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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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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The Raid on the Caravan Club

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Inside the Caravan Club | Police Photo/UK National Archives | 17049

The Caravan Club in Soho, London was a lesbian and gay friendly members’ club that billed itself as “London’s greatest bohemian rendezvous said to be the most unconventional place in town”. The club, at 81 Endell Street, was one of many mostly temporary venues at a time when being openly gay was perilous, often resulting in prosecution and imprisonment.

The club was run by Billy Reynolds and a former strongman and escapologist called Jack Neave, known as “Iron Foot Jack” because of the metal platform he wore to compensate for a shortened leg.

After a series of complaints about the behaviour of the customers, the Metropolitan police put the club under surveillance from October 1933. Police seem to have watched the comings and goings from unused offices at the Shaftesbury Theatre opposite.

In August 1934 they raided the club, with plainclothes officers easily entering by pretending to be visitors.

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Inside the Caravan Club | Police Photo/UK National Archives | 17050

The officer in charge of the raid was Inspector Clarence, who noted : “The room inside was very badly lighted and the atmosphere was awful. … Men were dancing with men and women were dancing with women, a number of couples were simply standing still, and I saw couples wriggling their posteriors, and where I saw men together they had their hands on the other’s buttocks and were pressing themselves together. In fact all the couples I saw were acting in a very obscene manner.”

A policeman on the raid reported: “Two men were standing in front of each other dancing and moving their bodies close to each other. One had his hand on the other’s flies and the other one said: “Oh, darling.””

One policeman was shocked to enter the bathroom and find two men applying mascara and rouge to each others’ faces.

One regular customer, Cyril, had written a letter to Billy Reyolds, which was found and seized by the Police. “I have only been queer for about two years because I knew nothing about it until I came to London.” He was married and had a daughter. He ends the letter: “Billy, please be a dear boy and destroy this note.” The note is kept in the National Archives.

103 men and women were arrested and taken to Bow Street police station. Many of the young men there were working class. The majority were found not guilty in court on condition they never frequented such a club again.

History does not record whether they complied with that instruction.

Reynolds and Neave were given sentences of 12 months and 20 months respectively hard labour in prison.

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/feb/27/revived-1930s-london-gay-members-club-caravan-club-raided-by-police


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German victims of Paragraph 175 to get compensation at last

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Gay prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen with pink triangles. Germany, December 1938 | Unknown photographer | Socialist Worker | 16448gh

Germany is set to compensate up to 50,000 men convicted under a historic law which was still in effect until the late 1960s. “Paragraph 175” was part of Germany’s criminal code from 1871 to 1994, and made homosexual acts between men a criminal offence.

Thousands of gay and bisexual men were arrested and incarcerated in NZI concentration camps. Those who managed to escape the camps were often arrested again under Paragraph 175. The persecution continued well after the end of World War II. Gay men were often socially ostracised as well as losing their homes and jobs.

Since the end of World War II, a total of over 140,000 men were convicted, and 50,000 were prosecuted under Paragraph 175.

€30m will be made available in compensation to survivors, depending on individual cases, and taking the length of sentence into consideration.

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Heiko Maas | Heiko Maas | 16449gh

Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the draft law, which will be formally announced later in October, will offer “relatively uncomplicated” individual claims, as well as allowing for collective claims.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germany-compensate-50000-gay-men-who-were-jailed-their-sexual-orientation-1585450

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Remembering Fritz Bauer

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Fritz Bauer | AP | 16132gh

Fritz Bauer became Germany’s youngest judge in 1930 at the age of 27. He was sent to a concentration camp when the Nazis came to power in 1933 and released nine months later after being coerced into signing a statement pledging obedience to Nazi rule. He fled to Denmark and Sweden where he lived out the rest of the war.

When Bauer returned to Germany in 1949, he found that many Third Reich values were still admired. Former Nazis held key positions in government. The closest aide and national security adviser to the then Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was Hans Globke, a former Nazi government member who helped draw up Nazi race laws.

Anti-Semitism was so prevalent that he hid the fact that he was Jewish to avoid being labelled a traitor who was “bent on revenge”. West Germany still enforced Nazi-era laws outlawing homosexuality. He lived in fear of being publicly denounced and ousted from his job because he was gay. His attempts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice earned him the reputation as a judge who “fouled his own nest.” He once told a colleague: “As soon as I leave the confines of my office, I am on enemy territory.” Death threats were common.

