On a weekday lunchtime the brightly coloured Central Saint Giles, to the east of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, is buzzing with activity. Workers pour out of their offices into the shops and restaurants set around a covered courtyard forming the heart of this £450 million development. On either side are two buildings towering 15 storeys into the sky, home to Google and other companies. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and completed in 2010, Central Saint Giles has quickly become a West End landmark. Passers-by can hardly miss the place thanks to its distinctive facades, covered with more than 130,000 bright green, orange, lime and yellow glazed tiles.
With the Crossrail construction work taking place just around the corner, this area is going through an enormous amount of change. The new Tottenham Court Road station will open in time for the launch of the line that will bring fast travel across London from 2018. Even Centre Point, one of London’s first skyscrapers and completed in 1966, is getting a makeover – apartments will replace what has in the past been occupied by offices. Once development around Tottenham Court Road is complete property speculators who invested in real estate several years ago will make a tidy profit.
But as a result of all the change in the area, St Giles, which has a history stretching back more than a thousand years, has lost its identity. Indeed, St Giles High Street is a short stretch in central London with little more than a pub and a convenience store, set across from Central Saint Giles. Surrounded by modern developments and sandwiched between Covent Garden, Soho and Oxford Street, it’s one of the capital’s lost neighbourhoods.
What’s probably oblivious to most that pass through this area on a daily basis is that it was once notorious for being one of London’s most unruly slums, where thieving and prostitution were rife. Given that streets have been built over and buildings demolished, traces of it have virtually disappeared. St Giles parish church (a religious institution since Saxon times), for example, is one of the few landmarks that would have been familiar to visitors to the area two hundred years ago.
When the clergyman Thomas Beames travelled here as part of research for his 1852 Rookeries of London book, he found thousands of destitute people living in “crumbling houses, flanked by courts and alleys…… in the very densest part of which the wretchedness of London takes shelter.” For him, it was like entering a different world:
“You have scarce gone a hundred yards when you are in The Rookery. The change is marvellous: squalid children, haggard men, with long uncombed hair, in rags, most of them smoking, many speaking Irish; women without shoes or stockings – a babe perhaps at the breast, with a single garment, confined to the waist by a bit of string; wolfish looking dogs; decayed vegetables strewing the pavement; low public houses; linen hanging across the street to dry; the population stagnant in the midst of activity; lounging about in remnants of shooting jackets, leaning on the window frames, blocking up the courts and alleys; with young boys gathered round them, looking exhausted as though they had not been to bed.”
Visiting the (now lost) George Street and Church Lane in St Giles, Beames found it hard to comprehend how up to 40 people could manage to sleep in a single room. Complete strangers slept next to each other, paying the landlord of the property a small amount for the privilege of a night’s stay. Inequality was rife in this district. Just a year before Beames published his book, statistics showed that there were 221.2 people per acre living in the district, compared to 16.2 and 5.3 per acre in Kensington and Hampstead respectively.
The residents suffered from “the want of water, with which these courts are very inadequately supplied, even where it is turned on; and this takes place, in many instances, only twice a-week, though the companies have a plentiful supply at command; and few investments have turned out so profitable as those made in the shares of these different societies.” Conditions were terrible given that “many of the houses are so far below the level of the street, that, in wet weather, they are flooded; perhaps this is the only washing the wretched floorings get; the boards seem matted together by filth.” Beames described one shocking scene:
“In a back alley, opening into Church street, was a den which looked more like a cow-house than a room for human beings – little, if any light, through the small diamond panes of the windows; and that, obstructed by the rags which replaced the broken glass-a door whose hinges were rotting, in which time had made many crevices, and yet seventeen human beings eat, drank, and slept there; the floor was damp and below the level of the court; the gutters overflowed; when it rained, the rain gushed in at the apertures.”
Those living in the Rookery lived a precarious life, getting by on petty theft, begging and from selling goods on the streets. Beames said that “oranges, herrings, water-cresses, onions, seemed to be the most marketable articles.” Others worked as sweepers or stray luggage porters. Some inhabitants spent a month in a property, others a week and others still were “trampers”, moving on after a single night, carrying all their life’s possessions with them.
Beames looked to history to understand how the Rookery in St Giles had grown to be as miserable as it was in his day, tracing it’s development from being a medieval leper hospital founded by Queen Matilda, wife of Henry II, in the 12th century. The marshes and open fields in which it was built provided a physical barrier separating it from London. While the hospital only survived until the mid 16th century, its presence in St Giles firmly establish the parish as a place for outcasts – a label that the district is only really now shaking off. As early as the mid 17th century, church wardens reported “a great influx of poor people” as vagrants expelled from the city settled in the St Giles and sought its generous charitable relief.
Although from early on there was a lot of poverty in the parish, it also attracted some wealthy residents from the late 16th century. But from Georgian affluence in 18th century, those that could afford it moved westwards to newly built squares and the area declined rapidly to the state that Beames described in his book. As I’ve written before, William Hogarth captured St Giles in a 1751 print called ‘Gin Lane’. In a busy scene set in front of the parish church, Hogarth pictured the poverty and despair of a community dependent on gin. The only businesses that thrived were those linked to the sale of the spirit.
By the 19th century many campaigners were highlighting the plight of the inhabitants of St Giles. Residents themselves wrote to the Times in 1849 to express their protest: “We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place.” But authorities’ were doing little – their solution was to simply bulldoze slums and replace with new roads, as was the case with New Oxford Street (completed in 1847). While the venture may have been a commercial success, no thought was given to where the 5,000 made homeless by the construction project would be housed. Beames was scathing:
“If Rookeries are pulled down, you must build habitable dwellings for the population you have displaced, otherwise, you will not merely have typhus, but plague; some fearful pestilence worse than cholera or Irish fever, which will rage, as the periodical miasmata of other times were wont to do, numbering its victims by tens of thousands!”
As slums were torn down over the course of the 19th century inhabitants were simply moved on to some of the other Rookeries in London. Following in the footsteps of Thomas Beames and his 1852, I’ll be visiting five more of these districts in the coming weeks and will see that St Giles is by now means an isolated case.
Text of a manifesto originally passed out by people marching with the ACT UP contingent in the New York Gay Pride Day parade, 1990.
How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother; sister that your life is in danger. That everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary. There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are standing here reading these words. You should by all rights be dead.
Don’t be fooled, straight people own the world and the only reason you have been spared is you’re smart, lucky, or a fighter. Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do whatever they please and f— without fear. But not only do they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in my face. Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the street where I live. I want there to be a moratorium on straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of affection among the opposite sex and media images that promote heterosexuality. Until I can enjoy the same freedom of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer sisters and brothers.
Straight people will not do this voluntarily and so they must be forced into it. Straights must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it. Fear is the most powerful motivator. No one will give us what we deserve. Rights are not given they are taken, by force if necessary.
It is easier to fight when you know who your enemy is. Straight people are you enemy. They are your enemy when they don’t acknowledge your invisibility and continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills you.
Every day one of us is taken by the enemy. Whether it is an AIDS death due to homophobic government inaction or a lesbian bashing in an all-night diner (in a supposedly lesbian neighborhood), we are being systematically picked off and we will continue to be wiped out unless we realize that if they take one of us they must take all of us.
An Army of Lovers Cannot Lose
Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred. (We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.) And now of course it means fighting a virus as well, and all those homo-haters who are using AIDS to wipe us off the face of the earth.
Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-f— and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night. Being queer is “grass roots” because we know that everyone of us, every body, every c—, every heart and a– and d— is a world of pleasure waiting to be explored. Everyone of us is a world of infinite possibility.
We are an army because we have to be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who know what love is. Desire and lust, too. We invented them. We come out of the closet, face the rejection of society, face firing squads, just to love each other! Every time we f—, we win.
We must fight for ourselves (no else is going to do it) and if in that process we bring greater freedom to the world at large then great. (We’ve given so much to that world: democracy, all the arts, the concepts of love, philosophy and the soul, to name just a few of the gifts from our ancient Greek Dykes, Fags.) Let’s make every space a Lesbian and Gay space. Every street a part of our sexual geography. A city of yearning and then total satisfaction. A city and a country where we can be safe and free and more. We must look at our lives and see what’s best in them, see what is queer and what is straight and let that straight chaff fall away! Remember there is so, so little time. And I want to be a lover of each and every one of you. Next year, we march naked.
The strong sisters told the brothers that there were two important things to remember about the coming revolutions. The first is that we will get our a–es kicked. The second is that we will win.
I’m angry. I’m angry for being condemned to death by strangers saying, “You deserve to die” and “AIDS is the cure.” Fury erupts when a Republican woman wearing thousands of dollars of garments and jewelry minces by the police lines shaking her head, chuckling and wagging her finger at us like we are recalcitrant children making absurd demands and throwing a temper tantrum when they aren’t met. Angry while Joseph agonizes over $8,000 a year for AZT which might keep him alive a little longer and which does make him sicker than the disease he is diagnosed with. Angry as I listen to a man tell me that after changing his will five times he’s running out of people to leave things to. All of his best friends are dead. Angry when I stand in a sea of quilt panels, or go to a candlelight march or attend yet another memorial service. I will not march silently with a f—ing candle and I want to take that goddamned quilt and wrap myself in it and furiously rent it and my hair and curse every god religion ever created. I refuse to accept a creation that cuts people down in the third decade of their life. It is cruel and vile and meaningless and everything I have in me rails against the absurdity and I raise my face to the clouds and a ragged laugh that sounds more demonic than joyous erupts from my throat and tears stream down my face and if this disease doesn’t kill me, I may just die of frustration. My feet pound the streets and Peter’s hands are chained to a pharmaceutical company’s reception desk while the receptionist looks on in horror and Eric’s body lies rotting in a Brooklyn cemetery and I’ll never hear his flute resounding off the walls of the meeting house again. And I see the old people in Tompkins Square Park huddled in their long wool coats in June to keep out the cold they perceive is there and to cling to whatever little life has left to offer them, and I think, ah, they understand. And I’m reminded of the people who strip and stand before a mirror each night before they go to bed and search their bodies for any mark that might not have been there yesterday. A mark that this scourge has visited them. And I’m angry when the newspapers call us “victims” and sound alarms that “it” might soon spread to the “general population.” And I want to scream “Who the f— am I?” And I want to scream at New York Hospital with its yellow plastic bags marked “isolation linen,” “ropa infecciosa” and its orderlies in latex gloves and surgical masks skirt the bed as if its occupant will suddenly leap out and douse them with blood and semen giving them too the plague. And I’m angry at straight people who sit smugly wrapped in their self-protective coat of monogamy and heterosexuality confident that this disease has nothing to do with them because it only happens to “them.” And the teenage boys who upon spotting my “Silence = Death” button begin chanting “Faggots gonna die” and I wonder, who taught them this? Enveloped in fury and fear, I remain silent while my button mocks me every step of the way. And the anger I feel when a television program on the quilt gives profiles of the dead and the list begins with a baby, a teenage girl who got a blood transfusion, an elderly Baptist minister and his wife and when they finally show a gay man, he’s described as someone who knowingly infected teenage male prostitutes with the virus. What else can you expect from a faggot? I’m angry.
Since time began, the world has been inspired by the work of queer artists. In exchange, there has been suffering, there has been pain, there has been violence. Throughout history, society has struck a bargain with its queer citizens: they must pursue creative careers, if they do so discreetly. Through the arts queers are productive, lucrative, entertaining and even uplifting. These are the clear-cut and useful by-products of what is otherwise considered anti-social behavior. In cultured circles, queers may quietly coexist with an otherwise disapproving power elite.
At the forefront of the most recent campaign to bash queer artists is Jesse Helms, arbiter of all that is decent, moral, christian and amerikan. For Helms, queer art is quite simply a threat to the world. In his imaginings, heterosexual culture is too fragile to bear up to the admission of human or sexual diversity. Quite simply, the structure of power in the Judeo-Christian world has made procreation its cornerstone. Families having children assures consumers for the nation’s products and a work force to produce them, as well as a built-in family system to care for its ill, reducing the expense of public healthcare systems. All non-procreative behavior is considered a threat, from homosexuality to birth control to abortion as an option. It is not enough, according to the religious right, to consistently advertise procreation and heterosexuality … it is also necessary to destroy any alternatives. It is not art Helms is after … It is our lives! Art is the last safe place for lesbians and gay men to thrive. Helms knows this, and has developed a program to purge queers from the one arena they have been permitted to contribute to our shared culture.
Helms is advocating a world free from diversity or dissent. It is easy to imagine why that might feel more comfortable to those in charge of such a world. It is also easy to envision an amerikan landscape flattened by such power. Helms should just ask for what he is hinting at: State sponsored art, art of totalitarianism, art that speaks only in christian terms, art which supports the goals of those in power, art that matches the sofas in the Oval Office. Ask for what you want, Jesse, so that men and women of conscience can mobilize against it, as we do against the human rights violations of other countries, and fight to free our own country’s dissidents.
If You’re Queer, Shout It!
Queers are under siege.
Queers are being attacked on all fronts and I’m afraid it’s ok with us.
In 1969, Queers, were attacked. It wasn’t ok. Queers fought back, took the streets.
In 1990, there were 50 “Queer Bashings” in the month of May alone. Violent attacks. 3,720 men, women and children died of AIDS in the same month, caused by a more violent attack – government inaction, rooted in society’s growing homophobia. This is institutionalized homophobia, perhaps more dangerous to the existence of queers because the attackers are faceless. We allow these attacks by our own continued lack of action against them. AIDS has affected the straight world and now they’re blaming us for AIDS and using it as a way to justify their violence against us. They don’t want us anymore. They will beat us, rape us and kill us before they will continue to live with us. What will it take for This not to be ok? Feel some rage. If rage doesn’t empower you, try fear. If that doesn’t work try panic.
Be proud. Do whatever you need to do to tear yourself away from your customary state of acceptance. Be free. Shout.
In 1969, Queers fought back. In 1990, Queers say ok.
Next year, will we be here?
I hate Jesse Helms. I hate Jesse Helms so much I’d rejoice if he dropped down dead. If someone killed him I’d consider it his own fault.
I hate Ronald Reagan, too, because he mass-murdered my people for eight years. But to be honest, I hate him even more for eulogizing Ryan White without first admitting his guilt, without begging forgiveness for Ryan’s death and for the deaths of tens of thousands of other PWA’s – most of them queer. I hate him for making a mockery of our grief.
