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Gay History – January 15, 1973: Remembering Lance Loud. America’s First OUT Gay Man On Television

Decades before Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto there was a young man named Lance Loud who brought gay awareness, lifestyle and culture to millions of homes across America at a time when it was unheard of.

On January 15, 1973 Lance Loud came out on the PBS “series” An American Family. He was the first person to come out on national television.

Am American Family” An American Family, was a 12-episode reality documentary series broadcast in 1973 on PBS. The directors, Alan and Susan Raymond, were the first to install cameras into a real-life situation. They documented hundreds of hours of the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. During the course of the filming, the marriage of Bill and Pat Loud imploded, they separated, and Pat filed for divorce. The documentary became a real-life soap opera and the progenitor of ”reality television,” in which private lives were captured for a national audience.

An American Family also delved into the lives of the Loud children, Delilah and Michele and brothers Kevin, Grant and oldest son Lance.

Lance was the first openly gay person depicted on television, and was shocking to an audience that had rarely witnessed frank portrayals of homosexuality on television. Lances scenes were of his true self, wearing blue lipstick, moving to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, and introducing his mother to the gay underground music and art world of transvestites, hustlers and types of  gritty New Yorker’s that were never seen on television before and made an American Family a groundbreaking series first. (In 2001 Pat Loud  stating that the family were all probably aware of Lance’s sexual orientation beforehand. )

After the show ended Lance remained in New York for 10 years living in a Lower East Side apartment writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and performing in a semi-successful rock band called the Mumps.

In 1981, Lance moved back to California, where he studied journalism. He was a regular contributor to such publications as the Advocate, Details and Interview. . He was a presence in Los Angeles’ gay community but shed his earlier flamboyance, saying he had “gone back into the closet; no more blue lipstick.” Over the years, he spent time working with animal rescue organizations.

Whenever “An American Family” was rebroadcast, Lance was cast back into the spotlight. A one-hour sequel, “An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later,” appeared on HBO in 1983. His mother reviled the original series, telling an interviewer once that she felt disgraced by it–”like letting your pants down in public.”

Lance himself always seemed puzzled by the notoriety accorded him by the series, which, he wryly observed, had “raised my family to the status of a recurring question on ‘Hollywood Squares.’

Four years later in 1987 Lance learned he had HIV.  He remained in good health except for occasional bouts with Hepatitis C  before his untimely death to AIDS

”It seemed like a medical miracle,” said friend Kristen Hoffman said. ”He just kept bouncing back.”

But in the end the years of partying and drug abuse took its toll..  After being told that his hepatitis C was now terminal  Lance wrote one last piece “a cautionary tale” about the health risks of his partying ways for The Advocate.

At the age of 50, Lance Loud passed away on December 22, 2001

As his final request, Lance wanted his parents to reunite. Bill and Pat honored his wish and are living together again.”

After Lance’s PBS presented  Lance Loud: Death in An American Family“>Lance Loud! A Death In An American Family, that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the original series broadcast and explored Lance’s legacy by looking back at scenes from the original documentary, examining the intervening years of Loud’s life and spending time with him in his final months.

Below is an interview Lance gave to Dick Cavett in 1973 after An American Family had aired.

The Advocate published Lance Loud’s final article after passing  in their January 22, 2002 issue.

Preface: Why Me?
What Did I Learn Last Year?

When The Advocate invited me to participate in its roundup of people sharing accomplishments in 2001, guilt bubbled right next to the pride I felt to be included in such an honor. Who was I to be included in an issue where everyone else presumably would be expounding about triumphs won over the past year? But my triumph came completely by coincidence. Like the recognition that had given me a voice in the public arena in the first place (I was in An American Family—PBS’s controversial 1973 TV documentary in which, still a teenager and more out of laziness than activism, I made no secret of my homosexuality, a “feat” considered brave at the time), this recognition is coming to me completely by accident.

