Gay Pride isn’t what it was

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Participants dressed as dogs crawl on leads during the annual Pride London parade on June 29, 2013 | Luke MacGregor/Reuters | 14222

Twenty-five years ago, Pride was so small it struggled to fill half of Kennington Park and a disco tent, writes Ivan Massow.

“A few of us would get together and walk from Embankment Tube station, over a bridge, to the only park in south London that would have us. A route and a park where we’d cause least objection to the slightly disingenuous group of authorities from whom we needed permission. Hyde Park was totally out of the question. … We weren’t many; most were too frightened to be seen on the march in case they were spotted by their folks on a slightly pitying Six O’Clock News.”


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Section 28: Maggie didn’t really mean harm!

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The Thatcher Family – Margaret Thatcher is, of course, on the right | BBC | 14223

Pink News has been talking to gay Tory MP Conor Burns about Lady Thatcher and Section 28. Her government’s decision to approve Section 28 of the Local Government Act in 1988 remains a sore point with the gay community.

Section 28 stated that a local authority

“shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” and that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

The famous Roberts Corner Shop in Grantham | Daily Mirror | 14224

Did the policy, along with a line in her 1987 Conservative Party Conference speech which denounced local education authorities for teaching children that “they have an inalienable right to be gay” mean that Lady Thatcher herself was homophobic?

“No, I think she was a woman of her generation,” Conor Burns says. “She had a number of people, who you could identify by reading stuff about her, very close to her who were openly gay. She had no problem with that. … Section 28 was a backbench amendment to a Local Government Bill. This was not something that was hatched in the flat of Number 10 when she was making Denis his bacon and eggs in the morning.”

No indeed. It was introduced by the then Conservative backbencher Jill Knight, who now sits in the Lords. Now 90, she recently criticised the same-sex marriage bill, and made strange attempts to justify her opposition by suggesting gay people are “good with antiques”.

Conor says Lady Thatcher accepted Section 28, but he cites the vociferous political climate of the time as a reason for her doing so.

“She accepted it. When you go and look back at some of the stuff that local authorities were doing then – the ‘Jennie lives with Eric and Martin’ books – which were aimed at five-and-six-year-olds, there is a question as to whether that is an appropriate age to introduce any aspect of sexuality and sex. And for someone born in the northern town of Grantham in the 1920s she would have just thought passionately that it wasn’t.”

Conor Burns was elected as the MP for Bournemouth West in the 2010 general election.


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Lytton Strachey

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Lytton Strachey | Daily Telegraph | 14225

Lytton Strachey was born on 1 March 1880 and died on 21 January 1932 of stomach cancer (which had not been diagnosed). His mother was a Suffragette.

Openly gay, he was one of the founders of the Bloomsbury Group. He studied at Liverpool and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was at Cambridge with Keynes. Strachey regarded Keynes, a fellow homosexual, as a close friend, although they often chased after the same men. He believed in a complete freedom and integrity of the private life, unfettered by conventional prejudices. The implications of this were shocking enough, but it was expressed in a camp, frivolous style which was unfashionable in an age when gay sex was illegal.

Smithsonian, Washington DC | 14226

From 1904 to 1914 he wrote book and drama reviews in The Spectator magazine. On the onset of World War I he tried to register as a conscientious objector, but was granted exemption from military service on health grounds.

In 2005 publication of Strachey’s letters revealed he had a sado-masochistic relationship with his last lover, Roger Senhouse, who became a book publisher.

Sources

Daily Telegraph, 14 Mar 2005: Bloomsbury’s Final Secret
The Independent, 28 Aug 1994: For consenting adults: ‘Lytton Strachey: The New Biography


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COC

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Right to Live | Wikipedia.nl | 14227

COC Nederland is a Dutch organization for LGBT men and women which was founded in 1946, and it is understood to be the longest established continuing gay organisation in the world. It was founded in Amsterdam on 7 December 1946 under its original name of “Shakespeareclub”, then in 1949 the organisation was renamed Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (Center for Culture and Leisure).

Its history goes back to before the second world war, however. The founders were a number of gay men who were active in producing a magazine called “Levensrecht” (Right To Live), which was founded a few months before the German invasion in 1940. The first edition of the magazine was published in March 1940 (pictured). The magazine re-appeared after the war and continued until 1947. when they could not get a permit for the paper to print it on. The magazine was written by Jaap van Leeuwen under the pseudonym Arent Santhorst and Niek Engelschman under the pseudonym Bob Angelo. The magazine was backed by Han Diekmann.