I hate the f—ing Pope, and I hate John f—ing Cardinal O’Connor, and I hate the whole f—ing Catholic Church. The same goes for the Military, and especially for Amerika’s Law Enforcement Officials – the cops – state sanctioned sadists who brutalize street transvestites, prostitutes and queer prisoners. I also hate the medical and mental health establishments, particularly the psychiatrist who convinced me not to have sex with men for three years until we (meaning he) could make me bisexual rather than queer. I also hate the education profession, for its share in driving thousands of queer teens to suicide every year. I hate the “respectable” art world; and the entertainment industry, and the mainstream media, especially The New York Times. In fact, I hate every sector of the straight establishment in this country – the worst of whom actively want all queers dead, the best of whom never stick their necks out to keep us alive.
I hate straight people who think they have anything intelligent to say about “outing.” I hate straight people who think stories about themselves are “universal” but stories about us are only about homosexuality. I hate straight recording artists who make their careers off of queer people, then attack us, then act hurt when we get angry and then deny having wronged us rather than apologize for it. I hate straight people who say, “I don’t see why you feel the need to wear those buttons and t-shirts. I don’t go around tell the whole world I’m straight.”
I hate that in twelve years of public education I was never taught about queer people. I hate that I grew up thinking I was the only queer in the world, and I hate even more that most queer kids still grow up the same way. I hate that I was tormented by other kids for being a faggot, but more that I was taught to feel ashamed for being the object of their cruelty, taught to feel it was my fault. I hate that the Supreme Court of this country says it’s okay to criminalize me because of how I make love. I hate that so many straight people are so concerned about my goddamned sex life. I hate that so many twisted straight people become parents, while I have to fight like hell to be allowed to be a father. I hate straights.
Where Are You Sisters?
Invisibility is Our Responsibility
I wear my pink triangle everywhere. I do not lower my voice in public when talking about lesbian love or sex. I always tell people I’m a lesbian. I don’t wait to be asked about my “boyfriend.” I don’t say it’s “no one’s business.”
I don’t do this for straight people. Most of them don’t know what the pink triangle even means. Most of them couldn’t care less that my girlfriend and I are totally in love or having a fight on the street. Most of them don’t notice us no matter what we do. I do what I do to reach other lesbians. I do what I do because I don’t want lesbians to assume I’m a straight girl. I am out all the time, everywhere, because I want to reach you. Maybe you’ll notice me, maybe start talking, maybe we’ll become friends. Maybe we won’t say a word but our eyes will meet and I will imagine you naked, sweating, openmouthed, your back arched as I am f—ing you. And we’ll be happy to know we aren’t the only ones in the world. We’ll be happy because we found each other, without saying a word, maybe just for a moment.
You won’t wear a pink triangle on that linen lapel. You won’t meet my eyes if I flirt with you on the street. You avoid me on the job because I’m “too” out. You chastise me in bars because I’m “too political.” You ignore me in public because I bring “too much” attention to “my” lesbianism. But then you want me to be your lover, you want me to be your friend, you want me to love you, support you, fight for “our” right to exist.
Where Are You?
You talk, talk, talk about invisibility and then retreat to your homes to nest with your lovers or carouse in a bar with pals and stumble home in a cab or sit silently and politely by while your family, your boss, your neighbors, your public servants distort and disfigure us, deride us and punish us. Then home again and you feel like screaming. Then you pad your anger with a relationship or a career or a party with other dykes like you and still you wonder why we can’t find each other, why you feel lonely, angry, alienated.
Get Up, Wake Up Sisters!!
Your life is in your hands.
When I risk it all to be out, I risk it for both of us. When I risk it all and it works (which it often does if you would try), I benefit and so do you. When it doesn’t work, I suffer and you do not.
But girl you can’t wait for other dykes to make the world safe for you. stop waiting for a better more lesbian future! The revolution could be here if we started it.
Where are you sisters? I’m trying to find you, I’m trying to find you. How come I only see you on Gay Pride Day?
We’re out. Where the f— are you?
When anyone assaults you for being queer, it is queer bashing.Right?
A crowd of 50 people exit a gay bar as it closes. Across the street, some straight boys are shouting “Faggots” and throwing beer bottles at the gathering, which outnumbers them by 10 to 1. Three queers make a move to respond, getting no support from the group. Why did a group this size allow themselves to be sitting ducks?
Tompkins Square Park, Labor Day. At an annual outdoor concert/drag show, a group of gay men were harassed by teens carrying sticks. In the midst of thousands of gay men and lesbians, these straight boys beat two gay men to the ground, then stood around triumphantly laughing amongst themselves. The emcee was alerted and warned the crowd from the stage, “You girls be careful. When you dress up it drives the boys crazy,” as if it were a practical joke inspired by what the victims were wearing rather than a pointed attack on anyone and everyone at that event.
What would it have taken for that crowd to stand up to its attackers?
After James Zappalorti, an openly gay man, was murdered in cold blood on Staten Island this winter, a single demonstration was held in protest. Only one hundred people came. When Yusef Hawkins, a black youth, was shot to death for being on “White turf” in Bensonhurst, African Americans marched through that neighborhood in large numbers again and again. A black person was killed because he was black, and people of color throughout the city recognized it and acted on it. The bullet that hit Hawkins was meant for a black man, any black man. Do most gays and lesbians think that the knife that punctured Zappalorti’s heart was meant only for him?
The straight world has us so convinced that we are helpless and deserving victims of the violence against us, that queers are immobilized when faced with a threat. Be outraged! These attacks must not be tolerated. Do something. Recognize that any act of aggression against any member of our community is an attack on every member of the community. The more we allow homophobes to inflict violence, terror and fear on our lives, the more frequently and ferociously we will be the object of their hatred. Your body cannot be an open target for violence. Your body is worth protecting. You have a right to defend it. No matter what they tell you, your queerness must be defended and respected. You’d better learn that your life is immeasurably valuable, because unless you start believing that, it can easily be taken from you. If you know how to gently and efficiently immobilize your attacker, then by all means, do it. If you lack those skills, then think about gouging out his f—ing eyes, slamming his nose back into his brain, slashing his throat with a broken bottle – do whatever you can, whatever you have to, to save your life!
Ah, do we really have to use that word? It’s trouble. Every gay person has his or her own take on it. For some it means strange and eccentric and kind of mysterious. That’s okay; we like that. But some gay girls and boys don’t. They think they’re more normal than strange. And for others “queer” conjures up those awful memories of adolescent suffering. Queer. It’s forcibly bittersweet and quaint at best – weakening and painful at worst. Couldn’t we just use “gay” instead? It’s a much brighter word. And isn’t it synonymous with “happy”? When will you militants grow up and get over the novelty of being different?
Why Queer …
Well, yes, “gay” is great. It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. So we’ve chosen to call ourselves queer. Using “queer” is a way of reminding us how we are perceived by the rest of the world. It’s a way of telling ourselves we don’t have to be witty and charming people who keep our lives discreet and marginalized in the straight world. We use queer as gay men loving lesbians and lesbians loving being queer. Queer, unlike gay, doesn’t mean male.
And when spoken to other gays and lesbians it’s a way of suggesting we close ranks, and forget (temporarily) our individual differences because we face a more insidious common enemy. Yeah, queer can be a rough word but it is also a sly and ironic weapon we can steal from the homophobe’s hands and use against him.
No Sex Police
For anyone to say that coming out is not part of the revolution is missing the point. Positive sexual images and what they manifest saves lives because they affirm those lives and make it possible for people to attempt to live as self-loving instead of self-loathing. As the famous “Black is beautiful” changed many lives so does “Read my lips” affirm queerness in the face of hatred and invisibility as displayed in a recent governmental study of suicides that states at least 1/3 of all teen suicides are Queer kids. This is further exemplified by the rise in HIV transmission among those under 21.
We are most hated as queers for our sexualness, that is, our physical contact with the same sex. Our sexuality and sexual expression are what makes us most susceptible to physical violence. Our difference, our otherness, our uniqueness can either paralyze us or politicize us. Hopefully, the majority of us will not let it kill us.
Why in the world do we let heteros into queer clubs? Who gives a f— if they like us because we “really know how to party?” We have to in order to blow off the steam they make us feel all the time! They make out wherever they please, and take up too much room on the dance floor doing ostentatious couples dances. They wear their heterosexuality like a “Keep Out” sign, or like a deed of ownership.
Why the f— do we tolerate them when they invade our space like it’s their right? Why do we let them shove heterosexuality – a weapon their world wields against us – right in our faces in the few public spots where we can be sexy with each other and not fear attack?
It’s time to stop letting the straight people make all the rules. Let’s start by posting this sign outside every queer club and bar:
– Rules of Conduct for Straight People
1. Keep your displays of affection (kissing, handholding, embracing) to a minimum. Your sexuality is unwanted and offensive to many here.
2. If you must slow dance, be an inconspicuous as possible.
3. Do not gawk or stare at lesbians or gay men, especially bull dykes or drag queens. We are not your entertainment.
4. If you cannot comfortably deal with someone of the same sex making a pass at you, get out.
5. Do not flaunt your heterosexuality. Be discreet. Risk being mistaken for a lezzie or a homo.
6. If you feel these rules are unfair, go fight homophobia in straight clubs, or
7. Go f— Yourself.
I Hate Straights
I have friends. Some of them are straight.
Year after year, I see my straight friends. I want to see them, to see how they are doing, to add newness to our long and complicated histories, to experience some continuity.
Year after year I continue to realize that the facts of my life are irrelevant to them and that I am only half listened to, that I am an appendage to the doings of a greater world, a world of power and privilege, of the laws of installation, a world of exclusion.
“That’s not true,” argue my straight friends. There is the one certainty in the politics of power: those left out of it beg for inclusion, while the insiders claim that they already are. Men do it to women, whites do it to blacks, and everyone does it to queers.
The main dividing line, both conscious and unconscious, is procreation … and that magic word – Family. Frequently, the ones we are born into disown us when they find out who we really are, and to make matters worse, we are prevented from having our own. We are punished, insulted, cut off, and treated like seditionaries in terms of child rearing, both damned if we try and damned if we abstain. It’s as if the propagation of the species is such a fragile directive that without enforcing it as if it were an agenda, humankind would melt back into the primeval ooze.
I hate having to convince straight people that lesbians and gays live in a war zone, that we’re surrounded by bomb blasts only we seem to hear, that our bodies and souls are heaped high, dead from fright or bashed or raped, dying of grief or disease, stripped of our personhood.
I hate straight people who can’t listen to queer anger without saying “hey, all straight people aren’t like that. I’m straight too, you know,” as if their egos don’t get enough stroking or protection in this arrogant, heterosexist world. Why must we take care of them, in the midst of our just anger brought on by their f—ed up society?! Why add the reassurance of “Of course, I don’t mean you. You don’t act that way.” Let them figure out for themselves whether they deserve to be included in our anger.
But of course that would mean listening to our anger, which they almost never do. They deflect it, by saying “I’m not like that” or “now look who’s generalizing” or “You’ll catch more flies with honey … ” or “If you focus on the negative you just give out more power” or “you’re not the only one in the world who’s suffering.” They say “Don’t yell at me, I’m on your side” or “I think you’re overreacting” or “Boy, you’re bitter.”
– Let Yourself Be Angry
They’ve taught us that good queers don’t get mad. They’ve taught us so well that we not only hide our anger from them, we hide it from each other. We even hide it from ourselves. We hide it with substance abuse and suicide and overachieving in the hope of proving our worth. They bash us and stab us and shoot us and bomb us in ever increasing numbers and still we freak out when angry queers carry banners or signs that say Bash Back. For the last decade they let us die in droves and still we thank President Bush for planting a f—ing tree, applaud him for likening PWAs to car accident victims who refuse to wear seatbelts. Let yourself be angry. Let yourself be angry that the price for visibility is the constant threat of violence, anti-queer violence to which practically every segment of this society contributes. Let yourself feel angry that there is no place in this country where we are safe, no place where we are not targeted for hatred and attack, the self-hatred, the suicide – of the closet.
The next time some straight person comes down on you for being angry, tell them that until things change, you don’t need any more evidence that the world turns at your expense. You don’t need to see only hetero couple grocery shopping on your TV … You don’t want any more baby pictures shoved in your face until you can have or keep your own. No more weddings, showers, anniversaries, please, unless they are our own brothers and sisters celebrating. And tell them not to dismiss you by saying “You have rights,” “You have privileges,” “You are overreacting,” or “You have a victim’s mentality.” Tell them “Go away from me, until you change.” Go away and try on a world without the brave, strong queers that are its backbone, that are its guts and brains and souls. Go tell them go away until they have spent a month walking hand in hand in public with someone of the same sex. After they survive that, then you’ll hear what they have to say about queer anger. Otherwise, tell them to shut up and listen.
Matthew Shepard was abducted, beaten and killed 20 years ago because he was gay.
Twenty years ago, Matthew Shepard was a “smart, funny” 21-year-old, no different than any other young man that age.
He was an “ordinary kid who wanted to make the world a better place,” his parents remembered.
But in October 1998, that all changed, when the openly gay college student was abducted, beaten and tied to a fence in Wyoming.
His life ended a few days later, and with it came a widespread awareness of the dangers that members of the LGBTQ community face every day. The homophobic brutal killing also served as a catalyst for progress in America’s laws and culture.
In the two decades that have passed, however, it remains debatable how far the country has come since the shock of that crime.
A gruesome attack
Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, spent Oct. 6, 1998, at a meeting of the school’s LGBTQ student group planning upcoming events for LGBTQ awareness week, Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, told ABC News.
He then grabbed coffee with friends before heading to a bar in Laramie in southeastern Wyoming.
Shepard was sitting alone at the bar, drinking a beer, when he was approached by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. They later confessed they had “developed a rouse in which they’d pretend to be gay to win Matt’s confidence,” Marsden said.
“They could offer him a ride home and rob him,” he added.
McKinney and Henderson kidnapped Shepard and told him he was being robbed, Marsden said.
“(MORE: ‘Gay panic’ defense still used in violence cases may be banned by new federal bill)
McKinney hit Shepard about 20 times in the head and face with the end of the pistol, Marsden said, before the two stole Shepard’s shoes, got in their truck and drove back to town.