He made history when in 1957 he was tipped off by a colleague in Argentina that Adolf Eichmann had escaped to Buenos Aires and was living there under an assumed name. Bauer was then chief state prosecutor in Frankfurt. His mistrust of post-war West Germany was so great that he kept Eichmann’s whereabouts secret from the German judiciary. Instead he told the Israeli secret service Mossad. Under West German law his actions were a treasonable offence.

Mossad agents kidnapped Eichmann in a spectacular operation in 1960. He was tried and hanged in Israel 1962.

Bauer was found drowned his bathtub at his Frankfurt home in 1968. A post-mortem examination showed that he had taken sleeping pills. There is speculation that he may have committed suicide because of the strain he was under.

Fritz Bauer, judge and prosecuter, born 16 July 1903, died 1 July 1968.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-finally-pays-tribute-to-the-first-nazi-hunter-fritz-bauer-auschwitz-nazism-adolf-eichmann-a6901756.html

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When gay men fled the UK

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David Boyle writes in The Guardian about one of his ancestors, a gay man, who got caught up in the furore and witch hunt which followed the Pheonix Park Murders in Dublin in 1882, when republican terrorists stabbed the Irish secretary to death. At the time, Dublin was ruled by Britain.

The murders shocked the public on both sides of the Irish Sea, and to claw back the moral high ground Irish nationalist MPs launched a campaign to identify homosexuals in the Irish government or part of the establishment in Dublin – starting with the senior detective in charge of the Phoenix Park case, James Ellis French. The campaign led to huge torchlight processions and mass demonstrations in many towns and cities of Ireland. … Most of the defendants were acquitted – the main issue at stake was whether it was physically possible to commit sodomy in a hansom cab.

The murder became the excuse a zealous anti-homosexual MP, Henry Labouchère, his chance to tag onto an unrelated Bill, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, a clause entitled “Outrages against public decency” which had the effect of making sex between consenting adult men illegal. A situation which remained until 1967.

His amendment was debated at night in a few minutes, and only one MP queried whether it was relevant to the debate.

In 1895 after the passage of the Bill, Mr Boyle’s gay relative vanished from the records. The witch hunt had started in England. He records

Contemporary letters imply the same of many others – maybe many hundreds of them. One correspondent reported that there were 600 passengers queuing for the Calais ferry the night Oscar Wilde was arrested that April.

The train and ferry to Calais was a popular escape route, but there were others. Generations of gay men who wanted to be able to live without fear of arrest found other ways to get out of the UK. There were the forces; there was the Merchamt Navy. And there may have been other surreptitious ways to leave London, which remain undocumented in gay histories.

In his book “Mr Clive and Mr Page”, published in January 1996, twenty years ago this month, which was set in the 1920s, Neil Bartlett OBE, who was Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith from 1994 to 2005, wrote of one of the characters in his novel who booked a passage through Thomas Cook’s on a tea clipper. There was a regular clipper service between Riga and Hays Wharf, now a shopping centre but then a working wharf, adjacent to Tower Bridge. It is understood there was a small community of ex-patriate British gay men in Riga throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but your Activist’s enquiries of gay organisations in Riga have failed to elicit any information regarding this community or what happened to them at the outbreak of World War II (if they were still there then.)

After World War II another expatriate community of British gay men emerged in Tunis, North Africa.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has any further information about the migration of gay men from the UK following the 1885 Act.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/21/gay-ancestor-witch-hunt-sexual-behaviour

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/671989.Mr_Clive_And_Mr_Page

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/neilbartlett

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Klaus Mann

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Klaus Mann | Public domain | 15438

Klaus Heinrich Thomas Mann was born on 18 November 1906 and died on 21 May 1949 in Cannes of an overdose of sleeping tablets. Born in Munich, Klaus Mann was the son of German writer Thomas Mann. He began writing short stories in 1924 and the following year became drama critic for a Berlin newspaper. His first book appeared in 1925.

In 1932 Klaus wrote the first part of his autobiography, which got him in trouble with the Nazis. Apolitical cabaret, the Pepper-Mill, in 1933, also came to the attention of the Nazi regime. To escape prosecution he fled to Paris, then Amsterdam and Switzerland, where his family had a house. In November 1934 he was stripped of German citizenship and became a Czechoslovak citizen.

Mann’s most famous novel, Mephisto, was written in 1936 and first published in Amsterdam. His novel Der Vulkan is one of the 20th century’s most famous novels about German exiles during World War II.

