Remembering Rehoboth, Delaware’s Gay Beach



A Reboboth postcard, possibly 1970s | Delaware Public | 15192

Reheboth, Delaware was a popular holiday destination for gay men from Washington, DC, Philadelphia and Baltimore in the 1970s and 1980s. Rehoboth, which had gay bars like The Renegade and an entire section of its beach unofficially exclusively gay, quickly became a favorite destination. Discos operated until the wee hours of the morning, but there was also a year-round gay community there who experienced the tragedy of HIV/AIDS, and mobilized around a hate crime in the 1990s, to fight for their rights.

It was pretty amazing, you would drive through on Route 50 and get to Annapolis. [You’d think], Oh my god, when are we gonna get there? And hit the Bay Bridge! And then the relief. It was almost as if it was a weather phenomenon that would take over, the relief that would come over your body. And [you’d] say, “I’m on my way to the beach, where I can be me….The gay area was south of what’s now, we call Poodle Beach. We’d have to go across the Carpenter Beach, the Dupont area, into a no man’s land, and that’s where we all would pitch our chairs and have our time to sun and have a good time.”

– Steve Elkins.


Gay film pioneers remember a new use for piano wire!



Falcon Studios | 15171

Out have looked back 40 years to the founding of the US gay video industry, where studios like Falcon began producing sex material for the burgeoning gay market, first with pictures and magazines, and then venturing into video production. Four key players at the time were Vaughn Kincey, Jack Dufault, Jim Hodges, and Chuck Holmes, who worked under the pseudonyms of John Summers, Matt Sterling, John Travis, and Bill Clayton. Chuck Holmes, Jim Hodges and Vaugh Kincey founded Falcon Studios, and went on to become the most commercially successful of the four men.

Jim Hodges (“John Travis,” co-founder Falcon Studios): I was probably one of the first in the business. Bob Mizer [publisher of [of Physique Pictorial] was down here on West 11th Street in Los Angeles. We were shooting posing straps. And then it went from posing straps to ‘soft’ nudes [with flaccid penises]. And then it went from ‘soft’ nudes to piano wire holding the penis back — but hard so it would stay down, not go up. It was a lot of magazine publishing back then. That is really where it all started.

In the US, the sale or exhibition of “porn” — actual sex on film — was illegal. In 1969, San Francisco became the first city in the US to allow porn to screen in theaters, and the business flourished, leading the New York Times to proclaim it the “Smut Capital of the United States” in 1970. Demand for hardcore product increased nationally (and internationally), and much was produced in San Francisco.


Remembering Philadelphia, 1965



July 4, 1965 | Location: Philadelphia, US | Photographer unstated | The Mattachine Society and The Equality Forum/Associated Press | 15167

Fifty years ago a small demonstration took place for gay rights, in Philadelphia. It was one of the first actions of the modern gay rights movement.

About 40 protesters calling for equality gathered in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 5, 1965.

Seen as an incredibly bold and courageous move by the standards of the day,1965 was when homosexuals were legally barred from US government jobs and could be arrested for engaging in consensual intimate acts even in the privacy of their own homes. The American Psychiatric Association still classified being gay as a disease that could be treated with chemical castration or lobotomy.

“Fifty years ago, America perceived us as degenerates,” said Malcolm Lazin, who organized the anniversary events. “One of the many goals of the gay pioneers was to demonstrate that we are first class American citizens.”


Berlin: “150 Years of Homosexual History” Exhibition opens



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.


China’s gay past

Queer Comrades | 15153

The Diplomat have been looking at the re-emergence of open homosexuality in China. Yuxin Zhang explains.

In ancient China, which was polygamous, same-sex sexual behaviors were well-received and tolerated. Positive descriptions of homosexual behavior, or Nan-Feng as it was called, in historical records and in Chinese literature can be dated back to the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). … Traditional Chinese gay culture changed with the introduction of monogamy from the West, and the establishment of institutions and “ethical standards” that regulated sexual behavior, thus shaping contemporary Chinese attitudes and social values. This produced what we know of today as a “normal” (as it is perceived) sexual orientation, in turn contributing to the development of conservatism and homophobia.

Remembering Eleanor Roosevelt



Eleanor Roosevelt | The White House Historical Association | 15152

Former American First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 and died on November 7, 1962; Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer are the authors of “Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Longworth”. They write in Huff:

June marks the start of Gay Pride season, with parades from Boston and Los Angeles to Tel Aviv and Oslo. It’s a good bet that somewhere over those rainbows, Eleanor Roosevelt’s spirit will be marching, too. She’s appeared off and on over the decades, whether loud and proud on posters reclaiming her as an uncelebrated lesbian or more demurely as a sort of mascot for branches of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.

The First Lady’s sexuality remains shrouded in mystery. So why was she, in the White House, and at such a dangerous time for gay men and lesbians, such a champion of their rights?

Some would argue that was because the First Lady was a closeted lesbian. The most often-cited evidence is her intense friendship with an openly lesbian reporter named Lorena Hickok. Roosevelt and Hick worked together, vacationed together and wrote each other hundreds of letters, many of them as purple as a late-summer eggplant. “Gee! What wouldn’t I give to talk to you & hear you now, oh, dear one,” said one from Eleanor. “It is all the little things, tones in your voice, the feel of your hair, gestures, these are the things I think about & long for.” The First Lady got Hick a job reporting from around the country on the progress of the New Deal. Back in Washington, she bunked in a guest room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the rumors began. “And so you think they gossip about us?” Eleanor wrote to Lorena in November 1933. “I am always so much more optimistic than you are. I suppose because I care so little what ‘they’ say!”

Well worth reading.


London: Ken Livingstone and Partnership Ceremonies


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, 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.


Long Beach, 1914: When actors entrapped cruisers and cottagers



A scene from the play | O&M Co | 15147

A new play, “The twentieth century way” by Tom Jacobson is reviewed by The Daily Beast.

In 1914 the Long Beach Police Department recruited the services of two actors – one rugged, one more delicate – to act as bait to entrap men who had sex with men.

The actors recruited for the job were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown.

The two would encourage their targets to show their penises through ‘glory holes’ between walls or stalls, after which they would score a cross on the men’s penises with a permanent marker. The men and their marked penises, indicative of their ‘guilt,’ would then be hauled down to the police station, and the men would be prosecuted for ‘social vagrancy.’


The Irish Same Sex Marriage Referendum



Dublin crowds celebrate the referendum result on 24 May 2015 | EPA | 15118

The Republic of Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage on May 23, 2015.

The electorate voted to amend the constitution to permit same sex marriage. The final result was:

Yes – 1,201,607 (62.1%)
No – 734,300 – (37.9%)

The turnout was 60.5%.


Dublin: Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards


Writing in the Irish Times (print edition) on the occasion of the referendum on same-sex marriage, Miriam Lord notes that veteran Irish journalist Bruce Arnold declared on radio that life was not too bad for homosexuals in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s. Says Arnold:

“I remember particularly Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards strutting through St Stephen’s Green, hugely admired and known as a gay couple.”

Miriam continues:

“Which brings to mind the old story of how Dublin’s hard chaws would shout at the two as they ostentatiously strolled around the green: “Hey, youse two, would yis ever effin get married.” And MacLiammóir would reply: “Love to, dear boys, but one of us is a Catholic and the other is a Protestant.””

Micheál MacLiammóir was born on October 25, 1899 and died on March 6, 1978; Hilton Edwards was born on February 2, 1903 and died on November 18, 1982.