Tag Archives: Today In Gay

Gay History – May 13: Happy Birthday Armistead Maupin! With Love, 28 Barbary Lane.

 

Armistead Maupin was born on this day in Washington, D.C. in 1944.  

Maupin grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He began working as a newspaper reported in Charleston, S.C. before he moved to San Francisco in 1971 to work for the Associated Press.  In 1976, he released the first installment of his Tales of the City serials. first in a now-defunct Marin County newspaper and later in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Because installments were published so soon after Maupin wrote them, he was able to incorporate many current events into the serials portrayal of both straight and LGBT life in San Francisco, as well as gauge reader response and modify the story accordingly. At one point Maupin received a letter from a reader who pointed out that one of the characters’ names was an anagram, providing Maupin with one of the more memorable and surprising plot twists in the book. 

Real life people such as Jim Jones and a thinly veiled Elizabeth Taylor are mentioned in the story lines. A prominent closeted gay celebrity is represented as “______ ______” throughout the third novel, with sufficient detail available to deduce that it could be Rock Hudson.

Tales of the City was later reworked into the series of books published by HarperCollins (then Harper and Row). The first of Maupin’s novels, entitled Tales of the City, was published in 1978. Five more followed in the 1980s, ending with the last book, Sure of You, in 1989. A seventh novel published in 2007, Michael Tolliver Lives, continues the story of some of the characters. It was followed by an eighth volume, Mary Ann in Autumn, published in 2010 and a ninth and final volume, The Days of Anna Madrigal, in 2014.  Maupin was one of the first writers to address the subject of AIDS in his storylines.

Of the autobiographical nature of the characters, he says “I’ve always been all of the characters in one way or another.”

The Tales of the City books have been translated into ten languages, and there are more than six million copies in print. Several of the books have been adapted and broadcast on BBC Radio 4

On June 7, 2019 after a year in development Netflix released a new 10-episode installment of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City,” based on the book “Maryann in Autumn” 

Maupin married his husband Christopher Turner in Vancouver. During a trip to Australia in 2011, Maupin and his husband were denied the use of a restroom at a saloon in Alice Springs where they were having lunch. The bartender told them to go across the street because their rest room was reserved for “real men.” “So we did what real men do and crossed the street to the visitor’s center where we filed a complaint,” Maupin wrote. “Impressively we received an e-mail apology from the bartender that afternoon. Fair dinkum, mate. Next time don’t [expletive] with the poofters.”

If you have never read it or seen the PBS mini-series based on the books, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series is must reading for all in the LGBT community both old and young.  It’s an entertaining and loving throwback to an earlier time that is also historical looking back to an almost forgotten time in LGBT history that has since overshadowed by the AIDS epidemic.

Thank you and Happy Birthday Armisted.

Mouse. (WK)

 

Gay History - May 6, 1933: The Attack on Magnus Hirschfeld's Berlin Institute for Sexual Research and the Nazi “Säuberung” Book Burnings [VIDEO]

Gay History – May 6, 1933: Nazi Youth Attack Magnus Hirschfeld’s Berlin Institute for Sexual Research – The “Säuberung” Book Burnings [RARE VIDEO]

May 6,1933: The Berlin Institute for Sexual Research and the Nazi “Säuberung” Book Burnings

On May 6, 1933, less than six months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had come to power, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research

The works of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Jewish doctor and sexual reformer were hardly in line with Aryan ideas about the nation’s sex life: his model of intermediate sexual stages allowed room for homosexuality as well as for hermaphrodites or transvestites. He welcomed racial mixing as an enrichment of the diversity of human life.  The Nazi reaction was unequivocal: “We will not have our people demoralized, so burn, Magnus Hirschfeld!”

On the night of May 10th.  Hitler Youth and right-wing students in 34 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit” and called for Nazi officials, university faculty and chaplains, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. Then, singing songs and taking “fire oaths” as band music played, in large open-air bonfires, the students burned thousands of “un-German books,” taken in raids on public and university libraries, private collections, and bookstores. The events also received widespread media attention – not only newspaper coverage, but also “live” radio broadcasts of the songs and speeches.

The seemingly “spontaneous” demonstrations in Berlin were actually carefully orchestrated by Nazi leader Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as part of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (“synchronization”), which sought to align all elements of German society, polity, and culture with Nazi ideology by purging them of Jews and those considered “politically suspect” and by defining their work as “degenerate.”  40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”

The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.— Joseph Goebbels, Speech to the students in Berlin

Three days later on May 13, 1933 famed gay writer Christopher Isherwood wrote:  

“It is a quarter past midnight and I have just finished packing. In eight hours I am going to leave Berlin, perhaps for ever……. I have already made the journey several times in my head, composed funny postcards to all my friends. And now the day which seemed too good, too bad to be true, the day when I should leave Germany, has arrived, and I only know about the future that, however often and however variously I have imagined it to myself, the reality will be quite different.” 

