All posts by timalderman

About timalderman

Gay, visually-impaired guy writing professionally (and freelance) about disabilities, being gay, articles, opinion pieces, poems and short stories for over 15 years, mainly for small, local magazines. Obtained my Graduate Certificate in Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2004.

Gay History: Franklin Edward (Frank) Kameny – Prominent Gay Rights Leader, 21 May 1925 – 11 October 2011

Frank Kameny, 86, a persistent and often brash activist who was one of the leading figures of the gay rights movement in the Washington area and in the nation, was found dead Oct. 11 2011 at his home in Northwest Washington.

His death was confirmed by Charles Francis, a founder of the Kameny Papers Project, and by Marvin Carter, a longtime friend. The cause of death could not immediately be learned.

Mr. Kameny, a Harvard PhD whose homosexuality led to his discharge from a federal government job more than half a century ago, lived to see his years of determined advocacy rewarded through the success of many of his campaigns and through his ultimate welcome by a political establishment that had rejected him.

His death, apparently on National Coming Out Day, occurred in a year when gay men and lesbians were accorded the right to serve openly in the armed forces, which the D.C. Council’s first openly gay member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), noted Tuesday night.

April 17 1965. Frank Kameny leads the first Gay & Lesbian protest at the White House

Through his efforts over the years, Mr. Kameny deserved to be known as one of the fathers of that shift from the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Catania said.

Mr. Kameny enlisted in the Army during World War II; in an interview last year with Richard Sincere on the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner Web site, he said, “They asked, I didn’t tell.”

In what appeared to be one of the great triumphs of Mr. Kameny’s often lonely, uphill struggle, protest signs that he once carried in front of the White House were put on display in the Smithsonian Institution four years ago, to be viewed along with the museum’s other reminders of the course of U.S. history.

Mr. Kameny said he created the slogan “Gay Is Good.” In their pungent succinctness, the words both suggested his rhetorical skills and embodied the beliefs that he championed.

Years before the gay rights movement existed in any widely recognized form and in an era in which open assertion of homosexuality could invite physical harm, Mr. Kameny worked to increase the acceptance of gay men and lesbians in mainstream American society and to win recognition of their equality under the law.

Rather than shrink from revealing his sexual orientation, Mr. Kameny made it plain. He won attention and respect by the vigorous but unsuccessful campaign he waged 40 years ago for election as the District’s non-voting delegate to Congress.

“Out for Good,” a history of the gay rights movement in the United States, made Mr. Kameny the central figure in several chapters.

One of the book’s co-authors, Dudley Clendinen, has called him an “authentic hero” of American culture. In summarizing Mr. Kameny’s precarious position after the loss of his job, Clendinen noted that Mr. Kameny subsisted on a diet of baked beans. But, the author said, “he didn’t despair.”

In addition to the White House, he picketed at the State Department and at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He did not accept his federal dismissal without a fight, appealing through the courts, and writing his own briefs.

“He was a stubborn and impatient person, and that was the recipe for his success,” Catania said. “He was never going to be content with second-class citizenship.”

Known for shunning blandness and apology in favor of outspoken militancy, Mr. Kameny was credited with playing an important part in the achievement of what were regarded as several signal milestones passed by gay men and lesbians on the road to full inclusion in American society.

With more than a hint of irony, he once described Dec. 15, 1973, as the date on which “we were cured en masse by the psychiatrists.” That was the date associated with the decision of the American Psychiatric Association to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder. Mr. Kameny was credited with a major role in the effort to bring about that change.

Among other victories for gay rights with which he was associated was an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton that permitted gays to be given security clearances.

Frank Kameny made the Gay Rights movement happen

He considered the District’s repeal of an anti-sodomy law in early 1990s to be another achievement. In addition, he was credited as a co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington in 1961, a pioneering gay activist group.

The federal government, which had cast him aside, issued a formal apology in 2009 for letting him go.

The story of his struggle, chronicled in 77,000 pages of papers and memorabilia, was accepted in 2006 by the Library of Congress.

Living into his 80s, he was able to recognize and revel in the turnaround of American actions and attitudes towards the gay community.

Although he was aware that obstacles remained, he told a reporter last year that “it’s like a storybook ending.”

