Category Archives: Gay History

WATCH: The Judy Garland Show Ep. 9 - Guests: Barbra Streisand, The Smothers Brothers and Ethel Merman

Gay History – September 29: The Judy Garland Show, Hitchcock’s Rope, and Paul Jabarra

Tension and Release: 'Rope', 'Bound', and the Queer Legacy of the Hitchcock  Thriller - Film Cred
Farley Granger (l) and John Doll (r) in ROPE – Granger was bisexual in real life and John Dall was a gay man.

1948Rope, an Alfred Hitchcock film with a (very subtle, practically invisible) gay subtext opens in theaters.

Based on the play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton and adapted by Hume Cronyn it was inspired by the real-life thrill kill murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924 by gay University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.

Starring James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger, this is the first of Hitchcock’s Technicolor films, and is notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot through the use of long takes

The screenplay was written by Arthur Laurents. Both Farley Granger and John Dall, were gay.

The original play that it was based on more explicitly portrays the characetrs of Brandon and Phillip in a homosexual relationship.  But the movie is considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces.

1963 – Judy Garland’s variety show debuts Sunday on CBS.  While Judy Garland herself was popular with critics and fans, unfortunately the variety show itself was not.

CBS put the show up against Bonanza, then the fourth most popular program on television,and consistently performed poorly in the ratings. Although fans rallied in an attempt to save the show, CBS cancelled it after a single season.

TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon”

1992 – Actor, singer, and songwriter Paul Jabara (Last Dance) dies from AIDS at the age of 44.

Jabara was in the original cast of the stage musicals Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He took over the role of Frank-N-Furter in the Los Angeles Production of The Rocky Horror Show when Tim Curry left the production to film the movie version in England.  Jabara wrote Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” from Thank God It’s Friday,  Barbra Streisand’s song “The Main Event/Fight”(1979), and co-wrote the Weather Girls hit, “It’s Raining Men” with Paul Shaffer.  Paul Jabara won both Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Last Dance” from TGIF in which he also played the role of Carl, the lovelorn and nearsighted disco goer.

2006 – Closet case Republican congressman Mark Foley (from Florida) resigns after Instant Messages of a sexual nature between him and underage male Congressional pages are revealed.

Foley had served as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and  led legislation to make federal sex offender laws  harsher. Federal authorities had said the explicit IM messages could result in Foley’s prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact but in the end Foley was not charged with any crime.

Foley is now in the real estate business in Palm Beach, Florida.

2012 – California becomes the first state to ban gay conversion therapy on minors to “cure” them of their homosexuality.

Gay History – September 26, 1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Opens in the USA. – OH ROCKY!

Gay History – September 26, 1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Opens in the USA. – OH ROCKY!

Over forty-five years ago on September 26th, 1975 the movie that has taught generations to “Don’t dream it, be it.” and to be more accepting to others who are different,  The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened at the UA Westwood in Los Angeles, California. 

Directed by Jim Sharman from a screenplay by Sharman and Richard O’Brien, the production is a humorous tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s through early 1970s. It introduces Tim Curry and features Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Kings Road production presented at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973.

Still in limited release nearly four decades after its premiere, it has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It gained notoriety as a midnight movie in 1977 when audiences began participating with the film in theaters

Prior to RHPS’s infamous the midnight screenings’ success, the film was withdrawn from its eight opening cities due to very small audiences, and its planned New York opening (on Halloween night) was cancelled. Fox re-released it around college campuses on a double-bill with other off-beat films.

RHPS was eventually screened at midnight, starting in New York City at The Waverly Theater on April Fools’ Day of 1976.. By that Halloween, people were attending in costume and talking back to the screen. By mid-1978, Rocky Horror was playing in over fifty locations on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, newsletters were published by local performance groups, and fans gathered for Rocky Horror conventions. By the end of 1979, there were twice-weekly showings at over 230 theaters in the United States including the 8th Street Playhouse in NYC which had the premiere floor-show in the country led by Sal Piro. 

