Category Archives: Gay Interest

Gay History: Wall Street’s Secret Society

Joe Daniel’s salary had broken the six-figure mark, and he had just received a promotion to vice-president. But something was about to sink his career on Wall Street: He couldn’t bring himself to lie.

It was a Monday in late June, and Daniel had reported for work at the securities division of Dresdner Bank, Germany’s second-largest. When a colleague remarked on his suntan, Daniel explained that he had spent the weekend at his beach house. Where’s your rental? asked his co-worker.

For most of his colleagues, the question would have been an innocuous one. For Daniel, it posed a dangerous dilemma.

A quiet, button-down executive with master’s degrees from both Harvard and Yale, Daniel was hardly an activist.

Like most other gays on Wall Street, he had lived a strictly closeted existence at work. In the past, he would have constructed a plausible cover: a particular Hampton that he could bluff some knowledge about, the name of a fashionable restaurant or two. But after four years at the firm, he was tiring of the charade.

His beach house was on Fire Island, he replied. At the Pines. His colleague looked stunned. Daniel had just outed himself.

Until then, Daniel’s career had been proceeding according to plan. His boss complimented him regularly on his work and, Daniel says, rewarded him with a big promotion a few days earlier. The firm had printed new business cards and stationery and even fabricated a new signboard for the door of his office. A memo announcing his new position was distributed to all departments.

But according to Daniel, gossip about the Fire Island remark quickly reverberated through the office and soon reached his boss, George Fugelsang. In the past, says Daniel, Fugelsang, a gruff, fiftyish executive who heads Dresdner’s North American division, had made crude anti-gay jokes. Suddenly he seemed more careful about his language. But beyond the superficial correctness, something was very wrong. Though Daniel had assumed the duties of a vice-president, Fugelsang never got around to signing the papers that would make the promotion official. Instead, Daniel says, he was relegated to a kind of purgatory, shunned by his boss and many of his colleagues.

The situation festered for nearly a year, until the following April, when Daniel, emboldened, decided to force the issue. He approached Dresdner’s personnel department, asking whether the firm could extend the same health benefits to the domestic partners of gay employees that it provided to the spouses of straight ones. A few days later, he was laid off in an abrupt “downsizing” of his department. Daniel was the only person fired.

Unemployed for nearly a year, Daniel is now suing Dresdner Bank for $75 million under a New York City statute that outlaws bias based on sexual orientation. It is a landmark case, Wall Street’s first gay-discrimination lawsuit ever, although other clashes have been secretly settled in arbitration. In order to avoid unwanted publicity, brokerage firms require new hires to sign an agreement stipulating that employment disputes will be resolved by a Wall Street arbitration panel rather than by the courts. Intent on proving a point, Daniel’s lawyer, Madeline Lee Bryer, circumvented this agreement by suing the foreign bank that owned his firm, not the New York securities outfit he worked for.

Attorneys for Dresdner insist that Daniel’s promotion was not official and that sexual orientation played no role in his “restructuring.” The case is currently in pretrial discovery, and after a flurry of publicity, the presiding judge issued a gag order on both litigants. Nonetheless, it has drawn serious attention to a rarely discussed issue, spurring anxiety not only among Wall Street firms suddenly worried about lawsuits but also among their largely closeted gay and lesbian employees.

How many gays and lesbians are there on Wall Street? James J. Cramer, the seemingly omnipresent and omniscient hedge-fund manager, can’t name any. Jessica Reif Cohen, the top-ranked analyst of entertainment and media stocks, doesn’t know any gays at her firm, Merrill Lynch, which has nearly 10,000 employees in New York City alone. Within the broader community of research analysts, “there’s only one person I even think is gay,” she adds: a middle-aged guy who supposedly lives with his mother, a fact that has provoked gossip at his firm because “almost everyone else is married with children.” Elizabeth Goldstein, who recently left Bankers Trust after six years as a star on the trading desk, says, “I can’t think of anyone. I’m sure they exist, but it’s very, very, very, very quiet.” When a trader talked about attending a lesbian wedding, she recalls, “People’s mouths were wide open. It was totally foreign to their experience.”

Welcome to turn-of-the-century Wall Street. In a city where openly gay professionals are commonplace in such industries as media, advertising, and law, Wall Street remains a notable exception – one where the prevailing mind-set seems more characteristic of 1959 than of 1999. Like the military, the financial world promulgates an unwritten policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which affords gays and lesbians a chance to prosper, and even rise to prominence, but only if they deliberately obscure their personal lives.

“Living in a liberal, diverse environment like Manhattan, you realize that banking isn’t really part of that,” says one closeted banker. “It’s a different world. My boss and my boss’s bosses live in very sheltered communities in Westchester and Connecticut. They don’t live in the Village or the Upper West Side. They find it very difficult to manage sexual diversity.”

For young gay Wall Streeters, he says, “it’s very common to have gay friends, party on the weekend, live in Chelsea, then put on a suit and take the subway to work on Monday. No one needs to know you spent Saturday night at the Roxy.”

This enforced invisibility is all the more remarkable given the fact that gays are actually all over the Street, working as traders, brokers, securities analysts, money managers, and investment bankers at such major houses as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, CS First Boston, and Salomon Smith Barney as well as at a slew of smaller private-investment firms. Many hold positions of considerable stature. Two of the street’s best-known firms, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Drexel, Burnham Lambert, were founded in part by gay men; three others include gays at their very top levels.

Walter Schubert, the founder of the Gay Financial Network (gfn.com) and the only openly gay member of the 1,365-member New York Stock Exchange, estimates that there are thousands of gay financial professionals in New York and perhaps tens of thousands nationwide. A gay Wall Street organization called New York Bankers’ Group boasts 300 members; more than 100 were on hand for a Christmas party last December. Still, the membership list is kept strictly secret, and six of the group’s eight board members are not out at work.

For many gays and lesbians, Wall Street is a not-so-quaint throwback – a testosterone-drenched frat house complete with ritual hazing. One man came to work to discover the word faggot Magic Markered on his office wall; another found nude pictures from a gay magazine glued to his computer. For most, however, the pressure is more subtle. “It’s like high school all over again,” says one mid-level trader. “You hear people talking and joking and whispering, and you’re sure it must be about you.”

One gay banker recalls a group meeting with his boss (who was a managing director) and another vice-president to discuss a prospective client. Paging through the company’s annual report, his boss opened it to the photo of the company’s president. “God, this guy looks like such a faggot!” he exclaimed in disgust, looking directly at the employee, who wasn’t out at work. “No offense,” he added sarcastically. An investment banker says she was told she was being passed over for a promotion because “the firm wanted to uphold a family-values image.”

Not surprisingly, fear and paranoia persuade all but the boldest gays and lesbians to conceal their private lives. Some count on a stable of attractive “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” to escort them to business dinners and company functions. One investment banker asked a woman friend to leave a breathless outgoing message on the answering machine he shared with his male lover. Another decorates his desk with portraits of friends’ children that he passes off as his own.

In some ways, gay white males on the Street have enjoyed an advantage over other minorities – blacks and women – because they can pass as straight white males. In the fifties and early sixties, when Wall Street was a less macho place, gay men in particular found it easy to hide in open sight. These men were perceived by their clients – conservative, midwestern CEOs – not as New York queers but as cultured, urbane gentlemen.

The code of silence was so strict that in 1983, an executive named Robert Hudson co-owned a brokerage firm with a gay partner, and neither realized that the other was also gay. But as the culture of Wall Street turned increasingly rabid during the late eighties, the Gentleman Bankers of an earlier generation were shoved aside by Swinging Dicks so big they made even Tom of Finland’s look modest.

AIDS further changed the equation. Like every other industry in the city, Wall Street suffered a number of aids deaths, the majority of which were disguised as pneumonia or cancer in death notices. Among the epidemic’s earliest casualties was Leon Lambert, a name partner at then-mighty Drexel Burnham Lambert and a familiar figure on the city’s gay circuit. Activist Larry Kramer, who was invited to attend Lambert’s funeral, remembers that Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller delivered eloquent eulogies – but neither mentioned that the financier was a closeted homosexual or that the real cause of his death, according to Kramer and others, was aids.

The epidemic also pitted gay activists against their more conservative Wall Street counterparts. Up until the eighties, most activists were willing to grant closeted tycoons their privacy, but as the gay movement took a radical turn, Kramer and his cohorts dispensed with the rules. Magazines like Outweek began outing closeted titans like David Geffen and Malcolm Forbes. In a much-talked-about speech in 1982, later published in his book Report From the Holocaust, Kramer took aim at one of the Street’s most celebrated figures, Richard Jenrette, for not taking a more public stance during the epidemic.

At the age of 30, Jenrette co-founded, with two of his Harvard Business School classmates, the investment-banking firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which now grosses more than $5.4 billion a year. In the late sixties, Jenrette launched Alliance Capital, which became one of the world’s largest money-management firms, and he went on to head the Equitable, leading a stunning turnaround at the struggling insurance giant. Now retired at 69, he remains the courtly southern gentleman, favoring conservative Brooks Brothers suits. An avid art collector and an antiques buff, he spends most of his time restoring old mansions. He currently owns six, including an 1840 plantation in South Carolina, an 1838 house in Charleston, and a spectacular 1820 house on the Hudson River.

Though scrupulously low-key about his sexuality, he has lived with the same partner for nearly two decades and occupies a position on the periphery of the Gay Establishment. Kramer says that when Gay Men’s Health Crisis was founded in the early eighties, Jenrette was among the first to write a check, but the financier spurned subsequent requests to donate more or to serve on the GMHC board.

“The fact is, Jenrette has benefited a lot from the strides of the gay movement,” argues Kramer. “We, in turn, need visible people like him to self-identify. Why are gays on Wall Street living by the fears of a previous generation?

“If Dick Jenrette had been a real hero and honest about his sexuality, maybe the current generation would be bolder,” Kramer adds. “At this point, he has absolutely nothing to lose.”

Jenrette is just as vehement in response. “I’ve always thought a person’s sex life is their own business,” he bristles when asked about criticisms such as Kramer’s. “I don’t see why I have to declare my sexuality. I don’t need to have a confessional. I think it’s terrible: Are you gay or straight? People are everything. I think it sets a worse example if everyone declares how they do it. Orally, anally, with the family dog? One’s personal life is a very private thing. I think my personal life is my own.”

While many younger Wall Street gays cite Jenrette’s unwillingness to take the lead as a disappointment, Andrew Tobias, the best-selling financial writer and gay memoirist, believes the reticence of people in Jenrette’s generation is understandable. “They came of age at a time when to be gay was an abomination, like cheating on your wife,” he says. “The younger, more junior gay people on Wall Street are proud, but they say, Why jeopardize the chance of making big money?

In fact, for younger gays, many of whom came out in the liberal atmosphere of college only to find themselves pushed back into the closet at work, the transition can be especially difficult. “The anti-gay jokes are common, accepted, and almost encouraged,” says Robert Fenyk, a young Merrill Lynch broker who left the firm in disgust in 1994. “When traders make anti-gay jokes, they really do it because they are anti-gay, versus just ‘busting’ on a Brooklyn guy because he has an Italian accent. I don’t think the straight community on Wall Street wants to know you’re gay. They don’t want to learn how to deal with gay men. I don’t see full acceptance in my lifetime, and I’m 31.”

While there are no particular fiefdoms at the big financial firms that are uncommonly tolerant of homosexuality, some institutions and divisions are reportedly more tolerant than others. Most gays and lesbians take pains to avoid the trading floors – raucous boys’ clubs that one gay trader compares to “a holding pen at Rikers – but less refined.”

Nevertheless, there are exceptions. One trader began his career in mergers and acquisitions but transferred after just two years, partly because he figured that the trading floor would be easier to take than the suburban-country-club socializing expected of investment bankers: “Sure, there’s an awful lot of machismo on the trading floor. There are guys who smash phones. There’s a lot of shouting, talking about football, going out for beers after work. But I don’t find that particularly problematic. I always thought that M&A was a more difficult environment to be out in, especially at a senior level, when you’re forced to take clients and their wives to golf events.”

While Wall Street may talk up the meritocratic ideal, its entrenched culture is still socially conservative. Wall Street firms do keep very close tabs on who produces what profits, but they don’t always pay the individuals in direct proportion to their performance.

This discrepancy is particularly pronounced when it comes to bonuses, which often constitute the biggest part of a professional’s pay. Elizabeth Goldstein, the former Bankers Trust trader, says that married guys with children are usually able to plead rather effectively for the largest bonuses, claiming they need the money for things like private-school tuition.

Their supervisors – often family men with financial burdens – empathize with them and pay up. Single women and gay men tend to be shortchanged at bonus time, because they can’t make as effective a case for higher compensation. Since the system rewards married providers with children, it’s not surprising that many Wall Streeters seem to have unusually large families and traditional, stay-at-home wives. In this environment, a single gay man with no children – and a partner whose existence he doesn’t dare discuss – seems conspicuously out of place.

In fact, some find it especially hard to maintain relationships in the atmosphere of Wall Street. “Every time I’d find a relationship, my company would move me to another continent,” sighs one trader. “If you’re straight, the firm will make provisions to move your wife or girlfriend along. Because you can’t be open, they move you around at will.”

James Pepper, an openly gay managing director at Brundage, Story and Rose, a money-management firm, describes the dilemma of a closeted investment banker currently under consideration for a lucrative partnership at one of the Street’s most prestigious houses. “If he were out, they might not feel comfortable having him as a partner. Yes, they will shut their eyes if he makes a strong economic contribution. But if there are five partnerships available and six people who make equal money, then they won’t choose him.”

There are exceptions, of course. When Joe Cherner was trading 30-year Treasury bonds at Kidder, Peabody in the eighties, his lover accompanied him to Christmas parties and social events. “My sexuality had very little to do with my job,” says Cherner, who was president of his class at Columbia Business School. “I don’t see where sexuality is or should be an issue. In my specific instance, I didn’t have a problem being accepted.” But Cherner left Wall Street after seven years.

Though gay bankers and traders may know one another by reputation, they by and large take pains to avoid one another at work. A loose social network of gay financial types sometimes hooks up at private homes and parties, but “when you run into someone that’s gay during the day, you’re not gonna ask them how their boyfriend is or anything,” says one banker. It’s not something you want to bring up.” At Goldman Sachs, two partners in a long-term relationship were so worried that their secret would be exposed that they didn’t speak to each other at Goldman’s offices.

In 1983, a group of gay financiers at J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust founded a professional association they called the New York Bankers’ Group, with the idea that it would allow them to share experiences and contacts. In the group’s early days, meetings were held at private homes, and many of the addresses on their mailing list read “Mr. and Mrs.” because members were pretending to be married.

Today, NYBG has more than 300 members, 70 percent of them male, ranging from traders in their mid-twenties to retirees, who meet monthly at various Manhattan locales. The majority are in commercial banking, but there is a large investment-banking contingent as well. Ironically, even the president of the organization, a 27-year-old working for a foreign bank, declines to be identified.

“We provide a way to network with other people in your institution,” he says. “Many people meet their boss’s boss or a close co-worker who they didn’t know was gay.”

Though the group’s president says NYBG members include senior executives at J.P. Morgan, Standard & Poor’s, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, and Bankers Trust, the group’s membership list is kept strictly confidential: NYBG internally publishes a networking directory that’s available only to members.

Last December, 106 members attended the group’s Christmas party at Flute, a swank champagne bar in an old speakeasy. NYBG events like this are “not cruisey,” says one NYBG member who met his first boyfriend through the group, “but a lot of business cards are exchanged. There are a lot of good-looking guys, professional and well-off – very high dating-and-relationship potential.”

More important, he says, he has found the Bankers’ Group to be a great way to find mentors – though for the most part, their experience has convinced him that it wouldn’t be advisable to be out at work.

Judging from their representation in groups like NYBG, Wall Street’s lesbians are even less visible and organized than their gay male counterparts. “There so much competition that most of us feel fortunate just to be here,” says “Gina,” who works in the securities operation of a major firm. “Plenty of people with strong credentials would like to sit in my chair right now.” A trader in her thirties, Gina is out to her family, friends, and neighbors but not to her co-workers, with the exception of her closest colleague, whom she told only after they worked together for years.

Personal lives are usually left alone, she says: “I wouldn’t lie ever, but nobody has ever asked me, Do you have a boyfriend? or Are you married?” But since the firm sent around an announcement saying that it was beginning to extend health benefits to domestic partners, Gina has pondered whether to participate: “I’m not worried about being fired, but I have no doubt that I’d be treated differently given the quite blatant, openly homophobic culture in sales and trading.

“When I’m on the desk, I hear not-nice things about people who are suspected of being gay: ‘Get me that faggot on the line.’… I’ve never heard any racial slurs on the trading desk, and though you hear things about women, they never say anything when I’m around. People have been trained to know better.

“There is progress,” she adds. “You don’t see strippers on the trading floor anymore as ‘birthday presents’ for traders, as there were in the early nineties. But the culture of the swashbuckling trader is definitely still there.”

Personally, she admits, she has little incentive to push for lasting change at the firm, since she isn’t committed to spending her entire career there, as most of her straight colleagues are.

“I don’t foresee a career on Wall Street,” she says. “I took the job to pay off my student loans. The money’s been great for a while, but it’s too oppressive an environment for me to stay here.” Instead, she hopes to start a second career, related to public service.

That’s not an uncommon ambition: In a field where it’s possible to earn enough in a few years to retire in your forties, Wall Street gays often pack up their windfalls and start new lives in philanthropic or political causes. aids organizations and gay-rights groups like the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are also supported by large pools of Wall Street money.

In recent years, in part because of the threat of lawsuits like Joe Daniel’s, dozens of firms have taken steps to officially ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. According to the Human Rights Campaign, New York-based firms that officially ban discrimination include the Equitable, Citigroup (which includes Travelers and Salomon Smith Barney), Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and PaineWebber.

American Express, Bankers Trust, Chase Manhattan, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, and Scudder Kemper also offer domestic-partnership benefits for the partners of gay employees.

In 1998, a gay financial writer named Grant Lukenbill helped start a service called the Equality Project, which surveys financial firms and Fortune 500 companies on their workplace policies toward gay and lesbian employees. The group’s Website (www.equalityproject.org) lists companies that meet its seven requirements, which include diversity training as well as domestic-partner benefits and explicit anti-gay-discrimination policies.

Of the New York-based financial firms, only four make the list: American Express, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, and Bankers Trust. (Out-of-town firms on the list: BankAmerica in Charlotte, Charles Schwab in San Francisco, and BankBoston.) In any case, even Lukenbill admits that stated policies sometimes don’t make much of a difference. “Some of the companies with the best policies,” he says, “have people with the worst anecdotal examples to the contrary.”

While Bear Stearns does have an official anti-discrimination policy, its existence is news to chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg. “I don’t think we need one,” he says. “I think it’s clear that we wouldn’t tolerate that kind of thing. All we look for is smart, hungry people who want to be rich. I don’t give a damn what they do at home. We don’t discriminate against anybody,” he jokes. “We even hire Jews!”

Despite official advances, most gay Wall Streeters feel it’s still too risky to venture out. “My manager doesn’t have a problem with gays, but what about my next manager?” asks an experienced broker at one of the biggest firms, who believes his bosses could fire him at will without worrying about discrimination charges. They could simply claim that he didn’t meet performance goals, since every year he’s required to agree to new accounts and greater assets – incredibly high targets that only a tiny percentage of brokers actually attain. “They’ve always got that over you,” he explains. “I’m constantly seeing people fired.”

Those who are openly gay outside work worry about colleagues’ finding out. One broker at a small, stuffy, conservative firm agreed to be filmed for a documentary about a gay march, but he was wary when the producers said they wanted to show the film in a city where he had clients. After much prodding, they agreed to run it only in regions where he had no clients, so the identification of his homosexuality wouldn’t hurt his business. “My clientele is 99 percent heterosexual,” he explains. “They’re high-net-worth individuals, very well-off, and a lot of them are conservative in their political views.”

Sometimes, even the most careful precautions misfire: In a scene out of a Paul Rudnick comedy, “Keith,” an executive at a major investment bank, agreed to an after-work date with his boyfriend at a bar near his office. The boyfriend suggested the location, which he thought was a “gay lounge.” It was, but just one night a week. That evening, it drew a mixed crowd.

When Keith arrived early for the rendezvous, the scene was set for a farce. He immediately ran into a straight associate who asked Keith to join him and a friend for a drink. As the trio talked, Keith noticed his boyfriend enter the bar and move quickly toward him.

Keith knew what would happen next. “It suddenly occurred to me that he was going to give me a kiss,” Keith recalls. “I wanted to put up my arms to block him. My reaction was horror, which is appalling.” Sure enough, the boyfriend kissed him on the lips. It was a chaste, closed-mouth “hello” kiss, but nonetheless, the straight financiers appeared shocked. On cue, they began talking about women, as if to prove their heterosexuality bona fides.

“It was a very awkward moment, and I was just happy to get out of there,” recalls Keith, who points out that he faced no repercussions. “The bottom line is, I don’t have a problem being myself. The danger in this business is being myself too loudly.”

For a long time, walter schubert felt the same way. Now 42, Schubert grew up in a conservative, Republican, Irish Catholic family in West Orange, New Jersey, where “it was just not okay to be gay,” he says. “I lived for many years with an inordinate amount of shame and guilt.” He hadn’t planned to follow his grandfather and father to the floor of the exchange. He really wanted to be a diplomat in the foreign service. But in 1977, when Schubert was a sophomore at Skidmore, his father was told by doctors that he had only six months to live. Walter, then 20 and the oldest of six children, quit school to learn the family business at the Big Board.

“My role was to be the provider for my mother, brother, and sisters,” he recalls. “I didn’t hesitate.” A year after his father’s death in 1979, Schubert became the youngest member of the New York Stock Exchange. He was 23.

“I knew from the start that I was going to have to face this, but I couldn’t construct a successful career being an openly gay man on the floor of the exchange. In 1980, it was a very conservative, conformist place that didn’t like anyone who was challenging to the status quo. To step out, to be even slightly different – people weren’t going to go for that.”

Trying to fit in, Schubert dated many women and was even engaged to be married – twice. But the pretense wore him down. “I was becoming unhappy, self-destructive. I started to sabotage my success. By the mid-nineties, after fifteen years of taking care of my family, I thought it was time to live my life.”

In 1993, he began coming out privately to friends and relatives, though he remained closeted at work. But by 1994, the rumors of his homosexuality were spreading wildly. “It was becoming an open secret on the trading floor. It was pretty uncomfortable,” he says. Finally, a colleague confronted Walter directly. “When I was asked on the floor, rather than being sheepish, I said yes. Twenty-four hours later, I was ‘the gay guy.’ Since then, I’ve been trying to get back my whole identity. It’s been a hard journey.”

