their relationship which included drug abuse, violence, suicide attempts and financial problems.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 6

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
eb92466a-2e7c-4249-b111-fb3f78dd3470Six Marriage Cases at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: Cincinnati, OH. A three-judge pane of the Sixth Circuit Court will hear six — count ‘em, six! — marriage appeals today in a marathon session. All four states in the Sixth Circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — have marriage cases on appeals, and the Sixth Circuit apparently decided it was more efficient to give all six cases to the same three-judge panel since they all would likely touch on many of the same legal principles. Those cases will go before Federal Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey (a Clinton appointee), Jeffrey S. Sutton, and Deborah L. Cook (both are George W. Bush appointees).

The biggest case is the one from Michigan, where that state’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional in March. That ruling was doubly satisfying because of Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman’s thorough thrashing of Mark Regnerus’s discredited Witherspoon-funded“study” which purported to show that children of gay couples fared worse than other children. That $700,0000 study was supposed to be marriage equality opponents’ ace in the hole, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Oral arguments for DeBoer v. Snyder are scheduled for one hour, with thirty minutes allotted for each side.

Next up will be the two Ohio cases, Obergefell v. Himes and Henry v. Himes, which have been consolidated for the appeal. In the cases, the State of Ohio is appealing two lower court decisions requiring Ohio to recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death and birth certificates. Each side has been allotted thirty minutes. After that, the panel will hear the two consolidated cases from Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, which found Kentucky’s ban on recognizing or allowing same-sex marriages unconstitutional. For those cases, the panel has allowed fifteen minutes per side. And finally, the panel will hear Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam, which also required Tennessee to recognize out-of-state marriages. Those two sides were also allotted fifteen minutes each. All of this gets underway at 1:00 p.m. EDT at the Potter Stewart Federal Courthouse in Cincinnati.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Antwerp, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Madgeburg, Germany; Madison, WI; Malmö, Sweden; Mannheim, Germany; Moscow, ID; New Westminster, BC; Plymouth, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santa Ana, CA; Swindon, UK; Toronto, ON (Leather Pride); Wilkes-Barre, PA; Windsor, ON.

Other Events This Weekend: Northalsted Market Days, Chicago, IL; Gay Games 9, Cleveland, OH; Gay Games 9 Rodeo, Cleveland, OH; Rendezvous LGBT Campout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

Indy’s self-described “hottest bar” in 1982 is still hopping today as Downtown Olly’s a gay bar with drag shows by the Ollywood Divas.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Plymouth Colony Convicts Two Men Of “Lewd Behavior and Unclean Carriage”: 1637. The crime wasn’t sodomy — that required proof of penetration — but it was shocking nevertheless. From the official record:

John Allexander & Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lewd behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another, which was proved both by witness & their own confession; the said Allexander [was] found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto. The said John Allexander was therefore censured [sentenced] by the Court to be severely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder with a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished [from] the government [territory] of New Plymouth, and if he be at any time found within the same, to be whipped out again by the appointment [order] of the next justice, etc., and so as oft as he shall be found within this government. Which penalty was accordingly inflicted.

Thomas Roberts was censured to be severley whipped, and to return to his master, Mr. Atwood, and serve out his time with him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands within this government, except he manifest better desert.

[Source: William B. Rubenstein. Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Law (New York: New Press, 1993): 47-53.]

A Case Of Adhesiveness “So Excessive, As To Amount To a Disease”: 1836. Today we recognize phrenology as a pseudoscience, but in the late 1700s the attempt to map various human characteristics to different regions of the brain was notable for two things: 1) it reflected a growing realization among scientists that all of those things associated with the mind — thoughts, feelings, and emotions — were actually products of the brain rather than the heart, eyes or gut; and 2) it reflected a growing understanding that the brain wasn’t just a lump of homogenous gelatinous tissue, but was organized in some kind of a structure with specialized functions taking place in different regions of the brain.

