Remembering the Black Cat

gh17021202

17031

February 1967 | Black Cat/USC Digital Archive | tc17031

Two years before the Stonewall riots in New York City, Silver Lake in Los Angeles was the epicenter of a gay rights protest movement of its own. In February 1967, demonstrators at the Black Cat Tavern,, 3909 W Sunset Blvd., took a stand and pushed back against anti-LGBT forces, and a rally was held there yesterday to commemorate the events of 1967 and continue the movement today.

The Black Cat Tavern had been open for only two months when a party on New Year’s Eve, 1966 was raided by undercover officers who infiltrated the party and, when they saw same-sex couples kissing at midnight, police began a flurry of arrests. 14 patrons of the bar were arrested for “assault and public lewdness” and the police physically beat several of the individuals. A riot broke out and spilled into the street and neighboring bars.

After the raid, organizers met to begin planning a large demonstration to be held at the Black Cat. The then-new PRIDE organization began publishing a newsletter called The Advocate where they disseminated details of the gathering; the Advocate has published ever since.

On February 11, 1967, an estimated 300 to 600 protestors surrounded the Black Cat in what would be remembered as a tense but ultimately peaceful protest against homophobic laws and police brutality. The event marked a turning point for the local gay rights movement and part of a growing trend of LGBT resistance.

https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/blog/commemorate-a-milestone-of-local-lgbt-history-this-weekend-at-the-black-cat-tavern-020917


SP

Advertisements

Guido Westerwelle

gh160319

16177ga

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

SP

Kirk LeMoyne ‘Lem’ Billings

gh160126

16081gh

John F Kennedy and Lem Billings | JFK Presidential Library | 16081gh

The book ‘Jack and Lem: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship’ by David Pitts, deals with the late President’s lifelong friendship with Kirk LeMoyne ‘Lem’ Billings, after the pair first met in Choate prep school. The book, first issued in 2007, claims President John F Kennedy had a special room in the White House reserved just for his gay best friend. The pair were so close that they wrote lengthy letters to each other whenever they were apart.

16082gh

Uncredited | 16082gh

Mr Billings never came out as gay, but Ben Bradlee, a mutual friend and influential newspaper editor, admitted: “I suppose it’s known that Lem was gay….It impressed me that Jack had gay friends. Everybody knew, but that’s not the kind of thing you talked about in those days.”

In a subsequent book “RFK Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream” Jerry Oppenheimer claimed the pair had “a friendship that included oral sex, with Jack always on the receiving end”.

“Lem” Billings, born April 15, 1916, died May 28, 1981.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/01/25/john-f-kennedys-gay-best-friend-had-his-own-bedroom-in-the-white-house/

SP

When gay men fled the UK

gh160124

David Boyle writes in The Guardian about one of his ancestors, a gay man, who got caught up in the furore and witch hunt which followed the Pheonix Park Murders in Dublin in 1882, when republican terrorists stabbed the Irish secretary to death. At the time, Dublin was ruled by Britain.

The murders shocked the public on both sides of the Irish Sea, and to claw back the moral high ground Irish nationalist MPs launched a campaign to identify homosexuals in the Irish government or part of the establishment in Dublin – starting with the senior detective in charge of the Phoenix Park case, James Ellis French. The campaign led to huge torchlight processions and mass demonstrations in many towns and cities of Ireland. … Most of the defendants were acquitted – the main issue at stake was whether it was physically possible to commit sodomy in a hansom cab.

The murder became the excuse a zealous anti-homosexual MP, Henry Labouchère, his chance to tag onto an unrelated Bill, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, a clause entitled “Outrages against public decency” which had the effect of making sex between consenting adult men illegal. A situation which remained until 1967.

His amendment was debated at night in a few minutes, and only one MP queried whether it was relevant to the debate.

In 1895 after the passage of the Bill, Mr Boyle’s gay relative vanished from the records. The witch hunt had started in England. He records

Contemporary letters imply the same of many others – maybe many hundreds of them. One correspondent reported that there were 600 passengers queuing for the Calais ferry the night Oscar Wilde was arrested that April.

The train and ferry to Calais was a popular escape route, but there were others. Generations of gay men who wanted to be able to live without fear of arrest found other ways to get out of the UK. There were the forces; there was the Merchamt Navy. And there may have been other surreptitious ways to leave London, which remain undocumented in gay histories.

In his book “Mr Clive and Mr Page”, published in January 1996, twenty years ago this month, which was set in the 1920s, Neil Bartlett OBE, who was Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith from 1994 to 2005, wrote of one of the characters in his novel who booked a passage through Thomas Cook’s on a tea clipper. There was a regular clipper service between Riga and Hays Wharf, now a shopping centre but then a working wharf, adjacent to Tower Bridge. It is understood there was a small community of ex-patriate British gay men in Riga throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but your Activist’s enquiries of gay organisations in Riga have failed to elicit any information regarding this community or what happened to them at the outbreak of World War II (if they were still there then.)