From its beginning in 1946 until 1962, the chairman was Niek Engelschman. In 1962 Benno Premsela took over and in 1964 the organisation “came out” by changing its name to “Nederlandse Vereniging voor Homofielen COC” (Dutch Association for Homophiles COC).

One of COC’s first objectives was to get article 248-bis in the Wetboek van Strafrecht (the main code for Dutch criminal law) revoked. This 1911 law made sexual contact with someone of the same sex between 16 and 21 years old punishable by up to one year imprisonment. For heterosexuals, the age of consent was 16. Article 248-bis was revoked in 1971.

COC is one of the few LGBT organisations that has a special consultative status with the United Nations.

The COC emblem | COC | 14228

Sources


Undated: Liberation for Everyone – Gays and Lesbians in (Holland in) war and resistance

English language Home page: COC

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The Tay Bush Inn Raid, San Francisco, 1961

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The site of the raid | Michael Macor, The San Francisco Chronicle | 14229

On Sept. 14, 1961 242 patrons, nearly all of them men, were packed into the Tay-Bush Inn at the Corner of Taylor and Bush in San Francisco. The photo shows the scene today – a block of apartments occupies the block where the Inn was. Gary Kamiya tells SF Gate what happened on that night.

“The Tay-Bush was a one-room cafe that drew night owls who danced to its jukebox until dawn. Some walked up the hill from the theater district after the shows let out.

At 3:15 that September morning, three undercover police officers in the bar gave a prearranged signal, the jukebox went silent, a loudspeaker outside blared and uniformed cops barged in. They began herding the patrons onto the sidewalk and arresting them.

The headline on The Chronicle’s story the next day read, “Big Sex Raid – Cops Arrest 103.” The secondary headline said, “139 Get Away.” (Police later insisted only five or so had escaped.)

The story called the raid “the biggest action of its kind in the history of the department.” Many of the arrestees were students, it said. “Others called themselves clerks, laborers, hairdressers; one said he was a psychologist. Police said the men were dancing together and kissing.”

The raid “was reminiscent of the old speakeasy days of Prohibition,” The Chronicle wrote. “Three paddy wagons shuttled back and forth between the inn and the city prison – seven loads in all – and apartment house dwellers watched from their windows.”

Most of the patrons were booked as “visitors to a disorderly house.” The bar’s owner, 27-year-old Robert Johnson, was booked on four counts, including “lewd and indecent acts” and “keeping a disorderly house.”

Asked by a reporter if any “deviates” had been at his club that night, Johnson said, “Yes, of course. But we have a lot of show people and others – they like the New York atmosphere – you know, brick walls.” ”

Despite having the names of the arrested printed in the papers, charges against all but two of those arrested were dropped. The raid – years before Stonewall – raised a political consciousness in the gay community. The Mattachine Society seized on the incident to push for civil rights.

The Tay-Bush raid made the civil rights of gays and lesbians a legitimate subject for debate, and marked the beginning of the end of San Francisco’s crackdown on gay bars. The SFPD’s final attempt to repress gays took place on New Year’s Day 1965, when police raided an advocacy group’s masquerade ball at California Hall on Polk Street. Even John Shelley, the mayor, condemned the police action. San Francisco was now Gay.


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Ireland notes 20 years of legalisation

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The 1993 Pride parade on O’Connell Street, Dublin | Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times | 14230

Two decades ago, Irish President Mary Robinson signed a law decriminalising homosexuality. Life for gay people in Ireland has changed since.

When University College Cork refused to recognise its students’ first Gay Soc, in the late 1970s, the group’s members responded by building a raft with a triangular pink sail and taking part in the annual boat race through the city as part of the university’s rag week.

In May 1981 over 200 gay men and women attended Ireland’s first national gay conference at Connolly Hall, organised by the Gay Collective, “Gays in the ’80s: Which Way Forward?” The conference was ignored by the Irish media.

