The Black Nite brawl

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The Black Nite, Milwaukee | Milwaukee Public Library Collection | 17041

On Saturday night, Aug. 5, 1961, four troublemakers got more trouble than they bargained for at the Black Nite on N. Plankinton Ave., one of Milwaukee’s most popular gay bars of the time.

Built by George Burnham in 1853 as a grain elevator, the old flourmill at 400 N. Plankinton Avenue was later home to manufacturers Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Long known as the Old Mill Tavern and Cafe, the ground floor storefront was acquired by local financier Harry Kaminsky in 1958.

Kaminsky convinced Mary Wathen of Omaha, Nebraska, to open Mary’s Tavern. Mary complained immediately about being “bothered” by homosexual clientele from nearby taverns. “They drove regular customers away,” she complained to Kaminsky, whose response was “if we can’t beat em, let’s join em.”

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A party at the Black Nite | Wisconsin LGBT History Project | 17042

Mary’s Tavern joined The Fox Bar (open in 1948 at 455 N. Plankinton) and Tony’s Riviera (open in 1952 at 401 N. Plankinton and a longtime gay landmark earlier when it was known as the Anchor Inn) to create the city’s first gay district.

Four 20-year-old servicemen (Kenneth Kensche, John Cianciolo, Bruce Pulkkila and Edward Flynn) decided to check out the Black Nite on a dare.

Wally Whetham later reported that “this gang came in and started tearing the bar apart, and the bar fought back.” The servicemen, out for trouble, found a packed bar of 75 patrons ready and willing to defend their turf by any means necessary.

One patron suffered extreme lacerations when he was thrown through a broken window; another patron experienced a brain concussion when he was hit in the head with a barstool. He would remain in critical condition for weeks after the brawl. In the end, over $2,000 in losses were reported, including the bar’s entire bottled liquor inventory, an electric organ, a jukebox and all windows.

“One of the guys came at me and said, ‘OK you sick faggot, come on.’ I popped him right there, and the blood sprayed and he fell to the ground. I’ll never forget that as long as I live. He started it, but I stopped it. I may be a ‘faggot,’ but I’m the one who stopped it.”

“And then the cops came down, and put them all in a paddy wagon, and took them to jail,” said Josie Carter. “They said, ‘You have no business coming down here and harassing these people. The police were good to me back then; they took care of me and taught me how to stay out of trouble.”

The four servicemen were charged with disorderly conduct. Judge Christ T. Seraphim dismissed their charges due to “lack of evidence.”

https://onmilwaukee.com/history/articles/the-black-nite-brawl-lgbt-history.html


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When we rise

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A scene from “When we rise” | ABC Television | 17038

“When we rise” is a four part television series made for American television by film producer Dustin Lance Black for ABC television, which was commissioned by ABC in 2012. When We Rise” is a 50-year history of the gay rights movement told through four characters who suffer — and often triumph over — family rejection, landlord discrimination, gay-bashing, police harassment, legislative defeats and AIDS.

The New York Times notes:

“We’ve reached the stage in the L.G.B.T. movement when a network not only feels comfortable taking this on — but doing so in a big way,” said Eric Marcus, a gay historian who produces the Making Gay History podcast and is preparing his own multipart documentary on the movement.

Torie Osborn, a longtime gay and lesbian rights leader who was active in San Francisco during struggles depicted in the movie, said, “I hope this is a moment for our allies to learn about our history and young gay men and lesbians to learn about their history.”

“This is a story that could have been told before,” she said, adding: “Better late than never.”

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San Francisco, 1983 | Bettman/Getty Images | 17039

Mr. Black focuses largely on San Francisco. New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Minneapolis and other cities also played parts in the American gay story.

The four characters who form the frame of Mr. Black’s story are Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Richard Socarides, and Dr. Charles W. Socarides, who helped to have homosexuality declassified as a mental illness.

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Dustin Lance Black | Andrew Testa/The New York Times | 17040

Mr. Black said that if he had learned anything from this work, it is that the gay rights movement is a story of triumphs followed by setbacks. Mr. Trump’s election, he said, is just another turn in this road.

“We are in a period of backlash right now,” he said. “I would give anything for this to be less topical. But this series shows our history is a pendulum, not a straight line.”


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Gay motorcycle clubs celebrated

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Coll2013-055 Blue Max Motorcycle Club records

Five Blue Max Motorcycle Club members in uniform jackets and Pickelhauben helmets seated on Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycles at curb in Glendale, California, c. 1970 | One/USC Archive | 17033

An exhibition opening at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, “Sprayed with Tears”, delves into the history of Southern California’s gay motorcycle clubs. These were popular underground clubs throughout the 1960s and ’70s. Some of them that are active today.

Using material from the ONE Archives, artist collective Die Kränken focuses on one of these clubs, Blue Max, and re-stages a performance that took place there annually between 1968 and 1993: “The Rose of No Man’s Land,” where a World War I fighter pilot is nursed back to health by a Red Cross nurse, played by a club member in drag.

There will also be a video of the Black Pipe, an LA gay leather bar that was raided by the police in 1972, and a display of screen-printed handkerchiefs that were used for the “hanky code,” a surreptitious method of communicating sexual desire by placing color-coded handkerchiefs in one’s rear pants pocket.

The Satyrs Motorcycle Club are thought to be the “oldest running gay men’s motorcycle club” in the world, dating back to 1954.