Shepard was found the next day, 18 hours later, by a passing cyclist. He was taken to a Laramie hospital but his head injuries were so severe that he needed a neurosurgeon, so he was moved to a Colorado hospital, Marsden said.
Shepard’s parents at the time were in Saudi Arabia, where his father worked. They flew back and were with their son at the hospital for his final few days, Marsden said.
When his mother, Judy Shepard, saw the badly beaten college student in the hospital, “he was all bandaged, face swollen, stitches everywhere,” she told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “His fingers curled, toes curled, one eye was a little bit open.”
Shepard died on Oct. 12.
The loss “never heals,” his father, Dennis Shepard, told “Nightline.” “He was just an ordinary kid who wanted to make the world a better place. And they took that away from him. And from us.”
A promising young life cut short
Matthew Shepard was a mischievous, stubborn and argumentative child, his father said.
“We didn’t realize the amount of violence and discrimination … against the gay community until after he died.”
He grew up to become very interested in international human rights, particularly women’s rights in the Middle East and Asia, and he studied political science, said Marsden.
“His goal was to work for the State Department to try to bring the same privileges and rights he thought he had in America to other countries,” Dennis Shepard said.
A few years before his death, Matthew Shepard came out to his mother on the phone.
“He said, ‘Mom I’m gay.’ And I said, ‘What took you so long to tell me?'” she recalled. “Rejection was not ever an issue in our family.”
Their son was then living an openly out life.
“Everybody he met, he said, ‘Just to let you know ahead of time, I’m gay,'” Dennis Shepard said.
“It was like, ‘This is who I am, and that’s the way it’s going to be,'” added Judy Shepard.
Dennis Shepard wasn’t worried about his son’s safety.
“We didn’t realize the amount of violence and discrimination … against the gay community until after he died,” he said. “We thought, he was born here … he has all the rights, responsibilities, duties and privileges of every other American citizen.”
The nation mourns
The shocking homophobic crime in the sparsely-populated state garnered national sympathy. The outpouring of love was immediate as flowers and stuffed animals filled the hospital.
“This is before the term viral existed, but it really did go viral,” Marsden said.
“It spawned candlelight vigils all over the country. There was a mass protest on Fifth Avenue in New York in which almost 100 people were arrested,” Marsden said, as well as a vigil at the U.S. Capitol with celebrities and members of Congress.
“All of these spontaneous vigils were organized by volunteers independently of one another. All of the calls to action for hate crime legislation were the work of individual civic and political leaders,” Marsden explained. “It was a spontaneous outrage about the severity of this crime and the overall phenomenon of hate crimes against LGBT people, which were starting to get more social attention around this time than they had received in previous years.”
But it wasn’t all sympathy.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested the funeral, picketing with anti-gay signs.
Rev. Fred Phelps and his parishioners traveled from Kansas to Laramie for the funeral and trial, protesting with brightly colored signs and spewing hatred.
Friends of the slain student dressed in angel costumes and staged a counter-protest encircling the parishioners so their signs wouldn’t be visible.
Two killers head to court
After McKinney and Henderson were arrested, Henderson waived his pre-trial investigation and took a plea agreement, agreeing to two life sentences.
McKinney went to trial, and defense attorneys argued his violent actions were “gay panic” — a reaction to Shepard making a sexual advance.
“When the defense gets out there and starts talking out of, the victim’s fault, you know, ‘gay panic,’ … you just really want to scream,” Judy Shepard said. “One of the portions of his statement was that Matt was coming onto him … if that’s your defense, then every woman in a bar who gets hit on, she has the right to murder the guy sitting on her? That’s just absurd.”
The “gay panic” defense is still legal in most states but has been outlawed in a few. It’s been used since the 1960s in more than half of the states in the country, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
McKinney was convicted on numerous kidnapping and murder charges. Before sentencing, his attorneys, the Shepards and the prosecutors agreed to two consecutive life sentences in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table.
McKinney has declined to speak to ABC News while Henderson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Change in Washington
Shepard’s murder shined a light on the scope of federal hate crime laws, which at the time did not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Matt’s murder immediately raised the visibility of that effort and, although it took until 2009, it did eventually pass and was signed into law by President Obama,” Marsden said.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act added crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the federal hate crime law.
James Byrd Jr., who was black, was murdered by three white supremacists in Texas in June 1998. Byrd was dragged behind a pickup truck, decapitated and dismembered.
The moment Obama signed the hate crimes law “was amazing,” Judy Shepard said. “He understood social injustice. And to be there with James Byrd’s sisters when they, when he actually signed, signed into law, it was an incredible experience. And it was a relief and it was also a total understanding that there was just really a lot more left to do.”
For Judy Shepard, one of the best signs of cultural progress is seeing Gay Straight Alliance groups ramping up in schools. In Wyoming, where there’s a population of just 500,000, she said there are 19 Gay Straight Alliances.
Matthew Shepard’s story has also lived on through various creative works, including the “The Laramie Project” and “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” plays, which tell the story of how Laramie residents reacted to the murder.
They are among the most performed plays in American high schools, Marsden said, and have even been performed across the world in different languages, Judy Shepard said.
“It’s a universal story,” she said. “If you remove the sexuality from the story and insert race or religion, it’s exactly the same story of intolerance in a community or intolerance of individuals and how it affects a community.”
“Matt’s story, I think, was inspirational to many people, especially people his age who had not previously been active in LGBT rights who started doing so. Some have gone on to be really prominent activists in the community,” Marsden said
Back to ‘ground zero’
“I thought we were making such great progress in the Obama administration,” Judy Shepard said, but after the 2016 presidential election, she felt the progress of the foundation was at “ground zero again.”
The Trump administration has brought changes including an order to ban transgender troops in the military and a new “religious liberty task force” that advocates fear will provide an excuse for discrimination.
Just this month, a new policy went into effect in which the Trump administration will no longer provide visas for same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. officials serving in the U.S.
“I’m just so mad that we are regressing,” Judy Shepard said. “We’re back on the road talking about hate and acceptance and loving your neighbor and, you know, all those things again.”
During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice “was working with us.”
“They would set up conferences to educate law enforcement, NGOs and nonprofits on how to deal with hate crimes. How to address them, how to identify them, how to work with victims. And they would invite us to come,” Judy Shepard said. “We visited several countries, 25 countries with [the] State Department. Now we’re not.”
“Now the [Department of Justice] definitely does not want to work with us,” she continued. “Civil rights is not an issue, a primary issue, for the DOJ anymore. … So we don’t get calls from them anymore.”
To Marsden, the degrees of progress for LGBTQ rights in the past 20 years vary.
Especially in urban areas, Marsden said he thinks “LGBT people have a good deal more personal freedom, career opportunities, are much less subject to discrimination. I think a lot of our schools are safer, including bullying issues, which of course affect people way beyond the LGBT community — they affect anyone who is different in some way or another than the perceived norm.
“However, if you look back in history every time there’s great progress there’s also a great backlash going on,” he said, citing how the end of slavery prompted the evolution of KKK and Jim Crow, while the 1960s Civil Rights movement ignited racial violence.
“All of the advances we’ve made have been great but they haven’t reached everyone. It’s still a very hard time to be a [transgender] kid in America even in more enlightened parts of the country, certainly in more rural parts of the country.”
A Gallup poll from May 2018 found that 31 percent of people don’t think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.
“The overall lesson about looking back on progress is you have to fight to keep it. It can be very easy politically in this time in America to reverse the accomplishments made in the last 10 or 15 years,” Marsden said.
“I want people to be very conscious of their safety,” said Judy Shepard, warning that hate is still very much out there and that women, people and members of the LGBT community are especially vulnerable. “Especially now, when we hear so much vitriol being shouted from our leaders.”
“The number of hate crimes against LGBT people has gone up in the last two years, just like racial and religious hate crimes have,” Marsden said.
Reported hate crimes in the nation’s 10 biggest cities rose 12.5 percent last year — the fourth consecutive annual rise in a row and the highest total in over 10 years, according to an analysis from California State University San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism.
“Most hate crimes and discrimination are racial or religious — LGBT is a smaller percentage,” Marsden said. “We see, sadly, the kind of person who hates a certain race it’s pretty likely you’re the kind of person that hates a certain religion or a certain sexual orientation or gender identity, as well.”
A legacy — and life — memorialized
To the slain student’s mother, Matthew Shepard shouldn’t just be remembered for his legacy — he should be remembered for his life.
“I want people to remember that he was a person, that he was more than this icon in the photograph and the stories,” Judy Shepard said. “He was just, he was a 21-year-old college student who drank too much, who smoked too much and didn’t go to class enough. Just like every other 21-year-old college student. He had flaws. He was smart, funny. People just were drawn to him. And there was a great loss not just to us, but to all his friends. And people who hadn’t met him yet.”
What the Thorpe affair reveals about the history of elite men seeking sex and relationships with other men
When British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe was acquitted of conspiracy to murder on June 22, 1979, the press had a field day. Thorpe allegedly paid to have his lover of fifteen years — the horse groom and sometime model Norman Scott — assassinated. The outing of a popular, charismatic politician was only one of many sensationalist elements, which included: a cast of characters comprising several senior members of the Liberal Party and a crew of incompetent Welsh gangsters; a botched assassination attempt in which Scott’s dog had been shot instead of him; and, that favored British theme, class antagonism. The trial pitted patrician Thorpe — from a prominent political family, educated at Eton and Oxford, and married to an aristocrat — against working-class Scott. The judge’s partial summing-up sought to discredit the prosecution witnesses while describing Thorpe as “a national figure with a very distinguished public record”; when the jury acquitted Thorpe, the verdict was widely regarded as a miscarriage of justice, in which the establishment had rallied round to protect its own. Evidence is still emerging about the extent to which the government and the police colluded in protecting Thorpe at Scott’s expense.
A recent high-profile BBC dramatization of the events of the Thorpe affair, A Very English Scandal, reintroduced the British public to these events. The three-part miniseries, directed by Stephen Frears with a screenplay by Russell T. Davies, stars Hugh Grant as Thorpe and Ben Whishaw as Scott, and is based on a book-length account of the scandal that had been published to commemorate the 1967 decriminalization of sex between men in England and Wales. The drama thus drew on the talents of many of the leading lights of queer British film and TV, and staked out a place for the Thorpe scandal in the LGBT history of Britain.
The show also offers a more nuanced — and, to this historian, more plausible — representation of how masculinity and male homosexuality worked in Britain before around 1980 than usually appears in the popular media. The period between the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which allowed for men to be prosecuted for same-sex sex without the prosecution having to prove anatomically that anal sex had taken place, and the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalized sex between men in private, is usually understood as a time when a clearly-identified category of “the homosexual” — constructed in binary opposition to the “heterosexual” or “normal” man — was harshly oppressed by the legal and medical establishment. In the twenty-first century, this has become part of Britain’s national heritage. The story of Oscar Wilde’s tragic downfall at the hands of the establishment continues to pull in audiences, with a number of movies depicting the playwright’s life. In 2013, the computer science pioneer Alan Turing received an official royal pardon, which was extended three years later to all men who had been prosecuted for gross indecency, thus allowing the Conservative government of the time, under David Cameron, to draw a contrast between those prejudiced times and our own enlightened age.
A Very English Scandal makes clear, though, that in the world Thorpe inhabited, there were clear limits within which elite men seeking sex and relationships with other men could pursue their inclinations without controversy. When Scott first made a public statement about his affair with Thorpe, a police report went on file just in case, in the environment of the Cold War, the prominent politician might become a blackmail risk — but no prosecutions were set in motion, even though sex between men was still illegal. While Thorpe’s colleagues and friends suggest his poll numbers might improve if he marries, they evince no surprise or concern about the fact that he clearly prefers men. Though it is not clear that there is an evidence basis for this, the drama suggests that many of Thorpe’s circle might themselves prefer men too.
This could be interpreted as the establishment wagon-circling and closing ranks to protect its own — and at the time of the trial, many did interpret it as such: a BBC investigation at the time repeatedly asked people involved in the case if there had been a cover-up. But another way to think about this is that, in fact, for much of modern British history, norms surrounding male homoeroticism have been extremely context-specific. From the early nineteenth century until very recently, most elite men spent the part of their lives before marriage (perhaps in their late 20s or early 30s) immersed in single-sex environments, many of these residential: boarding schools, residential universities, gentlemen’s clubs, regimental halls, professional associations, political associations, dining clubs and discussion societies. In these contexts, very close romantic — and sometimes, though not always, sexual — attachments between men were thought a normal and appropriate part of the homosocial life-stage that most men would put aside when they married; within this highly class-hierarchical environment, exploitation of non-elite men for sex was thought not to be much different from exploitation of non-elite women for the same purpose. A significant minority of men — particularly around the turn of the twentieth century, when it was widely thought that too many men were choosing the bachelor lifestyle over marriage to eligible women — found that they preferred this environment to the prospect of matrimony, and stayed, doting on the boys and young men who passed through their care.
Because my historical research focuses on elite educational institutions, I find such men everywhere, working as teachers. In the forties, Thorpe surely met several at Eton and at Trinity College, Oxford. In the still heavily Latin-and-Greek-centric curricula of those days, men seeking paradigms within which to understand their desires often turned to ancient literature, where they would find idealized, romanticized descriptions of the pure and noble love an older man could bear towards a younger man or adolescent. One nineteenth-century Eton teacher, William Johnson Cory, wrote poetry based in large part on the Greek Anthology. His work, which enjoyed considerable mainstream popularity in its time, inspired generations of men who sought to put their own feelings into verse. One such man was Oscar Wilde, whose relationship with Alfred Douglas only came within the purview of the law after it moved outside the walls of Magdalen College, Oxford. But others included a significant social network of men — perhaps the majority of whom worked in education — who circulated amongst each other information that ranged from classical texts to scientific studies to pornography. Those at Eton and Oxford who read Johnson Cory’s poetry collection Ionica in its 1891 and 1905 editions may well have still been there when Thorpe arrived 40 years later.