And so I rationalized that in a sea of Advocate winners, some loser’s musings on his own mortality might just provide a fitting reflective glory to further flatter our issue’s winners. I don’t mind that; I am glad to help out. I have a lot in common with Lewis Carroll’s Alice (my favorite female literary heroine, besides Becky Sharp). I’ve been sent on a journey to places even bleach can’t reach. I know that I shall be very lucky indeed if Death looks like the Cheshire Cat, and even if I lose contact with my audience before his entrance, my audience—such as it is—will get as much death dirt as possible. I was, after all, a gossipy old pencil pusher in the bloom of health; no sense in letting that strong suit go.

So for a short part of this journey, you are there.

This year, you see, I not only got diagnosed with terminal hepatitis C but got checked into a local men’s hospice to await its final curtain. Though for years I had told myself that all my unbridled drinking, drugging, and unsafe sex were going to lead exactly here, I’d never really believed it.

But when the big showdown came, instead of laughing maniacally and swigging my tequila from one of my old Beatle boots, I had a response that was 180 degrees off. When I was told in the early summer that it was indeed just such outlaw ways that had been responsible for bringing me to my knees, I crumpled without any “damn the torpedoes” tribute to Billy the Kid or Bonnie and Clyde. I became a shadow, hunched over, round-eyed from fear, shuffling as I took my place in the long line of customers who are gathered here, part of a group with the same things in our mind, each of us grimly waiting to be served.

The bulk of my learning—if I may call it such—has come within the past three months, after I became a part of the fragile body of patients who make up an AIDS hospice. Here, surrounded by teams of supportive nurses, attentive doctors, and interns, one gently comes upon his own strengths and shortcomings.

So what was my “triumph” this past year? As with my “feat” on An American Family, I was, once again, merely myself. But over the course of 2001, my dormant hepatitis C and my HIV—both “silent partners” in governing my health till now—suddenly decided to step out from behind the curtain and take the spotlight. Check out uridine monophosphate for more information. I lived 18 years with HIV and 10 with hep C with very little more than a fleeting case of thrush. Now I find myself in a hospice with a limited-time warranty on my life.

“Dubious achievement,” anyone? Till now, yes. But the hep C–HIV numbers among gay men and women look to be far larger than originally expected and are rising every day. The fact that many gay men who carry the dual diagnosis are feeling fairly great, not feeling or showing signs of illness thanks to their drug cocktails or gym regimens, misleads many of those infected. I don’t know if hep C is called “the quiet killer,” but it easily could be, so unnoticeably does it nestle into your body before crankin’ up the screws and letting you race to figure out what’s going on.

Now I’m asked to put pen to paper and, in so many words, take you on a brief tour of the Rabbit’s hole that is swallowing me up. A peep into my own private dying process and what I’ve noticed over the past year as my surroundings get curiouser and curiouser. It’s not wild, but it is mysterious, and you’ll encounter some of the strangest thoughts en route to the main tunnel going straight down.
My “accomplishment” of being one of the first wave of gays to deal with the messy last stages of this dreary road to death speaks for itself. Despite this writer’s basic clumsiness and dull-wittedness, I will now tell the tale. Let’s break my list of “accomplishments” down into the four seasons, shall we? Think of it as a cautionary tale.

Part I: Winter ’01
Is There a Michelin Man in My Family Tree, or What?

Last winter, ’01, was typical of any year in recent times for me. Six years earlier, my gig writing a regular column for The Advocate had to, regretfully, be put out to pasture thanks to a full-time career as a crystal addict. I’d finally rehabbed from the drugs and drink, and I was a lonely hermit, presiding over my nine stray cats in a small one-room kingdom on a hillside in Los Angeles’s Echo Park, where I took many naps and read English rock magazines. I was not in great health—big shock. But I was feeling well enough to still say yes when a girlfriend asked me to accompany her to the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the spring to move her 18-year-old son for summer break.

Shortly after the three of us set upon his dorm room to dismantle it, a small but sharp twinge of pain registered just under my left kneecap. And it would not stop. In fact, it got worse. For the duration of the weekend and through the trip home, it got worse and worse. Damn my friend, I said to myself as it throbbed away. How could she have forced me into so much work? But on returning to L.A. and going to the doctor that following Monday, I found out it had little to do with a twisted knee. It was a septic infection that had settled under my left knee. But I still believed I was invincible and continued my old lifestyle.