“Frank was active at a time when he had no backup,” said Rick Rosendall, a longtime gay rights activist in the District. “There was no significant organizational support. It was his sheer nerve, his patriotic indignation” that carried him.

His home, the site of the interview in which he reflected on the turnabouts in his life, was, in a further testament to the esteem in which he was held, designated as a D.C. Historic Landmark.

Franklin Edward Kameny, was born in the New York area on May 21, 1925. In the interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, he told of enlisting in the Army at the height of World War II, a few days before he turned 18.

In discussing how he had been “asked,” but “didn’t tell,” he said that “as a healthy, vigorous teenager,” there were indeed “things to tell.” (Although, he said, there were not many.)

I have resented for 67 years that I had to lie in order to serve in a war effort that I strongly supported,” he said. “I did serve and I saw combat in Europe.”

Mr. Kameny was born in New York. After his Army service he received a doctorate in astronomy in 1956.

He came to Washington to work for the Army Map Service. His dismissal from that job came in 1957.

Published accounts say the dismissal was based on his homosexuality. One report said that he was arrested in Lafayette Square, which was known at that time as a place for cruising.

The loss of the job subjected him to deprivation, and he recalled surviving on 20 cents’ worth of food a day in some of the most difficult times. It forced his life into new paths.

On one occasion, he permitted himself to speculate on how things might have turned out if he had not been dismissed at a time when interest in space exploration was growing.

He suggested that he might have become an astronaut.

“I might have gone to the moon,” he said.

Survivors include a sister.

Staff writer Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

Reference

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Gay History: Oliver Sipple

Oliver Wellington “Billy” Sipple (November 20, 1941 – February 2, 1989) was a decorated U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran, who was left disabled by the war. On September 22, 1975, he grappled with Sara Jane Moore as she fired a pistol at U.S. President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, causing her to miss. The subsequent public revelation that Sipple was gay turned the news story into a cause célèbre for LGBT rights activists, leading Sipple to unsuccessfully sue several publishers for invasion of privacy, and causing his estrangement from his parents.

Oliver Wellington Sipple was born in Detroit, Michigan. He served in the United States Marine Corps and fought in Vietnam. Shrapnel wounds suffered in December 1968 caused him to finish out his tour of duty in a Philadelphia veterans’ hospital, from which he was released in March 1970. Sipple, who was closeted in his hometown of Detroit, had met Harvey Milk in New York City and had participated in San Francisco’s gay pride parades and gay rights demonstrations.[1][2] Sipple was active in local causes, including the historic political campaigns of openly gay Board of Supervisors candidate Milk. The two were friends and Sipple would also be later described as a “prominent figure” in the gay community who had worked in a gay bar and was active in the Imperial Court System.[3][4]

He lived with a merchant seaman in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment located in San Francisco’s Mission District. He later spent six months in San Francisco’s VA hospital, and was frequently readmitted into the hospital in 1975, the year he saved Ford’s life.

Sipple was part of a crowd of about 3,000 people who had gathered outside San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel to see President Ford on September 22, 1975. Ford, just emerging from the building, was vulnerable despite heavy security protection. Standing beside Sipple in the crowd was Sara Jane Moore. She was about 40 feet (12 m) away from President Ford when she fired a single shot at him with a revolver, narrowly missing the President.[5] After realizing she had missed, she raised her arm again, and Sipple dived towards her; he grabbed her arm, possibly saving President Ford’s life. Sipple said at the time, “I saw [her gun] pointed out there and I grabbed for it. … I lunged and grabbed the woman’s arm and the gun went off.”[5][6] The bullet ricocheted and hit John Ludwig, a 42-year-old taxi driver; he survived.[7] The incident came just three weeks after Lynette Fromme’s assassination attempt on Ford. Reporters hounded Sipple who at first did not want his name used, nor his location known.[1]

The police and the Secret Service immediately commended Sipple for his action at the scene, as did the media.[1][8] The national news media portrayed Sipple as a hero, and noted his status as a former Marine.[9]

Though he was known to be homosexual among members of the San Francisco gay community, and had even participated in gay pride events, Sipple’s sexual orientation was a secret from his family. He asked the press to keep such personal information off the record, making it clear that neither his mother nor his employer knew he was gay.[10]

