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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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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London: Ken Livingstone and Partnership Ceremonies

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Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell, Ken Livingstone, Linda Wilkinson and Carol Budd at the first ceremony | Mayor of London/BBC | 17171gh

In 2001 London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a partnership registration service for same sex couples. The registrations recognised the partnership of the individuals but did not confer any legal rights. The new register was called the London Partnerships Register. The register was open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.

The first couple to take advantage of the scheme, which pre-dated Civil Partnerships and demonstrated the need and desirability of giving same sex couples rights, were Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell, pictured above, who had been together already for 38 years.

They had a five-minute ceremony conducted by Rob Coward, a specially-trained officer with Greater London Authority.

Couples taking part in the ceremony received a certificate but the register was not made available to the public for confidentiality reasons. The register was designed to be self-financing, charging couples £85 to register their details.

The Greater London Authority was the first public body in the United Kingdom to recognise same-sex relationships as being on a par with heterosexual partnerships.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1525205.stm

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Maris Sants and the mob

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Kasjauns | 14127

Maris Sants, pictured, who now lives in London, was excommunicated from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia in 2002 because of his sexuality. His case was highlighted by Amnesty International after he was attacked by anti-gay thugs.

In the years after he came out as gay, the 45-year-old found himself the focus of much attention in the media. Crowds gathered outside his church in Riga, and skinhead protesters held placards condemning homosexuality. Some even threw excrement or violently attacked him. Mr Sants wisely decided to emigrate.

Gay relationships were illegal in Latvia until the early 1990s, and homophobia remains widespread.

“There was a time in around 2005 when, possibly for a year or two, I was one of only two publicly known gay guys in the whole country,” said Mr Sants. “Those who came out, most of them had to immediately emigrate. By the time I came out at the age of 36 I had been through different healing programmes. I had been to psychiatrists and psychotherapists and had gone to ‘ex-gay’ ministries with evangelical Christians who believe homosexuality can be cured. When I turned 33 a serious thing happened and I understood – and this was really like a revelation – that actually it was completely OK. I understood then that hiding my homosexuality was a sin.”

Following his excommunication from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, Mr Sants founded a congregation that was open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

It hosted the inaugural LGBT Pride march in Riga, an event marred by violence from anti-gay protesters.

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Michael Causer

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Mike and Marie Causer | Liverpool Echo | 14241

The mum of murdered teenager Michael Causer has spoken of her mission to raise £1m for a homeless hostel. Marie’s son was brutally killed five years ago. She was touched by the plight of youngsters who said they had run away, rather than tell their parents they were gay, or had been kicked out of the family home because of their sexuality, and she has set out to fund a hostel to provide temporary emergency care for gay and lesbian youngsters at risk of being on the street.

Marie, with husband Mike, set up the Michael Causer Foundation after 18-year-old Michael was killed at a house party in 2008. She said she still can not find it in her heart to forgive those responsible for his death, whom she brands as “evil”.

Michael Causer | Michael Causer Foundation | 14242

Michael Causer, who was training to be a hairdresser, was born on 9 October 1989 and died on 2 August 2008 after being seriously assaulted because of his sexual orientation, in the early hours on the morning after a small house party in Biglands Road, Huyton.

Michael was repeatedly hit with a hardback book thrown at his head during the fatal assault at a house party. He suffered numerous facial fractures and swelling to the brain following an attack described by prosecutors as ‘sustained and brutal.’It was alleged that those at the scene taunted the half-sleeping and naked teen with homophobic insults.

Michael was bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth as he was removed from the house and dumped outside in the street. Michael was beaten so badly a blood clot formed on his brain.

James O’Connor and Gavin Alker were charged with the murder.

Michael Binsteed tried to cover up the attack by helping dump Causer’s body in the street and lied to police claiming he had been the victim of an attack by others. He pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Douglas was charged with witness intimidation in relation to the case.

Alker was acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

O’Connor pleaded guilty to murder and was convicted and sentenced to serve life with a minimum of 11 and a half years before he can be considered for parole.

Binsteed was convicted and sentenced to 34 weeks in custody, suspended for two years.

This post was updated with additional information on 2 August 2017.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gay-teen-michael-causer-brutally-13420814

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Bar Noah Bombing

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Bar Noah | Talmoryair | 14249

On May 7, 2013 three people appeared in court in Tel Aviv suspected of involvement in a deadly shooting at a gay youth centre in the Aguda gay community centre in Tel Aviv.

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Nir Katz| Katz family/Jerusalem Post | 14250

Liz Trubeshi and the youth counsellor Nir Katz were killed and 15 others were wounded in the incident on 1 August 2009. The three men, who were led into court manacled to police officers, were remanded in custody for 15 days. The details are subject to a media gagging order, but reports suggest the motive was one of revenge. A fourth person, reported to be a gay rights activist, has been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the police investigation into the attack.

Police hinted the suspects had criminal backgrounds and that at least two had connections to a large Israeli crime organisation. It is believed the killer was a hired gunman who went to the Bar Noah youth club and opened fire randomly after failing to find his target.

The attack and subsequent failure to apprehend any suspects stirred public debate in Israel about attitudes there towards homosexuality. The investigation has been one of the most expensive in Israeli history.

In 2011 it was reported that Israel was proposing to expel Thomas Schmidt, the German partner of Nir Katz.

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