I played Brad Majors opening night and later also Eddie at 8th. Street Playhouse and I WAS NOT an asshole at that time just a closet-case Jersey boy.

But that would soon change.

Dori Hartley and Will Kohler RHPS - 8th Street Playhouse Floorshow. NYC NY

Dori Hartley and Will Kohler RHPS – 8th Street Playhouse Floorshow. NYC NY

How many times have you seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Disappearing Gay History: The Ninth Circle Steakhouse, New York City, NY (1961 - 1990)

Disappearing Gay History: The Ninth Circle Steakhouse, New York City, NY (1961 – 1990)

Gone, but not forgotten The Ninth Circle Steakhouse which closed in early 2002 was located in the West Village on 10th Street right off Greenwich Avenue.  And yes, at one time it really was a Steakhouse that seriously rocked in the 1960’s with a quasi-bohemian clientele..

Originally opened and owned by Mickey Ruskin of Max’s Kansas City fame the Ninth Circle Steakhouse played host to array of singers and musicians and  literati including the likes Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Mingus and others who gathered there nightly to drink and eat.

But in the 1970’s what little star power and customers that remained were not enough to keep business going.  Ruskin sold full ownership of The Circle to Bobby Krivitz.  

The restaurant section downstairs was closed and became a disco starting out completely straight but realizing that there were some serious dollars to be made of the newly liberated gay crowd in NYC, The Ninth Circle literally became a gay bar overnight.

After a few years the disco floor was replaced by a pool table.   And now instead of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendricks the 9th Circles celebrity clientele changed to Rock Hudson and Jack Wrangler. With one of the best damn jukeboxes in NYC.

Today you’ll be hard pressed today to find out much about the Ninth Circle.  Very little can be found out about it on internet and few pictures remain.  What little info you can find calls The Circle  a hustler bar. But it was far from that and  lets be real in NYC in the 70’s and 80’s almost EVERY gay bar in NYC had a few hustlers in it. But to be honest as its business began to fade in its final few years there were more young men working the world’s oldest profession.

For over 20 years The Ninth Circle was the place to to drink and cruise in Greenwich Village.  Weekends would  literally packed people wall to wall.  And customers wanting to get in would be held at the door until some patrons left.  It was literally a sea of men on the make. All ages, all types.  Clones, twinks, and trolls all getting drunk, trying to get laid, and having a great time doing it.

The Circle was so busy that one night in the late 70’s a man walked in the front door and made his way up to the crowded bar pointed a gun at the bartender and demanded money.  The  bartender who was so busy pouring 4-5 drinks at a time glanced at the robber and  without missing a beat told the gunman that he had to wait his turn. 

The gunman was so shocked by this he turned around and left the bar.

I was a patron of The Ninth Circle and  then worked as a cocktail waiter for a few years from 1980-1982.  I was extremely young, 20  years old and this was before right before New York state raised the drinking age to 21. When they did raise it I was “grandfathered” in meaning that because I was of age to drink before they raised it. I still could.  Which made the the youngest legal worker at the bar.  But i tell you, after working there for a while I may have been young, but I was no longer naïve. (Again. Oh the stories I could tell.

Upon entering The Ninth Circle you looked at a long wooden bar leading down 1/2 the length of room.  A long wooden bench ran down the opposite wall  and over the bar was an equally long mirror so you could sit drinking your cocktail and look up at the mirror to see who entered or who might be behind you worth checking out.  At the end of the bar was the waiters station and a jukebox.  Opposite the jukebox was the entrance to the downstairs bar. (Fred Tree’s domain) On the other side of the jukebox against the wall were chairs and tables and a small square area with more chairs and tables and a pinball machine.  At the end of the room stood a doorway with a small staircase that led to the dimly candlelit patio “garden”.  Which was aptly named because there was much green in that garden being the copious amounts of marijuana that was smoked and sold back there. (Along with other various pharmaceuticals of the era: Black Beauties, Quaaludes Valium, etc.)  I cannot even tell you how many times I was tipped in joints, Nickle bags and other substances. (Ah memories. Well what I actually can remember.)