The day after the incident, two answering machine messages outed Sipple to San Francisco Chronicle’s columnist Herb Caen. One was from Reverend Ray Broshears, the head of a gay activist group called the Lavender Panthers.[11] The other message was from local gay activist Harvey Milk, a friend of Sipple and on whose campaign for city council Sipple had worked.[11] While discussing whether the truth about Sipple’s sexuality should be disclosed, Milk told a friend, “It’s too good an opportunity. For once we can show that gays do heroic things, not just all that caca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms.”[10] Milk outed Sipple in order to portray him as a “gay hero” and so to “break the stereotype of homosexuals” being “timid, weak and unheroic figures”.[2][3][6] According to Harold Evans, “[T]here was no invitation to the White House for Sipple, not even a commendation. Milk made a fuss about that. Finally, weeks later, Sipple received a brief note of thanks.”[12] Three days after the incident, Sipple received a letter from President Ford. It read:[13]

I want you to know how much I appreciated your selfless actions last Monday. The events were a shock to us all, but you acted quickly and without fear for your own safety. By doing so, you helped to avert danger to me and to others in the crowd. You have my heartfelt appreciation.

Two days after the thwarted assassination attempt, unable to reach Sipple,[11] Caen wrote of Sipple as a gay man, and of a friend of Milk, speculating Ford offered praise “quietly” because of Sipple’s sexual orientation. Sipple was besieged by reporters, as was his family. His mother refused to speak to him. Gay liberation groups petitioned local media to give Sipple his due as a gay hero. Caen published the private side of the Marine’s story, as did a handful of other publications.[3] Sipple then insisted to reporters that his sexuality was to be kept confidential.[1] Reporters labeled Sipple the “gay ex-Marine”, and his mother disparaged and disowned him.[4] Later, when Sipple hid in a friend’s apartment to avoid them, the reporters turned to Milk, arguably the most visible voice for the gay community.[1] Of President Ford’s letter of thanks to Sipple, Milk suggested that Sipple’s sexual orientation was the reason he received only a note, rather than an invitation to the White House.[6]

Sipple sued the Chronicle,[7] filing a $15-million invasion of privacy suit against Caen, seven named newspapers, and a number of unnamed publishers, for publishing the disclosures. The Superior Court in San Francisco dismissed the suit, and Sipple continued his legal battle until May 1984, when a state court of appeals held that Sipple had indeed become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.[6]

According to a 2006 article in The Washington Post, Sipple went through a period of estrangement with his parents, but the family later reconciled with him. Sipple’s brother, George, told the newspaper, “[Our parents] accepted it. That was all. They didn’t like it, but they still accepted. He was welcomed. Only thing was: Don’t bring a lot of your friends.”[7] However other sources indicate that Sipple’s parents never fully accepted him. His mother, just after news broke of Sipple’s sexual orientation, hung up on Sipple saying she never wished to speak to him again. His father is said to have told Sipple’s brother to “forget [he had] a brother.” Finally, when his mother died, his father did not allow him to attend her funeral.[14]

Sipple’s headstone at Golden Gate National Cemetery

Sipple’s mental and physical health sharply declined over the years. He drank heavily, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, fitted with a pacemaker, and gained weight.[15][16] The incident brought him so much attention that, later in life, while drinking, he would express regret about grabbing Moore’s gun. On February 2, 1989, an acquaintance, Wayne Friday, found Sipple dead in his San Francisco apartment, with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s next to him and the television still on.[14][15] The San Francisco coroner estimated Sipple had been dead for approximately 10 days.[14] He was 47 years old. Sipple’s funeral was attended by about 30 people.[citation needed] President Ford and his wife sent a letter of sympathy to his family and friends. He was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery south of San Francisco.

His $334 per month apartment near San Francisco’s Tenderloin District was found with many newspaper clippings of his actions on the fateful September afternoon in 1975, including a framed letter from the White House. A letter addressed to the friends of Oliver Sipple was on display for a short period after his death at the New Belle Saloon:

Mrs. Ford and I express our deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow involving your friend’s passing …

— Former President Gerald Ford, February, 1989

In a 2001 interview with columnist Deb Price, Ford disputed the claim that Sipple was treated differently because of his sexual orientation, saying,[17]

As far as I was concerned, I had done the right thing and the matter was ended. I didn’t learn until sometime later – I can’t remember when – he was gay. I don’t know where anyone got the crazy idea I was prejudiced and wanted to exclude gays.

