Category Archives: Of Interest

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.

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 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.

 

LEARN SOMETHING – The Great Pullman Strike of 1894 and the History of Labor Day

In the late 1800’s, the state of labor was grim as U.S. workers toiled under bleak conditions: 12 or more hour workdays; hazardous work environments; meager pay. Children, some as young as 5, were often permanent workers at plants and factories working to help their families to barely make ends meet.

The dismal livelihoods fueled the formation of the country’s first labor unions, which began to organize strikes and protests and pushed employers for better hours and pay. Many of the rallies often turned violent.

On Sept. 5, 1882 — a Tuesday — 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in a parade from City Hall to Union Square in New York City as a tribute to American workers. Organized by New York’s Central Labor Union, It was the country’s first unofficial Labor Day parade. Three years later, some city ordinances marked the first government recognition, and legislation soon followed in a number of states.

Then came May 11, 1894, and a strike that shook an Illinois town founded by George Pullman, an engineer and industrialist who created the railroad sleeping car. The community, located on the Southside of Chicago, was designed as a “company town” in which most of the factory workers who built Pullman cars lived.

When his company laid off workers and lowered wages, it did not reduce rents, and the workers called for a strike. Among the reasons for the strike were the absence of democracy within the town of Pullman and its politics, the rigid paternalistic control of the workers by the company, excessive water and gas rates, and a refusal by the company to allow workers to buy and own houses

When wage cuts hit, 4,000 workers staged a strike that pitted the American Railway Union vs. the Pullman Company and the federal government. The strike and boycott against trains triggered a nationwide transportation nightmare for freight and passenger traffic.

In June 1894, the ARU called for a national boycott of Pullman cars for its union members, who managed the flow of railway traffic west of Chicago. The Pullman Company called Debs’ bluff, and by late June, at least 125,000 ARU members had walked off the job in support of the Pullman workers.

President Grover Cleveland, citing the now delayed mail system, declared the strike illegal and sent 12,000 troops to break it. Two men were killed in the violence that erupted near Chicago. Debs was sent to prison, and the ARU was disbanded, and Pullman employees henceforth were required to sign a pledge that they would never again unionize.

U.S. Attorney General Richard Olney nd his specially appointed deputy, an attorney for one of the struck railroads, quickly won a court injunction ordering strikers back to work, on grounds that they had conspired to illegally restrain trade. 

The court order was issued, ironically, under the anti-trust law that originally was aimed at keeping corporations from joining together to exercise monopoly control. That, of course, was precisely what the railroads did in determining pay rates and working conditions, and in trying to destroy the strikers’ union. 

But that was ignored, while federal officials and the press thundered out warnings that Eugene Debs was leading a conspiracy aimed at forcibly overthrowing the government. 

When he and the strikers refused to comply with the injunction, in came federal troops, and with them the strike’s first serious violence. 

The worst of many incidents broke out in Chicago when soldiers fired into a crowd of some 10,000 people who, spurred on by agents provocateurs from the railroads, had gathered to set fire to boxcars and otherwise violently protest the movement of trains by the Army. Twenty-five people were killed, 60 badly injured. 

In other incidents, strikers and their supporters also were fired on by special deputy marshals whom government investigators later identified as “thugs, thieves and ex-convicts” armed and paid for by the railroads. 

Hundreds of union officials and members were cited for violating the injunction, which prohibited anyone from even suggesting that railroad employees refuse to work. Debs and other key leaders were jailed for three to six months and government agents raided and ransacked ARU offices . 

The union couldn’t even hold rallies in support of the strike, and though the Pullman strikers themselves held out for a few months, the massive railroad strike launched in their behalf was over after 19 days. 

A national Labor Day holiday was then declared within months.

Some experts say Grover Cleveland supported the idea of such a holiday, which already existed in several states, in an effort to make peace with the unions before he ran for re-election. (He would lose anyway.) But perhaps one of the most eloquent explanations of why the federal government saw fit to declare the holiday can be found in a Congressional committee report on the matter.

Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced a bill, S. 730, to Congress shortly after the Pullman strike, proposing Labor Day be the first Monday in September. Here’s how Rep. Lawrence McGann (D-IL), who sat on the Committee on Labor, argued for the holiday in a report submitted on May 15, 1894:

The use of national holidays is to emphasize some great event or principle in the minds of the people by giving them a day of rest and recreation, a day of enjoyment, in commemoration of it. By making one day in each year a public holiday for the benefit of workingmen the equality and dignity of labor is emphasized. Nothing is more important to the public weal than that the nobility of labor be maintained. So long as the laboring man can feel that he holds an honorable as well as useful place in the body politic, so long will he be a loyal and faithful citizen.

