Mark Weston, athlete

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Mark Weston | Life Magazine | 14261

In April and May 1935, transgender British athletic champion Mary Edith Louise Weston, transitioned from female to male at Charing Cross Hospital, becoming Mark Edward Louis Weston (pictured).

The date for her operations is taken from an interview in the London Times which was published on 20 August 1936 and available through Google. By the time of the interview, Mark Weston had married Alberta Bray.

“I am recognised by the medical and the law as a man and am now married,” Mark told the newspaper. The Hospital gave him a certificate saying “Mr Mark Weston, who was always brought up as a female, is male and should continue life as such.”

As Miss Weston he first became interested in athletics in 1924.

The information in The Times interview contradicts information given on other websites.

After the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Avery Brundage, the president of the United States Olympic Committee, requested that a system be established to examine female athletes.

In a Time magazine article about hermaphrodites, Brundage felt the need to clarify “sex ambiguities” after observing the performance of Czechoslovak runner and jumper Zdenka Koubkova and English shotputter and javelin thrower Mary Edith Louise Weston.

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Mark Weston | Public Domain | 14262

Mary Edith Louise Weston/Mark Weston of Great Britain was the best shot putter from 1924 to 1930, and the best javelin thrower in 1927. He became a physiotherapist, had three children, and died in Plymouth in 1978.

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Lyons Corner House

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The Lyons Corner House, Coventry Street, London | The Old Farts Cook Book | 14263

In 1910 “London homosexuals began to gather openly in public places such as pubs, coffee houses and tea shops for the first time. Waitresses ensured that a section of Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly Circus was reserved for homosexuals.”

The Corner Houses first appeared in London in 1909 when Lyons opened the first on the corner of Piccadilly and Coventry Street (now the Trocadero, pictured). It employed about 400 staff. As well as different restaurants on each floor, and live music from an orchestra at times during the day, there was also originally a Food Hall where many products from the kitchens could be bought.

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Customers enjoying Afternoon Tea at Coventry Street Lyons House | 1942 | Wikipedia | 14264

Some Corner Houses were like shopping centres with hair dressing salons, telephone booths, theatre booking agencies and food delivery services.

The tradition of, even though homosexuality was illegal, allowing homosexuals to use the premises, was not confined to Lyons Corner House on Piccadilly. My own parents met and courted during World War II. Due to petrol rationing they could not often venture out for a night to a nearby city, and most weeks went to a local dance at the local Town Hall. All the local gays and lesbians congregated in one corner of the Hall, and many became friends with the heterosexual patrons.

Piccadilly has long been linked with the gay world, and as a place where people might, er, meet; as early as 1700 the slang term among Londoners for venereal disease was “the Piccadilly cramp”. Your Activist suspects that gay people have been meeting each other on Piccadilly since much earlier than 1910!

The Dabbler notes that “John Bull magazine fulminated in 1925, allegedly appalled by ‘a well-known teashop and public house in Coventry Street where painted and scented boys congregate every day without molestation of any kind . . .sitting with their vanity bags and their high-heeled shoes, calling themselves by endearing names.”

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Melbourne University’s incomplete gay history

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May Day, Melbourne, 1976 | John Ellis Collection, Melbourne University | 14265

Laura Soderlind reviewed Melbourne University’s gay history for The Age with historian Graham Willett.

“A history of the gay community on campus is always going to be partial and incomplete,” Dr Willett said. “In the 1960s and 70s, the role of the University as a pace-setter and critical interrogator of society became more and more central. In the Law School there were a number of academics who were significant players in the decriminalisation of homosexuality (in Australia).”

Until 1980 it was illegal for men to have sex with each other or even to proposition each other for sex in Victoria. “While homosexuality was illegal, it meant people had to be quiet about what they were doing. The culture of homosexuality wasn’t recorded publically, beyond criminal charges or in tabloid newspapers. The media loved the word “gay”. It was very short. It fit nicely into headlines. So it took off very, very fast (and) replaced the word “camp”.”