When he came out, he held a meeting with his employees, many of whom feared that the firm would lose its customers. Schubert himself had the same fear. He told his people he’d understand if they wanted to leave. None did.

Others who have found mainstream firms too stifling have struck out on their own. In 1994, Robert Fenyk, who spent two unhappy years as a broker at Merrill Lynch, switched from Merrill to Christopher Street Financial, which promotes itself as the only gay-owned-and-operated brokerage and financial-advisory firm in the nation. At Christopher Street (actually located on Wall Street), clients and brokers can talk freely about financial-planning issues specific to homosexuals – tax laws, pension benefits, and how to pass estates on to partners. Founded in 1981, the company was recently taken over by a group of investors including Jennifer Hatch, a 38-year-old veteran of J.P. Morgan and Bear Stearns. It recently opened an office in Fire Island Pines and is planning other branches in Short Hills, New Jersey; Los Angeles; and four to six other cities in the next eighteen months.

Although Christopher Street had the gay market to itself for most of two decades, major firms such as Merrill Lynch and American Express Financial Advisors are also getting into the act. AmEx, in particular, has a reputation for fostering a socially active and politically vocal group of gay employees. Its efforts began five years ago, when an employee named James Law realized that he was the company’s only financial adviser in New York who was openly gay. Noting that the major firms had forfeited the lucrative gay market to boutique firms like Christopher Financial, he and a group of colleagues argued that AmEx should broaden its reach into the community.

The company responded by advertising in national gay magazines such as Out and pouring money into gay charities and organizations. “We’ve found that if we make a commitment to community relations, that’s how we get most of our clients,” Law says. Today, almost 300 of AmEx’s 10,000 financial advisers nationwide, including 30 in New York, are involved in its gay-and-lesbian network, although Law admits that a majority of these advisers are straight, not gay.

Dana Giacchetto, who runs the successful investment-advisory firm the Cassandra Group, says his company has also benefited by hiring openly gay employees and maintaining a welcoming attitude toward gay clients. “Because we focus on the entertainment business, we have a more open, creative client base,” he says. “We serve many, many gay people, and I think they find it easier to do business with us than with buttoned-up firms. For us, it’s not an issue at all.”

Ironically, even as their straight colleagues wake up to the potential of the gay market, many gay brokers remain ambivalent about marketing to other homosexuals. A salesman at a top New York brokerage watched quietly as a straight colleague asked for and received funding from the firm to run a promotional booth at a gay-and-lesbian convention. He realized that he wouldn’t be comfortable making the same request for fear of outing himself at the firm.

Why, in the end, if Wall Street is so inhospitable, do so many gays stay on? Perhaps because, like many of their straight counterparts, they accept that sacrifice is part of the bargain: Staying quiet, playing the game, ignoring the faggot jokes, getting a lap dance – this is the price they pay for a career that offers such lavish material rewards. “It’s a deal with the devil,” says one banker. “No one can say they didn’t know what they were getting into.”

One top gay bond trader relishes the conflict. “Lets face it,” he says, “there’s no place in the world you can make so much money so quickly. Wall Street is the ultimate boys’ club, and like all boys, they get off by pushing each other around and earn special points by bashing the fags. But it’s a culture that rewards performance and aggression. If you earn enough, and you’re mean enough, and you go with the flow, no one can hurt you. You just need to remember that every time they fuck with you, you fuck with them twice as hard.”

On the worst days at work, they can comfort themselves with Rolex watches, Aspen ski weekends, Gramercy Park apartments, orchestra seats, and the other perks of their profession. At a recent party attended by gay financial-world types, the payoff was palpable. Well-dressed men chattered happily as a handsome server walked around with trays of hors d’oeuvre. They discussed plans for their Hamptons summer houses and Fire Island retreats, trips to South Beach, safaris in Kenya.

One man, a tanned, dapper banker in his forties, talked cheerfully, if a tad defensively, about his life. Working on Wall Street, he said, had allowed him to see the world, meet famous people, generously donate to the causes he found important. Yes, it was true that he had to be discreet at work, but in the end, what a small price to pay.

After his third glass of champagne, he settled into the plush leather couch, and for a moment his brimming confidence seemed to shrink. He acknowledged that he had not had a relationship in more than five years, and that sometimes all the posturing and hiding made him sick. He talked about moving out of New York, cashing out, settling down. “I guess it’s true that in the end they buy you,” he said. “They buy your dignity. And the worst thing is, you happily sell it to them.” Thinking it through, he remained silent for about a minute, until a thought seemed to perk him up again. “I guess,” he said, smiling, “people have sold their self-respect for a lot less than $3 million a year.”

Reference

Gay History: The Pink Triangle: From Nazi Label to Symbol of Gay Pride

Pink triangles were originally used in concentration camps to identify gay prisoners.

Before the pink triangle became a worldwide symbol of gay power and pride, it was intended as a badge of shame. In Nazi Germany, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn onto the shirts of gay men in concentration camps—to identify and further dehumanize them. It wasn’t until the 1970s that activists would reclaim the symbol as one of liberation.

Homosexuality was technically made illegal in Germany in 1871, but it was rarely enforced until the Nazi Party took power in 1933. As part of their mission to racially and culturally “purify” Germany, the Nazis arrested thousands of LGBT individuals, mostly gay men, whom they viewed as degenerate.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates 100,000 gay men were arrested and between 5,000 and 15,000 were placed in concentration camps. Just as Jews were forced to identify themselves with yellow stars, gay men in concentration camps had to wear a large pink triangle. (Brown triangles were used for Romani people, red for political prisoners, green for criminals, blue for immigrants, purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses and black for “asocial” people, including prostitutes and lesbians.)

Homosexual prisoners at the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, wearing pink triangles on their uniforms on December 19, 1938.
Homosexual prisoners at the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, wearing pink triangles on their uniforms on December 19, 1938. Corbis/Getty Images

At the camps, gay men were treated especially harshly, by guards and fellow prisoners alike. “There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” Pierre Seel, a gay Holocaust survivor, wrote in his memoir I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror.

An estimated 65 percent of gay men in concentration camps died between 1933 and 1945. Even after World War II, both East and West Germany upheld the country’s anti-gay law, and many gays remained incarcerated until the early 1970s. (The law was not officially repealed until 1994.)

The early 1970s was also when the gay rights movement began to emerge in Germany. In 1972, The Men with the Pink Triangle, the first autobiography of a gay concentration camp survivor, was published. The next year, post-war Germany’s first gay rights organization, Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (HAW), reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of liberation.

“At its core, the pink triangle represented a piece of our German history that still needed to be dealt with,” Peter Hedenström, one of HAW’s founding members said in 2014.

Memorial plaques for homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Wehrmacht deserters are placed where once stood one of the demolished barracks in Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany.
Memorial plaques for homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Wehrmacht deserters are placed where once stood one of the demolished barracks in Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Afterwards, it began cropping up in other LGBT circles around the world. In 1986, six New York City activists created a poster with the words SILENCE = DEATH and a bright pink upward-facing triangle, meant to call attention to the AIDs crisis that was decimating populations of gay men across the country. The poster was soon adopted by the organization ACT UP and became a lasting symbol of the AIDS advocacy movement.

The triangle continues to figure prominently in imaging for various LGBT organizations and events. Since the 1990s, signs bearing a pink triangle enclosed in a green circle have been used as a symbol identifying “safe spaces” for queer people. There are pink triangle memorials in San Francisco and Sydney, which honor LGBT victims of the Holocaust. In 2018, for Pride Month, Nike released acollection of shoes featuring pink triangles.

Although the pink triangle has been reclaimed as an empowering symbol, it is ultimately a reminder to never forget the past—and to recognize the persecution LGBT people still face around the world.

Reference

Gay History: “Uncover: The Village”: A Serial Killer, Toronto’s Gay Community, and a Podcast That Transcends True Crime

Flags outside a community center building on a cloudy day.
“Uncover: The Village,” a podcast about a series of murders in Toronto’s gay community, focusses on the victims, their loved ones, the police, and the community, not on the perpetrator or the crimes.Photograph by Ian Willms / NYT / Redux

Early in the first episode of the new podcast “Uncover: The Village,” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, we visit the garden of a woman named Karen Fraser, at her house, on a quiet side street in Toronto. It’s August, 2018, and Fraser is showing the podcast’s reporter and host, Justin Ling, her flower beds, or what’s left of them; she describes “tulips and daffodils along here, lots of periwinkle.” All of this, Ling says, “was designed and maintained by her faithful gardener, Bruce.” For the past decade, Fraser allowed a family acquaintance, Bruce McArthur, to use space in her garage to store equipment for his landscaping business. In exchange, he tended to her yard. In early 2018, Toronto police told Fraser and her partner that they would need to leave the property—the police needed to excavate. In what became the largest forensic investigation in Toronto police history, officers found the remains of eight men in Fraser’s planters and a nearby ravine.

In February, McArthur, sixty-seven, was convicted, in a Toronto criminal court, of killing those eight men, all of them gay and six of them immigrant men of color, between 2010 and 2017. McArthur’s conviction, Ling tells us, answered some painful questions that “had hung over Toronto’s queer community for years”—questions that began with an awful series of disappearances, whose horrors of which were compounded by the inadequacy of the police investigation. It also reopened another, possibly related, set of mysteries, which “go back decades, to a time when being gay meant being a target; to when the community had to defend itself, because police wouldn’t; when the closet was, for many, just a safer choice than coming out; to a time when queer people were winding up dead and their killers were getting away with it.”

“The Village” is the third season of “Uncover,” whose previous seasons explore the NXIVM cult and an airplane bombing. “The Village” feels particularly vital; Ling, an investigative journalist who writes and produces the series with Jennifer Fowler and Erin Byrnes, is emotionally invested in the story and has reported it, with thoroughness and care, for five years. (He’s publishing a book on the case in 2020.) A few years ago, Ling tells us, it seemed that police had moved on from investigating the cases of the missing men. “Those disappearances nagged at me,” Ling says. “This was personal. This was my community.” Many, including Ling, suspected that the victims’ “sexuality and their skin color made them easier to forget.” “The Village” is as much a gesture toward healing as it is a work of investigation; its focus is on the victims, their loved ones, the police, and the community, not on McArthur and the murders. The care that Ling brings to the story elevates it beyond true crime; what’s being uncovered isn’t a culprit but a history.

The site of that history is Toronto’s Gay Village. The neighborhood is about three city blocks, Ling says, and it’s decorated with pride flags, rainbow spirals, disco balls, and “a bronze statue of a dapper man with a flowing coat and a walking cane.” The American version of “Queer as Folk” was set in Pittsburgh but filmed there. For many—including foreign-born Canadians and people from small towns in Canada, including Ling—it’s a refuge of sorts. Skandaraj Navaratnam, nicknamed Skanda, had moved there from Sri Lanka and went missing, in 2010, at age forty. Navaratnam was “hilarious,” his friend Joel Walker says, and he loved him for it. “If I was in a bad mood, he’d draw it out of me, and immediately I’d be fine.” Skanda was a skilled pool player; he liked to wear jewelry; he liked older men, whom he called “silver daddies.” One of these was McArthur—who was “very, very jealous and very, very obsessive and controlling,” Walker says. One day, Navaratnam disappeared, without his wallet, his I.D., and his beloved puppy. His friends were panicked, with little recourse beyond “Missing” posters and police efforts that seemed to lead nowhere.

We hear such details about several of McArthur’s victims. Majeed Kayhan, known as Hamid, had moved to Canada from Kabul, with his wife and kids, and had struggled to come out to his family; his friend Kyle Andrews had seen him with McArthur. Abdulbasir Faizi, an Afghan immigrant with a wife and children, disappeared in December, 2010. The police set up a task force to investigate the three disappearances and asked the public to come forward with information. Kyle Andrews talked to them; they discussed Bruce McArthur.

In a recording, from 2016, Ling asks Toronto police for information, and they give him a two-page report about their investigation. Flagging the men’s credit cards and alerting border agencies, the summary said, had “not returned any evidence as to their whereabouts or even a path of where they may have headed.” Ling is flabbergasted—where they may have headed? Implying that the men had skipped town seems willfully disingenuous. In 2017, Selim Esen, an immigrant from Turkey, went missing; two months later, Andrew Kinsman, a widely beloved, and white, bartender, disappeared without his medication or his cat, further terrifying an increasingly anxious community. On the last day Kinsman was seen, he’d written a word on his calendar: “Bruce.” In the photograph on his “Missing” poster, Ling says, he was wearing a Bob & Doug McKenzie T-shirt.

Friends say that it “took some coaxing” for the police to realize that Kinsman hadn’t just left town. “You kind of had to underscore to them that this was very out of character for him,” a friend says. Police set up another task force, to investigate the disappearances of Esen and Kinsman, and held a meeting at a community center in the Village which was tense and packed. We hear some of it. Police say that they’ve found “no evidence of criminality,” no evidence to link the disappearances, no evidence of a serial killer. A month after the meeting, they arrested McArthur, after finding Kinsman’s and Selim’s DNA in his van. Their remains, along with those of Esen, Navaratnam, Kayhan, and Faizi, were found around Karen Fraser’s property, as were those of three men who had not been part of the police’s task-force investigations: Soroush Mahmudi, an immigrant from Iran with a wife and stepson; Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, a refugee from Sri Lanka; and Dean Lisowick, who was homeless at the time of his disappearance and whose absence was not reported.

This all plays out in the first two episodes, which illustrate why the community felt not just particularly vulnerable but also unheard by the police, who seemed under-aware of the community’s particular needs and reluctant to seriously take murder as a possibility. In the third episode, Ling takes the narrative on a sharp turn—back to cold-case mysteries that he mentioned at the beginning of the series and the tortured history between police and the gay community in Toronto. In the seventies, a rash of murders of gay men struck the city, several of them characterized by “overkill”—excessive brutality that marks a crime as rage-driven, personal. At that time, McArthur, then in his twenties, had worked nearby. Could he have been involved? As Toronto police look for McArthur’s fingerprints amid old cases—communicating little about the details—Ling investigates, too. “I figure if Toronto Police are dusting off a bunch of cold-case murders, so will I,” he says.

In the process, he re-creates some of the world of the Village in the seventies, revealing joy and pain in equal measure. A gay bar called David’s Discotheque, one of the neighborhood’s first gay-owned gay bars, featured a life-sized fountain replica of Michelangelo’s David in the middle of the dance floor. “I realize it sounds a bit tacky, but I wish so badly this place was still open,” Ling says. “This would be my kind of club.” Its owner, Sandy LeBlanc, was killed in 1978, at age twenty-nine—stabbed dozens of times, in his apartment. Ling tracks down LeBlanc’s siblings, in rural New Brunswick, who talk about their brother and the case with extraordinary grace. He talks to police, too, including a well-meaning retired cop who had understood the “overkill” murders to be the work of gay killers who “had not come to terms with their sexual problems.” Gay sex wasn’t decriminalized in Canada until 1969, and many police officers and straight civilians associated it with criminality. In the seventh episode, Ling talks to a kindly widower whose partner died in 1979, in police custody, after he was arrested by “morality officers” in the men’s room of a gay bar. Raids on sexual activity in bars and bathhouses were common; growing frustration with these raids helped lead to gay-rights activism in Toronto.

As he investigates all of this, Ling makes fascinating headway. One of the most compelling things about this podcast—and there are many—is the sensitivity with which he seeks out and listens to the people who felt neglected for so long. “Uncover: The Village” is thoughtfully produced, but it doesn’t signal to you, as many crime-related podcasts do, that it’s entertainment. Its minimal music reflects your emotions without manipulating them; Ling’s narration isn’t self-dramatizing. The series is engrossing because of its powerful story, Ling’s dogged and far-ranging reporting, its sympathetic characters, compelling scenes, and a patient, well-paced narrative. But those elements can be found in good true crime. What sets “Uncover” apart is that it aims to serve something beyond its audience: more than a whodunit, the series feels like a kind of truth-and-reconciliation commission, in podcast form. What’s important isn’t the edification of those listening but the solace of those being heard.

How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The property where police say they recovered the remains of several bodies from planters connected to Bruce McArthur in Toronto, Canada, on 3 February.
The property where police say they recovered the remains of several bodies from planters connected to Bruce McArthur in Toronto, Canada, on 3 February. Photograph: Rob Gilles/AP

A friendly gardener and mall Santa, McArthur may also have been the worst ever serial killer of gay men. As Toronto police reopen 25 cold cases dating back to 1975, they are facing tough questions about decades of hostility to the gay communityDavid Graham in TorontoSat 23 Jun 2018 17.00 AEST

When the biggest forensic investigation in Toronto history began, it was still possible to be blind to the full extent of the horror.

On 18 January 2018, in the mid-morning, Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old freelance landscaper, entered his Thorncliffe Park apartment building in Toronto, accompanied by a young man.

McArthur had been placed under 24-hour police watch the previous day. The surveillance officers had instructions to arrest him if they saw him alone with someone else.

They ascended to McArthur’s 19th-floor apartment and broke down the door. Inside, they found his companion already tied to the bed.

McArthur was charged with the murder of Andrew Kinsman, 49, who had gone missing shortly after Pride Day on 26 June 2017, and Selim Esen, 44, who was reported missing about two months earlier.

As a particularly cold winter dragged on into February, the city was horrified as police began to unearth the remains of corpses buried inside more than a dozen decorative planters. The planters were located outside a modest home, on Mallory Crescent in the Leaside area of the city, where McArthur had been employed as a gardener.

Police issued a plea to anyone who might have used McArthur’s services, and deployed cadaver dogs to multiple locations across Toronto. They erected tents and used heaters to thaw the frozen ground. Forensic investigators combed over McArthur’s two-bedroom apartment for months, removing 1,800 pieces of evidence and photographing every square inch.

The number of murder charges grew to five (Majeed Kayhan, 58; Dean Lisowick, 47; and Soroush Mahmudi, 50), then eight (Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40; Abdulbasir Faizi, 44; and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37).

Six of the men were south Asian or Middle Eastern. All of them were gay.

A composite of five of the men Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, provided by the Toronto police service. From left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman and Majeed Kayhan.
A composite of five of the men Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, provided by the Toronto police service. From left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman and Majeed Kayhan. Photograph: AP

The LGBT community in Toronto was shocked, bereaved – and furious. From 2010 to 2017, gay men had been disappearing in alarming numbers from Toronto’s lively gay village. Many locals had long suspected a serial killer.

Long-simmering tensions with the Toronto police boiled over. Organisers demanded to know why the force hadn’t taken their fears more seriously. Some argued that police were too slow to warn the community of a possible serial killer, saying lives could have been saved.

To make matters worse, Toronto police appeared to put some blame on the gay community for the killings when chief Mark Saunders told reporters that they might have caught McArthur sooner had residents of the gay village been more forthcoming. “We knew that people were missing and we knew we didn’t have the right answers,” Saunders said. “But nobody was coming to us with anything.”

Toronto police had already been banned in 2017 from the Gay Pride parade, following lobbying from Toronto’s chapter of Black Lives Matter. Their request to participate in 2018 was refused.

Then, in April, in a move that some have interpreted as an acknowledgment of their neglect of the gay community, police announced that they were reopening 25 cold cases – all murders associated with Toronto’s gay village. 

They date from 1997 all the way back to 1975. 

And no one is suggesting it is over.

From Santa to serial killer

While investigators are still developing a profile of the alleged serial killer, they are certain of one thing. The jolly-looking McArthur, who is divorced and has two grown children, did not have the menacing countenance of a serial murderer. 

In fact, he was so convincingly harmless looking that he was able to play Santa in at least one suburban shopping mall. His age, as well as his unthreatening appearance – round features and a broad, cheery smile – made him seem approachable to children shopping with their parents, as well as to gay men seeking a dark sexual encounter with someone they could trust.

Bruce McArthur in a photo posted on a social media account.
Bruce McArthur in a photo posted on a social media account.Photograph: Reuters

After divorcing his wife, McArthur, who had been active on his church board in Oshawa, east of Toronto, became a regular in the city’s gay village. He trolled hook-up sites like Manjam and Recon, where the “silver fox” made his taste for submissive men clear – especially those who wanted to test the limits of their curiosity for dangerous sex.Advertisementnull

McArthur had been brought to the attention of local police in 2002, when he was arrested for attacking a gay prostitute with a metal bar. He was sentenced in 2003 to two years probation and told to stay away from the gay village.

In 2010, reports started to come through of men going missing from the village. The first, Skandaraj Navaratnam, rests particularly heavily on the mind of Haran Vijayanathan, executive director of the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention (ASAAP). 

Both men are Sri Lankan, Tamil and gay. “I saw myself in Skanda,” says Vijayanathan. “He represents my greatest fear.”

That fear – one faced by immigrant and refugee men in an unfamiliar gay community – is nothing new. Just as gay men from North Bay and Moose Jaw flocked to Toronto in the 1970s to live free and open lives, a new generation of gay men from south Asia and the Middle East have been drawn to Canadain the last 20 years for the same reasons. The new arrivals may revel in Canada’s acceptance, but they are still vulnerable – still suspicious of authority, reluctant to attract attention, perhaps too eager to fit in. And perhaps too trusting of a gentle-looking older man who appears harmless.

Predators thrive on marginalized groups, says University of Toronto associate professor of sociology Jooyoung Lee, an expert in violent crime and serial homicide. Gay men – particularly gay refugees or other relatively new Canadians – fit into a population that includes prostitutes, aboriginal women and immigrants.

And then there is what Lee refers to as “missing white woman syndrome”: the idea that police, media and the public are less inclined to pay attention to crimes that are perpetrated on marginalized communities. 

Vijayanathan, who is one of the most outspoken critics of how Toronto let its gay community down, insists that police only took the investigations seriously when Andrew Kinsman, one of two white victims, was reported missing. 

But he also points to racism within the gay community – comparing the massive local search mounted after the reported disappearance of the other white victim, Andrew Kinsman, with the slower and less cohesive response to the disappearances of the brown-skinned victims.

Vijayanathan also believes the families of some of the missing immigrant men failed to report their disappearance. 

Isolation, combined with a fear of police, has marginalized members of our community and made them more vulnerable

Tom HooperAdvertisementnull

In some cases, he says, the disappearances were the first time family members learned their relative was gay (or MSM, men who have sex with men but don’t identify as gay). Others worried about interfering in a family member’s claim for refugee status. Still others worked under the table and didn’t want to attract the attention of authorities. For example, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam was a Tamil refugee who came to Canada in 2016 and was never reported missing, and after Navaratnam’s refugee claim was denied he rarely left the confines of the gay village.

“Throughout our history, people have come to the city as a refuge and a place to explore their sexuality – often without the knowledge of their family and friends,” says Tom Hooper, a York University historian who has devoted much of his studies to the gay experience in Toronto in the 1970s.

But Hooper also points the finger at police. “For both gay men in the 1970s and queer people of colour today, the police have been enforcers but not protectors. Isolation, combined with a fear of police, has marginalized members of our community and made them more vulnerable to violence.”

