Today In Gay History November 1st: That Certain Summer, The Children’s Hour, The Gay Games, and Ally McBeal
1932: The New York Times reviews the play “Incubator,” which dealt with the consequences of homosexuality in an all-male school.
1934 – Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour opens on Broadway. The drama is set in an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. An angry student, Mary Tilford, runs away from the school and to avoid being sent back she tells her grandmother that the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair. The accusation proceeds to destroy the women’s careers, relationships and lives.
In the 2nd film version made in 1961 starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn in the 1996 documentary film The Celluloid Closet, MacLaine said that she and Audrey Hepburn never talked about their characters’ alleged homosexuality. She also claimed that Director William Wyler cut some scenes hinting at Martha’s love for Karen because of concerns about critical reaction to the film
1937: Dr. Tom Waddell a gay Olympic Deathlon athlete and founder of the Gay Games is born. Originally named the Gay Olympics in 1982 the international sporting event was later renamed the Gay Games after the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sued Waddell for using the word “Olympic” in the original name.
Tom Waddell died from AIDS on July 11, 1987, aged 49, in San Francisco, California. His last words were “Well, this should be interesting.” His battle against HIV/AIDS is one of the subjects of the award-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
1948: WMCA, a radio station in New York, broadcast a show in response to a letter from a man who was arrested after a police officer made advances. A judge who was a guest stated that the author of the letter had no right to complain about the entrapment and that police should use such tactics to weed out homosexuals.
1972: The landmark TV movie That Certain Summer airs, starring Hal Holbrooke and Martin Sheen as a gay couple who reveal their relationship to Holbrooke’s teen son.
In an interview with the Dallas Voice, Martin Sheen reminisced, “I thought it was wonderful. There was a great deal of freedom in it because it wasn’t about advocating a lifestyle or a sexuality. It was about two people who adored each other, and they weren’t allowed to have a relationship that involved their sexuality.” When asked if at the time he was concerned the role could affect his career, he responded, “I’d robbed banks and kidnapped children and raped women and murdered people, you know, in any number of shows. Now I was going to play a gay guy and that was like considered a career ender. Oh, for Christ’s sake! What kind of culture do we live in?”
1999: Nancy Katz became Illinois’s first openly lesbian judge when she was sworn in as a Cook County associate judge.
1999: TV’s Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) enjoyed a prolonged kiss with her office nemesis, Ling (Lucy Liu). Seventeen million viewers tuned in, and it was the show’s largest audience during its run.
*You can watch the FULL 1961 version of The Children’s Hour starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn below.