The celebration of Labor Day as a national holiday will in time naturally lead to an honorable emulation among the different crafts beneficial to them and to the whole public. It will tend to increase the feeling of common brotherhood among men of all crafts and callings, and at the same time kindle an honorable desire in each craft to surpass the rest.

There can be no substantial objection to making one day in the year a national holiday for the benefit of labor. The labor organizations of the whole country, representing the great body of our artisan population, request it. They are the ones most interested. They desire it and should have it. If the farmers, manufacturers, and professional men are indifferent to the measure, or even oppose it, which there is no reason to believe, that still would constitute no good objection, for their work can be continued on holidays as well as on other days if they so desire it. Workingmen should have one day in the year peculiarly their own. Nor will their employers lose anything by it. Workingmen are benefited by a reasonable amount of rest and recreation. Whatever makes a workingman more of a man makes him more useful as a craftsman.

Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law on June 28, 1894.

And that is how Labor Day came to be.

NOTE:  Before the 1969 Stonewall rebellion, the union movement largely ignored issues facing the gay community. As the gay liberation movement gained momentum, organized labor recognized that discrimination based on sexual orientation victimized union members, divided the ranks, and weakened union organization. The American Federation of Teachers was the first union to recognize this, passing a resolution opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Back2Stonewall.com is 100% pro-Union and stand for the protections of  the American worker.

Gay History – August 24, 79 AD: Mt. Vesuvius Erupts Burying Gay Lovers and Ancient Gay Porn In Pompeii

Gay History: August 24, 79 AD

Mt Vesuvius erupts burying Pompeii and preserving the city forever. The ash preserves homoerotic frescoes that Christianity would no doubt have destroyed had they not been covered. When the artwork was first discovered, people found it so scandalous that much of it was locked away in the National Museum of Naples, where it remained hidden from view for over 100 years. In the year 2000, the art was finally made view-able to the public, but minors must be accompanied by an adult.

The volcanic ash also saved graffiti found centuries later by archaeologists. One scratching on a wall reads, ” Phoebus the perfume sellers sucks real good.”

Others walls around Pompeii read like a truck stop bathroom, including some colorful gay comments. As they appeared on August 24, 79 AD:

On the bar-brothel of Innulus and Papilio:

Weep, you girls.  My penis has given you up.  Now it penetrates men’s behinds.  Goodbye, wondrous femininity!

On the house of the Citharist below a drawing of a man with a large nose:

Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you.  Salvius wrote this.

On the basilica:

Phileros is a eunuch!

On the Eumachia Building:

Secundus likes to screw boys.

On the house of Orpheus:

I have buggered men.

Another surprising find in April of 2017 was that two bodies found wrapped in a poignant embrace in their final moments as they were covered beneath molten rock and layers of ash after Vesuvius  erupted which were originally thought to be two women embracing at the time of their tragic deaths has been discovered to actually be two men.

The bodies were originally dubbed “The Two Maidens” when they were first discovered but in a startling discovery this week scientists found the two bodies were actually male – raising speculation that they may have been gay lovers.

“We always imagined that it was an embrace between women. But a CAT scan and DNA have revealed that they are men. “You can’t say for sure that the two were lovers. But considering their position, you can make that hypothesis. It is difficult to say with certainty.” said Massimo Osanna, director-general of the world-famous archaeological site.

The bodies of the “Two Maidens” were discovered in the House of the Cryptoporticus during excavations at the World Heritage site led by archaeologist Vittorio Spinazzola when he was superintendent at Pompeii in the early 20th century.

One of the two bodies is lying at a right angle to the other and seen with his head resting on the other’s chest in search of comfort and perhaps protection.

Extensive anthropological tests of the duo’s bones and teeth have revealed that one of the them was a young man aged about 18 years of age while the second was probably an adult male aged 20 years or older.

“The use of anthropological and DNA research always reveals more,” Osanna said.  “It is a fundamental instrument for scientific knowledge because it gives us certainty in the archaeological field in what would otherwise be only hypothesis.”

“What is certain is that the two parties were not relatives, neither brothers, nor a father and son.” stated Professor Stefano Vanacore, head of the Pompeii research team.