Homophobic atmosphere

The difficult relationship between Toronto’s gay community and police force coincides with reports of missing gay men going back decades. As long as 40 years ago, 14 gay men were murdered in Toronto in just a few years. Seven of those cases remain unsolved.

The brutal stabbing death of William Duncan Robinson at his home in November 1978 came shortly after the popular 1970s gay magazine the Body Politic to question the sluggish police response to the string of murders, and the official stance that they were unrelated: “Could they have been committed by one man?” asked an October 1978 headline. “The police aren’t saying. But the crimes do show a certain similarity …”

It has been suggested that McArthur, who has not yet entered a plea in the eight charges nor been charged for any of the cold cases, could be responsible for some of those murders. Serial killers rarely begin their murder sprees late in life, and McArthur would have been in his 20s and early 30s back then. Critics dispute that theory by pointing to a very different manner of execution and body disposal: the 1970s murders were mostly stabbings, and the victims were left where they were killed.

What is indisputable is that police never caught the killer, or killers – and it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that they didn’t feel much pressure to do so in the homophobic atmosphere of the era.

It was a holiday tradition each Halloween during the 1960s and 70s for Toronto residents to taunt gay men, especially drag queens, as they entered bars on Yonge Street like the St Charles Tavern and the Parkside. They pelted eggs, which turned into rocks, which turned into beatings on darkened side streets. 

Police mostly looked the other way, recalls the Rev Brent Hawkes, a longtime leader of the city’s gay rights movement who was once himself restrained on a sidewalk by two officers as a third punched him. “Stories of men being arrested and taken to Cherry Beach for a beating were common,” he says. Officers would lurk beside the urinals in bars, waiting for men to engage in a sexual act. Entrapment was widespread at department stores, universities and hotels such as Hudson’s Bay, the Royal York and the University of Toronto.

“Sex had to be quick and anonymous,” says Hooper. “There was no courtship that led to sex. If you were married and lived in the suburbs – and you were gay – you had to hook up on your lunch break.”

Police raid the Club bathhoue in Toronto on 6 February 1981.
Police raid the Club bathhouse in Toronto on 6 February 1981.Photograph: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star/Getty

The constant harassment by police reach the boiling point in 1981, when 200 police officers descended on four gay bathhouses. They marched through the corridors, swinging crowbars and sledgehammers, breaking down doors and corralling groups of men into showers and lounge areas. One officer reportedly commented that he wished the showers were hooked up to gas, Hooper said. Men were arrested and charged according to the city’s antiquated bawdy house laws.

A few of the officers were apologetic, but another boisterous contingent “seemed to enjoy it – like jocks in a frat house”, says Hooper.Advertisementnull

By morning, 250 men had been charged. The humiliation caused some to contemplate suicide. Others were fired from their jobs after police officers called their employers. Many lost the support of family and friends.

The raids were a tipping point for Toronto’s gay community. Like the Stonewall riots in New York, the bathhouse raids ignited a fury that led to the city’s modern gay pride movement. Though there had been small events held in previous years, the first official Pride parade was held that spring.

Now it’s one of the largest in the world: when the 38th annual Toronto Pride parade takes place this coming Sunday, it will attract close to one million spectators. Sponsors include Home Depot and New Balance, and regular attendees include the prime minster, Justin Trudeau, and the mayor of Toronto, John Tory.

Pride parade participants display names of the Orlando Pulse nightclub victims on Yonge Street during a moment of silence in Toronto on 3 July 2016. Photograph: Ian Willms/Getty Images

But even as Toronto’s more established gay community gains strength, new arrivals continue to lead marginal, vulnerable lives.

DS Hank Idsinga, 50, the lead investigator on the most high-profile of murder cases, is keenly aware of media criticism that police did not take the missing persons reports or speculation of a serial killer seriously because the men were gay and mostly brown-skinned.

Idsinga, who joined police services in 1989, acknowledges it will take time to regain the trust of the gay community. He says he is disheartened by the accounts of the bathhouse raids and the history of police hostility. “I’m open to criticism,” he says. “It’s a byproduct of the job. You can block it out or you can listen.” He points out that he was recently scolded by a reporter for using the expression “gay lifestyle”, and promises: “I will avoid the term from now on.”Advertisementhttps://b0f547aeb67887e14b7a145fa28e345d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The decision to open the cold cases – Idsinga estimates the number of unresolved cases of murdered gay men at 20 or more – is a belated attempt to make something very wrong at least a bit more right. “I’m not that police officer from 30 years ago,” he says of his attitude to the past. “What can I do to help now?”

A community at risk

There has always been a small community of gay men who thrill at risky sex, bondage, humiliation and even torture. Assured that they are engaging in role playing, such men submit to their putative captors, who methodically and ritualistically push them to – and perhaps beyond – their “edge”.

Sean Cribbin, 50, was one man who had experimented in this fashion. Last summer, he says accepted an online invitation to meet McArthur early one afternoon.

Almost a year later, he marvels that he is alive. 

A former Mr Leatherman in Toronto, Cribbin told Global TV in a wide-ranging interview that he felt comfortable submitting to McArthur’s wishes because he looked so unthreatening. 

He even brought up the rumour of a serial killer attacking gay men in Toronto, but says McArthur didn’t respond.

Unlike McArthur, Cribbin has a tough appearance: sleeve tattoos, a black beard and a thick nose ring. But his voice is soft and his comments thoughtful. “I was the lucky one,” he said. “It could happen to anyone.”

First, Cribbin says he accepted the GHB cocktail prepared by McArthur, having asked him to limit the dose to 5ml – the right amount to put him at ease, cause euphoria and “heighten the sexual encounter”.

What if the roommate hadn’t arrived home when he did? I would have simply disappeared

Sean Cribbin

But after Cribbins says he accepted the restraints McArthur suggested, and with McArthur’s penis in Cribbin’s mouth, his hands tight around his neck and his considerable weight on his chest, Cribbin claims he began sweating heavily – a signal that he had been “over-drugged” – and was overcome with dread.

Just then, Cribbin says he heard McArthur’s roommate enter the apartment – an excuse for Cribbin to end the date, dress and return home.

Six months later, police reportedly approached Cribbin with a photograph of him taken from McArthur’s home, showing him restrained in what investigators called “the kill position” – moments from certain death. Advertisementhttps://b0f547aeb67887e14b7a145fa28e345d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Cribbin, who is in an open relationship, says he is ashamed that he didn’t tell his partner where he was going that sunny afternoon, that he survived while others died. For the first time in his life, he’s afraid of the dark, and he worries the experience may turn him off sex completely.

“What if the roommate hadn’t arrived home when he did?” Cribbin said. “I would have simply disappeared.”

‘One foot in the department and one foot in the gay community’

Police may never unearth the full extent of McArthur’s alleged carnage, but if it is proven in court it could be compared to the atrocities of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 boys in Milwaukee between 1978 and 1991, or John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. As the investigation deepens, police are under tremendous pressure to solve the crimes – which means trying to understand the man that investigators think is behind them.

“[McArthur] probably got a kick out of tricking men into believing he was harmless,” says Lee, who knows that investigators are struggling to get inside McArthur’s head, investigating his social circles and his online activities. Investigators will also want to understand the rituals associated with the killings and the complicated procedures involved in the disposal of his victims’ remains – not least how to fit the corpses into the planters. (Many have speculated that McArthur’s job as a landscaper could involve the use of equipment such as chainsaws and wood chippers.)

Lee believes McArthur was probably in a perpetual search “for the next kill that would top the last one. [Serial killers] become overwhelmed by the fantasy, constantly studying the craft of killing, the details of the murder and the memory of his actions afterward … He would get a small rush every time he revisited the remains of the people he killed.”

How McArthur may have slipped up, or why police decided to place him under surveillance, Idsinga won’t say. But, according to Lee, one thing is certain. “Killing requires practice,” he says. “They are seldom perfect in the beginning. Serial killers are caught when they get sloppy.”

A candlelight prayer vigil for the victims Bruce McArthur allegedly killed at Metropolitan Community church in Toronto on 4 February. Photograph: Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images

But as well as getting into the head of McArthur, it means trying to heal a rift with the gay community that stretches back decades. 

This Sunday’s otherwise jubiliant Pride parade will end with a contingent of organizers dressed in black, to pay respect to the victims of the killer and to all LGBTQ people who don’t feel safe in their own community.

While some in the gay community argue that this is a time for healing – and that police participation is crucial if the gay community is going to move forward – Black Lives Matter is not so eager to forgive, insisting that banning uniformed officers is a needed protest against broader police neglect and abuse.

Shortly after McArthur’s arrest, the mayor acknowledged that police had failed to react appropriately to the multiple disappearances, and called for an independent investigation into the department’s response.

Vijayanathan, who is the Honoured Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade and was the chief advocate of a third-party inquest into the investigation of the killings, is torn. He’s still angry over what he calls “a gross mishandling of missing person reports”. But he is pleased at the mayor’s response, and acknowledges that to heal, the community will have to work with police. He also expresses sympathy for the many LGBTQ members on Toronto’s police force who usually enjoy marching in uniform in the Parade.

Hawkes says he has witnessed the growing maturity of the department over the decades – with an emphasis placed on sensitivity training and recruiting gay officers, including an openly lesbian deputy chief. 

“I don’t want to sound like a defender of the police but I am cautiously optimistic things will get better,” he says, “because I’ve seen that progress in possible.” He also knows that gay and lesbian police officers are devastated that they’ve been rejected by the Pride committee. “They’ve got one foot in the police department and one foot in the gay community,” he says. 

Idsinga says: “I’d rather see police services participate. And because of the McArthur case, I’d like to participate myself.”

In the meantime, there are now dozens of cold cases to investigate.

“This community has been victimized for years,” Idsinga says. “It’s our job to stop that.”

This article was amended on 25 June 2018. An earlier version said Dean Lisowick had been reported missing; that reference has been corrected to Andrew Kinsman.

Reference

Gay History: Darlinghurst’s Green Park Hotel Was Once The Home Of Sydney’s Bohemian Community

The Green Park Hotel, Darlinghurst, 2017. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

Gus Wangenheim, a man about town

JUST around the corner from Maccabean Hall, built in 1923 to commemorate Jewish men and women who served in the Great War, and where the Sydney Jewish Museum is housed at Darlinghurst, trades the Green Park Hotel.

Like Maccabean Hall, the Green Park Hotel has a link to Sydney’s Jewish history, along with the harbour city’s early bohemian community.

The Green Park Hotel, established in 1879, was bought by one of Sydney’s wealthiest Jewish families, Gus and Betsey Wangenheim in 1881.

The Wangenheim family would later replace the two story brick pub with the magnificent, heritage listed hotel, with its splendid long bar, currently sitting at the corner of Liverpool and Victoria Streets in Darlinghurst in 1893. 

The history of the Green Park Hotel begins in the early days of white settlement, when a 28-year-old Gustave Wangenheim arrived in Sydney Town, from Germany, in 1853.

Gus, as he was known, was one of Sydney’s most colourful characters, a cartoonist, painter, comedian and publican. He opened his first pub, the Post Office Hotel in York Street, Sydney in 1854.

In 1855 he married a fellow Jew, 21-year-old Elizabeth Simmons, daughter of James Simmons, a successful trader and brother of the proprietor of the Jerusalem Warehouse, now the site of David Jones department store.

Gus was also the foundation president of the NSW German Club, established in 1858, which hosted monthly balls at their premises in Pitt Street, Sydney. The Club was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as combining the social with the intellectual, and supplied “convivial pleasures and rational edification in a wholesome promiscuous form”.

A much-loved bohemian, who’s “humour was irresistible”, Gus could “reproduce characteristics with a happy exaggeration that few other artists could effect”. His artworks were a feature of his pubs, often drawn directly onto the walls. Besides an artist and comedian, he was also a splendid fencer and boxer, and spoke fluently several languages.

post office hotel york street sydney
Gus Wangenheim’s first pub, the Post Office Hotel, York Street Sydney. Picture: Supplied

Just five years into his hospitality business, the Jewish publican suffered a major set-back after he was declared insolvent. He disappeared from Sydney social life in 1858, taking his wife Elizabeth and newly born child north to a Port Curtis, near today’s Gladstone in Queensland. Gus’s inability to maintain a healthy cash flow in business was a constant battle throughout his life, and he was declared insolvent at least four or five times.

After his departure from Sydney, another Jewish businessman, Saul Lyons offered a reward to “anyone who will prosecute to conviction” Gus “or the party or parties who took the passage for him, and assisted in his escape”.

The advertisement stated that he had “absconded from his creditors… in assumed name, with his wife and child, in the Maid of Judah”. Gus eventually made good his creditors, and returned to Sydney during the 1860s, where he took the reins of the Café de Paris, in King Street, and continued his “amusing repertoire of musical comicalities” at the Prince of Wales Opera House.

ELIZABETH WANGENHEIM
Elizabeth Wangenheim. Picture: Supplied

While the Wangenheims ran the Café de Paris, it was said to be “a picturesque resort of Bohemians, where the Duke of Edinburgh dined more than once while in Sydney”.

Gus and Betsey entered a new business venture in the 1870s, when they built Wangenheim’s Hotel, near the junction of Castlereagh-street with King-street. The hotel became an artistic landmark, with Wangenheims’ customers – the “bohemians and prominent members of all the artistic professions” – following their charismatic publican to his new business venture.

In a series of history articles published in the Truth during 1912, the author, “Old Chum”, revealed it was Betsey who was the brains behind the business of the Wangenheims’ business success.

The remaining interesting item in Castlereagh-street, north of King-street, was a public house, opened in 1875 by Gus Wangenheim, who had previously kept a hotel in King-street. In the Castlereagh-street house, the walls and tables in the bar, every available inch, were decored with character sketches by Gus, who was not half a bad artist. About the year 1881 the house passed to Richmond Thatcher, a clever Bohemian of much literary talent, but neither Dick Thatcher nor Gus Wangenheim was made of the stuff that successful publicans are composed of. The Bohemian strain in the character of each, good fellows though they were, was against the accumulation of large bank balances. Mr Wangenheim, however, was not entirely dependent on his exertions as a hotel-keeper; his wife – who, I believe, is still living – being the daughter of a very wealthy citizeness. Richmond Thatcher could do much better with his pen than with a beer engine.

Wangenheim’s Hotel later became known as the Bulletin Hotel and in 1885 the Burlington. It was demolished sometime before 1905.

A year before Gus’ death, the Wangenheims invested in a brick corner pub with a 90 feet frontage to Liverpool Street and 30 feet facing Victoria Streets, in Darlinghurst. Established in 1879, the slate roofed Green Park Hotel, with bar, cellar, two parlours, hall, five bedrooms and kitchen, had been trading for less than three years, when the Wangenheims added to their growing property portfolio in March 1881. The Green Park Hotel provided £3 14s a week in rent for the Wangenheims.

gus drawing
A caricature of Gus Wangenheim by Sydney Morning Herald cartoonist and reporter, Percy Tanner, C1870. Picture: State Library of NSW.

The death of the flamboyant publican at the age of 57 in 1882 came on the heels of the demise of another of Sydney’s bohemian identities, the well-known poet, Henry Kendall. Gus’ death reportedly left a void in the social life of Sydney that “can never be filled up”. The Queenslander reported on Saturday August 12 1882:

Following close upon the demise of Kendall was the sudden taking off of poor Gus Wangenheim. Gus was one of the identities of Sydney life. Not to have known this genial German was to argue yourself unknown. He was a genuine artist, though his range of accomplishments was not by any means restricted to the pencil. Art, however, was his forte. As his thoroughly genial and withal kindly disposition invariably led him to look upon the humorous side of everything, his genius naturally affected caricature, and as a caricaturist Wangenheim can scarcely be said to have had a superior… When he was hotel-keeping the walls of his hostelry were literally covered with caricatures of politicians, actors, and other celebrities, and these curious sketches were the admiration and the delight of the host of frequenters of his popular “pub” in Castlereagh-Street; but the vandals who succeeded Gus knew not their worth, and remorselessly rubbed them out – only awakening to a sense of their value when the gifted caricaturist himself was rubbed out. Gus was a competent musical and dramatic critic in addition to his qualities as an artist. Miss Emma Wangenheim, who is, I believe, pretty well known in Queensland, was his daughter, and doubtless inherited such lyrical gifts as nature may have endowed her with from her paternal relative. Perhaps, though, after all, Gus Wangenheim will be longest remembered for his social qualities – his homely, easy, unaffected conversational powers being the delight of all his companions. There was just the faintest approach to egotism in Gus Wangenheim. Egotism, perhaps, is too offensive a word to use. Gus’ self-appreciation, as it may be more fitly termed, may be said to have resembled the quality of egotism much in the same way as the mist resembles the rain.” So far from its being objectionable it really constituted one of the charms of his conversation, and was thus, in its way, as pardonable and as tolerable as was the egotism of Bousseau. Now that he is gone, all who knew him feel that a void has been created in the social life of Sydney, which at any rate, as far as the present generation is concerned, can never be filled up. 

The Sydney Evening News reported the artistic publican’s death on August 4 1882:

Death of Mr. Gus Wangenheim.

People who frequent the town at night were yesterday startled by a report that Mr. Wangenheim, popularly called Gus Wangenheim, the well-known caricaturist, had “dropped down dead.” The rumour was not credited at first, as one of a similar character, that turned out to, be a canard, had been circulated before. Unfortunately, however, it is only too true; for the clever, genial, loveable, “man about town,” died suddenly at his residence, Pendennis, Lower William-street, Woolloomooloo, last evening, shortly after 5. Gas, may be said to have “passed away” rather than died. He was out at Waverley with his wife in the afternoon, and on their return, had a cup of cocoa, after which he went on the balcony, where he sat down and smoked a cigar. That finished, he took a book and commenced to read. Mrs. Wangenheim noticed that he put it down shortly afterwards, and thinking he slept told one of the children not to make a noise and ‘wake pa’. A few moments afterwards noticing that his head was very much to one side she looked closely at him, and to her horror found that he was dead. His head then was cold, the eyes were glassy and he must have died almost instantaneously. His hands were folded, and there was not the slightest trace of suffering on the face. The deceased man had been before the public for some years as a hotel-keeper and a sketcher and caricaturist of considerable power and facility. Though not so good at likenesses as Lascelles or Clint, Gus’ humour was irresistible, and he could reproduce characteristics with a happy exaggeration that few other artists could effect. The best collections of his drawings are on the walls of the Bulletin Hotel, which he kept for several years. Unfortunately the vandal landlord in possession at present papered over a whole room full. Besides being an artist, Wangenheim possessed a marked ability in other ways. He was a splendid fencer and boxer, and spoke several languages with fluency but he will, doubtless, be longest remembered for his genial ways and loveable nature and disuation. Of late he gave up all other business to look after the princely estate – chiefly town property— of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Simmons. Though forced at times to assert the rights of landlady against tenants, he never made an enemy; and it is said that on the few occasions when he was “in possession,” the folks levied on never had such a time of it in their lives. As a raconteur, who could illustrate his stories with lightning like rapidity, Gus had no superior and few equals. Mr. Wangenheim was a native of Germany, and about 50 years of age.

Green Park Hotel Darlinghurst 1930
The Green Park Hotel, Darlinghurst 1930. Picture: Australian National University, Noel Butlin Archives.

After Elizabeth’s wealthy mother died at the age of 98 in 1891, she decided to redevelop the Darlinghurst property.

The police had objected to the renewal of the license of the Green Park Hotel in July 1891. The pub was repeatedly falling foul of the law for Sunday trading, and allowing gambling on the premises. The pub was dilapidated and the court ruled it was unsuitable to trade as a pub.

Elizabeth, who was now aged 58, applied for a conditional publican’s license for a new pub for the site in October 1891.

The police opposed the application on the ground that there were at present more than sufficient pubs in the neighbourhood, there being four hotels within 250 yards of the proposed site.

The police argued that owing the number of hotels, in order to make a living publicans were resorting to Sunday trading and selling liquor at prohibited hours. Inspector Bremner said that since the Green Park Hotel had closed in June 1891, there had been a marked improvement in the neighbourhood. Interestingly the United Licensed Victuallers’ Association also opposed the application.

In support of the application, the court heard that the existing pubs in the area were of an inferior character, and that a first class hotel, such as Elizabeth’s was urgently. The existing hotels were merely drinking shops, Elizabeth’s lawyers argued.

The wealthy widow was granted a condition license for her proposed £2000 hotel after her legal team explained how it would bring a superior quality business to Darlinghurst. Elizabeth was granted confirmation of the conditional license after the completion of the hotel on June 29 1893. She remained as licensee for a year, before handing the reins over to Fred Moorehouse in 1893.

Several licensees were at the helm of the Green Park Hotel over the next 32 years during Elizabeth Wangenheim’s ownership. In 1921 professional boxer, Sid Godfrey became host of the Green Park Hotel. He won the Australian featherweight title fight in 1917, and earned £20,000 prize money during his boxing career. Out of 109 professional fights he won 79 (41 by knockout) and drew 12.

Godfrey had a short stay at the Green Park Hotel, and went on to host the Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt, the Carrington at Petersham, and the Horse and Jockey at Homebush. He retired from business in 1957 and lived at Bronte. He died in 1965.

Betsey or Elizabeth Wangenheim died on August 8 1925, at the age of 91 and was buried in the Jewish section of Rookwood Cemetery. The Blue Mountain Echo reported on Friday August 14 1925: 

OBITUARY

MRS. ELIZABETH WANGENHEIM.

On Saturday last there passed away an old and respected resident of Katoomba in the person of Mrs Elizabeth Wangenheim, of ‘Thorley,’ Lurline Street, at the ripe age of 90. The late Mrs. Wangenheim was a daughter of the late Mr. James Simmons, who was the first importer of general goods to Australia. He chartered a special fleet of ships for this purpose, and his enterprise was rewarded handsomely. Later Mr. Simmons went into the hotel business, and also dabbled greatly in land speculation. The present site of David Jones’ huge emporium at one time was occupied by the famous ‘Jerusalem Store’ of Mr. Simmons. In 1855 the late Mrs. Wangenheim married Mr. Gustavus Wangenhiem, who also was an hotel licensee. Subsequent, to his death, she continued in the hotel business, and displayed great business acumen. She retired from active business nearly half a century ago, and during the latter days of her life resided in her palatial home at Katoomba. The deceased lady left one son (Mr. Joseph Wangenheim), and three daughters, (Mrs. J. F. Gavin, now in America; Mrs. Fred Morris, Elizabeth Bay; and Mrs. J. R. Stewart, Tahmoor, near Picton). She also was the mother of the late Emma Wangenheim (Mrs. J. A. Carroll) well known in operatic circles, and the grandmother of Mrs. Cliff Hardaker. She was interred in the Jewish section of Rookwood Cemetery on Sunday last, the last rites being performed by Rev. M. Einfield.