When you ventured downstairs there was a much smaller bar, a pool table, pinball machine, a video game and the bathrooms.  Theis was bartender Fred Tree’s kingdom. This is where most of the “twinks”  and a few hustlers hung out along listening to Tree who told the worst jokes in the world, celebrated Russian Christmas, and  was an all around great guy.  Tree still bartends today at The Stonewall Inn. 

It was really was the best of times to be young and gay.  But in a few years because of what was loomed on the horizon it would become the worst. 

But looking back now, even mixed in with the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic and the loss the followed the memories of The Ninth Circle  are some of the best memories of my life.  What compares to serving cocktails and hanging out with Jack Wrangler.  (Oh by the way and the reason his cock looked so big was because he was really short. I know this for a fact.) Or dancing the night away at Crisco’s Disco, or The Anvil and leaving their drenched in sweat on a Sunday morning at sunrise.  Nothing beat going to Fire Island, The Bartenders Ball or being on the guest list at Studio 54.

Tree, John Koch, Jerry, Michael, Portia, Randy, Sonny, Don and Craig (whatever happened to you man you man. You were my first huge crush) and many more I miss to this day and if you ever read this and are still around PLEASE CONTACT ME.

The Ninth Circle which was my institute of higher learning (literally) and will always be a part of who I am today.

They say what gets posted on the Internet is there forever. 

So consider this is just my way of making sure that the memory of The Ninth Circle never disappears.

Have an interesting  bon mot, humorous story, or raunchy memory of the The Ninth Circle?  Please feel free to post it in the comments section below.

Gay History – September 25, 1984: J. Edgar Hoover’s Personal Papers on the War Against Gay “Sex Deviates” Released

On September 25. 1985 an ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Archives (now the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives) for an important cache of J. Edgar Hoovers’s personal cache of papers were released on this day under the Freedom of Information Act. The release consisted of more than 5,800 papers, Most documents focused on the Mattachine Society and ONE Magazine, the first openly gay magazine in America.

One interesting set of papers revealed J. Edgar Hoover’s interest in the gay movement. According to a memo dated January 26, 1956, the Los Angeles field office had been asked to check on the November 1955 issue of ONE, which talked about gay people who worked for Time and The New Yorker. The LA field office concluded that the articles statement was “baseless” and recommended that “no reply be made.”

Scrawled in handwriting below the typewritten recommendation was the sentence, “I think we should take this crowd and make them ‘put up or shut up’.” Markings indicated that the handwritten statement was made by Hoover’s chief aide and lifelong special “friend” Clyde Tolson. Hoover and Tolson worked closely together in the day, ate all their meals together in the evening, were seen socializing in nightclubs, and took vacations together. When Hoover died in 1971, Tolson inherited Hoover’s estate, and accepted the flag that draped Hoover’s coffin. Tolson’s grave is just a few discrete yards away from Hoover’s in Congressional Cemetery.

Hoover also weighed in on the 1956 memo. Next to Tolson’s recommendation to keep the case files open and continue investigating was another inscription. “I concur,” it read, with the single letter “H” underneath. The next day, a telegram went to the Los Angeles office. “You are instructed to have two mature and experienced agents contact Freeman (the pseudonym for the article’s author), in the immediate future and tell him the bureau will not countenance such baseless charges appearing in this magazine, and for him to either ‘put up or shut up’.” It was signed, simply, “Hoover.”

The Los Angeles field office followed up on Hoover’s instructions and paid a visit to ONE magazine where they found ONE’s chairman, Dorr Legg  who flatly refused to answer their questions. Nevertheless, the FBI file on ONE grew to more than a hundred pages over the next several months while Hoover and Tolson complained about the lack of incriminating evidence from the investigation.

In 2013 more released papers and memos , detailed the persecution of gays and lesbians by Hoover, the FBI and other federal agencies. In the depths of the Cold War, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered his agents to undertake the mission: Identify every gay and suspected gay working for the federal government in 1951.

Only Hoover didn’t describe his targets as gays. He called them “sex deviates.”

