Dublin: Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards

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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.


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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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The Boys In The Band

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The Boys In The Band | Video cover | Amazon | 15051

Time remembers the seminal stage play and film “The Boys in The Band”, which made its film debut 45 years ago on 17 March 1970, making history because it was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters. Adapted from Mart Crowley’s 1968 off-Broadway play, and directed by William Friedkin, the movie, funded by the CBS television network, was a candid illustration of gay life in New York at the time, and its’ realism helped it succeed.

The original 1968 Off-Broadway, New York stage cast and production | Unknown photographer | San Francisco Sentinel | 15052

The film featured Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Frederick Combs, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux, Reuben Greene, Peter White, Maud Adams and Elaine Kaufman (the last two uncredited on the movie titles).

Sascha Cohen puts the film into context:

To the generation of gay Americans who came of age amidst the positive imagery of the contemporary LGBT rights movement — pride, love, rainbows and the message that “It Gets Better” — the plight of these men can look unrecognizable. With its bitter angst and grim outlook (the film’s most famous line is “show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse”) The Boys in the Band feels like something of a relic.

But in 1970, it was a milestone for gay representation in Hollywood. For decades, homosexuality did not appear onscreen at all; the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, enforced until 1968, prohibited the portrayal of “sex perversion.” Although a handful of characters from classic films — Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, the “sissy” cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz and the murderous aesthetes in Hitchcock’s Rope — managed to slip past the censors, those who would interpret such figures as gay are stuck reading subtext. In The Boys in the Band, on the other hand, gay desire and identity are explicit; each character announces his presence as a “fairy” or a “queen.” The film helped make the gay community culturally visible during a moment in which openly discussing homosexuality was still taboo, and many Americans had yet to encounter an “out” gay man in person.

Mart Crowley’s commented, “What did I have to lose?” to explain how a fey Hollywood failure wrote the play in a week, won a five-day workshop way off-off Broadway that turned into the event absolutely Everybody Had to See, then turned down big Tinsel town money to insist the 1970 film be made with its original, very brave, cast of unknowns,

wrote Seán Martinfield of the San Francisco Sentinel, reviewing the event “The Making of The Boys” which took place at San Francisco’s 33rd Frameline Film Festival, in an undated article.

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Remembering Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, an engraving taken from “Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen, (“Yearbook of sexual intermediates”), vol. 1″, 1899 | Geschichtswerkstatt | 15031

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was a German writer and lawyer who played key roles both in defining homosexuality and establishing the movement for gay rights.

Hans Rollman, reviewing the book “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” by Robert Beachy, explains.

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Amazon | 15032

A homosexual himself, his promising legal career was cut short when rumours began to spread about his sexual activities with other men. Shut out of the legal profession, he gradually rebuilt himself a career in journalism and writing. But as Beachy points out, he was a true product of the Protestant Reformation (his family were ardent Lutherans), with its drive to question accepted traditions in the search for truth. No matter which way he looked at it, he couldn’t find anything wrong with his sexual attraction to other men, and concluded that it was normal behaviour, and that some people are simply born homosexual.

All this was, of course, highly revolutionary for his time, as was his decision to begin campaigning for an end to the existing anti-sodomy laws and moral persecution which accompanied them. He first opened up a remarkable correspondence with his own family in what was essentially the first documented coming-out in history. He tested his own theories on them, and while they clearly disapproved and urged him to change, they didn’t reject him and even re-affirmed their love and support for him.

Thus bolstered, he began issuing a series of anonymous pamphlets, arguing that homosexuality, or ‘Urning’, as he called it, was natural behaviour. In 1867 he ratcheted things up a notch, giving an address to the Association of German Jurists where he presented his views and argued for revision of the sodomy laws. He was shouted down and unable to finish his speech, but he had opened the dialogue, and at the same time emerged as its public spokesperson. As he continued his courageous campaign, he also refined his theories of sexuality to embrace a diversity of sexual and gender identities.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on 28 August 1825 and died on 14 July 1895.

