Gay History – May 4th: Sir Francis Bacon Was A Top, Roaring 20’s Bottom Therapy, and Christine Jorgenson
May 3, 1621 – Sir Simonds D’Ewes published his political biography of Sir Francis Bacon, in which he accuses the great lawyer, scholar of “his most abominable and darling sin.” D’Ewes continued, “I should rather bury in silence than mention it, were it not a most admirable instance of how men are enslaved by wickedness and held captive by the devil.” D’Ewes accused Bacon of “keeping still one Godrick, a very effeminate-faced youth, to be his catamite and bedfellow… deserting the bed of his Lady.” That same year, Bacon resigned as Lord Chancellor over accusations that he accepted payment from litigants, which, while against the law, was a widespread and accepted practice at the time. He quickly confessed to accepting payments, a confession that may have been prompted by threats to charge him with the capital offense of sodomy.
May 3, 1921 – Dr. Clarence P. Oberndorf, a New York City psychoanalyst, spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Medical Society of the State of New York in Brooklyn about one of his patients, a 74-year-old Civil War veteran who suffered from depression, saying “For sixty years I have been leading a double life.” He became aware of his feelings for other men at a very early age. “He preferred rough, coarse men, like longshoremen, husky and full of vitality. These he sought at intervals, while his acquaintances knew him as a refined gentleman interested in art and literature.” He never married. Oberndorf quoted tim: “In my younger days, I used to grieve because of my affliction, but in later years I have become indifferent.”
Oberndorf’s goal was not to cure homosexuality per se. “Where treatment is undertaken for passive homoerotism in the male,” — active homosexuals, or “tops,” were not considered truly homosexual in the early 20th century — “psychoanalysis may powerfully influence the attitude of the patient toward his malady by removing some of the urgent neurotic fears which accompany the inversion. After analysis such an invert at least feels himself more reconciled to his passive homoeroticism than previously. I have had male passive homoerotics seek treatment with just such stipulations — not to be cured but to be made more content with their lives.”
May 3, 1912 – Writer May Sarton is born in Wendelgem, Belgium. The writer of some of the most lyric poetry of the 20th century. Satron didn’t see herself as a “lesbian” writer, instead wanting to touch on what is universally human about love in all its manifestations. When publishing her novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing in 1965, she feared that writing openly about lesbianism would lead to a diminution of the previously established value of her work. “The fear of homosexuality is so great that it took courage to write a novel about a woman homosexual who is not a sex maniac, a drunkard, a drug-taker, or in any way repulsive” wrote Sarton in Journal of a Solitude. After the book’s release, many of Sarton’s works began to be studied in university level Women’s Studies classes, being embraced by feminists and lesbians alike
May 3, 1989 – Christine Jorgenson, pioneering transsexual, dies of cancer at age sixty-two. Jorgensen was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.
Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx area of New York and upon returning to New York after military service and increasingly concerned over (as one obituary called it at the time) her “lack of male physical development” Jorgensen heard about sex reassignment surgery, and began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own. She researched the subject with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, a husband of one of Jorgensen’s friends.
Jorgensen had intended to go to Sweden, where at the time the only doctors in the world performing this surgery were located. During a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, however, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen stayed in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger’s direction, was allowed to begin hormone replacement therapy. She then got special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo the series of operations for sex re-assignment
Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Hamburger and she became the most famous and outspoken figures and for transsexual and transgender community.