That life-cycles and generations have a tendency to work like this means that conversation about a particular classically-influenced paradigm of same-sex desire — as well as forms of homoeroticism that were not at all acknowledged, talked about, recorded, or understood as a matter of identity — persisted in these institutions long after the Wilde trials were meant to have shut down all talk about homosexuality, long after the world wars, and long after the Sexual Offences Act. In 1998, a prominent Oxford classicist, who had spent 30 years in that university (and, prior to that, five at Eton), published a mainstream book about Virgil in which he held that a classical conception of pederasty was one of the major paradigms in which people in the nineties might continue to understand homosexuality, and that “[i]t is well known that many adolescents themselves pass through such a phase, and that it can be prolonged or created in institutions from which women are excluded…” This construction of a classical paradigm to understand modern homosexuality does not sound so different from, for example, the writing of the early theorist of male homosexuality John Addington Symonds, who made similar observations in the 1880s and 1890s.
In A Very English Scandal, Davies and Frears show the elite paradigm of male homoeroticism with which Thorpe was familiar butting up against the very different face of seventies gay liberation, the old giving way to the new. Outside the courtroom, a group of gay lib demonstrators give Scott a rapturous reception, welcoming him not only as out and proud, but also as a figure seeking to puncture the hypocrisy of the establishment and their desire to protect their own. When he is acquitted, Thorpe gives a hollow victory speech accompanied by his wife and son, whose lukewarm reception is overshadowed by gay libbers in the background carrying signs with bold slogans. That gay and lesbian activists of the time could paint Thorpe’s behavior as hypocrisy — much like how we now debate whether to out duplicitously closeted politicians — suggests that by then, in 1979, understandings of male sexuality were not so classed as they had once been. This was part of the broader shift in society and politics that accompanied, and followed on from, the victory of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party in the general election of that year. The eighties were when David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and, a few years behind them, Jacob Rees-Mogg attended Eton and Oxford; when they entered politics in the nineties, it was in a more prosperous, more outward-looking, more socially liberal Britain. Though at that time Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which forbade “promoting” homosexuality, still reigned, Cameron commented at the end of his parliamentary career that same-sex marriage was the prime ministerial achievement of which he was proudest.
To understand how we got here, though, we have to understand the links with the past, and the ways in which continuity operates as well as change. Though the present parliament is the most educationally diverse on record, institutions like Eton and Oxford still exert a peculiar influence over public life, as much in demotic conceptualizations of class and social inequality as in hard social-scientific data. Many viewers of A Very English Scandal will likely notice the differences between the world it depicts and our own: the cars, the seventies outfits, the social attitudes, the cod in parsley sauce. But Davies and Frears also went out of their way to emphasize the continuities, from Thorpe’s pro-European politics to the tabloids’ intrusion into the lives of public figures and, of course, the evergreen draw of a story that pits the entitled rich against the bold and scrappy poor who stand up for justice. It’s telling that we look at the story of a cross-class same-sex love affair that went wrong and think that there is something “very English” about it. Watching A Very English Scandal, I come away with a sense of how quickly the country has changed, how the Britain I encountered when I first came to live here in 2011, when Cameron was prime minister, is different — only just — from the Britain in which my friends’ parents grew up, when Thorpe was leader of the Liberal Party. As a historian of gender and sexuality in modern Britain, I come away with a renewed conviction that my late-nineteenth-century classics teachers were not mere marginal eccentrics, but in their own way key to understanding power and politics in modern Britain.
What went wrong with the conversion ministry, according to Alan Chambers, who once led its largest organization
In 2001, Alan Chambers was hired as the president of the world’s largest ex-gay ministry, Exodus International. That same year, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report that stated, “there is no valid evidence showing that sexual orientation can be changed.”
Like most conservative Christian leaders at the time, Chambers considered the countercultural nature of his work a point of pride. During the latter part of the 20th century, Exodus and similar conservative groups promoted the idea that gay people could—and should try to—become straight. Ex-gay leaders traveled to churches and appeared on television news programs citing a litany of examples of happily married “former homosexuals” to demonstrate that sexual orientation is a choice and that change is possible.
But Chambers would undergo a radical change of heart. In 2013, he publicly apologized to the LGBT community for the “pain and hurt” Exodus had caused and announced that the ministry was permanently shutting down. Chambers’s decision effectively delivered the deathblow to the beleaguered ex-gay movement. And his story of transformation, detailed in a new memoir, My Exodus: From Fear to Grace with a foreword by CNN’s Lisa Ling, will likely resonate with many traditionalists who are searching for new ways to think about LGBT issues.
Chambers, 43, was raised by an ex-military father in a Southern Baptist home and realized he was attracted to other males at a young age. Most of his early sexual encounters with men were anonymous, which bred in him a deep self-hatred. At 19, he connected with an Exodus-affiliated ministry where he hoped to rid himself of same-sex attraction once and for all.
While the ministry did not make Chambers straight, he claims that it saved his life and many others because it provided a “safe space for many” to talk about their sexuality. At the time, there was no national network for LGBT Christians and most churches were not places of sexual transparency. But, he says, Exodus’s emphasis on “change” made it “fatally flawed.”
In 1998, Chambers married his wife, Leslie, with whom he adopted two children. In My Exodus, he recounts his inability to consummate the union for eight months, but he says their sex life is now “good.”
“While many relationships are built on sex, ours just includes sex,” Chambers says. “We love it and value it because we worked hard for it.”
As a former Exodus participant who once lived a “gay lifestyle” but was able to achieve a successful straight marriage, Chambers was the perfect candidate to lead the organization. And by 2001, Exodus needed all the help it could get.
At its peak, Exodus International had an annual operating budget of more than $1 million, had 25 employees, and served as an umbrella organization for more than 400 local ministries across 17 countries. But over the years since its founding in 1976, many of the leaders Exodus’ touted as success stories had become cautionary tales instead.
Cofounder Michael Bussee left the group in 1979 and entered a relationship with another Exodus leader, Gary Cooper. Bussee would later admit, “I never saw one of our members or other Exodus leaders or other Exodus members become heterosexual, so deep down I knew that it wasn’t true.” Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, many former Exodus members became vocal critics of the ministry, claiming it had caused them psychological distress. And in September 2000, Exodus’s chairman John Paulk was photographed cruising for men at a gay bar in Washington, D.C. He was ousted from his position and later confessed, “I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.”
The movement traditionalists believed would be their saving grace in the fight against LGBT rights was quickly becoming their Achilles’ heel.
Being chosen to lead Exodus in 2001 was like becoming the ex-gay Pope following the Catholic sex-abuse scandals. The ministry’s board knew it could not survive another public scandal, so it questioned Chambers rigorously before deciding to hire him. During the interview process, Chambers recalls a board member asking him what success would look like under his leadership. He replied, “It looks like Exodus going out of business because the church is doing its job.”
Chambers words would later seem prophetic, but he first needed to travel a long road. In 2005, he called homosexuality “one of the many evils this world has to offer.” And in 2006, he lobbied for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But Chambers admits that during the same year his thinking began to evolve.
“As I heard more stories and evaluated my own realities,” Chambers said, “I realized change in orientation was not possible or happening.”
Though the ex-gay leader was stewing on the inside, he seemed as resolute as ever on the outside. He advocated for California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban gay marriage in the state. In 2009, he published a book called Leaving Homosexuality: A Practical Guide for Men and Women Looking for a Way Out. He admits to immediately regretting the book’s title and some of its content.
Chambers’s thinking continued morphing until his dramatic announcement that the ministry would shut down in 2013: “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism. For quite some time, we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
By this point, the ex-gay movement was already in shambles. A 2013 Pew Research poll showed that only 36 percent of Americans believe a gay or lesbian person’s orientation can be changed. As Satcher reported, modern science had delivered crushing blows to the ex-gay movement with peer-reviewed research showing that its ideology was bunk. And a national movement to ban reparative therapy for minors was taking shape and had already been successful in several states.
The closing of Exodus International became the “tipping point” in conservative Christians’ conversations about the nature of sexual orientation. Today, even top Southern Baptist leaders have denounced ex-gay therapy, and the school newspaper for the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University has editorialized against it.
“Shutting down Exodus dealt a fatal blow to the whole idea that orientation can be changed and that God somehow loves you more because of the choices you make,” Chambers says. “Some ministries still promote this idea, but they are not going to achieve the same level of success that Exodus had. That position is more of a minority than it has ever been.”
The release of Chambers’s memoir this month marks another step in the leader’s evolution. He has voiced his support for President Obama’s effort to ban orientation-change therapies for minors and celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. And now he even admits that he believes committed, monogamous same-sex relationships can be holy.
“I look at gay and lesbian people who are in committed relationships and I believe they can reflect the image of God,” Chambers says. “That belief has continued to evolve, but heterosexuals don’t have a corner on the market of healthy, holy relationships.”
While many culture-warring conservatives will undoubtedly see Chamber’s openness as a cowardly capitulation, others will call him courageous. The former ex-gay leader chooses to focus on just being honest, instead. As he said in a chapter intended for his memoir but cut by the publisher, “Every part of my life, all of my compartmentalization is reconciled. My message and story are no longer different depending on the group to whom I’m speaking.”
Chambers describes his current sexual orientation as “complicated.” While he is still attracted to men, he also says that he and Leslie have a healthy marriage with a robust sex life. But he no longer claims that every person with same-sex attraction should follow his path.
“For those who cannot reconcile their faith and sexuality, they can be affirmed in their choice of celibacy and devote their lives to causes more life giving than ‘ridding themselves of the demon homosexuality,’” Chambers says. “And the gay Christian community can be affirmed in who they already are: beloved.”
Nothing raises my hackles more than watching any documentary on ex-gay conversion therapy! It is bad enough when adults submit themselves to this degrading process, brought about almost inevitably by peer and social pressure. However, when parents send their below age-of-consent children to places like a Love In Action/Refuge conversion therapies, one really has to wonder just how shallow parental love can be! These so-called ex-gay conversion therapies by a whole range of organisations that fell under the Exodus International umbrelladisplay everything that is wrong, and evil, about Christianity: hypocrisy, prejudice, discrimination, stigma, deceit, misinformation, guilt, manipulation, and out-and-out lies to force an antiquated system of belief on teenagers at a difficult and confusing time of their lives, a time where personalities and sexuality are running rampant through rapidly changing bodies. We know, for a fact, that gay people cannot be turned straight. You’ve just gotta love how some of these ‘ex-gay” members love to flaunt their wives, kids and marriages as proof that the therapies work! Denial can be a strong motivator in some people’s lives. Both the 30% suicide rate amongst ex-gay conversions…probably motivated by the so-called therapy apparently not working…and that there are ex-ex-gay groups for those who attended therapy sessions and yet still found themselves with gay inclinations would seem to say all that needs to be said about the high failure rate of conversion therapy.
Obama’s call to ban the practice reflects a tectonic shift within the community that once championed it.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the Christian right poured money and muscle into promoting the message that homosexuality was a curable disorder. It advocated conversion therapy, which promised to turn gay men and women straight. But last week, when President Obama announced his support for a national ban on such therapies, few voices on the Christian right spoke up in protest. The announcement confirmed the evaporation of support for these approaches among the communities that once embraced them. As Alan Chambers, who once ran America’s largest ex-gay ministry, told me, “sexual orientation doesn’t change.”
It was a shift rooted in the accrual of evidence and experience. After she came out as a lesbian in high school, Julie Rodgers’ conservative Christian parents urged her to join a ministry in Texas to help make her straight. Ministry leaders promised her that if she continued praying, reading the Bible, attending meetings, and of course, refusing to identify as gay, her sexual orientation would eventually change and she could even marry a man. Rodgers didn’t want to go, but she did want the food, shelter, and love her parents offered. So she agreed.
The program worked great—except that it didn’t. After a decade of compliance, neither Rodger’s orientation nor those of her fellow group members budged toward straightness. And worse, the empty promises and feeling that she was “less than” normal left her drowning in a sea of shame.
It’s a sad story, but one that grows gloomier when you consider that Rodgers is one of the lucky ones. Countless LGBT youths have been subjected to much worse, not just in Christian ministries, but also at the hands of licensed counselors who perform what is known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy.” These controversial mental health practices, intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, are ineffective and often drive participants to depression, anxiety, drug use, or suicide.
In recent years, however, conversion therapy has been much maligned if not completely discredited. Almost all major medical and public welfare organizations oppose it, and even conservative Christians—once counted among its strongest supporters—are changing their minds. New Jersey, California, and Washington, D.C., have already outlawed ex-gay therapy for minors. By all accounts, therapies attempting to cure gayness appear to be going the way of the buggy whip.
But this hasn’t always been so. According to Kenneth Lewes, in his book, Psychoanalysis and Male Homosexuality, some began to view same-sex erotic behavior less as sin than as a mental-health disorder as early as the 19th century. This was true of other “sinful” behaviors as well—for example, drunkenness morphed into alcoholism and demon possession became schizophrenia or a personality disorder.
The shift was spurred on by the work of Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s, even though the iconic neurologist was pessimistic about either the possibility or desirability of changing homosexual orientation to heterosexual. Freud’s belief that human beings are born bisexual and can move along a continuum of sexuality formed the basis of the belief that homosexuals could be “cured.”
This way of thinking about sexual orientation persisted into the mid-20th century as many Americans fantasized about an idyllic “traditional family” in the Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver molds. By the start of the American cultural revolution in the 1960s, many mental-health professionals, clergy, and politicians supported the idea that homosexuality was a mental-health disorder that could be cured through some combination of prayer and “therapy,” which included electroshock therapy, masturbatory reconditioning, and giving patients nausea-inducing drugs while forcing them to view homosexual erotica.
“One reason why homosexuals are so rarely cured is that they rarely try treatment,” proclaimed a 1965 Time magazine article. “Too many of them actually believe that they are happy and satisfied the way they are.”
But the late 60s and 70s brought on a blitzkrieg of social change. Women’s liberationists energized the feminist movement, the conflict in Vietnam provoked an anti-war movement, a growing awareness of ecological degradation brought on the environmental movement, and an increasingly mobilized LGBT community morphed into a powerful gay-rights movement.
In 1974, the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental health disorders. This inflamed many conservatives, especially the Christians among them, who were now mobilizing in the public square against what they believed was a growing tumor of secularism.