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James Molyneaux. He never married

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James Molyneaux | Press Association | 15025

James Molyneaux was admitted to the Privy Council in 1983. He was knighted in 1996 and given a life peerage in 1997. He never married.

writes David McKittrick in The Independent.

James Molyneaux was the leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestant Orange Order and an MP and Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He was a friend of Enoch Powell, and served as Party Leader until he lost his Parliamentary seat in 1995.

Never a bigot, and remembered for his twinkling eyes and softly softly approach, he was a traditionalist who hated change and worked to preserve the status quo in the Province – domination by the Unionists.

…when John Hume entered talks with Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, Molyneaux said he had “sold his soul to the devil”.

James Henry Molyneaux, politician: born County Antrim 27 August 1920; Kt 1996, created a life peer 1997; died 9 March 2015 age 94.

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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?”

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Remembering Brendan Behan

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Brendan Behan | Public Domain | 15011

Irish Central remembers Brendan Behan, the bisexual writer.

Brendan Behan’s … image of ex-IRA man, saloon-loving iconoclast, contrasts almost violently with his affection for young boys, revealed first by Ulick O’Connor in his Behan biography, Brendan. Despite having a devoted wife and fathering a child, Behan’s homosexuality, which first blossomed when he was serving time in a British borstal for young boys, frightened and disturbed him until his premature death in 1964.

Brendan Francis Aidan Behan (Irish: Breandán Ó Beacháin) was born on 9 February 1923 and died on 20 March 1964. He is best remembered for his 1954 play “The Quare Fellow” which, when produced at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London in 1956, gave him recognition and success. Behan’s autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best-seller.

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London’s Black Cap

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Fancy a Pint | 15008

The Black Cap pub in Camden Town has been a landmark on London’s gay scene for decades. Famed for its drag shows, both Danny La Rue and Hinge and Bracket started their careers at the Black Cap.

Writing in The Guardian, Ben Walters notes:

… Camden council considers another application that would convert the upper bar of The Black Cap – where drag acts such as Danny La Rue and Hinge and Bracket started their careers – into flats.

The pub goes back to 1751, is named after a witch, and has been a gay bar since around 1965.

The application to close and convert the upper bar is particularly significant to gay history. It is called the Shufflewick Bar after one of the legendary performers, Mrs Shufflewick (Rex Jameson) whose performances were often attended by Charles Hawtrey, Barry Humphries and Barry Cryer.


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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.

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Klaus Wowereit steps down as Berlin’s mayor

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Klaus Wowereit | 2006 | Getty | 14479

After a long career in Berlin politics, Klaus Wowereit stepped down as Mayor of Berlin on 11 December 2014.

Wowereit first entered mayoral office after being elected the district mayor for Berlin-Tempelhof when he was 30, becoming the youngest politician ever elected to the city legislature. In 2001, following the collapse of the Berliner State Bank, Mayor Eberhard Diepgen stepped down. “Wowi” as he’s affectionately known, had worked his way high enough in the ranks to win the Social Democratic Party (SPD)’s nomination.

Wowereit came out as gay in his 2001 mayoral campaign, when he was told that tabloid newspapers were about to out him. “I am gay and that is a good thing,” Wowereit said as he publicly came out. He was cheered by party members at the announcement. “… and that is a good thing” became a catchphrase associated with “Wowi”. In 2010, Wowereit told Time Magazine that his coming out strengthened his campaign. At the time of his resignation, he was the only openly gay mayor leading a major European city.

His final day in Berlin’s Rote Rathaus (Red City Hall) were marked with well-wishes and flowers from his colleagues. As he left, he said “Tschüss!” and someone answered “See you soon!” to which the outgoing mayor only responded with a “nö” in true Berliner form.

Wowereit is a life-long Berliner and lives with his partner of 21 years, neurosurgeon Jörn Kubicki.

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