According to Castañeda and Campbell:

The Sipple incident has been referred to, in passing, in a major motion picture and in a prime-time television program. Several law review articles and more than a dozen books and commentary pieces have also mentioned the perplexing ethical dimensions of the case.[18]

A September 2017 episode of the radio program Radiolab covered Sipple’s act of foiling the assassination of then President Ford. The episode goes into Sipple’s act of heroism, his outing by Harvey Milk and Herb Caen and the news media, and the ethics of his outing in spite of his opposition.[19]

References

  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Sipple
  • 1 Castañeda, Laura; Shannon B. Campbell (2006). News And Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity. Sage Publications Inc. ISBN 978-1-4129-0999-0. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  • 2 ^ a b Shilts, Randy (2005). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-34264-7. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  • 3 ^ a b c Sadler, Roger L. (2005). Electronic Media Law. Sage Publications Inc. ISBN 978-1-4129-0588-6. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  • 4 ^ a b Johansson, Warren; William A. Percy (1994). Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. Haworth Press. ISBN 978-1-56024-419-6. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  • 5 ^ a b Radiolab Podcast (September 23, 2017), Radiolab – Oliver Sipple [Daryl Lembke, Daniel Luzer, Ken Maley, Sarah Jane Moore, Dan Morain], retrieved October 3, 2017
  • 6 ^ a b c d Morain, Dan (February 13, 1989). “Sorrow Trailed a Veteran Who Saved a President and Then Was Cast in an Unwanted Spotlight”, The Los Angeles Times, p. 1.[dead link]
  • 7 ^ a b c Caught in Fate’s Trajectory, Along With Gerald Ford, Lynne Duke, The Washington Post, December 30, 2006, p. D01.
  • 8 ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on August 31, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2007. “Oliver Sipple 1941-1989”. Accessed May 23, 20

1 “Oliver Sipple 1941–1989”. Accessed May 23, 2007. Archived February 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

2 ^ a b Shilts, Randy (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-52330-0 p. 122.

3 ^ a b c Oliver Sipple – Radiolab especially from around 16:30 to 20:00

4 ^ Harold Evans, The Imperial Presidency: 1972–1980′, Random House, 1998.

5 ^ “The Oliver Sipple Page”. web.archive.org. August 31, 2007.

6 ^ a b c “Oliver Sipple – Radiolab – WNYC Studios”. Retrieved September 9, 2018.

7 ^ a b MORAIN, DAN (February 13, 1989). “Sorrow Trailed a Veteran Who Saved a President and Then Was Cast in an Unwanted Spotlight”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2018 – via LA Times.

8 ^ Rangel, Jesus (February 4, 1989). “O.W. Sipple, 47, Who Blocked An Attempt To Kill Ford in 1975”. The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2018.

9 ^ “The Frontlines: A President Committed to ‘Unity'”.

10 ^ Laura Castañeda, Shannon B. Campbell, “News and Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity”, SAGE, 2006, ISBN 1-4129-0999-6, page 66. The movie referenced (chapter notes in the book) is Absence of Malice, and the TV program is an episode from L.A. Law from May 1990.

11 ^ “Radiolab, Oliver Sipple”. WBEZ 91.5 Chicago. September 22, 2017. Archived from the original on September 22, 2017.

Gay History: June 14, 2004 – The Gay & Lesbian Kingdom of Coral Sea Islands Is Founded Off the Coast of Australia

Seal of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands

On June 14th, 2004, a micronation called The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands was founded as a symbolic political protest by a group of gay rights activists as a response to the Australian government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.

The idea for the founding of a gay kingdom was taken during the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival in 2003. 

via Wikipedia:

Gay activists believed that change in the marriage law, in particular the government’s plan to amend the marriage act so as to prevent homosexual couples who were married overseas to have their relationship recognised, had taken from homosexual people the right to be treated equally, “whether it be marriage, superannuation, hospital visits, adoption or IVF treatments”. 