Scientist Reveal Embracing Figures At Pompeii 'Could have been gay lovers'

Additional source material and pictures:  Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Gay History – August 1888: Lifelong Transman Discovered As Patient At Fort Madison, Iowa Prison Hospital

In August of 1888. a column in the nineteenth-century journal The Medical Standard included a roundup of items submitted by doctors from the then 38 states, several territories and a number of Canadian provinces.

More of a “This and That” column without having much real basis in actual medicine. Many of the notices were nothing more than gossip: the practice of a “voodoo doctor” in Georgia,  a “magnetic healer” in Kentucky “who is is ‘curing’  hysterical females in great numbers at Bowling Green.” (Women were commonly diagnosed with “hysteria” in the nineteenth century for being sexually repressed and and frigid because of the “moral code” of its time.  Barbarically its cure was sometimes a hysterectomy.)

Among those notices was this case from Iowa:

A case of sexual perversion has been discovered in the Ft. Madison penitentiary. A woman from her early youth had dressed in male attire, was universally regarded as a man, married and lived with a woman as a husband. She was recently arrested for horse-stealing and sent to the penitentiary; in the hospital of which her sex was discovered.

No other information can be found about this person.

The Ft. Madison penitentiary was established in 1839, seven years before Iowa’s statehood. The old facility, expanded several times over the years, is still in use today as the Iowa State Penitentiary, making it the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi.

Gay History – August 5, 1970: NYC Drops Charges Against The Gay Activists Alliance “Rockefeller Five”.

One of our earliest activists groups the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) which was founded in New York City on December 21, 1969, just 5 months after the Stonewall riots by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front( GLF).  Instead of working on multiple issues the GAA wanted to concentrate on a “single issue” the goal being to “secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people.”

The Gay Activists Alliance was most active from 1970 to 1974  and performed what they called zaps, (protests conceived by Marty Robinson) which were public peaceful confrontations with officials to draw media attention. Some of their more visible actions included protests against an anti-gay episode on the popular TV series Marcus Welby, M.D., a zap of Mayor John Lindsay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later at Radio City Music Hall, But the most well known was a sit in at the offices of then Governor Rockefeller as part of a push for a Gay Civil Rights Bill to become state law

As told by GAA member Paul Martin:

“At the New York State Republican Headquarters in Manhattan on June 25, 1970 a number of G.A.A. members walked into the tenth floor offices of the New York State Republican Headquarters and demanded to see Governor Nelson Rockefeller about the issue of gay civil rights in New York State. They were informed that the governor wasn’t in the office at that moment and, strangely, didn’t seem interested in coming over to talk with them. And so the upstairs action began. When asked to leave the demonstrators refused and held a sit in.
 
Downstairs we were marching around chanting as loudly as we could; loud was a G.A.A. trademark. There were never more than ten of us downstairs. Upstairs the Republicans had decided that they’d ignore the people who were sitting in, demanding to see Governor Rockefeller. About two hours into the action Arthur Bell came down and told us that they could hear us over the general noise of the city up in the Republican Headquarters office! He told us that we sounded like there were fifty people or more down in the street demonstrating. A large crowd had gathered around to see what we were doing, and when the Republicans looked out the window they couldn’t tell that the demonstration consisted of only the small number of people in the middle of that large crowd. I don’t think there was ever more than a few continuous seconds of silence on that picket line. Did I mention we were loud?
 
Upstairs there were negotiations, there were demands, and there were requests to leave. The demonstration lasted for hours and hours. Finally, after the Republicans couldn’t stand it anymore, they had five of the sit in demonstrators arrested for criminal trespass. We cheered them as they were led away in handcuffs, and at long last we could stop yelling. My voice never actually recovered from that day.
 
At a meeting of the G.A.A. Political Action Committee (it had nothing to do with campaign contributions) some time later we were all wondering what to call the people who had been arrested. Suggestions were tossed around. I suggested “The Rockefeller Five,” which was met with silence. Shortly, Arthur Evans, one of the arrestees, said, “How about ‘The Rockefeller Five?’” and there was suddenly great jubilation in the room. That was the name that stuck. And I learned a lesson about groups’ expectations and how it shapes the way they listen to you or not.
 
The Rockefeller Five went through court appearance after court appearance, and months after the action the charges were simply dropped. The Rockefeller Five action was one of those ongoing activities that G.A.A. could sustain that were to prove crucial to pushing gay liberation forward in the seventies.”

