Tag Archives: gay

Gay History – May 23, 1920: Harvard University’s “Secret Court” Expels 10 Gay Students

On May 13, 1920 Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard undergraduate, committed suicide after telling his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. Shortly after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters from a Harvard student and a recent graduate.  George, a clerk at the granite mills in Fall River, decided to act. He tracked down his brother’s former lover, Harry Dreyfus, who lived in Boston. Dreyfus, after he was beaten by George Wilcox, denied responsibility for Cyril’s suicide but gave three names of other men involved: Roberts, Harvard Dental School student Eugene R. Cummings and Pat Courtney, a non-Harvard man living in Boston.

George took these letters to Harvard’s Acting Dean, Chester N Greenough, and shared with him what he knew. After consulting with Harvard President Abbot Lowell, Greenough formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became known as the “Secret Court.”

The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. Thirty-seven men testified before the Court, including a tutor, an assistant professor, Harvard students, and several Boston men. 

The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed “guilty.” The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.

In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from the newspaper staff the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced.

 Based on actual court documents, “Perkins 28” the video documentary below dramatizes the testimony from the Secret Court Files of 1920,  Filmed in Cambridge, MA, and starring Harvard undergraduates. 

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Creator of "The Fantastiks" Tom Jones Rewrites Classic Musical as Gay Love Story

Creator of “The Fantastiks” Tom Jones Rewrites Classic Musical as Gay Love Story

 Tom Jones the librettist and lyricist of the beloved show The Fantastiks has penned a new version of his classic musical.

As a gay love story.

Via Playbill:

Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story loosely based on Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play The Romancers (Les Romanesques), concerning two neighboring parents who trick their children into falling in love by pretending to feud. The LGBTQIA+ focused rewrite features two young gay men, Matt and Lewis, at the center of the story, instead of a young man and woman (the original characters were Matt and Luisa). Transforming the boy and the girl into two boys (Matt and Lewis) is an idea I’ve had for a long time,” says Lluberes. “Rethinking the show through the lens of two young gay men reveals so much about first love, identity, and self-discovery.”

The new version of his classic musical—in collaboration with Flint Repertory Producing Artistic Director Michael Lluberes—that will premiere June 3–19 at the not-for-profit professional theatre company in Michigan.

During its original run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, The Fantasticks logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances.

For more information and to buy tickets click here.

San Francisco Supervisors Approve Bathhouse Zoning Update

San Francisco Supervisors Approve Bathhouse Zoning Update

A proposed zoning change to allow gay bathhouses and other adult sex venues to open in the city’s historic LGBT neighborhoods is close to being finalized in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee voted 2-0 Monday, April 18, in support of the changes to the city code needed for Eros a sex club for gay, bi, and trans men, to reopen its doors at 132 Turk Street where the infamous gay Bulldog Baths had operated in the late 1970’s and 1980’s.

“Bathhouses are a common feature in LGBT communities in many cities around the world, and they used to be quite common in San Francisco as well,” noted gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman at the committee hearing.

Mandelman has spearheaded the legislative effort to undo a prohibition since it was enacted in the 1980’s during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It effectively led the city’s gay bathhouses to close their doors, with the only one left in the Bay Area being in Berkeley.

Source: Bay City Reporter

Gay History – WATCH Bette Midler’s Final Performance At The Continental Baths in NYC (1971) – Video

In the late 1960’s Steve Ostrow opened the Continental Baths in the basement of the landmark  Ansonia Hotel, which at one time was home to such greats as Caruso, Stravinsky and Toscanini.

Famous for its lavish accommodations, the Continental Baths was advertised as being reminiscent of “the glory of ancient Rome.” The impressive features of this bathhouse included a disco dance floor, a cabaret lounge, sauna rooms, an “Olympia blue” swimming pool, and clean, spacious facilities that could serve nearly 1,000 men, 24 hours a day. (And many patrons did!)

One gay guide from NYC in the 1970’s described the Continental Baths as a place that “revolutionized the bath scene in New York.”

An extra added attraction at the Continental was the first class entertainment provided by performers such as Melba Moore, Peter Allen, Cab Calloway, The Manhattan Transfer, John Davidson, Wayland Flowers and Madame and Bette Midler, who began her career by performing there with Barry Manilow in 1972.

Despite Midler’s constant complaints about “that goddam waterfall,” her poolside performances were so successful that she soon gained national attention, beginning with repeat performances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Many of those who were fortunate enough to see Bette’s early bathhouse shows attest to the fact that her greatest achievement in show business took place the night she convinced the otherwise shy Barry Manilow to accompany her on the piano while wearing only a white towel, which was considered “proper bathhouse attire.”

As the popularity of the cabaret shows increased, a wide variety of entertainers were invited to “give it up” at the Continental Baths, including the soprano Eleanor Steber, who gave a “black towel” concert there in 1973.

