Tag Archives: Gay History Month

Gay History Month – October 17: Happy Birthday Montgomery Clift, The Black Lesbian Conference and Liberace

 

October 17th.

1920:  Actor Montgomery Clift is born in Omaha Nebraska. Clift often played outsiders and “victim-heroes” examples include the social climber in George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun, the anguished Catholic priest in Hitchcock’s I Confess, the doomed regular soldier Robert E. Lee Prewitt in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity, and the Jewish GI bullied by antisemites in Edward Dmytryk’s The Young Lions.

Clift’s performance in 1951’s A Place in the Sun is regarded as one of his signature method acting performances. He worked extensively on his character and was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. For his character’s scenes in jail, Clift spent a night in a real state prison. He also refused to go along with director George Stevens’ suggestion that he do “something amazing” on his character’s walk to the electric chair. Instead, he walked to his death with a natural, depressed facial expression.

Clift was notoriously picky with his projects.  According to Elizabeth Taylor  “Monty could’ve been the biggest star in the world if he did more movies.” Clift reportedly turned down the starring role in East of Eden just as he had for Sunset Boulevard.

On the evening of May 12, 1956, while filming Raintree County, Clift was involved in a serious auto accident when he apparently fell asleep while driving and smashed his car into a telephone pole minutes after leaving a dinner party at the Beverly Hills home of his close friend and co-star, Elizabeth Taylor, and her second husband, Michael Wilding. Alerted by friend Kevin McCarthy, who witnessed the accident, Taylor raced to Clift’s side, manually pulling a tooth out of his tongue as he had begun to choke on it. He suffered a broken jaw and nose, a fractured sinus, and several facial lacerations which required Wisconsin plastic surgeon

In 1961, with the scars still visible and the left side of his face immobilized from the car crash, Clift gave a stunning portrayal of Rudolph Peterson, an emotionally unstable and physically tortured concentration camp victim in the Stanley Kramer film Judgment at Nuremberg,” earning Clift a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  

Clift became addicted to alcohol and prescription drug abuse, and became erratic. Nevertheless, he continued his acting career, playing such parts as “the reckless, alcoholic, mother-fixated rodeo performer” in John Huston’s The Misfits, the title role in Huston’s Freud.

Montgomery Clift died of a heart attack brought on by “occlusive coronary artery disease” at the age of 46.

During his life Montgomery Clift’s homosexuality was carefully guarded from fans but there were few on the business side of Hollywood  who did not know about it.

Following a 15-minute ceremony at St. James’ Church attended by 150 guests, including Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Walker.

Montgomery Clift was buried in the Friends [Quaker] Cemetery ,Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City.  Elizabeth Taylor, who was in Paris and was a close friend of Monty’s sent flowers, as did Roddy McDowall, Myrna Loy and Lew Wasserman.

Rest in Peace Monty.

1980: The first Black Lesbian Conference took place in San Francisco, California. A development stemming from the first National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference held in Washington, D.C., the previous year, over 200 women were in attendance. One of the conference goals was reportedly to address the wide spectrum of needs for black lesbians and “to provide the courage and strength necessary to make those needs felt in places where it becomes necessary.” Angela Davis gave the conference’s keynote address.

1995: The Advocate published a ground-breaking interview with Barney Frank, Steve Gunderson and Gerry Studds — the three openly gay members of congress at that time. Barney Frank has consistently remained one of the most outspoken and influential gay politicians to this date. That was when of course the Advocate was a legitimate and serious source of news .

1998: The National Gay and Lesbian Law Association appointed Melinda Whiteway as co-chair of the organization, making her the first openly transgender person to hold the position. This is reportedly the only queer law association to be affiliated with the American Bar Association.

 2010: The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas closed after 31 years.

The Liberace Museum closed “indefinitely, but not forever” according to Liberace Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Jeffrey Koep. The closure was announced due to economic downturn and a decline in the number of visitors. The museum’s board of directors is continuing to seek a new home for the museum on Las Vegas strip, but the efforts have thus far been unsuccessful.

On the day of the closing, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Doug Elfman noted that several overly enthusiastic fans attempted to remove some of the small mirrors decorating Liberace’s Rolls-Royce, and another tried to steal a hood ornament from a car on display.