In the autumn of 1983 Paul, a gay man who had Aids and was in the last weeks of his life, asked the chaplain of the Catholic-run Dublin hospital in which he was a patient, to hear his confession. The priest explained that, because homosexuality was against the laws of church and state, he could not absolve the man unless he promised never again to contemplate having sex with another man. Paul died shortly afterwards. His death wasn’t recorded as related to Aids, records Ger Philpott in the Irish Times.

Ger recalls the Dubin gay scene of the pre-legalisation era.

“In 1980s Dublin the Bailey, on Duke Street, was a trendy pub to go to on a Saturday lunchtime. The Oak, on Dame Street, was also a happening place. The best-known gay bar was Rice’s, on St Stephen’s Green. Nearby, “the Triangle”, between Peter’s Pub, Bartley Dunnes and the South William, was an oasis of tolerance. Many would head to the Hirschfeld Centre, on Fownes Street, afterwards to dance and, if they were lucky, to score. Disco reigned, and a mirrored alcove was the unofficial territory of a cohort of handsome young men who had been to the US and brought back with them music and a lifestyle that were previously alien. They imbued Dublin with a joie de vivre and gave us a taste of what was possible. Most of those fine young men have died since then.

…I can’t help thinking of how my departed friends, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and are no longer with us, would make sense of the Dublin and the Ireland of 2013. I imagine there’d be some dancing involved.”

Ger Philpott is a writer, director and journalist, and former director of Aidswise.


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What’s gay about the British Museum

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The Warre Cup | Trustees of the British Museum | 14231

The British Museum has launched a guide focusing on elements of homosexuality to be found in its collection.

“Museums have always been very important spaces for people to consider their own sexual identity,” explained the Museum’s Richard Parkinson, who is the curator in the ancient Egypt department. “Most museums have collections of Greek and Roman statues which show men looking very naked, so for men who desired other men it was one of the few spaces where they could look at naked male bodies in a culturally respectable sort of way.”

The picture shows The Warren cup, a Roman wine cup decorated with scenes of men making love, said to have been found near Jerusalem, owned in the early 20th century by the American art collector Edward Perry Warren, who kept it at his home in Lewes, Sussex, and called it the “holy grail”. Bought for £1.8m by the British Museum in 1999, its most expensive single purchase.

The Guardian notes that the Museum also has a “Collection of donated gay rights badges, including one by the cartoonist Kate Charlesworth insisting, “no, it simply isn’t true that being a lesbian means you have to keep a cat”.”


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Charlie Self and Vincent Hanley

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Charlie Self | Public domain | 14232

Charles (Charlie) Self, a well-known figure in the Irish gay community, was murdered in his flat in Dublin, Ireland in 1982. Nobody was ever charged with his killing. His former friend and house mate Vincent Hanley was a video and radio disc jockey who died in 1987.

Charlie Self was a 33-year-old set designer with RTE, the Irish state broadcaster, who was brutally murdered on January 21, 1982.

Self was the victim of a vicious knife attack. He was stabbed at least 14 times in the chest and the blade penetrated right through his back six times. A ligature was tied round the neck after this wound had been inflicted. Self’s living room had been ransacked but there was no evidence of a robbery. The killer left through a window, leaving footprints in the blood on the carpet. People living nearby did not notice anything unusual that could help the investigation. Two fingerprints at the house in Annesley Mews, Monkstown were never matched.

Irish Police questioned around 1,500 people during the investigation and narrowed the suspects down to two young men, both homosexual prostitutes. One had an alibi; the other could not be identified by a witness who had seen the set designer with a young man at a late-opening café on the night of the murder. A main problem facing the detectives was that despite their best efforts there was a lack of co-operation from the largely underground gay community in Dublin, at the time homosexuality itself and sex between even consenting adult males were crimes.

On the night he was murdered, Self had been cruising around Dublin city centre, visiting a number of gay haunts. He left the city in a taxi in the company of a young man. An RTE colleague who was sharing the house, who had taken the room vacated by Vincent Hanley, found his body the next morning. He said he was disturbed at around 2.30am by a young man with dark hair who came into his room and said: “sorry, wrong room” or words to that effect, before leaving. He told Police it was not unusual for Mr Self to bring young men back to the house and he didn’t feel concerned.

Self, who was born in England but brought up in Scotland, worked for the BBC before joining RTE as a set designer seven years before his death.