In these ways, phrenology set the stage for the later development of neuroscience and psychiatry. But until then, it also became the basis for some strange and sometimes dangerous beliefs, particularly the belief that the shape of a person’s skull could reveal that individual’s intelligence and character. In some cases, these beliefs took on racial and nationalistic tones, as the skulls of South Asians and Africans were compared with various European skulls and found to be deficient in the eyes of many phrenologists.

The theories behind phrenology were first articulated by the German physician Franz Joseph Gall, who described the process of reading the shape of an individual’s skull to ascertain that person’s strengths and weaknesses. Gall’s collaborator, Johann Spurzheim carried Gall’s theories to England and Scotland in a series of lectures. Scottish lawyer George Crombe, whose interest in phrenology was based on the desire to understand what made criminals criminal, brought those lectures to the general public’s attention when he founded the Phrenological Society in 1823. Between the Society’s Phrenological Journal and Crombe’s best-selling books, Elements of Phrenology (1824), and The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects (1828), he drew attention to the emerging science from both professionals as well as in the popular press.

Robert Macnish’s phrenology chart, from his 1837 book, An Introduction to Phrenology. (Click to enlarge.)

Among those drawn to the new “science” was a young Scottish surgeon, Dr. Robert Macnish. In 1837 he published An Introduction to Phrenology, which was both a paean to the “genius of Gall,” and a vigorous defense of Gall’s controversial theories. Macnish would wind up being a minor figure in phrenology, owing to his early death (unmarried) at the age of 38 that same year. But because Macnish provides us with the earliest description of what we would now recognize as homosexuality in a medical journal in 1836 — and we’ll get to that in a moment — his views on phrenology are particularly relevant. Macnish’s book, much like a catechism, is organized as a series of questions and answers. Here, in laying out the foundation of the theories of Phrenology, he explained how the brain was organized:

There is irresistible evidence to demonstrate that the brain is not a single organ, but in reality a congeries of organs, so intimately blended, however, as to appear one. Each of these is the seat of a particular mental faculty; so that, as the whole mind acts through the medium of the whole brain, so does each faculty of the mind act through the medium of a certain portion of the brain. Thus, there is a part appropriated to the faculty of Tune, another to that of Imitation, and so on through the whole series. The brain, in short, as Dr. Spurzheim observes, “is not a simple unit, but a collection of many peculiar instruments.”

These “instruments” were called “organs” or “faculties.” If a particular organ was especially well-developed, then the area of the skull corresponding to that organ would be enlarged, perhaps as a bulge or a lump. A deficiently developed organ would correspond to a smaller area, perhaps an indentation or a recessed area. By conducting a full “reading” in which precise measurements were made for each of the organs (Macnish listed 35 such organs; some phrenologists listed as many as 95), an individual’s entire intellectual, emotional and moral fitness could be determined.

Detail of Macnish’s phrenology chart, showing the locations of Amativeness (1), Philoprogenitiveness (2), and Adhesiveness (4).

Two particular organs hold special interest to those who would look for evidence of homosexuality in history, since that particular word did not exist back then (see May 6). To find the first organ of interest, reach back and place your fingers on your upper neck at the base of your scull. Now move outward toward your ears. Feel those two bumps on either side of your skull? Those constitute the organ of Amativeness, which — and I’ll bet you didn’t know this — is the source of your sex drive. Or as Macnish explained, “the seat of the amative propensity”:

This point is now universally admitted by physiologists, and is supported by so many facts that it can no longer be doubtful. The effects of cerebellar disease in calling the sexual feeling into vehement action, demonstrate conclusively that the latter has its seat in the particular part of brain alluded to. The great purpose served by Amativeness is the continuance of the species.

…(I)t is generally very full in those unfortunate females who walk the streets, and gain a livelihood by prostitution. In what are called “ladies’ men” the organ is small. These individuals feel towards women precisely as they would to one of their own sex. Women intuitively know this, and acquire a kind of easy familiarity with them which they do not attain with men of a warmer complexion.