Christian pastors promoted anti-gay messages from their pulpits, even advocating the idea that HIV/AIDs was a special form of God’s wrath and judgment against human sinfulness. Christian funders helped bankroll ex-gay ministries like Exodus International, which grew into a coalition of more than 80 ministry partners across 34 states. In 1998, Christian political groups even spent $600,000 on pro-conversion therapy ads in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. Robert Knight of the Family Research Council called it “the Normandy landing in the culture war.”
As a result, ex-gay therapy experienced something of a resurgence in the 1990s. Newspapers often treated it as a medically viable option, and Newsweek ran a sympathetic cover story in 1998.
But the foundations of this effort began crumbling at the turn of the 21st century. While peer-reviewed evidence for the efficacy of aversive therapies was lacking, a growing body of scientific studies indicated that it was not effective in altering subjects’ sexual orientations and was potentially harmful. (The main study cited in support of conversion therapy was conducted by Robert L. Spitzer, who later apologized and admitted his data was tainted, unreliable, and misinterpreted.) After reviewing such studies, major medical organizations—the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Organization, National Association of Social Workers, World Health Organization, and others—systematically repudiated these practices as harmful.
While science was discrediting conversion therapy, high-profile ex-gay leaders were either apologizing and defecting to the other side or being exposed as frauds. John Paulk, a man who had been a vocal and visible supporter of gay conversion for more than a decade and claimed to be happily married to a former lesbian, was photographed in a Washington, D.C., gay bar in 2000. Three years later, it was discovered that Michael Johnston, founder of “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day,” was having unprotected sex with men he’d met online despite being HIV-positive. In 2006, Ted Haggard, a fiery opponent of gay rights and then president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted to having gay sex with a male prostitute after unsuccessful attempts to change his orientation through counseling. A few years later, John Smid, former executive director of the ex-gay advocacy group “Love in Action,” apologized and said he “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.” These names are only a sampling.
By the second decade of the 21st century, the scientific foundation of reparative therapy had eroded, every major medical association had repudiated it, the movement’s leaders were falling away, and viral horror stories from former participants were popping up across the web.
But the death-knell sounded in July of 2013 when Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, America’s largest ex-gay Christian ministry apologized to the LGBT community and shuttered his organization. Chambers once claimed he knew “tens of thousands of people who have successfully changed their sexual orientation.” But last week, he told me “99.9 percent of people I met through Exodus’ ministries had not experienced a change in orientation.”
Chambers’ announcement seemed to unleash a broader shift among conservative Christians, the last defense against reparative therapy’s demise. Julie Rodgers, the ex-gay ministry survivor from Texas, now serves on the ministry staff at Wheaton College, one of America’s most prominent evangelical universities, where she has spoken against ex-gay therapy. Russell Moore, the political pointman for the Southern Baptist Convention, has publicly repudiated the practice. Even the opinion editor at the school newspaper for Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, editorialized against it.
In 2011—roughly half a century from gay conversion therapy’s heyday—only 24 percent of Americans said they believe it works. The number is presumably even lower today.
While some disparate pockets of support remain, they are waning. The day when ex-gay therapy enjoyed legitimacy in mainstream medicine, media, religion and society is now heading for the history books. And in its place, there is a growing consensus that such practices are distasteful, irresponsible, unethical—and perhaps should be illegal.
Religious Faith Linked To Suicidal Behaviour In LGBQ Adults
(Reuters Health) – Although religiosity is generally tied to reduced suicide risk, the opposite may be true for some young lesbian, gay and questioning adults, researchers say.
Based on data from more than 21,000 U.S. college students, researchers found that greater religious feeling and engagement was tied to increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions for participants who identified as LGBQ.
“Religion has typically been seen as something that would protect somebody from thoughts of suicide or trying to kill themselves, and in our study our evidence suggests that may not be the case for everyone, particularly for those we refer to as sexual minority people,” said one of the study authors, John Blosnich of the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Previous research suggests that belonging to a religious faith reduces risky behavior in young people, such as substance use and unsafe sex, Blosnich noted in a telephone interview. Religiosity has also been linked to a lower risk of suicidal behaviors, but there is some evidence to suggest that the impact of religion may be different for lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) individuals.
The study team analyzed survey data from the 2011 University of Texas at Austin’s Research Consortium on 21,247 college-enrolled 18- to 30-year-olds, including 2.3 percent who reported being lesbian or gay, 3.3 percent who identified as bisexual and 1.1 percent who were questioning their sexuality.
All participants rated the importance of religion in their lives on a 1 to 5 scale, from “not important” to “very important.” Between 21 percent and 28 percent of LGBQ participants rated the importance of religion to them at a 4 or 5, compared with 39 percent of heterosexuals, researchers report in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Questioning youth had the highest rate of recent thoughts about suicide, at 16.4 percent, compared with 3.7 percent of heterosexuals, 6.5 percent of lesbian/gay individuals and 11.4 percent of bisexuals. Lifetime suicide attempts were reported by 20 percent of bisexual youth, 17 percent of questioning youth, 14 percent of gay or lesbian youth and 5 percent of heterosexuals.
For bisexual youth, the importance of religion was not associated with suicidal behavior, while religiosity was protective against thoughts of suicide and suicidal attempts in the heterosexual youth. But lesbians and gays who reported that religion was important to them were 38 percent more likely to have had recent suicidal thoughts. For lesbians only, religion was associated with a 52 percent increased likelihood of suicidal thinking.
Questioning individuals were almost three times as likely to have attempted suicide recently if they reported that religion was very important to them.
Among lesbians and gays who said religion was not important to them, there was no association between sexual orientation and recent suicide attempts. But being homosexual did significantly increase the likelihood of recent suicide attempts in people who said that religion was very important to them.
“Some sexual minority folks are really at odds. They feel very confused or they feel that they are in conflict with their faith because of who they are. That’s a very scary place to be in,” Blosnich said.
“We are definitely not saying that religion, period, is bad; it’s not,” he added. “There are many sexual minority people who find great strength and great sources of support in their religious communities, but unfortunately we hear many stories about people who do not.”
Faith-based partners in public health suicide prevention and intervention services “should be willing and equipped to assist all people who seek their services, regardless of sexual orientation,” the study authors write.
atizing views of sexual minorities, the authors note. Because the study population was drawn from an academic setting, it may not represent the general population, they add.
“We want to engage religious and faith-based providers in a way that benefits all people,” Blosnich said. “Faith-based communities are major participants in suicide prevention. We just want to make sure that the services that people provide through faith-based organizations or through community faith partners reach everyone who comes to them for help, regardless of sexual orientation.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2qt3gYC American Journal of Preventive Medicine, online March 15, 2018.
Former Love In Action Leader Marries His Same-Sex Partner
John Smid, the former director of Memphis-based ex-gay ministry Love In Action, has announced his marriage to partner Larry McQueen. The two married in Oklahoma on Sunday, November 16th.
Smid has been living as an out gay man for several years now, and he’s been in a relationship with McQueen for one year. Gay marriage just became legal in Oklahoma last month. The couple live in Paris, Texas, where Smid moved from his Memphis home in the summer of 2013.
Smid’s journey from ex-gay leader to happily out gay man has been a long one. He was promoted to the role of executive director of Love in Action in September 1990, and in 1994, the organization moved its ministry to Memphis. Love in Action operated here quietly until 2005, when protests over a youth “straight” camp called Refuge sparked a national media firestorm.
In early June 2005, Zach Stark, a White Station High School student, posted these words on his MySpace page: “Today, my mother, father, and I had a very long ‘talk’ in my room, where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist Christian program for gays.”
That fundamentalist program, described by Stark in a later post as a “boot camp,” was Refuge, a two-week day camp where gay kids were taught how to become straight kids. After Stark’s MySpace post, local LGBT equality advocates held a week of protests outside Love In Action, and the Memphis ministry made national headlines, including a story in The New York Times.
Love In Action eventually discontinued the Refuge program and moved to an adults-only conversion therapy model. All the while, Smid was struggling with his own beliefs. During the week of protests in 2005, Smid met Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox, who was working on a documentary about Love In Action. Smid told the Flyer in a previous interview that it was Fox’s influence that helped open his eyes to the fact that conversion therapy was doing more harm than good.
“As we got together, we were willing to lay aside our agenda and get to know one another as people,” Smid said of Fox. “That was very instrumental in my processing where I am today.”
Smid eventually resigned as director of Love In Action in 2008, and he founded Grace Rivers, a monthly fellowship for gay Christians. At the time, he remained married to his wife. But they eventually divorced in 2011. Earlier this year, Smid told The Lone Star Q, a Texas LGBT news organization, that he couldn’t continue living the rest of his life in a marriage that didn’t feel right.
“I’ve believed in faith that something was going to happen, and it never did, and so at my age, right now in my life, I don’t have that many good years left in me, and I can’t live like this for the rest of my life, so I said no I’m not willing to keep pushing after something that’s not going to happen,” Smid told The Lone Star Q, regarding his divorce.
Smid met McQueen three years ago, but they were just “acquaintances with common friends,” wrote Smid in his Facebook announcement of their marriage Sunday.
“I gradually got to know him over time until we reached a place in our lives that we saw we wanted to get to know one another through a dating relationship. As we dated we shared our vision for life, our personal philosophies, and our faith values. We found a compatibility that was comfortable and exciting,” Smid said.
He went on to say, “I realized this week that my relationship with Larry is a mirror I see in every day. For most of my life, the mirror I saw reflected my mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. The reflection I see today with Larry shows me the positive things in my life, my strengths, gifts, and talents. I see how I can succeed at a mutual intimate and loving relationship. For this, I am truly grateful.”
Ex-Gay Group Exodus International Shuts Down, President Apologises
Exodus International, a group that bills itself as “the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality,” announced June 19 that it’s shutting its doors.
Exodus’s board unanimously agreed to close the ministry and begin a separate one, though details about the new ministry were unavailable at the time of the organization’s press release.
The announcement came just after Exodus president Alan Chambers released a statement apologizing to the gay community for many actions, including the organization’s promotion of efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation.
“I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents,” Chambers said. “I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite—or worse.”
The announcement comes at a critical point for gay rights, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue two potentially decisive rulings on gay marriage and public opinion shifts rapidly in favor of gay rights and even gay marriage.
A recent Gallup Poll showed that 59 percent of Americans now view gay or lesbian relations as “morally acceptable,” a 19-point swing since 2001 and the biggest change seen on any social issue, including divorce, extramarital affairs and other issues.
Chambers disavowed reparative therapy at the annual Gay Christian Network conference in January 2012. “Alan has been moving this way for awhile … but this apology is much more explicit and leaves no room for support for change therapies or demonizing gays.” said Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College who has long observed the ex-gay movement.
“Exodus has been a lighting rod for Christian discussion about homosexuality over the years and with today’s events will probably continue to be for awhile.”
John Paulk, who was spotted at a gay bar in Washington D.C. in 2000 and left his role as chairman of Exodus, also recently apologized for the reparative therapy he once promoted.
Chambers announced the closure of Exodus at the ministry’s 38th annual conference in Irvine, Calif. Local affiliated Exodus ministries, which are autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.
Exodus began in 1976 by a gay man, Frank Worthen. “Perhaps nothing has brought Exodus into the mainstream of evangelicalism more than its embrace by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family,” wrote Christianity Today in 2007. The ministry has faced some challenges in recent years, including a split with Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago and dissolved partnerships.
In his apology, Chambers acknowledged stories of people who went to Exodus for help only to experience more trauma.
“I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope,” he said. “In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.”
On Thursday, journalist Lisa Ling’s program “God & Gays,” which features Chambers among others, will air on The Oprah Network. “The organization needs to shut down. Shut down!” a man in the trailer tells Chambers.
On New Year’s Day 1965, hundreds of gay San Franciscans arrived at 625 Polk Street in the city’s Tenderloin district for a much-anticipated “Mardi Gras Ball.”
The event organized by gay rights — or, to use the then-common term, homophile — activists was not unlike the thousands of public parties being held this June during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month: There were drinks and music, hand-holding, flirtatious glances and kisses between friends old and new. But it was also a private affair — $5 tickets had to be bought ahead of time — in a city where gay people regularly faced threats and arrests for gathering together and showing affection.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the San Francisco ball, however, was its purpose beyond merriment: It was held as a fundraiser for pro-gay clergy.
Today, although Americans for and against gay rights cite their religious beliefs, those who oppose same-sex marriage and other civil rights for LGBT individuals have been especially vocal in declaring that God is on their side. That’s not always been the expectation about the faithful. In the mid-1960s, LGBT activists often looked to men of the cloth as allies in their fight for justice and human rights, according to historians.
Just months before the ball, about two dozen Bay Area Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal and United Church of Christ clergy and gay activists had formed the Council on Religion and the Homosexual to promote the “need for a better understanding of human sexuality” and its “broad variations and manifestations.”
Clergy and lawyers for the group had negotiated with police — who had a habit of shutting down LGBT events — to let the dance go forward. But according to contemporary newspaper articles, police still showed up that night, taking pictures of those entering as an intimidation tactic. When the cops demanded to get inside, the lawyers reportedly blocked them. Six people ended up in jail for interfering with the police and disorderly conduct.
The clergy fought back with a press conference the next day. “Angry Ministers Rip Police,” said a front-page headline in the San Francisco Chronicle below a picture of men in clerical collars. The clash mobilized both the city’s gay community and the pastors. The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit over the arrests — the first time the ACLU had joined a legal battle over gay rights, according to the LGBT Religious Archives Network.
“That was years before the 1969 Stonewall riots, which is popularly considered the beginning of the gay rights movement,” said Heather White, a visiting assistant professor of religion at the New College of Florida who has spent years combing through LGBT archives for an upcoming book, tentatively titled Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights. “And that’s just one of the best-known stories. There were Councils on Religion and Homosexuality and similar groups in D.C., Pennsylvania, Ottawa, Hawaii.”
White is among a growing group of scholars who have been working to uncover the broad — and for many, surprising — history of religious gay rights activism. The LGBT Religious Archives Network has documented hundreds of stories like that of the San Francisco clergy since it was founded 13 years ago at the United Church of Christ-affiliated Chicago Theological Seminary. The organization is now based in Berkeley, California, at the Pacific School of Religion’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry.
