The article regarding the historic gay film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) has been updated with additional information and an additional image.
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.
Julian and Sandy, 1970s, LP Cover | Copyright control | 17032
Paul Baker, an authority on Polari, having studied it for some time, has provided Scroll/The Conversation with a brief history of the language. To summarise:
Polari has now largely fallen out of use, but was historically spoken by gay men and female impersonators.
Polari developed first in the world of entertainment, West End theatres and 19th-century music halls, travelling entertainers and market-stall holders, and was based on Parlyaree which had roots in Italian and rudimentary forms of language used for communication by sailors around the Mediterranean, which found its way into Britain, especially London and port cities, and gradually became used by gay men and female impersonators, especially during the first half of the 20th century. In England, gays added Cockney Rhyming Slang, backslang (pronouncing a word as if it was spelt backwards), French, Yiddish and American airforce slang to Polari.
It was useful as a means of conducting conversations in public spaces, which would have alerted others to your sexuality at a time when homosexual acts were illegal.
“Vada the naff strides on the omee ajax” meant look at the awful trousers on the man nearby. Inserting a Polari word – such as bona (good) or palone (woman) – into a sentence could act as a coded way of identifying other people who might be gay. The language itself, full of camp, irony, innuendo and sarcasm, also helped its speakers to form a resilient worldview in the face of arrest, blackmail and physical violence.
In the 1970s, in a gay magazine called Lunch, activists branded Polari as ghettoising and it gradually became surplus to requirements. In 2000, Baker carried out a survey of 800 gay men and found about half the respondents had never heard of Polari.
In recent years however, there has been renewed interest in Polari. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence created a Polari Bible, running a Polari wordlist through a computer program on an English version of the Bible.
Paul Baker is the Professor of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University.
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.
Some of the items owned by Hackney Museum | Gary Manhine/Hackney Council | 17030
Hackney Museum has decided it doesn’t have enough gay history in its archive, and has launched a project to discover more of the London borough’s gay past. Emma Winch, Hackney Museum’s heritage learning manager, told an event to celebrate gay history month: “Young people tell us museums don’t do enough to collect and share LGBTQI history. This, and the lack of representation in the national curriculum, is unacceptable. It has an effect on their identity and confidence.”
Musician I’m Empire was at the launch to give a speech on his experience of coming out as a queer man in Hackney’s black community, while street artist Stik shared his memories of the queer “safe house” community in Dalston Lane.
Stik described how he first arrived in London in 2001 after “spectacularly crashing and burning” and joined a group squatting then-derelict London Fields Lido, sleeping in a wooden art shipping container. “I came to Hackney because it was somewhere possible to live and I found an accepting and vibrant community,” he said.
A house in Dalston Lane was a hub for wild parties. “Our parties like Behind Bars and Queeruption fundraisers were the most radical punk and progressive things I have ever seen, and there’s no way we could get away with such subversive actions nowadays.”
The Montagu trials, 1953 and 1954 has been updated.
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.”
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.
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.
The post on Stephen Port – The Barking Murders 2014 has been updated following his conviction.