That old gal Lee, would not have been happy.

Gay History – October 10, 1949: Newsweek Magazine Publishes Homophobic Article “Queer People”

 

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 10th: Newsweek Publishes "Queer People", Gays Get Fed Up, and Romer v. Evans

On this day October 10th:

1915:  Albert D. J. Cashier (born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was an Irish-born immigrant who served as a male soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time where he lived as a man, vote in elections and later claimed a veteran’s pension. On May 5, 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there as a man until his mind deteriorated and was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1913.  Attendants at the Watertown State Hospital discovered that he was female-bodied when giving him a bath, at which point he was forced to wear a dress.

Albert Cashier died on October 10, 1915. He was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed “Albert D. J. Cashier,

1949: The periodical Newsweek published a story titled “Queer People” calling out “gay perverts” and comparing them to exhibitionists and sexual sadists. It challenged the idea that homosexuals hurt no one but themselves and are in truth EVIL!

“The sex pervert, whether a homosexual, an exhibitionist, or even a dangerous sadist, is too often regarded merely as a ‘queer’ person who never hurts anyone but himself. Then the mangled form of one of his victims focuses public attention to the degenerate’s work. And newspaper headlines flare for days over accounts and feature articles packed with sensational details of the most dastardly and horrifying crimes.”

The editorial reviewed The Sexual Criminal, a book by J. Paul DeRiver who headed the Los Angeles Police Department’s Sex Offenses Bureau. Newsweek lauded the “factual scientific book” with 43 case histories, including “lots of very queer people” including “the sadistic pedophile,” “zoophiles, psychopaths who performed sadistic acts on animals, and the necrophiles, who …commit acts of moral degeneracy upon or in the presence of dead bodies.” Eugene D. Williams, a California “special assistant attorney general,” wrote the introduction to the book, in which he warned that “the semi-hysterical, foolishly sympathetic, and wholly unscientific attitude of any individual engaged in social work and criminology to regard sex perverts as poor unfortunates who are suffering from disease and cannot help themselves, has a tendency to feed their ego.” To which Newsweek added:

A sterner attitude is required, if the degenerate is to be properly treated and cured. Williams suggests that the sex pervert be treated, not as a coddled patient, but as a particularly virulent type of criminal. “To punish him,” he concludes, “he should be placed in an institution where the proper kind of rehabilitory work can be done so that, of capable of being brought to the realization of the error of his ways, he may be brought back to society prepared to live as a normal, law-abiding individual, rather than turned out as he now is from the penitentiary, confirmed in his perversion.

1964: The East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) Hosts First Conference Calling for Direct Action:

The Daughters of Bilities, the Janus Society of Philadelphia, and the Mattachine Societies of New York and Washington, D.C., met in the nation’s capital for the second conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose confederation formed in 1962. Attendance was light: only about a hundred people showed up at the Sheraton Park Hotel, thanks to ECHO’s difficulty in getting the word out about where the event would take place. The Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW), which was hosting the conference, saw three other hotels cancel their bookings and three newspapers refusing to run ads for the conference. Those who showed up were charged up and impatient with the old ways of doing things. The DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder, set the scene:

“I’m an activist,” said a handsome young man present at the ECHO conference for 1964. “I’ve read nearly 75 books in the New York Mattachine Society library, and I’m fed up with reading on the subject of homosexuality.” His statement seemed to typify the attitude pervading this serious conference.

Any disappointment over the small attendance (less than 100 persons) could be offset by the fact that this was a down-to-business meeting attended primarily by those dedicated to immediate action. It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discriminations against the homosexual citizen in our society.

We talked with a long-time friend of one of the sponsoring organizations, and his remarks confirmed our view. “A few years ago,” he said, “ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”

Signs of that different mood were everywhere, beginning with MSW’s Robert King’s prescient keynote address , which described that growing new mood. He said that gay people were asking for “the rights, and all the rights, afforded the heterosexual. We are still in the asking stage. We will soon reach the demanding stage. (… A) dormant army is beginning to stir.” J.C. Hodges, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, challenged the prevailing timidity of previous homophile leaders to get involved with politics, declaring that “politics is everybody’s business.” He urged attendees to throw themselves into established political organizations. “Involve yourself if  you are to have any voice on your own behalf.”