Based on the law of “Unjust Enrichment” (“If something is unjustly taken compensation must be made.”) and with reference to international law, which states “Oppressed people of overseas territories have a right to self government and self determination”, the activists claimed “territorial compensation” by establishing an independent gay state, claiming The Coral Sea Islands as its territory.

So after sailing on a ship called “The Gayflower” to a group of small, uninhabited tropical islands in the Coral Sea northeast of Queensland, activists declared Cato Island an independent gay and lesbian state. The newly proclaimed Emperor Dale raised the gay rainbow flag and claimed the island in his name as homeland for the gay and lesbian peoples of the world. 

The new nation’s declaration began, 

“Homosexual people have honestly endeavoured everywhere to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and to be treated equally. We are not permitted to do so. In vain we are loyal patriots, our loyalty in some places running to extremes; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In countries where we have lived for centuries, we are still cried down as strangers…. In the world as it is now and for an indefinite period…. I think we shall not be left in peace.”[

The activists founded a camp site on Cato Island which they named “Heaven” after the famous gay nightclub in London as the claimed capital, and “I Am What I Am” was set as the Kingdom’s national anthem.

The kingdom issued its first stamps in July 2006 “with the aim of creating a high and distinctive reputation amongst the philatelic fraternity”. The kingdom’s website stated that tourism, fishing and philatelic sales were its only economic activities. However, swimming, reef walking, lagoon snorkelling, bird-watching, seashell-collecting, and shipwreck-exploring were all gay government-sanctioned non-economic activities.

After Australia’s decision to legalise same sex marriage, though, Emperor Dale declared the kingdom dissolved on November 17th, 2017.

References

Why Do Gay Men Insist On F*cking Themselves?

Boyfriend twins are all too real, and a little unsettling. Why are gay dudes so into themselves?

Boyfriend twins. Dopplebangers. Clonefuckers. Whatever you call them, the concept remains the same: two gay men in a relationship who are, if not completely indistinguishable from one another, look at least so similar that they wouldn’t seem out of place at the same family reunion. The phenomenon isn’t exactly new, but has seen renewed attention recently. ‘Tis the season to see men who could be brothers making out at your local Pride parade.

Boyfriend twins are a uniquely gay occurrence. There are certainly plenty of straight couples who look like they belong to the same gene pool, but heterosexual couples have the inherent division of gender, and also, who pays attention to straight people? It’s much more uncanny to see two men who look extremely alike making out in front of you at a gay bar while Robyn’s unreleased “Honey” demo plays in the background — but it’s also an experience that most queer people are deeply familiar with. The boyfriend twin phenomenon is so pervasive that there are entire Tumblrs devoted to tracking it, collecting photos of these romantic lookalikes for posterity and entertainment.

The one thing no one seems to be doing is investigating why so many gay men are romantically and/or sexually interested in men who look exactly like them — but that’s mostly because the answer is fairly obvious: most gay men want to fuck themselves.

Rembrandt Duran, a New York City-based Twitter Gay™ who has been profiled for his extracurricular duties as a “sexual matchmaker” and has written about his progressive take on “top privilege,” thinks that boyfriend twins are a natural manifestation of the human need for familiarity. “I think we just feel more comfortable dating [people who seem] familiar to us,” he says. “Most groups of people are homophilous, so of course dating pools would be that way, too.” Personally, Duran thinks clonefuckers are “kinda gross but mostly hilarious, especially when people just aren’t aware of it.”

Which raises an interesting point: While boyfriend twins certainly aren’t hurting anyone, many of them seem to be remarkably unaware of their particular proclivities, which suggests something about their disinterest or unwillingness to examine their own desires. As boyfriend twins seem to be most prominent among white gay cisgender men, some would say that this desire is subconsciously racist — a step beyond men who state a racial preference on their Grindr bio and actively seek partners who are as ethnically close to them as possible.

“There is nothing that racism doesn’t touch, but to say it’s just that wouldn’t be digging deep enough into it,” says Duran. “I also feel like it’s conditioned into us that most ‘successful’ relationships are those with people who we have a lot in common with, which I think is more Disney romance false bullshit.”