At her death Elizabeth was considered to be the wealthiest woman in Sydney, with a probate of £164,376. Her son Joseph Moritz Wangenheim inherited the Green Park Hotel, which was to be held in trust after his death for the benefit of his children. However, it seems Joseph followed in his father’s foot steps, and not his mothers. The hotel was mortgaged to Tooth and Company during the late 1920s, and by 1930 the family had lost the freehold of the Green Park Hotel to the brewery giant.

 Green Park Hotel, Darlinghurst 1949. Photo: ANU, Noel Butlin Archives.

Green Park Hotel 1939. Photo: ANU, Noel Butlin Archives.

Footnote

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Green Park Hotel is to close for business in December 2020. The newspaper reported on November 24 2020:

“One of Sydney’s most historic inner city pubs will call last drinks this Christmas, before becoming a mental health clinic next year. The Green Park Hotel on Victoria Rd, Darlinghurst has been purchased by St Vincent’s Hospital as part of a planned expansion of its mental health and community outreach services. Affectionately known by locals as the ‘Greeny’, the hotel has been pulling beers for the past 127 years and has long been beloved by the LGBTQI community and a landmark venue for Mardi Gras celebrations. Hospitality group Solotel, which has owned the pub for more than 30 years, finalised the sale at between $5 to $10 million to the trustees of St Vincent’s Hospital on Monday, before staff were told on Tuesday morning.”

Reference

Gay History: Remembering A Forgotten Sydney, Growing Up Above The Green Park Hotel

In the 56 years since Deirdre Cusack called the Green Park Hotel home, she has never forgotten the brown paper that covered the cellar windows.

It had been there ever since the Japanese tried to invade Sydney Harbour in 1942, carefully placed to block out lights across a city fearing submarine attack.

The Green Park hotel in 1954.
The Green Park hotel in 1954.

The image feels a world away from the vibrant inner city watering hole the “Greenie” has become in 2020. Today it is both a haven and a refuge for Sydney’s LGBTQI community – “more than just a bar,” as one columnist said.

On Sunday night the 127-year-old hotel will call last drinks, after it was sold to the surrounding St Vincent’s Hospital to become a mental health clinic.

Hospitality group Solotel, which has owned the pub for more than 30 years, finalised the $5 to $10 million sale to the hospital trustees last month.

It caught the eye of Mrs Cusack, who was just one year old when her parents Sam and Fay McIntyre leased the Darlinghurst pub from Tooth’s Brewery in 1941. She would live above the corner pub –through a side door, past the ladies’ parlour and up the stairs – for 23 years until she married in 1964.

Deirdre Cusack at her home in Ormoston, Queensland.
Deirdre Cusack at her home in Ormoston, Queensland.CREDIT:PAUL HARRIS

Sydney felt different then. By law, publicans were not allowed to live off premises and the beer came in wooden barrels (the rum, too).

The pub closed at 6pm and never opened on Sundays. Across the road from the Green Park was a paper shop, a flower shop and a butcher with sawdust on the floor.

Darlinghurst was a place where everyone knew everyone,” Mrs Cusack said. “I can still remember the SP bookies. They had a place down in one of the terrace houses and you’d see this trail of men going to down to put a bet on the horses and coming back to the pub to have a beer.”

Until 1931 Australians were only allowed to bet on horse races with an on-course bookmaker, before radio and television gave rise to “starting price bookies”, who hung around the city’s pubs and clubs.

“I didn’t have any outside playing space, so I used to play out in the lane behind the pub and hit a tennis ball up against a brick wall with my friends,” Mrs Cusack said.

“Kings Cross then was not as bad as it became. My mother had no problem letting me and a girlfriend walk up to the Cross on Saturday night, when the [first-edition] papers would come out for Sunday.”

She still recalls the mouthwatering burgers she used to eye off at the Hasty Tasty diner under the Coca-Cola sign. “God, they looked delicious.”

When her father Sam died in 1952, Mrs Cusack said there was never any question that her mother would carry on managing the “drinking pub”.

“It didn’t have meals or anything like that. And the main bar was for men only, mainly doctors from the hospital.”

The ladies sat in the parlour. It was their meeting place, like going out for coffee, Mrs Cusack said. “One lady used to always wear a hat with a short veil over her face as she sipped her sherry. Another shelled her peas before going home to prepare dinner.”

And then there were the steel troughs under the beer taps, filled with gentian violet (a purple dye), “so when the beer overflowed, you couldn’t reuse it.”

When the Queen came to town: The royal tour drives past the Green Park hotel in 1954.
When the Queen came to town: The royal tour drives past the Green Park hotel in 1954.

Nothing stands out in Mrs Cusack’s memory quite as much as a 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth II arriving in Sydney on the Royal tour of 1954; a trip five years in the planning and the first televised event in Australian history.

But never mind the telly. “Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip drove right past the hotel, decorated with all the flags. Every time there was a Royal visit everyone came out. To think they went past our place, it was very exciting.”

Less exciting were the years after Mrs Cusack returned from living in the UK, aged 20, and her mother put her to work in the pub, “a gruelling job”.

“I remember, she said to me one day, ‘for goodness sake. Go and get a job – the look on your face would turn the beer sour.'”

She didn’t wait a second, running out to grab the paper before finding a job in the office at Qantas.

Hotel licence plates of Mrs Cusack's father, Sam McIntyre.
Hotel licence plates of Mrs Cusack’s father, Sam McIntyre.

From her home in Queensland, Mrs Cusack said it was sad to see the Green Park serve its final drinks, although she was glad the facade and features will be protected under heritage laws.

“In Australia they knock down too many buildings,” she said. “We go to Europe and we admire all the old buildings. In Australia, often all you’ve got is concrete and glass.

Reference

Gay History: From Stonewall To The White Horse: The Bay Area’s Part In Uprisings That Changed The World

Flyer for Gay Liberation Front protest at the Examiner Building October 31, 1969, Courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society
Flyer for Gay Liberation Front protest at the Examiner Building October 31, 1969, Courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society

“San Francisco is a refugee camp for homosexuals. We have fled here from every part of the nation, and like refugees elsewhere, we came not because it is so great here, but because it was so bad there. By the tens of thousands, we fled small towns where tobe ourselves would endanger our jobs and any hope of a decent life….”

Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto — Carl Wittman, December, 1969

Cover of Gay Sunshine, October 1970

By the time of the first night of protests at New York City’s Stonewall Inn, San Francisco had experienced months of demonstrations related to gay rights that would continue for the next few years. 

Unlike Stonewall, the disturbances in San Francisco started over job rights, and a bar was not involved. But because the disturbances spread and issues multiplied, they would eventually include at least three bars, including Oakland’s White Horse.

The people who lit the fuse were recent arrivals. Gale Chester Whittington came from Denver in 1968 and Leo Laurence from Indianapolis in 1966. 

Whittington got a job as an accounting clerk at the States Steamship Company (320 California). 

Laurence was a journalist for the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb and the editor of the Society for Individual Rights magazine Vector.They met when Whittington volunteered to write for Vector.

A Vector photographer shared a photo from a shoot of Laurence and Whittington with The Barb. It was paired with an article from March 23, 1969, titled “Homo Revolt: Don’t Hide it.” 

The article covered Laurence’s editorial call for gay revolution in Vector. Since the Barb had sex ads, it was read by several of Whittington’s straight colleagues at the shipping company. The day it was published, Whittington was fired. Because of the editorial Laurence was removed as editor of Vector.

Homo Revolt, Dont Hide It, Berkeley Barb, March 28, 1969

Whittington and Laurence then formed the Committee for Homosexual Freedom. Max Scheer, editor of The Barb, promised to cover their actions. On April 9, 1969 the picketing of the steamship company began with signs saying, “Let Gays Live,” “Free The Queers” and “Freedom for Homos Now.” 

The protests continued for months. In May, The Advocate picked up coverage of the protests and by June the Rev. Troy Perry had begun a sympathy strike at the company’s Los Angeles offices. 

Ultimately the protests didn’t succeed in getting Whittington’s job back, but because the San Francisco Chronicle, The Advocate and The Barb covered the protest (on an almost weekly basis) it spread the word nationally and CHF grew. 

In Whittington’s autobiographical work, Beyond Normal: The Birth of Gay Pride, he mentions that Hibiscus and Lendon Sadler (of the Cockettes) and Carl Wittman (author of Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto) all took part in early CHF protests. Wittman read early drafts of his manifesto to the group.

By May protests spread to a second site: Tower Records. Employee Frank Denaro was fired after a security guard reported to management that he had returned the wink of a male customer. Unlike the steamship company, however, the record store was swayed by public opinion and by June the management offered Denaro his job back.

States Steamship Protest, Berkeley Barb, April 25 – May 1, 1969

Purple rain
News about what was happening in San Francisco continued to spread. Berkeley Tribeprinted a letter saying Laurence’s articles, reprinted in a Minneapolis campus newspaper, had inspired a class in Homosexual Revolution from their Free University. In Beyond Normal, Whittington relates he received a telegram from New Yorkers who were at Stonewall and had been inspired by articles in The Barb. In October, both Laurence and Whittington were interviewed in the L.A. magazine Tangents.

By October 1969, Gay Liberation Front chapters opened in Berkeley and San Francisco. Two protests on Halloween show both coordination and fragmentation between new and old organizations. 

At the first, called “Friday of the Purple Hand,” the Society for Individual Rights worked with CHF and both GLF groups to protest the editorial policies of the San Francisco Examiner. Earlier that week, Robert Patterson of the Examiner had written “The Dreary Revels of S.F. ‘Gay’ Clubs” which referred to gays as “semi-males” and lesbians as “women who aren’t exactly women” as well as referring to both as deviates.

Around 100 protesters picketed the Examiner building, and then had printers ink dumped on them from an upper floor by Examiner employees. The protesters used the ink to make purple hand prints all over the building (which gave the protest its name). The protesters were then attacked by the police Tactical Squad. Twelve people were injured and fifteen were arrested.

Friday of the Purple Hand coverage, San Francisco Free Press

The second event that day was a protest of the Beaux Arts Ball in the Merchandise Mart by Gay Guerrilla Theater and the Gay Liberation Coalition. Laurence reported in the Berkeley Tribe that the protest was focused on the acceptance of laws that only allowed drag on Halloween and New Year’s. He reported:

“I don’t dig drag myself (can’t imagine being a bearded lady)…but by God, I do feel the drags should have the right to do their thing; not just twice a year, but every day; not just at a drag ball, but at work, school, church and on the streets.”

This was among the first confrontations between older gay organizations and newer, more radical groups. Others included a protest of a S.I.R. dinner in February 1972 where Willie Brown was speaking on reforming sex laws (protested because of the cover charge of $12) and a takeover of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) by the Gay Liberation Front in August 1970. GLF demanded that NACHO affirm its support of the Black Panther Party and Women’s Liberation and organize a national gay strike.

Clearly there was a generational difference between members of homophile organizations and the gay liberationists. Many of the younger generation had ties to the New Left and anti-war movements. 

Laurence had been in Chicago for the ’68 Democratic convention and Wittman had written for the SDS before, for example. GLF members formed a gay contingent for the Nov. 15, 1969 Moratorium March Against the War. And by and large they read the underground press, not the gay press.

Demands for White Horse Protest, Gay Sunshine, October 1970

Horse sense
The most dramatic confrontation between gay liberationists and gay bars came at the White Horse Bar in Oakland. Konstantin Berlandt, a long-time gay activist in Berkeley, was thrown out of the bar for selling Gay Sunshine by the owner Joe Johansen. The Gay Sunshine collective worked with the Berkeley GLF and picketed the bar. A list of demands included one that patrons be allowed to touch one another and slow dance. Within a week the bar capitulated to the protesters.

The White Horse wasn’t the only bar to raise the ire of liberationists.

Leonarda’s also refused to sell Gay Sunshineand a boycott was suggested (it’s hard to know how serious to take this, as the underground press kept reporting the bar’s name as “Leonardo’s”). The Stud also upset writers at the Berkeley Tribe by checking IDs at the door. They may, however, have just been opposed to bars as institutions. The article in the Tribesuggested:

“The bars can’t be liberated, they must be destroyed. They rip off our money, keep us in ghettos playing the same old weary games thinking that we are satisfied, and maintain all the divisions in Amerika — women and men, gay women and gay men, black and white, young and old. The Stud mentality in our heads has to be rooted out and killed too.”

Ultimately it was not the bars but the gay liberationists that disappeared as the 1970s progressed. I asked Gary Alinder, who was a member of Berkeley’s GLF, about burnout and the disappearance of Gay Lib in the ’70s.

“It evolved,” he said. “Gay liberation was a sudden uprising. Most of us were anti-organization. It was not meant to stay around for a long time. It was a burst of energy — an explosion. A second generation would come along that was more organized. But the message — to make people happy in themselves and come out — was valid.”

That burst of energy had a massive effect — it spread through LGBT organizations with programs like gay rap sessions to campuses across the country and created an explosion of new publications. Those publications and organizations did reach people. As a teen who picked up the Detroit Gay Liberator in the early ’70s, and who attended a gay rap meeting on my college campus, I can testify that those of us who followed were grateful for the work of the Stonewall generation.

Reference

Gay History: Rhodes: Closet Gay Man Who Hatched A Secret Society To Promote Empire?

The Early Years

Cecil John Rhodes was born on 5 July 1853 in the small hamlet of Bishops Stortford, England. He was the fifth son of Francis William Rhodes and his second wife, Louisa Peacock. A priest of the Church of England, his father served as curate of Brentwood Essex for fifteen years, until 1849, when he became the vicar of Bishop’s Stortford, where he remained until 1876. Rhodes had nine brothers and two sisters and attended the grammar school at Bishop’s Stortford. When he was growing up Rhodes read voraciously but vicariously, his favourite book being The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, but he equally adored the highly esteemed historian Edward Gibbon and his works on the great Roman Empire.

Cecil Rhodes as a boy. Source

Rhodes fell ill shortly after leaving school and, as his lungs were affected, it was decided that he should visit his brother, Herbert, who had recently immigrated to Natal. It was also believed, by both Rhodes and his father, that the business opportunities offered in South Africa would be able to provide Rhodes with a more promising future than staying in England. At the tender age of 17 Rhodes arrived in Durban on 1 September 1870. He brought with him three thousand pounds that his aunt had lent him and used it to invest in diamond diggings in Kimberley.

After a brief stay with the Surveyor-General of Natal, Dr. P. C. Sutherland, in Pietermaritzburg, Rhodes joined his brother on his cotton farm in the Umkomaas valley in Natal. By the time Rhodes arrived at the farm his brother had already left the farm to travel 650 kilometres north, to the diamond fields in Kimberley. Left on his own Rhodes began to work his brother’s farm, growing and selling its cotton, proving himself to be an astute businessman despite his young age. Cotton farming was not Rhodes’ passion and the diamond mines beckoned. At 18, in October 1871, Rhodes left the Natal colony to follow his brother to the diamond fields of Kimberley. In Kimberley he supervised the working of his brother’s claim and speculated on his behalf. Among his associates in the early days were John X Merriman and Charles D. Rudd, of the infamous Rudd Concession, who later became his partner in the De Beers Mining Company and the British South Africa Company.

In 1872 Rhodes suffered a slight heart attack. Partly to recuperate, but also to investigate the prospects of finding gold in the interior, the Rhodes brothers trekked north by ox wagon. Their trek took them along the missionary road in Bechuanaland as far north as Mafeking, then eastwards through the Transvaal as far as the Murchison range. The journey inspired a love of the country in Rhodes and marked the beginning of his interest in the road to the north and the northern interior itself.

In 1873 Rhodes left his diamond fields in the care of his partner, Rudd, and sailed for England to complete his studies. He was admitted to Oriel College Oxford, but only stayed for one term in 1873 and only returned for his second term in 1876. He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin’s inaugural lecture at Oxford, which reinforced his own attachment to the cause of British Imperialism. Among his Oxford associates were Rochefort Maguire, later a fellow of All Souls and a director of the British South Africa Company, and Charles Metcalfe. At university Rhodes was also taken up with the idea of creating a ‘secret society’ of British men who would be able to lead the world, and spread to all corners of the globe the spirit of the Englishman that Rhodes so admired. He wrote of this society,

Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule for the recovery of the United States for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire.’

His university career engendered in Rhodes his admiration for the Oxford ‘system’ which was eventually to mature in his scholarship scheme: ‘Wherever you turn your eye – except in science – an Oxford man is at the top of the tree’.

An Arch Imperialist

One of Rhodes’ guiding principles throughout his life, that underpinned almost all of his actions, was his firm belief that the Englishman was the greatest human specimen in the world and that his rule would be a benefit to all. Rhodes was the ultimate imperialist, he believed, above all else, in the glory of the British Empire and the superiority of the Englishman and British Rule, and saw it as his God given task to expand the Empire, not only for the good of that Empire, but, as he believed, for the good of all peoples over whom she would rule. At the age of 24 he had already shared this vision with his fellows in a tiny shack in a mining town in Kimberley, when he told them,

‘The object of which I intend to devote my life is the defence and extension of the British Empire. I think that object a worthy one because the British Empire stands for the protection of all the inhabitants of a country in life, liberty, property, fair play and happiness and it is the greatest platform the world has ever seen for these purposes and for human enjoyment’.

Rhodes’ British Empire corridor through Africa. Source

A few months later, in a confession written at Oxford in 1877, Rhodes articulated this same imperial vision, but with words that clearly showed his disdain for the people whom the British Empire should rule:

“I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimen of human being, what an alteration there would be in them if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence…if there be a God, I think that what he would like me to do is paint as much of the map of Africa British Red as possible…”

One of Rhodes’ greatest dreams was a ribbon of red, demarcating British territory, which would cross the whole of Africa, from South Africa to Egypt. Part of this vision was his desire to construct a Cape to Cairo railway, one of his most famous projects. It was this expansive vision of British Imperial control, and the great lengths that Rhodes went to in order to fulfil this vision, which led many of his contemporaries and his biographers to mark him as a great visionary and leader.

Rhodes was both ruthless and incredibly successful in his pursuit of this scheme of a great British Empire. His contemporaries marvelled both at his prowess and incredible energy and capacity, but they also shuddered at his callousness and depravity in all his pursuit. His contemporaries, both awed and appalled by the man, wrote of him as a man of original ideas who sought more than the mere ‘getting and spending which limits the ambitions and lays waste the powers of the average man’. Yet although many people at the time saw Rhodes as a man of great vision, an unconquerable leader with the ability to pursue his aims across the vast African continent, there were nonetheless dissident voices who were shocked by Rhodes’ actions and those of his British South Africa Company. One such voice was that of Olive Schreiner, who, initially awed by Rhodes, had come to abhor him. In April of 1897 she wrote, in a letter to her friend, John Merriman:

“We fight Rhodes because he means so much of oppression, injustice, & moral degradation to South Africa; – but if he passed away tomorrow there still remains the terrible fact that something in our society has formed the matrix which has fed, nourished, built up such a man!”

The King of Diamonds

Rhodes’ plans for the Cape To Cairo Railway, 1899 Source

Whilst at Oxford, Rhodes continued to prosper in Kimberley. Before his departure for Oxford Rhodes had realised that the changing laws in the Kimberley area would force the ‘small man’ out of the diamond fields and would only leave larger companies able to operate in the mines. In light of this he sought to consolidate a number of mines with his partner, Charles Rudd. Rhodes had also decided to move away from the ‘New Rush’ Kimberley mine fields, that were higher in the ground and thus more accessible, back to the lower yielding ‘Old Rush’ area. Here Rhodes and Rudd bought the costly claim of what was known as old De Beers (Vooruitzicht Farm) which owed its name to Johannes Nicolaas de Beer and his brother, Diederik Arnoldus de Beer, the original owners of the farm Vooruitzicht. It was this farm that would lend its name to Rhodes and Rudd’s ever growing diamond company.

In 1874 and 1875 the diamond fields were in the grip of depression, but Rhodes and Rudd were among those who stayed to consolidate their interests. They believed that diamonds would be numerous in the hard blue ground that had been exposed after the softer, yellow layer near the surface had been worked out. During this time the technical problem of clearing out the water that was flooding the mines became serious and he and Rudd obtained the contract for pumping the water out of the three main mines.

Rhodes had come to the realisation that the only way to avoid the cyclical boom and bust of the diamond industry was to have far greater control over the production and distribution of diamonds. And so, in April 1888, in search of an oligopoly over diamond production, Rhodes and Rudd launched the De Beers Consolidated Mines mining company. With 200 000 pounds capital the Company, of which Rhodes was secretary, owned the largest interest in mines in South Africa. Rhodes greatest coup was to get Barney Barnato, owner of the Kimberley mine, to go partnership with Rhodes’ De Beers Company. Of the encounter Barnato later wrote:

“When you have been with him half an hour you not only agree with him, but come to believe you have always held his opinion. No one else in the world could have induced me to into this partnership. But Rhodes had an extraordinary ascendancy over men: he tied them up, as he ties up everybody. It is his way. You can’t resist him; you must be with him.”

With his acquisition of most of the world’s diamond mines Rhodes became an incredibly rich man. But Rhodes was not after wealth for wealth’s sake, he was acutely aware of the relationship between money and power, and it was power which he sought. Hans Sauer wrote of a conversation he had had with Rhodes whilst looking over the Kimberley diamond mine, where Sauer had asked Rhodes, ‘what do you see here?’, and, Sauer writes, ‘with a slow sweep of his hand, Rhodes answered with the single word: “Power”.’

In the early 1880s gold was discovered in the Transvaal, sparking the Witwatersrand Gold Rush. Rhodes considered joining the rush to open gold mines in the region, but Rudd, convinced him that the Witwatersrand was merely the beginning, and that far greater gold fields lay to the north, in present day Zimbabwe and Zambia. As a result Rhodes held back while other Kimberley capitalists hastened to the Transvaal to stake the best claims. In 1887 when Rhodes finally did act and formed the Goldfields of South Africa Company with his brother Frank, most of the best claims were already taken. Goldfields South Africa performed very poorly, prompting Rhodes to look towards the north for the gold fields that Rudd had assured him were lying in wait.

The Statesman

In 1880 Rhodes prepared to enter public life at the Cape. With the incorporation of Griqualand West into the Cape Colony in 1877 the area obtained six seats in the Cape House of Assembly. Rhodes chose the constituency of Barkley West, a rural constituency in which Boer voters predominated, and at age 29 was elected as its parliamentary representative. Barkley West remained faithful to Rhodes even after the Jameson Raid and he continued as its member until his death.

The chief preoccupation of the Cape Parliament when Rhodes became a member was the future of Basutoland, where the ministry of Sir Gordon Sprigg was trying to restore order after a rebellion in 1880. The ministry had precipitated the revolt by applying its policy of disarmament to the Basuto. Seeking expansion to the north and with prospects of building his great dream of a Cape to Cairo railway, Rhodes persuaded Britain to establish a protectorate over Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in 1884, eventually leading to Britain annexing this territory.

