If you enjoyed the BBC series Taboo – you’re probably wondering what London was really like at that time.
That violent drama is set in 1814, the late Georgian period, and as luck would have it, I own several guides to London from the first two decades of the nineteenth century. One from 1804 is especially descriptive and I’ll quote liberally below.
These books were intended to guide a visitor around the city taking in places of interest, like a prison for example or a mental asylum. Yep, you really could pay to go and gawp at criminals and the insane. So – here’s a selection of oddities from the period of Taboo.
Visiting a prison:You’ve arrived in London and wondering what to go and see. How about a prison? You could pop along to Newgate prison – where the Old Bailey now stands – and pay the “turnkey” two or three shillings to go in and stare at the unfortunates behind bars. One guide I have to London laments the overcrowded part of the prison for debtors, who were treated worse than thieves and other felons. Those who were condemned to death were normally held in irons, which must have been a thrilling sight for the Georgian tourist!
something to see in London!
3. Then watch a public execution: My 1804 guide bemoans the attitude of Londoners to the growing number of executions. They’d become quite indifferent to them! “Among the many nuisances which disgrace the metropolis, there is not perhaps one which excites more horror than the frequency of public executions. The numbers of unhappy culprits that annually forfeit their existence by violation of the laws, afford sufficient proofs that an ignominious death is no longer our safeguard. Six, eight and ten criminals executed in the public streets, even in the heart of the metropolis, in the broad light of day, before the eyes of the multitude, scarcely excite emotion.”
4. You’re a victim of crime during your visit to London:There’s no police force at the time of Taboo so having been robbed, beaten up or defrauded by a fortune teller – you could take your case to one of the places where magistrates were in session every day of the week like the Mansion House, Bow Street, Hatton Garden or Guildhall. In a “summary way” they would deal with everything from murder to “disorderly houses”, “persons of ill fame found in avenues to public places with an intent to rob” and “vagabonds”.
5. Pop into a workhouse:In the early 1800s, Dr Hooper was the resident doctor at the St Mary-le-bone Workhouse and was happy to show any gentleman round if they were interested. There was also the St Martin’s Workshouse in Castle Street, near Leicester Square (roughly corresponding to the National Portrait Gallery). In my 1804 guide to London, it’s pointed out that one of the inmates was 104 years old! If you made a proper application to the master of the house or the churchwardens they were prepared to “readily gratify the curious”.. Strange entertainments:Like today, Londoners loved the theatre. Some of it was very bawdy while other houses put on fine operas and plays. Then there was just the plain bizarre. For example, Mr Cartwright could be found at the Lyceum putting on a display of “philosophical fireworks” while Miss Cartwright played the musical glasses. In the absence of movies, you could also go and watch The Phantasmagoria – also at the Lyceum. Basically, images projected on to a screen from a “magic lantern”. No CGI I’m afraid.
6. Strange entertainments:Like today, Londoners loved the theatre. Some of it was very bawdy while other houses put on fine operas and plays. Then there was just the plain bizarre. For example, Mr Cartwright could be found at the Lyceum putting on a display of “philosophical fireworks” while Miss Cartwright played the musical glasses. In the absence of movies, you could also go and watch The Phantasmagoria – also at the Lyceum. Basically, images projected on to a screen from a “magic lantern”. No CGI I’m afraid.
7. Watch a medical operation: If your day in London had proved to be rather dull, it could be enlivened by going to watch a medical operation. The operating table at Guy’s Hospital was circled by viewing galleries where students and the curious could breathe their germs down on the poor afflicted patient. Amputations normally resulted in death due to infection but the removal of kidney stones through the urethra (I’m crossing my legs just thinking of it) had an excellent survival rate
8. Moral societies for bettering Londoners:If you were aghast at the depraved ways of Georgian London, you could join a society to improve things. In one guide to London I own the author recommends The Society for giving effect to His Majesty’s Proclamation against Vice and Immorality founded in 1787. There was also The Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge by distributing books among the Poor and The Society for Preventing Crimes by prosecuting Swindlers, Sharpers and Cheats, based in the Strand.
9. Observe the diseases killing Londoners: In 1802, Londoners died of an interesting variety of ailments. Nearly six thousand had perished before reaching two years of age; 266 died of apoplexy; 3,503 died of “convulsions”; 559 were spirited away by measles; 1,579 succumbed to small-pox and 107 died of the condition that hit heavy drinkers of port wine – gout.
10. Cheer the chimney sweeps!: Children were still being sent up chimneys at this time. And there were plenty of chimneys to clean with most houses using filthy fossil fuels. There was a growing awareness that this was a terrible thing to do to young kids but nobody seemed to have come up with an alternative. Still, once a year, the chimney sweeps of London – on MayDay – dressed up in their finery (whatever that amounted to) and paraded through the streets to the cheers of London’s citizens. Only to be sent back up the chimneys the following day.
ONE Inc.’s Articles of Incorporation were signed on Nov. 15, 1952 and were signed by “Tony Sanchez” (a pseudonym), Martin Block, andDale Jennings. Other founders were Merton Bird,W. Dorr Legg, Don Slater, and Chuck Rowland. Jennings and Rowland were also Mattachine Society founders.
In January1953ONE, Inc. began publishingONE Magazine, the first U.S. pro-gay publication, and sold it openly on the streets of Los Angeles. In October1954the U.S. Postal Service declared the magazine ‘obscene’. ONE sued, and finally won in1958, as part of the landmarkFirst Amendmentcase,Roth v. United States.The magazine continued until1967.
ONE also publishedONE Institute Quarterly(now theJournal of Homosexuality). It began to run symposia, and contributed greatly to scholarship on the subject of same-sex love (then called ‘homophilestudies’).
ONE readily admitted women, and Joan Corbin (as Eve Elloree), Irma Wolf (as Ann Carrl Reid), Stella Rush (as Sten Russell), Helen Sandoz (as Helen Sanders), and Betty Perdue (as Geraldine Jackson) were vital to its early success. ONE and Mattachine in turn provided vital help to theDaughters of Bilitisin the launching of their newsletterThe Ladder (Magazine)in1956. The Daughters of Bilitis was the counterpart lesbian organisation to the Mattachine Society, and the organisations worked together on some campaigns and ran lecture-series. Bilitis came under attack in the early 1970s for ‘siding’ with Mattachine and ONE, rather than with the new separatist feminists.
In 1965, ONE separated over irreconcilable differences between ONE’s business manager Dorr Legg andONE Magazineeditor Don Slater. After a two-year court battle, Dorr Legg’s faction retained the name “ONE, Inc.” and Don Slater’s faction retained most of the corporate library and archives. In 1968, Slater’s faction became theHomosexual Information Centeror HIC, a non-profit corporation that survives today.
In 1996, ONE, Inc. merged with ISHR, theInstitute for the Study of Human Resources, a non-profit organization created by transgendered philanthropist Reed Erickson, with ISHR being the surviving organization and ONE being the merging corporation. In 2005, the HIC donated many of its historic materials, including most of ONE Incorporated’s Blanche M. Baker Memorial Library, to theVern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender, a special collection within Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge.
A Timeline History of ONE, Incorporated 1947–1967
This timeline links to several primary documents, such as court records, corporate minutes, letters of resignation, and correspondence between several of the pioneers of the early movement for homosexual rights in the United States. It ends in 1967 after the division of ONE, Inc. was finalized after a grueling two-year court battle.
White’s book Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History for the Movement for Homosexual Rights, published by the University of Illinois Press in May of 2009, discusses many of the documents linked to this page.
June:Edythe EydepublishesVice Versa: America’s Gayest Magazine, the first regularly published newsletter in the United States dedicated to homosexual issues. The newsletter was typewritten at her employer’s, RKO Studios in Los Angeles. Eyde distributed 16 copies to friends such as Jim Kepner between June 1947 and February 1948. Eyde later became know to readers ofThe Ladderthrough her pen-name, “Lisa Ben,” an anagram for Lesbian.
Note: The HIC secured official right to use Eyde’s true name in print, in the summer of 2015.
Alfred Kinsey et al.’sSexual Behavior in the Human Maleis published, asserting that one in three American males had experienced some form of homosexual encounter in their lifetime and that between four and eight percent were exclusively homosexual.
February: final (ninth) issue ofVice Versadistributed.
August: Harry Hay attends a beer bust near the University of Southern California campus, where the idea is sprung to start a political organization called “Bachelors for Wallace.” Upon returning home that night, Hay began his first draft of a prospectus to form an organization dedicated to the welfare of homosexuals.
Publication of Nial Kent’sThe Divided Path.
Physique Pictorialmagazine is first published, by Bob Mizer.
(Future activist) Betty Berzon moves to Los Angeles.
President Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, citing “sexual perversions” as reasons for preventing homosexuals from being employed by the federal government.
Nov 11:Harry Hay, Rudy Gernreich, Chuck Rowland,Dale Jennings, andBob Hullmeet at Hay’s home in Silver Lake to discuss his Preliminary Concepts for unifying homosexuals into social action. The group meet again two days later, on Nov. 13th.
Dec: A Senate subcommittee issues a report stating that homosexuals working within the Federal government could be considered a threat to national security.
Dec. 11: First organized discussion group of Hay’s secret society, which would later become known as Mattachine.
Jim Kepnermoves to 2141 Baxter Street in Echo Park, where he is to reside for the next 21 years.
Donald Webster Cory’sThe Homosexual in America—A Subjective Approachis published by Greenberg.
Fritz Peters’s novelFinistèreis published by Farrar, Straus & Company.
April: Lovers Konrad Stevens and James Gruber (christened collectively as “Stim” byDale Jennings) join Harry Hay’s “Society of Fools.” The organization decides to call itself “Mattachine.” First Missions and Purposes of the Mattachine Society are written.
June: Dorr Legg (known as Bill Lambert), Merton Bird, and others found Knights of the Clocks, an organization of interracial homosexuals.
July 20: Missions and Purposes of the Mattachine Society are ratified.
UCLA psychologistEvelyn Hookercontacts Mattachine in search of subjects for her study of differences between male homosexuals and heterosexuals.
January: Premier Issue ofONE Magazine, edited byMartin Block,Dale Jennings, andDon Slater, withWilliam Lambertas Business Manager andDonald Webster Coryas Contributing Editor.
Jim Kepnerattends his first Mattachine meeting by invitation of his friendBetty Perdue.
February 7 [Sa]:ONE, Incorporated’s Articles of Incorporationfiled with the Secretary of State in Sacramento, CA, signed byMartin Block,Dale Jennings, andTony Reyes, the First Directors of ONE, Inc. Also on this day: aBusiness Meeting
March 21 [Sa]:Business Meeting
April 11–12 [Sa–Su]: Mattachine Conference to create a new constitution.
Spring: Irma “Corky” Wolf, known in print as “Ann Carl Reid,” begins working for ONE, Inc.
May 27 [We]: ONE, Incorporated’s Charter Granted by the State of California.
June:Martin Blockresigns as editor ofONEmagazine;Dale Jenningstakes over.
June 7 [Su]:Business Meeting
August: An issue ofONEmagazine dealing with homosexual marriage is confiscated by the Los Angeles Postmaster.
AttorneyEric Julberlater secures the magazine’s release.
Sept:ONE is first distributed in New York City.
October 16 [Fr]:By-Laws for ONE, Incorporated are filed with the Secretary of State in Sacramento, California.
Nov. 1 [Su]:First Official Board Meeting for ONE, Incorporated.Martin Blockis elected Chair,Tony Reyes Vice Chair, andDale Jennings becomes the Secretary-Treasurer.
The cover of the November issue ofONEreads “The Homosexual Magazine” for the first time.
By year’s end, Mattachine-like discussion groups are being held throughout Los Angeles and in Long Beach, Laguna Beach, Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Chicago.
January 22 [Fr]: Annual Business Meeting.
The Board of Directors of ONE, Incorporated electWilliam Lambertas Chairman,Irma Wolfas vice-Chairman, andDale Jenningsas Secretary-Treasurer, each to serve a three-year term.
Feb.:Dale Jenningsresigns as editor ofONE.Irma Wolfis recruited to the editorial board.
March 31 [We]:Don Slaterbecomes interim director of ONE, Inc. Jim Kepner, as “Lyn Pedersen,” publishes his first article inONE,“The Importance of Being Different.”
May:Jim Kepner, as “Lyn Pedersen,” becomes a member of the Editorial Staff forONE,replacing Ben Tabor.
ONE Inc. begins its ONE Institute of Homophile Studies program, lead byJim Kepner,Merritt Thompson, andW. Dorr Legg. This is the first educational institution in the United States dedicated to the study of homosexuality.
ONE Confidentiallaunched and distributed to the Friends of ONE in response to the onslaught of mail and increased public attention.
ONE, Incorporated’s Publications Division publishesHomosexuals Today: A Handbook of Organizations & Publications,withWilliam Lambert[Marvin Cutler], as Editor.
Jim Kepnercontributes over 400 books to ONE Incorporated’s library, more than doubling the size of the collection.Don Slaterbecomes ONE’s first librarian.
Jan. 27–29: Second annual Midwinter Institute.Harry Hayis a featured speaker.
March 1 [Th]:Chuck Rowlandresigns from ONE’s Social Services Division.
Irma “Corky” Wolf, as “Ann Carll Reid,” is promoted to Editor ofONE Magazine.
U.S. District Judge Thurmond Clarke rules that the October 1954 issue ofONE Magazinehad contained “filthy and obscene material obviously calculated to stimulate the lust of the homosexual reader” and was thus unmailable. ONE’s attorneyEric Julberappeals.
The Wolfenden Reportis published, recommending that homosexuality be decriminalized in England.
Harry Benjamincoins the word “transsexual.”
A Navy committee investigating homosexuals in the military publishesThe Crittenden Report,stating that there was no legitimate basis for excluding homosexuals from the armed forces.
Federal government astronomerFrank Kamenyis fired for being a homosexual.
UCLA PsychologistEvelyn Hookerpublishes a study proclaiming that homosexual men are just as well adjusted as heterosexual men.
Jan. 25–27: Third annual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: “The Homosexual Answers His Critics.” Harry Haypresents a paper titled “The Homophile in Search of an Historical Context and Cultural Continuity.”
Dale Jennings, as Jeff Winters, again appears inONEmagazine,as author of the short story “The Little Guy.”
March: California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Barnes, Hamley, and Ross uphold Judge Clarke’s ruling from a year prior that the October 1954 issue ofONEwas obscene and thus not mailable. Julber decides to appeal.
June 24 [Mon]: Supreme Court rules in Roth vs. United States that “obscenity” is not protected by the First Amendment and that “The standard for judging obscenity…is whether, to the average person…the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests.”
Summer: “The Homosexual Viewpoint” first printed on the cover ofONEmagazine.
Oct. 17 [Th]:Irma “Corky” Wolfresigns as Editor ofONEdue to health issues and continued conflicts with W. Dorr Legg[William Lambert].
Barbara Gittingsfounds a Daughters of Bilitis chapter in New York.
Jan. 13 [Mo]: The United States Supreme Court rules that the October 1954 issue ofONE Magazinewas not obscene and should be protected as an exercise of free speech. The court battle between ONE Inc. and Los Angeles PostmasterOtto Olesonis over.
Jan. 31 [Fr]: Annual Business Meeting.Don Slaterelected a Director to fill the unexpired two-year term ofAnn Carll Reid.
Jan. 31–Feb. 2: 4th annual Midwinter Institute. Theme: Homosexuality: A Way of Life.
June 6 [Fr]:ONE Institute Quarterly for Homophile Studiesfirst published, byW. Dorr Legg,Merritt M. Thompson, andJim Kepner.