I spoke with a close friend of mine — we’ll call him Todd — who is one-half of a boyfriend twin couple. He says that while he’s absolutely aware of how alike he and his partner look, he doesn’t mind at all — but his boyfriend definitely does. “He’s very upset by it. It makes him feel like a basic gay because people give us shit for it,” says Todd. “Every time we go out someone makes a comment about it, but I think it’s cute.” Todd also notes that as they’ve dated, he and his boyfriend have almost assimilated into each other, dressing more and more alike, which only exacerbates their resemblance. He also says that they have been regularly mistaken for one another, but to be honest, I think all white gay men in New York City look alike.

“I’ve had some people make comments that are kind of rude, asking why am I that shallow that I’m only going to date someone that looks like me, but I think that’s a very narrow view, because they’d probably also be mad at me for dating another attractive white guy [who didn’t look like me]. They think we’re part of the problem, which I think is kinda silly.”

“I’m always on the fence about forcing people to examine their desires too much,” adds Duran, who explains that he feels there are those who overcompensate by swinging too drastically in the opposite direction. “There are people who end up using others as a buffer for their guilt by filling a sort of quota — by going out and fucking different kinds of people — when honestly, the simpler fix for that is to stop valuing the gaze of white masculine men and saying ‘who cares if they want to fuck me’ and start accepting love and attraction from everyone else.”

The real tea about doppelbangers is this: Are you really all that surprised that hot gay men want to fuck other hot gay men? In other news, water is wet and Trinity Taylor was robbed in season nine of Drag Race.

Todd recalled that he’d been at a party where the other two other pairs of clonefuckers approached him and his partner. “‘Hey, we’re all boyfriend twins,’” he recounted, in a tone suggesting… well, you get it. He laughed. “Ok, that’s weird.”

The obvious question: Did that turn into a sixsome? Unfortunately not.

Reference

 

13 Cults and Secretive Religions, and the Best Documentaries About Each

“Wild Wild Country” is earning strong buzz on Netflix for investigating the rise and fall of a spiritual cult that made headlines in Oregon throughout the 1980s. The documentary is one of many titles in the fascinating subgenre of controversial religious documentaries.

RAJNEESH MOVEMENT, “WILD WILD COUNTRY”

Netflix’s six-part series chronicles the rise and fall of the Rajneesh movement, founded by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the 1980s. The cult established Rajneeshpuram, a 64,000-acre Oregon ranch, and poisoned the local community in order to win a political election.

BUDDHAFIELD CULT, “HOLY HELL”

Will Allen was a member of the Buddhafield movement for 22 years and the footage he recorded inside the cult provides the basis for “Holy Hell.” Allen also shot interviews of ex-members to paint a chilling portrait of group founder Michel Rostand.

SCIENTOLOGY, “GOING CLEAR”

Alex Gibney’s “Going Clear” is considered the definitive Scientology documentary with a thorough history of the religion, founder L. Ron Hubbard, and its manipulative and life-threatening policies under current leader David Miscavige.

FLDS, “PROPHET’S PREY”

Amy Berg’s film takes aim at Warren Jeffs, leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jeffs currently runs the cult from prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for raping two teenage girls. 

PEOPLES TEMPLE, “THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Stanley Nelson’s Tribeca-winning documentary centers on Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, who established the Jonestown settlement in Guyana. Jones famously carried out a mass suicide, poisoning 918 members in 1978.

THE FAMILY, “CHILDREN OF GOD”

John Smithson’s 1994 “Children of God” interviews one family about being raised in The Family, a cult in which sexually abusing children was common practice. Rose McGowan and Joaquin Phoenix were born into The Family, but fled with relatives when they were children.

BRANCH DAVIDIANS, “WACO: THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

William Gazecki’s 1997 Oscar-nominated documentary looks at the 1993 Waco incident with the Branch Davidians, a religious cult run by David Koresh. An ATF raid led to a shootout and a 51-day FBI standoff that resulted in the deaths of Koresh and 82 of his followers.

MANSON FAMILY, “MANSON”

Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick’s 1973 Oscar-nominated documentary provides an intimate look at the Manson Family with interviews with Charles Manson and his former members, plus footage that takes viewers inside the family’s Devil’s Canyon compound. 

