Gay history sort of rubs off on you…

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Christian Gooden | St Louis Metro | 15360

Steven Reigns, pictured, has created a display of rubbings taken at gay landmarks around the world. 150 rubbings have been taken from landmarks, signs, tombstones, plaques and other monuments. They represent what Reigns says are integral pieces of “queer” history.

The idea for the exhibit began more than five years ago, when Reigns walked past a plaque in a small park in his neighborhood. It was placed there in November 2009 as a “Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial.”

Included in the exhibit is Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force sergeant and veteran of the Vietnam War who challenged the ban on gays serving in the military, and Ivy Bottini, who helped found the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, but was expelled because she was a lesbian.

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Christian Gooden | St Louis Metro | 15361

“I began to wonder: ‘Are there others? What do they look like?’” Reigns said. He found that there was no comprehensive listing of markers noting places, people or events that help document gay history. He created a website listing markers and encouraged others to participate.

Many of the pieces in the collection by Reigns are done by friends or supporters of the project who were traveling to or lived in a place where a marker is situated. In turn, Reigns would send them a piece of fabric and a black crayon to do the rubbing.

Reigns is a poet and has taught writing workshops around the country to LGBT youths and people living with HIV.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/with-fabric-and-crayon-man-makes-impression-on-gay-history/article_421e5452-9456-5569-bd29-6ba280c5739c.html


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Berlin: “150 Years of Homosexual History” Exhibition opens

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SV-Bilderdienst | 15156

The German Historical Museum in Berlin has opened an exhibition tracing 150 years of gay history in the country. The exhibition includes the first uses of the term “homosexual,” the brutal Nazi-era repression of gays and gradual moves toward legal equality starting in the 1960s.

The exhibition is a joint production with Berlin’s Gay Museum and has been four years in the planning.

“Homosexuality_ies,” runs through to Dec. 1, 2015. It features photo and film material, an electric shock device used for “aversion therapy” in the 1950s, other artifacts, and an “A to Z” section exploring issues ranging from gay marriage to censorship.

One of the earliest exhibits is a handwritten 1868 letter from Vienna-born writer Karl Maria Kertbeny to a German advocate of legal reform, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, which is believed to be the oldest written record anywhere of the words “homosexual” and “heterosexual.”

It also features the work of scientists such as sex researcher Magnus Hirschfeld, whose pioneering Institute for Sexual Research was shut down and looted shortly after the Nazis took power in 1933. The Nazi regime toughened the 1872 law criminalizing sex between men; West Germany changed the so-called “paragraph 175” to decriminalize it only in 1969.

In the words of Visit Berlin, the exhibition

puts the political contribution the homosexual liberation movements made toward the development of our democratic society in the visual range of a broader public for the first time.

http://www.startribune.com/german-museum-launches-show-on-150-years-of-gay-history/309500731/

https://www.dhm.de/en/ausstellungen/preview/homosexuality-ies.html

http://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/09-20-2015/guided-tours-with-curators-homosexualityies-guided-tour


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Indianapolis’ Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives

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Indianapolis’s Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives is the unofficial home of the city’s rich and relatively unknown LGBT history. with a collection of almost 10,000 items which have mostly been collected by Michael Bohr, pictured.

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Michael Bohr | Timothy Bella | 15070

Back in the ’60s, when I first started collecting gay books, it was very hard to find this stuff. You’d find two or three titles maybe in six months. It didn’t matter how good it was. You picked it up because that’s all there was.

The collection is named after Chris Gonzalez, whose  family threw out photos of the 1970s local LGBT scene that he had taken after he died. “His family just trashed all of it,” Bohr says.

The collection includes mementos of the Celebration on the Circle event in 1990, which was a turning point for Indianapolis’ gay community.

This is the poster from the first pride celebration on [Monument] Circle. Doing pride on the Circle was a way of stating that the gay community was here and that we had a presence in the city. Before it was done on the Circle, pride celebrations were small banquet affairs done out of the public eye.

At one time, after dark the only people on the Circle were hustlers. There was a police presence trying to drive people off the Circle. The pride celebrations were a way of taking back the Circle as a public space for everybody. You could be on the Circle and be gay without being harassed by the police. Monument Circle is the big circle of Indianapolis. Doing something on Monument Circle is saying, “Hey, pay attention to us. We’re here, and we’re a presence. We’re not going away.”