Jan. 29–31: 5thannual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: Mental Health and Homosexuality.
Sept. 4–7: 6thannual Mattachine Convention in Denver. Theme: New Frontiers in Acceptance of the Homophile.Jim Kepneris a featured speaker.Billy Gloverattends and decides to work for the movement.
Late December:Jim SchneidercontactsDon Slaterat ONE’s offices in downtown Los Angeles and becomes an active volunteer for the organization.
Jan. 29–31: ONE’s 6thannual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: “The Homosexual in the Community.”
Feb. 2: [Mon]: Board of Directors Meeting. Jim Kepneris elected Chairman,Don SlaterVice Chairman, andWilliam LambertSecretary-Treasurer.
Nov. 1 [Tue]:Jim Kepner’s letter explaining his resignation to the Members of ONE, Inc.
Nov. 15 [Sat]: Date ofJim Kepner’ssecond letter of resignationfrom ONE, Incorporated, and from the editorial board ofONEmagazine.Ross Ingersoll takes his place.
Wayne Placek introducesJoseph HansentoDon Slater, to see if Slater would publish one of Hansen’s poems or short stories.
San Francisco drag artistJosé Sarriabecomes the first openly gay person to run for political office in the nation.
Jan. 28–29: 7thAnnual Midwinter Institute and “Bill of Rights” fiasco.
Jan. 27 [Fr]:Fred Frisbie(known as “George Mortenson”) becomes a director of ONE, Incorporated, replacingJim Kepner, who had resigned the prior November.
Jan. 28 [Sa]:Frank Kamenywrites to ONE, Inc. advising them of the Writ of Certiorari he had filed with the Supreme Court the day before.
July 12 [We]:Stella Rush, known as “Sten Russell,” resigns fromONEmagazine’s editorial board in a phone conversation withDon Slater.
Dec. 11: Psychologist and long-time friend of ONEBlanche M. Bakerdies.
Joseph Hansenjoins ONE’s Editorial Board.
Jan. 26 [Fr]: 10thAnnual Business Meeting for ONE, Incorporated.Fred Frisbie(known as “George Mortenson”) becomes ONE’s Chairman.Don Slateris elected Vice-chair andW. Dorr Leggbecomes Secretary/Treasurer. ActorMorgan Farleyis elected to membership.
Jan. 26–28: 8thAnnual Midwinter Institute.Harry Hayis an honored speaker.
March:Joseph Hansenmakes his debut inONE.
May 1: ONE, Inc., moves to Venice Blvd. after being evicted from its Hill Street office due to earthquake retrofitting. Actor Morgan Farleyhelps to secure the new office for ONE Inc.
John Rechy’s novelCity of Nightpublished by Grove Press.
The Society for Individual Rights [SIR] founded in San Francisco to help organize the gay community.
In Britain, a group of Quakers publish a pamphlet titledToward a Quaker View of Sexthat argued that society “should no more deplore homosexuality than lefthandedness.”
Jan. 25–27 [Fr–Su]: 9thAnnual Midwinter Institute
Jan. 25 [Fr]: ONE Inc.’s Annual Meeting.Monwell Boyfrankbecomes a director.
Feb. 1 [Fr]: ONE’s election of officers.Joseph Aaronis elected Chairman.W. Dorr Leggis elected Vice-chairman, andMonwell Boyfrankbecomes Secretary/Treasurer.
Feb. 11 [Mo]: Spring semester begins at ONE Institute for Homophile Studies.
May:Harry Haymoves in withJim Kepnerin Echo Park. (They had started dating earlier in the year.
May 31 [Fri]: Joseph Arron resigns as Chair of ONE Incorporated’s Promotions Committee.Jim Schneideris installed in his place.
July 28 [Sun]:Joan Corbin, known as “Eve Elloree,” is dropped from corporate membership due to poor attendance.
Sept:Harry HaymeetsJohn Burnsideand the two begin living together two months later. Hay and Burnside remain lovers until Hay’s death on Oct. 24, 2002.
Nov. 12 [Tue]: Corporate meeting. ONE, Inc. becomes divided over who should be elected into membership at the next annual meeting in January. Slater, Reyes, and Steinert favor electingBilly Gloverto corporate membership; Lambert, Aaron, and Boyfrank reject Glover in favor of others. It is decided to submit the names ofHarry Hay,John Burnside, andBilly Gloveras candidates.
Nov. 22 [Fri]: President John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas.Billy GlovermeetsMelvin Cainlater that afternoon, and they become lovers and friends.
Joseph Hansen, as “James Colton,” publishes his first novel,Lost on Twilight Road.
Jan. 15:Monwell Boyfranksubmits a formal letter of resignation, due to health reasons, at a board meeting chaired byBill Lambert.Jim Schneiderelected to Board of Directors of ONE, Inc.
Jan. 25 and 26: ONE Inc.’s Annual Business Meeting, chaired byJoe Weaver(a.k.a. Joseph Aaron).Manuel Boyfrankwas Secretary. Other members present:Antonio Reyes, Rudolf Steinert (“Stuart”),Bill Lambert, andDon Slater.Harry HayandJohn Burnsideare elected to serve as Directors then resign shortly after due to a conflict over whether or not to elect Billy Glover as a director.
Don Slater’s account of the 1964, 1965 Elections at ONE, Incorporated.
June 26: ONE, Inc., is featured in aLifemagazine article titled “Homosexuality in America.”
June 28: Erickson Educational Foundation founded by Reed Erickson in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
July 4: Louisiana millionaire Reed Erickson contacts ONE Inc. to offer financial assistance to the organization.
August 15th:Monwell Boyfrank’s letter toDon Slaterstating that no compromise was possible and that ONE Inc. was in deadlock.
The Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR) founded byDon Slater,Antonio Sanchez, andW. Dorr Legg.
Rudi Steinert’s letter to Chairman Joe Aaron requesting a Corporate Meeting, dated Sept. 9, 1964 (signed “R. H. Stuart”).
Sept. 21: ISHR granted exemption from franchise tax by the State of California Franchise Tax Board, as a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to scientific research and education.
Jan. 29th and 30th: ONE Inc.’s Annual Business Meeting. Meeting adjourned on the 29thwith no business conducted and resumed on Sat., without quorum Second meeting adjourned with no time or place set for a follow up meeting.
Feb. 5:Dorr Leggconvenes a meeting as a continuation of the adjourned Corporate Meeting despite Slater’s protest that it was instead a “special meeting,” citingRoberts Rules of Orderand the California Civil Code. Slater again protested the 1964 “election” of Winn and Bonham. Legg announced that Rudi Steinert, who was away conducting ONE’s business in Europe, would not be allowed to vote by proxy even though substantial changes in the bylaws were being prepared. Legg further announced that they were going to elect additional members and that Slater would be dismissed as a member of the corporation. Slater withdraws in protest.
March 2 [Tu]: Corporate meeting.Tony Reyes attends to address new members, but the chair,W. Dorr Legg, does not allow him the floor.
March 7 [Su]: Attorney Stuart Simke presents a lecture on “The California Sex Laws: Prospects for Reform” as part of the 1964–1965 ONE Institute Series.
April 12 [Mo]:W. Dorr Leggstorms into an editors’ meeting and forces the resignation of the editors ofONE Magazine,telling them they had no right to discuss or attempt to influence corporate policy.
April 14 [We]: Ross Ingersoll, known as “Marcel Martin,” resigns as Associate Editor ofONEmagazine. Ingersoll had served as an editor since the resignation ofJim Kepnerin November of 1960.
April 15 [Th]: Don Slater signs a lease for office space on Cahuenga Blvd. in Universal City.
April 18 [Su]: Don Slater, Tony Reyes, andBilly Glovermove ONE’s library and office from Venice to Cahuenga Blvd. “for the protection of the property of the corporation.” They soon begin calling themselves The Tangent Group, after a regular news column inONEmagazine usually written byJim Kepner, and maintain that they are indeed “the majority of legally elected board members of ONE.” Kepner and others dub the event “The Heist,” but Slater describes the event as more of a mutiny.
April 20 [Tu]: Jim Schneider’s letter to Don Slater expressing concern over the recent split of ONE, Incorporated.
April 21 [Wed]: Jim Schneider sends a letter to ONE Inc. members calling for an informal meeting in his home and demanding the resignation or reconciliation of W. Dorr Legg and Don Slater.
April 23 [Fr]: Joe Aaron resigns from ONE, Inc. due to “the present corporate dilemma.”
April 23 (or 25): Legg’s faction votes in a special meeting to removeDon Slaterfrom membership in ONE, Inc.
May 11 [Tu]: Don Slater sends a Letter to “Former Friends and Subscribers” ofONE Magazine, announcing ONE Inc.’s move from Venice to Cahuenga Blvd., in Hollywood and asking for help and “moral support.”
May 12 [We]: Jim Schneider sends a letter to Don Slater.
May 16 [Su]: Rudi Steinert and Tony Reyes are removed from membership in ONE, Inc. by W. Dorr Legg’s faction.
May 18 [Tu]: Monwell Boyfrank’s letter to Jim Schneider advising him that ONE’s board of directors had removed him from membership in the corporation.
June 5 [Sa]: The Institute for the Study of Human Resources [ISHR] is incorporated and granted tax exempt status under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Don Slatervoted off the board of ISHR based on allegations made by W. Dorr Legg.
July 27 [Tu]: First public meeting of Mattachine Midwest
Sept. 16th [Th]: Don Slater’s deposition taken in the law offices of Hillel Chodos, in Beverly Hills.
Jan. 26 [We]: W. Dorr Legg answers Don Slater’s interrogatories in the law offices of Hillel Chodos, in Beverly Hills.
Feb. 19–20: Don Slater attends theNational Planning Conference of Homophile Organizationsheld in Kansas City, Missouri, where it was decided to launch a national campaign to protest the exclusion of homosexuals by the U.S. Military. Forty leaders attend from fourteen different homophile organizations.
The organizations unite to form NACHO, the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations.
Jan. 1 [Su]: Los Angeles Police raid the Black Cat Bar within minutes after midnight New Year’s eve.
Six male patrons are charged with kissing, and sixteen people are arrested. Several bar-goers are injured, leading to future protests and a legal case.
Feb. 11 [Sa]: Rally outside of the Black Cat Bar in Los Angeles. (Jim Kepnerhelped to organize.)
April 25 [Tu]: Agreement of Settlement between the parties to the action of ONE, Incorporated vs. Slater, et al.
April 27 [Th]: Dismissal entered for case number 864 824 without prejudice, as to all defendants and cross-defendants, and as to all causes of action in the complaint and in the cross-complaint. The court battle between ONE, Incorporated andDon Slater, et al., is officially over, the organization permanently divided.
ROTH V. UNITED STATES
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California, 354 U.S. 476, 77 S. Ct. 1304, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1498 (1957), issued a landmark ruling on obscenity and its relation to the first amendment. The Court held that obscenity was not a protected form of expression and could be restricted by the states. In addition, the Court announced a test for courts to use in evaluating whether material was obscene.
The Court consolidated the appeals of Samuel Roth and David Alberts. Roth had been convicted of violating a federal statute (18 U.S.C.A. § 1461) that made it a crime to mail obscene advertising and reading materials
Justice william j. brennan jr., in his majority opinion, reviewed the history of freedom of expression and concluded that not every type of utterance was protected in the thirteen original colonies. libel, blasphemy, and profanity were among the statutory crimes. In addition, that every state and the federal government had obscenity statutes showed that the First Amendment “was not intended to protect every utterance.” Obscenity is denied protection because it is “utterly without redeeming social importance.”
Having ruled that obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press, Brennan noted that sex in art and literature was not, by itself, obscene
Indeed, “sex, a great and mysterious motive force in human life” had interested “mankind through the ages; it is one of the vital problems of human interest and public concern.” In the past, however, mere sexual content was enough to have a novel banned under the test courts used in assessing whether something was obscene.
For a legal definition of obscenity, U.S. courts looked to the English case of Regina v. Hicklin, L.R. 3 Q.B. 360 (1868). The Hicklin test was “whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.” This test permitted prosecutors and judges to select objectionable words or passages without regard for the work as a whole and without respect to any artistic, literary, or scientific value the work might have.
Brennan rejected the Hicklin test as being “unconstitutionally restrictive of the freedoms of speech and press.” It was essential that the work as a whole be evaluated before being declared obscene
Brennan endorsed the test used in both Roth’s and Alberts’s trials: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient [lewd or lustful] interest.” The new test was applicable to both state and federal government obscenity prosecutions.
The Roth test did not settle the question of what is obscenity, however. In fact, the Court was drawn into a long-term inquiry over virtually every element of the new obscenity test. The Court has never reached full agreement on what constitutes an appeal to “prurient interest.” The phrase “redeeming social importance” has also failed to generate a consensus. Nor, in the years immediately following Roth, could the Court agree on whether “community” referred to the nation as a whole or to individual states or localities
This article and listing is from 2010, so some have possibly disappeared, and new groups appeared. I think this is an important part of our history, a constant reminder that there has always been, and will continue to be, groups whose sole purpose is to discriminate, demoralise, spread misinformation, and use hate-speech against the LGBT community. We could add our own local groups like the so-called Australian Christian Lobby, and Family First. These groups like to glorify the word “family” with no nod or acknowledgement to the changing faces of “family” in today’s world. Mind you, these are the same groups who suggest that, if you are the victim of domestic abuse, you should just suffer it for the sake of your “family”. Says it all, really!
A small coterie of groups now comprise the hard core of the anti-gay movement
Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, havecontinued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexualsand other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the“facts” they disseminate about homosexualityare often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups, reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based ontheir propagation of known falsehoods— claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.
*Abiding Truth Ministries
Abiding Truth Ministriesserves mainly as a launching pad for an international anti-gay campaign. Its founder, Scott Lively, is also responsible for a book, widely cited by gay-bashers, accusing homosexuals of running the Nazi Party.
Lively first emerged as an anti-gay activist when he became communications director for the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which was backing that state’s notorious Measure 9 vote in 1992. The measure, which failed, would have added language to the state constitution listing homosexuality, along with pedophilia and masochism, as “abnormal behavior.” Lively later served as California director of the American Family Association, another particularly hard-line anti-gay group (see below).
Lively is best known for co-authoring, with Kevin Abrams,The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. The book makes a series of claims that virtually no serious historian agrees with: that Hitler was gay, that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic homosexuals,” and that gays were especially selected for the SS because of their innate brutality. Theclaims are entirely false; in fact, the Nazis murdered significant numbers of gays and made homosexuality a death penalty offense in 1942. In the foreword, Abrams adds that homosexuality is “primarily a predatory addiction striving to take the weak and unsuspecting down with it. … They have no idea of how to act in the best interests of their country… . Their intention is to serve none but themselves.”
Lively has taken his message abroad to Eastern Europe (see Watchmen on the Walls, below), Africa and Russia. In a 2007 open letter to the Russian people, he asserted that “homosexuality is a personality disorder that involves various, often dangerous sexual addictions and aggressive, anti-social impulses.” In 2009, he went to Uganda to speak at a major conference on the evils of homosexuality, saying, among other things: “The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” He also met with Ugandan lawmakers. A month after Lively left the country, a bill was introduced that called for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts and prison for those who fail to disclose gays’ identities.
In 2008, Lively started the Redemption Gate Mission Society, a church that seeks to “re-Christianize” the city of Springfield, Mass., where he lives.
*American Family Association
Methodist minister Donald E. Wildmon formed the National Federation for Decency in 1977, changing its name to theAmerican Family Association(AFA) in 1988. Today, the group, which was taken over by Tim Wildmon after his father’s 2010 retirement, claims a remarkable 2 million online supporters and 180,000 subscribers to its AFA Journal. It also broadcasts over nearly 200 radio stations.