The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is at the USC Libraries, 909 West Adams Blvd, University Park, Los Angeles.

http://hyperallergic.com/357473/an-exhibition-mines-the-history-of-socals-gay-motorcycle-clubs/


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Remembering the Black Cat

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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


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Kerry apologises for Cold War Purge

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Brian Snyder/Reuters | 17012

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry apologized to hundreds of State Department employees who were fired after the start of the Cold War for being gay in what is known as the “lavender scare.”

“In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today. On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-kerry-apology-idUSKBN14T2HB


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Love is a drag re-released

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The Love Is a Drag LP Cover | Vintage Vinyl | tc287

The Guardian notes that the 1962 gay LP “Love is a drag”, which has been a collector’s item for many years, has been re-released.

Archivist JD Doyle managed to get in contact with the original record producer, who, like the musicians and singer on the LP, were not credited when it was released in 1962, for obvious reasons.

In 2012 the album’s producer, Murray Garrett, emailed him after discovering that Doyle had written about the music on his website.

The story begins in the 1920s. As far back at the 1920s, blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith had been singing about gay characters, though they were loathe to directly express their own desires. In 1946 Garrett was a celebrity photographer for Life magazine and was taken by a friend to a bar in Greenwich Village. A handsome young man came out on the club’s stage and started to sing standards normally performed by a woman to a man. Garrett was confused until his friend informed him that they were in a gay bar. Garrett later told Doyle he was so impressed by the quality of the music that the night stayed in his mind “for years and years”.

In the early 60s a friend of Garrett’s was starting a record company in Hollywood and asked him if he had any ideas for projects that would stand out. Garrett thought a man singing love songs to another man would more than fit the bill. Garrett asked his photography partner, Gene Howard, who had earlier performed with Stan Kenton’s band, to sing on the album. The singer told him he had two daughters and a wife to consider, not to mention a career. According to Doyle, Howard’s wife asked just one question about the project: “Is it going to be done with dignity?”

The album sold by word of mouth, mainly in the Hollywood community Garrett and Howard knew well. Gay waiters and car hops started buying copies, up to six at a time. Frank Sinatra ordered a dozen copies. Garrett gave a copy to Bob Hope and Liberace also acquired a copy.

Over the years, the album became a cult item, selling for up to $200.

A number of LP recordings made in Britain for the UK gay market appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, and some of the artistes involved have been documented in Gay History.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/05/love-is-a-drag-story-behind-groundbreaking-gay-album

http://www.vintagevinylnews.com/2016/10/mystery-of-1962-album-love-is-drag.html


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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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Wayne Friday

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San Francisco Chronicle/Uncredited photographer | 16469gh

Wayne Friday, pictured in 1979, a former city police commissioner, bartender, and a political columnist who chronicled the coming-of-age of San Francisco’s gay community, died on Wednesday aged 79.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Friday moved from New York to San Francisco in 1970 and began tending bar at gay bars. He became president of the Tavern Guild, an association of gay bars that also provided health services and social support in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

“It was total freedom out here, for everybody,” Mr. Friday recalled in a 2001 interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. “I had just come out of the closet. … The city was a fantasy for grown-ups, gay and straight alike.” One of his friends was Harvey Milk, the gay community leader who was then political columnist for the Bay Area Reporter.

Gay History sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Wayne-Friday-influential-in-SF-gay-community-9972852.php

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The Orlando shooting

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On June 12, 2016, at around 2 am, security guard Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people, taking hostages, and injuring 53 others. He was shot dead by Police when a SWAT team ended the incident at around 5.00 am.

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Phelan M Ebenhackz, Associated Press/CNN | 16236 gh

Three of the injured casualties were Police.

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Vigils were held by the gay community around the world in response to the outrage, including in London’s Old Compton Street.

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Yui Mok/Press Association | 16231ga

The LGBT Community Center of Central Florida provided grief counselling for the survivors. A victims’ assistance center was opened at Camping World Stadium.
Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature in the Orlando area following the attack, allowing users to mark themselves as “safe” to notify family and friends—the first use of the feature in the United States.

Following the shooting, gay pride festival organizers made plans to mark the outrage in their Pride Marches, and increase the security of Pride events.

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Vienna | C Bruna/Picture Alliance/DPA | 16234viega

In Vienna around 130,000 people turned out for the Rainbow Parade. A minute’s silence was held before the festivities got underway. The march was led by a black-clad group called “Victims of Hate Crimes – Marching for those who can’t,” holding a rope around a space where normally a float full of dancers would be, representing “those lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and inter-sex people who lost their lives in Orlando and who can’t be marching with us”.

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Omar Mateen | 16238gh

More information will be added to this article when available.

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Peter De Rome

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Peter De Rome | Uncredited and undated | 16170gh

The Guardian remembers the late Peter De Rome, pioneer of gay sex films. He is the subject of a new documentary film, “Grandfather Of Gay Porn”, being released tomorrow.

… Peter De Rome, the late British film-maker who served in the RAF during the second world war, worked as a publicist on The Third Man, campaigned for civil rights in the American south, and then became the Grandfather Of Gay Porn, as the film’s title enthusiastically dubs him. De Rome’s films were unpopular with the authorities in the 60s and 70s, but they struck a chord with audiences by documenting gay sexuality with unashamed vigour.

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The Fire Island Kids by Peter De Rome | Uncredited and undated | 16171gh

When British censors agreed to certify a compilation of De Rome’s work in 2010, they noted the “artistic, cultural and historical merit” that made the film “distinguishable from a sex work”.

Peter De Rome was born on 28 June 1924 and died on 21 June 2014. He became an American citizen in 1997.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/mar/12/grandfather-of-gay-porn-peter-de-rome

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