So already you can see that this is the first organ we would want to pay attention to.

Now, from Amativeness, run your fingers upward and inward toward the back center of your skull, at roughly a 45 degree angle. Feel where your skull sticks out furthest out the back? That is Philoprogenitiveness. Macnish wrote that its function was “(t)o bestow an ardent attachment to offspring, and children in general; and, according to some phrenologists, to weak and tender animals.” Phrenologists believed that Philoprogenitiveness was generally better developed in women than in men, as evidenced by their maternal instinct. Now move your fingers upward and outward. You may notice a pair of smaller bulges forming a kind of a corner of your skull. These two bulges collectively are the organ of Adhesiveness, and this is the second organ that we would want to pay close attention to. Macnish explained Adhesiveness this way:

(It) is that portion of the brain with which the feeling of attachment is connected. No faculty, save Destructiveness, is displayed more early than this: it is exhibited even by the infant in the nurse’s arms. When very strong, it gives ardent strength of attachment and warmth of friendship.

Does this faculty constitute love?

Not strictly speaking; for love, in the legitimate sense of the word, is a compound of Amativeness and Adhesiveness. Such is the love which the lover bears to his mistress, and the husband to his young wife. The attachment of a parent to his child, or of a brother to his sister, is not, in reality, love, but strong Adhesiveness—powerfully aided, in the former case, by Philoprogenitiveness.

Is this faculty more energetic in men or women?

Generally in the latter; although in men there are not wanting instances of the most violent attachments, even towards their own sex. Such is represented to have been the case with Pylades and Orestes, and with Damon and Pythias, whose attachment to each other (the result of excessive Adhesiveness) defied even death itself. What beautiful pictures of friendship between men, have been drawn by Homer, by Virgil, and by the sacred writers, in the instances of Achilles and Patroclus, of Nisus and Euryalus, and of Jonathan and David!

Dr. Robert Macnish

If an individual’s Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness and Adhesiveness were well-developed — and by that I mean if all of those bulges were prominent — then a happy and fulfilling family life was assured. But if, for example, a person’s Amativeness was deficient but his Adhesiveness was prominent, then you might have a situation that Macnish briefly described in the August 6, 1836 edition of the journal The Lancet. As far as I know, this single paragraph is the earliest description of romantic love between two men to appear in a English-language medical journal:

ADHESIVENESS. — I knew two gentlemen whose attachment to each other was so excessive, as to amount to a disease. When the one visited the other, they slept in the same bed, sat constantly alongside of each other at table, spoke in affectionate whispers, and were, in short, miserable when separated. The strength of their attachment was shown, by the uneasiness, amounting to jealousy, with which the one surveyed any thing approaching to tenderness and kindness, which the other might show to a third party. This violent excitement of adhesiveness continued for some years, but gradually exhausted itself, or at least abated to something like a natural or healthy feeling. Such attachments are, however, much more common among females than among the other sex. — Dr. Macnish.

Macnish wasn’t the only one to associate an overdeveloped Adhesiveness, when accompanied by an underdeveloped Amativeness, with what we would today recognize as homosexuality. Phrenology was immensely popular in the United States through much of the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, with Walt Whitman one of its devotes. In Democratic Vistas (1871), Whitman spoke of “adhesive love, at least rivaling the amative love.” When Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855, he called phrenologists “the lawgiver of poets” in his introduction, and he scattered phrenological terms and concepts throughout his poetry, like these lines from “Song of the Open Road”:

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

[Sources: George Crombe. Elements of Phrenology 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

George Crombe. The Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects 7th ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson, Jr., 1828). Available online at Google Books here.

Robert Macnish. An Introduction to Phrenology 2nd ed. (Glasgow: John Symington & Co., 1837). Available online at Archive.org here.]