The AFA seeks to support “traditional moral values,” but in recent years it has seemed to specialize in “combating the homosexual agenda.” In 2009, it hiredBryan Fischer, the former executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, as its director of analysis for government and policy. Taking a page from the anti-gay fabulist Scott Lively (see Abiding Truth Ministries, above), Fischer claimed in a blog post last May 27 that “[h]omosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” (Ironically, the elder Wildmon was widely denounced as an anti-Semite after suggesting that Jews control the media, which the AFA says “shows a genuine hostility towards Christians.”) Fischer has described Hitler as “an active homosexual” who sought out gays “because he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough.” He proposed criminalizing homosexual behavior in another 2010 blog post and has advocated forcing gays into “reparative” therapy. In a 2010 “action alert,” the AFA warned that if homosexuals are allowed to openly serve in the military, “your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals.”
Gays aren’t the AFA’s only enemies. In late 2009, Fischer suggested that all Muslims should be banned from joining the U.S. military. “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology,” Fischer added in August 2010. “It is as racist as the KKK. … Allowing a mosque to be built in town is fundamentally no different that granting a building permit to a KKK cultural center built in honor of some King Kleagle.” A little later, according to the Huffington Post, Fischer said that whatever the government does to “to make it unthinkable for America’s youth to join a white supremacist group,” it should also do “to make it as unthinkable for a resident of America to embrace Islam.” Around the same time, the Huffington Post said, he blogged that Muslim values are “grossly incompatible with American values,” and therefore no place in America should allow a mosque to be built.
And then there are the promiscuous. On his May 26, 2010, radio show, Fischer recounted the biblical story of Phineas, who used a spear to kill a man and a woman who were having sex. Citing the nation’s “rampant sexual immorality,” Fischer said, “God is obviously looking for more Phineases in our day.”
*Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) was formed as a part-time venture in 1996 by long-time gay-basher Peter LaBarbera, who reorganized it in 2006 as a much more serious and influential, if often vicious, operation.
A one-time reporter for the conservative Washington Times, LaBarbera has been an energetic campaigner against “the radical homosexual agenda” since at least 1993, when he launched The Lambda Report, which claimed to do first-hand reporting to expose its gay enemies. Over the years, he has been an official with Accuracy in Media, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council and the Illinois Family Institute (see below for the last three). He left the Illinois Family Institute, where he’d been executive director, in 2006.
AFTAH is notable for its posting of the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron (of the Family Research Institute; see below), who has claimed that gays and lesbians live vastly shorter lives than heterosexuals. Among the Cameron propaganda published by AFTAH are 2007 claims that gays and lesbians in Norway and Denmark live 24 fewer years than heterosexuals. Reviewing that claim, Danish epidemiologist Morten Frisch found thatit had no scientific basis. LaBarbera himself, in 2002, compared the alleged dangers of homosexuality to those of “smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.” Similarly, AFTAH’s website carries essays describing homosexuality as a “lethal behavior addiction,” a “dangerous” practice that is “neither normal nor benign.”
In 2007, LaBarbera claimed there was “a disproportionate incidence of pedophilia” among gay men — yetanother false assertion. The same year, he posted an open letter to the Lithuanian people from long-time gay-basher Scott Lively (see Abiding Truth Ministries, above), who has made a series of false claims about gays running the German Nazi Party. In the piece posted to the AFTAH website, Lively said homosexuals are trying to take away free speech from all opponents of gays and to silence all religious opinions on the matter.
The AFTAH site repeats bogus claims like the idea that a proposed bill in California would “promote cross-dressing, sex-change operations, bisexuality and homosexuality” to kindergartners and other children. And it ran anessay that falsely assertedthat hate crime laws would “restrict our speech.”
Led since 1986 by Gary DeMar, American Vision is one of the primary exponents of the doctrine of “Christian Reconstruction” — the idea that the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation” and that its democracy should be replaced with a theocratic government based on Old Testament law. As a practical matter, that means American Vision, which describes its goal as “restor[ing] America’s Biblical foundation,” backs the death penalty for practicing homosexuals.
DeMar has modified that dictum slightly in the past, saying that homosexuals wouldn’t all be executed under a “reconstructed” government, but that he did believe that the occasional execution of “sodomites” would serve society well because “the law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectively drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back into the closet.” More recently, while hosting American Vision’s “The Gary DeMar Show” in December 2009, Joel McDurmon, the group’s research director, agreed that the Bible does call for killing homosexuals. And, he said, “when most of a society is Christian, is biblical, then it [execution of gays] is perfectly normal; it should definitely be in place.”
In April 2009, DeMar said: “Homosexuals aren’t content with only having the bedroom. They have taken their perversion into the classrooms, teaching that such practices are normal. There is nothing normal about what homosexuals do.”
DeMar, who was closely allied with the late D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries (see below), is a central figure in Reconstruction theology, which was founded by R.J. Rushdoony (see Chalcedon Foundation, below). He is co-author of Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t with Gary North.
DeMar has also said that a “long-term goal” should be “the execution of abortionists and their parents.” Islam is another enemy, he said in August 2010: “The long-term goal of Islam is the abolition of our constitutional freedoms.”
TheChalcedon Foundation, named after a 451 A.D. council that proclaimed the state’s subservience to God, was started in 1965 by Rousas John Rushdoony, who is known as “father of Christian Reconstruction” theology. Led by Rushdoony’s son, Mark, since the elder Rushdoony’s death in 2001, the foundation continues to push for the imposition of Old Testament law on America and the world.
Reconstruction, as described in R.J. Rushdoony’s foundational 1973 book The Institutes of Biblical Law, is opposed to modern notions of equality, democracy or tolerance — instead, it embraces the most draconian of religious views. Rushdoony supported the death penalty for homosexuals, among other “abominators.” He also opposed what he called “unequal yoking” — interracial marriage — and “enforced integration,” insisting that “[a]ll men are NOT created equal before God” (the Bible, he explained, “recognizes that some people are by nature slaves”). Rushdoony also denied the Holocaust, saying the murder of 6 million Jews was “false witness.”
Rushdoony’s Reconstruction is indeed radical, even including “incorrigible children” among those deserving death. And virtually all of his works remain for sale on the Chalcedon Foundation website.
Today, most fundamentalist leaders deny holding such views. But a Who’s Who of the religious right — including Tim and Beverly LaHaye (see Concerned Women for America, below), Donald Wildmon (American Family Association, above), and the late D. James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries, below) — once served alongside the elder Rushdoony on the Coalition for Revival, a group formed in 1984 to “reclaim America.” Rushdoony reportedly was also a member of the secretive Council of National Policy, a group of archconservative leaders.
Christian Anti-Defamation Commission
Originally incorporated in 1999 by retired Army Gen. William Hollis, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) says its goal is to serve as a “first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry and discrimination.” It was largely inactive until 2007, when it brought in as its new leader the Rev. Gary Cass, who claims that Christian-bashing, “the last acceptable form of bigotry in America, is alive and well and growing more intense and hysterical by the day.”
The CADC is heavily focused on the alleged evils of homosexuality. It has called the idea of allowing gays to serve openly in the military “evil”; opposed hate crimes legislation (which many religious-right groupsfalsely assertwould make it easy to send pastors to prison for condemning homosexuality); and raged against a judge’s overturning of California’s Proposition 8, which had invalidated same-sex marriages. With regard to that last, it said: “Homosexuals have turned away from humbly worshipping the true and living God and his transcendent moral order in order to make an idol out of their sexual perversion and chaos.”
The group also has protested a lawsuit seeking to end public use of the motto, “In God We Trust”; encouraged the IRS to investigate the anti-theocratic Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and opposed a proposed Islamic center in New York City, saying Muslims “are exploiting the liberty we afford them to honor a murderous ideology that denies religious liberty every where [sic] it can.”
Although it is somewhat benign by comparison, the CADC has an advisory board that includes some of the country’s most hard-line anti-gay activists: Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition (see below); Donald Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association (above); and O’Neal Dozier, a pastor who wrote in his 2008 book that “[h]omosexuality not only spreads disease and neutralizes God’s command,” but also “destroys families.” The board also includes Carmen Mercer, a former top official of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a now-defunct nativist group that once ran its own armed civilian border patrols.
Concerned Women for America
San Diego, Calif., activist Beverly LaHaye, whose husband Tim would go on to become famous as co-author of the Left Behind novels depicting the end times, started Concerned Women for America (CWA) in 1979 to create an anti-feminist group that matched the power of the National Organization for Women. Today, CWA claims more than 500,000 members organized into state chapters, a radio program that reaches more than 1 million listeners, and a cadre of attorneys and researchers devoted to the group’s mission of promoting biblical values.
LaHaye has blamed gay people for a “radical leftist crusade” in America and, over the years, has occasionallyequated homosexuality with pedophilia. In 2001, she hired prominent anti-gay propagandists Robert Knight (now with Coral Ridge Ministries; see below) and Peter LaBarbera (now with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, above) to launch CWA’s Culture and Family Institute. Matt Barber was CWA’s policy director for cultural issues in 2007 and 2008 before moving on to similar work with the Liberty Counsel (below).
While at CWA, on April 12, 2007, Barber suggested againstall the evidencethat there were only a “miniscule number” of anti-gay hate crimes and most of those “may very well be rooted in fraudulent reports.” In comments that have since disappeared from CWA’s website, Barber demanded a federal probe of “homosexual activists” for their alleged fabrications of hate crime reports.
CWA long relied on and displayed Knight’s articles and talking points, including claims that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks” and “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality.” Most remarkably, Knight cited the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, below) to bolster claims that homosexuality is harmful.
Today, CWA continues to make arguments against homosexuality on the basis of dubious claims. President Wendy Wright said this August that gay activists were using same-sex marriage “to indoctrinate children in schools to reject their parents’ values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.” Last year, CWA accused the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group that works to stop anti-gay bullying in schools, of using that mission as a cover to promote homosexuality in schools, adding that “teaching students from a young age that the homosexual lifestyle is perfectly natural … will [cause them to] develop into adults who are desensitized to the harmful, immoral reality of sexual deviance.”
Coral Ridge Ministries
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The late Rev. D. James Kennedy started turning fundamentalist Coral Ridge Presbyterian into a mega-church in the 1960s, adding Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) as its action arm in 1974 and claiming some 10,000 members by the 1990s. During the fiscal year ending in June 2009, CRM raised almost $18 million and spent more than $6 million of that on television and radio outreach efforts.
Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. He recommended as “essential” the virulent work of R.J. Rushdoony (see Chalcedon Foundation, above), who believed practicing gays should be executed. In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a CRM newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, “Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!”
After Kennedy died in 2007, Coral Ridge Presbyterian seemed to change course, merging in 2009 with New City Presbyterian Church under its pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham. Tchividjian began to move the church away from divisive social issues; some 500 members of Coral Ridge, including Kennedy’s daughter, left as a result. Today, Tchividjian says that the church, with 2,400 congregants, is entirely separate from CRM.
CRM, however, has continued its hard-line course. In 2009, it hired anti-gay activist Robert Knight as a senior writer and Washington, D.C., correspondent. Knight has used the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, below). In one recent essay on the CRM website, he argued against allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military, saying that “Bible-believing Christians would quickly find themselves unwelcome in Barney Frank’s new pansexual, cross-dressing military.” (Hector Padron, CRM’s executive vice president, wrote last May that such a change would post a “grave threat to the military.”)
In 2002, before joining CRM, Knight wrote that gay marriage “entices children to experiment with homosexuality” and that accepting homosexuality leads to “a loss of stability in communities, with a rise in crime, sexually transmitted diseases and other social pathologies. Still another is a shortage of employable, stable people.”
*Dove World Outreach Center
The Dove World Outreach Center was founded in 1986 by Don Northrup and described itself as a “total concept church” in which all would be served. But Northrup died in 1996, and his successor brought in long-time Northrup associateTerry Jonesas Dove’s leader in 2001. Since then, Jones has spouted increasingly vicious attacks on gays and Muslims, culminating in a plan that drew worldwide condemnation this September to hold an “International Burn a Koran Day.”
Jones and his family had spent some 20 years in Cologne, Germany, running a church that was allied with Dove. When he was asked to take over the Gainesville church, he apparently divided his time between the two until 2008, when the Cologne church was closed amid criticism of Jones by its congregants.
Jones pushed himself into the headlines last March, when he surrounded Dove with signs aimed at Craig Lowe, a Gainesville city commissioner who was running for mayor, that said “No Homo Mayor.” After an electioneering complaint was filed with the IRS (nonprofit churches cannot intervene in political campaigns), Jones had the signs shortened to the more generic “No Homo.” At one point, Jones and 30 of his congregants joined an anti-gay rally by theWestboro Baptist Church, which runs the Godhatesfags.com website and regularly pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers, saying God is killing soldiers because America is a “fag-enabling” nation.
Jones is also the author of a book entitled Islam is of the Devil, and he has used that phrase on another set of signs posted around his church and sent his followers’ children to school in T-shirts bearing that slogan. (The school refused to let the children wear the shirts, and the ACLU filed suit against it as a result.) He regularly repeats the phrase on his “Braveheart Show,” an Internet video program where he asserted last April that “[h]omosexuality makes God throw up.”
Jones and his tiny congregation became momentarily famous this September, when he said he would burn Korans to protest Islam, which he describes as “an evil religion.” The threat drew public condemnation from Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and several leading members of the Obama Administration, and sparked anti-U.S. rallies in Muslim countries. In the end, Jones withdrew his threat and rapidly sank back into political obscurity.
*Faithful Word Baptist Church
Steven Anderson, formerly affiliated with Sacramento, Calif.-based Regency Baptist Church, started Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona on Christmas Day 2005 as a “totally independent” organization. With “well over a hundred chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word,” Anderson quickly led his congregation into a series of extremely radical stands.
Much of his venom was aimed at homosexuals, who he suggests should be killed (“The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals”). In an August 2009 sermon, he attacked the United Methodist Church, saying “10% of their preachers are queers” and adding, “they got a dyke and a faggot behind the pulpit.” He has described gays as “sodomites” who “recruit through rape” and “recruit through molestation.”
Anderson is also a virulent government hater. As operator of the True Sons of Liberty website, the pastor calls for abolishing the IRS, the Federal Reserve, Social Security and Child Protective Services state agencies. In April 2009, he refused to get out of his car or answer questions from Border Patrol agents at the California-Arizona border. Agents broke his window and tased him as a result.
Anderson brought his church national notoriety in August 2009, when a member of his congregation, Christopher Broughton, went to an Obama appearance in Phoenix legally carrying an assault rifle and a pistol. It turned out that Anderson had preached a day earlier to Broughton and others that he “hates Obama” and would “pray that he dies and goes to hell.” Two weeks later, he told openly gay columnist Michelangelo Signorile that he “would not judge or condemn” anyone who killed the president. Then, for good measure, he told Signorile at the end of the interview, “If you’re a homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer and die like Ted Kennedy.”
*Family Research Council
Started as a small think tank in 1983, theFamily Research Council(FRC) merged in 1988 with the much larger religious-right group Focus on the Family in 1988, and brought on Gary Bauer, former U.S. undersecretary of education under Ronald Reagan, as president. In 1992, the two groups legally separated to protect Focus on the Family’s tax-exempt status, although Focus founder James Dobson and two other Focus officials were placed on the FRC’s newly independent board. By that time, FRC had become a powerful group on its own.