After World War II another expatriate community of British gay men emerged in Tunis, North Africa.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has any further information about the migration of gay men from the UK following the 1885 Act.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/21/gay-ancestor-witch-hunt-sexual-behaviour

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/671989.Mr_Clive_And_Mr_Page

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/neilbartlett

SP

David Maxwell Fyfe

gh151215

David Maxwell Fyfe | Date: 1954 | Press Association | 15492

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe was a British Conservative politician, lawyer and judge who combined a legal career with politics as Solicitor General, Attorney General, Home Secretary and Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

It was as Home Secretary that David Maxwell Fyfe oversaw the crackdown on homosexual men in Britain. Prior to becoming Home Secretary he was one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials and was instrumental in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Home Secretary his decisions were often controversial, such as his decision not to grant clemency to Derek Bentley. He was removed from Government in 1962 by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, during a Cabinet reshuffle.

For the homosexual community he was a puzzling figure at the time of the purges, for he as Home Secretary was responsible for setting up the Wolfenden Committee and giving it the job of reviewing the laws surrounding homosexuality. Then, elevated to the House of Lords, he led the opposition to implementing the findings of the very same Committee he had set up!

As late as 1965 – just two years before the 67 Act – he still opposed law reform for homosexuals, saying he was against licensing ‘buggers’ clubs’ which he claimed were operating behind innocent-looking doors all over London and telling Sir Robert Boothby that it was not his intention to legalise homosexuality: “I am not going down in history as the man who made sodomy legal.”

Not exactly a gay icon, then, he died in January 1967, so he did not live to see the 67 Act being passed.

SP

The Boothby Scandal

gh151025

15404

Robert Boothby in 1945 | Public domain | 15405

In 1964, a major scandal threatened to engulf the UK’s Conservative Government when it was made aware of an alleged relationship between Robert (Bob) Boothby and gangland leader Ronnie Kray. Born in 1900 and educated at Eton and Oxford, he trained as an officer in the Brigade of Guards (but was too young for active service in the first world war). He then became a stockbroker and was first elected to Parliament in 1924.

Boothby married twice: between 1935 and 1937 he was married to Diana Cavendish and he married again in 1967 to Wanda Sanna. He is rumoured to have had children with other ladies under the noses of their husbands.

By 1964 Boothby had been given a life peerage and was a member of the House of Lords. He had previous held a Scottish seat of Parliament until he was elevated to the Lords in 1958. Then MI5 gained intelligence that Boothby was in a relationship with his chauffeur Leslie Holt and London gangster Ronnie Kray. The intelligence came from The Sunday Mirror which had allegedly acquired a photo of Boothby with Holt and Kray. MI5 concluded that Boothby’s private life was of no concern, since he had no access to classified secrets. It may not have had security implications for the country, but the affair had all the hallmarks of a potentially devastating political scandal – just months after the Profumo scandal – which would show the government yet again in a bad light.

MI5 files now declassified under the 50 year rule and released by the National Archives allege that the men went to “homosexual parties” together and were “hunters” of young men. The relationship between Boothby and Kray caused such concern within Downing Street that the then head of MI5 was summoned to the Home Office. The government was worried about a scandal greater than the so-called Profumo Affair. As well they might. The newspapers had information that from 1930 he had a long affair with Lady Dorothy Macmillan, wife of the Conservative politician Harold Macmillan, who was Prime Minister until he stood down through poor health in 1963.

Boothby was faced with the allegations and the alleged photograph. He said the photograph showed them discussing “business matters”, dismissing rumours about his personal life as a “tissue of atrocious lies”. The Sunday Mirror, which had not printed the photo or the story, ended up paying £40,000 damages to Boothby.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11948323/lord-boothby-sex-parties-ronnie-kray-mi5-documents.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34612729

SP

Ian Harvey, MP and gay campaigner

gh15080801

15264

Amazon | 15264

After a career in the forces including war service, University, marriage and public service on local councils, Ian Harvey stood for Harrow East in the 1950 general election, winning the seat and holding it in the 1951 and 1955 general elections. From 1955 to 1957 he was secretary of the 1922 Committee. He was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Supply in 1956, becoming a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office in 1958. Unfortunately he was not there for long.

In November 1958, Harvey and a Guardsman from the Coldstream Guards were found in the bushes in St James’s Park and arrested; Harvey tried to give a false name on arrest. Both were charged with gross indecency and breach of the park regulations; when tried on 10 December, the indecency charge was dropped and both were fined £5.

‘A young guardsman in uniform passed me at a slow pace and I knew what that meant,’ he explained later. ‘I turned and caught up with him and we went into St James’s Park.’

