Stephen Vider | 18314
In 1960s America, the first gay cookbook appeared in the book shops and sold well.
In 1966 TIME magazine ran its famous story “The Homosexual in America” which mentioned a new publication: The Gay Cookbook by Lou Rand Hogan, with a cover design which presented an image of happy men cooking elaborate meals for their lovers.
The author of The Gay Cookbook was no stranger to the gay publishing scene. Five years earlier he had published what is now believed to be the first detective novel with a gay protagonist, titled The Gay Detective.
Who was Lou Rand Hogan? Stephen Vider, assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College and author of an academic paper on The Gay Cookbook reveals that his name was actually Louis Randall, and he was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1910.
In the 1920s, Hogan assumed one of his first alternate identities, the stage name Sonia Pavlijej. His theater career was unsuccessful, Vider says, and in 1936, Hogan began working as a steward and cook on the new luxury Matson cruise ship line. Hogan reckoned that the vast majority of the stewards employed by Matson were gay.
One of the Matson cruisers anchored in Honolulu | National Parks Service | 18315
Atlas Obscura notes that
… the loosening of censorship laws in the 1950s meant that publishing gay and lesbian literature became more common. Hogan’s The Gay Detective was meant to capitalize on this newly available consumer market. The Gay Detective was republished in 2003, in response to growing interest in its thinly-veiled depiction of gay life in midcentury San Francisco.
It’s pronounced metrosexual | 18313
Not six months after Australia voted to legalise same-sex marriage, a proposal to debate gay conversion therapies at the Liberal Party’s State Council was quashed by party president, Michael Kroger. Australia has long used gay conversion therapies to control homosexuality.
New South Wales Police Commissioner Colin Delaney, claimed in 1958 that homosexuality was “Australia’s greatest menace”. Homosexuals convicted for consenting sexual acts with other adult men were segregated and medicalised within the prison system.
Sydney-based Dr Neil McConaghy used conversion therapy during the 1960s and 1970s with what Michael Kirby has described as “the most energetic attempts”. Leading LGBTIQ figures of the time including Sue Wills and John Ware protested against the dangers of this therapy, and said it was a key motivation for their activism.
McConaghy’s practices included apomorphine therapy. This involved the injection of up to 6 mg of the morphine derivative to induce severe nausea when patients were shown photographs of men. He also required patients to read pleasurable words on homosexuality aloud, after which he applied electrical shocks to them.
There is still no scientific or medical evidence which supports or validates the use of conversion therapies. Hhomosexuality was removed as a disease from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987.
Inside the Continental | Pierre Venant/Penske Media/Rex/Shutterstock | 18311
A documentary film based on the memoir, “Live at the Continental Baths” by the New York bath house’s founder, Steve Ostrow, is previewed in The Guardian. The Continental was in the basement of the Ansonia hotel on New York’s 74th Street and Broadway. It was cleaner than the Everard Baths, and had 400 private rooms, a sauna, a swimming pool and a dancefloor. Top name performers including Bette Midler (“Bathhouse Betty”) and Barry Manilow.
There was a teeny problem in New York in 1968 when the Continental opened. “Homosexuality was illegal. Two men dancing together was illegal. Very good-looking policemen would come in, rent a room, get into a towel, go into the steam room and then wait for someone to touch them. And then, from underneath the towel, out would come handcuffs. Then they’d arrest everybody in the place,” recalls Mr Ostrow. They would all be taken off to the police station still in their bath towels, and Mr Ostrow would go round and bail them all out again.
He estimates that the Baths were raided at least 200 times.
Fed up with paying protection money and bribes to stay open, the patrons and Mr Ostrow decided things had to change. “After we had the raids, we collected 250,000 signatures and marched on City Hall – there were about 100 or 200 of us – and we had the laws changed so that homosexuality in private among consenting adults was not illegal. And everything changed in the city. Everything opened up. And we were the ones who did that.”
Some of Bermondsey’s characters are highlighted in London News Online.
James Allen was killed by a falling plank in a wood yard. James Allen, who was married, was in fact a woman. After her death, a post mortem found she might have had a child at some stage. It became known as the case of “The Female Husband”.
The London Standard commented “her equivocal lord” was “beautifully shaped, and his legs and feet particularly well made”.
Allen’s wife’s father said: “Allen was as handsome a young man as ever the sun shone upon” when he married his daughter.