HEAVEN’S GATE, “HEAVEN’S GATE: THE UNTOLD TRUE STORY”

“Haven’s Gate” was a San Diego-based UFO religious cult founded in 1974 by Marshall Applewhite. Sergio Myers’ film tells the origin story leading up to March 1997, when 39 members participated in a mass suicide in order to reach an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

THE SOURCE FAMILY, “THE SOURCE FAMILY”

Jodi Wille’s 2012 documentary tells the story of Father Yod, who founded the group and created a commune in the Hollywood Hills. After clashes with Los Angeles authorities, the cult ultimately fled to Hawaii.

AUM SHINRIKYO CULT, “A”

Tatsuya Mori’s 1998 documentary about the Aum Shinrikyo cult follows a 28-year-old group spokesperson who had to sever all family ties to join the sect. The cult carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, which killed 12 people and affected over 1,000 others.

STRONG CITY, “THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD”

Strong City, aka the Lord Our Righteousness Church, was a remote religious community in New Mexico founded by Michael Travesser. Directed by Ben Anthony, the 2007 film follows the cult in real time as Travesser tells his followers that the world will end in October 2007.

SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY, “GUERRILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST”

The Symbionese Liberation Army was a domestic terrorist organization active between 1973 and 1975. Robert Stone’s PBS documentary investigates the SLA’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst when she was 19, where she was sexually assaulted and brainwashed.

Reference

Gay History: PHOTOS: A History of Man-On-Man Affection

A recent study found that some straight guys still think gay guys aren’t masculine. Evidently, one male displaying affection towards another male isn’t considered “manly.” But that wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, men were much more forthcoming when it came to showing their softer sides.

Check out these vintage pictures of men from yesteryear displaying sweet man-on-man affection.

Reference

Gay History: The (Sodomy) Law in England, 1290-1885

There was no royal or parliamentary law against homosexual activity in England until 1533, but a number of medieval legal sources do discuss “sodomy:.

Fleta, xxxviii.3: Those who have dealings with Jews or Jewesses, those who commit bestiality, and sodomists, are to be buried alive after legal proof that they were atken in the act, and public conviction” 

[Fleta, seu Commentarius Juris Anglicani, (London: 1735), as trans in Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, (London: Longmans, Green, 1955), 145] 

Bailey notes that it is improbable that the penalty or burial alive was ever inflicted in medieval times [although Tacitus refers to it among ancient Germans in Germania 12].

Britton, i.10: “Let enquiry also be made of those who feloniously in time of peace have burnt other’s corn or houses, and those who are attainted thereof shall be burnt, so that they might be punished in like manner as they have offended. The same sentence shall be passed upon sorcerers, sorceresses, renegades, sodomists, and heretics publicly convicted” 

[Britton, ed. F.M. Nichols, (Oxford: 1865), Vol 1:41-42 and Bailey, 146]

Bailey notes that this implies a process in which ecclesiastical courts made the charges and convictions and the state put them into effect. There do not seem, however, to have been serious efforts made to put theory into practice. The preamble to the 1533 Law seems to make this clear.

25 Henry VIII. C6

Le Roy le veult
“Forasmuch as there is not yet sufficient and condign punishment appointed and limited by the due course of the Laws of this Realm for the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind of beast: It may therefore please the King’s Highness with the assent of the Lords Spiritual and the Commons of this present parliament assembled, that it may be enacted by the authority of the same, that the same offence be from henceforth ajudged Felony and that such an order and form of process therein to be used against the offenders as in cases of felony at the Common law. And that the offenders being herof convict by verdict confession or outlawry shall suffer such pains of death and losses and penalties of their good chattels debts lands tenements and hereditaments as felons do according to the Common Laws of this Realme. And that no person offending in any such offence shall be admitted to his Clergy, And that Justices of the Peace shall have power and authority within the limits of their commissions and Jurisdictions to hear and determine the said offence, as they do in the cases of other felonies. This Act to endure till the last day. of the next Parliament” 

[Bailey, 147-148, and H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name: A Candid History of Homosexuality in Britain, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970) [British title: The Other Love] 

Note that the law only ran until the end of the next Parliament. The law was reenacted three times, and then in 1541 it was enacted to continue in force for ever. In 1547, Edward VI’s first Parliament repealed all felonies created in the last reign [I Edw. VI. C.12]. In 1548 the provisions of the 1533 Act were given new force, with minor amendments – the penalty remained death, but goods and lands were not forfeit, and the rights of wives and heirs were safeguarded. Mary’s accession brought about the repeal of all Edward’s acts in 1548 [1 Mar c.1]. It was not until 1563, that Elizabeth I’s second Parliament reenacted the law [5 Eliz I. C.17] and the law of 1533 (not 1548) were given permanent force. 