Headed since 2003 by former Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins, the FRC has been a font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history. It relies on the work of Robert Knight, who also worked at Concerned Women for America but now is at Coral Ridge Ministries (see above for both), along with that of FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey (hired in 1999) and Peter Sprigg (2001). Both Dailey and Sprigg have pushedfalse accusationslinking gay men to pedophilia: Sprigg has written that most men who engage in same-sex child molestation “identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual,” and Dailey and Sprigg devoted an entire chapter of their 2004 bookGetting It Straightto similar material. The men claimed that “homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses” and similarly asserted that “homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys.”
That’s the least of it. In a 1999 publication (Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia) that has since disappeared from its website, the FRC claimed that “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order,” according to unrefuted research by AMERICAblog. The same publication argued that “homosexual activists publicly disassociate themselves from pedophiles as part of a public relations strategy.” FRC offered no evidence for these remarkable assertions, and has never publicly retracted the allegations. (The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”)
In fact, in a Nov. 30, 2010, debate on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”between Perkins and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok, Perkins defended FRC’s association of gay men with pedophilia, saying: “If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children. So Mark is wrong. He needs to go back and do his own research.” In fact, the college, despite its hifalutin name, is a tiny, explicitly religious-right breakaway group from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 60,000-member association of the profession. Publications of the American College of Pediatricians, which has some 200 members, have been roundly attacked by leading scientific authorities who say they are baseless and accuse the college of distorting and misrepresenting their work.
Elsewhere, according to AMERICAblog, Knight, while working at the FRC, claimed that “[t]here is a strong current of pedophilia in the homosexual subculture. … [T]hey want to promote a promiscuous society.” AMERICAblog also reported that then-FRC official Yvette Cantu, in an interview published on Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s website, said, “If they [gays and lesbians] had children, what would happen when they were too busy having their sex parties?”
More recently, in March 2008, Sprigg, responding to a question about uniting gay partners during the immigration process, said: “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them.” He later apologized, but then went on, last February, to tell MSNBC host Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied. At around the same time, Sprigg claimed that allowing gay people to serve openly in the military would lead to an increase in gay-on-straight sexual assaults.
Perkins has his own unusual history. In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican State Rep. Louis “Woody” Jenkins of Louisiana, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide the link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of theCouncil of Conservative Citizens(CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins claimed not to know the group’s ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation. In 1999, after Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was embroiled in a national scandal over his ties to the group, GOP chairman Jim Nicholson urged Republicans to quit the CCC because of its “racist views.” That statement and the nationally publicized Lott controversy came two years before Perkins’ 2001 speech.
*Family Research Institute
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Started in 1987 by psychologistPaul Cameron, the Family Research Institute (FRI) has become the anti-gay movement’s main source for what Cameron claims is “cutting-edge research” — but is, in fact, completely discredited junk science pushed out by a man who has been condemned by three professional organizations.
Over nearly three decades, Cameron has published “research studies” (though almost never in peer-reviewed journals) that suggest that homosexuals are predatory and diseased perverts who victimize children. Among his more recent defamations was an FRI pamphlet asserting the primary activity of the gay rights movement is “seeking to legitimize child-adult homosexual sex.” In another, he claimed that with “the rise of the gay rights movement, homosexual rape of men appears to have increased.” In yet another, he wrote, “Homosexuals were three times more likely to admit to having made an obscene phone call” and “a third more apt to report a traffic ticket or traffic accident in the past 5 years.”
Some of Cameron’s moreinfamous claimsinclude the idea that homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals and that homosexuals have extremely short lives. Last February, he wrote on FRI’s website that “[i]f homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military, they will be recruiting in showers, having sex in the barracks… . Before long, the U.S. may be defended by the sex-obsessed and those who can tolerate kowtowing to them.” After all, writes Cameron — a man who proposes that parents promote teen heterosexual activity to keep kids straight — “homosexual sex overwhelms rationality [and] overwhelms the desire to serve.”
Cameron’s colleagues have condemned him repeatedly. In 1983, he was thrown out of the American Psychological Association for ethical violations. In 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association disassociated itself from Cameron’s statements about sexuality. In 1985, the American Sociological Association adopted a resolution saying Cameron “has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality” and “repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men”; the following year, the same group formally condemned Cameron for that misrepresentation of research.
In late 2010, reacting to reports that his group had once again been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, Cameron toldThe(Colorado Springs, Colo.)Gazettethat he believed homosexuality should be criminalized in America and that he was fine with aproposed bill in Ugandathat would punish some gay sexual acts with death (“Whatever they decide, I’m OK with”). He also proposed heavily taxing gays and single adults because of their failure to produce children. And he suggested that gays and lesbians undergo a “public shaming” of some kind.
Despite all this — and the fact that Cameron’s propaganda is widely known to be false or misleading — many groups have continued to use his claims, though often without citing their source. They include the American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Family Research Council (see above for all five) and, until recently, the Illinois Family Institute (see below).
*Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment
Downers Grove, Ill.
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME) was founded by 62-year-old Wayne Lela, a former Catholic who now describes himself as an agnostic. Until recently, the 20-year-old group has had a fairly low profile.
The group, which is entirely focused on the alleged evils of homosexuality, attacks gay people on a wide variety of levels. But it keeps coming back to the idea that gay sexual activity should be illegal. “[P]enalizing people for engaging in homosexual behavior is clearly not discrimination, just like penalizing people for exhibitionism or incest is not discrimination,” HOME’s website says. In a second website comment, it adds, “[H]eterosexual activity is not illegalizeable … while homosexual activity is definitely illegalizeable.” And in a third, it insists that “legalizing homosexual deviations” leads to a “confused and sick society.”
HOME doesn’t stop there. It says that gays should apologize “for all the STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] they’ve spread, and all the money those STDs have cost, and especially for setting bad moral examples for our children.” It accuses homosexuals of having a “pathological attitude” toward the opposite sex. It says homosexuality shouldn’t have been removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. It says gays threaten free speech because they seek hate crime law protections. It argues that gay film directors are working to “condition men to bond with other men at the expense of women.” And it claims that pedophilia and necrophilia are a sexual orientations like homosexuality, going on to suggest thatthey could therefore be legalized.
And then there’s this: Freemasonry may be connected to “the homosexual movement,” with members evidently engaging in sodomy and “homosexual orgies.” Thus, HOME says, there is a “very real possibility that this group is using its influence to try to impose pro-homosexual ‘values’ on the public.”
*Illinois Family Institute
Carol Stream, Ill.
The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), which says it dedicates itself to issues surrounding “marriage, family, life and liberty,” is heavily focused on attacking gay people and homosexuality in general. It maintains “working partnerships” with other hard-line groups including the Family Research Council (see above) and the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal center based in Phoenix. In early 2010, it launched Illinois Family Action as a political-action sister organization.
In 2006, then-Executive Director Peter LaBarbera (see Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, above), told a religious-right gathering hosted by Vision America that homosexuality was “disgusting” and demanded the closing down of all “homosexual establishments.” He called for the repeal of all “sexual orientation laws” — laws that ban discrimination against gays — and spoke of the “need to find ways to bring back shame to those practicing homosexual behavior.”
Over the years, the group also has occasionally embraced the groundless propaganda of Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, above). Until 2009, it carried an article on Cameron — “New Study Shows that Homosexuals Live 20 Fewer Years” — preceded by a full-throated endorsement LaBarbera. “Paul Cameron’s work has been targeted for ridicule by homosexual activists, and he’s been demonized by the left,” LaBarbera wrote in his introduction, “but that should not discount his findings.” IFI also posted a video attacking school anti-bullying programs that claimed, based on Cameron, that gay men’s median age of death is 42. Both were removed in response to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2009 listing of IFI as a hate group, which was largely based on its use of Cameron.
That response, however, hardly indicated that the IFI was backing down on its hard-line position. This year, Focus on the Family — for years, the powerhouse of anti-gay religious organizations in America — moderated its position markedly after founder James Dobson retired and pastor Jim Daly took over. In April, Daly told an interviewer: “I will continue to defend traditional marriage, but I’m not going to demean human beings in the process. It’s not about being highly confrontational.” The response of Laurie Higgins, IFI’s belligerent director of school advocacy, was that Daly was showing “surprising naïveté,” using the same language as pro-gay “homosexualists,” and failing to confront “the pro-homosexual juggernaut.”
In 2009, Higgins compared homosexuality to Nazism, likening the German Evangelical Church’s weak response to fascism to the “American church’s failure to respond appropriately to the spread of radical, heretical, destructive views of homosexuality.” Elsewhere, Higgins has pined for the days when gays were in the closet. “There was something profoundly good for society about the prior stigmatization of homosexual practice… . [W]hen homosexuals were ‘in the closet,’ (along with fornicators, polyamorists, cross-dressers, and ‘transexuals’), they weren’t acquiring and raising children.” She’s also said that McDonald’s, because it ran a gay-friendly TV ad, is “hell bent on using its resources to promote subversive moral, social, and political views about homosexuality to our children.”
Created in 1989, Liberty Counsel is affiliated with Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., a legacy of the late conservative icon Jerry Falwell. It was founded and is still chaired by Mathew (Mat) Staver, who also serves as director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy at Liberty University, and provides legal assistance with regard to religious liberty, abortion and the family.
The organization may be best known for its campaigns to ensure that “public displays of religion” are maintained during the Christmas holiday, and it has adopted broad right-wing views, including the allegation that the Obama Administration has a “socialist liberal agenda.” But it also has focused heavily on anti-gay activism.
In 2009, J. Matt Barber, formerly with Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (see above for both), joined Liberty Counsel as director of cultural affairs (also becoming Liberty University’s associate dean for career and professional development). A year earlier, Barber had argued that given “medical evidence about the dangers of homosexuality,” it should be considered “criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative.”
The Counsel also has been active in battling same-sex marriage, saying it would destroy the “bedrock of society.” In 2005, the group’s blog said: “People who … support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.” A 2007 blog posting said same-sex marriage would “severely impact future generations.”
Like other anti-gay groups, Liberty Counsel argues that hate crime laws are “actually ‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom and of conscience” — an opinion rejected by the Supreme Court. In fact, the laws raise penalties for crimes already on the books — assault, murder and so on — that were motivated by hatred of peoplebased on their sexual orientation. They do not, and could not under the Constitution, punish people for voicing opinions.
Since 2006, Liberty Counsel has also run its “Change is Possible” campaign with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays to protect people who say they’ve changed from gay to straight from “discrimination” by “intolerant homosexuals.”
MassResistance, “the leading pro-family grassroots activist group in Massachusetts,” began life in 1995 as the Parents’ Rights Coalition, became the Article 8 Alliance in 2003, and took on its current name in 2006. Its leader, Brian Camenker, is a programmer who was an official of the Article 8 Alliance and also headed the Newton, Mass., chapter of the National Taxpayers’ Association.
As president of yet another group, the Interfaith Coalition of Massachusetts, Camenker spearheaded the drafting of a bill that passed in 1996 and required that parents be notified of any sex education in their children’s schools. That same year, Camenker claimed that suicide prevention programs aimed at gay youth actually were “put together by homosexual activists to normalize homosexuality.” Later, MassResistance charged that groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which support school anti-bullying programs, actually want to lure children into homosexuality and, very possibly, sadomasochism.
At a 2006 religious right gathering in Washington, D.C., Camenker insisted that gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals. “One bill in Massachusetts takes away all the penalties for bestiality,” he claimed. “This is where this [homosexual] agenda is going.” A little later, he added, “They [gays and lesbians] are pushing perversion on our kids.”
In 2006-2007, Mass-Resistance pushed for an amendment of the 1996 statute that would have required that parents be notified of any discussion of gay or lesbian issues in the schools. The group proposed language that lumped sexual orientation (which includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality) in with criminal behaviors like bestiality and polygamy. During legislative testimony supporting the amendment, Camenkerfalsely claimedthat no homosexuals died in the Holocaust and that the pink triangle the Nazis forced imprisoned gays to wear actually signified Catholic priests. The amendment did not pass.
Camenker, who has long focused on the purported “homosexual agenda” in the schools and frequently claimed gays are dangerous to kids, has repeatedly cited discredited claims from organizations like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality that link homosexuality and pedophilia.
In 2008, Camenker made another accusation for which there was no supporting evidence at all — the claim that the state of Massachusetts had had to spend more money every year since same-sex marriage became legal in that state. That, he said, was because of “skyrocketing homosexual domestic violence” and because of the “extreme dysfunctional nature of homosexual relationships.”
This year, MassResistance called Boston Gay Pride events a “depraved” display that featured “a great deal of obviously disturbed, dysfunctional, and extremely self-centered people whose aim was to push their agenda.”
National Organization for Marriage
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is dedicated to fighting same-sex marriage in state legislatures, was organized in 2007 by conservative syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher and Princeton University politics professor Robert George. George is an influential Christian thinker who co-authored the 2009 “Manhattan Declaration,” a manifesto developed after a New York meeting of conservative church leaders that “promises resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same sex marriage.”
NOM’s first public campaign was in 2008, supporting California’s Proposition 8, which sought to invalidate same-sex marriage in that state. It was widely mocked, including in a parody by satirist Stephen Colbert, for the “Gathering Storm” video ad it produced at the time. Set to somber music and a dark and stormy background, the ad had actors expressing fears that gay activism would “take away” their rights, change their lifestyle, and force homosexuality on their kids.
The group, whose president is now former executive director Brian Brown, has become considerably more sophisticated since then, emphasizing its respect for homosexuals. “Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,” NOM says on its website, “[but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
For a time, NOM’s name was used by a bus driver named Louis Marinelli, who drove a van for NOM’s “Summer for Marriage Tour” this year. Marinelli called himself a “NOM strategist” and sent out electronic messages under the NOM logo that repeatedfalsehoods about homosexualsbeing pedophiles and gay men having extremely short lifespans. In homemade videos posted on his own YouTube page, he said same-sex marriage would lead to “prostitution, pedophilia and polygamy.” But this July, NOM said it was not associated with Marinelli.
*Traditional Values Coalition
Former Presbyterian minister Lou Sheldon has been warning Americans about the “gay threat” since 1980, when he founded the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which also is concerned with abortion and national security and takes on liberal activists on a range of issues. The TVC, which today claims to speak for 43,000 churches, lobbies Congress and also mobilizes churches to oppose legislation that it disagrees with. Sheldon’s daughter Andrea Lafferty, a former Reagan Administration official, serves as executive director of the organization.
The group has at times enjoyed remarkable access to the halls of power — during the George W. Bush Administration, Sheldon and Lafferty visited the White House a combined 69 times, meeting personally with Bush in eight of the visits. But that does not mean that it has not long had a record of extreme gay-bashing.
In 1985, Sheldon suggested forcing AIDS victims into “cities of refuge.” In 1992, columnist Jimmy Breslin said that Sheldon told him that “homosexuals are dangerous. They proselytize. They come to the door, and if your son answers and nobody is there to stop it, they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and turn him into a homosexual.” Sheldon later denied that he made the comments, but his website today includes strikingly similar language: “[S]ince homosexuals can’t reproduce, they will simply go after your children for seduction and conversion to homosexuality.” Elsewhere, it claims that “[t]he effort to push adult/child sex … is part of the overall homosexual movement.”
The TVC also asserts that “it is evident that homosexuals molest children at a far greater rate than do their heterosexual counterparts” — afalsehoodbased on conflating male-male molestation with homosexuality. Gays, it says, molest children at “epidemic rates,” adding: “As homosexuals continue to make inroads into public schools, more children will be molested and indoctrinated into the world of homosexuality. Many of them will die in that world.” With regard to LGBT teen suicides, TVC, under the headline “Homosexual Urban Legends,” claims that “[t]he cold, hard fact is that teens who are struggling with homosexual feelings are more likely to be sexually molested by a homosexual school counselor or teacher than to commit suicide over their feelings of despair.”
