Gay History Month – October 22: The Brutal NYC Gay Bathhouse Raid of 1916 and Lord Alfred Douglas the Original Evil Queen

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 22nd: The Tragic Lafayette Bathhouse Raid of 1916 and Lord Alfred Douglas the Original Evil Queen

October 22, 

1870: Lord Alfred Douglas is born near London on this day. Forever known as Bosie, the lover of Oscar Wilde. becomes an author, poet and translator. Much of his early poetry was Uranian in theme. He was regarded at the time as a “mean spirited mincing queen intent on self-destruction” and later in life, tried to distance himself from Wilde’s name.

In 1891, Douglas met Oscar Wilde; although the playwright was married with two sons, they soon began an affair. In 1894, the Robert Hichens novel The Green Carnation was published. Said to be a roman à clef based on the relationship of Wilde and Douglas, it would be one of the texts used against Wilde during his trials in 1895.

In 1916  Winston Churchill sued Douglas over allegations that he had taken part in a Jewish-financed conspiracy to have Kitchener ‘murdered’ in 1916; Douglas received a prison sentence. Like Wilde, Douglas wrote while in prison – In Excelsis – which his Douglas’ s  bigotry began to be exposed with lines such as ‘The leprous spawn of scattered Israel/Spends its contagion in your English blood’,

After his release in 1920 Douglas co-founded a fiercely antisemitic magazine, Plain English, on which he collaborated with Harold Sherwood Spencer. They printed numerous anti-Jewish diatribes, made claims of “human sacrifice among the Jews,” and publicly advocated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Douglas died of congestive heart failure in Lancing, West Sussex on March 20th. 1945.

Lord Alfred Douglas will go down in gay history as the original “evil queen”.

1916: Police in New York City raid the all-male Lafayette Baths after agents from the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice, who had infiltrated the establishment, and filed a detailed report about “homosexual degeneracy” happening in the establishment.  

The book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World describes the raid:

Layfette 1916 Bathhouse raid

Thirty-seven men, including the manager, were arrested. Twenty-five of them were convicted and sentenced to prison. Manager Frank Terwilligar, committed suicide one month later.   

The Lafayette Baths stayed in operation under another owner well into the 1920’s and was American precisionist painter Charles Demuths favorite haunt.

Incidentally, the new bathhouse was owned by Ira & George Gershwin’s, father and both boys were involved in the business.  At the time Ira was age 20 & George was 18. 

1977:  Montreal Police raid gay bars Truxx, and Le Mystique and charge 146 men with being found-ins in common bawdyhouse. More than fifty uniformed and plainclothes police in bullet proof vests from the divisional morality, mobile and technical squads carried off the raid. It was the largest mass arrest since War Measures Act during the FLQ Crisis. The 146 men arrested were held for up to 15 hours at police headquarters “while ‘compulsory’ VD tests were administered

1986: United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released his first report on the AIDS epidemic in America, two years before mailing information about the disease out to every American household. He reportedly waited four years before speaking publicly about the disease on this date.

1992: A report on hate crimes in Michigan was rejected by the US Civil Rights Commission because it included documentation of anti-gay hate crimes.

1993: United States Air Force Lt. Heidi De Jesus dropped her lawsuit that attempted to bring charges against the military for her dismissal based on her sexual orientation and the ban on gay and lesbian military personal. The legal battle had literally left her broke.

1999: Boeing announced that it would extend health benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of their employees. However, the company explained that unmarried heterosexual couples would not receive the same benefits because they had the option of marriage, angering the union.

1999: San Francisco Archbishop William Levada announced he would make a $30,000 contribution to a California ballot initiative to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite sex couples.

2009: The Lutheran Church of Sweden voted to allow same-sex marriages by a vote of 176 of 249 voting members. The decision came just days after the 30th anniversary of when Sweden stopped classifying homosexuality as a disease.

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