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Timothy Bella | 15071

Source: http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2015/4/7/indianapolis-lgbt-rfra.html

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Madonna’s old disco ball unearthed in Detroit!

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Metro Times | 15022

Bar owners in Detroit, where many gay bars and venues have disappeared in recent years, have started collecting artefacts from some of those missing venues. Lee De Vito of the Metro Times talks to local gay businessman Mike Shannon:

… a beat-up disco ball, missing some of its glass tiles (if someone could photograph it properly, it would make an awesome album cover). “That’s the original 1976 disco ball that Madonna used to dance under here at Menjo’s. She was 16 years old,” Shannon says.

One of the things that attracted Madonna to the old Menjo’s was its notoriety as a music hotspot, which Shannon says they’re trying to continue. “One day we play disco, the next day we’re playing hip-hop, and the next day we’re playing top 40,” he says. “It used to be there was never anything played anywhere until it was played at Menjo’s. Menjo’s was the leader of new music and new dance music in Detroit.”

As we look at the disco ball, Shannon can’t help but wax poetic. “Another reason we really love this idea is the stories that these things have — sort of like, ‘if these walls could talk,'” he says. “Could you imagine how many loves were found under this disco ball?”

Source Code MT


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1953 – Gay magazine for homosexuals finds itself in court

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The 1953 and 1954 magazines | One.USC.Edu | 15003

1953, an era when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was routing out “sex deviates” from the government and homosexuality was a crime in every state, and … Los Angeles, where volunteer writers and editors launched a new “magazine for homosexuals”.

ONE, as it was called, offered thoughtful articles, defiant editorials and none of the racy photos or sex ads often found in today’s gay press. “The first issue was sold in bars in the Los Angeles area for 25 cents, about the price of a draft beer,” said Michael C. Oliveira, an archivist at the magazine’s archives housed at the USC Library.

The magazine was immediately banned by the U.S. Post Office as “obscene.” The cover story of the first issue censored by the postmaster, asked “Homosexual Marriage?”

ONE vs. Olesen was largely forgotten until recently, but nevertheless scored the first gay rights victory at America’s highest court. Now, the high court is expected to revisit the gay rights issue, deciding soon whether to hear a case to determine whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Eric Julber, now 90 and living with his wife in Carmel, Calif., is a surprising hero in the ONE saga. A new attorney with an interest in civil liberties, he was asked to write an article for ONE about the threat of government censorship and how to avoid it. His piece, titled “You Can’t Print It!,” became the cover story of the October 1954 issue — and the second target of a postal service seizure.

Julber, who was 30 at the time, promptly agreed to represent the magazine’s editor pro bono.

“I said I would take their case, and I wouldn’t charge a fee,” said Julber, who grew up in Los Angeles, where his musician father worked at a Hollywood studio. “I thought they had a strong case. They were not running a night club. They were writing a magazine. It was a very conservative magazine. It was just the subject matter — homosexuality — that made it ‘obscene.'”

Julber filed suit against Los Angeles Postmaster Otto Olesen, contending the seizure of the magazine violated the constitutional principles of free speech and equal protection. His suit contended ONE was subjected to discriminatory treatment because of prejudice against gays.

The case looked unwinnable in 1953-6. Federal judges in California were not ready to approve this type of magazine. U.S. District Judge Thurmond Clarke in Los Angeles handed down a two-page opinion in March 1956 upholding the Post Office’s decision that ONE was “non-mailable matter.” As evidence of obscenity, he cited one piece of fiction in which a woman recalls an affair with her college roommate and decides to live with the woman rather than marry a high school boyfriend.

Well at least Judge Clarke did actually read the magazines in front of him, even if they were not entirely to his taste. He found as “filthy” a bawdy poem called “Lord Samuel and Lord Montagu” and an ad for a Swiss magazine which could, he said, “lead to the obtaining of obscene matter.” “The suggestion advanced that homosexuals should be recognized as a segment of our people and be accorded special privilege as a class is rejected.”

