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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A day in May

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Easons | 16215gh

Veteran Irish journalist Charlie Bird has just published his new book “A day in May” about the historic referendum last year in the Republic of Ireland which paved the way for gay marriage.

The book chronicles the lead-up to the historic Marriage Equality referendum last May.

The book includes 50 powerful interviews with members of the LGBT community in Ireland and their family and friends, which was inspired by his involvement chairing the ‘Yes Campaign’ in last year’s referendum.

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/charlie-bird-labels-himself-one-of-the-most-heterosexual-men-in-the-world-ahead-of-marriage-next-week-34692560.html

http://www.easons.com/p-4254000-day-in-may.aspx

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Guido Westerwelle

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Guido Westerwelle (left) with Angela Merkel | Reuters | 16177ga

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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David St. Vincent

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David St. Vincent | Press Association | 16107ga

Gay Activist is sad to record the passing of British travel writer and gay activist David St. Vincent, age 47.

Police are now regarding his death as suspicious, almost a month after his decomposing body was found in his Bucharest apartment. Police spokeswoman Bogdan Ghebaur said on Friday the case of 47-year old David St. Vincent has been handed to the Bucharest prosecutors’ office. His body was discovered on Jan. 12 and police initially suspected he had died of natural causes.

He was a founder of Accept, a group that was instrumental in the 2001 decriminalization of homosexuality in Romania.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/world/article/Romania-British-travel-writer-s-death-treated-as-6809000.php

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/david-st-vincent-death-of-british-travel-writer-and-gay-activist-in-romania-treated-as-suspicious-a6856811.html

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Gay Marriage in the UK

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How to Man Up | 14018

Gay Marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 became law on 17 July 2013. The Act permitted same sex marriages in England and Wales commencing from 29 March 2014. Couples wishing to be among the first to marry had to give formal notice of their intention to marry on 13 March 2014.

The Act introduced the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, and contained measures about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, for permitting marriages according to the usages of belief organisations to be solemnized on the authority of certificates of a superintendent registrar, for the review of civil partnership, and for the review of survivor benefits under occupational pension schemes.

A marriage between two people of the same sex became legal, but religious organisations were not compelled to perform them. There were guidelines by which the religious opt-out will be enforced and enabled. Same sex marriages could be conducted in religious buildings and the Act states how they should be performed and registered.

For members of the Church of England, that means that you will not be able to get married in Church, you will have to get married somewhere else, and then go and see your Vicar to have your union blessed informally by him. He is required to discuss aspects of the Church’s teachings about marriage with you.

Same sex marriages are allowed in other religions and in Chapels in the Armed Forces. Deathbed same sex marriages are also legalised. Marriages of same sex couples in Churches in Wales are legalised.

Couples who have already had a civil partnership ceremony would be able to convert their civil partnership into a full marriage from 10 December, 2014. To convert a civil partnership into marriage, a couple will have to attend a registry office and sign a declaration that they wish to be married in front of a registrar. A set of Statutory Instruments to enable this is being drawn up between a number of Government Departments.

Persons who have had a gender change can take part in same sex marriages.

The Foreign Marriage Act of 1862 was repealed.

15,098 gay couples have legally married since gay marriage became legal on 29 March 2014.

7,366 were new marriages and 7,732 were conversions from civil partnerships to marriages.

The number of couples opting for civil partnerships fell by 70% between 2013 and 2014. The most popular month in which to get married was August 2014 with 844 marriages.

55% of marriages were between female couples and 45% were between male couples.

Gay Marriage became legal in Scotland on 16 December 2014.

The Jersey Assembly voted in September 2015 to introduce gay marriage on the island from 2017.

Scottish Government – Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
The Same Sex Marriage Act 2013 [pdf]
Directgov, No Date: Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK
Deed Poll Service, No Date: A couple’s name change rights and options upon a civil partnership
Gov UK, No Date: Civil partnerships review terms of reference and timetable
Government of Scotland, No Date: Scottish Government Review of Civil Partnership
Science Daily, 13 July 2010: How sexual agreements affect HIV risk, relationship satisfaction
The Law Commission, 6 Feb 2012: Clarifying the law on financial provision for couples when relationships end
BBC News, 12 Dec 2012: Gay marriage: Draft bill launched in Scotland
Gay History, 17 July 2013: Gay Marriage, England and WalesGuardian, 5 Nov 2013: Ireland to hold referendum on gay marriage
BBC News, 10 Dec 2013: Same-sex weddings to begin in March
Pink News, 24 Jan 2014: UK Government launches consultation into future of civil partnerships
BBC, 4 Feb 2014: Scotland’s same-sex marriage bill is passedDaily Telegraph, 15 Feb 2014: Church offers prayers after same sex weddings but bans gay priests from marrying
Guardian, 26 June 2014: Civil partnerships can be converted to marriages from December 2014
BBC, 16 December 2014: Gay marriage becomes legal in Scotland
BBC News, 19 October 2015 – Gay marriage statistics