In 1828, the statute of 1563 was revoked by a consolidating act, but the death penalty was retained. In 1861 life imprisonment, or a jail time of at least ten years, was substituted for the death penalty. All these laws were against buggery, and indeed the law of 1828 had discussed matters of proof in terms of penetration. Note that other sexual activities were not specifically criminalised.

In 1885 Mr. Labouchere introduced an amendment to the Criminal Amendment Act of 1885. It read:-

48&49 Vict. c.69, 11: “Any male person who, in public or private, commits or is party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour” 

So for the first time private acts were brought under the scope of the law, as were acts other than anal penetration. This became the famous blackmailer’s charter, and was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde.

[for all the above see Bailey 145-152]

It was the Act of 1533, then, which first made buggery an offense under English criminal law. This law survived in various forms England until 1967, although it was amended in 1861 to substitute life imprisonment for the penalties of death and forfeiture of property. 

But the direct effects of this law were not restricted to England. Because of England’s success as a colonial power, and its tendency to impose its entire legal structure on the ruled areas, legal prohibitions against homosexual activity derived from this law extended well outside England. In Scotland, for instance, (which has a separate legal system) the law was not changed until 1979. In many American states “sodomy” laws are still on the books, as also in former British colonies in the Caribbean.

.[ref. H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name: A Candid History of Homosexuality in Britain, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970)]

Reference

Gay History: Love And Affection: Vintage Photos Of Gay And Lesbian Couples

A couple’s photographic portrait is an affirmation of their relationship. It states for all to see: “We love each other. We care for each other. We are proud of who we are together.”

During the Victorian era many gay and lesbian couples proudly expressed their love for each other in studio portraits. Unlike the common belief that such relationships were “the love that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde so famously described same sex attraction in his poem “Two Loves,” gays and lesbians often dared to show their love. Indeed, many gay and lesbian couples more or less lived openly together throughout their lives. This was far easier for women than for men as women were expected to live together if they were not married, or to live with the euphemistically termed “female companion.”

Men, no historical surprises here, had their own haunts for meeting like-minded souls. In London these could be found in the “Molly houses” and gentlemen’s clubs or pick-ups haunts at Lincoln’s Inn, or St. James Park or the path on the City’s Moorfields, which was charmingly referred to as “Sodomites Walk.”

Theaters and circuses were also well-known dens of homosexual activity—this can be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England, when male prostitutes plied their trade at theaters.

The armed forces, in particular the Royal Navy was notorious for gay relationships—understandable with all the horny seamen looking for any port in a storm. Apparently word got around.

It is a moot point that the change in public attitude towards homosexuality commenced with the Labouchere Amendment to the Sexual Offences Act in 1885, which “prohibited gross indecency between males.” This was the law under which Wilde was infamously prosecuted and the law that heightened discrimination against gays.

Before that there had been the Buggery Act—against anal penetration and bestiality—which was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII. This led to numerous executions (hangings) and imprisonments. It was briefly repealed, then reinstated by Elizabeth I. However, there were few prosecutions under the act and it was repealed again in 1828—though “buggery” remained a capital offense. James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men to be executed for buggery, in 1835.

The Labouchere Amendment outlawed homosexuality and made it more difficult for gay men to live the lives they desired. Labouchere did not include lesbians in the act as he believed drawing attention to lesbianism would only encourage sapphic desires amongst most Victorian women.

So even when gay relationships were outlawed in England, they still thrived in open secret. In America, the sodomy laws varied from state to state. What one state tolerated or had no opinion about, another state punished. However, as with England in the Victorian era, America gay and lesbian couples would often openly express their love for each other in portrait photographs.

This collection of beautiful, brave people gives us a small visual history of LGBT relationships from the 1860s-1960s. Many of the couples are unidentifiable, but where possible their names have been given. (Editor writes: Mild disclaimer: Of course it’s difficult to say that in all cases these photos are of gay couples.)

Reference