Outing early America

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The Library Company of Philadelphia has launched its’ exhibition “That’s So Gay: Outing Early America” revealing that early 19th century America contained a spectrum of same-sex relationships and gender identifications. The exhibition draws on a hundred books, pamphlets, photos, and illustrations from the Library’s 500,000-piece collection, including a first printing of Walt Whitman’s “Calamus” poems, in which he describes men’s relationships as “adhesive.”

Then there are Charlotte Cushman, an actress who became famous for playing men’s roles, and sculptor Harriet Hosman who made statues of heroic, historic women, who lived among other women in Rome in the mid-19th century, and were known as the “Jolly Bachelors.”

Living in the nineteenth century required considerable nerve and care. Curator Cornelia King remarks:

Take the case of two men named Fitz-Green Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake. The two were the toast of New York for writing a series of witty, satirical poems for newspapers in 1819, under the pseudonym “Croker and Company.” They were known to have an unusually close relationship, but that’s it. “We do know they were members of a club in New York called The Ugly Club. The members were supposed to be beautiful — that was the twist on the name,” said King. “It sounds to me like there was a culture, a fabric in society that I characterize as homo-social.”

There will be a much larger exhibition next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark gay-rights demonstration that took place at Independence Mall in 1965.

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Friedrich Alfred Krupp

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Out | 14119

We are reminded of the story of Friedrich Alfred Krupp, pictured, of the famous arms manufacturing dynasty. Born February 17, 1854, Friedrich Alfred Krupp was the heir. Although he was married, he was homosexual.

He spent the rest of his leisure time organizing sex orgies with olive-skinned young men. He was notorious around Europe, particularly in the Italian city of Capri, where Krupp began spending most of his time in 1898. For three years, Krupp lived the sexual life he had always desired, but the bacchanal was often at the price of his company’s fortunes. He cared not, for he was having the time of his life, but the Italian authorities were quite glum about his gay ways, so in 1901, Krupp was banned from Capri. The heir wasn’t fazed, however, he just moved the action to The Bristol Hotel in Berlin….Marxist enemies in Italy began leaking well-known rumors about Krupp’s orgies to the press. Though rich Krupp stood for everything they hated, he wasn’t really the target. It was the Kaiser. Soon, Germany’s then-emerging Social Democratic Party, today a ruling party, picked up the gossip and plastered it all over their newspaper, Vorwarts, on November 15, 1902. Though Krupp and his friends in the mainstream press tried to tamp down the story — Krupp even locked his wife away in a sanitarium, lest she spill the beans — it was too fast and furious, and the arms heir, convinced he would be ruined like Oscar Wilde had been a few years prior, committed suicide on November 22, 1902.

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Chris Smith

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Chris Smith | Copyright details being sought | 14120

Christopher “Chris” Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury PC was born on 24 July 1951. He is a British Labour Party politician, and a former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Tony Blair (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport). Chris Smith was one of the first openly gay British MPs, being elected in 1983 and coming out in 1984, and in 2005, became the first British MP to reveal that he is HIV positive, following Nelson Mandela’s announcement of his son’s death from AIDS. He is understood to be a patron of the HIV assistance charity The Food Chain and is Chairman of the Environment Agency. He is currently engaged in the review of further devolution.

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In February 2014 his chairmanship of the Environment Agency was criticised after severe flooding in parts of the United Kingdom.

Updated 12 November 2014

This post is updated and republished


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Missouri’s gay past

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Denim Vest and run pins from 1970. St Louis Riverfront Times | 14122

Steven Brawley’s collection of historical LGBT artifacts reaching back six decades is on display in St Louis, Missouri.

“The thing that’s weird is that when you live your life in secret, there’s not a lot of history that’s been recorded,” gallery owner Philip Hitchcock tells Daily RFT. “The story of the LGBT community tends to be one of moving from secrecy and shadows into the light, into saying, ‘Here we are.'”

Hitchcock admits some of the artifacts seem down-right ordinary. A friend recently asked why a 37-year-old St. Louis Pride T-shirt deserved a spot in the historical collection.

“She said, ‘My husband has shirts older than that,'” Hitchcock says. “But the difference is, everyone knows your husband has been [wearing] that. We’ve been in secret.”

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US: Gay rodeo pictures on show

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“Bull Riders, Los Angeles, California” (1989) Blake Little/Nuvo | 14123

Blake Little began photographing the gay rodeo scene in 1988. 41 black and white images of cowboys and cowgirls are collected in Blake Little: Photographs of the Gay Rodeo, a new exhibition in Indiana.

Little actually had a go on a bull at his sixth rodeo, and became Bull Riding Champion of the Year in 1990.

“I was one of them, so it became more accessible and more intimate. The gay rodeo pictures are of a community that tends to be in a more conservative environment because Western culture just tends to be more conservative. It’s a powerful thing for people in Western culture that are straight or have more conservative views to see these people as real, as essentially just like them.”

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