The list of visitors to the Continental Baths read like a “who’s who” of the entertainment world, from actors, singers, artists, producers, to the mafia and and even the Metropolitan Oper. They all  paid a visit either to see Bette, or have some fun.

And for those unfortunate souls who never descended into that legendary basement bathhouse, the Continental Baths were able to come to them in the form of the highly popular Continental Baths towel, which was sold by Bloomingdale’s department store at the height of the club’s fame.

During this period even the mainstream news talk show The Pat Collins Show broadcast live from the club. In one segment, Pat sat by the pool and interviewed proprietor Steve Ostrow while nude men, apparently indifferent to the television cameras, went splashing  (WCBS-TV received only one complaint about the program.)

Below watch one of Bette Midler’s final performances in its entirety at The Continental Baths. (With Barry Manilow on the piano of course)

Apologies about the quality of the videos below but its a miracle that it exists at all

Setlist:

“Friends”
“Fat Stuff”
“Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (Andrews Sisters)
“Superstar”
“Empty Bed Blues” (Bessie Smith)
“Marahuana”
“For Free” (Joni Mitchell)
“Easier Said Than Done” (The Essex)
“Chapel Of Love” (The Dixie Cups)
“I Shall Be Released” (The Band)

WATCH: Rare Clip of Lauren Bacall As Margo Channing in the 1973 TV Production of “Applause” – VIDEO

This is a video clip from television production of the Broadway musical Applause.

The musical  based on the 1950 film classic  All About Eve  aired on CBS television just once in March of 1973 and starred Lauren Bacall, Larry Hagman and Penny Fuller.

In the video below Bacall sings the campy, cheesy, classic “But Alive,” which takes place in a Greenwich Village New York City gay bar of all places

It is interesting to note that this number aired uncensored and uncut on broadcast television in 1973.

The quality of the video is not the best but so few copies of it exist now its a very hard to find a pristine copy.

G A Y P O W E R 

Happy HomoDays! – WATCH: The Judy Garland Christmas Special (1963) – Full Video

Enjoy the very merry festivities and joy of the holidays with the our beloved REAL gay icon Judy Garland in this 1963 Christmas television classic. (TV commercials included for that little extra nostalgic kick.)

Judy is joined  by Jack Jones, her daughters Liza Minnelli (Long before the Z) , Lorna Luft, and also, Mel Torme and Tracy Everitt.

Brought to you by Contact.

HARK THE HERALD JUDY SINGS! 

GAY HISTORY – The Life and Death of Rock Hudson and His Impact on the AIDS Epidemic (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985)

In the 1985 Rock Hudson, a leading Hollywood actor, became the first major hollywood celebrity to die of AIDS-related complications.

While his career developed in 1950’s Hollywood, Rock Hudson and his agent Henry Willson kept the actor’s personal life out of the headlines. In 1955, Confidential magazine threatened to publish an exposé about Hudson’s secret homosexual life. Willson stalled the article by disclosing information about two of his other clients. Willson provided information about Rory Calhoun‘s years in prison and the arrest of Tab Hunter at a gay party in 1950. According to some colleagues, Hudson’s homosexual life was well known in Hollywood throughout his career, and former co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Saint James claimed that they knew of his homosexuality, as did Carol Burnett.

Soon after the Confidential incident, Hudson married Willson’s secretary Phyllis Gates. Gates filed for divorce after three years in April 1958, citing mental cruelty. Hudson did not contest the divorce and Gates received alimony of $250 a week for 10 years. Gates never remarried.

An urban legend states that Hudson “married” Jim Nabors in the early 1970s. Not only was same-sex marriage not recognized under the laws of any American state at the time, but, at least publicly, Hudson and Nabors were nothing more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend originated with a group of “middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach” sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year the group invited its members to witness “the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors”, at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors’ most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming Rock Pyle.

The “joke” was evidently already in the mainstream by the very early 1970s. In the October 1972 edition of MAD magazine (issue no. 154), an article entitled “When Watching Television, You Can be Sure of Seeing…”, gossip columnist ‘Rona Boring” (a take on then gossip columnist Rona Barrett) states: “And there isn’t a grain of truth to the vicious rumor that movie and TV star Rock Heman and singer Jim Nelly were secretly married! Rock and Jim are just good buddies! I repeat, they are not married! They are not even going steady!”  Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor and as a result, Hudson and Nabors never spoke to each other again.

Shortly after Hudson’s press release disclosing his illness, William M. Hoffman, the author of As Is, a play about AIDS that appeared on Broadway in 1985, stated: “If Rock Hudson can have it, nice people can have it. It’s just a disease, not a moral affliction.”