The charges against the activist were dismissed

The GAA’s  theory stated that consciousness would be raised through activism rather than through introspection.  Its deliberate goal was to effect the lives of as many people as possible by raising consciousness through activism rather than through introspection to effect the lives of as many people as possible.

Here are some of the actions that GAA did in the early seventies.  Many of which are slowly being forgotten. And all of which are worthy of note and remembrance.

  • Occupied St. Patrick’s Cathedral after yet another defeat of a bill by the City Council. This occurred on a weekday afternoon. Pete Fisher sang his gay freedom songs sitting on the steps of the main altar. A meeting with a representative from the archdiocese was demanded and held — obviously Church policy hasn’t moved.
  • Invaded the New York City Taxi Commission to protest its requirement that gays have psychiatric examinations before they could be licensed. The requirement was dropped.
  • Invaded the office of the New York City Clerk after he refused to issue a marriage license to two men wishing to be married by the Church of the Holy Disciple.
  • Zapped and lobbied the American Psychiatric Association in a successful effort to force it to remove the diagnosis of homosexuality from its listing of psychiatric disorders. Ron Gold, chairperson of GAA’s media committee, has long been denied the credit he deserves for directing the campaign that resulted in this most important achievement.
  • Took over the editorial offices of the New York Daily News in response to a viscous anti-gay editorial. The News never did another editorial like that one.
  • Sat in at the offices of Gertrude Unser, President of the New York City Board of Education to protest biased hiring and firing practices. Those biases were soon lifted from official Board of Education policies.
  • Zapped police and occupied the District Attorney’s offices in Hauppauge, Long Island and Bridgeport, Connecticut to protest Police harassment and the brutal beatings of several GAA members.
  • In conjunction with STAR, Street Transvestite Activist Revolution, picketed and held a demonstration at Rikers Island Mental Hospital to protest its treatment of transvestites. One result was Marsha Johnson’s escape to New York.
  • Demonstrated at Times Square to protest police harassment of hustlers and transvestites.
  • Established New York’s first Lesbian and Gay Community Center at the GAA Firehouse. Vito Russo held the first lesbian and gay film festival there.
  • Zapped CBS and ABC News to protest anti-gay tone of its reporting. They shaped up. Dick Cavett, whose relentless anti-gay spiels had become unbearable, was forced to give time to GAA spokespeople on his national TV show after one Zap and the threat of others

Now almost 50 years later we are still fighting the battle that the GAA began. The battle  “to demand our Liberation from repression and for our rights to be written into the documents that protect the rights of all people, for without that writing there can be no guarantees of protection from the larger society.”

We must remember the GAA and all the other early LGBT activists and  groups that started our fight for equality. It is imperative to our community that we not only remember but learn from them but to finish the fight and to use their history and teachings to our advantage.

The Rockefller Five Gay History

Gay History 101 – WATCH: The Story Of “The Castro” – FULL Documentary

As many of you know a lot of my history posts tend to lean more towards New York City’s gay history mostly because that is where I hail from.  With that being said I would like to share with you a very interesting and great documentary I stumbled upon about the history of the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco.

Originally shown during the Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 1996, The Castro is a 90-minute documentary tells the dramatic story of how a quiet corner of San Francisco became the cornerstone of a movement-an international symbol of gay liberation.

Using rare archival film and fresh contemporary footage, the story of the Castro’s transformation and history is told by the people who lived it: young and old, straight and gay. They bring to life a history ranging from the discriminatory world of the 1950s, through the flowering of “gay power,” and into the age of AIDS.

The Castro, was produced by KQED San Francisco/PBS  and won the George Foster Peabody Award, a CINE Golden Eagle Award and was   screened at numerous film festivals in the United States and abroad.

Its a must see to understand our past and why the community is so different today..

Gay History – July 29: The Village People, Jerome Robbins, and the Murder of John O’Connell in San Francisco

July 29, 

1905: Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-1961), is born in in Jonkoping, Sweden.  Hammarskjold will die in a plane crash in what was then the Belgian Congo under mysterious circumstances in 1961 .  Secretary General Hammarskjold is the first SG to die while holding office. President John F Kennedy referred to him as “The greatest statesman of our century,” and he was posthumously awarded the 1961 Nobel Peace Prize. While it is rumored that Hammarskjold was homosexual, it never seems to have been proven in any consequential way. Still, we honor his birthday here for the amazing leaps he made toward world peace as the Secretary General.

