William John Bankes

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William John Bankes | National Trust Images/Angelo Hornak/NTPL/Angelo Hornak | 17161gh

A two-month project examining the life and exile of a man has gone on display at the stately home he inherited in 1834 but from which he later had to flee.

William John Bankes of Kingston Lacy, Dorset, was forced out of Britain because of his gay relationship with a soldier.

His stately home is now owned by the National Trust, who are mounting an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Britain. The exhibition includes a facsimile copy of the 1533 “Act for the punishment of the vice of buggery” alongside the 1967 Act and the 2004 Civil Partnership Act.

There are also a collection of 51 ropes hanging in the entrance hall, representing men aged between 17 and 71 who were hanged for same-sex acts during the lifetime of the house’s owner. The last two ropes hang next to each other representing two labourers, John Smith and John Pratt, who were caught together and executed together.

Bankes would have suffered the same fate because it was the second time he had been caught with a man. His wealth allowed him to escape and live in France and later Italy, from where he continued to remotely transform the house into a Venetian Renaissance palazzo.

The Exile exhibition will run from from 18 September 2017, the day Bankes went in to exile, until 12 November 2017, with a rainbow flag flown from the property for the duration.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/18/william-john-bankes-forced-into-exile-after-gay-liaison-celebrated-by-national-trust

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

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Gene “Jean” Malin

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Jean Malin in 1933’s film “Arizona to Broadway” | Copyright control | 17159gh

On 10 August, 1933, Jean Malin, his boyfriend Jimmy Forlenza and fellow actor Patsy Kelly piled into Jean’ss car to head off to a party at the Hollywood Barn.

Tired after finishing a fortnight-long booking, Malin accidentally put the car into reverse, driving it off Venice Pier into the water. Forlenza and Kelly escaped. Malin was trapped under the steering wheel. The brightest star of America’s Pansy parties was dead at 25.

An American actor, compére and drag performer during the jazz age, Victor Eugene James Malinovsky was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1908. He used the stage names Jean Malin and Imogene Wilson. He was one of the first openly gay performers, and in the Prohibition era.

In his teens he was already well known for his drag appearances and costumes, and for his stage work in various musical chorus lines. At the same time he was appearing in Greenwich Village clubs as a drag artiste.

Malin drowned in a car accident on August 10, 1933.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/14/pansy-craze-the-wild-1930s-drag-parties-that-kickstarted-gay-nightlife

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Oscar’s new basement flat

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Getty Images | 17158gh

After a 20 year project, a temple devoted to Oscar Wilde crammed with devotional-style religious art has been opened in the basement of a New York church.

Conceived by artists David McDermott and Peter McGough at The Church of the Village, the space will be open to members of the public five days a week and available for private ceremonies, including weddings.

Mr McDermott said the temple was a place “free of religious doctrine, honouring a watershed historical figure who pioneered the long struggle for equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples”.

The Oscar Wilde Temple transforms a basement chapel back to 1882-83, the time of Wilde’s lecture tour to the US. A 1.2m wood statue of Wilde which looks like marble is displayed with his prisoner number from Reading jail. On the walls are seven oil and gold leaf canvases on linen based on newspaper coverage of his trial and imprisonment.

https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0913/904296-wilde_secular_temple/

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Pierre Bergé

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Pierre Bergé | Agence France Press | 17156gh

The French fashion tycoon Pierre Bergé – the business brains behind the Yves Saint Laurent empire – has died aged 86.

The longtime partner of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent died in his sleep early Friday at his country home at Saint-Remy-de-Provence in southern France.

The passionate bibliophile and art collector was a tireless campaigner for gay rights and donated a large part of his fortune to AIDS research.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

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The Two Brewers Double Arsonist

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Jason Fossett | Press Association | 17147

Jason Fossett has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar, the Two Brewers in Clapham, for the second time.

Fossett piled rubbish against the fire exit of  before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20. He pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court. He could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of three years and 244 days.

He was traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, and a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack. Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-jailed-for-life-for-setting-fire-to-busy-clapham-gay-bar-a-second-time-a3605851.html

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Mae West and “The Drag”

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Copyright control | 17137

In 1927 Mae West wrote a play called “Drag” which was swiftly banned.

The play, subtitled A Homosexual Comedy in Three Acts and written under the pseudonym Jane Mast, was about a young society man, Rolly Kingsbury, who prefers feminine young men, and presented a sympathetic medical view of homosexuality as a natural thing. Oh, it also staged a flamboyant drag queen ball, with largely improvised dialogue and a jazz band on stage. Well, what else would you expect from Mae West?

The Drag was shut down after 10 out-of-town performances, and never made it to Broadway, but sold lots of tickets.

Mae West herself had been a male impersonator early in her career.

The Drag was inspired by her many gay friends; she knew their daily struggles to be open about their relationships, and to be accepted for who they were.