Rhodes seemed to have immense influence in Parliament despite the fact that he was acknowledged to be a poor speaker, with a thin, high pitched voice, with little aptitude for oration and a poor physical presence. What made Rhodes nonetheless so incredibly convincing to his contemporaries has remained much of a mystery to his biographers.

The Push for Mashonaland

Rhodes’ imperial vision for Africa was never far from his mind. In 1888 Rhodes looked further north towards Matabeleland and Mashonaland, in present day Zimbabwe. Matabeleland fell squarely in the territory which Rhodes hoped to conquer, from the Cape to Cairo, in the name of the British Empire. It also was believed to hold vast, untapped gold fields, which Rudd believed would be of far greater value than those discovered in the Witwatersrand.

In pursuit of his imperial dream and in his desire to make up for the failure of his Gold Fields Mining Company, Rhodes began to explore ways in which to exploit the mineral wealth of Matabeleland and Mahsonaland. The King of Matabeleland, King Lobengula, who was believed by the British to also rule over Mashonaland, had already allowed a number of British miners mineral rights in his kingdom. He had also sent a number of his men to labour in the diamond mines, thus setting a precedence for engagement with him. However, the King had consistently stated quite clearly that he wanted no British interference in his own territory.

In 1887 Lobengula signed a treaty with the Transvaal Government, an act that convinced Rhodes that the Boere were trying to steal ‘his north’. By this stage the ‘scramble for Africa’ was also already well under way and Rhodes became convinced that the Germans, French and Portuguese were going to try to take Matabeleland. These fears made Rhodes rapidly mobilise in order to get Matabeleland under British control. Although the British government at the time was against further colonial expansion to the north of South Africa, Rhodes was able to use the threat of other imperial powers, such as Germany, taking over the land to push the British Government to take action.

The Government sent John Smith Moffat, the then Assistant Commissioner to Sir Sidney Shippard in Bechuanaland (now Botswana) who was well known to the Matabele Chief Lobengula as their fathers were friends, to negotiate a treaty with Lobengula. The result was the Moffat Treaty of February 1888, essentially a relaxed British protection treaty. The Moffat Treaty was however between Lobengula and the British Government, Rhodes himself was hardly a relevant player in this. Worried that the Moffat Treaty was too weak to hold Matabeleland, and convinced that the Dutch and Germans were making plans to take the territory and desperate for exclusive mining rights in the region, Rhodes concocted to his own plan to take control of the territory. With his business partner Rudd, Rhodes formed the British South Africa Company (BSAC), crafted on the British and Dutch East India company models. The BSAC was a commercial-political entity aiming at exploiting economic resources and political power to advance British finance capital.

Shortly after the Moffat Treaty, in March 1888, Rhodes sent his business partner Charles Rudd to get Lobengula to sign an exclusive mining concession to the British South Africa Company. When Rudd arrived at Lobengula’s kraal however, there were a number of other British concession hunters already there, seeking to undertake the exact same manoeuvre as Rhodes’ BSAC. Through Rhodes influence however, Rudd was able to win over the support of the local British officials staying with Lobengula, a move which ultimately convinced Lobengula that Rudd had more power and influence than any of the other petitioners seeking concessions from him.

After much negotiation Rudd was eventually able to get Lobengula to sign a concession giving exclusive mining rights to the BSAC in exchange for protection against the Boere and neighbouring tribes. This concession became known as the Rudd Concession. Lobengula’s young warriors were angry and inflamed and were itching to kill the white men who were entering their lands. Lobengula however feared his people would be defeated if they attacked the whites, and so it is likely that he signed the Rudd Concession in the hopes of gaining British protection and thereby preventing a Boer migration into his lands which would then incite his warriors to battle. For Lobengula his options were essentially to either concede to the British or to the Dutch. In the belief that he was protecting his interests he sided with the seemingly more lenient and liberal British. Like so many documents signed by Africans during the colonial period, the Rudd Concession was however not what it claimed to be, but rather became a justifying document for the colonisation of the Ndebele and the Shona.

Using the Rudd Concession, despite initial protests by the British Government, Rhodes managed to acquire a Royal Charter (approval from the British monarch) for his British South Africa Company. The Royal Charter allowed Rhodes to act on behalf of British interests in Matabeleland. It gave the company full imperial and colonial powers as it was allowed to create a police force, fly its own flag, construct roads, railways, telegraphs, engage in mining operations, settle on acquired territories and create financial institutions.

Rhodes convinced the British Government to give his company the right to control those parts of Matabeleland and Mashonaland that were ‘not in use’ by the African residents there and to provide ‘protection’ for the Africans on the land that was reserved for them. This proposal, which would cost the British taxpayer nothing but would extend the reaches of the British Empire, eventually found favour in London. The charter was officially granted on 29 October 1889. For Rhodes is BSAC with its Royal charter was the means whereby which to expand the British Empire, which a timid government and penurious British treasury were not about to accomplish

Rhodes reclining on one of his many voyages to the north. Source

After gaining his charter from the British Government Rhodes and his compatriots in the BSAC essentially felt that Matabeleland and Mashonaland were now under their control. Rhodes felt that war with the Ndebele was inevitable and would not allow his plans for extending the British Empire to be thwarted by “a savage chief with about 8 000 warriors”. Rhodes was determined that white settlers would soon occupy Matabeleland and Mashonaland, and the Ndebele could not resist them.

To gain power over Matabeleland and Mashonaland Rhodes hired Frank Johnson and Maurice Heany, two mercenaries, to raise a force of 5 00 white men who would support BammaNgwato, enemies of Lobengula’s, in an attack on Lobengula’s kraal. Johnson offered to deliver to Rhodes the Ndebele and Shona territory in nine month for £87 500. Johnson was joined by Frederick Selous, a hunter with professed close knowledge of Mashonaland. Rhodes advised Johnson to select as recruits primarily the sons of rich families, with the intention that, if the attack did fail and the British were captured, the British Government would be left with no choice but to send armed forces into Matabeleland to rescue the sons of Britain’s elite. In the end Johnson’s attack was called off because Rhodes had received news that Lobengula was going to allow Rhodes’ men into Matabele and Mashonaland without any opposition.

Despite Lobengula capitulating and giving permission for vast numbers of BSAC miners to enter his territory, Rhodes calculated a new plan to gain power in the region. In 1890 Rhodes sent a ‘Pioneer Column’ into Mashonaland, a column consisting of around 192 prospecting miners and around 480 armed troopers of the newly formed British South Africa Company Police, who were ostensibly there to ‘protect’ the miners. By sending in this column, Rhodes had deviously planned a move which would either force Lobengula to attack the settlers and then be crushed, or force him to allow a vast military force to take seat in his country. In the words of Rutherfoord Harris, a compatriot of Rhodes:

“….if he attack us, he is doomed, if he does not, his fangs will be drawn and the pressure of civilisation on all his border will press more and more heavily upon him, and the desired result, the disappearance of the Matabele as a power, if delayed is yet the more certain.”

The men who formed part of the Pioneer Column were all promised both gold concessions and land if they were successful in settling in Mashonaland.

On 13 September 1890, a day after the Pioneer Column arrived in Mashonaland,Rhodes’s BSAC invaded and occupied Mashonaland without any resistance from Lobengula. They settled at the site of what was later to become the town of Salisbury, present day Harare, marking the beginning of white settler occupation on the Zimbabwean plateau. They raised the Union Jack (the British national flag) in Salisbury, proclaiming it British territory.

The prospectors and the company had hoped to find a ‘second Rand’ from the ancient gold mines of the Mashona, but the gold had been worked out of the ground long before. After failing to find this perceived ‘Second Rand’, Rhodes, instead of allowing the settlers mining rights, as had been agreed to by Lobengula, granted farming land to settler pioneers, something which went expressly against the Rudd Concession.

The end of the Matabele

In conceding Mashonaland to the BSAC Lobengula had avoided going to war with the British and had kept his people alive, and much of his territory intact. But unfortunately he had only been able to delay the inevitable. With no gold was found in Mashonaland, Rhodes’ BSAC was facing complete financial ruin. Leander Jameson suggested to Rhodes that ‘getting Matabeleland open would give us a tremendous life in shares and everything else’. Gaining the Matabeleland territory would also play directly into Rhodes megalomaniac vision of expanding the British Empire across Africa.

And so, in 1893, the BSAC eventually clashed with the Ndebele, in what Rhodes had perceived as an inevitable war. The settlers justified their initial attacks against the Ndebele to the British Government by arguing that they were protecting the Shona against the ‘vicious’ and ‘savage’ Ndebele impis. This was however a ploy, consciously concucted by Jameson in conjunction with Rhodes, in order to ensure that the British Government would not object to their further intrusions into Matabeleland by creating the impression that the Ndebele were the first aggressors. To fight their war the company recruited large bands of young mercenaries who were promised land and gold in exchange for their fighting power.

The final blow any hopes that the Ndebele might avoid war, came when Jameson was able to convince the British Government that Lobengula had sent a massive impi of 7 000 men into Mashonaland, who then gave Jameson leave to engage in defensive tactics. There is no indication that the impi Jamseon reported on had ever existed. Lobengula himself, in a last appeal to the legal/rational system the British seemed to so fervently uphold, wrote to the British High Commissioner saying, “Every day I hear from you reports which are nothing but lies. I am tired of hearing nothing but lies. What Impi of mine have your people seen and where do they come from? I know nothing of them.”

An artist’s impression of the British battling against the Ndebele Source

It was however far too late for Lobengula. With the permission to engage in defensive action from the British Government Rhodes joined Jameson in Matabeleland and his group of mercenary soldiers struck a quick and fatal blow at the Ndebele. Rhodes’ mercenaries were in possession of the latest in munitions technology, carrying with them into the veld maxim guns, which, like machine guns, could fire rapid rounds. The Ndebele Impis were helpless in the face of this brutal killing technology and were slaughtered in their thousands. Lobengula himself realised he could not face the British in open combat and so he burnt down his own capital and fled with a few warriors. He is presumed to have died shortly afterwards in January of 1894 from ill health.

The war against the Matabele, fought mostly by voluntary mercenaries, cost around £66 000. Most of the money to pay for this war came directly from Rhodes Consolidated Goldfields Company, which by this point had begun to produce excellent yields from the deeper lying gold fields. The conquered lands were named Southern and Northern Rhodesia, to honour Rhodes. Today, these are the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. By the 1890s these conquered territories were being called Southern and Nothern Rhodesia.

The Precursor to Apartheid

In July 1890 Rhodes became the Prime Minister of the Cape colony, after getting support from the English-speaking white and non-white voters and a number of Afrikaner-bond, whom he had offered shares in the British South Africa Company. One of Rhodes most notorious and infamous undertakings as Prime Minister in South Africa, was his institution of the Glen Grey Act, a document that is often seen as the blueprint for the Apartheid regime that was to come.

On 27 July 1894, Rhodes gave a rousing speech, full of arrogance and optimism, to the Parliament of Cape Town that lasted more than 100 minutes. In this speech Rhodes was opening debate on the ‘Native’ Bill that he had been working on for two years. The bill had initially been intended merely as an administrative act to bring more order to the overcrowded eastern Cape district of Glen Grey, but in his typical fashion Rhodes had turned this routine administrative task into something far bigger, the formulation of what he described as a ‘Native Bill for Africa’. In much of his speech Rhodes set out, in clear cut terms, the chief purpose of his ‘Native Bill’, to force more Africans into the wage-labour market, a pursuit which would undoubtedly also help Rhodes in his own mining claims in Kimberley and the Transvaal.

Rhodes opened his speech on the Glen Grey Act with the following words:

‘There is, I think, a general feeling that the natives are a distinct source of trouble and loss to the country. Now, I take a different view. When I see the labour troubles that are occurring in the United States, and when I see the troubles that are going to occur with the English people in their own country on the social question and the labour question, I feel rather glad that the labour question here is connected with the native question.’

He then continued,

‘The proposition that I would wish to put to the House is this, that I do not feel that the fact of our having to live with the natives in this country is a reason for serious anxiety. In fact, I think the natives should be a source of great assistance to most of us. At any rate, if the whites maintain their position as the supreme race, the day may come when we shall all be thankful that we have the natives with us in their proper position….. I feel that I am responsible for about two millions of human beings. The question which has submitted itself to my mind with regard to the natives is this ”” What is their present state? I find that they are increasing enormously. I find that there are certain locations for them where, without any right or title to the land, they are herded together. They are multiplying to an enormous extent, and these locations are becoming too small…. The natives there are increasing at an enormous rate. The old diminutions by war and pestilence do not occur… W e have given them no share in the government ”” and I think rightly, too ”” and no interest in the local development of their country. What one feels is that there are questions like bridges, roads, education, plantations of trees, and various local questions, to which the natives might devote themselves with good results. At present we give them nothing to do, because we have taken away their power of making war ”” an excellent pursuit in its way ”” which once employed their minds…. We do not teach them the dignity of labour, and they simply loaf about in sloth and laziness. They never go out and work. This is what we have failed to consider with reference to our native population… What I would like in regard to a native area is that there should be no white men in its midst. I hold that the natives should be apart from white men, and not mixed up with them… The Government looks upon them as living in a native reserve, and desires to make the transfer and alienation of land as simple as possible… We fail utterly when we put natives on an equality with ourselves. If we deal with them differently and say, ” Yes, these people have their own ideas,” and so on, then we are all right ; but when once we depart from that position and put them on an equality with ourselves, we may give the matter up… As to the question of voting, we say that the natives are in a sense citizens, but not altogether citizens ”” they are still children….’

The Glen Grey Act was to pressure Africans to enter the labour market firstly by severely restricting African access to land and landownership rights so that they could not become owners of the means of production, and secondly by imposing a 10 shilling labour tax on all Africans who could not prove that they had been in ‘bona fide’ wage employment for at least three months in a year. This land shortage coupled with a tax for not engaging in wage labour would push thousands of Africans into the migrant labour market. These were all measures essentially designed to ensure a system of labour migration which would feed the mines in both Kimberley and the Rand with cheap migrant labour. This section of the act instigated the terrible migrant-labour system that was to be so destructive in 20th century South Africa.

Another pernicious outcome of the Glen Grey Act was its affected on African land rights claims and restricted and controlled where they could live. According to the act ‘natives’, as African peoples were then termed, were no longer allowed to sell land without the permission of the governor, nor where they allowed to divide or sublet the land or give it as inheritance to more than one heir. The act also laid out that the Glen Grey area and the Transkei should remain “purely native territories”. This act was eventually to become the foundation of the 1913 Natives Land Act, a precursor to much of the Apartheid policy of separate development and the creation of the Bantustans.

Lastly the Glen Grey Act radically reduced the voting franchise for Africans. One of Rhodes primary policies as Prime Minister was to aim for the creation of a South African Federation under the British flag. A unified South Africa was an incredibly important political goal for Rhodes, and so when the Afrikaner Bondsmen came to Rhodes to complain about the number and rise of propertied Africans, who were competing with the Afrikaners and characteristically voted for English, rather than Afrikaans, representative. In response to the Afrikaners’ complaints, Rhodes decided to give them, in the Glen Grey Act, a policy which would disenfranchise the Africans competing with Afrikaners whilst also ensuring Africans could not own farms which would compete with the Afrikaners.

To disenfranchise Africans the Act raised the property requirements for the franchise and required each voter to be able to write his own name, address and occupation before being allowed to vote. This radically curtailed the number of Africans who could vote, essentially marking the beginning of the end for the African franchise. This new law allowed for the voter-less annexation of Pondoland. The Glen Grey Act also denied the vote to Africans from Pondoland no matter their education or property. Through the adoption of the Act, Rhodes managed to gradually persuade Parliament to abandon Britain’s priceless nineteenth-century ideal that in principle all persons, irrespective of colour, were equal before the law.

The Glen Grey Act was vigorously opposed by the English speaking members of the Cape Parliament, but Rhodes, with his forceful character, was able to push the act through Parliament, and in August 1984 Rhodes’ Glen Grey Act became law. The Glen Grey Act, which created the migrant labour system, formalised the ‘native reserves’ and removed the franchise of almost all Africans, is seen by many as lying the ground work for the Apartheid system of the 20th century.

The Fall of Giants

By 1895, at the height of his powers, Rhodes was the unquestioned master of South Africa, ruling over the destiny of the Cape and its white and African subjects, controlling nearly all of the world’s diamonds and much of its gold, and effectively ruling over three colonial dependencies in the heart of Africa.

‘The Rhodes Colosuss striding from Cape Town to Cairo’, from Punch Magazine, 1892 Source

Although Rhodes’ policies were instrumental in the development of British imperial policies in South Africa, he did not, however, have direct political power over the Boer Republic of the Transvaal. He often disagreed with the Transvaal government’s policies and felt he could use his money and his power to overthrow the Boer government and install a British colonial government supporting mine-owners’ interests in its place. In 1895, Rhodes precipitated his own spectacular fall from power when he supported an attack on the Transvaal under the leadership of his old friend, Leander Jameson. It was a complete failure and Rhodes had to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape and head of the British South Africa Company in January 1896. After having befriended the Afrikaners for so many years, Rhodes’ support of the Jameson Raid and his attempts to get the miners in Johannesburg to rise up in a coup against the leaders of the Transvaal, were seen by the Bondsmen and Afrikaners as a complete betrayal, and Rhodes’ hopes of ever uniting South Africa under one flag were dashed against the rocks.

Despite his meteoric loss of power and prestige Rhodes nonetheless continued his political activities. In mid 1896 the Shona and Ndebele people in Southern Rhodesia, present day Zimbabwe, rose up against their colonial oppressors in a bid for freedom. Rhodes personally travelled to the region to take charge of the colonial response. In his attacks on the Ndebele and Shona he was vindictive, resorting to a scorched earth policy and destroying all their villages and crops.

After months of fighting Rhodes decided that conciliation was the only option. Looking to negotiate a peace settlement with the Ndebele and Shona he headed into the Matopo Mountains where a great indaba was held. Rhodes asked the chiefs why the Africans had risen up in war against the colonisers. The chiefs replied that the Africans had for decades been humiliated by the white settlers, subjected to police brutality and pushed into forced labour. Rhodes listened to the complaints and told the chiefs, “All that is over”. The chiefs saw this as a promise that the conditions for them and their countrymen would be improved, and so they agreed with Rhodes that they would end their hostilities. As a part of their agreement Rhodes spent many days in the Matopo hills, and every day the Ndebele would come to him and voice all their complaints. In belief that their worries and complaints would be given just recognition, the Ndebele and Shona chiefs laid down their arms and returned to their fields. When he left Rhodes was lauded by the people whose suffering by the hands of colonists was only to increase in the next century, as the ‘Umlamulanmkunzi’, the peacemaker.

Vintage postage stamp of Cecil John Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia former Zimbabwe.

Thereafter, Rhodes was in ill-health, but he began concentrating on developing Rhodesia and especially in extending the railway, which he dreamed would one day reach Cairo, Egypt.

After the Anglo-Boer war that broke out in October 1899, Rhodes rushed to Kimberley to organise the defence of the town. However, his health was worsened by the siege, and after travelling to Europe he returned to the Cape in February 1902. He died on 26 March 1902 at Muizenberg in the Cape Colony (now Cape Town). Reportedly some of his last words were, ‘so little done, so much to do’. Rhodes was buried at the Matopos Hills, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He left £6 million (approx USD  960 million in 2015), most of which went to Oxford University to establish the Rhodes scholarships to provide places at Oxford for students from the United States, the British colonies, and Germany.

Rhodes never married and he did not have any known children and there is some suggestion that he was homosexual. This suggestion is based on the care and concern he showed to some men, but it is not enough to offer any solid truth

Almost 114 years after the death of Cecil Rhodes his memory lives on, with the Rhodes Must Fall campaign spreading from Cape Town to Oxford.

Once glorified by white colonialists, Rhodes is now more widely viewed as a prime villain in southern African history. Since his death he has been the subject of more than 30 biographies, so one is left to wonder if there is anything new that could be said about him. An attempt is made in the latest book by Robin Brown, The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order – an attempt that fails.

The main claim of the book is that Rhodes established a “secret society” whose task was to extend British rule across the globe. This society continued to exist in different guises long after Rhodes’ death in 1902. Thereafter the society came to operate within, or under the guise of, other bodies – the Rhodes Trust operating as the “top layer of the structure”; in 1909 the society was renamed the Round Table; and from 1920 the Institute of International Affairs became its new face.

… a homosexual hegemony – which was already operative in the Secret Society – went on to influence, if not control, British politics at the beginning of the twentieth century. 

Rhodes himself, the book alleges, was gay, and because homosexuality was a criminal offence in Britain at the time, he realised that gays only survived if they operated in:

… a society that remained secret, ring-fenced by wealth and political influence. 

So it appears that the society’s secrecy was necessitated by both imperial aspirations and sexual inclinations.

The book contains major flaws, the chief of which is the lack of solid, supporting evidence. Brown claims that “Rhodes documented everything” – which was not actually the case in this regard. Just about the only documentary evidence cited to support the existence of this secret society is the codicil attached to Rhodes’ first will, which did indeed proclaim his intention to form such a society. 

The problem is that this will was drawn up in 1877 when Rhodes had not yet accumulated great wealth. According to this early will he would leave all his worldly goods in trust to allow for the formation of a secret society, but his limited wealth at the time could hardly have made this possible. 

The plan to form such a society also did not appear in Rhodes’ final will. One has to agree with Robert L. Rotberg – whose biography of Rhodes is the most substantial – that to read Rhodes’ plan today is:

… to sense the ruminations and even fantasies of a madcap bumbler.

Each chapter of Brown’s book has just a handful of endnotes, and there are hardly any references to source material that might substantiate the claims made. The problem is highlighted on pages 237-38. First it is stated that there is “clear evidence” that Lord Alfred Milner took over and transformed the secret society after Rhodes’ death. But on the very next page Brown writes that during this transformation process Milner “kept things covert” so that ‘there is little hard evidence’ of the society’s existence at the time.

This is the problem throughout the book – because the society was so secret it presumably kept no surviving records, meaning that there is no proof of its existence. The book thus comes to be based heavily on surmise and assertion. While critics can argue that it is impossible to prove that the society existed at all, Brown can retort that it is impossible to prove that it did not exist. What cannot be contested is that the book lacks referenced source material to substantiate its claims.

The suggestion that the Rhodes Trust was closely linked to the secret society is not credible. In Anthony Kenny’s massive bookon the history of the trust there are only three brief references to the idea of a secret society – and one of those is to a letter by Leo Amery stating that there was no such society.