1987: As a sign of protest over two thousand gay and lesbian couples are “married” in a mass mock wedding in front of Washington, DC’s Internal Revenue Service building as part of the Second National March on Washington.

1990: Members of the London-based LGBT rights group OutRage held a kiss-in at Brief Encounter, a gay pub that previously banned same-sex kissing. A month prior to the kiss-in, the organization delivered a formal letter of complaint to the pub in an effort to lift the ban.

1995: Romer v. Evans went to trial and the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments. A landmark legal battle, it was the first Supreme Court case to address issues of LGBT rights since  Romer vs. Evans laid the foundation for the historic Lawrence v. Texas case years later.

1997: The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) took part in the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, involving around twenty congregations. Within this same time period, MCC founder Reverend Elder Perry oversaw a massive commitment ceremony in conjunction with this event for over 2,000 gay and lesbian couples.

1998: Prominent British actor, broadcaster and lesbian activist Jackie Forster passed away. Following her coming out in 1969, she joined the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and later became a founding member of London’s Gay Liberation Front. She was immortalized by the LGBT rights group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “Saint Jackie of the Eternal Mission to Lay Sisters” in 1994.

2008:  In Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote that the state’s constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage. The decision made Connecticut the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to have its state supreme court declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

 

Gay History Month – October 5: Truman Capote, Miss Peggy Lee, and Robert Mapplethorpe Banned In Cincinnati

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 5th: Truman Capote, Peggy Lee and Robert Mapplethorpe Banned In Cincinnati

The Moment by Robert Mapplethorpe

On October 5th…..

1726 – Diplomat, spy and solider Chevalier d’Eon who lived his first 49 years as, and her last 33 years as a women is born in born in Tonnerre Brugandy, France.   From 1777, d’Éon claimed to be anatomically a woman, and dressed as such.  It was not until doctors examined the body after d’Éon’s death discovered that he was anatomically male.

1840 – John Addington Symonds, one of the earliest scholars of gay and lesbian issues is born. Symonds assisted Havelock Ellis in the writing of “Sexual Inversion”.  Although he married and had a family, Symonds was an early advocate of “male love”and referred to it as l’amour de l’impossible (love of the impossible).

1961 – The movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s written by Truman Capote and adapted for the screen by George Axelrod opens in theaters.

Capote’s unorthodox views on sex and gender, modern critics have excavated the original novella and movies subtle references to the alternative sexual identities and practices of the text’s male characters, suggesting that Capote intended Breakfast at Tiffany’s as an exploration of the powerful and loving relationships that often exist between straight women and gay men.

1967 – Ethel Merman makes a guest appearance as “Lola Lasagne” on Batman. One of the worst villains ever to appear in the  television series.

1969 – Peggy Lee’s camp classic Is That All There Is? enters the top-40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and gay men have been singing it ever since.

1969 The Washington Blade publishes its first issue. At that time it was called The Gay Blade and actually wrote articles that contained hard hitting journalism and gay activism unlike today.

1987 – The city commission of Traverse City, Michigan voted unanimously to repeal a law banning the sale of condoms in city limits.

1990 – Dennis Barrie, director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, was acquitted of obscenity charges after displaying a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit.

 This was the first criminal trial of an art museum arising from the contents of an exhibition.  The group Citizens for Community Values an affiliate of the anti-gay hate group the American Family Associated who also has ties to the Family Research Council organized the protest against Mapplethorpe’s exhibit. The CCV is still active in the Cincinnati area today and boasts itself as being a proud affiliate of the the Family Research Council and the American Family Association. 

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis who arrested Barrie declared the photos to be “smut.” “This was beyond pornography,” Leis told the Enquirer in March 2015. “When you put a fist up a person’s rectum, what do you call that? That is not art.

Oh yes. Yes it is.

1998 – The US Congress killed an amendment by Rep Frank Riggs (R-CA) which would have barred San Francisco from spending federal housing money to implement its domestic partner ordinance.