“Each supervisor will be held personally responsible to underline in green pencil the names of individuals … who are alleged to be sex deviates,” the FBI director wrote in a June 20, 1951, memo to more than 40 of the bureau’s top officials.

The Hoover memo effectively launched one of the FBI’s most extraordinary, and least known, programs: a massive effort to secretly collect the names of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans.

As part of this effort, Hoover instructed his supervisors to disseminate the names of each of the suspected gays — in some cases, anonymously (or by “blind memorandum,” the memo states) — to the federal agencies that employed them so they could be fired.

The newly discovered files reveal that the FBI’s “sex deviates” program was far more methodical — and sweeping — than previously known. More than 360,000 files on gays and lesbians were collected well into the 1970s, occupying nearly 100 cubic feet in FBI headquarters. Many of them were filed under the category “Sex Perverts in Government Service.”

Field agents were instructed to cull the names from police records, individual complainants or “any other source” — and then file reports to FBI headquarters with “the name of the alleged sex deviate as well as any other alleged deviates with whom he associated,” Hoover wrote in a Sept. 7, 1951, memo. (These reports were also to include “the date and place that the alleged act of sexual perversion occurred,” Hoover ordered.)

This information was then used to force government officials, including high-level political appointees, out of their jobs.

In one especially poignant case, Hoover informed President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower shortly before he was sworn in that a top campaign aide, Arthur Vandenberg Jr., son of longtime Michigan Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, was gay.

Ironically, Hoover’s zeal for fulfilling Congress’ wishes came amid persistent rumors about his own sexuality. One document released is an internal FBI memo to Hoover detailing a March 1952 investigation into a federal employee who was reported to have made a comment at a Washington, D.C., bakery: “Have you heard that the director is a queer?”

The remark prompted Hoover to order a full-scale probe of the federal worker, a budget analyst at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The worker was “vigorously interrogated” by FBI agents and warned of his “criminal and civil liability for the making of such statements,” the memo states. The budget analyst “appeared to be badly frightened” by the questioning and promised to never repeat the remark; the bureau’s No. 2 official, Clyde Tolson, recommended only that the analyst’s “activities” be reported to the “proper officials” at the NLRB. (“Yes,” scribbled Hoover in concurrence.)

Hoover’s “sex deviates” program continued for years and had a real-life impact on tens of thousands of federal workers.  The FBI recruited informants to spy on the first gay activist groups in the 1960s. The bureau also expanded its efforts to collect and disseminate the names of gays beyond those employed in the U.S. government to also include academics at universities and officers in local police departments.

BROS Movie Review: A Historic, Hysterical, Fabulash First!

BROS Movie Review: A Historic, Hysterical, Fabulash First!

Billy Eichner’s sweet, poignant, and hysterical romantic comedy BROS will surprise you. Not only does it make history being the first Gay Rom Com released by a major Hollywood studio but Eicher himself has no problem layering in and lampooning many of the inner problem within our tribe and ends up teaching some gay history at the same time.

The PLOT: Bobby Lieber (Eichner) is an LGBTQ museum curator and podcaster based in New York, who wins the Cis White Gay Man of the Year Award has seemingly given up on finding any semblance of true romance. Night after night, he swipes on dating apps, but eventually meets Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), a lawyer, at a local club. The two fall in love, and navigate being a gay couple in a modern world. 

Bros is a good, solid, raunchy mainstream gay romantic comedy, which is not afraid to tell the truth and poke fun at not only the dating rituals of gay men but also that of the intersectionality issues of the community itself and its glorious if not sometimes messy problems. Bros is raw, unapologetic and completely self aware of the story it’s telling, without worrying about who it’s telling it to.

Gay, STR8, Bi, Trans, whatever. You’ll learn, you’ll love, and you’ll laugh.

BROS is an instant ground breaking classic from Eichner’s kinetic opening monologue to its predictable but FABULASH happy ending..

After all isn’t it about time we had a happy ending.

BROS also stars Bowen YangHarvey FiersteinLuke MacfarlaneTs MadisonMonica RaymundGuillermo DíazGuy BranumAmanda BearseJim Rash, and Grace Adler!

