Patient Zero – The truth

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Gaétan Dugas | Anonymous/Associated Press | 16489gh

The alleged “Patient Zero” of the American AIDS epidemic was a French Canadian flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas, who died of AIDS in 1984. Mr Dugas was exonerated last week. Far from being the instigator of an epidemic, he was merely one of thousands of its victims.

New genetic sequencing of blood samples which had been stored since the 1970s showed that the strain infecting him had circulated among gay men in New York for several years before he arrived in the US in 1974. So he did not introduce the virus to North America; he was a victim.

The revelation proves that the epidemic’s early days had been overshadowed by a witch hunt.

Federal health officials said homosexuals, Haitians, hemophiliacs and heroin users were all victims — thus effectively calling them all carriers. Many individuals felt the sting of suspicion, including Ryan White, a 13-year-old hemophiliac who was bullied and barred from middle school after he contracted H.I.V. from a blood-clotting factor.

Mr. Dugas’s name emerged when Randy Shilts, the journalist who himself later died of AIDS, published his best-selling history of the epidemic, “And the Band Played On.” Through interviews, he found the real name of the mysterious “Patient O,” for “outside California,” in a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linking 40 men with AIDS on two coasts.

Mr. Shilts never claimed that Mr. Dugas was the nation’s first case, but alarmist journalism during his book publicity tour created the image of a libertine who, as one headline screamed, “Gave Us AIDS.”

“The current study provides further evidence that patient 57, the individual identified both by the letter O and the number 0, was not patient zero of the North American epidemic,” said Richard McKay, historian and co-author of the study from the University of Cambridge, adding that the authors of the original study had already pointed out he was unlikely to be the source. He said a “trail of error and hype” had led to Dugas being branded with the “Patient Zero” title.

“Gaétan Dugas is one of the most demonised patients in history, and one of a long line of individuals and groups vilified in the belief that they somehow fuelled epidemics with malicious intent,” said McKay.

The revelation has caused medical experts to consider the ethics involved when patients identities are revealed. Is it right to hunt down the first case in any outbreak, to find every Patient Zero?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/26/patient-zero-gaetan-dugas-not-source-of-hivaids-outbreak-study-proves

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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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Cairo court rejects gay bathhouse case in a single minute

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An image from Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qahira wa al-Nas shows journalist Mona Iraqi, (right) photographing men arrested during a police raid on a public bathhouse in Cairo, December 2014 | 15004

A Cairo court took just one minute on 12 January 2015 to acquit 26 men who had been accused of “debauchery” in a rare victory for Egypt’s gay community that has of late faced an increasingly oppressive police crackdown. The defendants had faced between 1-9 years in prison on varying degrees of “debauchery”. Homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, where the police and courts have a history of persecuting the gay community. The role of state media and journalists, is particularly shameful.

As the defendants were marched into court chained hand-to-hand, they desperately attempted to hide their faces with scarves or their shirts, whatever was at hand. Family members grew angry at the sight of cameras, afraid that the faces of their sons or brothers would be broadcast on television and publicly identified.

In fact, they already had. Among all the various cases of police arresting Egyptian gay men, what makes this one particularly notable is how the police raid of the bathhouse, on Dec. 7, 2014, unfolded as television cameras rolled.

The Egyptian journalist who organized that shoot, Mona Iraqi, described the bathhouse as “the biggest den of perversion in the heart of Cairo.”

It was that context of intolerance that had tempered the expectations of defense lawyers and human rights activists observing the trial.

“There was no evidence,” defense lawyer Islam Khalifa told CBS News on Monday. “But in this country there are always no expectations.”

That Monday’s ruling went they way it did surprised many observers. “It’s unprecedented,” said longtime human rights activist Scott Long. “This just doesn’t happen.” The session lasted barely a minute — just enough time for the judge to do a roll-call of the defendants’ names before uttering a single word: “innocent.”

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Charlotte and the Angels of America

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Fort Worth Opera in a performance of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” opera version, 2008 | Ellen Appel | 14042

The Levine Museum of the New South, in Charlotte, N.C., recently unveiled a history exhibit, “LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality” to tell the history of Charlotte, N.C.’s, gay and transgender community. 18,000 same-sex couples call the state home, including 2,000 in the Charlotte area, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

The exhibition casts fresh light on the “Angels of America” controversy.

