Christopher Chataway

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Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment | 14124

Gay Activist is sad to note the passing of Sir Christopher Chataway, the famous athlete, businessman, politician and broadcaster. The Daily Telegraph remembers that Mr Chataway was a supporter of homosexual law reform.

“He was in the vanguard of social reform, co-sponsoring Humphry Berkeley’s Bill to legalise homosexuality”

In 1965, Humphry Berkeley, then an MP, decided to introduce a bill to legalise male homosexual relations along the lines of the Wolfenden report of 1957. Berkeley was well known to his colleagues as a homosexual. His Bill was given a second reading by 164 to 107 on 11 February 1966, but the Bill fell when Parliament was dissolved due to the 1966 General Election (in which Berkeley lost his seat). He felt his defeat was due to the unpopularity of his bill on homosexuality. Leo Abse picked up the reform and backed it until it was passed successfully in 1967.

The Guardian published an account of the law reform battle on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Act.

Mr Berkeley died on 14 November 1994.

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Gay landmarks required

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Autostraddle | 14125

The photo shows Fire Island’s Cherry Grove Community House and Theater being ferried out to Fire Island in 1946. The building was listed in June 2013 as an historic place by the US Parks Department because of “the enormous role it played in shaping what evolved into America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town… facilitating gradual social acceptance, self-affirmation, and integration of its gay and lesbian residents into Cherry Grove’s governing affairs and civic life.”

The building is one of only three buildings of historial interest to the US LGBTI community which have been listed (the others are The Stonewall Inn and Frank Kameny’s house).

The US National Register of Historic Places is appealing for nominations for other sites of historical importance to the gay community to be listed.

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The Gay Bar: a church?

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The Acme Bar in San Antonio, Texas. Long Beach Post | 14126

For Dr. Marie Cartier, the author of “Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall”, gay bars became the church for the LGBT community pre-1968. Gay bars shared rituals, had a genuine feeling of loyalty, and were for many a common part of their life.

“It had a big import in your life because religious identity could not be dismissed. All of the spiritual, alternative religions we know of now—particularly in California, as part of everyday life—weren’t an option.”

The gay bar acted as the conduit between identity and having a community for that identity. Or what many of the women Cartier interviewed called “the only place”: the only place to meet, socialize, and most importantly, be yourself.

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Maris Sants and the mob

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Kasjauns | 14127

Maris Sants, pictured, who now lives in London, was excommunicated from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia in 2002 because of his sexuality. His case was highlighted by Amnesty International after he was attacked by anti-gay thugs.

In the years after he came out as gay, the 45-year-old found himself the focus of much attention in the media. Crowds gathered outside his church in Riga, and skinhead protesters held placards condemning homosexuality. Some even threw excrement or violently attacked him. Mr Sants wisely decided to emigrate.

Gay relationships were illegal in Latvia until the early 1990s, and homophobia remains widespread.

“There was a time in around 2005 when, possibly for a year or two, I was one of only two publicly known gay guys in the whole country,” said Mr Sants. “Those who came out, most of them had to immediately emigrate. By the time I came out at the age of 36 I had been through different healing programmes. I had been to psychiatrists and psychotherapists and had gone to ‘ex-gay’ ministries with evangelical Christians who believe homosexuality can be cured. When I turned 33 a serious thing happened and I understood – and this was really like a revelation – that actually it was completely OK. I understood then that hiding my homosexuality was a sin.”

Following his excommunication from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, Mr Sants founded a congregation that was open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

It hosted the inaugural LGBT Pride march in Riga, an event marred by violence from anti-gay protesters.

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