BROS OPENS NATIONWIDE ON SEPTEMBER 30th

THIS FILM IS RATED “R” BY THE M.P.A.A. – RUNNING TIME IS 115 MINUTES

Our Score: 10 rainbows out of 10

Gay History – September 24, 1982: The Centers for Disease Control Uses The Term “AIDS” For The First Time

Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) was the name first proposed in 1982 to describe an “unexpected cluster of cases” after public health scientists noticed clusters of Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia among gay males in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.  During this time, the phrase “gay cancer” was also used.

In 1982,  there was 355 cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and/or serious opportunistic infections in previously healthy young people had been reported to the Center for Disease Control.  By mid 1982 a total of 20 states had reported cases and the disease was no longer solely affecting gay men; there were a small number of cases among heterosexual men and women. Over half of those identified as heterosexual had used intravenous drugs at some point.

“By mid-1982 it was clearly different. People were starting to shake in their pants. It was clear that it was more than isolated incidents” said G’dali Braverman, an AIDS activist living in San Francisco

It was not until July at a meeting in Washington, D.C., that the acronym AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was suggested

On September 24th. the CDC used the term “AIDS”  for the first time replacing the previous name of GRID, and released the first case definition of AIDS: “A disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known case for diminished resistance to that disease.”

At that point in the plague two to three cases of AIDS were being diagnosed in the USA every day.

AIDS.gov reports that 50,000 new Americans becoming infected with HIV each year and over 35 million people worldwide have dies of HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began.

PLEASE remember while science has made great strides in research that the AIDS epidemic IS NOT over.

 STAY HEALTHY, HAVE YOURSELF TESTED, AND USE THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES THAT YOU DEEM FIT.

Gay History – September 22, 1975: The Tragic Story of Oliver Sipple, The Gay Man Who Saved President Ford’s Life

On September 22, 1975 President Gerald Ford was in San Francisco to deliver a luncheon speech to a foreign affairs group at the St. Francis Hotel. Outside, Oliver Sipple, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, was in the crowd waiting for Ford to exit the building. Standing next to Sipple was Sara Jane Moore. Earlier that day, Moore called federal authorities threatening to “test” Ford’s security. The day before, San Francisco police picked her up on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, but they released her after federal authorities stepped in and said they would handle the matter. The Secret Service interviewed her that night, but let her go.

That day as President Ford left the hotel, Sara Jane Moore pulled a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from her purse, pointed it at the President, and fired a shot. As she fired, Sipple reached out and grabbed her arm. Moore’s shot missed Ford by just five feet.

Sipple had been a fixture in San Francisco’s gay community for several years had saved President Gerald Ford’s life.

“All I did was react,” he said. “I’m glad I was there. If it’s true I saved the President’s life, then I’m damn happy about it. But I honestly feel that if I hadn’t reached out for that arm, somebody else would have.”

Sipple had worked on Milk’s first unsuccessful attempt at winning a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors. He was out to his friends, but closeted to his family in Detroit. . When reporters asked about his sexuality, Sipple replied with a standard non-answer: “I don’t think I have to answer that question. If I were homosexual or not, it doesn’t make me less of a man than I am.”

But Sipple was well known in the gay community and it was an open secret.

Sipple was never contacted directly by President Ford the man whose life he saved, and Harvey Milk was convinced that it was because Sipple was gay. (The White House mailed a letter of appreciation four days after the assassination attempt.) But Sipple told friends that he wasn’t interested in the attention he “just wanted a little peace and quiet.”  But that was not to be.   The San Francisco Chronicle’s Herb Caen broke the story of Sipple being “gay” and it was soon picked up by wire services. Sipple’s Baptist mother publicly disowned him, and he soon found himself besieged by reporters. Sipple sued The Chronicle, Caen, and several other newspapers for invasion of privacy, but lost. The courts ruled that he had become a public figure on the day of the assassination attempt, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.

Sipple, who was on psychological disability because of wounds suffered in Vietnam, declined physically in the years following the assassination attempt. He drank heavily, and told all who would listen that he wished he never grabbed Moore’s gun.