The network’s website offers a series of profiles of and oral history interviews with Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Pagan LGBT clergy and religious activists, living and dead. Online exhibits cover topics ranging from the Council on Religion and the Homosexual to the 1973 UpStairs Lounge fire in New Orleans, an anti-gay arson incident that killed 32 people, including many members of the city’s gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, to New York’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which launched in 1973 and calls itself the world’s largest gay synagogue. The network also holds archives on the lives of people like William R. Johnson, who in 1972, as a member of the Golden Gate Association of the United Church of Christ, became the first gay American Protestant to be ordained.
White, who sits on the network’s advisory committee, said expectations about how religion would view gay rights began to change after the 1960s.
“What we know of the face of religion and gay rights has been shaped by a shift that occurred in the 1970s with the rise of conservative Christianity. It’s a consolidated political force that wasn’t in place before then. There were certainly conservative people and religious people who were involved in politics, but in the 1950s and 1960s, homophile organizations saw religious leaders as likely allies,” said White. “That is less of the case today, though things are changing.”
A Pew Research Center survey, released Thursday, found that 62 percent of Americans now say homosexuality should be accepted, rather than discouraged, by society. But clear lines still divide religious Americans when it comes to gay rights, especially same-sex marriage. Polls show that white evangelicals tend to strongly oppose gay marriage. The nation’s largest churches — including the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — officially do not support same-sex marriage.
On the other hand, Catholic Americans as individuals tend to be supportive of gay marriage. And several denominations — including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and both Reform and Conservative Jews — allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages or blessings.
Some of the biggest gay rights activists and organizations started their work in churches,” said Bernard Schlager, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and an associate professor of cultural and historical studies as the Pacific School of Religion.
He pointed to the Metropolitan Community Church, which gay rights activist Troy Perry launched in Los Angeles in 1968 to cater to gay people. The relatively small church has 222 congregations worldwide today, but Schlager said its influence was “monumental” in pro-LGBT Protestant movements. Another noted gay rights group, PFLAG — formerly known as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays — had its first meeting in 1973 at the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in New York City’s Greenwich Village (now called the Church of the Village).
Schlager suggested that the widespread, if inaccurate, perception of religion firmly opposing gay rights is also shifting. “It’s come to the point that sometimes people today say it’s more difficult to come out as a person of faith than it is to come out as LGBT in religious circles,” he said.
Melissa Wilcox, an associate professor of religion and gender studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, shared a similar view.
“With the increasing visibility of the marriage rights movement, we have started to see LGBT-supportive groups [within religious communities] being able to get their message out more clearly. That’s a battle for them, but many have been there all along,” said Wilcox, who also sits on the LGBT Religious Archives Network’s advisory committee.
After decades of church activism, for example, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly last week voted to allow its pastors to officiate gay marriages in states where they are legal. The church’s presbyteries, or regional bodies, are also scheduled to vote on whether to change the definition of marriage to cover “two people,” rather than only a man and a woman.
“A lot of people are still wary of anything you’d call religion. A lot of people have been burned,” said Wilcox. “But there’s a rich history out there of gay religious activism for us to appreciate and uphold.”
ONE Inc.’s Articles of Incorporation were signed on Nov. 15, 1952 and were signed by “Tony Sanchez” (a pseudonym), Martin Block, andDale Jennings. Other founders were Merton Bird,W. Dorr Legg, Don Slater, and Chuck Rowland. Jennings and Rowland were also Mattachine Society founders.
In January1953ONE, Inc. began publishingONE Magazine, the first U.S. pro-gay publication, and sold it openly on the streets of Los Angeles. In October1954the U.S. Postal Service declared the magazine ‘obscene’. ONE sued, and finally won in1958, as part of the landmarkFirst Amendmentcase,Roth v. United States.The magazine continued until1967.
ONE also publishedONE Institute Quarterly(now theJournal of Homosexuality). It began to run symposia, and contributed greatly to scholarship on the subject of same-sex love (then called ‘homophilestudies’).
ONE readily admitted women, and Joan Corbin (as Eve Elloree), Irma Wolf (as Ann Carrl Reid), Stella Rush (as Sten Russell), Helen Sandoz (as Helen Sanders), and Betty Perdue (as Geraldine Jackson) were vital to its early success. ONE and Mattachine in turn provided vital help to theDaughters of Bilitisin the launching of their newsletterThe Ladder (Magazine)in1956. The Daughters of Bilitis was the counterpart lesbian organisation to the Mattachine Society, and the organisations worked together on some campaigns and ran lecture-series. Bilitis came under attack in the early 1970s for ‘siding’ with Mattachine and ONE, rather than with the new separatist feminists.
In 1965, ONE separated over irreconcilable differences between ONE’s business manager Dorr Legg andONE Magazineeditor Don Slater. After a two-year court battle, Dorr Legg’s faction retained the name “ONE, Inc.” and Don Slater’s faction retained most of the corporate library and archives. In 1968, Slater’s faction became theHomosexual Information Centeror HIC, a non-profit corporation that survives today.
In 1996, ONE, Inc. merged with ISHR, theInstitute for the Study of Human Resources, a non-profit organization created by transgendered philanthropist Reed Erickson, with ISHR being the surviving organization and ONE being the merging corporation. In 2005, the HIC donated many of its historic materials, including most of ONE Incorporated’s Blanche M. Baker Memorial Library, to theVern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender, a special collection within Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge.
A Timeline History of ONE, Incorporated 1947–1967
This timeline links to several primary documents, such as court records, corporate minutes, letters of resignation, and correspondence between several of the pioneers of the early movement for homosexual rights in the United States. It ends in 1967 after the division of ONE, Inc. was finalized after a grueling two-year court battle.
White’s book Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History for the Movement for Homosexual Rights, published by the University of Illinois Press in May of 2009, discusses many of the documents linked to this page.
June:Edythe EydepublishesVice Versa: America’s Gayest Magazine, the first regularly published newsletter in the United States dedicated to homosexual issues. The newsletter was typewritten at her employer’s, RKO Studios in Los Angeles. Eyde distributed 16 copies to friends such as Jim Kepner between June 1947 and February 1948. Eyde later became know to readers ofThe Ladderthrough her pen-name, “Lisa Ben,” an anagram for Lesbian.
Note: The HIC secured official right to use Eyde’s true name in print, in the summer of 2015.
Alfred Kinsey et al.’sSexual Behavior in the Human Maleis published, asserting that one in three American males had experienced some form of homosexual encounter in their lifetime and that between four and eight percent were exclusively homosexual.
February: final (ninth) issue ofVice Versadistributed.
August: Harry Hay attends a beer bust near the University of Southern California campus, where the idea is sprung to start a political organization called “Bachelors for Wallace.” Upon returning home that night, Hay began his first draft of a prospectus to form an organization dedicated to the welfare of homosexuals.
Publication of Nial Kent’sThe Divided Path.
Physique Pictorialmagazine is first published, by Bob Mizer.
(Future activist) Betty Berzon moves to Los Angeles.
President Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, citing “sexual perversions” as reasons for preventing homosexuals from being employed by the federal government.
Nov 11:Harry Hay, Rudy Gernreich, Chuck Rowland,Dale Jennings, andBob Hullmeet at Hay’s home in Silver Lake to discuss his Preliminary Concepts for unifying homosexuals into social action. The group meet again two days later, on Nov. 13th.
Dec: A Senate subcommittee issues a report stating that homosexuals working within the Federal government could be considered a threat to national security.
Dec. 11: First organized discussion group of Hay’s secret society, which would later become known as Mattachine.
Jim Kepnermoves to 2141 Baxter Street in Echo Park, where he is to reside for the next 21 years.
Donald Webster Cory’sThe Homosexual in America—A Subjective Approachis published by Greenberg.
Fritz Peters’s novelFinistèreis published by Farrar, Straus & Company.
April: Lovers Konrad Stevens and James Gruber (christened collectively as “Stim” byDale Jennings) join Harry Hay’s “Society of Fools.” The organization decides to call itself “Mattachine.” First Missions and Purposes of the Mattachine Society are written.
June: Dorr Legg (known as Bill Lambert), Merton Bird, and others found Knights of the Clocks, an organization of interracial homosexuals.
July 20: Missions and Purposes of the Mattachine Society are ratified.
UCLA psychologistEvelyn Hookercontacts Mattachine in search of subjects for her study of differences between male homosexuals and heterosexuals.
January: Premier Issue ofONE Magazine, edited byMartin Block,Dale Jennings, andDon Slater, withWilliam Lambertas Business Manager andDonald Webster Coryas Contributing Editor.
Jim Kepnerattends his first Mattachine meeting by invitation of his friendBetty Perdue.
February 7 [Sa]:ONE, Incorporated’s Articles of Incorporationfiled with the Secretary of State in Sacramento, CA, signed byMartin Block,Dale Jennings, andTony Reyes, the First Directors of ONE, Inc. Also on this day: aBusiness Meeting
March 21 [Sa]:Business Meeting
April 11–12 [Sa–Su]: Mattachine Conference to create a new constitution.
Spring: Irma “Corky” Wolf, known in print as “Ann Carl Reid,” begins working for ONE, Inc.
May 27 [We]: ONE, Incorporated’s Charter Granted by the State of California.
June:Martin Blockresigns as editor ofONEmagazine;Dale Jenningstakes over.
June 7 [Su]:Business Meeting
August: An issue ofONEmagazine dealing with homosexual marriage is confiscated by the Los Angeles Postmaster.
AttorneyEric Julberlater secures the magazine’s release.
Sept:ONE is first distributed in New York City.
October 16 [Fr]:By-Laws for ONE, Incorporated are filed with the Secretary of State in Sacramento, California.
Nov. 1 [Su]:First Official Board Meeting for ONE, Incorporated.Martin Blockis elected Chair,Tony Reyes Vice Chair, andDale Jennings becomes the Secretary-Treasurer.
The cover of the November issue ofONEreads “The Homosexual Magazine” for the first time.
By year’s end, Mattachine-like discussion groups are being held throughout Los Angeles and in Long Beach, Laguna Beach, Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Chicago.
January 22 [Fr]: Annual Business Meeting.
The Board of Directors of ONE, Incorporated electWilliam Lambertas Chairman,Irma Wolfas vice-Chairman, andDale Jenningsas Secretary-Treasurer, each to serve a three-year term.
Feb.:Dale Jenningsresigns as editor ofONE.Irma Wolfis recruited to the editorial board.
March 31 [We]:Don Slaterbecomes interim director of ONE, Inc. Jim Kepner, as “Lyn Pedersen,” publishes his first article inONE,“The Importance of Being Different.”
May:Jim Kepner, as “Lyn Pedersen,” becomes a member of the Editorial Staff forONE,replacing Ben Tabor.
ONE Inc. begins its ONE Institute of Homophile Studies program, lead byJim Kepner,Merritt Thompson, andW. Dorr Legg. This is the first educational institution in the United States dedicated to the study of homosexuality.
ONE Confidentiallaunched and distributed to the Friends of ONE in response to the onslaught of mail and increased public attention.
ONE, Incorporated’s Publications Division publishesHomosexuals Today: A Handbook of Organizations & Publications,withWilliam Lambert[Marvin Cutler], as Editor.
Jim Kepnercontributes over 400 books to ONE Incorporated’s library, more than doubling the size of the collection.Don Slaterbecomes ONE’s first librarian.
Jan. 27–29: Second annual Midwinter Institute.Harry Hayis a featured speaker.
March 1 [Th]:Chuck Rowlandresigns from ONE’s Social Services Division.
Irma “Corky” Wolf, as “Ann Carll Reid,” is promoted to Editor ofONE Magazine.
U.S. District Judge Thurmond Clarke rules that the October 1954 issue ofONE Magazinehad contained “filthy and obscene material obviously calculated to stimulate the lust of the homosexual reader” and was thus unmailable. ONE’s attorneyEric Julberappeals.
The Wolfenden Reportis published, recommending that homosexuality be decriminalized in England.
Harry Benjamincoins the word “transsexual.”
A Navy committee investigating homosexuals in the military publishesThe Crittenden Report,stating that there was no legitimate basis for excluding homosexuals from the armed forces.
Federal government astronomerFrank Kamenyis fired for being a homosexual.
UCLA PsychologistEvelyn Hookerpublishes a study proclaiming that homosexual men are just as well adjusted as heterosexual men.
Jan. 25–27: Third annual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: “The Homosexual Answers His Critics.” Harry Haypresents a paper titled “The Homophile in Search of an Historical Context and Cultural Continuity.”
Dale Jennings, as Jeff Winters, again appears inONEmagazine,as author of the short story “The Little Guy.”
March: California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Barnes, Hamley, and Ross uphold Judge Clarke’s ruling from a year prior that the October 1954 issue ofONEwas obscene and thus not mailable. Julber decides to appeal.
June 24 [Mon]: Supreme Court rules in Roth vs. United States that “obscenity” is not protected by the First Amendment and that “The standard for judging obscenity…is whether, to the average person…the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests.”
Summer: “The Homosexual Viewpoint” first printed on the cover ofONEmagazine.
Oct. 17 [Th]:Irma “Corky” Wolfresigns as Editor ofONEdue to health issues and continued conflicts with W. Dorr Legg[William Lambert].
Barbara Gittingsfounds a Daughters of Bilitis chapter in New York.
Jan. 13 [Mo]: The United States Supreme Court rules that the October 1954 issue ofONE Magazinewas not obscene and should be protected as an exercise of free speech. The court battle between ONE Inc. and Los Angeles PostmasterOtto Olesonis over.
Jan. 31 [Fr]: Annual Business Meeting.Don Slaterelected a Director to fill the unexpired two-year term ofAnn Carll Reid.
Jan. 31–Feb. 2: 4th annual Midwinter Institute. Theme: Homosexuality: A Way of Life.
June 6 [Fr]:ONE Institute Quarterly for Homophile Studiesfirst published, byW. Dorr Legg,Merritt M. Thompson, andJim Kepner.
Jan. 29–31: 5thannual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: Mental Health and Homosexuality.
Sept. 4–7: 6thannual Mattachine Convention in Denver. Theme: New Frontiers in Acceptance of the Homophile.Jim Kepneris a featured speaker.Billy Gloverattends and decides to work for the movement.
Late December:Jim SchneidercontactsDon Slaterat ONE’s offices in downtown Los Angeles and becomes an active volunteer for the organization.