1967: Ian Campbell Dunn writes to Antony Grey, secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in London, about establishing a chapter in Scotland. Grey refuses because of problems with another branch.

1975: The Annual Conference of the Metropolitan Community Church is held in Dallas, Texas. Among the speakers was Elaine Noble, who was the first person to be elected to public office while running openly as a lesbian.   Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for two terms starting in January 1975. She was the first openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature

1978: 44 years ago today The Village People’s first hit single “Macho Mandebuts in Billboard’s Top 40 Hits chart. 

1981: Tennis player Martina Navratilova is outed by reporter Steve Goldstein of the New York Daily News. But comes out publicly through a column written by Skip Bayless. After all is said and done very few are surprised she’s a lesbian. And very few actually care.

1984: John O’Connell is brutally murdered by five men who drove to San Francisco looking for “some fags to beat up.”  The assailants were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to prison terms of 15 years to life.  

Via UPI:

A 9 p.m. in the Polk Street district, a favorite area of homosexuals, two men walking along the street were accosted by four of the Vallejo group, one of them shouting anti-homosexual epithets.

John O’Connell, 42, suffered two blows and fell to the pavement. The medical evidence was that it was the fall, not the blows, that produced the cerebral trauma that caused death. 

The defendants left the scene laughing

In 1989 a  California  Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, reduced the convictions to involuntary manslaughter, ruling that the two bare-handed blows struck by the assailants in a 1984 sidewalk attack were not sufficiently life-threatening .

“The appeal court said correctly that a slap and a punch do not make a murder,” said Maureen R. Kallins, a San Francisco lawyer. “This was a classic example of a hysterical jury verdict . . . and a classic example of being tried by the press.”

Three of the men who were finally convicted  were released only after serving 5 years in prison.

1986: Chicago’s city council defeats a gay rights bill by a vote of 30-18.

1987: U.S. President Ronald Reagan nominates homophobic judge Robert Bork to the US Supreme Court. He would be rejected by the senate 58-42.

1987: The International Lesbian and Gay Association’s 9th annual conference begins in Cologne, West Germany.

1993: Seven years after legalizing gay sex, New Zealand’s parliament amends the Human Rights Commission Amendment Act, outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (“heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or lesbian”) or HIV, passing Parliament after only 1 1/2 days of debate but intensive lobbying. It exempted the Government until December 31, 1999.

1998: Famed choreographer and director Jerome Robbins (pictured above), dies at age 79, four days after suffering a stroke. Among the numerous stage productions he worked on during his career were On the TownPeter PanHigh Button ShoesThe King And IThe Pajama GameBells Are RingingWest Side StoryGypsy: A Musical Fable, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Robbins also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story.

But not all was success and high-points for Robbins. In the 1950’s, Robbins found himself swept into the whirlwind of the McCarthy era and, as a former Communist, pressured by the FBI to name the names of party associates at hearings held by The House Committee on Un-American Activities. (HUAC). For three years he resisted. But threatened by exposure of his homosexuality, he at length agreed to testify before HUAC and named eight people. Robbins himself never spoke of his testimony publicly; in his journal he wrote, “Maybe I will never find a satisfying release from the guilt of it all.”

1998: The U.S. House of Representatives votes 214-212 in favor of a bill to withhold federal housing money to San Francisco because of the city’s policy welcoming private companies contracting with the city that offer domestic partner benefits equal to those offered to married employees.

2002: The federal government of Canada decides to appeal an Ontario Superior Court ruling which supported gay marriages. Less than a year later the government loses the appeal and introduces legislation legalizing gay marriage.

2003: Bishop Fred Henry of the Catholic diocese of Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, warns Canada’s (straight) catholic Prime Minister that the PM risks jeopardizing his “eternal salvation” by introducing legislation legalizing gay marriage. Prime Minister Jean Chretien ignores the warning and introduces the legislation anyway.

2006: The first World Outgames opens in Montreal, Quebec, with about 18,600 participants from 111 countries as conference delegates, athletes, volunteers or participants. About a half million spectators attended the Outgames, an athletic event set up after a quarrel with the long-established Gay Games.

CDC Ends COVID Watch Program For Cruise Lines. What Can Go Wrong?

CDC Ends COVID Watch Program For Cruise Lines. What Can Go Wrong?

Via USA Today:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships on Monday. CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the agency’s website reads. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs. The CDC added that “while cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.”

Whatever could go wrong? (We’ll know in a few months.)