ONE, whose circulation had reached 2,000, was having trouble delivering issues to its readers. To get around the postal ban, ONE continued to sell copies on news stands and sent copies in brown envelopes from various post offices in other locations.

Julber persuaded ONE’s founding editors, Dale Jennings and Don Slater, to appeal the 9th Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. “They agreed to pay my expenses to travel back to Washington. That’s the way you had to do it then. I took along a copy of the magazine,” he recalled.

He told them the rulings by the California-based judges reflected an intense prejudice against homosexual people and predicted the Supreme Court would take a “rational view of the matter.”

His petition was filed on June 13, 1957. The Supreme Court was struggling at the same time with the question of obscenity in a case involving Samuel Roth, a New York book dealer, who was appealing his conviction for selling sexually explicit books. In a 6-3 decision, the justices upheld his conviction, but also sharply narrowed the definition of what is considered obscene. In a landmark ruling, “All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties” of the 1st Amendment, said Justice William J. Brennan in Roth vs. United States, handed down on June 24, 1957. “Sex and obscenity are not synonymous.”

With that ruling fresh in their minds, several Supreme Court law clerks read Julber’s petition — as well as the magazine itself — and advised the justices it was not obscene.

Julber said he was delighted to win, but disappointed the court had not issued a written opinion explaining its reasons. He was honored at a banquet sponsored by ONE, and he went on to have a long career as a personal injury lawyer, but he never again had a case go to the Supreme Court. He remains proud of his achievement.

Source Code LAT


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Indiana’s gay history being collected

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Indystar reports on a number of projects which are collecting local gay history for future availability. One of the collections documenting gay life is that of Michael Bohr, who began collecting artifacts two decades ago after the death of an acquaintance whose numerous photos of gay events from the 1970s — picnics, parties, meetings — were tossed into the trash by the dead man’s disapproving parents.

Bohr started gathering material in 1995 and now has 8,000 items, such as photos, videos of drag shows, hundreds of T-shirts from gay festivals and out-of-print gay publications, including a 1966 copy of what is believed to be Indianapolis’ earliest gay journal, “The Screamer.”

Bohr’s collection, named the Chris Gonzales Library & Archives after an activist who died of AIDS in 1994, is a labor of love and depends on free rent. Today it is housed in the basement of a building at 429 E. Vermont St. where the advocacy group Indy Pride is based. (The collection is open to the public on weekends)….

Two decades ago Bohr… told The Indianapolis Star that the gay community was responsible for preserving their own culture. “No one else is going to keep our history for us,” he said.

Now, that’s no longer true. Recently the historical society approached Bohr about acquiring parts of his archive and keeping it in its secure, state-of-the-art facility. Bohr said no. He worries the pendulum may swing.

“Things are going well for the gay rights movement,” he said, “but history has its ups and downs. The political climate could change suddenly. (The historical society) depends on fundraising and so is susceptible to outside pressure. If the (historic society) had the archive, and the gay material became politically embarrassing, they could say, ‘Let’s bury it in the basement.’ Maybe that’s me being old and cynical, but it’s happened before.”

Source

Indystar


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Found – Queer political publication from World War II

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Allen Bernstein and his 1940 paper | Drexel | 14031

A previously unknown 149-page manuscript from 1940 defending homosexuality, entitled “Millions of Queers (Our Homo America).” by Allen Bernstein has been discovered. Drexel University’s Randall Sell found the manuscript in 2010 while searching the National Library of Medicine for the earliest uses of the term “queer” in reference to homosexuality.

Mr Sell is an avid and accomplished LGBT history researcher with a track record of unearthing early gay manuscripts.

Bernstein offers a libertarian argument that homosexuals don’t hurt anyone, should not be criminalized and stigmatized and should be left alone to work out their non-conforming lives by themselves. Expressing such a view, and signing his name to it, as Bernstein did in several essays, was a daring, radical act in its day.

Bernstein’s essay is unusual for its use of common, derogatory terms, especially “homo” and “queer”, as casual, value-neutral labels, decades before the term “queer” was reclaimed with pride by LGBT groups beginning in the 1990s.

Bernstein’s document is also a rich source of historical insight into gay culture from the 1920s and ’30s. It offers glimpses into hundreds of lives based on Bernstein’s direct observation and a network of pseudonymous informants. Included are anecdotes about an active Boehmian queer culture in Boston, stories about gay men’s lives in heterosexual marriages, legal persecution of homosexual behavior, and the deaths of queer friends by suicide.