In 1996 a brouhaha erupted when some county officials objected to gay themes presented in a local performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Angels in America.” The controversy led to a vote in 1997 to restrict funding to the Arts & Science Council. The move gave the city a reputation for being intolerant.

Bob Barret, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, took a high-profile stand for the gay community during the “Angels in America” affair, helping to create an organization called Citizens for Equality, which staged a defiant news conference on the steps of City Hall.

“I don’t know that it changed anything, but we were visible and saying, ‘We don’t like what’s going on,'” says Barret, who had challenged the Observer’s coverage of the gay community as far back as 1992, when he met with editors at the newspaper. “The media didn’t have a clue who gay people are, because people weren’t willing to stand up. Once we started to do that, attitudes changed fairly quickly. Still, there were death threats, and awful stuff was sent in the mail to me. And stuff was left on my car. People in charge at the university told me, ‘You need to be very careful. People are watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake.'”

University of North Charlotte Multicultural Resource Center | 14043

Book shop proprietor Sue Henry was perhaps the city’s most high-profile LGBT representative of the ’90s, and was the first openly gay candidate for mayor of Charlotte, in 1995.

Her store, Rising Moon Books & Beyond, became a meeting place for gays and lesbians during the “Angels in America” controversy, with groups gathering among the books to make placards for their demonstrations. She likens it to the city’s first LGBT community center. It closed in 1997. Henry was also involved in bringing the annual North.Carolina gay and lesbian pride event to Charlotte in 1994, which she says made local gays and lesbians aware of “what we can do when we came together.” “I don’t feel especially brave. Maybe I’m stubborn,” says Henry, who currently lives in Greenville, N.C. “For the first couple of years I had the bookstore, I would go in expecting the windows to be broken out by a brick, but it never happened. It’s that worry, that fear, that often stops the LGBT community.”


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The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

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Christopher Street Day parade, Fulda, Germany, 1993 | Sir James | 14050

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are a colourful and distinctive charity, protest, and street performance organization of Queer Nuns who fight sexual intolerance with drag and religious imagery. They also satirize gender and morality issues.

The movement started in 1979 when a group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing habits in visible situations to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District. The original three men procured habits from a convent in Iowa pretending to be putting on a a performance of The Sound of Music!

They are an international organisation, and there are around 600 Nuns in Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

It was a time when religious participation in politics was growing, and Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell were crusading against the acceptance of the gay life style. The Castro District as a major gay neighborhood was targeted by several dozen church members who took to its streets to preach about the immorality of homosexuality.

The name of the group became familiar in 1980. The nuns held their first fundraiser, and a write-up in The San Francisco Chronicle by Herb Caen printed their organization name, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The benefit was for San Francisco’s Metropolitan Community Church Cuban Refugee Program.

The community was then hit with the AIDS crisis and the Nuns played a major part in organising awareness, and are thought to have produced the world’s very first Aids awareness literature.

Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who have died are referred by the Sisters as “Nuns of the Above”.


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Filming Hungary’s gay history

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Making the film | SoSoGay | 14085

SoSoGay highlights an appeal for funding for a gay history film project, “Hot Men Cold Dictatorships”.

How did gay men live during the communist era in the heart of Central Europe? Did the subculture flourish from the ’60s? What was the extent of government harassment? Was homosexuality considered a crime, an illness or neither? How did gay men hook up or have relationships during this time of oppression? Did legal changes have any effect on everyday life? Hot Men Cold Dictatorships attempts to answer these questions. Four young Hungarian gay men decided to make a movie about their ’forefathers’ during the dictatorship period.

Hot Men Cold Dictatorships concentrates on telling the stories of the older gay generation in Hungary, who were the pioneers of the gay movement, entrepreneurs and ordinary people who all happened to be gay in the communist era.

After 1962, homosexuality was no longer considered a crime in Hungary, but gay people were under surveillance and blackmailed into spying on their peers by the authorities. During the Kádár era (named after János Kádár, General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and de facto leader of Hungary) they lived underground. Not until the late 1980s and early 1990s did the first visible communities begin to form and initiate a movement.