The TVC also makes assertions on its website about disproportionate homosexual pedophilia and attacks the idea that people are born gay and the claim that gays want the right to marry for the same reasons that heterosexuals do — the TVC suggests the real purpose of marriage equality is to destroy the concept of marriage and ultimately replace it altogether with group sex and polygamy.
The challenge of writing about 37 years of living with HIV/AIDS isn’t so much to write tomes about what actually was witnessed over that period. That is easy to do, and I could ramble on forever about it. The challenge lies in being objective and succinct, to tone down the schmaltz and sentimentality and cut to the chase. Not as easy as one may think, as these were the most challenging, relentlessly ruthless and heartbreaking years of my life. But if survival is the gauge of ones strength and tenacity, then I have come out at this end of it with flying colours. Indeed, the cup is half full!
So what was it really like in 1982 to be reading snippets in our local gay press about this mysterious illness in The States that seemed to be targeting gay men who frequented the saunas, and quickly killing them? Well, cynicism and disbelief to start with, and the surety that within a short period of time they would find an antibiotic to clear up yet another STD. Soon the snippets were to become columns, then pages as the mysterious and deadly illness leapt from the shores of America and found its way here.
Our response was mixed. The first recorded case of HIV at home was 1982, and the first death in 1983. We had our usual ratbags who yelled and screamed about God’s vengeance on the evil, sick and perverted gay lifestyle (obviously a different God to the compassionate, all-forgiving one that I had heard about), the advocates of hate who demanded quarantine for all infected persons, and those who either quietly or vocally wished that we would all die or just go away. Not that easy folks!
Thankfully, common sense prevailed and both the government and the grassroots gay community combined to put both AIDS Councils and NGO programs in place. Our quick response was instrumental in Australia always being at the forefront of HIV/AIDS care. Within 2 years every state had an AIDS Council under the national umbrella of NAPWA (National Association of People with AIDS), and the formation of support organisations such as The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (named after the first person to die from AIDS in Australia), Community Support Network (CSN) and Ankali. Without these organisations life would have been grim for those infected. In 1985 testing was introduced. It was a bit of a strange affair in the early days. Due to hysteria and discrimination no one wanted their personal details on a database, so you chose a name, and Albion Street Centre issued you with a number that then became your ID. You had a blood test, and waited for two weeks – talk about high anxiety – to get your result. I had a mystery illness in 1982, a flu-type illness that wasn’t the flu, and already suspected that I had sero-converted and was going to come up HIV+. I was right. Counseling? Oh yeah, we had a lot of that back then. “You’ve got about 2 years to live”. Shrug shoulders “Okay”. And off we went knowing the inevitable was rapidly approaching, and it was time to PARTY!!! What else could you do?
However there were horror stories. The disgusting treatment of young Eve Van Grafhorst is something for all Australians to be ashamed of. Born in 1982, she was infected with HIV via a blood transfusion. When she attempted to enrol in her Kincumber pre-school in 1985, parents threatened to withdraw their children due to the (supposed) risk of infection. The family was literally hunted out of town, and forced to leave the country and go to NZ. I will never forget the sight of this poor, frail girl on her way to the airport. I, like many others, was horrified that this could happen in Australia. Thankfully, her NZ experience was quite the opposite, and she lived a relatively normal life until her death in 1993 at 11 years of age. Her parents received a letter from Lady Di praising her courage.
Meanwhile, the Australian nightmare was well and truly hitting home. My first close friend, Andrew Todd, died in 1986. At that time there was no dedicated AIDS ward, and Andrew was shifted between wards as beds were needed for other cases. He died on Boxing Day in A&E (called St Christopher’s ward, due to people usually just “travelling” through it on their way to a dedicated ward) at St, Vincent’s Hospital In Darlinghurst. It is interesting to note here that the Sisters of Charity, who founded this hospital, put the hospital at the centre of HIV care very early in the epidemic, and also provided palliative dare through the attached a Sacred Heart Hospice. I had the sad duty of ringing all my friends at a party to tell them the sad news. Party pooper recognition acknowledged! Ward 17 at St Vincent’s eventually became the dedicated AIDS ward, and for the next 10 years was never empty. Other hospitals such as Westmead hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons; full contamination clothing for those working with HIV people, rooms not being cleaned, meals left outside doors. Even the poor old mosquito copped a hiding as a means of contamination, along with toothbrushes, glasses, cutlery and crockery. An advertising campaign featuring the Grim Reaper bowling down poor people created an apocalyptic vision of HIV that scared the life out of everyone. It was quickly withdrawn. In the interim, my 2 years became 4, which became 6 followed by 8. My life became a haze of alcohol and cigarettes, not shared alone.
In the 80’s I held a lot of parties with anywhere from 40- 60 friends attending. By 1996, if I had tried to hold a party I would have been lucky to have dug up 10 friends to attend. In the blink of an eye my social circle was effectively wiped off the face of the earth. Hospitals, hospices, funerals and wakes became the dreaded regular events. It was death on a relentless and unforgiving scale. The Quilt Project became the focus of our sorrow, and it’s regular unfoldings and name readings were tear-filled times of remembrance and reminiscence, along with the yearly Candlelight Rally. I attended until I became so empty that I could no longer bear it. I submitted my names but no longer attended. In the early 90’s four friends died close together – two from AIDS, one a heart attack and one cancer. This was a particularly heavy blow as two of these friends had been regular “gutter drag” partners, and that part of my life effectively ended. In a perverse way, it seemed strange that the Big A wasn’t the only thing stalking our lives.
Despite its reputation for being human Ratsac (the Concorde Study in France named it such, after conducting an unethical trial; turns out they were correct!) I started taking AZT when my CD4 count started to take a dive. Hard work, long hours, heavy drinking, chain smoking, a shit diet and emotional turmoil didn’t help. Pub culture became lifestyle. Did several drug trials – D4T, which was sort of successful, though the same class of drug as AZT. Also p24 VLP (Very Light Protein) which proposed that stimulating the p24 antigen may help control HIV. Total waste of my time. It did nothing. We started alternating drugs – 6 months on AZT, 6 on D4T, 6 on DDI, 6 on DDC. Perversely it seemed to keep the wolf from the door. Dosage was huge. Everyone on it ended up with kidney problems and peripheral neuropathy. Prophylactics added to the drug burden. In the meantime there was no HIV dental service and our teeth rotted or fell out due to bouts of candida. I left work in 1993 after being seriously knocked around by viral pneumonia which should have killed me…but didn’t.
Like many, I went on every drug or alternative trial that came my way. There are those who have described us guinea pigs as brave, or “heroes”, but we certainly didn’t feel like that at the time, despite it being a very selfless act. The thinking at such a desperate time was that…well, if it works for me, the benefit will flow onto everyone else! But there were, in the early days at least, more failures than successes. D4T:FAILURE…caused anaemia; P24-VLP:FAILURE…was hoped it would boost the p24 antigen – it did nothing: Goat Serum:FAILURE…though I did get a very scary skin rash from it; Vitrasert Implants: FAILURE…though due more to HAART eradicating the scourge of CMV retinitis. Were intended to leach Ganciclovir into the eye over a 9 month period, thus eliminating the need to have it injected into the eye regularly. Two minor operations to insert them, with an initial estimate of a 4% chance of developing cataracts. Turned out to be a 100% chance, thus further operations to remove the cataracts. Fun, baby!
I was shuffled onto the pension, and given rent subsidised housing by DOH (Department of Housing). The subsidy seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, weren’t we all eventually going to be killed by the Big H, so no one would be on it for that long? Famous last words! My alcohol consumption and chain smoking increased, if that was possible! Was losing weight at an alarming rate, and naturally no one noticed because I took to wearing baggy clothes to disguise it. Nothing quite like being delusional. Moved from Darlinghurst to Bondi. Nothing like moving away from the scene to help your health…not! Collapsed in the street, and admitted to St Vincent’s not with PCP as suspected but a collapsed lung. Two weeks later and a change of female GP’s saw me back in the doctor’s rooms while she read my hospital discharge report. Had they tested me for CMV retinitis? No! Was I having trouble with my vision? Yes, but I do wear glasses. Guess what? We’re sending you for a little holiday at Prince Henry Hospital (now closed). I was a little bit sick. Chronic CMV retinitis, chronic candida, chronic anemia, had 10 CD4 cells and weighed 48 kgs. Mmm, prognosis was not good. Well, it had been a good life. I was certainly joining a band of party people. But no! Life hadn’t finished with me yet. Protease Inhibitors had come along at an auspicious time, and within a fortnight I had been stolen from the arms of death. Mind you, that fortnight had been no picnic. Ganciclovir injections into the eye, Deca-Durabolin injections to help put weight back on, blood transfusions, and enough finger prick blood readings to last me the rest of my life. And the problems had just started for this return-to-lifer. Not dying when you are supposed to really fucks up your head space.
So started the next round of therapies. Peer Support groups; counselors; Caleo (Greek word which means “To Stick”, a treatment management group who help you maintain the impetus to take the billion pills a day (I was taking over 360 pills a week – anti-retrovirals, prophylactics, and pills to control side effects – at one stage) we were taking); clinics; dental care (now up and running); volunteer work (to keep one sane). What started out as volunteer work at the then PLWHA (NSW) Inc (now Positive Life) turned into paid employment as a research assistant. I started writing for “Talkabout” magazine, joined the Positive Speakers Bureau, and learnt to use a computer. A couple of stints back in full-time employment made me realise that big changes needed to be made with my life. By this time my health was pretty well back together. A couple of nights out pushed home just how few people I knew, however did lead to meeting my current (now ex) partner. A brief encounter with Indinivir sludge in my kidneys (which involved having a stent inserted then removed) also made me aware that for HIV+ people the unexpected can happen at any time. Yet another change of doctor. Self-empowerment had become an important issue, and I wanted a say in my health management, as distinct from being dictated to. Big changes were about to happen.
In 2000 David and I did a big (and expensive) holiday to the Red Centre. It was an amazing experience. Before leaving Sydney I had applied to the University of Technology in Sydney to do my degree in writing. Shortly after arriving back home I was informed that I had been accepted. Ah, the advantages of mature age AND disability. So spent three years doing my Graduate Certificate in Writing, was office- bearer for the Special Needs Collective…in fact I WAS the Special Needs Collective, and discovered I hated having to deal with the moronic “radicals” who called themselves the Student Association and did nothing except rant and rave, and waste student money. I was glad to leave uni. Towards the end of 2004 I decided to get my chef’s credentials from East Sydney TAFE, and crammed a 12-month course into 6 months. As much as I hated uni, I really loved TAFE and found it more grassroots and honest. David and I started Alderman Catering, a top-end catering business though it only lasted about 2 years as I found it very exhausting. I then sort of returned to my retail roots by opening a web site called Alderman Providore to sell Australian made gourmet grocery items. The site proved successful, and within 4 years I was opening my second site, this time specialising in tea, coffee and chocolate products. I got involved in a trial using Goat’s Serum to treat HIV, but again another waste of time. I did manage to get a skin rash from it, and managed to score a $1,000 for participating. In late 2009 the GFC hit, and online shopping took a major hit. After a disastrous Christmas that left me severely out if pocket, I decided to sell the business and put it behind me.
More eye problems followed, this time involving my blind eye. Back to the regular rounds at the Sydney Eye Hospital, and an injection of Avastin (a cancer drug that reduces blood flow) into the blind eye to stop it creating new blood supplies to an eye that couldn’t see. By this time, the interior of the bad eye was collapsing, and it took on an unnatural colour. Before this I hadn’t looked blind. Now I did! Scary how anyone you talk to can pick an anomaly – and stare at it while talking.
The next step, which sort of brings us up to date (this was 2011), was a major move. Plans to move north had been on the agenda for 10 years – in 2011 it finally happened, though we did jump the border which wasn’t in the original plan. No sooner were we there than my retina detached (I had been warned to eventually expect this, due to the amount of CMV scar tissue in the eye) in my one seeing eye…or rather was pushed off by all the scar tissue present from my original CMV infection. An emergency operation to scrape down the scar tissue, and replace the retina and fluid (called a vitrectomy) has seen my sight degenerate even further and I am now the proud owner of a white cane curtesy of Guide Dogs Queensland. It has become obvious that our two Jack Russell’s are not, despite their best of intentions, good seeing-eye dogs. I can see, though very poorly. A lot of life is a blur these days.
However, I am not going to complain. I have always enjoyed a challenge, and this presents yet another one. I gave up smoking 23 years ago, and drink only lightly and socially these days. I adopted a healthy diet and exercise program 10 years ago when I started getting unattractively over-weight and inactive.I have turned my life around by adopting this course of action. In 2013 I attended Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane and obtained my Certificate III in Fitness. I hoped this would lead on to becoming a Personal Trainer for mature-age and disabled people both individually and in conjunction with my local gyms. I was almost 60 by the time I finished. Just in time for the next stage of my life.
In 2014 David and I called an end to our 16 year relationship. It had run its course, and with a 14-year age gap…I’m the older…we were both at different stages of our lives. It was amicable, and we are still friends. However, it was the start of a year from hell. A disastrous 60th birthday followed, them an attack of shingles that was the worst Royal Brisbane Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Unit had ever seen, leading to an infection in the blisters that landed me in hospital with blood poisoning, followed by two weeks with a portable drip through their Hospital In The Home initiative (Neuralgia and numbness from this are still a problem 5 years down the line). Then our first rescue dog, Ampy, died. I was also faced with some serious decisions. With the parting of our ways, I could no longer afford to live in the house we were in being on a pension, and of the options open to me, returning to Sydney to move in with an ex from the 80s was the only viable one. I also made a nerve-wracking decision to have my blind eye removed, and replaced with a prosthetic. After years of ongoing problems with it, was time it came to an end, and the operation occurred in early 2015 just prior to my other dog, Benji, and myself returning to Sydney.
I stayed in Sydney only for as long as I needed to be there. I hated it! A cold, over-populated, rude city. Within 12-months, we…I include my housemate, who also came with me…moved to the Central Coast, where life is quiet, and more civilised. Life goes on…I’ve lived long enough now to start seeing the truth finally being told about many aspects of HIV – the high toxicity and ongoing problems caused by AZT, exploitation by Big Pharma, misuse of funding, unresearched and often inaccurate advice on therapies and treatments, the rushing through of many treatments that proved detrimental to those who took them. It’s time to clear the air, and take the sentimentality out of an often rose-coloured glasses view of the epidemic.
37 years eh! OMG where have those years gone? Despite all the discrimination, stress, anxiety, illness, deaths, survivor guilt and despair, there have been moments of great introspection, illumination, strength and enlightenment. That over-used word “empowerment” springs to mind and that is perhaps the one word that sums all those years up. Victim? No way! Survivor? Not in my words! And I have never been one to wallow in self pity. You just need to grab life by the balls, and get on with it. I trust that is what I have done.
Living in a hetero-normative world often demands men to act according to strict societal rules on “masculinity.”
I remember when I first thought my body was not good enough to be desired by other men. This feeling of disappointment with myself and envy of other men happened when I started going to gay bars and clubs. I noticed that men with defined muscles and often perfectly groomed facial hair received all the attention.
What they did not display was anything that was even slightly feminine.
Many gay men feel the pressure to have the perfect muscular body, which can be for their own self-confidence and health, but it may also be an attempt to exude society’s notion of masculinity in order to be desirable to other men. And part of this perception is due to toxic masculinity.