When casting the play, she actively sought out gay actors. That caused trouble as well. The actors’ union barred gay men from parts with speaking lines. She auditioned them at a gay bar in Greenwich Village. In her autobiography, she claimed to have “helped a lot of gay boys along” by casting them at a time when “producers never gave speaking parts to homosexuals”.

The play opened in Connecticut. It was a success with audiences, although Variety called it “an inexpressibly brutal and vulgar attempt to capitalise on a dirty matter for profit”.

One Broadway producer said it was “the worst possible play I have ever heard of contemplating an invasion of New York” and that it “strikes at the heart of decency”.

West rewrote the play a year later as “The Pleasure Man”, making the lead character straight, but she still faced criticism for it being too explicit, and ended up in court.

Mae West was born on August 17, 1893 and died on November 22, 1980.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/jul/05/polly-stenham-mae-west-gay-pride-the-drag-national-theatre

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/five-gay-plays-changed-world/

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Fascism: When rights are taken away

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‘Damenkneipe’ (Ladies’ Saloon) painted by Rudolf Schlichter, 1923 | Copyright control | 17133

Germany’s Bundestag has just voted to allow gay marriage. At a time when gay rights have made significant advances in Europe, “The Conversation” looked back to the period from 1920 to 1945.

Before the rise of the Nazis and Fascism, gay people were on the brink of legal reform and securing their rights, but overnight, everything changed.

The total number of Europeans arrested for being LGBTQ under fascism is impossible to know because of the lack of reliable records. But a conservative estimate is that there were many tens of thousands to one hundred thousand arrests during the war period alone.

Far more LGBTQ people in Europe painstakingly hid their genuine sexuality to avoid suspicion, marrying members of the opposite sex, for example. But if they had been prominent members of the gay and trans community before the fascists came to power, it was too late to hide.

In concentration camps, gay men were identified by a pink triangle. Men with pink triangles were singled out for particular abuse; mechanically raped, castrated, favored for medical experiments and murdered for guards’ sadistic pleasure even when they were not sentenced for “liquidation.”

In 1929, Germany came close to erasing its anti-gay law, only to see it strengthened soon thereafter. Only now, after a gap of 88 years, are convictions under that law being annulled.

… With new forms of authoritarianism entrenched and seeking to expand in Europe and beyond, it’s worth thinking about the fate of Europe’s LGBTQ community in the 1930s and ‘40s.

http://www.newsweek.com/how-nazis-destroyed-first-gay-rights-movement-631918

https://theconversation.com/how-the-nazis-destroyed-the-first-gay-rights-movement-80354

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Luis Carle

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The Crowbar, New York, 1994 | Posed picture | Luis Carle | 17124

Luis Carle is a New York based artist-photographer who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1962 and moved to New York City in 1984 to study photography at Parsons School of Design. His photos have been exhibited in many countries.

He sees his work as a bridge between the gay and straight communities, between the younger and older generations of the L.G.B.T. community, and between the past and the present. He was 17 when he came out in San Juan in 1980, and in subsequent years witnessed the AIDS crisis, the culture wars, and the march toward broader gay rights. All along, he made pictures of his community and the seismic waves that were reshaping it.

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Luis Carle, 2017 | Jake Naughton | 17125

To preserve their memory and the contributions of the Puerto Rican LGBTQ community, in 1992 Carle formed a collective of Puerto Rican artists called the Organization of Puerto Rican Artists, Inc. (O.P. Art, Inc.), a supportive group of about 100 creative people.

“My generation was the one between oppression and freedom,” he said. “I feel proud of seeing both sides. I was right there in that period of time and my work documented some of the magic that went on in those days. A lot of that is not going to happen anymore.”

https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/gay-life-in-new-york-between-oppression-and-freedom/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2016/05/06/luis_carle_s_look_back_at_the_lgbtq_community_in_new_york_photos.html

https://www.visualaids.org/artists/detail/luis-carle#

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David Is Homosexual

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A clip from the film | Dave Belton/CHE | 17122

The film “David Is Homosexual” was made for the Lewisham branch of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The film was written by Wilfred Avery and filmed by Dave Belton.

An educational film, made in 1976, it tells the coming-out story of the titular David, a repressed office worker whose mum and dad scream abuse at the telly when gay rights marches appear on the news.

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During filming | Copyright control | 17123

“David Is Homosexual” had a long lifespan, touring the country until 1979. At a screening for trainee gas fitters and plumbers at a technical college, the filmmakers were greeted with a chorus of “Backs to the wall, lads” when setting up their equipment. After seeing the film, the quizzical apprentices had softened their tone. “Are you two lovers, then?” asked one, genuinely interested, from the back.

The Lewisham branch of the CHE and other groups helped raise funds for the film with jumble sales.

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2017/jun/18/glad-to-be-gay-the-story-of-the-filming-of-david-is-homosexual

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