Jan. 29–31: ONE’s 6thannual Midwinter Institute.
Theme: “The Homosexual in the Community.”
Feb. 2: [Mon]: Board of Directors Meeting. Jim Kepneris elected Chairman,Don SlaterVice Chairman, andWilliam LambertSecretary-Treasurer.
Nov. 1 [Tue]:Jim Kepner’s letter explaining his resignation to the Members of ONE, Inc.
Nov. 15 [Sat]: Date ofJim Kepner’ssecond letter of resignationfrom ONE, Incorporated, and from the editorial board ofONEmagazine.Ross Ingersoll takes his place.
Wayne Placek introducesJoseph HansentoDon Slater, to see if Slater would publish one of Hansen’s poems or short stories.
San Francisco drag artistJosé Sarriabecomes the first openly gay person to run for political office in the nation.
Jan. 28–29: 7thAnnual Midwinter Institute and “Bill of Rights” fiasco.
Jan. 27 [Fr]:Fred Frisbie(known as “George Mortenson”) becomes a director of ONE, Incorporated, replacingJim Kepner, who had resigned the prior November.
Jan. 28 [Sa]:Frank Kamenywrites to ONE, Inc. advising them of the Writ of Certiorari he had filed with the Supreme Court the day before.
July 12 [We]:Stella Rush, known as “Sten Russell,” resigns fromONEmagazine’s editorial board in a phone conversation withDon Slater.
Dec. 11: Psychologist and long-time friend of ONEBlanche M. Bakerdies.
Joseph Hansenjoins ONE’s Editorial Board.
Jan. 26 [Fr]: 10thAnnual Business Meeting for ONE, Incorporated.Fred Frisbie(known as “George Mortenson”) becomes ONE’s Chairman.Don Slateris elected Vice-chair andW. Dorr Leggbecomes Secretary/Treasurer. ActorMorgan Farleyis elected to membership.
Jan. 26–28: 8thAnnual Midwinter Institute.Harry Hayis an honored speaker.
March:Joseph Hansenmakes his debut inONE.
May 1: ONE, Inc., moves to Venice Blvd. after being evicted from its Hill Street office due to earthquake retrofitting. Actor Morgan Farleyhelps to secure the new office for ONE Inc.
John Rechy’s novelCity of Nightpublished by Grove Press.
The Society for Individual Rights [SIR] founded in San Francisco to help organize the gay community.
In Britain, a group of Quakers publish a pamphlet titledToward a Quaker View of Sexthat argued that society “should no more deplore homosexuality than lefthandedness.”
Jan. 25–27 [Fr–Su]: 9thAnnual Midwinter Institute
Jan. 25 [Fr]: ONE Inc.’s Annual Meeting.Monwell Boyfrankbecomes a director.
Feb. 1 [Fr]: ONE’s election of officers.Joseph Aaronis elected Chairman.W. Dorr Leggis elected Vice-chairman, andMonwell Boyfrankbecomes Secretary/Treasurer.
Feb. 11 [Mo]: Spring semester begins at ONE Institute for Homophile Studies.
May:Harry Haymoves in withJim Kepnerin Echo Park. (They had started dating earlier in the year.
May 31 [Fri]: Joseph Arron resigns as Chair of ONE Incorporated’s Promotions Committee.Jim Schneideris installed in his place.
July 28 [Sun]:Joan Corbin, known as “Eve Elloree,” is dropped from corporate membership due to poor attendance.
Sept:Harry HaymeetsJohn Burnsideand the two begin living together two months later. Hay and Burnside remain lovers until Hay’s death on Oct. 24, 2002.
Nov. 12 [Tue]: Corporate meeting. ONE, Inc. becomes divided over who should be elected into membership at the next annual meeting in January. Slater, Reyes, and Steinert favor electingBilly Gloverto corporate membership; Lambert, Aaron, and Boyfrank reject Glover in favor of others. It is decided to submit the names ofHarry Hay,John Burnside, andBilly Gloveras candidates.
Nov. 22 [Fri]: President John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas.Billy GlovermeetsMelvin Cainlater that afternoon, and they become lovers and friends.
Joseph Hansen, as “James Colton,” publishes his first novel,Lost on Twilight Road.
Jan. 15:Monwell Boyfranksubmits a formal letter of resignation, due to health reasons, at a board meeting chaired byBill Lambert.Jim Schneiderelected to Board of Directors of ONE, Inc.
Jan. 25 and 26: ONE Inc.’s Annual Business Meeting, chaired byJoe Weaver(a.k.a. Joseph Aaron).Manuel Boyfrankwas Secretary. Other members present:Antonio Reyes, Rudolf Steinert (“Stuart”),Bill Lambert, andDon Slater.Harry HayandJohn Burnsideare elected to serve as Directors then resign shortly after due to a conflict over whether or not to elect Billy Glover as a director.
Don Slater’s account of the 1964, 1965 Elections at ONE, Incorporated.
June 26: ONE, Inc., is featured in aLifemagazine article titled “Homosexuality in America.”
June 28: Erickson Educational Foundation founded by Reed Erickson in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
July 4: Louisiana millionaire Reed Erickson contacts ONE Inc. to offer financial assistance to the organization.
August 15th:Monwell Boyfrank’s letter toDon Slaterstating that no compromise was possible and that ONE Inc. was in deadlock.
The Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR) founded byDon Slater,Antonio Sanchez, andW. Dorr Legg.
Rudi Steinert’s letter to Chairman Joe Aaron requesting a Corporate Meeting, dated Sept. 9, 1964 (signed “R. H. Stuart”).
Sept. 21: ISHR granted exemption from franchise tax by the State of California Franchise Tax Board, as a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to scientific research and education.
Jan. 29th and 30th: ONE Inc.’s Annual Business Meeting. Meeting adjourned on the 29thwith no business conducted and resumed on Sat., without quorum Second meeting adjourned with no time or place set for a follow up meeting.
Feb. 5:Dorr Leggconvenes a meeting as a continuation of the adjourned Corporate Meeting despite Slater’s protest that it was instead a “special meeting,” citingRoberts Rules of Orderand the California Civil Code. Slater again protested the 1964 “election” of Winn and Bonham. Legg announced that Rudi Steinert, who was away conducting ONE’s business in Europe, would not be allowed to vote by proxy even though substantial changes in the bylaws were being prepared. Legg further announced that they were going to elect additional members and that Slater would be dismissed as a member of the corporation. Slater withdraws in protest.
March 2 [Tu]: Corporate meeting.Tony Reyes attends to address new members, but the chair,W. Dorr Legg, does not allow him the floor.
March 7 [Su]: Attorney Stuart Simke presents a lecture on “The California Sex Laws: Prospects for Reform” as part of the 1964–1965 ONE Institute Series.
April 12 [Mo]:W. Dorr Leggstorms into an editors’ meeting and forces the resignation of the editors ofONE Magazine,telling them they had no right to discuss or attempt to influence corporate policy.
April 14 [We]: Ross Ingersoll, known as “Marcel Martin,” resigns as Associate Editor ofONEmagazine. Ingersoll had served as an editor since the resignation ofJim Kepnerin November of 1960.
April 15 [Th]: Don Slater signs a lease for office space on Cahuenga Blvd. in Universal City.
April 18 [Su]: Don Slater, Tony Reyes, andBilly Glovermove ONE’s library and office from Venice to Cahuenga Blvd. “for the protection of the property of the corporation.” They soon begin calling themselves The Tangent Group, after a regular news column inONEmagazine usually written byJim Kepner, and maintain that they are indeed “the majority of legally elected board members of ONE.” Kepner and others dub the event “The Heist,” but Slater describes the event as more of a mutiny.
April 20 [Tu]: Jim Schneider’s letter to Don Slater expressing concern over the recent split of ONE, Incorporated.
April 21 [Wed]: Jim Schneider sends a letter to ONE Inc. members calling for an informal meeting in his home and demanding the resignation or reconciliation of W. Dorr Legg and Don Slater.
April 23 [Fr]: Joe Aaron resigns from ONE, Inc. due to “the present corporate dilemma.”
April 23 (or 25): Legg’s faction votes in a special meeting to removeDon Slaterfrom membership in ONE, Inc.
May 11 [Tu]: Don Slater sends a Letter to “Former Friends and Subscribers” ofONE Magazine, announcing ONE Inc.’s move from Venice to Cahuenga Blvd., in Hollywood and asking for help and “moral support.”
May 12 [We]: Jim Schneider sends a letter to Don Slater.
May 16 [Su]: Rudi Steinert and Tony Reyes are removed from membership in ONE, Inc. by W. Dorr Legg’s faction.
May 18 [Tu]: Monwell Boyfrank’s letter to Jim Schneider advising him that ONE’s board of directors had removed him from membership in the corporation.
June 5 [Sa]: The Institute for the Study of Human Resources [ISHR] is incorporated and granted tax exempt status under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Don Slatervoted off the board of ISHR based on allegations made by W. Dorr Legg.
July 27 [Tu]: First public meeting of Mattachine Midwest
Sept. 16th [Th]: Don Slater’s deposition taken in the law offices of Hillel Chodos, in Beverly Hills.
Jan. 26 [We]: W. Dorr Legg answers Don Slater’s interrogatories in the law offices of Hillel Chodos, in Beverly Hills.
Feb. 19–20: Don Slater attends theNational Planning Conference of Homophile Organizationsheld in Kansas City, Missouri, where it was decided to launch a national campaign to protest the exclusion of homosexuals by the U.S. Military. Forty leaders attend from fourteen different homophile organizations.
The organizations unite to form NACHO, the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations.
Jan. 1 [Su]: Los Angeles Police raid the Black Cat Bar within minutes after midnight New Year’s eve.
Six male patrons are charged with kissing, and sixteen people are arrested. Several bar-goers are injured, leading to future protests and a legal case.
Feb. 11 [Sa]: Rally outside of the Black Cat Bar in Los Angeles. (Jim Kepnerhelped to organize.)
April 25 [Tu]: Agreement of Settlement between the parties to the action of ONE, Incorporated vs. Slater, et al.
April 27 [Th]: Dismissal entered for case number 864 824 without prejudice, as to all defendants and cross-defendants, and as to all causes of action in the complaint and in the cross-complaint. The court battle between ONE, Incorporated andDon Slater, et al., is officially over, the organization permanently divided.
ROTH V. UNITED STATES
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California, 354 U.S. 476, 77 S. Ct. 1304, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1498 (1957), issued a landmark ruling on obscenity and its relation to the first amendment. The Court held that obscenity was not a protected form of expression and could be restricted by the states. In addition, the Court announced a test for courts to use in evaluating whether material was obscene.
The Court consolidated the appeals of Samuel Roth and David Alberts. Roth had been convicted of violating a federal statute (18 U.S.C.A. § 1461) that made it a crime to mail obscene advertising and reading materials
Justice william j. brennan jr., in his majority opinion, reviewed the history of freedom of expression and concluded that not every type of utterance was protected in the thirteen original colonies. libel, blasphemy, and profanity were among the statutory crimes. In addition, that every state and the federal government had obscenity statutes showed that the First Amendment “was not intended to protect every utterance.” Obscenity is denied protection because it is “utterly without redeeming social importance.”
Having ruled that obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press, Brennan noted that sex in art and literature was not, by itself, obscene
Indeed, “sex, a great and mysterious motive force in human life” had interested “mankind through the ages; it is one of the vital problems of human interest and public concern.” In the past, however, mere sexual content was enough to have a novel banned under the test courts used in assessing whether something was obscene.
For a legal definition of obscenity, U.S. courts looked to the English case of Regina v. Hicklin, L.R. 3 Q.B. 360 (1868). The Hicklin test was “whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.” This test permitted prosecutors and judges to select objectionable words or passages without regard for the work as a whole and without respect to any artistic, literary, or scientific value the work might have.
Brennan rejected the Hicklin test as being “unconstitutionally restrictive of the freedoms of speech and press.” It was essential that the work as a whole be evaluated before being declared obscene
Brennan endorsed the test used in both Roth’s and Alberts’s trials: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient [lewd or lustful] interest.” The new test was applicable to both state and federal government obscenity prosecutions.
The Roth test did not settle the question of what is obscenity, however. In fact, the Court was drawn into a long-term inquiry over virtually every element of the new obscenity test. The Court has never reached full agreement on what constitutes an appeal to “prurient interest.” The phrase “redeeming social importance” has also failed to generate a consensus. Nor, in the years immediately following Roth, could the Court agree on whether “community” referred to the nation as a whole or to individual states or localities
It is no secret that Hollywood has a diversity issue — just take a look at the past two years of #OscarsSoWhite. But more than some may have expected, the industry’s exclusion problems extend past the conventional conversation about race/ethnicity and sex. According to the latest study from GLAAD, released Monday, LGBT representation in film needs improvement as well.
“Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”
GLAAD is the leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy organization. Their fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Below are eight highlights from the study:
Only 22 of the 126 major releases in 2015 included characters identified as LGBT.
That’s only 17.5%, and not a change from 2014’s 17.5% value. Some of these films include Lionsgate’s “American Ultra” and “Freeheld” and Warner Bros.’ “Magic Mike XXL” and “Get Hard.” In those 22 films, there were 47 LGBT characters, up from 28 last year.
When movies do have LGBT characters, they are usually gay men.
Male characters outnumbered females by a ratio of more than three to one. More than three quarters of inclusive films (77%) featured gay male characters while less than a quarter (23%) included lesbian characters. As for the representation of the rest of the queer community, only 9% included bisexual characters while only one film was trans-inclusive, Warner Brothers’ “Hot Pursuit.”
But they’re also usually white.
In 2014, 32.1% of LGBT characters were people of color. That number dropped to 25.5% in 2015. Of the LGBT characters counted in 2015, 34 (72.3%) were white, five were Latino (10.6%), four were black (8.5%) and three (6.4%) were Asian or Pacific Islander. One character was non-human, Fabian in Lionsgate’s “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos.”
When there are LGBT characters, you might miss them if you blink.
Just looking at the number of LGBT characters on the big screen isn’t enough. With 73% of the few queer characters having less than 10 minutes of screen time, their impact is additionally limited.
Of the seven studios, not even one is doing “good.”