Oliver Sipple died, alone, of pneumonia in his Tenderloin District apartment in San Francisco in 1989.

President Ford and his wife sent a letter of sympathy to his family and friends.

Oliver Sipple is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery south of San Francisco.

Gay History – September 21: Edward II, Daughters of Bilitis Formed, Fannie Flagg and Happy Birthday Dan Savage

1327 – Edward II died. He was murdered at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire on 21 September 1327 by being held down and having a red-hot poker inserted inside his anus, and his screams could be heard miles away. This cruel torture was most probably devised as punishment for his presumed sexual acts with men.

1944:  Fannie Flagg (born September 21, 1944) is born. She is an American actress, comedian and author. She is best known as a semi-regular panelist on the 1973–82 versions of the game show Match Game and for the 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 motion picture Fried Green Tomatoes. In the late 1970s, Flagg had a relationship with American writer, Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944). Flagg also lived for eight years with former The Bold and the Beautiful actress Susan Flannery (born July 31, 1939).

1955:  Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian organization, is formed by four lesbian couples, including Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.

The Daughters of Bilitis was originally formed as a social alternative to lesbian bars, which were subject to raids and police harassment. As the DOB gained members, their focus shifted to providing support to women who were afraid to come out. The DOB educated them about their rights, and about gay history. Historian Lillian Faderman declared, “Its very establishment in the midst of witch-hunts and police harassment was an act of courage, since members always had to fear that they were under attack, not because of what they did, but merely because of who they were.” The Daughters of Bilitis endured for 14 years, becoming an educational resource for lesbians, gay men, researchers and mental health professionals.

1971: Thomas Craig “T. C.” Jones the great American female impersonator passes away. T. C.”was known for his impersonations of stars such as Tallulah Bankhead, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn and others. He has been described as “probably the best female impersonator since vaudeville’s late famed Julian Eltinge”.   Although Jones was straight he had a huge gay following. T. C. Jones also appeared in New Faces of 1956, directed by Paul Lynde.

Jones made a number of television appearances, including portraying a homicidal transvestite with a penchant for strangling nurses in “An Unlocked Window”, an Edgar Award-winning episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965 and another killer transvestite in “Night of the Running Death”, a 1967 episode of The Wild Wild West. Jones appeared in a male role opposite Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren in the film Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964) and played dual male/female roles as Mr. and Mrs. Ace in The Monkees’ film Head (1968)

1993: Actress Amanda Bearse comes out while co-starring on the television series Married with Children. Bearse publicly announced her lesbianism in an interview in the September 21, 1993 issue of The Advocate, where she also encouraged other gay celebrities to use their fame and position to increase gay visibility.

In the interview, Bearse expressed relief at having been outed by the tabloids. “The outing really was quite a freeing experience. . . . 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.”

1998: “Will & Grace,” the first prime-time program to feature openly gay lead characters, premiers. While a solid hit. many find the gay stereotyping offensive.

2010:  Dan Savage (born October 7, 1964) and husband Terry Miller upload their first It Gets Better video on YouTube, to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth. Dan is an American author, media pundit, journalist, and activist for the LGBT community.

In his writing and public appearances, Savage has clashed with both social conservatives and the LGBT establishment. He has opposed Rick Santorum’s views on homosexuality and advocated for gay marriage and other LGBT causes. He has made several controversial public statements in various media, often lambasting people with whom he disagrees.

Gay History – September 16: Farewell Maria Callas, NAMBLA, Wilheim Von Gloeden, and GM’s “Little Faggot Truck”

September 16:

1730: In Amsterdam, Lourens Hosponjon is executed for sodomy. Other than the record of his execution no other historical details are available.

1856: Wilheim Von Gloeden, German photographer of beautiful young men, is born in Wismar, Germany. . At the turn of the 20th century his picture postcards of naked youths from the Sicilian town of Taormina were “must haves”. Even though they passed for art they were among the first examples of modern gay porn.  

