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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Marking 50 years of legality

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It was in 1967 the UK law was changed to legalise homosexuality between two consenting males. The 1967 act amended the law of England and Wales regarding homosexual activity, with Scotland following suit in 1980, and Northern Ireland in 1982.

The British Museum’s new exhibition will highlight the previously-hidden gay histories within its collection, and creates a treasure map of historic LGBTQ moments and objects held by the museum.

The Museum has a coin featuring the Roman emperor Hadrian on one side, and his male lover Antinous on the reverse. Antinous, who would have been part of a harem of the emperor’s lovers, drowned in the Nile river during a lion hunt, leaving the emperor distraught.

Other events will be taking place across the UK at the British Museum, the Red House, the Walker in Liverpool, the Russell-Cotes museum and gallery, and more.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/british-arts-gay-history-2017-797522


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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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Pink filing cabinets invade London

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Pink filing cabinets will be placed at London landmarks by campaigners calling for the capital to get its first dedicated museum of gay history. Campaigners want support for their plans to mark next year’s 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which relaxed laws against homosexuality.

Jan Pimblett, principal development officer at the London Metropolitan Archives, said “LGBTQ+ people have always been part of our history but too often these histories have been made invisible and marginalised. An LGBTQ+ museum will be an important step in the mainstreaming of these rich and important histories.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/campaigners-call-for-london-to-have-its-first-museum-of-gay-history-a3397866.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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Rock and roll is so so gay!

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Martin Aston | The Writing Disorder | 16472gh

Martin Aston writes in The Guardian over the contribution the gay community made to rock and roll music. Many of the rock pioneers were gay and in the closet at the time.

It seems there was a brief flowering of gay culture within the main culture of music in America almost one hundred years ago.

… Talking about sex is hardly new for gay artists. They were doing the dirty in song almost 100 years ago, in 1920s Harlem, when blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith sang about same-sex affairs. Even gay men, less documented than the women, took advantage of a brief new social permissiveness following the first world war – George Hannah wrote and sang Freakish Man Blues in 1930. Away from the blues, there was the first gay pride anthem in 1920, Das Lila Lied (aka The Lavender Song), written by Berlin-based duo Spoliansky and Schwabach, through to the stars of the so-called Pansy Craze, popular in New York from 1930. From this came Gene – sometimes spelled Jean – Malin, whose 78rpm single I’d Rather Be Spanish Than Mannish predated Noël Coward’s none-more-camp delivery and innuendo. But the Pansy Craze was quickly snuffed out when 1929’s economic crash snowballed into the Great Depression, unleashing a new wave of religious bigotry and social repression.

Martin Aston’s book Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out was published by Constable on 13 October.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/11/industry-queer-gay-pop-artists-frank-ocean-little-richard

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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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Islington gets a gay archive

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Highbury Fields, 1971. Picture: Islington Local History Centre | 16460ga

A new LGBT archive is being created in Islington, London, a borough steeped with LGBT history. Today Islington council launched an appeal for people to scour their homes for LGBT memorabilia – photos, posters, flyers etc – to build the archive, which is likely to be housed at Islington Museum in St John Street.

150 brave campaigners held Britain’s first ever gay rights protest in November 1970 in Highbury Fields. A torchlight rally was organised by the Gay Liberation Front in response to the arrest of Louis Eakes in the Fields. Mr Eakes, of the Young Liberals, was detained for cruising several men in a police entrapment operation. Mr Eakes claimed he was asking them for a light.

http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/heritage/highbury_fields_gay_rights_demo_was_a_watershed_moment_islington_museum_to_set_up_first_lgbt_archive_1_4729260

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