By the time of the book burning, Hirschfeld had left Germany for a speaking tour that took him around the world; he never returned to Germany.

On his 67th birthday, 14 May 1935, Hirschfeld died of a heart attack in his apartment at the Gloria Mansions I building at 63 Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

76 years after the destruction of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research in 2011, the Federal Cabinet of Germany granted 10 million euros to establish the Magnus Hirschfeld National Foundation (Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld), a foundation to support research and education about the life and work of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, German LGBT culture and community, and ways to counteract prejudice against LGBT people.

Gay History

Gay History – January 7, 1949: 4 Men Plead Guilty To “Homosexual Offenses” After Gay Witch Hunt at University of Missouri

Via the Associated Press:

Columbia, Mo., Jan 7. (AP). Four men pleaded guilty yesterday to statutory charges and were placed on probation four years. They were Warren W. Heathman, itinerant agriculture instruction for the Veterans Administration at Rolla; Harry J. Sohn Jr., of Hannibal, former University of Missouri student; Willie D. Coots of Columbia, former clerk in a novelty shop, and Joe Byers, local grocer.

In the late 1940’s, Missouri law classified homosexual acts as felony crimes against nature. The University of Missouri in Columbia first began ousting homosexuals during this period, after it developed a reputation as a “safe haven” for gay men. 

Under orders from the state legislature, MU developed policies to halt the influx of homosexuals, and university officials set up a committee to investigate suspects. The university also identified homosexuals based on the testimonies of students and faculty who were offered immunity from discipline in return for testifying against one another.

To catch homosexuals in the act, the university installed a “one-way screen” in the men’s restroom in Ellis Library, where discipline officials could secretly watch men engage in homosexual acts before apprehending them. Although official records are nearly impossible to find, anecdotal evidence still survives after more than four decades.

The prior spring, newspapers reported on a “homosexual ring” with “mad homosexual parties” taking place near the University of Missouri campus. According to Boone County court documents and articles from The Kansas City Star  E.K. Johnston was arrested in May 1948 and charged with sodomy in connection with a “homosexual ring” in Salem, MO. On May 28, 1948.  Reports also indicate that “at least of score” of other students and residents were “implicated in the ring.” 

E.K. Johnston, former journalism professor at the university pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a similar charge and was placed on four-year probation. Yesterday’s action closed the cases resulting from an investigation last spring of homosexual activities at the university and elsewhere.

MU issued a formal statement explaining Johnston’s dismissal “in view of the nature and gravity of the charges……” it read.

Johnston moved to Kansas City, where he lived until his death in 1990.

Others were not so lucky. 

The record does show clear evidence that that lives were ruined and several incidences of homicide and suicide were a direct result of the University of Missouri’s gay witch-hunt.

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.

July 18, 1970: After the Stonewall Riots NYPD Continues Bar Raids, Mafia Bar Owners Get More Brazen

Despite the fact that the Stonewall Riots happened a year earlier change did not happen overnight for the lesbian and gay community in NYC especially when it came to the NYPD. Yes, the gay community was bit more organized but the police continued to raid gay bars and clubs, nearly all of which continued to be mob-owned. At this time in history the community actually found itself fighting on two fronts:

  1. Against direct harassment by the police.
  2.  From getting caught in the crossfire between organized crime and corrupt police officials.

Gay activist Randy Wicker described what happened at The Barn, an after-hours club in the early morning hours of July 18, 1970. in his column in GAY, the nation’s first weekly gay newspaper:

Barn Baloney Bared: New York Police raided the Barn Sunday, July 18th, issued summonses to nine employees and sent dozens of patrons scrambling out of the back rooms and into the streets. Management mafiosi reportedly took to the streets also shouting “gay power” and urging the patrons to return apparently hoping to provoke a confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly thereafter and most of the patrons re-entered the club.

“These raids shouldn’t be conducted at all,” Marty Robinson, GAA (Gay Activists Alliance) Political Affairs Committee chairman, declared. “We don’t like these management people running around the street shouting ‘gay power’ to further their own ends. Gay people should not simply be pawns in a power struggle between the police and underworld elements. A conference with Police Commissioner Leary has been arranged to discuss this matter more fully.

And they did meet exactly one month later.  