The book contains some basic errors which undermine one’s confidence in the content and analysis. The cotton farm where Rhodes joined his brother on arrival in Natal in 1870 was not north-east of Durban, but to the west (p.6). Rhodes was not “of the era of British reformers who caused slavery to be outlawed”, nor did he display “liberal attitudes towards blacks” (p.19). Jameson was imprisoned for four months, not one (p.22). Rhodes’ brokers were not John Rudd and Robert Moffat – they were Charles Rudd and J.S. Moffat (p.57). 

George V did not precede Victoria (p.154). Clinton’s presidential nomination speech was in 1991, not 1981 (p.168). Chamberlain was the colonial secretary, not foreign secretary (p.222 and elsewhere).

The book would have worked better had it been presented as an examination of the personal networks that Rhodes developed. There is no doubt that he succeeded in cultivating influential figures in the world of politics, business and finance in Britain, but Brown’s attempt to conjure up a secret society out of these networks is misguided and not adequately substantiated.

he book adds another dimension to this central thesis, making a rather startling assertion on page 144:

Reference

12 Politically Incorrect Toys We Never Knew We Were Missing

Warning: Some people might find the following images to be offensive.

It seems like just yesterday that Little Suzy and Bobby were playing with miniature minstrel kits and toy dogs that could smoke cigarettes. Well… maybe not yesterday.

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign titled “Politically Incorrect Toys,” our eyes have been opened to the ridiculous and highly insensitive world of vintage playthings. From a suspiciously accurate replica of a detective’s gun to a packet of “housewife” necessities aimed at young girls, the project seeks to bring odd relics of our past back into the spotlight.

“This project is a social commentary on how toys have changed over the years and how we, as a society can change our views about what is or is not socially acceptable,” explains Hawaii-based photographer David Murphey, the mastermind behind “Politically Incorrect Toys,” on his Kickstarter page.

“As a country, we’ve made great strides to equality, but at the same time we’ve gone backwards in some ways. We’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves and enjoy the individuality in each other. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put aside some of our sensitivities (once in a while) and find humor in our differences?”

Murphey has photographed a plethora of strange (and often shocking) toys, hoping to create a limited edition photography portfolio of all the knick knacks that somehow evaded exile on the Island of Misfit Toys. Scroll through a preview of the portfolio below, but be warned — your eyebrows will likely rise in confusion. If you’re hooked on the idea, you can help fund the project here.

1. Tiny Ding Dong

tiny

2. The Smoking Pet

smoking

3. Detective Gun

dick

4. A Gay School Bus

gay

5. Minstrel and Chinese Makeup Kits

makeup

6. A Chemtoy Cap Bomb
7. A Red Indian

red indian

8. ET Finger
9. Mary the Housewife

et

10. Junkyard Dog

dog

11. Beetle Bailey Rubber Band Gun


12. Am I Like Father

Reference

Gay History: Debunking The ‘Gaydar’ Myth

Two people dress up as Gaydar bots during San Francisco’s 2014 gay pride parade. Scott Schiller/flickr, CC BY-NC

Kids are often told that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Even so, people often believe they can rely on their gut to intuit things about other people. Stereotypes often influence these impressions, whether it’s that a black man is dangerous, a woman won’t be a good leader or a fashionable man is gay.

Stereotypes related to gay men and lesbians often operate under the guise of “gaydar” rather than stereotyping. “Gaydar” (a portmanteau of “gay” and “radar”) is a term that first appeared in the 1980s and refers to a “sixth sense” for identifying who is gay. Like many purported intuitions, however, gaydar often relies on stereotypes. 

While many people believe stereotyping is wrong, calling it “gaydar” merely provides a cover for using stereotypical traits – like someone’s fashion sense, profession or hairstyle – to jump to conclusions about someone being gay. Nonetheless, some researchers have published studies that, at first glance, appear to show that people have accurate gaydar.

In some recent work, my colleagues and I have been able to demonstrate how the perpetuation of the gaydar myth has unintended negative consequences. We’ve also identified a mathematical flaw in some previous gaydar research, calling into question the results. 

Stereotyping in disguise

My colleagues and I suspected that even people who would normally try to refrain from stereotyping might be more likely to use gay stereotypes if they are led to believe they have gaydar.

To test this idea, we conducted an experiment. We told some participants that scientific evidence says gaydar was a real ability, led others to believe that gaydar is just another term for stereotyping and said nothing about gaydar to a third group (the control). 

Participants then judged whether men were gay or straight based on information ostensibly taken from social media profiles. Some of the men had interests (or “likes”) that related to gay stereotypes, like fashion, shopping or theater. Others had interests related to straight stereotypes, like sports, hunting or cars, or “neutral” interests unrelated to stereotypes, like reading or movies. This design allowed us to assess how often people jumped to the conclusion that men were gay based on stereotypically gay interests. Those who were told gaydar is real stereotyped much more than the control group, and participants stereotyped much less when they had been told that gaydar is just another term for stereotyping. 

These patterns provided strong support for the idea that belief in gaydar encourages stereotyping by simply disguising it under a different label. 

What’s the big deal?

In some ways, the idea of gaydar – even if it’s just stereotyping – seems useful at best and harmless at worst. But the very fact that it seems harmless may actually be responsible for its most pernicious effects. Using gaydar as a way to talk innocuously or jokingly about stereotyping – “Oh, that guy sets off my gaydar” – trivializes stereotyping and makes it seem like no big deal. 

But we know that stereotypes have many negative consequences, so we shouldn’t be encouraging it on any level. 

First, stereotyping can facilitate prejudice. In a study on prejudice-based aggression, we had participants play a game that involved administering electric shocks to a subject in the other room. Participants learned only one thing about this other person, either that he was gay or simply liked shopping (people tend to assume men who like shopping are gay). 

In one condition, therefore, the participants knew that the man was gay and in the other they might have privately inferred that he was gay though it wasn’t confirmed, but that wasn’t known to anyone else (who might have accused them of being prejudiced). 

These conditions are especially important for a subset of people who are covertly prejudiced: They’re aware that they’re prejudiced and ok with it, but don’t want others to know. We can identify these people with some well-established questionnaire measures, and we know that they express prejudice only when they’re able to get away with it. 

As we predicted, these covertly prejudiced people tended to refrain from shocking the man who was confirmed as gay, but delivered extremely high levels of shocks to the man who liked shopping. If they had shocked the first man, people could accuse them of prejudice (“You shocked him because he was gay!”). But if others accused participants of prejudice in the second condition, it could be plausibly denied (“I didn’t think he was gay!”). In other words, stereotyping can give people opportunities to express prejudices without fear of reprisal.

Second, stereotypes – even innocuous ones – are troublesome for a number of reasons: They lead us to think narrowly about people before we get to know them, they can justify discrimination and oppression, and, for members of stereotyped groups, they can even lead to depression and other mental health problems. Encouraging stereotyping under the guise of gaydar contributes – directly or indirectly – to stereotyping’s downstream consequences.

But what if gaydar is actually accurate?

Some researchers say that stereotypes about gay people possess a grain of truth, which could lend credence to the idea of having accurate gaydar.

In these studies, researchers presented pictures, sound clips and videos of real gay and straight people to the participants, who then categorized them as gay or straight.

Half of the people in the pictures, clips and videos were gay and half were straight, which meant that the participants would demonstrate an accurate gaydar if their accuracy rate were significantly higher than 50 percent. Indeed, participants tended to have about 60 percent accuracy, and the researchers concluded that people really do possess an accurate gaydar. Many studies have replicated these results, with their authors – and the media – touting them as evidence that gaydar exists.

Not so fast…

But as we’ve been able to show in two recent papers, all of these previous studies fall prey to a mathematical error that, when corrected, actually leads to the opposite conclusion: Most of the time, gaydar will be highly inaccurate

How can this be, if people in these studies are accurate at rates significantly higher than 50 percent?

There’s a problem in the basic premise of these studies: Namely, having a pool of people in which 50 percent of the targets are gay. In the real world, only around 3 to 8 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

What does this mean for interpreting the 60 percent accuracy rate? Think about what the 60 percent accuracy means for the straight targets in these studies. If people have 60 percent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 percent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorized. In a world where 95 percent of people are straight, 60 percent accuracy means that for every 100 people, there will be 38 straight people incorrectly assumed to be gay, but only three gay people correctly categorized. 

Therefore, the 60 percent accuracy in the lab studies translates to 93 percent inaccuracy for identifying who is gay in the real world (38 / [38 + 3] = 92.7 percent). Even when people seem gay – and set off all the alarms on your gaydar – it’s far more likely that they’re straight. More straight people will seem to be gay than there are actual gay people in total. 

If you’re disappointed to learn that your gaydar might not operate as well as you think it does, there’s a quick fix: Rather than coming to a snap judgment about people based on what they wear or how they talk, you’re probably better off just asking them.

The invention of AI ‘gaydar’ could be the start of something much worse

Researchers claim they can spot gay people from a photo, but critics say we’re revisiting pseudoscience

Two weeks ago, a pair of researchers from Stanford University made a startling claim. Using hundreds of thousands of images taken from a dating website, they said they had trained a facial recognition system that could identify whether someone was straight or gay just by looking at them. The work was first covered by The Economist, and other publications soon followed suit, with headlines like “New AI can guess whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph” and “AI Can Tell If You’re Gay From a Photo, and It’s Terrifying.”

As you might have guessed, it’s not as straightforward as that. (And to be clear, based on this work alone, AI can’t tell whether someone is gay or straight from a photo.) But the research captures common fears about artificial intelligence: that it will open up new avenues for surveillance and control, and could be particularly harmful for marginalized people. One of the paper’s authors, Dr Michal Kosinski, says his intent is to sound the alarm about the dangers of AI, and warns that facial recognition will soon be able to identify not only someone’s sexual orientation, but their political views, criminality, and even their IQ. SOME WARN WE’RE REPLACING THE CALIPERS OF PHYSIOGNOMY WITH NEURAL NETWORKS

With statements like these, some worry we’re reviving an old belief with a bad history: that you can intuit character from appearance. This pseudoscience, physiognomy, was fuel for the scientific racism of the 19th and 20th centuries, and gave moral cover to some of humanity’s worst impulses: to demonize, condemn, and exterminate fellow humans. Critics of Kosinski’s work accuse him of replacing the calipers of the 19th century with the neural networks of the 21st, while the professor himself says he is horrified by his findings, and happy to be proved wrong. “It’s a controversial and upsetting subject, and it’s also upsetting to us,” he tells The Verge

But is it possible that pseudoscience is sneaking back into the world, disguised in new garb thanks to AI? Some people say machines are simply able to read more about us than we can ourselves, but what if we’re training them to carry out our prejudices, and, in doing so, giving new life to old ideas we rightly dismissed? How are we going to know the difference? 

CAN AI REALLY SPOT SEXUAL ORIENTATION? 

First, we need to look at the study at the heart of the recent debate, written by Kosinski and his co-author Yilun Wang. Its results have been poorly reported, with a lot of the hype coming from misrepresentations of the system’s accuracy. The paper states: “Given a single facial image, [the software] could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men in 81 percent of cases, and in 71 percent of cases for women.” These rates increase when the system is given five pictures of an individual: up to 91 percent for men, and 83 percent for women. 

On the face of it, this sounds like “AI can tell if a man is gay or straight 81 percent of the time by looking at his photo.” (Thus the headlines.) But that’s not what the figures mean. The AI wasn’t 81 percent correct when being shown random photos: it was tested on a pair of photos, one of a gay person and one of a straight person, and then asked which individual was more likely to be gay. It guessed right 81 percent of the time for men and 71 percent of the time for women, but the structure of the test means it started with a baseline of 50 percent — that’s what it’d get guessing at random. And although it was significantly better than that, the results aren’t the same as saying it can identify anyone’s sexual orientation 81 percent of the time. “PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF A SITUATION WHERE [YOU’RE IN A CROWD] AND A COMPUTER IDENTIFIES WHETHER YOU’RE GAY.”

As Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who wrote a blog post critiquing the paper, told The Verge: “People are scared of a situation where you have a private life and your sexual orientation isn’t known, and you go to an airport or a sporting event and a computer scans the crowd and identifies whether you’re gay or straight. But there’s just not much evidence this technology can do that.”

Kosinski and Wang make this clear themselves toward the end of the paper when they test their system against 1,000 photographs instead of two. They ask the AI to pick out who is most likely to be gay in a dataset in which 7 percent of the photo subjects are gay, roughlyreflecting the proportion of straight and gay men in the US population. When asked to select the 100 individuals most likely to be gay, the system gets only 47 out of 70 possible hits. The remaining 53 have been incorrectly identified. And when asked to identify a top 10, nine are right.

If you were a bad actor trying to use this system to identify gay people, you couldn’t know for sure you were getting correct answers. Although, if you used it against a large enough dataset, you might get mostly correct guesses. Is this dangerous? If the system is being used to target gay people, then yes, of course. But the rest of the study suggests the program has even further limitations. 

WHAT CAN COMPUTERS REALLY SEE THAT HUMANS CAN’T?

It’s also not clear what factors the facial recognition system is using to make its judgements. Kosinski and Wang’s hypothesis is that it’s primarily identifying structural differences: feminine features in the faces of gay men and masculine features in the faces of gay women. But it’s possible that the AI is being confused by other stimuli — like facial expressions in the photos. THE AI MIGHT BE IDENTIFYING STEREOTYPES, NOT BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES

This is particularly relevant because the images used in the study were taken from a dating website. As Greggor Mattson, a professor of sociology at Oberlin College, pointed out in a blog post, this means that the images themselves are biased, as they were selected specifically to attract someone of a certain sexual orientation. They almost certainly play up to our cultural expectations of how gay and straight people should look, and, to further narrow their applicability, all the subjects were white, with no inclusion of bisexual or self-identified trans individuals. If a straight male chooses the most stereotypically “manly” picture of himself for a dating site, it says more about what he thinks society wants from him than a link between the shape of his jaw and his sexual orientation. 

To try and ensure their system was looking at facial structure only, Kosinski and Wang used software called VGG-Face, which encodes faces as strings of numbers and has been used for tasks like spotting celebrity lookalikes in paintings. This program, they write, allows them to “minimize the role [of] transient features” like lighting, pose, and facial expression. 

But researcher Tom White, who works on AI facial system, says VGG-Face is actually very good at picking up on these elements. White pointed this out on Twitter, and explained to The Verge over email how he’d tested the software and used it to successfully distinguish between faces with expressions like “neutral” and “happy,” as well as poses and background color.


A figure from the paper showing the average faces of the participants, and the difference in facial structures that they identified between the two sets.
Image: Kosinski and Wang

Speaking to The Verge, Kosinski says he and Wang have been explicit that things like facial hair and makeup could be a factor in the AI’s decision-making, but he maintains that facial structure is the most important. “If you look at the overall properties of VGG-Face, it tends to put very little weight on transient facial features,” Kosinski says. “We also provide evidence that non-transient facial features seem to be predictive of sexual orientation.”

The problem is, we can’t know for sure. Kosinski and Wang haven’t released the program they created or the pictures they used to train it. They do test their AI on other picture sources, to see if it’s identifying some factor common to all gay and straight, but these tests were limited and also drew from a biased dataset — Facebook profile pictures from men who liked pages such as “I love being Gay,” and “Gay and Fabulous.”

Do men in these groups serve as reasonable proxies for all gay men? Probably not, and Kosinski says it’s possible his work is wrong. “Many more studies will need to be conducted to verify [this],” he says. But it’s tricky to say how one could completely eliminate selection bias to perform a conclusive test. Kosinski tells The Verge, “You don’t need to understand how the model works to test whether it’s correct or not.” However, it’s the acceptance of the opacity of algorithms that makes this sort of research so fraught. 

IF AI CAN’T SHOW ITS WORKING, CAN WE TRUST IT?

AI researchers can’t fully explain why their machines do the things they do. It’s a challenge that runs through the entire field, and is sometimes referred to as the “black box” problem. Because of the methods used to train AI, these programs can’t show their work in the same way normal software does, although researchers are working to amend this.

In the meantime, it leads to all sorts of problems. A common one is that sexist and racist biases are captured from humans in the training data and reproduced by the AI. In the case of Kosinski and Wang’s work, the “black box” allows them to make a particular scientific leap of faith. Because they’re confident their system is primarily analyzing facial structures, they say their research shows that facial structures predict sexual orientation. (“Study 1a showed that facial features extracted by a [neural network] can be used to accurately identify the sexual orientation of both men and women.”)“BIOLOGY’S A LITTLE BIT MORE NUANCED THAN WE OFTEN GIVE IT CREDIT FOR.”

Experts say this is a misleading claim that isn’t supported by the latest science. There may be a common cause for face shape and sexual orientation — the most probable cause is the balance of hormones in the womb — but that doesn’t mean face shape reliably predicts sexual orientation, says Qazi Rahman, an academic at King’s College London who studies the biology of sexual orientation. “Biology’s a little bit more nuanced than we often give it credit for,” he tells The Verge. “The issue here is the strength of the association.” 

The idea that sexual orientation comes primarily from biology is itself controversial. Rahman, who believes that sexual orientation is mostly biological, praises Kosinski and Wang’s work. “It’s not junk science,” he says. “More like science someone doesn’t like.” But when it comes to predicting sexual orientation, he says there’s a whole package of “atypical gender behavior” that needs to be considered. “The issue for me is more that [the study] misses the point, and that’s behavior.”

s there a gay gene? Or is sexuality equally shaped by society and culture?
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Reducing the question of sexual orientation to a single, measurable factor in the body has a long and often inglorious history. As Matton writes in his blog post, approaches have ranged from “19th century measurements of lesbians’ clitorises and homosexual men’s hips, to late 20th century claims to have discovered ‘gay genes,’ ‘gay brains,’ ‘gay ring fingers,’ ‘lesbian ears,’ and ‘gay scalp hair.’” The impact of this work is mixed, but at its worst it’s a tool of oppression: it gives people who want to dehumanize and persecute sexual minorities a “scientific” pretext.

Jenny Davis, a lecturer in sociology at the Australian National University, describes it as a form of biological essentialism. This is the belief that things like sexual orientation are rooted in the body. This approach, she says, is double-edged. On the one hand, it “does a useful political thing: detaching blame from same-sex desire. But on the other hand, it reinforces the devalued position of that kind of desire,” setting up hetrosexuality as the norm and framing homosexuality as “less valuable … a sort of illness.”

And it’s when we consider Kosinski and Wang’s research in this context that AI-powered facial recognition takes on an even darker aspect — namely, say some critics, as part of a trend to the return of physiognomy, powered by AI. 

YOUR CHARACTER, AS PLAIN AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE

For centuries, people have believed that the face held the key to the character. The notion has its roots in ancient Greece, but was particularly influential in the 19th century. Proponents of physiognomy suggested that by measuring things like the angle of someone’s forehead or the shape of their nose, they could determine if a person was honest or a criminal. Last year in China, AI researchers claimed they could do the same thing using facial recognition.

Their research, published as “Automated Inference on Criminality Using Face Images,” caused a minor uproar in the AI community. Scientists pointed out flaws in the study, and concluded that that work was replicating human prejudices about what constitutes a “mean” or a “nice” face. In a widely shared rebuttal titled “Physiognomy’s New Clothes,” Google researcher Blaise Agüera y Arcas and two co-authors wrote that we should expect “more research in the coming years that has similar … false claims to scientific objectivity in order to ‘launder’ human prejudice and discrimination.” (Google declined to make Agüera y Arcas available to comment on this report.)

An illustration of physiognomy from Giambattista della Porta’s De humana physiognomonia

Kosinski and Wang’s paper clearly acknowledges the dangers of physiognomy, noting that the practice “is now universally, and rightly, rejected as a mix of superstition and racism disguised as science.” But, they continue, just because a subject is “taboo,” doesn’t mean it has no basis in truth. They say that because humans are able to read characteristics like personality in other people’s faces with “low accuracy,” machines should be able to do the same but more accurately.

Kosinski says his research isn’t physiognomy because it’s using rigorous scientific methods, and his paper cites a number of studies showing that we can deduce (with varying accuracy) traits about people by looking at them. “I was educated and made to believe that it’s absolutely impossible that the face contains any information about your intimate traits, because physiognomy and phrenology were just pseudosciences,” he says. “But the fact that they were claiming things without any basis in fact, that they were making stuff up, doesn’t mean that this stuff is not real.” He agrees that physiognomy is not science, but says there may be truth in its basic concepts that computers can reveal.

For Davis, this sort of attitude comes from a widespread and mistaken belief in the neutrality and objectivity of AI. “Artificial intelligence is not in fact artificial,” she tells The Verge. “Machines learn like humans learn. We’re taught through culture and absorb the norms of social structure, and so does artificial intelligence. So it will re-create, amplify, and continue on the trajectories we’ve taught it, which are always going to reflect existing cultural norms.”

We’ve already created sexist and racist algorithms, and these sorts of cultural biases and physiognomy are really just two sides of the same coin: both rely on bad evidence to judge others. The work by the Chinese researchers is an extreme example, but it’s certainly not the only one. There’s at least one startup already active that claims it can spot terrorists and pedophiles using face recognition, and there are many others offering to analyze “emotional intelligence” and conduct AI-powered surveillance. 

FACING UP TO WHAT’S COMING

But to return to the questions implied by those alarming headlines about Kosinski and Wang’s paper: is AI going to be used to persecute sexual minorities?

This system? No. A different one? Maybe. 

Kosinski and Wang’s work is not invalid, but its results need serious qualifications and further testing. Without that, all we know about their system is that it can spot with some reliability the difference between self-identified gay and straight white people on one particular dating site. We don’t know that it’s spotted a biological difference common to all gay and straight people; we don’t know if it would work with a wider set of photos; and the work doesn’t show that sexual orientation can be deduced with nothing more than, say, a measurement of the jaw. It’s not decoded human sexuality any more than AI chatbots have decoded the art of a good conversation. (Nor do its authors make such a claim.)

Startup Faception claims it can identify how likely people are to be terrorists just by looking at their face.
Image: Faception

The research was published to warn people, say Kosinski, but he admits it’s an “unavoidable paradox” that to do so you have to explain how you did what you did. All the tools used in the paper are available for anyone to find and put together themselves. Writing at the deep learning education site Fast.ai, researcher Jeremy Howard concludes: “It is probably reasonably [sic] to assume that many organizations have already completed similar projects, but without publishing them in the academic literature.” 

We’ve already mentioned startups working on this tech, and it’s not hard to find government regimes that would use it. In countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia homosexuality is still punishable by death; in many other countries, being gay means being hounded, imprisoned, and tortured by the state. Recent reports have spoken of the opening of concentration camps for gay men in the Chechen Republic, so what if someone there decides to make their own AI gaydar, and scan profile pictures from Russian social media?

Here, it becomes clear that the accuracy of systems like Kosinski and Wang’s isn’t really the point. If people believe AI can be used to determine sexual preference, they will use it. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that we understand the limitations of artificial intelligence, to try and neutralize dangers before they start impacting people. Before we teach machines our prejudices, we need to first teach ourselves.