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Saving gay art: the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

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Berenice Abbott, Margaret Anderson, ca. 1923-26 | Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | 14036

The Huffington Post visits and profiles the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art which was first founded in 1969 when Charles Leslie and the late Fritz Lohman opened their home to art enthusiasts. The current director is Hunter O’Hanian.

“We officially started in 1987, when people were dying of AIDS. Families would come in and throw everything away — throw away the gay art. It was obviously a terrible time, the ’80s in New York City. So Charles and Fritz, who lived in SoHo, decided that they wanted to do something about it.” The co-founders were already a large part of gay culture, O’Hanian explained, having welcomed 200 people to their first exhibition years before. Realizing that the art created by their friends and peers was being disposed of at a rapid pace, the two decided to set up a non-profit corporation to preserve and exhibit the works of art that spoke to the gay and lesbian community.”

Ingo Swann, Male Love – Not War, Undated | Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | 14037

The museum now runs under a guest curator model.


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Leather Daddies and Rainbow Crossings – welcome to San Francisco’s new-look Castro

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Leather enthusiasts at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Day Parade | San Francisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society | 14040

Writing in Mission Local, Daniel Hirsch is concerned that marking gay places as historic places is counter productive and diminishes or alters the history.

At a time when bars and other queer spaces are struggling to stay open, the approach some groups are taking to mark LGBT history also has the potential to forever alter, and possibly diminish, surviving spaces. The fear is that by marking a place as historic, its current inhabitants may get pushed out to make more room for all the memories.

In the Castro district, not all residents are happy with the redevelopment of their area.

The rainbow crossing designs | Castro Biscuit | 14041

In the Castro, there’s a current plan by the Department of Public Works and the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District to paint the district’s crosswalks in rainbow colors. It might seem at first glance like a whimsical way to celebrate the neighborhood’s queer history and culture. But for some, being somewhere over these rainbows represents further gentrification and worse, “Disneyfication.”

“How many more rainbows do we need, I mean, jesus,” said Waiyde Palmer, a contributor to the Castro Biscuit and Castro-resident since 1986. “I’m fine with a little bit of fey, but the rainbow crosswalks are the equivalent of a cheap souvenir T-shirt, like, ‘I went to the Castro, and all I got was this rainbow crosswalk.’”

Rainbow crosswalks date back to 2008, when efforts of the Castro Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District coalesced with the city’s plans to repave roads and improve sidewalks, in a large effort called the Castro Street Improvement Project. (The Castro CBD, one of many in the city, is a special business district funded by a special tax, made up of merchants organized to improve the neighborhood as they see fit.)

In conjunction with the Planning Department and Department of Public Works, the Castro CBD took on the task of “beautifying” the neighborhood. Through a process of public input and outreach, this means the improvement project will include the following decorative elements: 20 sidewalk etchings featuring highlights of Castro history, as well as decorative LED sidewalk lights, and those rainbow-colored crosswalks.


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The Names Project and the Aids Quilt

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Forks Washington Chamber of Commerce | 14047

The Names Project began assembling the quilt of panels representihttps://wordpress.com/post/15981196/1425/#ng victims of Aids in San Francisco in 1987. The first name to be remembered on a completed quilt panel was that of Marvin Feldman. Each panel is six feet by three feet.

Name panels continue to be added to the quilt daily. The total quilt weighs more than 50 tons.

Sections of the quilt are on display around the US at various times.

The Names Foundation note:

The initial idea for The AIDS Memorial Quilt came to our founder Cleve Jones at a 1985 candlelight march to honor the memory of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, both assassinated in 1978. While planning the march, Jones learned that more than 1,000 San Franciscans had been lost to AIDS. In their honor, he asked his fellow marchers to write the names of those friends and loved ones on placards and carry them in the march. For the first time, numbers became Names.

At the end of the march, Jones and other participants taped the placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. It was this action, the creation of a wall of names with its resemblance to a patchwork quilt, which gave birth to the idea for The AIDS Memorial Quilt and eventually, The NAMES Project Foundation.


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