‘If (as I fear) he is guilty, he must resign his post in the Govt and his seat in Parliament,’ then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan wrote in his diary. ‘I saw him this morning and did my best to comfort him. But it is a terrible thing and has distressed me greatly.’

Harvey resigned his ministerial post and his seat, forcing a by-election early in 1959; he paid the guardsman’s fine as well as his own.

In 1971 he published his book, To Fall Like Lucifer. From 1972 onwards he was the Vice-President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and from 1980 onwards Chairman of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. He continued to serve on various public bodies until his death.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Douglas Harvey RA, born 25 January 1914, died 10 January 1987.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339300/Liberace-Tory-minister-seduced-guardsmen–bitterly-divided-Britain-Historian-David-Kynaston-tells-battle-gay-rights-split-country.html


SP

Jeremy Thorpe dies

gh141204

Jeremy Thorpe (left) arriving at the Old Bailey in 1979 for his trial | Press Association | 14473

Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has died after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 85.

Jeremy Thorpe was elected leader of the Liberals in 1967, but his political career ended when his life was engulfed in scandal and he faced trial on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder.

He resigned as Liberal Party leader in 1976 after allegations of an affair with a former male model, Norman Scott, at a time when male homosexual acts were illegal. Along with three other men, he was later charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Scott, but all the men walked free from court after a 31-day trial, in 1979.

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: “Jeremy Thorpe’s enforced resignation as leader of the Liberal Party and his subsequent departure from Parliament should not obscure the fact that in his day he was an outstanding parliamentarian with a coruscating wit, and a brilliant campaigner on the stump whose interest and warmth made him a firm favourite with the public.”

Lord Steel of Aikwood, who succeeded Mr Thorpe as party leader, said he had a “genuine sympathy for the underprivileged”, both in his constituency and in Africa, where he campaigned against apartheid.

John Jeremy Thorpe was born in Surrey on 29 April 1929 into a Conservative family – both his father and grandfather were Tory MPs. One of his ancestors was Mr Speaker Thorpe of Edward II’s Parliament, who was beheaded by a mob in 1461. He received some of his education in America. He read law at Trinity College, Oxford where he became chairman of the Liberal Club and then the Oxford Union. On entering politics he was a pioneering campaigner for human rights, attacking South Africa’s policy of apartheid and the post-colonial excesses in South East Asia.

Gay History: The trial of Jeremy Thorpe

Source 1
Source 2

SP

Harvey Proctor

gh140709

Harvey Proctor | Public Domain | 14071

Yorkshire born Keith Harvey Proctor was born on 16 January 1947 and is still living. He is a former Conservative Member of Parliament. A member of the Monday Club, he represented Basildon from 1979 to 1983 and Billericay from 1983 to 1987. He was known for his opinions about immigration.

Glasgow Herald | 14072

On April 16, 1987, Mr Proctor appeared in court accused of committing three acts of gross indecency with one male and one act of gross indecency with another male – both teenagers. Lurid allegations surrounding Mr Proctor’s sex life surfaced in September 1986 when allegations appeared in a Sunday newspaper claiming he had organised gay spanking sessions with boys in his London flat.

Harvey Proctor resigned as MP for Billericay shortly before his trial which began in May 1987. He pleaded guilty and was fined a total of £1,450.

The following year, with financial backing from former colleagues he opened two shops selling luxury shirts. In 1992 Mr Proctor and Neil Hamilton, then a government minister, were assaulted by two men on a “gay bashing expedition”. Mr Hamilton’s nose was broken in the attack in Mr Proctor’s shop in Richmond-on-Thames. There is no suggestion that Mr Hamilton is gay. Mr Proctor’s shirt shop business ceased trading in 2000. Mr Proctor now lives in a house within the 16,000-acre grounds of Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.

On 4 March 2015 his home was searched by detectives investigating historical allegations of child sex abuse.

Sources:

BBC On this Day

Glasgow Herald/Google archive

Guardian, 5 March 2015

This article was updated on 5 March 2015.

SP

Chris Smith

gh14020801

Chris Smith | Copyright details being sought | 14120

Christopher “Chris” Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury PC was born on 24 July 1951. He is a British Labour Party politician, and a former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Tony Blair (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport). Chris Smith was one of the first openly gay British MPs, being elected in 1983 and coming out in 1984, and in 2005, became the first British MP to reveal that he is HIV positive, following Nelson Mandela’s announcement of his son’s death from AIDS. He is understood to be a patron of the HIV assistance charity The Food Chain and is Chairman of the Environment Agency. He is currently engaged in the review of further devolution.

Press Association | 14121

In February 2014 his chairmanship of the Environment Agency was criticised after severe flooding in parts of the United Kingdom.

Updated 12 November 2014

This post is updated and republished


SP