New home for gay collection

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Heather Rousseau/Roanoake Times | 18304

The Roanoake Times reports that the local collection of gay books and artifacts has a new permanent home, after many years of being hidden from public view and moving around. The Roanoke LGBT Library has found a new home as a research collection in Roanoke Diversity Center, Roanoake, North Carolina.

Established in 2000, the collection now has a wide array of subjects, from medical and psychology books from the 1960s and ’70s, to mid-20th century lesbian pulp fiction novels. The collection was originally the personal collection of 1,200 volumes of Jim Ricketson, a gay man and retired book editor. The collection has since more than doubled to nearly 3,000 volumes, which have now been catalogued. Much of the collection is long out of print.

Members of Roanoke’s LGBT community continued to donate books, and some books came from a now-closed gay bookstore called Outward Connections.

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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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Cuba – improved but not yet free

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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.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cuba-lgbt-revolution-gay-lesbian-transgender-rights-havana-raul-castro-a8122591.html

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Australia gay marriage postal vote

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Uncredited photographer | Undated | Getty Images | 17166gh.jpg

In 2017, the Australian government authorised a national voluntary survey to determine the level of support for legalising same-sex marriage. The survey was held via the postal service between 12 September and 7 November 2017. The survey asked the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

A number of pressure groups, some personalities, and some of the media including “The Age”, campaigned vigorously first to stop the survey going ahead, and then to try to persuade people to reject gay marriage.

There were two legal challenges in the Australian High Court about the survey.

Shelley Argent, of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and Felicity Marlowe, of Rainbow Families) and independent MP Andrew Wilkie went to the High Court on 9 August 2017 to seek a temporary injunction. The survey was also challenged in the High Court by Australian Marriage Equality and Greens Senator Janet Rice. The High Court found that the survey was lawful.

A 17-year-old boy who was excluded from voting challenged that with the Australian Human Rights Commission. About 50,000 Australians aged 16 and 17 were registered on the electoral roll to vote. The boy dropped his complaint on 22 September after legal advice.

The survey returned 7,817,247 (61.6%) “Yes” responses and 4,873,987 (38.4%) “No” responses. An additional 36,686 (0.3%) responses were unclear and the total turnout was 12,727,920 (79.5%).

The Liberal–National Coalition government had pledged to facilitate a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the Parliament in the event of a “Yes” outcome.

Many same-sex marriage proponents were critical of the postal survey, viewing it as a costly delay and legally redundant to holding a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in the parliament.

As with the Brexit vote in Britain, there was a rush of people registering to vote; by 24 August 2017, the closing date for new registrations, 98,000 new voters had added themselves to the roll. Survey forms were mailed out during two weeks commencing 12 September 2017. They were required to be returned for counting by 27 October 2017.

The Australian Parliament both passed the gay marriage law on 7 December 2017.

https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/

Updated 8 December 2017

The Two Brewers Double Arsonist

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Jason Fossett | Press Association | 17147

Jason Fossett has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar, the Two Brewers in Clapham, for the second time.

Fossett piled rubbish against the fire exit of  before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20. He pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court. He could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of three years and 244 days.

He was traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, and a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack. Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-jailed-for-life-for-setting-fire-to-busy-clapham-gay-bar-a-second-time-a3605851.html

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Gilbert Baker dies

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Gilbert Baker | Pride Winnipeg | 17063

Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco-based activist and artist best known for creating the rainbow flag representing gay rights, has died at the age of 65. He was living in New York.

Baker, who was born in Kansas in 1951, was stationed in San Francisco in the early 1970s while serving in the US Army, at the start of the gay rights movement.

According to the website biography Baker began making banners for gay rights and anti-war protests, often at the request of Harvey Milk, who would become the first openly gay man elected to public office in California when he won the 1977 race for a seat on the San Francisco board of supervisors.

Milk rode under the first rainbow flags made by Baker at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/31/gilbert-baker-rainbow-flag-inventor-gay-rights-dies

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