Robinson  led a delegation to meet with  to discuss the problem of the mafia-owned bars as well as how the police treated gay people.

As GAY reported on August 17, 1970:

Jim Owles, president of GAA, told Commissioner Leary that the homosexual community is achieving a new awareness of itself and its problems, partly as a result of its witnessing other minority group struggles and partly as a result of problem. with the police that the gay community continually faces. He charged that raids on after-hours gay bars were made at hours on weekend nights, with police by their mere presence intimidating scores of patrons. “They hang around, they check I.D .’s at random. they indulge in verbal abuse, they station one man at the door and a patrol car out front for several minutes.

Recently at the Barn (an after-hours bar), Owles contended, a police raid created a very heated atmosphere and near violence. “We’re here to ask you what can be done. Your actions make it difficult for a civil rights organization such as ours that is trying to reform the establishment. When we work against a background of such police tactics, they tend to undermine our efforts and to drive the gay community into the hands of extremists,” Owles charged. Nevertheless, he explained, “we are not asking the police to close down after-hours bars.” He said GAA’s concern was that homosexual patrons should be left alone when police take action against such establishments.”

Robinson pointed out that the syndicate owns legitimate bars, too. He said “We’re here about a social condition — syndicate control of gay bars and payoffs to police. The bars are run shabbily and are a bad influence on the young kids just coming out who patronize these places and who already don’t know what to make of themselves because of the way society receives them. Such gay bars shouldn’t be tolerated in these years. We can’t live with it. We want to see legitimate bars where there’s no guy at the door with a cigar in his face saying to kids, ‘Welcome to your life- this is it, your subculture, your subterranean existence.’ Commissioner, our desire now is that anyone who’s honest can get into business and stay in without a shakedown, and can get police protection. But we must have police protection for this to be possible.

Reinforcing Robinson’s earlier remarks, Owles told the police that successful bars not opened by the syndicate were quickly taken over by it. “In an era when homosexuals are seeking their civil rights, it’s a blatant insult to have to go to a bar taken over by the syndicate. This situation will blow up sooner or later,” he warned. “Hence GAA is pressing for an investigation of alleged collusion between the State Liquor Authority and organized crime. Meanwhile, whatever struggles there are between the police and the syndicate, we simply ask that homosexual patrons not be used as pawns in between.

This is our history.

Gay History – April 17, 1965: Frank Kameny Leads The First Gay & Lesbian Protest At The White House

On April 17th, 1965 Dr. Frank Kameny, along with gay rights pioneer Jack Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC  bravely led the first “homosexual rights” protest at the White House at a time in history when being gay and lesbian was viewed as an abomination in this country.

The Mattachine Society fought for the equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government, the repeal of sodomy laws, and the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders..

Ten MSW members along with members of the Daughters of Bilitis picketed in front of the White House against Cuban and the US governments repression of homosexuals.

The group also included:  Gail Johnson,  Gene Kleeberg, Judith Kuch, Paul Kuntzler, Perrin Shaffer, Jon Swanson, Otto Ulrich, Lilli Vincenz (editor of MSW’s quarterly).

Of the protest, Jack Nichols wrote “Never before had gay people as an organized group paraded openly for our rights.”

Nichols recalls:

The picket took place during mid-afternoon. It was the Saturday before Easter, and tourists walked the downtown streets. Lige [Clarke], driving the convertible, took me to the White House curb and helped me unload signs. Then he drove off to work the afternoon shift at the Pentagon. Gail arrived at the site on the back seat of Ray’s motorcycle.It was agreed I should lead the picket line. The reason for this was that I was tall and an all-American sort. Also, I suppose, because I’d conceived the event. Frank Kameny marched behind me and Lilli Vincenz behind him …

As we marched, I looked about at our well-dressed little band. Kameny had insisted that we seven men must wear suits and ties, and the women, dresses and heels. New Yorkers later complained that we Washingtonians looked like a convention of undertakers, but given the temper of the times, Kameny’s insistence was apropos. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he intoned, “look employable!” In the staid nation’s capital, dressing for the occasion was, in spite of New York critics, proper.

We paraded in a small circle. Behind lampposts stood unknown persons photographing us. Were they government agents? Perrin and Otto wore sunglasses so absolute identification would be difficult should they fall prey to security investigations. We walked for an hour that passed, as I’d predicted, without incident. A few tourists gawked and there were one or two snickers, more from confusion than from prejudice.

We’d hoped for more publicity than we got. Only The Afro-American carried a small item about what we’d done. But we’d done it, and that was what mattered. We’d stood up against the power structure, putting our bodies on the line. Nothing had happened except that we’d been galvanized, and, to a certain extent, immunized against fear.”