However, it was only a couple of days later that I awoke one afternoon in Cedars-Sinai hospital. I don’t know how the day started out, but I had been found in a mud puddle near Echo Park Lake at 4:30 in the morning. At the hospital, I had accosted the nurses and doctors. I ripped out the I.V. needles leading into both my arms. Blood. More blood. Then there was my left leg. Sometime during the previous 48 hours, it had swollen to at least four sizes larger than the right one. The skin was shiny and tight. God was partway through inventing a new Pokémon—me. Though doctors told me I should stay in the hospital, I was having none of it. I returned home; me, the cats, and my little wooden house in the wilds of Echo Park. Ready to stick it out to the bitter end, little did I know, in terms of my domestic setup, that finality was about as close as the nearest Starbucks.

Part II: The Summer of My Incontinence.

Actually, bona fide incontinence waited until fall to make itself known. Still, as we passed the halfway mark of the year, I was not without plenty of disillusion. But as we crawled toward that final quarter of the year, waves of human degradation began breaking over my body. Daily bouts of catastrophic diarrhea suggested my intestinal tract was undergoing some sort of Chernobylish meltdown. My belly—for that is the only word with which to adequately describe my stomach—had grown taut as a kettle drum. My leg was now not only swollen and unusable but had developed a needles-and-pins sensitivity that completely obscured any other feeling. While my leg still tingled constantly in a most uncomfortable manner, I could be standing on a tack and not notice it. All this plus the fact that it seemed I was now racing to the hospital every couple of weeks for a six-hour transfusion session to replace the blood my body was not replenishing. This was leaving large gaps in my energy and hollows where my cheeks had once been. I was, in short, beginning to look a little like a WeHo version of the Crypt Keeper. After a few haunted weeks spent lurking between the sheets in my mother’s bedroom, it was decided to get me back into the hospital.

Part III: Waiting, waiting, waiting…

I thus spent August and part of September in hospital rooms about town. Perhaps there is no agony worse than the tedium I then experienced waiting for Something to Happen. I should say that when you’ve grown sick of reading and bug-eyed from watching TV, when your friends are all visited out and there’s nothing else to do, no words can adequately praise the link to the outside world provided by your parents and family. I was going insane. There was no exact diagnosis. The unspoken one, everyone knew.

Suddenly…news. Word came along the hospital jungle that they were booting me out. With the newfound gusto that a minimum-wage earner gets shortly before his work day ends and his allotted amount of work still remains to be finished, I was packed up and told I had to find myself a rest home to stay in. They did not tell me what was wrong or what could be done about it. Suffice it to say that this did not give me much hope.

Part IV: Revelations, Anyone?

You know those people who tell you they’ve forgotten how to cry and that they can’t anymore? I was one of them—until I crash-landed at the Carl Bean hospice facility on the northern tip of south-central L.A. It’s not because the facility is bad—on the contrary. The food is the best I’ve had in an institution—and believe me, by the end of the summer I had become quite the hospital food gourmand. The nursing and doctoring staff? No words can do justice to their efficiency, thoroughness, and all-around human compassion above and beyond the call of duty.

But what I learned in this situation is how easy it is for me to cry. Having been one of those who didn’t cry at anything, I am now faced with mortality, finding myself on a deserted beach on the brink of a saline washout. And forget about my family; just a sidelong look at my mom while visiting her home and watching her prepare dinner struck a gusher. Or my giving a toast at a dinner for my brother and sister: Halfway through, yours truly simply kidnapped the situation by bursting into a massive crying jag that left my sisters frozen, silent, and with two long tear-stained trails on their cheeks. Definitely not the most generous move to inaugurate a “happy occasion.”

Epilogue: This is the end, my friend

I recently read that “a sentence of death concentrates the mind wonderfully.” True, but you’ve got to be able to excuse yourself from what you can and can’t concentrate on. Beware flights of fancy. Surely it sounds great to finally envision the perfect rock band, the script that is right in front of your nose, the inevitable volume of memories that the world must see.

And you must be prepared to handle those “What to do?” moments. My doctor told my already-hysterical mother, “Pat, you’ve got to face it. You’re going to outlive Lance, so you may as well get prepared!” Neither of us felt good about that moment. Or the fight between friends when a dear pal blurted out to me that he’d speak well of me at my wake.