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The Review of Civil Partnerships

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How to Man Up | 14018

The UK Government decided to review the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Concerns were raised by MPs over the issue of civil partnerships and their role in light of same sex marriage legislation.

The Civil Partnership Act was passed by the House of Lords on 17 November 2004. It enabled single sex couples to officially register their partnerships and themselves as civil partners, bringing them certain legal rights and responsibilities on a par with married couples. Civil Partnership registration services became available throughout the UK (except the Isle of Man) on 21 December 2005. The Isle of Man civil partnership act came into effect on 6 April 2011.

In 2011, 6,795 couples had UK civil partnership ceremonies, an increase of 6.4% since 2010. Dissolutions were up by a quarter. In 2004 the Labour government estimated that between 11,000 and 22,000 people would be likely to take-up civil partnerships by 2010; by the end of last year, it was actually 106,834. Lesbian couples are more likely than male gay couples to dissolve their partnerships. 2.2 per cent of gay male civil partnerships had ended in dissolution, compared to 4.6 per cent of lesbian partnerships. There were 672 dissolutions in 2011, up from 522 in 2010. Male couples on average formed civil partnerships at the age of just over 40, while lesbian women were typically 38 years old.

The review was intended to

look at the functioning and operation of the 2004 Act in England and Wales, decide what the future of the Act should be, assess the need and demand for civil partnerships after marriage becomes available for same sex couples, consider whether Civil Partnerships should be made available to all couples, do risk assesments and cost/benefit assessments, and make recommendations.

The results of the review were published in June 2014.

Over 10,000 people took part in the consultation. Less than a third of respondents supported abolition of civil partnership. The majority were against closing civil partnership to new couples. Over three-quarters were against opening up civil partnership to opposite sex couples.

As there was a lack of consensus on the way forward, the Government decided not to make any further changes. Gay couples now have the choice of a civil partnership or a marriage, but straight people do not have the option to opt for a civil partnership.

The results of the review of civil partnerships, June 2014

Stephen Port – The Barking Murders, 2014

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Stephen Port | 16284ga

This post was updated on 27 November 2016.

Stephen Port, 40, who was alleged to have murdered four men he had met over gay websites and who were later found dead in an east London graveyard, first appeared in court on 19 October 2015.

Port appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court charged with four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life between last June and September this year. He was sent for trial at the Old Bailey.

The four men were found dead in the churchyard at St Margaret’s Church, in North Street, Barking. All had died from an overdose of the drug GHB allegedly administered by Port.

Anthony Walgate, 23, a second year art, fashion and design student at University of Middlesex and originally from Hull, was found dead in the early hours of June 2014 in Cooke Street, Barking, a short distance from the church. Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Deptford, was found in August by a member of the public who also found the body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, in September in the same part of the churchyard. Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, was found near the Abbey Ruins, in September this year, just 300 yards from where Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth were found.

His trial was held at The Old Bailey in November 2016.

Port was found guilty on 23 November 2016. He has been found guilty of the murders of four young men using fatal doses of date rape drug GHB.

He was also found guilty of the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and 25-year-old Jack Taylor.

He was also convicted of four rapes, four assaults by penetration and ten counts of administering a substance with intent.

Port was sentenced on 25 November 2016. He will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murders of four young gay men. Victims’ relatives cheered and clapped as Mr Justice Openshaw told Port he would never be released, and one woman in the public gallery of the Old Bailey courtroom called the impassive Port a “scumbag”.

Port stalked his victims on dating websites like Grindr and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal amounts of the drug GHB. He then raped them while they were unconscious, and dumped their bodies in or near a graveyard within 500 metres of his flat in Barking, east London.

Then he embarked on an elaborate cover-up, disposing of their mobile phones, repeatedly lying to police and even planted a fake suicide note in the hand of one of his victims, taking the blame for the death of another of his victims.

