Tag Archives: Village People

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.

The VILLAGE PEOPLE Are Fine With Donald Trump Playing Gay Anthems 'YMCA,' and 'Macho Man'

The VILLAGE PEOPLE Are Fine With Donald Trump Playing Gay Anthems ‘YMCA,’ and ‘Macho Man’

*IMPORTANT NOTE: The group that now calls themselves The Village People ARE NOT the originals with the exception of lead singer Victor Willis. “Can’t Stop The Music Entertainment” lost the rights to the name and the music in 2017 to the original Policeman Victor Willis who was only with the group 2 years and later went on to be Mr. Phylicia Rashad, a drug addict, arrested for various other charges and was even featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” This is not OUR Village People but Willis’ and his last grasp at milking every cent out of the brand and this should not tarnish the memories of the original group.

The latest reincarnation of the Village People have turned their backs on their LGBT fan base and given the go-ahead for President Donald Trump to plays its songs at events, despite being flooded with requests and complaints urging the the recycled group to block the president’s use of the music.

Remember everyone this is not our beloved Village People from the late 1970’s and 1980’s but a group one person removed from being a cover band. And a rather cringeworthy cover band at that.

David Hodo the Village People’s original construction worker weighs in:


Gay Disco Music History: Henri Belolo, Co-Founder of the Village People, Dies at 82

Gay Disco Music History: Henri Belolo, Co-Founder of the Village People, Dies at 82

Henri Belolo — he’s the one without a costume — with the Village People in an undated photograph. Mr. Belolo and the composer Jacques Morali, a business partner, created the group in 1977 after, he recalled, they “started to fantasize on what were the characters of America.”

Henri Belolo, one of the creative minds behind the Village People, died on Aug. 3 of pancreatic cancer at his home in Paris. He was 82.

Via the New York Times:

Mr. Belolo had been a music producer and executive in Morocco and France in 1977 when one night he and the composer Jacques Morali, his business partner, were at the Anvil, an after-hours gay nightclub in the West Village of Manhattan. They noticed a bartender who doubled as a dancer wearing a headdress and loincloth.

As they watched, the man, Felipe Rose — who was wearing that outfit to honor his Native American father — attracted the attention of a man dressed as a cowboy.

“Jacques and I suddenly had the same idea,” Mr. Belolo told the website Disco-Disco in 2000. “We said, ‘My God, look at those characters.’ So we started to fantasize on what were the characters of America. The mix, you know, of the American man.”

Mr. Belolo, who was straight, and Mr. Morali, who was gay, initially focused on gay listeners as the group’s core audience. They had regularly frequented gay clubs in Manhattan like the Anvil and the Ramrod. Later after the group became popular they packaged the Village People as a “straight group” but everybody.

Jacques Morali, died from complications of AIDS in 1991, believed that he and Mr. Belolo could build hits in gay discos — “Y.M.C.A.” rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979; “In the Navy” reached No. 3 that same year; “Macho Man” peaked at No. 25 in 1978.