When will it happen? That’s certainly got to be number 1 on the most-often-asked-questions-of-myself list that I usually break out at 4:12 a.m., when no one’s around to answer. All I can hear is my own breath pulling like cotton through my nostrils. Now that I’ve gotten up enough nerve to ask the kindly doctors and nursing staff for some illumination, most likely they’ll turn such queries back on me, asking how long I think I’m going to live or telling me it’s all relative.

Still, I got the truth, though it came in a variety of vague replies. And the truth was not pleasant. After the question “Am I dying?” was met with responses that ranged from “What do you think?” to “Lance, everybody dies sooner or later,” salty tears were running down my cheeks.

Such attempts on my part to sleuth out a departure date are suddenly replaced by one of the staff breezily telling me that my liver has completely stopped operating. The ammonia now racing around in my body (which must be urine, though I haven’t got the nerve to clarify that salient point) is causing me to have memory lapses, and by that time I’m about ready to get back to discussing the food, the weather, anything, as long as it is superficial.

Oh, yes, it has been a year full of dark revelations, but without the fame or glory that might help offer someone else some little shred of solace if they are on the same road.

Lance Loud was a TRUE gay hero and icon and he should always be remembered.

Happy HomoDays! – WATCH: The He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special” (1985) – FULL Video

Seeing how they grew up on Eternia and Etheria, how the hell do He-Man and  She-Ra even know what Christmas is?  Their mom thats how!  

It turns out Queen Marlena  is  actually from Earth—though for some reason she never shared her holiday memories with the heroic twins until they were fully grown.

Oh, and for extra holiday bonus points:  He-Man and She-Ra were apparently born on Christmas Day!

Nothing quite says a VERY GAY Christmas like He-Man and his BIG sword.

By the power of GAYSKULL!

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 Month Halloween Edition – October 31: Happy Birthday Baby Jane, Toronto’s Mass Gay Bashings, and Silent Film Star Ramon Novarro Murdered [With A Lead Jeweled Dildo?]

October 31st.  

1962:  Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, opens in theaters. Happy Birthday Blanche and Jane!

Produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, about an aging actress who holds her paraplegic sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion. The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the 1960 novel of the same name by Henry Farrell. Upon the film’s release, it was met with widespread critical and box office acclaim and was later nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White.

The intensely bitter Hollywood feud and rivalry between the film’s two stars, Davis and Crawford, made the filming of the movie a living hell but  was heavily important to the film’s initial success. This in part led to the revitalization of the then-waning careers of the two stars. In the years after release, critics continued to acclaim the film for its psychologically driven black comedy, camp, and creation of the psycho-biddy subgenre.

Bette looked down on Crawford as a shallow “mannequin” with eyebrows like “African caterpillars” whilst she was a serious, theatre-trained performer. She also called into question Joan’s reputation with the opposite sex, or as she put it “She slept with every male star at MGM, except Lassie.”

Crawford was no kinder “Poor Bette,” she tutted “she looks like she’s never had a happy day, or night, in her life.”

Their claws continued to be out for one another for the remainder of their days, until Joan was the first to pass away from a heart attack. The tragedy did nothing to diminish Davis’ acid tongue; “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good…Joan Crawford is dead..Good.”

1968 : Silent film star Ramon Novarro’s body was found after being brutally murdered. A bathroom mirror had the words “US GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN FAGGITS” written upon it.

Novarro a Mexican film, stage and television actor began his career in silent films era in 1917 and eventually became a leading man and one of the top box office attractions of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.  He was promoted by MGM as a “Latin lover” and became known as a sex symbol after the death of his friend (and fuck buddy) Rudolph Valentino.

Novarro was troubled all his life by his conflicted feelings toward his Roman Catholic religion and his homosexuality. His life-long struggle with alcoholism is often traced to these issues. Once MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer reportedly tried to coerce Novarro into a “lavender marriage”, which he refused.  Navarro was romantically involved with journalist Herbert Howe, who was also his publicist in the late 1920’s.