At the same time, Joan Rivers was quoted as saying: “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage. Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face. In a telegram Hudson sent to a September 1985 Hollywood AIDS benefit, Commitment to Life, which he was too ill to attend in person, Hudson said: “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Hudson, a friend of Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, made a simple plea to the White House for help to get him transferred to a hospital in France in his greatest hour of need. 

“Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness,” Dale Olson, Hudson’s longtime friend and publicist wrote. Although the commanding officer had denied Hudson admission to the French military hospital initially, Olson wrote that they believed “a request from the White House … would change his mind.”

First Lady Nancy Reagan denied Hudson’s the request.

On the morning of October 2, 1985, Hudson died in his sleep from AIDS-related complications at his home in Beverly Hills at age 59, less than two months before what would have been his 60th birthday. Hudson requested that no funeral be held. His body was cremated hours after his death and a cenotaph was later established at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.

Hudson’s revelation had an immediate impact on the visibility of AIDS, and on the funding of medical research related to the disease. Among activists who were seeking to de-stigmatize AIDS and its victims, Hudson’s revelation of his own infection with the disease was viewed as an event that could transform the public’s perception of AIDS.

Rest in Peace Rock.

Gay History – October 23: Almost Forgotten Gay Activist Harry Hay and Quebec’s Gay Club Raid Protests

harry-hay

October 23.

1766: Christoffel Bosch van Leeuwarden, a seventy year old porter in the Netherlands, was convicted of seduction to sodomy and sentenced to three years of prison labor.

1977: Two thousand people demonstrated in downtown Montreal to protest October 22 bar raids. Police attack the demonstrators with motorcycles and billy-clubs and made further arrests.

Truxx and another bar, Le Mystique, were simultaneously raided on Oct. 22, 1977. Fifty police officers wearing bulletproof vests and carrying machine guns conducted the raid, charging 146 patrons as “found-ins” and Truxx’s owner as a keeper of a common bawdy house. Detainees were held for eight hours in crowded cells, subjected to venereal disease testing and denied the opportunity to call their lawyers.

Community response to the raid was quick. The night after the raid, two thousand people blocked a downtown intersection in protest. When police tried to break it up by driving their motorcycles into the crowd and clubbing people, protesters threw beer bottles. Hundreds turned up at a public forum, organized by l’Association pour les droits des gaies du Québec, and a defence committee for the found-ins was formed.

It took five years for the charges against the Truxx patrons to be dropped.

1979: Former Winnipeg Free Press publisher Richard Malone pleads guilty to charges of buggery and obstructing justice. He is given a one-year sentence, following a “juvenile sex ring” investigation in February 1979.

1993: In Helena Montana the state supreme court ruled that “transvestitism” is not a sufficient reason to deny a father joint custody of his 3-year old child.

1998: The Los Angeles City council condemns the “Making Sense of Homosexuality” conference, organized by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, otherwise known as NARTH saying that claims of “curing” homosexuals creates an atmosphere that can lead to anti-gay violence.

1999:  Religious right leader Rev. Jerry Falwell and evangelical Christian supporters met with Rev. Mel White and gay Christians for an anti-violence forum.  Shockingly, it did not stop the violence.

2002:  Pioneering gay rights activist Harry Hay (photo above)  dies of lung cancer in hospice care.

A  founder and architect of the modern gay rights movement, in 1950 Hay and four others formed one of the nation’s first gay rights organizations the Mattachine Society. Hay’s believed in the cultural minority status of homosexuals which led him to take a stand against assimilation.

In June 1969, the Stonewall riots in New York marked a move toward a more radical and militant approach among gay rights activists; Hay however stated that “I wasn’t impressed by Stonewall, because of all the open gay projects we had done throughout the sixties in Los Angeles. As far as we were concerned, Stonewall meant that the East Coast was catching up.” The riot led to the emergence of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), with Hay involving  himself in the early development of its Los Angeles chapter.  In December 1969. Hay was elected its first chairperson, organizing pickets of homophobic establishments, holding a one-day “Gay-In” in Griffith Park and “funky dances” at Troupers Hall to challenge the legal restrictions on same-sex dancing

“We pulled ugly green frog skin of heterosexual conformity over us, and that’s how we got through school with a full set of teeth,” Hay once explained. “We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you’re going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you.”

Hay would later go onto help create the Radical Faeries whose first conference was held on Labor Day 1979. The term “Radical” was chosen to reflect both political extremity and the idea of “root” or “essence”, while the term “Faerie” was chosen in reference both to the immortal animistic spirits of European folklore and to the fact that “fairy” had become a pejorative slang term for gay men.

In the 1980s, Hay involved himself in an array of activist causes, campaigning against South African apartheid, Nicaragua’s Contras, and the death penalty while also joining the nuclear disarmament and pro-choice movements and becoming a vocal critic of the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Hay came to be viewed as an elder statesman within the gay community, and was regularly invited to give speeches to LGBT activist and student groups. He was the featured speaker at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 1982, and Grand Marshal of the Long Beach Gay Pride Parade in 1986. In 1989, West Hollywood city council awarded him an honor for his years of activism while that year he was invited to give a lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, which he turned down.