London Online notes:
Public interest in James Allen led to the publication of pamphlets and ballads. No law barred women from cross-dressing. But some were prosecuted for financial fraud – marrying a woman to take her dowry.
Then there was Thomas Walker, the ‘She-He Barman of Southwark’, who profited from public curiosity about how a weak and feeble woman could live as a man by touring the country singing songs about his life.
The Southwark QueerStory exhibition will be on at Peckham Levels from Thursday, February 15 until Wednesday, February 28 from 10am to 11pm each day. The exhibition includes 1930s photographs of Bermondsey lad Ralph Hall, living a life of domestic happiness with his lover Monty, and their love letters written when Ralph was posted off to war.
Pub drag culture of the 1960s is celebrated as well as the emergence of the gay disco scene pioneered by DJ Tricky Dicky in 1970s Camberwell, as well as the saucy drag shows and boozy dancing at the Ship & Whale.
2016 Photo | Agence France Press/Getty Images | 18300
In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power after leading a revolution that toppled the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista. Police began to round up gay men. During the 1960s and 1970s LGBT people were imprisoned or forced into “re-education camps”.
Homosexuality was viewed as going against the ideal of the hyper-masculine revolutionary. “We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Fidel Castro told an interviewer in 1965.
During the 1980s HIV-positive Cubans were quarantined in sanitariums. The conditions were harsh.
In 2010 Fidel Castro admitted responsibility for the injustices suffered by LGBT people after the revolution, apologising: “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”
Today Cuba’s constitution bans “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity” and healthcare and visibility has improved. Since 2008, gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy have been available free of charge under Cuba’s national healthcare system; condoms are distributed, sex education and access to antiretroviral drugs have improved.
In 2013 Cuban law banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation but Cuba has yet to legalise same-sex marriage.
All this comes at a price. The only LGBT activism allowed is that which is controlled by the state.
The Canadian government building | Canadian Government Executive | 17119
The Canadian government is expected to become the next country to apologise to former gay staff in the federal civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Armed Forces who were interrogated and harassed from the 1950s to the 1990s because of their sexuality.
During the Cold War, hundreds of gay men and lesbians in Canada lost government and military jobs because of their sexual orientation during the “LGBT purge”.
Gay men and lesbians in the civil service and the military were believed to pose a security risk, and thought to be vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents.
Hundreds of people are believed to have lost their jobs during four decades. Others were demoted, transferred, or denied promotion. Some were given the choice between being dismissed or undergoing psychiatric treatment.
A lie detector | Canadian War Museum | 17118
A notorious “fruit machine”, similar to the lie detector pictured, was developed by researcher Frank Robert Wake. It was a crude detector which was intended to identify homosexuals by monitoring the dilation of their pupils when they were shown pornography. Plagued with problems, the project was mothballed.
Activists have been working for many years in Canada to remedy the situation. In 1992, Michelle Douglas, a former army officer, helped bring an end to discriminatory policies towards gays and lesbians. After being discharged from the army because she was a lesbian, she launched a legal challenge. On the eve of the trial the military settled the case and changed its personnel policies.
In 1996 the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to include sexual orientation. In June 2017 Canada added gender identity and gender orientation to the Act.
Kevin Mumford | Brian Stauffer | 17079
The new book “Not Straight, Not White” by Kevin Mumford, a history professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign, is one of the few books to document the gay history of the black community in America. “There’s still a lot of white-centered gay narratives,” he told the Windy City Times.
He was familiar with and researched James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin before he began his book. “I learned a lot by reading their FBI files, reading their newspaper clippings, and focusing on their gay writings in a way that people hadn’t.”
He includes the life of Lorraine Hansberry, who visited the White House with James Baldwin in the early ’60s and whose archives he had special permission to view. “She’s really an icon of African-American culture. She wasn’t particularly out: she would have been out had she lived, I’m quite sure, but like Rustin, like Baldwin, she had to advocate for social justice and sort of remain silent on the question of her desire.”
Amazon | 17080
His book also owes much material to the collection of community activist and anthology editor Joseph Beam. Beam’s archives may have helped save Joseph Beam from obscurity. “Beam was really extraordinary because he corresponded with all kinds of people, and he saved all the letters that he got, and carbon copies of all of the letters that he sent. He’s an average guy, he’s an activist, worked at the Giovanni’s Room bookstore, he’s a waiter, but he has 15 boxes full of everyday letters, of being an activist, of being a community worker.”