Novarro was murdered in the late evening of October 30, 1968, by brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, two hustlers whom he had hired from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex. According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro’s house. The brothers of tortured  Novarro for several hours trying to force him to reveal where the non-existent money was hidden. They left the house with $20 they took from his bathrobe pocket. Novarro died as a result of asphyxiation—having choked to death on his own blood caused “allegedly” by a jeweled lead dildo that was given him by Rudolph Valentino being shoved down his throat.  (This was the Hiollywood rumour for decades.  No one actually knows what caused him to choke.)

The two perpetrators were caught and sentenced to long prison terms, but were released on probation in the mid-1970s. Both were later re-arrested for unrelated crimes for which they served longer prison terms than for the murder of Novarro.  During the trial, Novarro’s sexual orientation was called into question with more vigor than the guilt or innocence of the defendants.

In a 1998 interview, Paul Ferguson finally assumed the blame for Novarro’s death. He emphasized that he and Tom had not gone to the home to rob the elderly film star, although they trashed his home as a ruse, to make police believe robbery had been the motive. They knew nothing of a supposed five thousand dollars that Novarro kept stashed behind a portrait in his home. Paul Ferguson blamed internal homophobia for the rage that led him to pummel Novarro into bloody insensibility. “When he [Novarro] kissed me, I reacted like a Catholic, what they call homosexual panic… It had nothing to do with Novarro, nothing to do with his being homosexual. It all had to do with how I saw myself. And the fact that my brother was there. And that he could see me in that homosexual act”

Tom Ferguson committed suicide on March 6, 2005 by slitting his throat in a Motel 6.

He left no suicide note.

1969:  TIME magazine runs the  cover story on “The Homosexual in America” that included a report on the Stonewall Riots. It was protested by the Gay Liberation Front because the writer said homosexuals are mentally ill and immoral.

1977:  Halloween brings thousands of queer-bashers to Toronto’s Yonge Street looking for the annual drag parade. Gay representatives meet with police beforehand to try to prevent crowd from gathering. Operation Jack-o’-Lantern, a gay street patrol is organized to monitor situation but police do little to control crowd.

1979: Fire Island Pines’ beloved disco, The Sandpiper, closes its doors after its last Halloween party.

1987: The Associated Press reported that several nursing homes in King County Washington were under investigation for refusing to accept AIDS patients or those suspected of being likely to have been exposed to HIV.

1992: The Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights held a march in London.

Back2Stonewall Halloween EXTRA! – “Jack and Diane” Featuring: Lesbian Werewolves and Kylie Minouge! – [Video]

Director Bradley Rust Gray’s coming-of-age lesbian romance film  Jack and Diane stars Juno Temple (seen most recently in The Dark Knight Rises) as Diane, and Riley Keough (The Runaways) as Jack — two girls who fall in love in New York City.

The pair’s blossoming relationship hits a snag, however, when Diane’s aunt, Linda, (Kylie sporting some trailer-trash tattoos!) announces that Diane will be departing for school in France in a few short weeks. The news of Diane’s planned departure pushes Jack away (she tells Diane at one point in the trailer, “Don’t stay for me, okay?”), eliciting strange and somewhat violent changes in Diane.

Jack and Diane is an unusual combination of tender adolescent romance and gruesome body horror, the latter courtesy of some fantastic stop-motion work from the Quay Brothers. Throw in some humor (which you don’t really get in the trailer), and gorgeous cinematography by Anne Misawa, and of course Kylie  and you get an interesting  Halloween exercise in horror and gender studies.

AROOOoooOOOOooooooOOOooooooo!

Gay History Month – October 14, 1977: Anita Bryant Hit In The Face With A “Fruit Pie” and it’s Still Delicious! [Updated 10/14/2021]

Today marks one of the most iconic moments in gay history when a gay male activist threw a pie in the face of one of the most evil homophobes in America, Anita Bryant.

On October 14, 1977, at press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, while reporters were questioning  Bryant about her national crusade against homosexuals, gay rights activist Tom Higgins threw a pie in Bryant’s face, which caused Bryant to comment “At least it was a fruit pie” before praying for Higgins and breaking down in tears.