In the 1970’s Union House provided venues for rowdy and passionate debates about whether homosexuality should be illegal. Students and staff were often divided in stance, however the University provided a forum for conversation and challenge of the ideas that posed as orthodoxy in society at large. There were several buildings and locations on campus that housed, in various shades of subtlety, sex between men.

“Universities are essentially extended communities. They have shops and parks and places to hang out beyond just lecture theatres. Given the opportunity for men to meet each other and to have sex, inevitably beats emerged at the University. These were known through word of mouth.” Such hotspots could be found in the basement of Union House, the Baillieu Library and elsewhere on campus.

In the 1970’s the University held gay liberation dances, which provided a rare opportunity for gay individuals and same-sex couples to show affection and dance together without fear. “That’s not to say there weren’t issues. In the lead-up to one of the dances, a group of engineering students harassed the gay students, and the dance was called off.”

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New comic celebrates Stonewall

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A new comic book is being planned to illustrate the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. The team producing the book are appealing for funding to complete the project.

Writer Michael Troy said:

“As time goes on, we’re in danger of losing this important touchstone of our cultural history. In an age where gay rights and marriage equality are still such hot buttons, it’s more important now more than ever, to remember the efforts of those who fought for gay rights.”

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Church of Scotland says yes to gay priests

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Church of Scotland emblem | Dundee Presbytery | 14267

On 20 May 2013 the General assembly of the Church of Scotland voted to allow congregations to admit openly gay ministers under certain circumstances. Their decision was seen as a radical departure from more than 450 years of orthodoxy set in train by the protestant reformer John Knox.

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Scott Rennie | Uncredited photographer/Sun | 14268

The vote ends the four-year controversy which split the church after an openly gay minister Scott Rennie was selected to lead Queen’s Cross parish in Aberdeen in 2009. It led to six Ministers and two congregations leaving the Church.

In 2011 the general assembly voted to allow gay ministers already in post to remain in place, so long as they were in openly-declared civil partnerships or celibate, and had been ordained before 2009.

The general assembly was addressed by the Rev Elizabeth Spence, a lesbian minister from Ibrox in Glasgow.

“For me, there is nothing bigger than whether I’m accepted in this church or not, because I am a gay woman,” she said, adding: “It’s now time; it’s time to decide, so those of who are in this limbo can get under the wire.”

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Boldly not going

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The original Star Trek cast | Desilu | 14269

Wired’s Devon Maloney looks back at ‘Star Trek’ and tries to fathom out why openly gay characters were absent in a series which otherwise looked forward to an age of full equality.

“The invisibility of gay characters isn’t neutral; it’s negative, and represents a glaring double standard. After all, many a heterosexual romance has played out on the Star Trek screen, often involving notorious ladies’ men like Kirk and The Next Generation‘s Commander William Riker. The omission of a simple homosexual storyline, regardless of how many interspecies or interracial or almost-homosexual romances have been featured, is still very much a point of concern. We are, after all, still living in the 21st century, not the 24th, and it would still be significant to see an LGBT officer serving on the bridge today, much as it was to see a black woman in the ’60s when civil rights battles were being waged.”

The first Star Trek series was made for television in the era before Stonewall, and the networks would not have wanted to put off sponsors, advertisers, and overseas sales, now would they.

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James Pratt and John Smith

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A hanging outside Newgate Prison, early 19th century | Unknown Artist | Wikipedia/Public domain | 14270

In 1835, Charles Dickens visited Newgate prison and met two prisoners, James Pratt and John Smith. He wrote about them in his 1836 article, “A Visit to Newgate”, writes Sir David Bell of Reading University.

The nature of their offences “rendered it necessary to separate them” and the prison guard remarked to Dickens “their doom was sealed; no plea could be urged in extenuation of their crime, and they well knew that for them there was no hope in this world. The two short ones”, the turnkey whispered, “were dead men”.

What Pratt and Smith had done, they had done in private, yet they were reported to the authorities by a neighbour.

James Pratt and John Smith were the last men to be hanged in Britain for buggery.

Newgate Prison was at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey in London and was in use from 1188 to 1902.

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