The film brings to life important scenes and key venues of the communist past: for example, the Egyetem Bár, the best-known gay bar in Budapest at that time; the Duna-korzó, a popular cruising area; or the Island of Rab in Croatia, which was the embodiment of freedom for many Hungarians.

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US Post has Harvey licked

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US Postal Service | 14095

The U.S. Postal Service will dedicate its Harvey Milk stamp during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday, the day the stamp is released. Mr Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials.

The Postal Service said in a statement that Mr Milk’s achievements “gave hope and confidence to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the United States and elsewhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination.”

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Terry’s story of the anti-gay witch hunt

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Now aged 89, Terry (not his real name) was a young man when he was arrested in central London following an admission from his then boyfriend that the pair were in a consensual, private – but under the law of the time, criminal – sexual relationship. Terry told The Independent his story.

“It was by far the most terrifying experience of my life. The police came to my flat in the early morning. I think they were hoping to find me and my boyfriend in bed together but he happened to be out of town that week. He was arrested later.

“They turned the place upside down and I remember one of the constables saying to his colleague that they’d got ‘another effing queer’. I was given a suspended sentence on the basis of my boyfriend’s statement. They were scary times. A real witch hunt was going on. Even now it’s pretty hard to talk about it – I told no one for years and lots of people still don’t know.”

The Independent reminds us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, which introduced the notorious Section 11 offence of two men committing “gross indecency”, was used to prosecute Oscar Wilde in 1895. The bulk of prosecutions took place after the 1930s and sharply accelerated during the post-war period as homosexuals became increasingly equated by the Establishment with depravity and betrayal.

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who was made Home Secretary in 1951, instructed the forces of law and order to conduct a “new drive against male vice” that would “rid England of this plague”.

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The Chymorvah Affair

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Peter and Hazelmary Bull | Apex | 14131

Hazelmary and Peter Bull run the Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, a guest house, which they run on “religious principles”. The couple refused to let a gay male couple, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, share a double bedroom, in 2008. Mr and Mrs Bull regard any sex outside marriage as a “sin”.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall sued. A judge at Bristol County Court ruled that they acted unlawfully when they turned the couple away, and awarded Mr Preddy and Mr Hall damages of £3,600.

The Christian pressure group The Christian Institute, which had financed legal cases for other professionals who would not work with or conduct ceremonies for gay couples, took up the Bull’s case.

In February 2013, Mr and Mrs Bull took their case to the Court of Appeal; however they lost their appeal against a ruling they had acted unlawfully, but were given permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

The UK Supreme Court heard their case in October 2013. The UK Supreme Court announced its ruling on 27 November 2013. Five Supreme Court justices ruled against them.

Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, said: “Sexual orientation is a core component of a person’s identity which requires fulfilment through relationships with others of the same orientation.”

This post was updated on 12 November 2014 to replace lost photograph.

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The history of gay neighbourhoods

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Castro Street Fair, 2011 | Aids Legal Referral Panel | 14134

The book “Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence, by Christina B. Hanhardt” is reviewed in Times Higher Education by Marian Dugan.

To a generation that believes gays and lesbians only collect en masse to dance on floats adorned in rainbow flags while in drag or pristine white underpants, the concept of gays rioting never fails to raise an eyebrow or two.

By studying LGBT activism in the US in the latter half of the 20th century, the book shows how contemporary socio-legal gains were made possible by resistance-fuelled, political organising, and how a gay backlash to victimisation became resistance to state violence.

Policing and political strategies to clamp down on deviant behaviour had an effect on neighbourhoods, especially in New York and San Francisco, where those “deviants” gathered.

“Gay space” developed in response to a growth in both visibility and the threat of violence. Safety strategies included community-based patrols to protect gay citizens. However, their focus slowly shifted from state violence to the same social “undesirables” targeted in wider crime-control policies. New forms of multiple marginalisation along gendered, racial and class lines faced those not included in “gay gentrification”.

“The idea that LGBT safety would come through neighborhood-based crime control strategies had become so commonplace that the target of Greenwich Village residents’ neighborhood protection efforts would be the very people who most face the kinds of interpersonal, state-sponsored, and structural violence that the LGBT movement had been founded to fight.”

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