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Thomas Quinn Curtiss | Public domain | 15439

Not long after he moved to the US where in 1937, he met his partner Thomas Quinn Curtiss, who was later a film and theater reviewer for Variety and the International Herald Tribune. Mann became a US citizen in 1943.

During World War II, he served as a Staff Sergeant of the 5th US Army in Italy (picture) and in summer 1945 he was sent by the Stars and Stripes to report from postwar Germany.

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Unscrambling Keynes

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Time | 15027

Keynes had all the unpleasant elitist and anti-Jewish prejudices of his class and generation. And what to make of his voracious homosexuality, which was a large part of his life? He was part of the Bloomsbury set in London, where sexual encounters among the same sexes was frequent and from where many of his lovers came. He travelled far and wide to satisfy his sexual appetites. In the end he found love and happiness in his forties, getting married in 1925 (with his former lover Duncan Grant as his best man) to Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina in whose arms he died of a heart attack in his early sixties…

writes Vicky Price in The Independent, reviewing a new biography, “Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes” by Richard Davenport-Hines, which goes into some detail of his sexual activities – he was fond of cruising and baths – shedding more light on London’s gay scene of the early 20th century.

.. he liked sleeping with men. He had no qualms about himself and his male friends all falling in love with each other, although the shadow cast by Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment in 1895 encouraged Keynes and many of his like- minded contemporaries (there were many) to compartmentalise their private and public lives and be as secretive as possible. Much has been written about his activities and the book relishes going into details of who was sleeping with whom, who was enjoying a ménage à trois and how many of the men in later life, who worked alongside Keynes in public life, had been his ex-lovers.

British economist John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB, FBA was born on 5 June 1883 and died on 21 April 1946 after a heart attack. The artist Duncan Grant was one of Keynes’s great loves.

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Stephen Spender

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Stephen Spender | Location: Berlin | 1934 | Unknown photographer | National Portrait Gallery, London | 14478

Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE was born on 28 February 1909 and died on 16 July 1995. During his life he became one of the most celebrated poets of his generation. His sexuality remains obscured by a cloud.

Wikipedia notes that in his formative years

his closest friend and the man who had the biggest influence on him was W. H. Auden, who introduced him to Christopher Isherwood.

In 1929 he moved to Hamburg. Isherwood invited him to visit Berlin.

Also in 1929 he began writing his novel “The Temple” about a young man who travels to Germany and finds a culture at once more open than England’s — particularly about relationships between men. “The Temple” was not published until 1988.

In 1933, Spender fell in love with Tony Hyndman, and after a short affair with a woman, Spender and Hyndman lived together between 1935 and 1936. Then Spender married Agnes Maria “Inez” Pearn, his first wife. However he continued to have affairs with men.

Hence the speculation and debate over his sexuality, which remains clouded to this day.

During World War II, Spender was in the UK, playing an active part in the war against Germany: then he was appointed to the Allied Control Commission, restoring civil authority in Germany.

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Ernst and Röbi’s story is now a film

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From “The Circle” | Stefan Haupt | 14465

The story of Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp—a couple since the ’50s and the first men to be married in Switzerland is used by the new film “The Circle” to reconstruct roughly a decade’s worth of gay Swiss history.

The film’s title has significance for Swiss gay history.

The Circle refers to a tri-lingual publication founded in 1932 as a lesbian-oriented periodical, one quickly converted by the pseudonymous “Rölf” (the actor Karl Meier) into a “homophilic” concern. As the couple and supporting interviewees explain, Switzerland never had the equivalent of Germany’s infamous Paragraph 175 or any codified, institutionally enforced homophobic legislation, meaning Zurich became a mecca for continental gay life: The Circle’s annual balls were the only large gay events of their era. That certainly didn’t mean an end to homophobia, with the publication cooperating with the police on self-censorship and gay life occupying a not-quite-public gray zone whose boundaries were increasingly encroached upon by the police.

…The romance between Ernst and Röbi acts as a microcosmic example of a larger debate whose broad terms remain familiar. A teacher from an intellectual family, Ernst remained closeted until his parents’ death, acutely aware they wouldn’t want to learn about his orientation, while Röbi was openly gay and lived in comfortable candor with his mother from an early age. As years pass, the debate takes on a more urgent tone, with Rölf (Stefan Witschi) exhorting monogamy and discretion while his younger staff members find his ideals increasingly outmoded. This split—between openness and closeted, and more broadly a debate about how to live gay life in a public, rigidly straight space—remains germane…


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