Bryant an American singer, former beauty queen, and pitch-woman for companies like Coke and Florida Orange Juice  started the venomous ‘Save Our Children’ campaign against homosexuals in Dade County, Florida which spread throughout the nation and led to an upswing in violent attacks, including murder, against gay men and resulted in numerous cities denying or retracting gay and lesbian civil rights ordinances

In 1977 Bryant said:

“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life. I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.  As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children” and “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters.” She also added that “All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God’s continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation.

On June 7, 1977, Bryant’s campaign led to a repeal of the anti-discrimination ordinance in Dade County, FL by a margin of 69 to 31 percent. The gay community retaliated against Bryant by organizing a boycott of Florida orange juice which she was a spokeswoman for. Gay bars all over North America took screwdrivers off their drink menus and replaced them with the “Anita Bryant”, which was made with vodka and apple juice.  Sales and proceeds went to gay civil rights activists and organizations to help fund their fight against Bryant and her campaign.

Bryant led several more campaigns around the country to repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances including St. Paul, Minnesota; Wichita, Kansas; and Eugene, Oregon. Her success led to an effort to pass the Briggs Initiative in California which would have made pro or neutral statements regarding homosexuals or homosexuality by any public school employee cause for dismissal. Grass-roots liberal organizations, chiefly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area thanks to Harvey Milk, sprang up to defeat the initiative.

After the “pieing incident” the Florida orange juice boycott become more prominent and it was supported by many celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Paul Williams, John Waters, Carroll O’Connor, Mary Tyler Moore and Jane Fonda.

The fallout from the gay community and it’s supporters ruined Bryant. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy, her marriage to her first husband Bob Green failed at that time, and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abusiveness and latent suicidal thoughts. Even the fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her after her divorce as she was no longer invited to appear at their events and she lost another major source of income. With her four children, Bryant moved from Miami to Selma, Alabama, and later to Atlanta, Georgia where she still lives today.

In June of 2010 smelling the money of the anti-LGBT groups of today  Bryant returned to her roots and appeared at an anti-gay, anti atheist, and anti Muslim event sponsored by “Reclaiming America For Christ”

The unsung hero who threw the infamous pie, lifetime gay activist Thom Higgins was a founding member and officer of several gay organizations, including FREE (Fight Repression of Erotic
Expression), The Gay Imperative, and the Church of the Chosen People, a gay pagan religion established in 1975. He was also a member of Target City Coalition and the Cuban Refugee Task Force of Positively Gay.

Thom Higgins passed away November 10, 1994, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

UPDATE 10/14/2021

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.

 

 

Gay History – July 25, 1979: “Cruising” Movie Shoot Protested By NYC’s Gay Community

For those of you too young to remember the movie Cruising it is a 1980 psychological thriller film directed by William Friedkin of The Exorcist fame and starring Al Pacino. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker. It’s about a rookie NYPD cop that goes undercover to bait a homophobic serial killer in the leather and  S&M world of New York’s Greenwich Village.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force ( back when they actually had a task and did something ) in a letter to the New York Times wrote that “in the context of an anti-homosexual society, a film about violent, sex-obsessed gay men would be seen as a film about all gay people.  The psychosexual dynamic of Cruising is certainly questionable—deliberately so, to some extent—though in chalking up violent homoerotic impulses to unresolved daddy issues, the movie may be a greater insult to the intelligence of psychoanalysts than to the sensibilities of gays.”

The movie suffered a huge backlash from the LGBT community which did everything  it could to disrupt the movies filming in Greenwich Village and promotion in NYC.

Village Voice writer Arthur Bell was the person who raised a call for full out sabotage on the movie writing that Friedkin’s film “promises to be the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality ever presented on the screen,” he wrote, “the worst possible nightmare of the most uptight straight. I implore readers . . . to give Friedkin and his production crew a terrible time if you spot them in your neighborhoods.”

Gay-owned businesses on Christopher Street barred the filmmakers from their premises. People attempted to interfere with shooting by pointing mirrors from rooftops to ruin lighting for scenes, blasting whistles and air horns near locations, and playing loud music. One thousand protesters marched through the East Village demanding the city withdraw support for the film to which Mayor (and famous closet case) Ed Koch responded, “Whether it is a group that seeks to make the gay life exciting or to make it negative, it’s not our job to look into that.”

