New York’s Bijou

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The Bijou’s “attractive” entrance | Daniel Maurer | 18308

The Bijou was a sex club and cinema in New York’s gay district, which opened around 1990, with a colourful history. Writing in Bedford and Bowery, Lance Richardson gives us a tour.

It is an incredible space, but then the Bijou Film Forum, like the Adonis, has its own remarkable history. In the 1950s and 60s, when drag was still considered dangerously subversive (and illegal), queens performed a famous revue here in the mafia-run Club 82, “New York’s After-Dark Rendezvous.” Elizabeth Taylor was known to drop by, along with other forward-thinking celebrities, and it’s said that Errol Flynn once played the piano with his penis.

By the 1970s, the subterranean rooms were absorbing glam rock and avant garde punk, including sounds by The Stilettos, featuring an up-and-coming Debbie Harry. Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones even took a turn at the theater in 1990, launching a music club that seems to have lasted a red hot second. Since its halcyon days, in other words, the black door has hidden queers and iconoclasts, letting them do whatever they want, street-level society be damned.

The club appears to have still been trading in 2014 when the writer visited. During his visit, nobody said a word to him, until he left.

As I pushed through the turnstile to exit the theater, the man at the box office banged on his glass window. “Next time,” he said gruffly, “exit through the back door.” How clandestine! It was the first thing anybody had said to me at the Bijou Film Forum, and I loved it.

http://bedfordandbowery.com/2014/06/discovering-the-bijou-a-hidden-underground-cinema-and-cruising-den/

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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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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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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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Hackney’s gay collection

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Some of the items owned by Hackney Museum | Gary Manhine/Hackney Council | 17030

Hackney Museum has decided it doesn’t have enough gay history in its archive, and has launched a project to discover more of the London borough’s gay past. Emma Winch, Hackney Museum’s heritage learning manager, told an event to celebrate gay history month: “Young people tell us museums don’t do enough to collect and share LGBTQI history. This, and the lack of representation in the national curriculum, is unacceptable. It has an effect on their identity and confidence.”

Musician I’m Empire was at the launch to give a speech on his experience of coming out as a queer man in Hackney’s black community, while street artist Stik shared his memories of the queer “safe house” community in Dalston Lane.

Stik described how he first arrived in London in 2001 after “spectacularly crashing and burning” and joined a group squatting then-derelict London Fields Lido, sleeping in a wooden art shipping container. “I came to Hackney because it was somewhere possible to live and I found an accepting and vibrant community,” he said.

A house in Dalston Lane was a hub for wild parties. “Our parties like Behind Bars and Queeruption fundraisers were the most radical punk and progressive things I have ever seen, and there’s no way we could get away with such subversive actions nowadays.”

http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/heritage/hackney_museum_launches_drive_to_collect_more_of_borough_s_gay_history_with_inspiring_talks_from_stik_and_i_m_empire_1_4875508

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Edward Albee

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Edward Albee | Charles Hopkinson | 16409gh

Widely regarded as “America’s Greatest Living Playwright” following the death of Arthur Miller, Edward Albee died Sept. 16 after a short illness. He was 88. Albee’s partner of 34 years, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005.

Albee enjoyed a meteoric rise to international success in the late 1950s and 1960s, winning the 1963 Best Play Tony Award for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice for A Delicate Balance ( 1967 ) and Seascape ( 1975 ).

Jonathan Abarbanel notes that

Three Tall Women was his most autobiographical work in which he created an openly homosexual character for the only time in his career, although one who does not speak. It’s a son dealing with his formidable mother who is seen as three different women at different ages. Nonetheless, a gay undercurrent can be detected in a number of his works, sometimes bordering on the overtly homo-erotic.

A generous and supportive man, he established a foundation in 1967 which still functions in support of The Barn, a center in Montauk, New York, providing residential support for artists of all disciplines. Albee was at The Barn when he died.

http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Remembering-Edward-Albee-/56577.html

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Guido Westerwelle

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Guido Westerwelle | Michael Kappeler/DPA/Stern | 14914

Guido Westerwelle, the former chair of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, German Foreign Minister from 2009 until 2013, and  Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2009 to 2011 has died from acute leukaemia in Cologne. He was 54. German media reported that Mr Westerwelle had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and had undergone a bone marrow transplant. His foundation said he died as a result of complications associated with his treatment.

Guido Westerwelle was the first openly gay man to hold high office in Germany. He and his long-term partner Michael Mronz entered a civil partnership in 2010.

Gay Activist sends condolences to Mr Mronz, family, colleagues and friends.

Westerwelle was born on December 27, 1961 near Bonn, the capital of former West Germany. His parents were both lawyers who divorced when he was only 10. He grew up living with his father and his three brothers.

He was not popular at school. His teachers remembered him as someone who liked to take center stage, but who also came across as well-mannered and conservative as well as vain, loud-mouthed and opinionated.

At 19 Guido Westerwelle became a member of the liberal, pro-business FDP, and soon took over as chairperson of the party’s youth organization, the “Young Liberals.” At the age of 39 he became FDP party chairman, which he was to remain for 10 years from 2001 to 2011. He experimented with new campaign tactics, traveling through the country in his yellow “Guidomobile” van and appearing in the “Big Brother” reality TV show.

His speeches in parliament were the highlight of debates. His hard work resulted in the FDP reaching 14.6 percent in general elections in 2009, making it possible for conservative chancellor Angela Merkel to enter into a conservative coalition with the FDP after four years of grand coalition with the SPD.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35842927

http://www.dw.com/en/guido-westerwelle-a-fine-orator-who-became-germanys-chief-diplomat/a-19127506

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