Port was found guilty of the murders after a jury deliberated for 28 hours and 27 minutes. He was also convicted of a string of sex offences against seven other men who came forward following his arrest.

A man in the public gallery shouted at Port: “I hope you die a long slow death you piece of s–t.”

UK police are reviewing the deaths of dozens men who used sex-enhancing drugs, amid concerns that cases previously dismissed as drug overdoses may be further victims of serial killer Stephen Port.

The Metropolitan Police Service told CNN they had identified at least 58 deaths from poisoning by the date rape drug GHB between June 2011 and October 2015 — the period in which Port carried out his crimes.

“It is not known if these deaths were related to chemsex activities. In many cases police involvement was limited with the matter dealt with by the coroner,” a police spokesman told CNN. “A review of these deaths is now under way to establish any suspicious circumstances.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/23/serial-killer-stephen-port-guilty-date-rape-drug-deaths-three/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/25/serial-killer-stephen-port-handed-whole-life-term-murder-four/

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-poisoned-four-people-he-met-on-gay-dating-websites-a3093841.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/24/europe/stephen-port-serial-killer-investigation/


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Brian Sewell

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Brian Sewell | Getty | 15363

Brian Sewell, art dealer, writer and television personality, was born in London on 15 July 1931 and died on 19 September 2015 from cancer. Famed for his voice, which he described as

the voice of an Edwardian lesbian

he became a well known broadcaster and art critic who was not usually impressed with modern art. He was also well known for his fondness of old fashioned words such as “callipygian” and “panjandrum”.

He became art critic on the London Evening Standard in the mid-1990s, his insistence that most contemporary art was rubbish made him a pariah in that powerful part of the art world he dubbed “the Serota tendency”. He was well qualified to comment, having worked first for the Courtauld Institute and then Christies. The ruder and more retardataire Sewell became with his criticism, the more his audience loved him.

He called the first volume of his two-part autobiography “Outsider” which became famous for its recounting of a lurid homosexual past – Sewell confessed to having had “easily a thousand sexual partners in a quinquennium” in his thirties. One day I will look up that word.

In 2014 Sewell wrote in the Daily Telegraph:

At school, 70 years ago, it hardly mattered until we were in the Upper Sixth and authority was thrust on some of us, but National Service would have been impossible had the Army known – and it was while I was in the Army that I was made terrifyingly aware of what could happen were I ever foolish enough to be open about my homosexuality.

His article dismissed the advent of gay marriage.

We have wasted our resources on the wrong campaign – the battle still to be won is against prejudice, the most insidious of enemies.

Charles Darwent notes in the Independent:

Sewell’s mother had had him out of wedlock in 1931, at a time when such things mattered. Worse, in her son’s own snobbish telling, she had then married a middle-class man whose surname Sewell was tricked into taking, and who had sent him to an undistinguished London day school.

Of his criticism:

When Naked Emperors, a collection of his contemporary art reviews, was launched at the Standard in 2012, Charles Saatchi sent a message thanking the critic for “always being so Brian Sewelly”. The Turner Prize-winning potter, Grayson Perry, often the object of Sewell’s vitriol, reviewed the book in a Sunday newspaper: “When he is not writing about my exhibitions,” Perry wrote, good-naturedly, “Mr Sewell can be sweet.”

Gay History notes with sadness the passing of one of the principal gay characters of the 20th and 21st century.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/brian-sewell-critic-both-loved-and-cursed-for-his-insistence-that-most–though-not-all–modern-art-is-rubbish-10510023.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10730495/Brian-Sewell-Why-Im-no-convert-to-gay-marriage.html


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The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London

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Chris Helgren/Reuters | 15362

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was built in 1863 at Spring Gardens, Kennington Lane, on land which was originally part of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and was originally a music hall. It seems to have been a local gay pub ever since it opened as a public house. After the second world war it became associated with drag acts, with performances from Hinge and Bracket, Regina Fong and Lily Savage. On one occasion Princess Diana went there dressed as a man.

On 8 September 2015, in an attempt to save it from being closed by new owners and the site re-developed, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was made a grade II listed building – the first building in the UK to be listed in recognition of its importance to LGBT community history. This followed a campaign supported by Boris Johnson, Sir Ian McKellen, Paul O’Grady and others.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/09/this-london-pub-just-made-gay-history-but-can-it-be-saved.html

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/03/31/freddie-mercury-dressed-princess-diana-in-drag-to-sneak-her-into-a-gay-bar/


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