 

October Is GAY – LGBT HISTORY MONTH! Now Learn A Little History Lesson About Why.

While everyday here at Back2Stonewall  is about gay history.  October is “officially” known in the United States as Gay History Month. (Later referred to as LGBT History Month, LGBTQ Hisrory Month, etc. as to give the focus of inclusion to all.)

The LGBT community’s history is the only community worldwide that is not taught in public schools (except California) or in religious institutions. So Gay History Month provides a venue for stories of events and role models which helps build the community and make a civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.

So lets learn a little gay history about Gay/LGBT History Month and how and why it came to be in October and not June when we celebrate PRIDE and the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. 

In 1994 Rodney Wilson, a gay Missouri high school teacher, believed that a month should be set aside and dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history. 

Wilson chose the month of October for two reasons.

1.  National Coming Out Day already was established as a widely known event,

2.  October 11 also commemorated the march on Washington in 1979.

Wilson’s students at Mehlville High School in Missouri became real-life lesson participants in the civil rights fight when in 1994 during a showing of a film about Nazi Germany called The Holocaust, Wilson held up a poster showing emblems used to identify people in concentration camps.  Wilson said to them: “If I had been in Europe during World War II, they would have put this pink triangle on me and gassed me to death, because I am gay.”

And thus Gay History Month was born.

Among the early supporters and members of the first coordinating committee were Kevin Jennings, then of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Kevin Boyer of Gerber/Hart Gay and Lesbian Library and Archives in Chicago; Paul Varnell, writer for the Windy City Times; Torey Wilson, Chicago area teacher; Johnda Boyce, women’s studies major at Columbus State University and Jessea Greenman of UC-Berkeley.  Many gay and lesbian organizations supported the concept early on as did Governors William Weld of Massachusetts and Lowell Weicker of Connecticut and Mayors such as Thomas Menino of Boston and Wellington Webb of Denver, who recognized the inaugural month with official proclamations.

In 1995, the National Education Association indicated support of Gay/LGBT History Month as well as other history months by resolution at its General Assembly

Gay and LBT histories are fragile since many events were never officially documented by legitimate news sources and many stories are carried down through generations. Some truthfully and some embellished. But nevertheless our history is important. Because learning from our past is the only way to move forward in the future. 

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Gay History Month – Remembering Marsha P. Johnson: The Original Transgender Activist (1945 – 1992)

Marsha P. Johnson was an African-American transgender activist and a popular figure in New York City’s gay scene from the 1960s to the 1990s.

One of the city’s oldest and best known “drag queens”, (which is what Marsha proudly reffered to herself as) Marsha sometimes worked as a waitress, but usually she worked the streets. She was known for helping other transvestites and street people and was regarded as one of NYC’s original drag mothers.

Marsha participated in clashes with the police amid the Stonewall Riots along with her friend Sylvia Rivera and both became co-founders, of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) in the early 1970s.   Marsha and Sylvia became the mothers of  S.T.A.R House and together gathered food and clothing to help support the young queens living in the house on the streets of the lower East Side of New York.

Marsha was one of a kind.  Once, appearing in a court the judge asked Marsha, “What does the ‘P’ stand for?”,  Johnson gave her customary response “Pay it No Mind.” and the  judge laughed and let her go.  This phrase became her trademark. In 1974 Marsha P. Johnson was photographed by famed artist Andy Warhol, as part of a “ladies and gentlemen” series of polaroids featuring drag queens.

Masha P. Johnson was as tough and as gritty as New York City itself.  But as kind and as loving as any mother could be to her “children”

In July of 1992 that came to an abrupt end when Marsha’s body was found floating in the Hudson River off the West Village Piers shortly after the 1992 Pride March. Police ruled the death a suicide. Johnson friends and supporters said she was not suicidal, and a people’s postering campaign later declared that Johnson had earlier been harassed near the spot where her body was found.  Attempts to get the police to investigate the cause of death were unsuccessful but many today believe that Marsha was murdered.

Marsha P. Johnson was an original, an activist, and a martyr.

May she be at peace and never be forgotten………