The term became known after Terry Kupers, a renowned American psychiatrist, published an article in 2005 titled, “Toxic Masculinity as a Barrier to Mental Health Treatment in Prison.” Kupers wrote that toxic masculinity was a “constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence.”
“It (toxic masculinity) is when these traits and ideologies that (men) ascribe to as historically belonging to men, are exaggerated in a kind of dangerous form,” said Adam Davies, a doctoral candidate in education, gender and sexuality studies at the University of Toronto. “Many gay men therefore believe that in order to act like the ‘manliest’ man possible, this often means shunning anything that can even slightly be interpreted as feminine.”
“For a lot of gay men, just by being gay, there is this sense of insecurity of being a failure because they’re not performing their masculinity in the way that they (feel like they) are expected to,” said Davies.
Miah Mills, a Toronto resident, said that while he was very fortunate to have a non-gendered upbringing at home, his peers at school bullied him.
“They would police the whole boys do this/boys don’t do that nonsense,” said the 36-year-old. “Eventually, you police yourself.”
He said it took him many years to feel comfortable around effeminate gay men.
“I always knew that I should support them and be proud of them, but my first response was always to cringe. In them I saw the parts of myself that I hated. The parts of me that others saw in me and bullied me for.”
Alex McKenzie, a sexologist based in Montreal, said that he has also seen this same feeling of failure when working with predominantly LGBTQ2S men.
“This is a health risk because there is a constant dissonance between what they are trying to achieve versus what they actually want, which slowly has an effect on one’s mental health … it erodes your well-being the more it goes on,” says McKenzie. “I see a lot of issues in regards to anxiety come up, as well as depression, when people find themselves living in situations not right for them.”
Video above is a trailer for “Men Don’t Whisper,” a comedic short film about a gay couple emasculated at a sales conference, which screened at Sundance and SXSW earlier in September.
According to McKenzie, these mental health effects are also caused by dating apps, such as Grindr and Tinder.
“Dating apps are a phenomenon that started out as something innovative and fun, but has changed the landscape of dating and how we not only treat each other, but also how we view ourselves as individuals, which directly links to our self-esteem,” says McKenzie.
My own experiences on apps such as Grindr and Tinder have shown me that fit and active men (all traits seen as masculine) are the most desired men. While I consider myself to be fairly active, my lack of muscles and toned figure have made me close the apps at times wondering why I should even bother if I’m not the “ideal man.” Davies said this form of masculinity has always been put on a pedestal.
“In the (early 20th century) when gay men had different labels for themselves based on their gender expression, the feminized gay man was called ‘the fairy’ and was always seen as … the lowest denominator of gay communities,” said Davies. The word “fairy” was also often used as a homophobic slur.
A historical trope during the 1970s and 1980s that many gay men looked up to and tried to emulate was that of the “Castro” clone. Named after the historically gay Castro district in San Francisco, this stereotype was a rugged, muscular man with a moustache who would have sex with many different men without any attachments. I still find myself, from time to time, aspiring to be like one of them because of how they were so lusted after.
Rusty Souleymanov, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, whose doctoral work focused on the health and well being of substance-using gay, bisexual, as well as two-spirit and queer men in Toronto, said the desire to be seen as more masculine can also influence behaviours and lifestyles sometimes practiced by gay men.
“There’s this ongoing view that the manliest of men have a lot of casual bareback sex (penetrative sex without a condom) and also engage in substance use while having sex, and it can lead to a lot of health risks,” said Souleymanov, who has conducted research about HIV education among gay and bisexual men who use drugs.
The health effects that Souleymanov describes include higher rates of mental health issues and eating disorders on top of higher HIV rates. A 2007 article titled, “Eating Disorders in Diverse Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Population,” by Matthew Feldman and Ilan Meyer showed that gay and bisexual men are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from eating disorders than heterosexual men.
None of the above is to say that toxic masculinity is the sole reason why these issues exist, but it does play an important role. Davies said that gay, bisexual and queer men need to be more vulnerable with each other.
For a lot of gay men, just by being gay, there is this sense of insecurity of being a failure because they’re not performing their masculinity in the way that they (feel like they) are expected to.
Adam Davies, a doctoral candidate
“A lot of men think that it isn’t masculine enough to talk about our emotions, our struggles and things that make us appear weak, but we need to be more open with each other,” said Davies. “We need to practice being more vulnerable with each other and start working to take away this stigma to really come together as a community.”
I am more at ease with my sense of self and my own body these days. Of course, there is still some work I can do on myself (I mean, who doesn’t?) but at least now I know that when I see these standards for gay men, they’re not what I should necessarily be. I would be lying if I said that I never feel a little bad looking at my scrawny self in the mirror, but I do know that it does not take away from my sense of masculinity.
Article originally posted by ABC News North Coast on 29 June 2017, by Samantha Turnbull.
Australia’s first gay commune, homophobic newspaper editorials, and one city’s role in the anti-discrimination debate are all part of the hidden history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community of northern New South Wales.
Historian Ian Gray has been researching the region’s LGBTIQ community for more than 10 years, and now part of his work has been curated into an exhibition called Lismore Has A Diverse Past: Celebrating 40 Years of Hidden Her/History.
Mr Gray said while Lismore and northern New South Wales had become regional Australia’s self-proclaimed “gay capital”, it had been difficult to uncover stories more than 40 years old because of past taboos relating to sexuality.
“We were much more hidden, much more in the closet, and it was much more dangerous to come out in the 1970s and particularly before law reform,” he said.
“We were only beginning to really find ourselves in the 1970s and 1980s and beginning to talk to each other, let alone putting our stories out to the wider world.”
Mr Gray said the region’s journey into LGBTIQ acceptance began with the 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival, which was co-organised by gay man Johnny Allen.
Queer in the country
In an article by Mr Gray called Queer in the Country, included in the exhibition, he wrote that many LGBTIQ people decided to move to rural areas as part of the counter cultural movement.
For those LGBTIQ folk already living in the Northern Rivers in the 70s, being out in towns and especially in the bush was a very risky business.
There were no organised groups or venues, so spending time with other ‘gays and lesbians’ and being yourself could only occur at occasional house parties and picnics organised within friendship groups.
The exhibition also includes research about the establishment of LGBTIQ-friendly farms throughout the region, including Australia’s first gay commune Mandala at Uki near Murwillumbah.
Mr Gray said Mandala was set up by Melbourne film director David Johnstone in 1973.
“He envisaged it as a harmonious, vegetarian, ecologically sound rural resource centre for gay men and their friends,” Mr Gray said.
“At its peak it had over 540 names on its mailing list and quite a profile in the national, Brisbane and Sydney gay press, which encouraged capital city ‘gays’ to visit.”
Mr Gray also researched and wrote about a community at Tuntable, near Nimbin, which was a popular home for transgender women in the 1970s and 80s:
They were escaping from working in Kings Cross and the legendary Les Girls all male revue.
They were a cohesive tribe and set up their own hamlet Trazadia.
Clashes with local newspaper editor
Mr Gray said the former editor of the local daily newspaper, The Northern Star, wrote a series of homophobic editorials in the 1980s that were documented in the exhibition.
“We had a battle with The Northern Star newspaper and editor Jim Brigginshaw, who had a bee in his bonnet about homosexuality,” he said.
“He ran editorial after editorial really slamming the community in the mid-80s, and then AIDS came along and really got him going.”
The LGBTIQ community responded with letters, but most were not published. One letter that did make it to print was met with the following editor’s note:
If ever homosexuality was accepted as being normal and right, the future of the human race is in jeopardy … perhaps the conservationist should be more concerned whether the human species is to become extinct than they are about the future of trees or other aspects of the environment.
However, Mr Gray said The Northern Star had since evolved into a broad-minded publication and employed several LGBTIQ journalists.
“There was a change that happened and the newspaper really embraced our community,” Mr Gray said.
“In 2005 one of the editors put a pink triangle, which is the universal LGBTIQ symbol, on the front page of the newspaper, which was a big moment.”
Lismore’s role in anti-discrimination
Mr Gray said much of the local media furore in the 1980s generated increased public interest in the broader issue of discrimination, and in 1984 the Anti-Discrimination Board visited Lismore for three days where it hosted several community meetings.
At a post meeting press-conference spokesman Greg Tillet was quoted as saying:
“Lismore is the most cosmopolitan country town in NSW, and an attempt to whip up hostility towards gays generally has clearly been unsuccessful. In general, the people of Lismore appear tolerant and easygoing.”
The board then released a report into discrimination against homosexuals, and homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW the same year.
Looking to the future
Mr Gray said Lismore now hosted the largest LGBTIQ event in the Southern Hemisphere outside of Sydney’s Mardi Gras — the Tropical Fruits New Year’s Eve Festival — and was marketed to tourists as the Rainbow Region.
However, he said the region was not completely free from discrimination.
“There’s still the same issues where it’s still not safe for instance to be out at night and be an overtly open gay or lesbian couple without abuse and that sort of thing,” he said.
“And most LGBTIQ-identifying young people say their biggest issue is bullying at school.”
Mr Gray said recording the community’s history was an important part of the process to fostering acceptance.
“It’s part of building up our own pride in who we are and what we do,” he said.
“It’s a little bit like Indigenous history — it’s often hidden or changed, and our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex history has been even more hidden I think because we’re not obvious in the community.
“When we’re hearing our stories we realise we’re not alone, and when younger people hear the struggles we went through it helps them make sense of the world.”
The exhibition is on at Southern Cross University, Lismore, until Friday.
Kinky gay men who are open and honest with partners are more likely to have better mental health
Gay men have revealed the fetishes they don’t want others to know about.
XTube surveyed their users to determine and rank which fetishes they get turned most on by.
The winner was ‘partialism’, also known as a fetish for a particular part of the body. This could be anything from feet to a hairy chest.
Role play was second on the list, while narratophilia (or dirty talk) was third on the list.
The answers was collected from over 3,000 gay or bisexual men over the age of 18.
The full list:
1. Partialism (9.54%)
2. Role play (8.24%)
3. Narratophilia [or dirty talk] (7.55%)
4. Uniforms [firefighters, soldiers etc] (7.41%)
5. Bondage (7.31%)
6. Submission (7. 3%)
7. Exhibitionism [sex in a place you can get caught] (6.28%)
8. Voyeurism [watching others have sex] (4.7%)
9. Maschalagnia [armpits] (3.4%)
10. Macrophilia [someone being bigger than you] (2.79%)
11. Olfactophilia [smells and odors] (2.52%)
12. Clothing fetishism [leather, rubber] (2.14%)
13. Underwear fetishism [jockstraps, etc] (2.01%)
14. Ablutophilia [baths, showers] (1.78%)
15. Technosexuality [robots, toys etc] (1.4%)
16. Medical fetishism [doctors etc] (1.36%)
17. Podophilia [feet] (1.24%)
18. Coulrophilia [clowns] (1.11%)
19. Sitophilia [food] (1%)
20. Pygophilia [bums] (0.79%)
21. Transvestophilia [wearing clothing typically worn by the opposite gender] (0.65%)
22. Toonophilia [cartoons] (0.3%)
Kink and mental health
If you are kinky, psychotherapists advise to share it with your partners if you already have good communication.
Also, some studies say people who do engage in kink are more likely to have positive mental health.
Deborah Fields, a kink-specialist and psychotherapist, told Gay Star News: ‘[There are studies that say] people who are kinky are more likely to be ok with themselves. People who are kinky tend to have better mental health than people who are not.
‘It’s a hard one to judge. I see a lot of mental health issues. However, do I see any more mental health issues than those outside of the kink community. No.
‘I think what kinky people do is talk more. We have to talk about our shit more than someone that doesn’t. You’re negotiating consent. That community, we, are more likely to discuss things and be open about mental health upfront. The idea of being risk-aware is also including mental health.
‘Research says we’re quite ok. However, there’s no widespread research that has yet to look at the kink community.
New calls for Kink to be added to LGBTI acronym
What do you think?
There are new calls for the letter ‘K’ (which stands for ‘Kink’) to join the LGBTI initialism.
According The Gay UK, the full all-inclusive list of initials is now: LGBTQQICAAAPF2K+
Breaking this down, the letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Agender, Ally, Pansexual, Polysexual, Friends and Family, Two Spirit and Kink.
But many took to Twitter to respond with confusion to the addition of ‘k’ to the list.
Some called out the fact kink is not a sexuality or a gender identity.
Vonny Leclerk said: ‘There’s now a K for Kink in the LGBT+ acronym. Really? Is kinkiness now viewed as a sexual orientation?’
Twitter user Sister Outrider wrote: ‘Just no. [It] is not a sexual orientation. People with sexual kinks do not face any structural or systematic discrimination as a result of those proclivities.’
‘Isn’t Pride all about celebrating who you have sex with?’
Previous forums on the subject also discuss the appropriateness of adding kink to the acronym.
On a previous MacRumors forum, one user wrote: ‘The queer community is already incredibly sexualized.’
‘One major problem I have with including kink in the LGBTQ+ community is it makes LGBTQ+ spaces inappropriate for minors. LGBTQ+ youth need safe spaces to express themselves and any struggles they may be facing as a result of their identity,’ they said.
But then another came to kink’s defence: ‘Personally, I see the sexual aspect of gay pride parades being the participants giving the finger to the people grossed out by the sexual aspect of their relationship as if that’s the only thing it is about.’
Then another said: ‘Isn’t Pride all about celebrating who you have sex with?’
What do you think?
Who watches the most kink and BDSM porn out of gay, bisexual or straight men?
Other findings include how one in five straight men watches gay porn
A new study has surveyed the porn-viewing habits of 821 gay, straight and bisexual men from across the US, and the results are very revealing.
One in five straight men watches gay porn and 55% of gay men watches straight porn.
Other findings included how bisexual men were far less interested in kink or BDSM than their straight or gay counterparts.
Dr Martin J Downing, the lead researcher, was surprised to find how 21% of men, who say they only had sex with women, would watch two men having sex together on screen.
He found sexual behavior and sexual identity seems to line up, with straight men having sex with women and (apart from a rare few) gay men having sex with men.
Downing said this ‘identity discrepant viewing’ as ‘some level of evidence’ of fluidity in sexual attraction, at least in the habits of what porn they watch.
Bisexual men displayed different porn-viewing habits to gay or straight men, with bis saying they watch guy-on-guy porn just as must as gay men do and watching guy-on-girl porn almost as much as straight men. They also reported watching a significant amount of ‘bisexual porn’, with two men and one woman or two women and one man.
Downing said this proves bisexual men are not ‘watered down gays or heterosexuals’.
‘[Bisexual men] are more like heterosexual men in some things, and more like gay men in other things, but that’s a reflection of their own unique attractions,’ he wrote in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
‘They’re not identical to either group in terms of their porn viewing, which I think is really interesting for understanding bisexuality.’
Both bi and straight men watched solo masturbation more than gay men (60% compared to less than 50%), and bi men were far less interested in porn involving BDSM or other kinks (13.7%) than straight (24.6%) or gay (27.9%). However, gay men were far more likely to watch videos involving fisting, felching or water sports.
Just looking at the venues in this guide is pretty well a dead giveaway for its year of publication. By the mid-80s, the Roman Baths, 253 Baths, Club 80, the Apollo Bar and Flo’s Palace had closed. Flo’s was to become the Hellfire Club, then the Den Club – both incarnations as men’s sex-on-premises venues. Patchs became DCM. The Link also closed around the same time. KKK Baths closed on 20 May 2012, having opened in 1972. The Exchange Hotel closed in 2015. The Midnight Shift (previously Tropicana) became Universal in 2018. DCM closed around 2009. The Unicorn, The Oxford, The Flinders and The Beresford have undergone a number of incarnation over the decades. The Albury closed in 2000, and has been reincarnated as retail stores. The “Golden Mile” of gay Oxford St, Darlinghurst is a sad excuse now for what used to be a thriving ghetto. It is now a long string of empty premises featuring For Sale, or For Lease, signs.
