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Gay History – November 10th: The Well of Loneliness and the GOP White House Call-Boy and Crack Scandal of 1989

November 10th:

1928 – The New York Times reported that forty distinguished witnesses including T. S. EliotArnold BennettVera Brittain,  Ethel Smyth. and  Virginia Woolf, appeared in a London in support of  Radclyffe Hall to testify in favor of the lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness.” which was in the midst of an obscenity trail. The judge refused to hear any of them.

He would later go on to apply the Hicklin test of obscenity: a work was obscene if it tended to “deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences”. He held that the book’s literary merit was irrelevant because a well-written obscene book was even more harmful than a poorly written one. The topic in itself was not necessarily unacceptable; a book that depicted the “moral and physical degradation which indulgence in those vices must necessary involve” might be allowed, but no reasonable person could say that a plea for the recognition and toleration of inverts was not obscene. He ordered the book destroyed, with the defendants to pay court costs

1970 – The Stanford Gay Students Union was formed. It was the second Stanford organization for gay students-a previous organization, the Student Homophile League, was short lived.

1984 – Chris Smith came out and became the first openly gay member of UK Parliament.

1989 – Republican Lobbyist Craig Spence, commits suicide after it was discovered he gave secret tours of The White House to call boys and ran a male prostitution ring.

Spence’s name came to national prominence in the aftermath of a June 28, 1989 article in the Washington Times identifying Spence as a customer of a homosexual escort service being investigated by the Secret Service, the District of Columbia Police and the United States Attorney’s Office for suspected credit card fraud. The newspaper said he spent as much as $20,000 a month on the service. He had also been linked to a White House guard who has said he accepted an expensive watch from Mr. Spence and allowed him and friends to take late-night White House tours

Spence entered a downward spiral in the wake of the Washington Times exposé, increasingly involving himself with call boys and crack and culminating in his July 31, 1989 arrest at the Barbizon Hotel on East 63rd St in Manhattan for criminal possession of a firearm and criminal possession of cocaine.

Months after the scandal had died down, and a few weeks before Spence was found in a room of the Boston Ritz-Carlton Hotel, he was asked who had given him the “key” to the White House. Michael Hedges and Jerry Seper of The Washington Times reported that “Mr. Spence hinted the tours were arranged by ‘top level’ persons”, including Donald Gregg, national security adviser to Vice President George H. W. Bush at the time the tours were given.

A few months before his death, Spence alluded to more intricate involvements. “All this stuff you’ve uncovered (involving call boys, bribery and the White House tours), to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I’ve done. But I’m not going to tell you those things, and somehow the world will carry on

1992 – On Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard plays the first recurring lesbian character on a sitcom

1992 – The Louisiana Baptist Convention voted 581-199 to exclude congregations which condone homosexuality. A similar resolution was approved the same day by the North Carolina State Baptist convention.




Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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