Reference

Gay History: Luka Rocco Magnotta

Born Eric Clinton Kirk NewmanClassification: MurdererCharacteristics: Cannibalism – Necrophilia – Dismemberment – Snuff movieNumber of victims: 1Date of murder: May 24, 2012Date of arrest: June 4, 2012 (in Berlin)Date of birth: July 24, 1982Victim profile: Jun Lin, 33 (Chinese university student)Method of murder: Stabbing with an ice pick and a kitchen knifeLocation: Griffintown, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaStatus: In prison awaiting trial

Newman’s Grade 10 yearbook photo from 1999.
(Jon Hembry/CBC)
Luka Magnotta
Police remove a bag containing a human foot that was delivered to the Conservative Party of Canada’s
headquarters in downtown Ottawa.
Montreal police said the grisly garbage discovery was the city’s 11th homicide of the year.
Interpol released images reportedly showing suspect Luka Magnotta passing through security at an airport.
(Interpol)
Here, CCTV footage from the café shows Magnotta, second from left, being taken into custody
by police on June 4, 2012
(Associated Press)
Kadir Anlayisli, who identified Luka Rocco Magnotta and warned police, stands next to
the Berlin internet café where the suspect was arrested.
(Markus Schreiber/Associated Press)
Mugshot of Luka Magnotta, taken by German police after his arrest in Berlin on June 4, 2012.
Luka Magnotta is taken from plane in Canada.
Lin (30 December 1978 – May 2012) also known as Justin Lin, was an international student from Wuhan
and an undergraduate in the engineering and computer science faculty at Concordia University.

Luka Rocco Magnotta (born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman; July 24, 1982) is a Canadian pornographic actor and model accused of killing and dismembering Lin Jun, a Chinese international student, then mailing his severed limbs to political parties and elementary schools.

After a video allegedly depicting the murder was posted online, Magnotta fled the country, becoming the subject of an Interpol Red Notice and prompting an international manhunt. He was apprehended at an Internet café in Berlin while reading news about himself.

He was previously sought by animal rights groups for allegedly uploading videos of himself killing kittens.

Biography

Eric Clinton Kirk Newman was born in July 24, 1982 in Scarborough, Ontario. He attended I. E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay. He legally changed his name to Luka Rocco Magnotta on August 12, 2006.

In 2003, he began to appear in gay pornographic videos, occasionally working as a stripper and a male escort. He appeared as a pin-up model in a 2005 issue of Toronto’s fab magazine using the pseudonym “Jimmy”. In 2007, he was an unsuccessful competitor in OUTtv’s reality series COVERguy. Magnotta had multiple cosmetic surgeries and auditioned for Slice network show Plastic Makes Perfect in February 2008.

In 2005, he was convicted of one count of impersonation and three counts of fraud (against Sears Canada, The Brick, and 2001 Audio Video) after impersonating a woman to apply for a credit card and purchasing over $10,000 worth of goods. He pleaded guilty and received a nine-month conditional sentence with 12 months of probation.

Magnotta declared bankruptcy in March 2007, owing $17,000 in various debts. The bankruptcy was fully discharged in December 2007.

Rumors emerged in 2007 claiming Magnotta was in a relationship with Karla Homolka, a high-profile Canadian murderer, though he denied this in an interview with the Toronto Sun. During the murder investigation, Montreal police initially announced the pair had dated but subsequently retracted the statement and acknowledged that they had no evidence to corroborate the claim.

Many profiles on various internet social media and discussion forums were created over several years to plant false or unverified claims about Magnotta. Magnotta himself repeatedly dismissed such accounts as hoaxes and part of a campaign of cyber stalking against him. According to police, Magnotta set up at least 70 Facebook pages and 20 websites under different names.

Murder of Lin Jun

Lin Jun (Chinese: 林俊; pinyin: Lín Jùn) (30 December 1978 – May 2012) also known as Justin Lin, was an international student from Wuhan and an undergraduate in the engineering and computer science faculty at Concordia University. He worked part-time as a convenience store clerk in Pointe-Saint-Charles. Lin had been studying in Montreal since July 2011. Lin moved into a Griffintown-area apartment with a roommate on May 1. He was last seen on May 24, 2012 and his friends reported getting a text message from his phone at 9 PM. His boss became suspicious when he didn’t show up for his shift the next day. Three of his friends went into his apartment on May 27. He was reported missing to police on May 29.

On May 25, 2012, an 11-minute video titled 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick was uploaded to Bestgore.com depicting a naked male tied to a bed frame being repeatedly stabbed with an ice pick and a kitchen knife, then dismembered, followed by acts of necrophilia. The perpetrator uses a knife and fork to cut off some of the flesh and gets a dog to chew on the body. 

During the video, the 1987 New Order song “True Faith” plays in the background, and a poster for the 1942 film Casablanca is visible on the wall. Canadian authorities were able to obtain a “more extensive” version of the video and confirmed that cannibalism may have been performed. Materials promoting the video appeared online at least 10 days before the murder took place.

On May 26, an attorney from Montana attempted to report the video to Toronto Police, his local Sheriff, and the FBI, but the report was dismissed by officials. Bestgore viewers also attempted to report the video. Police later confirmed it as authentic and identified the victim, an Asian male, as the same one whose body parts were sent to Ottawa.

At 11 AM on May 29, 2012, a package containing a left foot was delivered to the national headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. The package was stained with blood and had a foul smell. It was marked with a red heart symbol. Another package containing a left hand was intercepted in a Canada Post processing facility, addressed to the Liberal Party. A janitor discovered a decomposing torso inside a suitcase, left in a garbage pile in the alley behind an apartment building in the Snowdon area of Montreal. He first saw the suitcase on the 25th, but it was not picked up due to the large amount of garbage that day.

After searching the scene, police recovered human remains, bloody clothes, papers identifying the suspect, as well as “sharp and blunt objects” from the back alley. Footage from surveillance cameras inside the building showed a suspect bringing numerous garbage bags outside, and the images matched a suspect captured on video at the post office in Côte-des-Neiges.

At 23:33 EDT (03:33 UTC), police searched apartment 208, which Luka Rocco Magnotta was renting. He moved in four months prior, and his rent was paid up to June 1. The apartment had been mostly emptied before he left. Blood was found on different items including the mattress, the refrigerator, the table, and the bathtub. “If you don’t like the reflection. Don’t look in the mirror. I don’t care.” was written in red ink on the inside of a closet.

On May 30, 2012, it was confirmed that the body parts belonged to the same individual, later identified as Lin Jun. The suspect in the case was quickly identified as Magnotta, who had by then fled.

A note was found with the package sent to the Conservative Party, stating that a total of six body parts have been distributed and that the perpetrator would kill again. Notes were also included in the other three packages, but police declined to disclose their contents, citing concerns about possible copycats.

On June 5, 2012, a package containing a right foot was delivered to St. George’s School and another package containing a right hand to False Creek Elementary School in Vancouver. Both schools opened as normal the following morning. It was confirmed that both packages were sent from Montreal.

On June 13, the four limbs and the torso were matched to Lin Jun using DNA samples from his family. On July 1, his head was recovered at the edge of a small lake in Montreal’s Angrignon Park after police received an anonymous tip.

Lin’s body was cremated on July 11 and his ashes were buried on July 26 at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal.

Luka Magnotta with his mother.
Luka Magnotta
Luka Magnotta
Luka Magnotta

Manhunt

An arrest warrant for him was issued by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), later upgraded to a Canada-wide warrant by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), accusing him of the following crimes:

1.First degree murder;
2.Committing an indignity to a dead body;
3.Publishing obscene material;
4.Mailing obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous material; and
5.Criminally harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several (unnamed) members of Parliament.

On May 31, 2012, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Magnotta at the request of Canadian authorities, and for several days before and after his arrest his name and photo were displayed prominently at the top of the homepage of the Interpol website. The Red Notice requested that Magnotta be provisionally arrested pending extradition back to Canada by any Interpol member state.

Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris on May 26, using a false passport under the name Kirk Trammel. His cell phone signal was traced to a hotel in Bagnolet, but he had left by the time police arrived. Pornographic magazines and an air-sickness bag were found in the hotel room. He had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010, and police were following a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta. Another man he stayed with for two nights did not realize who he was until he had left. Magnotta then boarded a Eurolines bus at the Bagnolet coach station bound for Berlin, Germany.

On June 4, 2012, Magnotta was apprehended by Berlin Police at an Internet café in the Neukölln district while reading news stories about himself. He tried giving fake names before admitting who he was. His identity was confirmed through fingerprint evidence. Magnotta appeared in a Berlin court on June 5, 2012. According to German officials, he had not opposed his extradition. There was sufficient evidence to keep him in custody until extradition, and he agreed to a simplified process.

On June 18, 2012, Magnotta was delivered to Canadian authorities in Berlin and flown aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris to Mirabel International Airport, north of Montreal. A military transport was necessary due to safety concerns with using a commercial flight and potential legal difficulties if the plane was diverted to another country. He was placed into solitary confinement at the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre.

Aftermath

Reactions in China were highly critical, with some believing the murder was racially motivated. Some Chinese questioned public safety in Canada, as the killing was the second high-profile murder of a Chinese student there in slightly over a year. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai to convey his condolences.

On June 4, 2012, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was pleased that the suspect was arrested and congratulated the police forces on their good work in apprehending him. Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said that Canadians should mourn the victim rather than “in any way, shape or form” celebrate Magnotta’s notoriety.

Two days later, Lin Jun’s family arrived at Trudeau Airport in Montreal. The Chinese Students and Scholars Association of Concordia University established a fund to defray expenses incurred by Lin’s family while in Canada and an award was created in his honor. A candlelight vigil was held in Montreal.

Magnotta was named Canadian Newsmaker of the Year by Canadian media, which caused controversy.

On July 16, 2013, Edmonton police charged BestGore.com owner Mark Marek with “corrupting morals”, a rarely used obscenity charge, for posting the 1 Lunatic 1 Icepick video online.

Luke Magnotta

Legal proceedings

Preliminary hearing

On June 19, Magnotta appeared in court by video link to plead not guilty to all charges through his lawyer. On June 21, Magnotta appeared in person at a high-security Montreal courtroom to request a trial by jury.

A preliminary hearing began on March 11, 2013. The evidence presented is subject to a publication ban. Magnotta’s defence team requested the media and the public be barred entirely from the hearing; this was declined the next day. Lin Jun’s father, Lin Diran, travelled from China to attend the hearing. On March 13, one of Magnotta’s lawyers resigned, due to a possible conflict of interest. Expert witnesses testified, including a forensic pathologist, a forensic toxicologist, a forensic odontologist, a bloodstain analyst, data recovery specialists and an Internet investigations officer. The prosecution also displayed video evidence. Both Magnotta and Lin physically collapsed at separate times during the proceedings.

On April 12, 2013, Luka Magnotta was indicted on charges of first degree murder, offering indignities to a human body, distributing obscene materials, using the postal service to distribute obscene materials and criminal harassment.

Trial

Following committal for trial, the preliminary inquiry judge set a tentative trial for the fall of 2014 on April 29, 2013. Magnotta elected to be tried by judge and jury.

Investigation into other possible crimes

Magnotta is alleged to be the person behind a series of videos of animal cruelty involving cats which were posted to YouTube beginning in 2010, including one titled “1 boy 2 kittens” which showed a man deliberately suffocating two kittens with a vacuum cleaner.

In January 2011, professional model and animal rights activist Sia Barbi joined a private Facebook group who had identified Magnotta as the person in these videos; subsequently animal rights activist groups offered a $5,000 reward for bringing him to justice.

In February 2011, Toronto police began investigating Magnotta in connection with the videos after receiving a complaint from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals The OSPCA also contacted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England, the FBI, and police in Montreal due to the suspect’s extensive travels.

Alex West, a journalist for British tabloid newspaper The Sun, met Magnotta while he was living in London in 2011, following claims that he had made “Python Christmas”, an online video showing a kitten being eaten alive by a Burmese Python. The Sun contacted Scotland Yard, which denied that the python video incident had occurred within its jurisdiction, stating that the video had been “posted from somewhere in North America.” Following his meeting with Magnotta, Alex West said he received a threatening email, which he believed was sent by Magnotta.

On June 8, the Los Angeles Police Department announced they were in contact with Montreal police to determine if Magnotta was involved in the unsolved murder and decapitation of Hervey Medellin, known as the “Hollywood Sign Murder” but later announced that they did not believe he was involved in the crime. The animal rights group Last Chance for Animals claimed responsibility for posting YouTube videos linking him to the Hollywood Sign Murder in an attempt to lure Magnotta into contacting them. LCA offered a $7500 reward for information leading to his arrest while he was on the run.

The case also drew comparisons across North America to Mark Twitchell, a convicted murderer inspired by Dexter, who used social media in his crimes and to self-promote his work.[98] Author Steve Lillebuen, who wrote a book on the case, described a new trend in crime where social media allows killers to become “online broadcasters” and have direct, instant access to a global audience they may crave.

Wikipedia.org


Luka Magnotta: Owner of gore website rearrested in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

July 26, 2013

EDMONTON – Police in Edmonton say they have arrested a website owner who faces charges over a grisly video at the centre of the Luka Magnotta murder case.

A warrant was issued Thursday for Mark Marek on a charge of breaching conditions of his bail, which a judge granted last week.

Police say the 38-year-old was picked up at a gas station after they received a tip that led them to a nearby Edmonton-area storage facility.

Marek was originally charged with one count of corrupting morals for allegedly posting a video from Magnotta while knowing it depicted a real killing.

The video allegedly showed the killing and dismemberment of Chinese university student Jun Lin in Montreal.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to murder and is to stand trial in September 2014.

At Marek’s bail hearing, the Crown opposed his release, pointing out he had no Edmonton address and had made it clear to police that he planned to go back to his native Slovakia. Police had said he had been living out of his car since he returned to the city.

The defence said Marek had planned to visit family in the eastern European country in September, but didn’t intend to run away from his legal problems.

Marek told the judge that officers had already seized his passport.


Why Luka Magnotta’s trial won’t happen until 2014

Judge, courtroom availability key factors

By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News 

May 7, 2013

Luka Magnotta’s murder trial is set for Sept. 15, 2014. Although that date is more than two years after his arrest in connection with the death of Jun Lin, that is not an unusual amount of time for a high-profile murder case to reach the trial stage.

Some have questioned why it takes so long for cases like Magnotta’s to get to court. Lukatrial.com, for example, the popular website that has been following the case from the beginning, says, “I will never understand how we can delay justice for so long in a case like this.”

The key determinant in most cases has to do with judicial resources, rather than issues related to the defence or the prosecution.

Ottawa criminal lawyer Ian Carter told CBC News that the 16-month delay between the preliminary hearing and Magnotta’s trial before judge and jury is not unusual. A trial like Magnotta’s “is normally set that far in advance because they need to find a courtroom and a judge.”

The Magnotta trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, a relatively big block of court time. The court facilities, the judge, the lawyers and the witnesses all need to be available at the same time, and there are always other trials in the queue competing for timeslots.

In the Magnotta case, his lawyer, Luc Leclair, had requested an earlier start date — April 2014 — but last week Justice Andre Vincent said September was the earliest possibility. “It’s a busy courthouse,” Leclair told reporters, adding, “I’m not completely surprised.”

Reasonable time

There are others factors as well that play a role in setting the date. The starting point is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states, “Any person charged with an offence has the right … to be tried within a reasonable time.”

Section 11 of the Charter is also the one that says anyone charged should “be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

A defendant who is to be tried by a superior court judge alone or a judge and jury usually has the right to a preliminary hearing. Magnotta’s wrapped up April 12 with an order to stand trial for first-degree murder and four other charges.

Carter says Magnotta’s preliminary hearing happened relatively quickly. “In terms of judicial resources, there’s a longer period of delay from the initial charge to the preliminary inquiry than there is between the preliminary and the superior court trial.”

“Technically, the preliminary is there to serve as a screening mechanism to see if there is some evidence of the offence you’ve been charged with, [but] in the vast majority of cases there’s no argument about committal to stand trial,” Carter said.

Where that does happen, sometimes, is in murder cases, with an argument over whether the charge should be first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter. Leclair argued unsuccessfully that Magnotta should be tried for second-degree.

However, Carter explained that the reality with preliminary inquiries is that, “In the vast majority of cases it’s used by the defence as discovery-type process, to get information about certain parts of the crown’s case,” and to get an idea of how witnesses will perform in the courtroom.

The Crown can avoid a preliminary inquiry by getting the attorney general to approve a direct indictment.

The decision to do so is made unilaterally by the prosecutors and the defence has no ability to argue against it. Last year, the Crown got a direct indictment in a terrorism case in which Carter is representing one of the accused, Misbahuddin Ahmed, who was arrested in 2010. In that case, the jury trial won’t begin until April 2014.

The availability of the lawyers for both sides, and the witnesses, is also taken into account when setting a trial date. Once the available date for a judge and courtroom are known, the two sides usually work out which option to choose.

After a trial date is set

Once the trial date is set, both sides have more work to do. Although most of the investigative materials should have been handed over to the defence ahead of the preliminary hearing, both sides will study the transcripts from the hearing.

The prosecution probably won’t put forward its full case at the inquiry, and “it’s a much bigger task doing it in front of a jury,” Carter explains.

The defence has to work out their strategy, line-up expert opinion, get extra evidence, and prepare to cross-examine witnesses, which Carter says will be different in front of a jury compared to the preliminary. And it’s likely there will be additional witnesses called.

“In a jury trial, there is always more work to be done,” he said. “As defence counsel you don’t necessarily want to show your entire hand at the preliminary.”

Pickton, Shafia, Bernardo murder trials

Compared to some other high profile murder trials in Canada, the expected timeline for the Magnotta trial appears to be about average. As a comparison:

  • For Robert Pickton, who was charged in 2002 in connection with the disappearance of dozens of women in Vancouver, it was four years, 11 months before his murder trial began.
  • For the three accused in the 2009 Shafia family murder case, two years and three months would elapse between the arrests and the start of the trial.
  • Paul Bernardo was arrested in 1993 for the murders of school girls Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. His trial began two years, three months later.

Magnotta’s trial is set to begin two years, three months after his arrest.


Luka Magnotta & his troubled history

CBC.ca

November 2012

Most of the world first learned of Luka Magnotta on May 30, 2012, when he was named as a suspect in a grisly Montreal killing involving the shipping of body parts to the headquarters of two political party.

But some online communities had taken notice of the man long before that. Over the years, Magnotta had littered the internet with information about himself – both untrue and true – using dozens of pseudonyms, all in an effort to attract the worldwide fame he craved.

Over time, friends, acquaintances and family members became concerned that something was amiss with the Scarborough, Ont.- born man.

Troubling signs

The following is a timeline of Magnotta’s life, the troubling signs that emerged and how an online community tracked him down, based on exclusive interviews and information obtained by CBC’s the fifth estate.

July 24, 1982

Born in Scarborough, Ont.

Magnotta is born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman in Scarborough, a suburban community on the eastern outskirts of Toronto, to mother Anna Yourkin and father Donald Newman. He is the eldest of three kids. His parents split while Eric is still young. Newman later goes to live with his grandmother, Phyllis.

1998

Attends high school

1998-2000: At some point, Newman’s grandmother and grandfather also divorce. Newman is home schooled for a period of time; in one blog post, he later writes that it was because he was told the world is a dirty and dangerous place. However, for at least two years, from 1998 to 2000, he does attend I.E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay, a rural community in the Kawartha Lakes region of southeastern Ontario. Former teachers and classmates remember him for his vanity and preoccupation with looks. He changes his hair colour often.

2002

Starts stripping

Around 2002 or 2003, Newman begins stripping at Remingtons, a nightclub in Toronto. By 2003, he has appeared in his first two pornography films, both as a straight man turned gay. The following year, he appears in at least two other pornographic films, including one where he appears as Jimmy – a name he would also adopt while working as a male escort.

2004

Allegations of sexual assault

Newman catches the attention of the Toronto Police after he befriends a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a child eight to 12 years of age, convinces her to apply for credit cards and then racks up $10,000 in unpaid bills. He is charged with fraud. Initially, police allege he sexually assaulted the woman and videotaped it, but the Crown drops the charge before the case goes to trial. Newman’s lawyer at the time, Peter Scully, now says that the decision changed the course of Newman’s life “immeasurably, with huge ramifications to our society eventually.”

2005

Convicted of fraud

June 2005: Newman pleads guilty and is convicted of four fraud charges. Before sentencing, Newman’s lawyer shows the court a medical report revealing his client has “significant psychiatric issues.” In handing down the sentence, Madam Justice Lauren Marshall issues a stern warning: “You have a medical problem and you need to always take medication. If you do not, your life is going to get messed up.” Newman is given a nine-month community-service sentence and 12 months of probation.

2005

Dreams of policing

Newman continues to appear in low-level porn films. He also appears in Fab Magazine, a gay bi-weekly in Toronto, on the “Fab Boy” page as “Jimmy.” There, he describes himself as a “22-year-old soccer fan” born in Russia and living in Toronto who hopes to become a vice or homicide police officer.

2006

Changes name

Early in 2006, Newman meets Barbie, a transgendered woman, and they begin dating. “He said he wanted to be famous one day,” Barbie told the fifth estate in a recent interview. She recalls his apartment looking like a shrine dedicated to himself. “He would always beg me to take pictures of him,” she says. In April, several months after meeting Newman, Barbie breaks up with him. That summer, Newman legally changes his name to Luka Rocco Magnotta.

2007

Bankruptcy

March 2007: Magnotta files for bankruptcy, listing the cause as “illness, lack of employment and insufficient income to pay off debts.” He claims that he had to pay $200 each month in expenses relating to an unspecified medical condition.

2007

Reality show auditions

2007-2008: Throughout 2007, Magnotta continues his attempts to make a name for himself. In the summer, he auditions for the reality show Cover Guy, telling the judges, “Some people say I am devastatingly good-looking.” The judges reject him. In February of 2008, he also tries out for the reality show Plastic Makes Perfect. “I’ve had my nose done. I’ve had two hair transplants,” he tells them. “And I’m planning on having muscle implants in my pecs and my arms.”

September 14, 2007

Denies Homolka rumours

The Toronto Sun publishes a story by reporter Joe Warmington about how Magnotta had dropped by the newspaper’s headquarters to deny online rumours he was dating notorious schoolgirl killer Karla Homolka. The rumours were likely started by Magnotta himself. In later years, a tribute video to Homolka was created by a Luka Magnotta alias account on YouTube; all the videos uploaded/favourited are Magnotta- or Homolka-related.

2008

Online personas

Magnotta continues to try to garner attention online, posting comments about himself to create rumours and then using other profiles to deny them. Twice this year, he loses battles with Wikipedia to keep a page up about himself. He also posts an online escort ad under the alias Jimmy. One client posts an unflattering review describing him as cold and remote.