The internet informs me that this week is Bisexual Awareness Week (consider: is your cat aware of the bisexual movement? Oh, and on a serious note, visibility matters). Allow me, then, to raise some questions about the way medieval studies has handled and assimilated the fascinating case of John Rykener, a male-cross dressing prostitute. If you took a gender-oriented medieval studies course in the last decade or so, or if you’ve read Karras’ Sexuality in Medieval Europe textbook, you’ve probably met John Rykener’s story in one form or another.
Allow me to tell you about Eleanor Rykener: assigned male at birth, she fell in with a woman named Elizabeth Broderer, who gave her women’s clothing and called her Eleanor. We do not know if Eleanor sought out Elizabeth, or if Elizabeth identified something in the young man she knew as John Ryknener that she could exploit: but as far as we know, it was with Elizabeth that Eleanor first lived as a woman.
Elizabeth was conducting a complicated and exploitative business, in which her daughter substituted for Eleanor in bed with men who believed they were sleeping with Eleanor. It is not recorded whether money was involved, but that seems likely. The court record says that Elizabeth’s daughter Alice did this ‘for lust’, but I would not be willing to take that as a given: it seems plausible to me that Eleanor and Alice worked together, willing or unwilling, in a scenario which allowed Elizabeth to maintain her daughter’s public respectability while Eleanor accrued the ill repute of a prostitute.
Somehow, from there, Eleanor met a woman named Anna, who is referred to by the court transcript as “meretrix quondam cuiusdam famuli domini Thome Blount” (the whore of a former servant of Thomas Blount). It is possible that Anna was a prostitute regularly frequented by this former servant of Thomas Blount, but the various evidence assembled by Karras, in Unmarriages, on the varied roles and statuses of unmarried couples, leads me to think Anna might just as easily have been the mistress or even domestic partner (eg, if the said servant were already married and separated) of this unnamed gentleman. For reasons not given in the record, she taught Eleanor how she might have sex with men ‘in the manner of a woman’: for which we can read, in a receptive position.
We do not know why Eleanor sought out this information, or why she acted on it. Perhaps she desired a sexual relationship with a man. Perhaps she wished to extract more substantial benefits, material or otherwise, from her work as a prostitute – since she was socially stuck as a prostitute anyway. It seems she was still living with Elizabeth Broderer, and – for one reason or another, bear in mind we do not know her motivations – an individual named Phillip, the rector of Theydon Garnon, would seem to have been her first client. (Or perhaps her non-commercial lover? Bear in mind this is entirely possible: People do sleep with trans women because they like them!) Eleanor seems to have been of limited resources at this time, because she took (was given? stole?) some garments from Phillip. When Phillip demanded their return, she convinced him to back off by asserting that she had a husband who would defend her in court.
Next, Eleanor seems to have made a break for it: she moved to Oxford, and tried – for five weeks – to establish herself as an independent women in a women’s trade, that of embroidery. She continued to sleep with men (in a marsh, the court record says). Once again, we cannot say whether she sought their company for pleasure or for money. Something may have gone wrong, though, because Eleanor next moved to Burford to work as a tapster. In Burford she continued to sleep with men, but here the court records that only four of her eight lovers paid her. Did she expect payment from the others and not receive it? Perhaps. But it’s equally plausible that she enjoyed and desired sex with men. This possibility I have seen raised in discussion of John (Eleanor) Rykener as a male homosexual.
Next, in Beaconsfield, Eleanor had sex with two men “as a woman” and one woman, Joan, “as a man”. Now, here I want to stress some things we DO know and some things we DON’T. We DO know that when the medieval record speaks of “ut vir concubuit cum” and ” concubuerunt ut cum femina” (‘[he] as a man lay with [Joan]’ and ‘[they] lay with [him] as a woman’) it does not speak of what clothes Eleanor was wearing at the time, or what name she went by. The issue at hand is who did what to whom, as is nicely demonstrated by the verb forms: he-as-a-man had sex with Joan, they (two franciscans) had sex with him-as-a-woman.
What we do not know here includes:
• Whether Joan of Beaconsfield considered herself to be having sex with Eleanor, or with John, Rykener.
• What Joan and Eleanor did together. Concubere could in fact mean lie down together, and Eleanor did not give her testimony in Latin: we don’t know what she said that she and Joan did which the court records as ‘concubuit‘. Eleanor may have spoken in compatible passive/active terms, or she may not.
• Assuming that Eleanor and Joan had penis-in-vagina intercourse, that does not tell us why they did so. Even if Joan met and bedded John Rykener, did she know about Eleanor? Was there an experiential difference, for either of them, between Eleanor(?John)’s conduct in bed and that of other men?
• Conversely, we do not know which identity Eleanor was presenting when she slept with the two Franciscans – but that possibility has already been raised by queer historians, who are generally quite keen to point out that John Rykener’s male lovers could have known exactly who and what they were doing.
Returning to London, Eleanor committed ‘the aforementioned vice’ with several more churchmen, but the record does not state if they paid her – nor, in this instance, does it specify cum femina. However, it seems her efforts to find more respectable work had not succeeded, because finally, we know that she propositioned one John Britby to commit a ‘libidinous act’ with her in a stall by Soper’s lane, for an agreed-upon-sum. John Britby swore to the court that he thought she was a woman at that time.
The court record also says that Eleanor had sex cum vir with assorted nuns and married women. This addition lacks the detail of her encounters with men and with Joan, and I would be inclined to suspect it of being an embroidery upon Eleanor’s testimony, designed to both mark out John Rykener as a particularly depraved individual and enforce public perception of him as male by ensuring that everyone knows he could and did have lots of sex cum vir. However, even allowing for the fact that this assertion has less to hold it up than the previous account, I find it curious1 that it tends to appear as a footnote only to the history of John Rykener, when the following comment about numerous priestly clients who pay better than other man gets a fair bit of circulation.
Eleanor Rykener is rarely cited, despite what her testimony can tell us about women’s lives in marginal professions in the 15th century. (I note that Kim Racon at Notches has also blogged about this lack.2) John Rykener is spoken of, and John/Eleanor, but never Eleanor or Eleanor-John. Whenever I’ve had the pleasure of teaching this topic, I’ve made a point of speaking of Eleanor Rykener and her trial, because… well, it seemed the decent thing to do.3 At the very least, Eleanor Rykener was a cultivated public persona (comparable to a drag act, perhaps?) – and given she seems to have run away and tried to take up a woman’s profession other than prostitution twice, the common summary of her story as ‘male crossdressing prostitute’ is incredibly reductive. Karras herself notes on p. 184 of Medieval Sexualities that the Rykener and a 14th century Venetian prostitute, probably a hermaphrodite, named Ronaldo/Ronaldina, are far from the standard sodomite, who did not normally wear women’s clothing. It is very unlikely that John Rykener was, in modern terms, a sad gay man who found crossdressing the only way to get laid – there’s enough other evidence to suggest that medieval blokes found ways to bang that didn’t involve ladies’ clothes!!
“II: The Questioning of John Rykener 1395: Transcription
Corporation of London Records Office, Plea and Memoranda Roll A34, m.2 (1395)
Undecimo die Decembris anno regni regis Ricardi secundi decimo octavo, ducti fuerunt hic coram Johanne Fressh maiore et aldermannis civitatis Londoniensis Johannes Britby de comitate Eboracum et Johannes Rykener, se Elianoram nominans veste muliebri detectus. Qui die dominica ultimo preterita per quosdam dicte civitatis ministros noctanter inter horas octavam et nonam super quoddam stallum in venella vocata Sopereslane inventi fuerunt iacentes, illud vitium detestabile, nephandum, et ignominiosum committentes, pro seperali examinatione coram dictis maiore et aldermannis super premissa fienda et audienda etcetera. Qui quidem Johannes Britby inde allocutus fatebatur quod ipse per vicum regium de Chepe die dominica inter horas supradictas transiens, dictum Johannem Rykener vestitu muliebri ornatum, ipsumque mulierem fore suspicantem fuerat assecutus, petens ab eo, tanquam a muliere, si cum ea libidinose agere possit. Qui ab eo argentum pro labore suo petens sibi consentiebat, invicem transeuntes ad illud complendum usque stallum predictum. Ipsi tamen tunc ibidem per ministros predictos in eorum maleficiis detestabilibus capti fuerunt, carcere vero mancipati hucusque, etcetera. Et predictus Johannes Rykener in veste muliebri hic adductus de materia predicta allocutus cognovit se fecisse in omnibus prout idem Johannes Britby superius fatebatur etcetera. Quesitum fuit ulterius a prefato Johanne Rykener quis ei docuit dictum vitium exercere et quanto tempore, in quibus locis, et cum quibus personis masculis sive feminis illud actum libidinosum et nephandum commisit. Qui in animam suam sponte iuravit et cognovit quod quaedam Anna, meretrix quondam cuiusdam famuli domini Thome Blount, primo docuit ipsum vitium detestabile modo muliebri exercere. Item dixit quod quaedam Elizabeth Brouderer prius vestivit ipsum veste muliebri; quae etiam conduxit quandam Aliciam filiam suam diversis hominibus luxuriae causa, ipsam cum eisdem hominibus in lectis eorum noctanter absque lumine reponens et eandem summo mane ab eisdem recedere fecit, monstrando eis dictum Johannem Rykener veste muliebri ornatum ipsum Alianoram nominantem, asserens ipsos cum ipsa sinistre egisse. Item dixit quod quidam Philippus, Rector de Theydon Gernon, concubuit cum eodem Johanne Rykener ut cum muliere in domo cuiusdam Elizabeth Brouderer extra Bisshoppesgate, quo tempore dictus Johannes Rykener asportavit duas togas ipsius Philippi. Et quando idem Philippus illas petiit a prefato Johanne Rykener, ipse dixit quod fuit uxor cuiusdam hominis, et si ipse illas repetere vellet faceret maritum suum versus ipsum prosequi. Item dictus Johannes Rykener fatebatur quod per quinque septimanas ante festum santi Michaelis ultimo elapsum morabatur apud Oxonium et operatus est ibidem in veste muliebri in arte de brouderer nominans ipsum Alianoram. Et ibidem in marisco tres scolares ignotos, quorum unus nominatur dominus Willielmus Foxlee, alius dominus Johannes, et tertius dominus Walterus, usi fuerunt sepius cum ipso abominabile vitium supradictum. Item fatebatur prefatus Johannes Rykener quod ipse die veneris proximo ante festum sancti Michaelis supradictum venit apud Burford in comitate Oxonium. Et ibidem fuit commorans cum quodam Johanne clerc atte Swan in officio de tapster per sex septimanas proximas sequentes, infra quod tempus duo fratres minores, quorum unus nominatur frater Michael et alius frater Johannes Barry, qui sibi dedit unum anulum aureum, et unus frater carmelitus et sex diversi homines extranei commiserunt cum illo vitium antedictum. Quorum quidem fratrum et hominum supradictorum quidam dabat dicto Johanni Rykener .xii. d, quidam .xx. d, quidam .ii. s. Item fatebatur idem Johannes Rykener quod fuit apud Bekenesfeld et ibidem idem ut vir concubuit cum quadam Johanna filia Johannis Mathew, et etiam ibidem cum ipso concubuerunt ut cum femina duo fratres minores alienigenae. Item fatebatur dictus Johannes Rykener quod post eius ultimum adventum Londoniae quidam dominus Johannes quondam capellanus ecclesiae sanctae Margaretae Patyns et alii duo capellani in venellis retro ecclesiam sanctae Katerinae iuxta turrim Londoniensem commiserunt cum illo illud vitium antedictum. Item dixit dictus Johannes Rykener quod ipse sepius concubuit cum quampluribus monialibus ut vir, et etiam concubuit modo virili cum quampluribus mulieribus, tam maritatis quam aliis, quarum numerum ignorat. Item fatebatur dictus Johannes Rykener quod quamplures presbiteri fecerunt illud vitium cum illo ut cum muliere, quorum numerum ignorat, et dixit quod citius cepit presbiteros quam alios quia plus vellent sibi dare quam alii.
I: The Questioning of John Rykener 1395: Translation
On 11 December, 18 Richard 11. were brought in the presence of John Fressh, Mayor. and the Aldermen ofthe City of London John Britby of the county of York and John Rykener., calling [himself] Eleanor, having been detected in women’s clothing, who were found last Sunday night between the hours of 8 and 9 by certain officials of the, city lying by a certain stall in Soper’s Lane” committing that detestable unmentionable and ignominious vice. In a separate examination held before the Mayor and Aldermen about the occurrence, John Britby confessed that he was passing through the high road of Cheap on Sunday between the abovementioned hours and accosted John Rykener, dressed up as a woman, thinking he was a woman, asking him as he would a woman if he could commit a libidinous act with her. Requesting money for [his] labor, Rykener consented, and they went together to the aforesaid stall to complete the act, and were captured there during these detestable wrongdoings by the officials and taken to prison. And John Rykener, brought here in woman’s clothing and questioned about this matter, acknowledged [himself] to have done everything just as John Britby had confessed. Rykener was also asked who had taught him to exercise this vice, and for how long and in what places and with what persons, masculine or feminine, [he] had committed that libidinous and unspeakable act. [He] swore willingly on [his] soul that a certain Anna, the whore of a former servant of Sir Thomas Blount, first taught him to practice this detestable vice in the manner of a woman. [He] further said that a certain Elizabeth Bronderer first dressed him in women’s clothing; she also brought her daughter Alice to diverse men for the sake of lust, placing her with those men in their beds at night without light, making her leave early in the morning and showing them the said John Rykener dressed up in women’s clothing, calling him Eleanor and saying that they had misbehaved with her. [He] further said that certain Phillip, rector of Theydon Garnon, had sex with him as with a woman in Elizabeth Bronderer’s honse outside Bishopsgate, at which time Rykener took away two gowns of Phillip’, and when Phillip requested them from Rykener he said that [he] was the wife ofa certain man and that if Phillip wished to ask for them back [he] would make [his] husband bring suit against him. Rykener further confessed that for five weeks before the feast of St. Michael’s last [he] was staying at Oxford, and there, in women’s clothing and calling himself Eleanor, worked as an embroideress; and there in the marsh three unsuspecting scholars – of whom one was named Sir William Foxlee, another Sir John, and the third Sir Walter – practiced the abominable vice with him often. John Rykener further confessed that on Friday before the feast of St. Michael [he] came to Burford in Oxfordshire and there dwelt with a certain John Clerk at the Swan in the capacity of tapster for the next six weeks, during which time two Franciscans, one named Brother Michael and the other Brother John, who gave [him] a gold ring, and one Carmelite friar and six foreign men committed the above-said vice with him, of whom one gave Rykener twelve pence, one twenty pence, and one two shillings. Rykener further confessed that [he] went to Beaconsfield and there, as a man, had sex with a certain Joan, daughter of John Matthew, and also there two foreign Franciscans hall sex with him as a woman. John Rykener also confessed that after [his] last return to London a certain Sir John, once chaplain at the Church of St. Margaret Pattens, and two other chaplains committed with him the aforementioned vice in the lanes behind St. Katherine’s Church by the Tower of London. Rykener further said that he often had sex as a man with many nuns and also had sex as a iman with many women both married and otherwise, how many [he] did not know. Rykener further confessed that many priests had committed that vice with him as with a woman, how many [he] did not know, and said that [he] accommodated priestsmore readily than other people because they wished to give [him] more than others.”