Bit in 1983 Hay courted controversy. 

He remained highly critical of the mainstream gay rights movement and joined several other early gay rights activists in protesting the exclusion of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) from participation in on the grounds that such exclusions pandered to heterosexual-dominated society.  NAMBLA had marched in the previous Pride parades. But morality was changing.  In a New York University forum, he remarked “If the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world”, highlighting his own relationship with an adult man when he was .  At the 1986 Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade he courted controversy by carrying a banner with “NAMBLA Walks With Me” written on it, after organizers banned the group from joining the march and organizers complained to police and Hay narrowly avoided arrest.  These events overshadowed Hay’s previous legacy so much that today he is all but forgotten and purposely left out of many LGBT historical writings.

Hay refused to participate in the official Heritage of Pride 1994 Pride Parade in New York City commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots because of its exclusionary policies. Instead he joined an alternate parade called “The Spirit of Stonewall”.  As late as 2000 Hay continued to speak out against assimilation, saying, “The assimilationist movement is running us into the ground.”

Harry Hay passed away on October 24, 2002 at age 90. His ashes, mingled with those of his partner John Burnside, were scattered in the Nomenus Faerie Sanctuary, Wolf Creek, Oregon

THIS is our history.

Don’t forget it.

Gay History Month – October 16: Happy Birthday to Oscar Wilde and Nazi Germany’s Paragraph 175

oscar Wilde

October 16th.

1856:  Oscar Wilde is born in Dublin, Ireland.

After writing in different forms throughout the 1880’s, Oscar Wilde became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890’s. Today he is mostly remembered for his keen wit, his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas who 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.

The charge against Wilde carried a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Queensberry was arrested with the charge carrying a possible sentence of up to two years in prison. Under the 1843 Libel Act, Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true, and furthermore that there was some “public benefit” to having made the accusation openly. Queensberry’s lawyers thus hired private detectives to find evidence of Wilde’s homosexual liaisons. They decided on a strategy of portraying Wilde as a depraved older man who habitually enticed naïve youths into a life of vicious homosexuality to demonstrate that there was some public interest in having made the accusation openly

The trial caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Oscar Wilde died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.

1929:  The  Reichstag Committee votes to repeal the notorious Paragraph 175.  

But in the end the Nazis’ rise to power prevents it from being removed from the books and they in turn use it as the tool to persecute hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian and transgender German citizens which they beat, torture and kill, sending many  to concentration camps from which they will never return.

Paragraph 175 made homosexual acts between males a crime, and in early revisions the provision also criminalized bestiality as well as forms of prostitution and underage sexual abuse. All in all, around 140,000 men were convicted under the law.

While the Nazi persecution of homosexuals is reasonably well-known today, far less attention had been given to the continuation of this persecution in post-war Germany.

In 1945, after the concentration camps were liberated, some homosexual prisoners were recalled to custody to serve out their two-year sentence under Paragraph 175. 

In 1950, East Germany abolished Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, whereas West Germany kept them and even had them confirmed by its Constitutional Court.

About 100,000 men were implicated in legal proceedings from 1945 to 1969, and about 50,000 were convicted. Some individuals accused under Paragraph 175 committed suicide.

In 1969, the West Germany government eased Paragraph 175 by providing for an age of consent of 21. The age of consent was lowered to 18 in 1973.  Finally the paragraph was repealed and the age of consent lowered to 14, in 1994.

East Germany had already reformed its more lenient version of the paragraph in 1968, and repealed it in 1988.

HALLOWEEN 2021 COUNTDOWN – WATCH: Sleepaway Camp (1983) Remastered HD – FULL Movie

Sleepaway Camp also marketed on VHS (remember those?) as Nightmare Vacation, is a 1983 low budget exploitation slasher film written and directed by Robert Hiltzik who also served as executive producer. The film is about the killings of teen campers at a summer camp. The film came at a time when slasher films were in their heyday with short shorts and cutoff shirts (on the boys) and is largely known for its twist ending which is considered by some to be one of the most shocking endings among horror films.

Not to give too much away but the film opens in summer 1975, with John Baker and his two children, Angela and Peter out on a lake. After their boat flips, John and the children head ashore, where John’s lover, Lenny is calling. They try to swim back, but are stuck. While driven by an inattentive boater, a motorboat accidentally runs them over, killing John and Peter.

Eight years later in the summer of 1983,  the still traumatized and painfully shy Angela is now living with her “eccentric” Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.  Angela and Ricky are sent to Camp Arawak and soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers. Who is the twisted individual behind these murders? 

You can watch the full digitally remastered UNCUT movie below.

Enjoy Campers.