Wilhelm von Gloeden lived heroically.  He knew what he was and was proud.  Like Oscar Wilde before him, von Gloeden lived in dangerous defiance of an age and a Christian society that hounded and tortured men of his kind.  As Charles Leslie writes:

He was one of those rare nineteenth century men who would not accept the destruction of his true being as the price for being allowed to survive in an allegedly civilized Western world that officially despised what he was.  In his own way he triumphed, and therefore became one of those figures who, to this day, stand as models for people who dare to live the truth of what and who they are.

Today Von Gloeden is considered one of the most important gay visual artist of the pre–World War I era. 

1977:  Soprano Maria Callas dies at the age of 53.  There may have been divas before Maria Callas, but there is no doubt that the modern idea of what is a diva owes a great deal to the legendary opera singer, who, without ever singing a note of popular music, was as famous during her lifetime as a movie star.  “I am divine, I am oblivion, I am love.”

1979: The newly formed New York City Gay Men’s Chorus holds its first auditions.

1990:  Thanks to The San Francisco Board of Supervisors who loudly complained to General Motors after learning that a video, made to be shown only to GM personnel only, referred to a Japanese-made vehicle as a ”little faggot truck”

The presentation, made from 90 hours of taped interviews with 500 Chevrolet owners, contains one from a farmer who says he prefers full-size pickups.

“There isn’t no foreign company that makes any decent working pickup. It’s either going to be big, or some “little faggot truck,” the farmer said.

GM publicly apologized and never showed the video again.

1992: Robert Sawyer of Brattleboro, Vermont pleads not guilty to charges that he murdered his ex-girlfriend, Judith Hart Fournier, after she left him for another woman. She had a restraining order, but Sawyer violated it repeatedly. The case sparked a demand for anti-stalking legislation.

1992: Fifty-eight year old Roy Downs files a complaint of brutality against the Ft. Worth Police Department. He was arrested during a series of raids on gay bars, and officers beat and verbally abused him.

1994: The International Lesbian Gay Association loses its non-governmental organization representative status at the United Nations after a campaign by US Senator Jesse Helms revealed that one of its member organizations was NAMBLA, (The North America Man Boy Love Association) which condoned sex with children. As a result, ILGA expelled NAMBLA from its membership.

1994: Richard Hongisto, a former San Francisco police chief, is convicted of civil rights violations for ordering the removal of an issue of Bay Times, a gay newspaper, from the stands. Hongisto began his career championing justice and equality for racial minorities and homosexuals, but his career was later marred by various controversies, ending with the Bay Times controversy.

 

Gay History – September 14, 1989: ACT UP Protests the NYSE, Crashes Trading Floor [Video]

On September 14, 1989, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) led a noon protest of 350 people in front of the New York Stock Exchange, targeting Burroughs Wellcome and other companies that it felt were profiteering from the epidemic by their high pricing of the AIDS drug AZT, which was unaffordable to most people living with HIV.

The demonstration was planned to coincide with those held in San Francisco and London that day.

Separate from the noon rally, ACT UP members Peter Staley, Lee Arsensault, Greg Bordowitz, Scott Robbe, James McGrath, and two other members who served as photographers infiltrated the Stock Exchange that morning. Chaining themselves to the VIP balcony, they dropped fake $100 bills onto the trading floor and disrupted the opening bell for the first time in history. Their miniature foghorns drown out the opening bell, as they unfurled  a banner above the trading floor demanding “SELL WELLCOME” . Their photographs were given to the Associated Press and the story went national.

As a result of these demonstrations, Burroughs Wellcome lowered the price of AZT by 20 percent four days later.

You can see Michelangelo Signorile, Bill Bahlman (holding video camera), and Vincent Gagliostro in the crowd. Seen first in the perp line is Scott Robbe, followed by , Robert Hilferty (RIP). Then you’ll see the late and great Lee Arsenault (with mustache), and Gregg Bordowitz is shown in front of Lee. Unfortunately, the clip ends before we see the last two of our seven-man team: James McGrath and Richard Elovitch. September 14, 1989 — probably the most thrilling day of my life.” – Peter Staley