Two years ago this month, I was sitting on the sofa in my Sir’s living room. It was my birthday. We were getting ready to go to the gym. But first, he said, I should open my presents. Two packages were in front of me on the coffee table.
Our relationship had started more than a year earlier with intense monthly BDSM play sessions. After we stopped playing sexually, we continued to go to the gym together and push each other to live healthier. We still go to the gym together, and today I consider him one of my closest friends. He knows what I like — sexually and otherwise — more than most people in my life, so his presents are always top-notch.
Inside the first package was a bottle of twelve-year Glenlivet, one of my favorite single malt whiskies. The second: a Nasty Pig jockstrap. But it was not just any Nasty Pig jock. I sniffed. That distinctly musky, delicious aroma, which can only be found in the playrooms of gay circuit parties and in gyms across the country, lingered in the stitching. “I wore it for a few days,” he said. “You’re welcome.”
Used underwear is one of my fetishes.
You may be asking: What is a fetish, and how is it different from a kink? I clarified these two terms in my list of 30 kinky terms every gay man should know. But I’ll reiterate their distinction here. Kinks are “unconventional” sexual interests, like bondage or paddling. That’s it. Fetishes — also called paraphilias — are objects, materials, features, or articles of clothing, like used jockstraps, that people respond to sexually, and that enhance or facilitate sexual arousal. To clarify: fetish objects are not sexual on their own, like whips or dildos. Fetish objects become sexualized when someone responds to them sexually.
You’ve probably heard of a few obscure fetishes, like high-heeled shoes and rubber duckies. Fetishes are rapidly moving out of their kinky niche and into pop culture. Stay on top of (or under) the trend with this list of 36 fetishes — some well known, others less so — that you need to know about.
Leather is one of the most commonly fetishized materials, and certainly one of the oldest. Tom of Finland’s 1970s drawings of biker boys, clad in impossibly form-fitting leather, solidified leather as a staple of gay culture. Today, the leather community is global, united by national and international leather competitions that celebrate this fetish at gatherings like the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, International Mr. Leather in Chicago, and Folsom Berlin.
What does a leather event look like? It looks like throngs of men in leather harnesses, jock straps, jackets, boots, gloves, aprons, fully-body uniforms, and other garb. Since many leather fetishists are into many other fetishes and kinks, the leather community is generally considered synonymous with the kink community as a whole.
The second most commonly fetishized material is rubber. Rubber guys are usually into the same fetishes and enjoy the same kinks as leather guys, but prefer a different material. They have their own large-scale gatherings like Mister International Rubber, also in Chicago.
It is common for rubber guys to wear full-body suits that cover greater amounts of skin. Rubber is not used for harnesses to the same degree that leather is, although a good leather store and kink supplier like Mr. S Leather in San Francisco will have plentiful options of gear in both materials.
Here’s a great opportunity to make the distinction between “kink” and “fetish” — a difference which, colloquially, is somewhat arbitrary since many people use the terms interchangeably.
Rope is a common material used in bondage, which is a kink, but rope is not used exclusively. People into bondage may also use duct tape, leather cuffs, chord, zip ties, neckties, and other tools of restraint. But since many kinksters (kinky people) into bondage fetishize rope specifically, rope becomes a fetishized material.
Rope is more rustic and romantic than duct tape. Duct tape is reminiscent of police sirens and robberies — the restraint material you’d use if you want to be tied, gagged, and left in a closet for a few hours. Rope, in contrast, calls to mind your youthful fantasies of getting captured by horny pirates and tied to the mast — and all the wonderful scenarios that follow.
4. Used Underwear
Used underwear is such common fetish item that big-name escorts, porn stars, and prominent sex figures can usually make a good buck selling their unwashed undies. (Adam Killian, if you’re reading this, I would like to speak with you about a possible business venture.)
Also called maschalagnia, armpit fetishes are difficult to explain to those who don’t share them. Our culture views armpits as nasty places on the body. While everyone should probably use antiperspirant before a job interview or family gathering, some of us really enjoy the smell (and taste) of pits, sans deodorant, and get turned on by it.
This fetish probably falls under the umbrella of “uniform” fetishes, but I separated it since there is not a standard uniform for skateboarders, punks, and alternative guys. Some people, including my former Sir, fetishize the stereotypical look of skateboarders, from their neck tattoos to their lip rings, from their Diamond Supply Co. t-shirts to their Vans shoes.
People who live in the United States are taught from a young age that uniforms should be viewed with respect, especially police uniforms, military uniforms, and firefighter uniforms. These socio-politics of respect naturally morphed into male strippers dressed as firefighters and cops — evidence that uniforms are heavily fetishized by straight and LGBT people alike.
There is a massive (albeit more underground) fetish surrounding guys with buzz cuts, or “skinheads.” This fetish typically overlaps with rubber and skateboarder/punk wear. By extension, buzzing someone’s hair is a common kink practice that is generally seen as a form of humiliation and “ownership.”
Skinheads and the guys who fetishize them tend to also fetishize urine and enjoy fisting.
Shaving the body is typically seen as a nonsexual activity and part of a mundane, un-erotic self-maintenance regimen. But for some, shaving (themselves and others) is extremely arousing. As a sexual activity, shaving would probably be considered a kink rather than a fetish. But trimmers, razors, and other modes of shaving and cutting body hair are fetishized objects, so they deserve a mention. Guys I’ve met that are into this fetish get aroused from the sensation of electric buzzers running against their skin — and have had more than a few uncomfortable erections in barber chairs.
Also called urolagnia, this is the fetish around urine itself, which for obvious reasons overlaps with the kink of watersports — a sexual activity in which people enjoy getting peed on, peeing on others, and/or drinking urine.
11. Duct Tape
Remember how rope is a commonly fetishized bondage material? Duct tape is a close second.
For guys who enjoy getting gagged, duct tape is a staple. Duct tape calls to mind kidnap fantasies and dark hallways, and nothing beats that hot, muffled gagging sound. Note: as sexy as duct tape is, at some point you will have to pull it off, which will hurt. This writer suggests using vet wrap as a nice alternative.
Like urine, spit is a nonsexual bodily fluid that gets fiercely fetishized. Piggy guys into spit enjoy getting spit on, spitting on others, using spit religiously in place of lube, and even drinking saliva.
13. Gas Masks
An old-school fetish object, gas masks are rarely found in popular culture anymore. Originally used in the WWI trenches, they were an integral part of the social landscape during the Cold War and in the early days of gas and chemical warfare. Today, gas masks are really only seen at riots where tear gas is used. As such, they have that innately revolutionary quality, and are often used by graffiti artists}\\ for protection against harmful fumes from spray paint. All this lovely protest imagery and violent Americana lends itself beautifully to fetishization. Gas masks are common erotic objects for kinksters into breath play and are popular among rubber fetishists.
Don’t confuse this fetish with the consumption of aphrodisiacs like oysters and chocolate. Food fetishes can exist for any food, from cheesecake to steak tartare. Satisfying food fetishes does not always mean eating it. If you don’t think food can be sexualized, try adding chocolate sauce, honey, whipped cream, and M&Ms to your next wild sex session.
Some people love seeing, touching, licking, massaging, tickling, and getting penetrated (anally or vaginally) by feet. Foot fetishes naturally lead people to think of shoe fetishes, although these are not the same. Like feet, some guys love sniffing, licking, and touching women’s shoes. (I personally love licking a dominant leather man’s boots, but this is more a sign of submission than a legitimate boot fetish.)
I was cuddling with a guy recently when I made a comment that he thought was very strange. I said, “Your hands are really sexy.”
He had firm, small, smooth, meaty hands — in other words, great hands for fisting. But hand fetishes don’t have to be linked to fisting, which is the kink practice of slowly inserting the whole hand (and more) into the anus or vagina, with the assistance of buckets of lube. Many people get aroused from hands: the way they look, the way they feel, their shape, their texture, and the sensation of touching them.
No list of fetishes would be complete without amputees. My ex-boyfriend, in fact, thought guys with amputations, prosthetic legs, and other missing limbs were extremely sexy, and every morning I made sure all my limbs were still intact.
Alex Minksy has more or less made a career from this fetish. The ex-military amputee is a common muse for L.A. photographer Michael Stokes. For the sake of clarity, I should stress that the fetishization of amputees is not the same thing as the kink practice of actually removing limbs for the sake of sexual gratification, which is considered an extreme body-modification kink that is by and large not endorsed by the international kink community. Simply put: you can think amputees are sexy, but don’t go cutting off someone’s leg, or your own. That’s not OK.
Doctor’s offices — along with a wide range of medical tools like speculums and catheters — have become so commonly fetishized that, like locker rooms and sports gear, they have long become a popular porn genre altogether. You’ve seen it: the porn scenario where the delicate patient gets “probed” by the gloved doctor, who is conspicuously naked beneath his lab coat.
As phallic-shaped instruments of power, it is no surprise that guns are heavily fetishized, although, for obvious reasons, exploring this fetish has an accompanying degree of risk attached. There is endless kidnapping and rape-fantasy porn on the Internet that features guys and girls being “forced” into sex at gunpoint (as an aside to their directors, these scenarios teeter into the absurd when they start orally servicing the barrel).
Also called klismaphilia, enema fetishes are commonly explored in amateur gay and straight porn. As useful tools for cleaning out the anal cavity, enemas and douches are used by bottom guys and anyone looking to enjoy mess-free anal sex, so naturally they have become part of sex itself. Aside from their usefulness, enemas are generally considered a healthy occasional practice, and have become a sexualized object all on their own.
The fetishization of “adult babies” is hard to separate from the kink practice of acting like a baby or infant, which many adults are into, and which typically involves them wearing diapers. The terms get tricky here. Wearing diapers would be considered a kink, but erotic stimulation from diapers in general, regardless if you wear them, makes them fetish objects. This fetish may or may not be related to feces (see #33).
Many guys have fetishes for piercings — also called piquerism — and as a result may also enjoy the body-mod kink of piercing the skin, which some take to extremes. I have a fetish for Prince Alberts — circular piercings that go through the head of the penis — but I do not personally have one, which means I enjoy this fetish but do not practice the kink of piercing myself or someone else for pleasure. (This will change the minute I get my long-awaited PA.)
Scars are very sexy. They tie in to our culture’s icon of the rugged warrior, the roughed-up cowboy, the soldier wounded from battle. For some people, they are an extremely strong turn-ons. These people have scar fetishes, and may sometimes choose to intentionally scar themselves in order to give themselves a feature they consider attractive. Not to belabor a distinction, but doing so would probably be considered a body-mod kink. Scars as erotic stimuli are fetishes.
25. Plushy Toys/Stuffed Animals
You’ll never look at your niece’s collection of plushy animals the same way again. Some people get sexually aroused from plushy toys — this fetish is actually more common than you might think.
I didn’t believe this was a real fetish until I looked it up. Balloon fetishes, which are very real, seem to be related to the tension of them popping, a tension that some consider very erotic.
There are fetishes for virtually every kind of clothing, but socks and stockings are certainly a close second behind underwear as the most commonly fetishized clothing articles. In the same way that I love sniffing a hot guy’s used boxers, some guys love sniffing a pair of used socks.
28. Beard/Facial Hair Fetish
You know by now that shaving tools and buzzed haircuts have fetishes attached to them. Beards and body hair should be less surprising, especially these days. Beards are so sexually charged and erotically idealized among today’s scruffier populations of gay men that one might forget the fact that beards are still, technically, fetish objects.
“You’ve been a very naughty boy. You need to stay after class for a hard lesson.”
Most of us should be familiar now with the fetishes surrounding teachers, desks, rulers, chalkboards, and other classroom fare. Some kinksters may explore these fetishes by replicating a classroom setting for their own form of interrogation torture and role play.
With all the vampire romance and gore porn that composes today’s literary and cinematic milieu, it is no surprise that blood is an increasingly popular fetish. A small number of kinky sex practices allow you to explore this fetish with little risk of long-term injury — piercing, whipping, etc. — but they are not without risk of transmitting HIV, Hep C and other STIs. As a rule of sex and of life, if you see blood, it usually means something is wrong. Therefore blood play is a difficult fetish to explore safely. The kink community does not endorse injurious and unsafe sex practices.
Like guns, knives can (and should) cause a certain degree of discomfort, which for some people creates strong sexual arousal. Like guns, knife fetishes automatically require a hefty amount of caution.
Yes, it’s true. I watched clown porn the other night just to see if this is a real fetish. It is.
I have heard it proposed more than once that fetishes are psychological conditions that manifest themselves as the only responses certain people can have to stimuli that they would otherwise consider repulsive. I personally have never fully bought this claim. However, it is no secret that clowns — which will likely be remembered in a thousand years as one of the worst creations of modern man — are commonly fetishized figures, and I cannot help but wonder if fetishizing clowns is the only way some people can respond to their horror. The mind is capable of doing many incredible things, like transferring pain into pleasure, stress into desire, and fear into eroticism, so while I cannot justifiably make the claim that all fetishes are the mind’s roundabout method of dealing with revulsion, I do wonder why clowns have emerged as such a surprisingly common fetish.
I promised my scat fetishist friend in Dallas that he would be represented on this list. Coprophilia is sexual stimulation from feces, and while the general population’s response to it is bound to be pretty strong, this fetish is more common than you might suspect, particularly among gay pig players, fisting enthusiasts, and kinky leather men. Despite its popularity within a more niche section of the gay male population, it is generally considered an unhygienic fetish to explore, since handling and consuming human fecal matter carries with it certain health risks. In my limited experience, it is also one of the more heavily stigmatized fetishes, even within the kink community.
34. Sports Gear
Remember those adolescent longings for the high school quarterback? Perhaps you enjoyed varsity baseball for more reasons than you let on. The fetishes surrounding sports gear and sport environments are so common that locker room porn has become its own popular genre. Prominent gay clothing brands like Nasty Pig and Cellblock 13 draw their design inspiration from tried-and-true sports wear, and standard gay circuit attire will always feature a pair of football pants with the front lacing beckoningly open.
Also called agalmatophilia, this fetish applies to dolls, mannequins, statues, and anything that resembles a human without actually being one. Note: while sex dolls and inflatables with porn star faces may appeal to people who enjoy this fetish, I would not immediately consider these objects fetish objects, since they are specifically designed for sexual arousal.
Also called chronophilia (and sometimes ageism), the fetishization of age is a hotly debated topic in gay culture. The term swings both ways: this fetish applies when someone older fetishizes the specific age of someone younger, and when someone younger fetishizes the specific age of someone older. The fetish doesn’t require a significant age difference — just the fact that someone’s age itself is a turn-on.
Conceptually, this fetish opens up debate surrounding the fetishization of other characteristics like skin color and body type. Some argue that fetishizing certain physical characteristics like age and weight is no different than feet and hand fetishes, which we generally do not frown upon. Others say that age fetishes, like skin color and body type fetishes, are not fetishes at all, and that the reduction of a person’s features into points of desire (and, by extension, rejection) is dehumanizing and smacks of racism and body-shaming.
Debate rages. Age fetish deserves inclusion on this list for the sheer purpose that it shows how fetishes can cross from the playfully erotic into more culturally profound and impactful subjects. The whole concept of fetish reveals that anything in the world, from pool floats to ice cream, can become sexual objects if someone responds to them that way, and as such they unleash our sexual desires from the narrow confines that our culture tends to place them in.
This being said, fetish exploration is not a free-for-all. There is a trepidatious line between fetishizing balloons and fetishizing blood. That vague line exists throughout the world of kink, which is why the motto “safe, sane, and consensual” should be strictly adhered to as you explore the things that turn you on — which, I must stress, are worth exploring. Your birthdays just got a lot more interesting.