The Mattachine Society protest was not welcomed by the mainstream gay movement of the time.  The more conservative leaders of the gay movement felt picketing would draw adverse publicity and even greater hostility. (Which sounds very familiar to what we hear today from some LGBT rights groups.)

The Mattachine Society’s protest of the White House, along with the Stonewall Riots are among two of the most significant events in LGBT History. But sadly as we look at the pictures and read the slogans on the picket signs of our LGBT activist forefathers I realize many of the slogans on these signs could still be carried in protest today.

In 2009 I wrote an article for Cincinnati CityBeat  the Queen City’s alternative newspaper called Reason To Rally where I offered an explanation of why I believe the momentum of our fight for equality has stalled to a snail’s pace

Since then, (the Stonewall riots) the cause for Equality has undertaken many different forms.

An angry queer in a T-shirt and jeans might have symbolized the gay activism of the 1970s, but the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s caused a significant change in approach.

By the end of the 90’s gay advocacy became symbolized by well groomed and overpaid white people sitting on boards, issuing press releases, asking for contributions and hosting fabulous galas instead of multitudes taking to the streets and demanding our rights

We now donate instead of protest. We sign countless petitions and then sit behind our computers and bitch and moan about our oppression instead of doing something about it ourselves.

Our cause has been splintered, fragmented and hijacked into piecemeal specific issues such as gay marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act instead of what we should be doing: standing together as one and fighting for and demanding federal recognition and protections in toto

Now with the push of “religious liberty” laws by those who hate us to roll back the rights we have fought so hard for we must  stand together, side-by-side and fight the hatred and bigotry that we deal with everyday and let them know that we’ll no longer accept being treated as second-class citizens and allow them spread lies and propaganda about us and our lives.

Too many years have passed and too many of our friends have left us without knowing what true equality is.

We must ALL stand up and start fighting again.

We must not only fight  for ourselves and those in out community but also for the memory of those who bravely began this fight and are no longer with us and left this world without achieving equality.

We must achieve that goal for them, for us, and those who will come after.

This is still our time.  This is still our fight.

Gay History - April 29, 1955: Rod McKuen  Born Singer-Songwriter, Actor, and Gay Rights Activist

PRIDE MONTH: The Hidden Gay Activism and Sexuality of Singer-Songwriter Rod McKuen

The Erased Gay Activism and Past of Singer Rod McKuen

“Rod” McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) was an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks and classical music. He earned two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. McKuen’s translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. McKuen’s songs sold over 100 million recordings worldwide, and 60 million books of his poetry were sold as well, according to the Associated Press.  This is known to many.  But what’s not widely known about is McKuen’s queer past and his gay activism work.

Rod McKuenMcKuen was a longtime supporter of gay rights. not many know that in the 1950s, he held a leadership role in the San Francisco chapter of the Mattachine Society.  McKuen also publicly opposed Anita Bryant and dubbed her:  ‘Ginny Orangeseed’—and gave benefit performances gay discos in Miami, New York, and LA to raise money for gay rights groups to fight her. He also engaged in AIDS activism for well over a decade, participating in numerous fundraisers in support of AIDS related charities.

The cover for his 1977 album  Slide… Easy In album, (pictured left), depicts the arm of 1970’s gay porn star Bruno, his fist filled with Crisco, hovering above a can with the label “disco” on it. The so-called “Crisco/Disco” album featured the song “Don’t Drink the Orange Juice,” released during the national “gaycot” of Florida orange juice in response to the Anita Bryant campaign.

Later that same year the Associated Press asked McKuen if he was gay. He responded: “I’ve been attracted to men and I’ve been attracted to women. I have a 16-year-old son. You put a label on.” By the end of the year, the Baltimore Sun casually described McKuen as a homosexual. While the gay newspaper, The Advocate, in 1976, it had gave McKuen the dubious “Something You do in the Dark” closet case award for refusing to identify as gay.

In 2004, a reporter asked  McKuen once again if he was gay. As with his AP interview two decades earlier, McKuen refused to label his sexual activities:

Am I gay? Let me put it this way, Collectively I spend more hours brushing my teeth than having sex so I refuse to define my life in sexual terms. I’ve been to bed with women and men and in most cases enjoyed the experience with either sex immensely. Does that make me bi-sexual? Nope. Heterosexual? Not exclusively. Homosexual? Certainly not by my definition.

I am sexual by nature and I continue to fall in love with people and with any luck human beings of both sexes will now and again be drawn to me. I can’t imagine choosing one sex over the other, that’s just too limiting. I can’t even honestly say I have a preference. I’m attracted to different people for different reasons.