Vincent Hanley | RTÉ/Today in Irish History | 14233

Vincent Hanley was born on 2 April 1954 and died in Dublin on 18 April 1987. He was a pioneering Irish radio DJ and television presenter, who worked mainly for Radio Telefís Éireann and was the first Irish celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness – congenital cerebral toxoplasmosis, described as an “eye disorder”, which left him blind in one eye.


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Gay Advertising goes mainstream

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Ad Week | 14234

“Tucked in the glossy pages of JCPenney’s 2012 Father’s Day catalog was the kind of happy family scene one would expect to find there—only this particular photo featured a real-life same-sex couple, Cooper Smith and Todd Koch of Dallas, having a playful moment with their kids. At a time when gay marriage has been sanctioned in a dozen U.S. states (but not Texas) and in countries from Argentina to New Zealand, one would hardly think the shot indecorous. But the howls began almost immediately, with one conservative group charging the retailer with “promoting sin in their advertisements.” It wasn’t Penney’s first foray into this territory. The 111-year-old chain had already raised the hackles of the morality police for a similar ad portraying lesbian moms and for enlisting Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson. In the wake of the gay dads ad, Penney’s stood firm, releasing a statement that said: “We want to be a store for all Americans,”

reports Adweek.

Of course gay artists have always worked in advertising – and their adverts have always had some appeal to gay viewers.

“Commercial artist J.C. Leyendecker, whose illustrations for brands like Arrow shirts and Interwoven socks in the ’20s and ’30s influenced the sartorial tastes of millions of American men — few of whom knew Leyendecker was gay. In retrospect, he hardly seems to have hidden the fact. His work represents a stereotypically homoerotic world of crew teams, lifeguards and hunky playboys, many of them modeled after Leyendecker’s young lover, Charles Beach. The ads drip with equal parts sweat and sexual innuendo. Tod Ruhstaller, curator of the Haggin Museum in Stockton, Calif., which houses the largest collection of Leyendecker’s work, ventures that the artist “was insinuating part of himself into his work—pushing the envelope, but very gently. He [also] had the ability to create an image that, depending on the observer and context, could be interpreted differently.””

Marky Mark | Calvin Klein | 14235


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Nashville’s gay history – documentation project ongoing

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The Brooks Fund History Project is a longtime goal of The H. Franklin Brooks Philanthropic Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which funds projects specifically addressing the LGBT community. Project chair Iris Buhl began raising funds for the project more than a year ago. When Herbert Fox, a local gay media editor died, an entire social history of Nashville gay life died with him, and Buhl recognized the need to preserve as much of that history as possible.

“”You don’t appreciate how much life has changed unless you know how they lived,” says Buhl, handing over a neat small stack of transcripts on her kitchen table. She spearheaded the project along with author John Bridges (a close friend she notes as an inspiration), attorney Robyn Smith and Vanderbilt English professor Roger Moore, with consultation from Vanderbilt sociologist Dan Cornfield.

The project’s first phase, meant to document LGBT life in Middle Tennessee before New York’s landmark Stonewall uprising in 1969, consists of recorded and transcribed interviews with some 28 subjects ranging in age from 63 to 85. Sadly, some did not live to see the project’s conclusion — it will be donated to the Nashville Public Library later this summer.

Some are men, others women, while still others defy gender labels: They are black, white; rich, poor; worldly, sheltered; high-school dropouts and Ph.D.s. Stonewall, to many, was just a Civil War general. The subjects were drawn mostly from “networking,” Buhl says, and the interviews (conducted by filmmaker Deidre Duker and producer Phil Bell) will also figure in a documentary later this year.

For Bell, the project hit close to home.

“Back in the late 1980s I had a friend and colleague who worked in broadcast news,” Bell writes via email. “He was young. He died of AIDS. He was gay. His family was embarrassed about how he died and even told many family members it was ‘cancer.’ I’m still saddened by that dishonesty, which, in its course, left the world with no real memory of many meaningful aspects of his life that included being caring, giving and a joy to be around. It was all about getting him buried and hiding the ‘nasty secret’ of his life. This was an inspiration for being a part of this project.””

“Beatings, slurs and threats are remembered, but not as often as you might expect. The peer pressure recalled was often more insidious — as with a woman born in 1942 who remembers being pressed by the yearbook staff to ask an effeminate math teacher to pose next to the square root of 69 for a joke. No stranger to the snickers of others, the teacher frostily declined. “


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