The He-She Barman, and other Bermondsey characters

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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.

https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/celebrating-the-rich-history-of-gay-and-transgender-culture-in-south-london/

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Major collection preserved in Louisiana

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2nd left: Stewart Butler; far right: Rich Magill | Undated | Stewart Butler and LARC | 18305

The Louisiana Research Collection, housed at Tulane University now holds the letters, diaries and flyers of four prominent gay activists: Rich Magill, Alan Robinson, Skip Ward and Stewart Butler.

Leon Miller, head of the collection, called the acquisition “extremely significant.”

Magill wrote “Exposing Hatred,” a study of violence perpetrated against the gay community.

Robinson owned and operated Faubourg Marigny Books and founded many LGBTQ organizations.

Ward promoted the rights of gay people in rural areas.

Butler remains a force in the civil rights movement and his home has been a meeting place for civil rights activists since 1979. He co-founded Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus of Louisiana in 1980. He advocated for the New Orleans gay rights ordinance in 1984, 1986 and 1991, and served on boards including the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus and PFLAG.

The New Orleans Advocate notes:

Over the years, Butler amassed 25 boxes of documents, including letters, meeting minutes, election questionnaires and more.

“I didn’t throw things away,” Butler said. “I just kept them, because I thought maybe they could be useful in the future.”

Butler co-founded the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana in 2014. Shortly thereafter, he donated his papers to the research collection, which has acquired LGBTQ materials for more than 30 years.

http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/entertainment_life/arts/article_636fc462-f4d7-11e7-aadd-479ec5f36972.html

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Last baths in Chicago

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Brittany Sowacke | 18301

Man’s Country was a Chicago bathhouse open since 1973, but it closed on New Year’s Eve 2018 following the death in 2017 of its founder, Chuck Renslow, of the city’s leather community. Mr Renslow was the founder of the International Mr. Leather contest.

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Chuck Renslow, 1977 | Quentin Dodt/Tribune | 18302

Vice sent a photographer to record the premises before it was cleared and redeveloped.

Man’s Country wore its history on its walls, with portraits of famous patrons, nude men, and other artwork throughout reminding visitors that this wasn’t some staid, humorless bathhouse. In the basement (dubbed “The Pit,”) a huge sauna—once billed as the largest in the Midwest—sat opposite a shower and wet area modeled after Parisian sewers. In its past, part of the cavernous Man’s Country space was transformed into a dance club called Bistro Too, where acts like Boy George, Divine, and major disco stars performed, shifting some focus away from sex in the wake of the AIDS crisis. It also played host to a leather bar called the Chicago Eagle.

Following its final night, everything and anything inside, from architectural elements to artwork to the disco balls that patterned its dance floors for decades, was auctioned.

Mr. Renslow died on 29 June 2017 of heart problems and pneumonia.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wjpzg5/taking-the-last-tour-of-chicagos-most-historic-gay-bathhouse

Chuck Renslow obituary

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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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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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Canada’s gay purge

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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.

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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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40268010

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Not Straight, Not White

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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.”

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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.”

http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Not-Straight-Not-White-highlights-history-of-Black-gay-men/57167.html

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