I do identify with the Gay Rights struggle, to me that battle is about nothing more or less than human rights. I marched in the 50’s and 60’s to protest the treatment of Blacks in this country and I’m proud of the fact that I broke the color barrier in South Africa by being the first artist to successfully demand integrated seating at my concerts. I am a die-hard feminist and will continue to speak out for women’s rights as long as they are threatened. These, of course, are all social issues and have nothing to do with my sex life (although admittedly I’ve met some pretty hot people of both sexes on the picket line.)

Singer Rod McKuen died on January 29, 2015 with many new outlets erasing the fact that for over half a century McKuen selflessly and  proudly advocated for gay rights while refusing to put a sexual label on himself.

And now you know.

The Alienist: The Real History Paresis Hall, “Fairy Sexual Degenerate” Hangout

 

In 1899 and 1900, a New York state special legislative committee was formed to investigate the corruption of Tammany Hall. The city’s Democratic bosses’ corruption notwithstanding, the Republican-led state investigation took on a decidedly partisan tone, with committee members taking every opportunity to portray New York City as a den of filth and degeneracy. Among those called to testify was Joel S. Harris, a police investigator, who told of the goings-on at Paresis Hall, a popular hangout for “sexual degenerates”:

I was with Mr. (John R. Wood, another investigator) last night at Paresis Hall, No 392 Bowery. I observed the actions of the persons congregated there. I saw and heard immoral actions and propositions by degenerates there. Captain Chapman came in about five minute to 1, as we stepped out. … We had been in the place about an hour or so; plenty of time for information to get from Paresis Hall to the stationhouse. Captain Chapman didn’t say anything to us, but I overheard him say to the proprietor … that he would not tand for any dancing on souvenir night, and he wanted it shut up. I have been in that place before, recently, three or four times, and I have on each occasion noticed the same conduct as I have just testified to. That is a well-known resort for male prostitutes; a place having a reputation far and wide, to the best of my knowledge. I have heard of it constantly. I have never had any trouble in going in. You go in off the street with perfect ease. These men that conduct themselves there — well, they act effeminately; most of them are painted and powdered; they are called Princess this and Lady So and So and the Duchess of Marlboro, and get up and sing as women, and dance; ape the female character; call each other sisters and take people out for immoral purposes. I have had these propositions made to me, and made repeatedly. There is not difficulty in getting into that place.

George P. Hammond, Jr., also testified:

I know this place called Paresis Hall, and under your directions I have visited it a number fo times. I have been in the place since April 1st to the present time fully half a dozen times. I knew of it before, as an officer of the City Vigilance League. I am in the produce business. When this committee began its sessions I took a vacation on the produce business and came in to help you. The character of the place is such that what we call male degenerates frequent the place, and it is a nightly occurrence that they solicit men for immoral purposes. They have one woman who goes there they call a hermaphrodite. These male degenerates solicit men at the tables, and I believe they get a commission on all drinks that are purchased there; they get checks. I have observed five or six of these degenerates frequent that place, possibly more; the last we were there we saw a greater number than we did previously. Those five or six are always to be found there; almost invariably you will find them there .hey go from there across the street to a place called Little Bucks, opposite, and from there to Coney Island. I have never had any difficulty in getting in; not the least; I have been received with open arms. There are two ways of going in, one way up through the barroom, the other through a side entrance; any way at all that suits you can walk in … They have a piano there, and these fairies or male degenerates, as you call them, they sing some songs.

Paresis Hall, was located in the Bowery on 5th Street near Cooper Union was opened by James T. (‘Biff’) Ellison. Ellison (a gangster affiliated with the Five Points Gang, and then the Gopher Gang) who made no attempt to disguise his establishment as anything other than a ‘fairy resort”.

Paresis Hall much like bars of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, functioned as an important social center, providing a sense of community and support. For a population crowded into tenements with no privacy available, saloons and halls like Paresis Hall were places where they could meet, socialize, organize, and ‘enjoy one another’s company.’ Many working class men and youths in the tenement districts met in places like this, where they could hold unsupervised gatherings, create informal social clubs, and even sponsor larger dances or balls. A few men of the Paresis Hall men organized a club called the Cercle Hermaphroditis, which permanently rented a room above the bar. At the time, laws against transvestism, as well as the antagonism of other men, made dressing in women’s attire on the streets dangerous. Paresis Hall gave them a space where they could gather without fear, and store some of their personal things in a place more private than their living areas.

Sources:

Box Turtle Bulletin

GVDHP.org