October 2009

A travel companion

Magnotta meets a 70-year-old man in Toronto who ends up becoming his travel companion. Together, they visit Russia, Italy and France. Henry, a fake name used to protect his identity, told the fifth estate they met at the Pickle Barrel restaurant located near Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton intersection. “He walked as if he was on a stage or as if he was on a ramp for modeling clothes,” said Henry.

2010

Darker postings

Fall of 2010: In 2010, Magnotta’s online postings get progressively darker. On his Facebook page, he posts a link to a video called, 3 guys 1 hammer that shows a man being viciously beaten to death. The video was not by Magnotta. The myth about Magnotta’s relationship with killer Homolka grows. In one posting about Magnotta and Homolka, the user — likely Magnotta — writes, “Luka is unable to live unless there is chaos in his life, it makes him feel as though he matters.”

2010

Kitten-killing video

Dec. 21, 2010: Shortly before Christmas, a video called 1 guy – 2 kittens started circulating on discussion boards. Posted on Dec. 21, the video depicts an unidentified man, whose face is concealed, placing two kittens in a sealed bag and then sucking out the air with a vacuum to suffocate them. Though the video is quickly removed from YouTube, animal activists learn of it.

December 2010

Group seeks kitten killer

Soon after, Ryan Boyle, a former U.S. soldier who uses the online name Save Kitty, forms a Facebook group called “Find the Vacuum Kitten Killer for Great Justice.” About 4,000 people sign up. “These were not people who were doing it for money,” said Boyle, referring to the online activists. “They all had the same thing in mind: we want to catch this guy.” The group believes Magnotta joined the group under an alias, based on certain users’ online patterns of behaviour. When the group goes astray in its search for the kitten killer, they believe that Magnotta himself anonymously went on a message board frequented by the group and posted pictures from the video with the face no longer blurred.

December 28, 2010

$5,000 award posted

Rescue Ink, an animal protection group, posts a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Vacuum Kitten Killer (VKK). “It’s a gateway crime, animal abuse,” Joe Panz, a founding member of the group, told the fifth estate. “Once somebody starts to open that door, that’s when things start to get really dangerous.”

2011

Contacts N.Y. lawyer

Jan. 4, 2011: Magnotta, now in New York, makes contact with lawyer Romeo Salta, expressing alarm about the firestorm over the kitten killer. “He was convinced the animal activists were closing in,” said Salta. Magnotta asks whether any arrest warrants are pending on him. There aren’t any.

2011

New online hunt starts

Early 2011: A new 11-member online group, called the Animal Beta Project or the AB Project, emerges in early 2011 with the goal of stopping Magnotta before he kills again. “We felt he would continue, that he would harm other animals and eventually move onto something even more violent, like hurting a person,” said John Green, an online alias. He spoke to the fifth estate on the condition of anonymity. The amateur sleuths analyze the kitten-killing videos frame by frame. They claim that furnishings and the kitten killer’s clothing in the videos are the same as those in other images of Magnotta posted on the web.

February 2011

Police file opened

Though the secretive AB Project group discovers a wealth of information about Magnotta online, they struggle to track down his physical location. The AB Project had been using exif (exchangeable image file) data from pictures posted of Magnotta online that told them when and where photos were taken. One innocuous photo from October 2010 taken on a cellphone stamped with a GPS locator finally suggests to them that Magnotta was in Toronto. The group contacted the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with all their findings, who then reach out to the Toronto Police. The police open a file on Magnotta in February of 2011.

November 2011

New kitten videos

Late November and early December 2011: A year after the original kitten-killing videos appear online, more videos are posted. A man wearing a Santa hat is shown feeding a live kitten to a python. In another, a kitten is duct taped to a broom handle then drowned in a bathtub. “He was basically saying, ‘Look, I’ve done it again. You’re not going to catch me,'” said AB Project member John Green.

December 8, 2011

London encounter with reporter

After The Sun in London, U.K., publishes a story about the kitten killer, Magnotta turns up at their office to deny that he had killed a kitten. The paper has not asked about him and reporter Alex West describes the behaviour as “highly suspicious.” West wrote, “But behind the denials it seemed he was getting some sort of bizarre pleasure out of the attention.” Two days later, threatening emails are sent to the Sun’s offices, believed to be from Magnotta. “Next time you hear from me it will be in a movie I am producing that will have some humans in it, not just pussies,” the email says. The London police are notified but say it was outside their jurisdiction. 

2012

Ties to Montreal

Early 2012: Investigators with the AB Project receive a tip in early 2012 that Magnotta might have moved to Montreal. The project members then begin searching through their archive of Magnotta pictures looking for any that connects him to the city. One photo with unique streetlights catches their attention. The online sleuths begin systematically looking at Montreal intersections using Google’s Street View and track the one in the picture to a neighbourhood in Montreal. Around this time, Magnotta’s online activity begins to accelerate with blog postings about necrophilia and sedatives.

May 15, 2012

New video promoted

May 15-16, 2012: Over the course of two days, from May 15 to 16, repeated references are made online to a new video, 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick, that hasn’t even been posted. One reference depicts a person in a purple hoodie with a fist holding an ice pick. On one site, a user asks, “Where can I watch the 1 lunatic 1 ice pick video?” Ryan Boyle, a former soldier who started a Facebook group looking for the kitten killer, believes this is similar to earlier patterns where Magnotta would build buzz about a video via aliases before actually releasing the video.

May 24, 2012

Silence, then a disappearance

After a flurry of online postings, Magnotta’s online activity appears to go black for a few days. 

On May 24, Concordia University student Jun Lin fails to show up for his job.

May 25, 2012

Video posted

On May 25, a video titled, 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick, is posted on the web. It depicts a young male bound on a bed, initially alive and then lifeless. Then someone is seen repeatedly stabbing the corpse with an ice pick and dismembering the body with a knife. There are also acts of necrophilia and cannibalism.

May 29, 2012

1st body parts found

Staffers at Conservative Party HQ in Ottawa call police after receiving a package containing a foot. Ottawa police later say they found a second package containing a hand. Montreal police confirm they’re investigating a human torso found in a garbage pile in that city.

May 30, 2012

Suspect named

Montreal police say Luka Rocco Magnotta is wanted in the homicide investigation stemming from the body parts. He’s been on their radar since the day before, and can be seen on surveillance video of his apartment building and a Canada Post outlet.

May 30, 2012

Video analyzed

A video allegedly showing the murder and dismemberment of a man had appeared on a website days before. Mark Marek, the owner of the website, tells CBC News members of his site identified Magnotta. Police view the video for the first time this morning. 

June 2012

Victim identified

Authorities identify the victim of the gruesome killing and dismemberment as Jun Lin, a Chinese national who was studying at Concordia University in Montreal. Meanwhile, police announce that Magnotta left Canada for France on May 26.

June 3, 2012

Magnotta spotted in Paris

Now at the centre of a global manhunt, Magnotta, who has been dubbed the “Butcher of Montreal” by French media, may have been spotted in a Paris café, according to eyewitness accounts being investigated by local police.

June 4, 2012

Magnotta arrested

Luka Rocco Magnotta is arrested at an internet café in Berlin, where he was reportedly reading stories about himself.

June 5, 2012

Magnotta awaiting extradition

Suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta is held in a Berlin jail awaiting extradition to Canada on charges of first-degree murder and other offences, after a global dragnet tracked him down in the German capital.

June 5, 2012

Hand & foot sent to B.C.

Staff opening the mail at two Vancouver elementary schools discover a human hand and a foot, and it’s later determined they came from Montreal — prompting speculation about a Magnotta link. 

June 7, 2012

Link to L.A. homicide rejected

Law enforcement sources in California confirm there is no link between Magnotta and a case in which severed hands, feet and a head were found near the Hollywood sign, according to the L.A. Times. 

June 8, 2012

Jun Lin Award created

Concordia University announces the creation of an award commemorating the life of Jun Lin, the Chinese student who was killed in late May and dismembered. 

June 12, 2012

Jun Lin was family’s ‘pride and joy’

The family of Chinese student Jun Lin, who was brutally murdered and dismembered in Montreal last month, says his death was a “destructive blow” that left them physically and psychologically spent.

June 13, 2012

Vancouver body parts belong to Jun Lin

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière says DNA test results confirm that body parts delivered to Vancouver schools last week belong to Jun Lin. 

June 18, 2012

Magnotta arrives home to face Canadian justice

Magnotta arrives at Quebec’s Mirabel airport by military plane in a highly controlled and secretive extradition operation orchestrated to minimize media attention on his return from Germany

June 19, 2012

Magnotta pleads not guilty

Appearing via teleconference at a Montreal courthouse, Magnotta pleads not guilty to a number of charges including first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a human body, posting obscene material, mailing obscene material and criminally harassing Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.

June 21, 2012

Magnotta back in court for possible psychiatric evaluation

Luka Rocco Magnotta will appear in Montreal court via video-link today for a possible psychiatric evaluation request.

July 2, 2012

Investigators follow tip to remains in park

A tip led police to a Montreal park where remains were discovered near a small lake. Montreal police have not publicly linked the remains, which have yet to be confirmed as coming from a human, to the case.

July 4, 2012

Head found in Montreal park belongs to Jun Lin

Quebec authorities have confirmed that a severed human head found in Angrignon Park over the weekend belongs to Chinese student Jun Lin.

July 21, 2012

Jun Lin honoured at Montreal memorial

The parents of Jun Lin took part in an emotional and often tearful public memorial, as Montreal’s Chinese community gathered to remember the student two months after he was brutally killed.

Luke Magnotta

Luka Rocco Magnotta arrested in Germany

CBC News 

June 4, 2012

Luka Rocco Magnotta, suspected of killing a Chinese university student in Montreal and mailing the dismembered body parts to Canadian political parties, has been arrested at an internet café in Berlin where he was reportedly reading stories about himself.

Magnotta, 29, is wanted by Montreal authorities on first-degree murder and other charges, including threatening Canadian politicians, in a case that has drawn international attention and spawned one of the largest manhunts in Montreal police history.

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière said Magnotta’s identity was confirmed through fingerprint evidence.

“The investigation is far from being over. We’ve got to bring the suspect down to Canada to face justice,” said Lafrenière, who added that some of the dead student’s body parts are still missing.

“There will be tons of questions to answer,” he said.

Magnotta was arrested in Berlin on an Interpol “red notice,” which under German law is considered a “provisional request from Canada for his extradition,” Julie Di Mambo, press secretary for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement.

Canada is now required to submit a formal request for Magnotta’s extradition, accompanied by “documentation outlining the evidence supporting the request,” the statement said.

It’s unclear, however, when Magnotta will actually set foot on Canadian soil.

“It could take a very long time,” said Rene Verret, a spokesman for Quebec’s bureau of prosecutions.

Verret said his office will send a request in the coming days to Nicholson for Magnotta’s extradition, asking that it be forwarded to German officials. However, the legal process could extend for months if the extradition is contested.

Investigators are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday to provide more details on the case. It is their priority to return the accused killer to Canada.

Magnotta is suspected of killing Jun Lin — a 33-year-old Chinese university student with whom he had a relationship — recording video of the attack and mailing the victim’s dismembered body parts to federal political parties in Ottawa.

Berlin police spokesman Chief Supt. Stefan Redlich told CBC News that authorities arrested Magnotta at 2 p.m. Berlin time (8 a.m. ET) at the Helin Café on Karl Marx Street.

Seven officers were involved in the arrest, which was made after police were tipped off. 

“As far as I know he was arrested alone, and there was no struggle,” Redlich said.

There is no doubt about the suspect’s identity, and “he is the person Canada is looking for,” he added.

Magnotta ‘went quietly’

The café’s owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he witnessed the arrest.

“A colleague recognized him from his photo, because he’d just read the newspaper,” said the owner. “Nothing happened, it all went very quietly,” he said.

Kadir Anlayisli, the man who recognized the suspect and called police, works in the after-hours tobacco shop of the café. Berlin police confirmed that the arrest was mostly straightforward, but added that Magnotta initially denied his identity. Eventually he admitted, “OK, you got me.”

Magnotta is being held at the Berlin prison and is expected to be brought before a German judge on Tuesday.

But he likely won’t be questioned about the alleged crimes in Montreal, as “this is a Canadian case,” Redlich said.

Montreal police say they learned of Magnotta’s arrest at 12:40 p.m. ET, and the news came as a great relief for many investigators, said Lafrenière.

“We thank the media who broadcast his photo, and information on the web also had a part in coming to this result,” said Lafrenière.

Police will hold a full briefing on the case on Tuesday morning. Magnotta, dubbed the “Butcher of Montreal” by European media and “Canadian Psycho” at large, was spotted in Paris on the weekend, at a local café and in a hotel, after fleeing Montreal last week.

Magnotta had been reading stories about himself

Berlin-based freelance reporter Allan Hall said Anlayisli, who identified Magnotta, immediately recognized the man.

The café employee said Magnotta had been seated at computer number 25 reading stories about himself online. Anlayisli ran outside to flag down police.

“Anlayisli said the first police car stopped and the guy didn’t take him seriously,” Hall told CBC News in a telephone interview. “He had to stop another police car, then come into the internet café. The second police car called for backup.”

Hall added that Magnotta left his hotel in Paris on Friday and paid €100 to travel 14 hours from Paris to Berlin. Magnotta did not have to show a passport due to open border policies, he added. Police are working to reconstruct the timeline of Magnotta’s movements.

If investigators discover that Magnotta committed crimes while in Germany, the extradition process may become more complicated, reported Hall.

Harper congratulates police

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is in London for the Queen’s jubilee celebration, told reporters he is “pleased” Magnotta has been arrested.

“I just want to congratulate the police forces on their good work,” Harper said.

he prime minister is named, along with other Canadian politicians, in the police arrest warrant issued after Lin’s murder.

Magnotta is accused of criminally harassing Harper and other members of Parliament.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae asked Canadians to remember the victim.

“Let’s not forget that a young man was killed in the most terrible of circumstances. He came to Canada to improve himself, and to improve his life, and he is dead.

“His family in China is mourning, and his friends are in mourning, and all of Canada should be mourning for the person who died, rather than … celebrate the notoriety of Mr. Magnotta.” 

Magnotta also faces charges of first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a dead body, publishing an obscene thing, and mailing obscene matter.


Body parts suspect focus of global manhunt

Interpol joins search for Luka Rocco Magnotta after torso, foot, hand found

CBC News

May 31, 2012

Police say the intense media spotlight and international search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old suspect in the grisly slaying and dismemberment of a victim whose body parts were sent in the mail, will make it difficult for him to remain on the lam.

Interpol posted a picture and information on Magnotta, a Montreal resident, on its website Thursday among a group of nine international suspects wanted for crimes including homicide, kidnapping and organized crime.

Interpol’s involvement came after Montreal police issued a worldwide warrant for first-degree murder.

Clues at the Montreal crime scene led police to expand their search abroad.

“We found some evidence,” said Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière. “We found, also, a letter that was posted on a website making us believe he might be gone out of the country.”

He said the suspect may have fled to a different continent — but he would not confirm a report that the possible destination was France.

“There is no country in the world that is not talking about him,” Lafrenière said. “There’s a lot of heat on him. There’s a lot of pressure on him, so we believe that it’s going to be hard for him.”

“If you look on different websites, you see the appearance of that person could change dramatically — from a male to a female, wearing and things like that — so that’s the reason we’ve put a lot of effort trying to locate this suspect,” Lafrenière said.

Magnotta has family in the Toronto area, so investigators are still working with domestic police agencies in case, he said.

Victim likely in a relationship with suspect

Magnotta is wanted in connection with the slaying of a man whose body parts were sent through the mail and found stuffed in a suitcase behind a low-rise apartment in west-end Montreal, near the Décarie Expressway.

Police believe Magnotta was in “a relationship” with the victim, said to be a man in his 30s. 

Investigators haven’t released the victim’s name and are awaiting autopsy results to confirm his identity.

However, Montreal police said they believe the victim was reported missing in Montreal several days earlier.

“There’s no family in Montreal, that’s why it’s going to be even more complicated,” Lafrenière said.

He said police believe the victim was killed last week. The property manager at the Montreal building where a torso was discovered stuffed in a suitcase in a trash pile said he first saw the luggage out on Friday.

Montreal police said they had received 15 solid tips about Magnotta’s whereabouts within two hours of releasing his photo Wednesday afternoon.

“We received many calls because a lot of people were shocked about this story,” Lafrenière said.

He said police are holding some information back to weed out false leads from the public.

Online investigation

Police said much of their investigation has been focused on the internet, because Magnotta did not have an extensive criminal record.

“There’s a heck of a history on the website now,” Lafrenière said. “We’re finding all kinds of images, all kinds of information.” Several websites show pictures of the suspect in modelling poses.

Sources have told CBC News that police believe they have evidence of the suspect videotaping the killing and dismembering the victim.

Police said they’re being careful in their release of images and video to help find the suspect, but cautioned this could be the kind of attention he is after.

“That type of suspect, I call him a suspect but a very deranged man, is looking for publicity,” Lafrenière said.

U.S. lawyer says he warned police about graphic video

A lawyer based in Montana told CBC News that he notified Toronto authorities over the weekend about a graphic online video that appears to depict the stabbing and dismemberment of a man.

Roger Renville, a civil litigation lawyer, said he came across the 10½-minute video Saturday morning on a website that showcases gory footage. Renville said he believes the video documents the killing and dismemberment of a man.

There isn’t any confirmation that the victim in the video is the same one that Magnotta is alleged to have killed.

But Renville said he is “extremely frustrated” at how Toronto police handled his weekend call.

“I kept insisting, and he told me that my story didn’t make sense,” he said in a Skype video interview Thursday. “Why would a killer film himself and then put it on the internet?”

Toronto police denied that they ignored Renville’s tip.

Remains still unaccounted for

The full scope of the crime came to light Tuesday when a torso was discovered in Montreal and the hand and foot surfaced in Ottawa.

The foot was sent to Conservative headquarters and a hand found at a Canada Post terminal that was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada headquarters.

Montreal police said there are still remains that are unaccounted for, but they have no reason to believe they were also sent in the mail.

Magnotta, believed to be originally from Toronto, is also known as Eric Clinton Newman and as Vladimir Romanov. Montreal police give this description of Magnotta:

Five feet 10 inches tall.
135 pounds.
Black or dark brown hair.
Blue eyes.

Building manager Eric Schorer said Magnotta had lived there for four months but hadn’t been seen around in a while. He said there were never any complaints about noise in the unit, and that Magnotta passed a credit test to rent there.

Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked apartment Wednesday, having zeroed in on the source of a stench locals described as rotting meat, said a building resident.

A neighbour said police were showing neighbours pictures of two men — the suspected victim and the homicide suspect.

Montreal police said Magnotta was not known to them and had no criminal record. CBC News has learned, however, that he was convicted on four counts of fraud in Ontario in 2005. He served 16 days in pre-trial custody and was given a further nine-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation.

The suspect’s name has also come up in association with videos showing the killing of kittens. A CBC News source said police are also investigating a possible connection between the suspect and Karla Homolka.

Lafrenière said he would not substantiate internet rumours about the suspect.

Staff Sgt. Marc Habgood of the Peterborough Lakefield police service said they were contacted by Montreal investigators looking for Magnotta on Thursday.

“They advised us that they had a warrant for the arrest of a male party for [murder] and that he had family members in Peterborough, so he asked us to check a couple of residences,” he told CBC’s Peterborough affiliate, CHEX.

“We spoke to two family members and they hadn’t seen or heard of him in over a year… His family is here. They really stress that they’ve had nothing to do with him for over a year. They’re not anticipating hearing from him or seeing him.” 

‘Horrible’ crime scene

The hand and foot mailed to Ottawa were sent from a fake Montreal address, police said.

Lafrenière described the scene of the alleged crime as “horrible” but said investigators would be releasing few details for now.

“The most important thing for us is to nab the suspect, and to make sure we don’t jeopardize a future trial. I’d have a lot of trouble, as a father, to sleep if that happened.”


Police find 2nd body part after foot mailed to Tory HQ

Reports of severed hand found after human foot delivered to Conservative HQ

CBC News 

May 29, 2012

Ottawa police say they have found a second body part in a package as they investigate the delivery of a human foot to the Conservative Party of Canada’s headquarters in downtown Ottawa.

Police would not say what the body part was, nor where it was found, though they did say it was not found at the Conservative Party offices on 130 Albert St. where the foot was sent.

Media reports said the second package, containing a human hand, was not addressed to the Tory headquarters. Police said the major crime unit continues to investigate.

Police were called to the building at 11:20 a.m. ET after a suspicious package was delivered there. Police called for the hazardous materials unit after they noticed what appeared to be blood on the package.

The Hazmat Unit and Emergency Operations Section inspected the package and determined that there was possibly a human foot in the box. A coroner later confirmed it was a human foot.

Package delivered through Canada Post

Major Crimes Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt said the suspicious package was delivered through Canada Post and conceded it’s possible it was sent as a “gruesome message.”

The foot was decomposing and there was a stench when a CPC employee opened it, said Pirt. He would not say whether the foot belonged to a male or female.

Police found the second package in the course of the investigation, but would not reveal any more details.

Police are working with Canada Post to determine the origins of the packages and said they may also be in touch with morgues and funeral homes to see if they are missing any body parts.

Ottawa police are also checking to see if their case is connected with an RCMP investigation in Montreal after police there found a human torso in a pile of garbage in the Côte-des-Neiges borough.

News shocks MPs

Sgt. Steve Hodgson said Conservative Party staff members were shaken up by the incident.

Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Ottawa police are investigating and all questions should be referred to them.

Several members of Parliament said they were caught off guard by the news.

“It’s shocking for somebody to do that,” said Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. “I’d hate to be the one opening that.”


Torso found in Montreal garbage pile

Suitcase stuffed with human remains 

CBC News 

May 29, 2012 

The major crimes unit of the Montreal police is investigating the discovery of a torso in a pile of garbage in the Côte-des-Neiges borough, west of Décarie Boulevard.

Police said a suitcase holding the human remains was found behind an apartment building at the corner of Place Lucy and the Décarie.

The building’s janitor made the grisly discovery Tuesday morning at about 10:15 a.m.

Mike Nadeau told CBC News he first noticed the suitcase in a large garbage pile last week, but only opened it Tuesday after people complained about a stench in the air.

He said there were maggots crawling all over the suitcase.

“As soon as we opened it, we just saw the body, with no head, and said, ‘We’re out of here, call the cops.'”

Police in Ottawa are working with Montreal police to see if a human foot dropped off at Conservative party headquarters Tuesday belongs to the same body.

Montreal authorities aren’t releasing any details about the age or gender of the body, but say it’s too soon to tell whether the torso belongs to a man or a woman.

They say more information will be available after an autopsy is performed.

Reference