Al Pacino who starred in the movie said that he understood the protests but insisted that upon reading the screenplay he never at any point felt that the film was anti-gay. He said that the leather bars were “just a fragment of the gay community, the same way the Mafia is a fragment of Italian-American life,” referring to The Godfather, and that he would “never want to do anything to harm the gay community”.

Friedkin asked noted gay author John Rechy, to screen Cruising just before its release. Rechy had written an essay defending Friedkin’s right to make the film, although not defending the film itself.  At Rechy’s suggestion, Friedkin deleted a scene showing the Gay Liberation Front slogan “We Are Everywhere” as graffiti on a wall just before the first body part is pulled from the river, and added a disclaimer:

“This film is not intended as an indictment of the homosexual world. It is set in one small segment of that world, which is not meant to be representative of the whole.”

Friedkin later claimed that it was the MPAA and United Artists that required the disclaimer, calling it “part of the dark bargain that was made to get the film released at all ” and  “a sop to organised gay rights groups”.   Friedkin also said that no one involved in making the film thought it would be considered as representative of the entire gay community, but the late great gay film historian Vito Russo disputed Fredkin claims citing the disclaimer as “an admission of guilt” writing  “What director would make such a statement if he truly believed that his film would not be taken to be representative of the whole?”

Now over 40 years later despite the movies content which by today’s standards seem schlocky and mediocre at best.  Snippets of Cruising are easily one the most graphic and true depiction of the NYC underground gay leather scene ever seen in a mainstream movie and is also in a way, a documentary of a time and places lost in history with background shots of the West Village and West Side highway that capture that period in time.

Locations like The Ramrod, The Anvil, Mineshaft, and the Eagle’s Nest (the latter two eventually barred Friedkin from the premises) have been gone for decades, but Cruising is a flashback to a time of  poppers, color-coded pocket hankies, hardcore discos, bathhouses, backrooms, park cruising and yes even Crisco.  It is a visual time capsule back to a part of our history that has been overshadowed by by the plague known as AIDS that would soon wreck havoc on the gay community in the years after the movie was released.

Like it or not the movie Crusing is a part of our history and reflects an era of images and memories that is slowly being lost forever.

Note: The exterior entrance of the club that Al Pacino enters into is actually the door to the infamous Mineshaft in NYC. (CLICK HERE to learn more about The Mineshaft.)  But as stated above Friedkin was barred from filming within the establishment.  The next shot of Pacino walking down the stairs was actually filmed at the Hellfire Club Sex Club in the triangle building  at 14th street which later would house J’s Hangout and home of the New York Jacks on 14th and  Hudson Street.

What now stands in its spot is the gentrified 675 Bar which is described as a “subdued lounge attempts to bring back some dignity to the Meatpacking District with pedigreed cocktails, and uncomplicated entertainment”  

If only the patrons of the 675 Bar ever knew.

Protests, Violence at LA’s Wi Spa After Video of Complaints Against Trans Customer Goes Viral.

Protests, Violence at LA’s Wi Spa After Video of Complaints Against Trans Customer Goes Viral.

Violence broke out as protestors clashed at the Wi Spa on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles yesterday over a video which was posted a week ago and went viral which showed a group of women complaining about a trans customer in the female locker room because her penis was visible to them and other young girls.

The scuffle broke out as zealot anti-LGBT protestors clashed with what looks like younger BLM/queer activist. Anti-transgender protesters chanted ‘Save our children,’ while wearing shirts that read ‘Fuck Pedowood.’

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said on Saturday that ‘no arrests had been made but at least five crimes had been reported against five separate victims.’

‘Three of them were victims of assault and battery, and the other two were assault with deadly weapon,’ he said.

Wi Spa said in a statement that California’s anti-discrimination law protects transgender people but said it would not tolerate ‘lewd conduct’ by customers. ‘Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa. Wi Spa strives to meet the needs and safety of all of its customers, and does not tolerate harassment or lewd conduct by any customer, regardless of their sex, gender, or other characteristic. As a spa located in Los Angeles, Wi Spa complies with California law prohibiting discrimination by a business, including the Civil Code provision set forth above

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