Bunny Breckenridge

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
John “Bunny” Breckinridge: 1903-1996. Independently wealthy, he was the great grandson of U.S. vice president John Breckinridge and the founder of Wells Fargo Back Lloyd Tevis. He was born in Paris and studied at Eton College and Oxford University. Gravitating toward acting, he performed in Shakespeare in England before moving to San Francisco in the late 1920s. He had all of the advantages that life could offer, but today the one thing he is the most known for would have to be his appearance as “The Ruler” in Ed Wood’s 1956 film Plan 9 From Outer Space. The film featured Los Angeles late-night television movie host Vampira and the narcotics-addled Bela Lugosi, the latter made possible by scenes spliced into the film which had been shot for another abandoned project shortly before Lugosi died. The film was so bad it remained unreleased until 1959 because distributor after distributor refused to take it on. Michael Medved named it “The Worst Film Ever” in his 1981 book, The Golden Turkey Awards. Despite, or perhaps because of, that nomination, Plan 9 has somehow managed to become a camp classic, although copious amounts of alcohol is generally considered a requirement to render the film tolerable.

Breckenridge lived the sort of life for whom the word “eccentric” was coined. He became a drag queen in Paris in 1927, where he married the daughter of a reputed French countess. The couple had a daugher, then divorced in 1929, and he moved to the U.S. Two decades later, as all of America was riveted over the news of Christine Jorensen’s gender re-assignment surgery (see May 30), Breckenridge decided to give it a whirl. He announced plans in 1954 to go to Denmark for the surgery so he could marry his then-boyfriend, but those plans fell apart when a Judge in San Francisco ordered him to make good on an earlier agreement to financially support his elderly blind mother. He then decided to go to Mexico for a less expensive operation, but a car accident scotched those plans. I’ll let Bill Murray, who played Breckenridge in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic Ed Wood, take it from there:

Shortly after the Plan 9′s release, Breckenridge was arrested for taking two underage boys on a trip to Las Vegas. That landed him in the Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for about a year. After his release, he returned to San Francisco and continued to appear in small local stage productions. He also continued to maintain another home in New Jersey. By the time he became famous again thanks to Burton’s Ed Wood, he was too ill to take part in any publicity events. He died four years later in a Monterey nursing home at the age of 93.

Here’s a clip of the real Bunny Breckenridge from Plan 9:

You can also torture yourself with the full movie here.

Andy Warhol: 1928-1987. He didn’t invent pop art, but it is more his brand than anyone else’s. Andrej Varhola was born to working class Lemko/Ukrainian immigrants in Pittsburgh, and attended an Eastern Rite Byzantine Catholic Church. Maybe it was the religious icons that filled the church which inspired him to make icons of ordinary things and extraordinary people. Brillo pads and soup cans were more than their mere packages after his treatment, electric chairs became sculptures of transcendent mystery, and Marylin Monroe and Jacqui Onassis became the Madonnas and St. Catherines of the modern era. Even the white-haired wig he wore later in life became an icon of his personality. “I love Los Angeles,” he once said. “I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Warhol’s personal life was as scandalous as his films and artwork. In 1968, he was shot by Valerie Solanas, a minor artist working off and on at Wahol’s studio The Factory, and very nearly died. But he would go on to live two more decades, and he remained a devout Catholic, attending Mass nearly daily. When he died after complications from gallbladder surgery, he was buried in Pittsburgh following a traditional Eastern Rite funeral. His will left virtually his entire estate for the establishment of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which is one of the the largest grant-making foundations for visual arts in the U.S. And if you ever visit Pittsburgh without stopping in to the Andy Warhol Museum, then I don’t even want to know you.

Angie Zapata: 1989-2008. She died too young at only eighteen when she was savagely beaten to death by Allen Andrade, first with his fists and then with a fire extinguisher to the head. They had met through a social networking site and spent three days together, including one sexual encounter, before Andrade found out that Angie was transgender. In his murder trial, Andrade’s lawyer posed the trans-panic defense, saying that Andrade beat Angie after she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman”. That, according to Andrade’s lawyer, was a “highly provoking act.” The jury didn’t buy it fortunately, and Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder with hate crime enhancements, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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

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

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