Since the study’s inception, GLAAD has given each studio a rating of good, adequate or failing. None of them received a rating of “good” for their 2015 releases. Fox, Lionsgate, Sony and Universal all received ratings of “Adequate”, while Paramount, Disney and Warner Bros. all received a “Failing” grade.
The most inclusive major studio was Lionsgate, as eight of its 2015 releases were LGBT-inclusive.
Warner Bros. followed with five then Universal with four. Sony only had three and Fox two. Neither Disney nor Paramount included any LGBT content in their 2015 slates of 11 and 12 films, respectively.
That’s probably because LGBT depictions are getting worse.
Last year saw a resurgence of outright offensive images of LGBT people; more films relied on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for giggles. Though humor can be a powerful tool to challenge the norm, when crafted problematically, it has the opposite effect.
The depictions are so bad that only eight of the 22 LGBT-inclusive films passed the “Vito Russo Test.”
The “Vito Russo Test” is GLAAD’s set of criteria analyzing how LGBT characters are represented in fictional work named after GLAAD co-founder and film historian Vito Russo. Inspired by the “Bechdel Test,” these criteria represent a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach in the future.
In order to pass the Vito Russo Test, a film must include having an identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender character that is not solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and is tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Only eight of the 22 major studio films that featured an LGBT character passed the test in 2015, the lowest percentage in this study’s history.
Luckily, the major studios have more progressive imprints.
Last year, GLAAD began examining the film releases of four smaller, affiliated studios to draw a comparison between content released by the mainstream studios and their perceived “art house” divisions. Those smaller studios are Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions and Sony Pictures Classics.
Of the 46 films released under those studio imprints, 10, or 22%, were LGBT-inclusive. That’s a notably higher percentage than the parent studio counterparts and an increase from 2014’s 10.6% (five of 47) of films from the same divisions. Some of the films from these smaller studios include “The Danish Girl,” “Grandma” and “Stonewall.”
For a religion that loves to lecture on right and wrong, involving itself in social issues it should keep its nose out of, and just generally being sanctimonious – it has an incredible history of abuse of power, wars, violence, sexual indiscretion, sexual abuse, hypocrisy, manipulation, discrimination, accumulation of wealth – and being just downright evil…and I’m not just talking about the Catholic variant! You’d think the following list was a story of fiction…but it’s not! Truth is always stranger than fiction!
WE now give a rapid summary of the crimes and vices with which many of the popes disgraced the chair of St. Peter; and before we conclude, the reader will see that every villainy the imagination can conceive has been practised by the vicegerents of God. Peculation, theft, cruelty, murder, fornication, adultery, and incest, not to mention still darker crimes, have all been notoriously committed by the supreme rulers of Christendom, who sat in the seat of infallibility, and claimed universal jurisdiction over the thoughts and consciences of mankind.
ST. DAMASUS (366-84). He was the first to assume the title of Pontiff. His election was opposed by Ursicinus, whose partisans accused Damasus of adultery. [122:1] Riddle says:
“After some deadly conflicts between the followers of the two rivals, Ursicinus was banished from the city; and a similar sentence was about to be carried into effect against seven presbyters of his party, when the people interfered, and lodged them for safety in one of the churches. But even here they found no shelter from the fury of their opponents. Armed with fire and sword, Damasus, with some of his adherents, both of the clergy and of the laity, proceeded to the place of refuge, and left no less than a hundred and sixty of their adversaries dead within the sacred precincts.” [122:2]
That this was a massacre and not a faction fight is shown by the fact that on the side of Damasus not a single person was killed. [123:3] Ammianus Marcellinus, the contemporary historian of the event, says of the contention between Damasus and Ursicinus:
“I do not deny, when I consider the ostentation that reigns at Rome, that those who desire such rank and power may be justified in laboring with all possible exertions and vehemence to obtain their wishes; since after they have succeeded, they will be secure for the future, being enriched by offerings from matrons, riding in carriages, dressing splendidly, and feasting luxuriously, so that their entertainment surpassed even royal banquets. [123:4]
Damasus gained the title of Auriscalpius Matronarum, ladies’ ear-scratcher. [123:5] He died of fever, and the Romish Church still invokes the aid of this saintly vicar of God in fever cases. [123:6]
SIXTUS III (432-40). This pope, according to both Baronius and Platina, was accused of debauching a virgin, but was acquitted by a Council under the Emperor Valentina, who is said to have referred the pronouncing of the sentence to the Pope himself, “because the judge of all ought to be judged by none.” It was without doubt to establish this maxim that the “acts” of the Council were forged. [123:7]
ST. LEO THE GREAT (440-61). Jortin calls him “the insolent and persecuting Pope Leo, who applauded the massacre of the Priscillianists, and grossly misrepresented them.” [123:8]
SYMMACHUS (498-514). His election was violently opposed by the antipope Laurentius, and three Councils were held to decide the schism. Accusations of the most heinous crimes were laid against Symmachus. Bower says:
“This gave occasion to the rekindling of the war between the two parties in Rome; and several priests, many clerks, and a great number of citizens, fell daily in the battles that were fought in the different parts of the city. No regard was shown by either party to rank or dignity; and not even the sacred virgins were spared by the enraged multitude in their fury.” [123:9]
Eunodius declared that the Pope was “judge in the place of the most high, pure from all sin, and exempt from all punishment. All who fell fighting in his cause he declared enrolled on the register of heaven.” [124:1]
ST. HORMISDAS (514-23). He was a married man, and had a son, who was raised to the popedom. He was full of ambition, and insolent in his demands to the emperor, whom he exhorted to the persecution of heretics.
BONIFACE II (530-32). His election was disputed by the antipope Dioscorus. Each accused the other of simony, but Dioscorus opportunely died. Boniface “began his pontificate with wreaking his vengeance on the memory of his deceased competitor, whom he solemnly excommunicated, as guilty of simony, when he could not clear himself from the charge, nor retort it on him, as perhaps he otherwise might.” [124:2] This sentence was removed by Pope Agapetus.
SILVERIUS (536-38). He was accused of betraying the city of Rome to the Goths, and was in consequence expelled from his see.
VIGILUS (537-55). He was a deacon elected by bribery. He engaged himself to obey the Empress Theodora, who gave him money to gain the suffrages of the clergy. Anastasius tells us that he killed his own secretary in a transport of passion, and caused his own sister’s son to be whipped to death. He is considered to have been accessory to the banishment and death of Silverius. When banished himself by the emperor, he speedily repented, in order to save his seat.
PELAGIUS (555-60). He was accused of poisoning his predecessor. This is uncertain; but it is certain that, like most of his predecessors and successors, he incited the civil powers to the persecution of heretics.
ST. GREGORY THE GREAT (590-604). According to Gibbon, this pontiff was “a singular mixture of simplicity and cunning, of pride and humility, of sense and superstition.” [124:3] Jortin’s picture is still less flattering:
“Pope Gregory the Great was remarkable for many things — for exalting his own authority; for running down human learning [125:4] and polite literature; for burning classic authors; for patronising ignorance and stupidity; for persecuting heretics; for flattering the most execrable princes; and for relating a multitude of absurd, monstrous and ridiculous lies, called miracles. He was an ambitious, insolent prelate, under the mask of humility.” [125:5]
Draper says that Gregory not only forbade the study of the classics, mutilated statues, and destroyed temples but also “burned the Palatine library, founded by Augustus Caesar.” Gibbon, however, throws doubt on this destruction, while admitting that it was generally believed. [125:6]
Gregory does not appear to have been fond of women and wine, like so many other popes; but he possessed the darker vices of bigotry and ambition. His congratulations on the usurpation of the cruel, drunken and lascivious Phocas, after a wholesale massacre of the emperor’s family, simply because the successful villain favored the pretensions of Rome (p. 109), are a sufficient proof that Gregory would scruple at nothing to advance the glory of his see.
SABINIAN (604-6). Bower says he rendered himself so odious to the Roman people by his avarice and cruelty to the poor, that they could not forbear abusing him whenever he appeared. In a dreadful famine he raised the price of corn to exorbitant rates. He accused St. Gregory of simony; but according to Baronius, that departed saint having vainly reproved him in three different apparitions for his covetousness, gave him in a fourth apparition so dreadful a blow on the head, that he died soon after. [125:7]
BONIFACE III (607). By flattering Phocas as Gregory had done, he induced him to take the title of universal bishop from the bishop of Constantinople, and confer it upon himself and his successors.
THEODORUS (642-49). He commenced the custom of dipping his pen in consecrated wine when signing the condemnation of heretics, [126:8] thus sanctifying murder with the blood of Christ. Of Adeodatus, Donus I, Agatho, and Leo II, we only know that they carried on fierce contests with the archbishop of Ravenna for refusing to acknowledge their supremacy. Leo II anathematised his predecessor, Pope Honorius, for heresy. [126:9] Neither Benedict II, John V, nor Conon, lived a whole year after assuming the tiara.
ST. SERGIUS I (687-701). He had to purchase his seat from the exarch of Ravenna by pawning the ornaments of the tomb of St. Peter. He was accused of adultery, but his innocence was strikingly proved; for, upon the child of whose parentage he was accused being baptised when but eight days old, he cried out, “The pontiff Sergius is not my father.” Bruys, the French historian of the Papacy, says, “What I find most marvellous in this story is, not that so young a child should speak, but that it should affirm with so much confidence that the pope was not its father.” [126:1]
CONSTANTINE (708-15). He is said to have excommunicated the Emperor, Philip Bardanes, for being of the same heresy as Pope Honorius. To oblige Constantine, Justinian II cut out the tongue and blinded the eyes of the Archbishop of Ravenna, who refused to pay the obedience due to the apostolic see. [126:2]
ST. GREGORY II (715-31). He was chiefly noted for his endowing monasteries with the goods of the poor, and for his opposition to the Emperor Leo’s edict against image worship. [126:3] Rather than obey the edict, he raised civil war both in Italy and elsewhere. He prayed that Christ might set the Devil on the emperor, and approved the barbarous murder of the imperial officer. [126:4] Yet the priests place in the list of saints a pontiff who, to establish the Christian idolatry of image worship, filled Italy with carnage.
STEPHEN III (768-72). When elected he found on the pontifical throne a lay pope, one Constantine, who, after a violent struggle, was dislodged and punished with the loss of his eyes, [127:5] many of his friends sharing the same fate. [127:6]
ADRIAN I (772-95). He made a league with Irene, the murderess of her son, to restore image worship, and presented to Charlemagne the pretended donation of Constantine. [127:7] Avarice was the vice of this able pontiff. He left large sums to his successors.
ST. PASCAL I (817-24). At the Diet of Compeigne this pope was charged with being accessory to the mutilation and murder of two Roman priests. The Pope denied the charge, but refused to deliver up the perpetrators of the crimes, alleging that they belonged “to the family of St. Peter.” [127:8]
EUGENIUS II (824-27). He had the honor of inventing the barbarous practice of ordeal by cold water.
NICHOLAS (858-67). He excommunicated Photius, the Greek patriarch, and the emperor Michael as his abettor, and threatened King Lothaire with the ecclesiastical sword if he suffered any bishop to be chosen without his consent. [127:9]
ADRIAN II (867-72). He was a married priest. He congratulated Bazilius, the murderer of the emperor Michael, and entered into alliance with him. [127:1]
JOHN VIII (872-82). The meek and holy nature of this worthy successor of St. Peter may be judged by his ordering the Bishop of Naples to bring him the chief men among the Saracens in that city, and cutting their throats in the presence of his legate. [127:2] A letter of John is extant, in which he justifies Athanasius, Bishop of Naples, for having plucked out the eyes of Sergius, Duke of Naples, who favored the Saracens in despite of the papal anathemas. He even cites the Gospel text as to plucking out offending eyes. Cardinal Baronius declares that this pontiff perjured himself, and that he rather deserved the name of a woman than that of a man. [128:3] The annals of the Abbey of Fulda relate that John VIII was poisoned by the relations of a lady whom he had seduced from her husband. [128:4]
FORMOSUS (891-96). He had been repeatedly excommunicated by John VIII. He invited Arnulf, the German emperor, to invade Italy, which he did, committing great atrocities. Formosus, however, had a great character for piety. He is said to have been well versed in scripture, and to have died a virgin in his eightieth year.
BONIFACE VI (896). Even according to Baronius, he was a man of most infamous character. He had been deposed for his scandalous life, first from the rank of sub-deacon, and afterward from the priesthood. [128:5]
STEPHEN VI. (896-7). He intruded into the see in the room of the intruder Boniface. Being of the opposite faction to Pope Formosus, he caused the body of that pontiff to be taken out of the tomb and to be placed, in the episcopal robes, on the pontifical chair. Stephen then addressed the dead body thus: “Why didst thou, being Bishop of Porto, prompted by thy ambition, usurp the universal see of Rome?” After this mock trial Stephen, with the approbation and consent of a Council of bishops, ordered the body to be stripped, three of the fingers (those used in blessing) to be cut off, and the remains to be cast into the Tiber. At the same Council all the ordinations of Formosus were declared invalid. [128:6]
Then followed what Riddle calls “a rapid succession of infamous popes,” of whom we may mention that Leo V (903) was deposed and cast into prison by his chaplain, Christopher, who was in turn ejected and imprisoned by Sergius III (904-11). This pontiff also had been excommunicated by John VIII. He was, says Baronius, “the slave of every vice and the most wicked of men.” [128:7] Riddle says:
“This Sergius III was a monster of profligacy, cruelty and vice in their most shameless and disgusting forms. But it was this very character which made him useful to his party, the duration of whose influence at Rome, could be insured only by a preponderance of physical power, and this again only by violence which should disdain all restraints of morality and religion. Sergius was the man for this purpose, who, while he lived in concubinage with Marozia, did not hesitate to yield all the treasures of the Roman Church as plunder to his party.” [129:8] To him succeeded other paramours of Marozia and of her mother the prostitute Theodora. John X, for instance (914-28), received his chair because he was the lover of Theodora, while Leo VI and Stephen VIII (929-31) were creatures of Marozia. Adultery and assassination form the staple of the annals of their pontificates.
JOHN XI (931-36). He was the son of Pope Sergius III. by Marozia, and if possible he surpassed his parents in crime. Elected pope at the age of eighteen, Alberic, his half brother, expelled him from Rome and imprisoned their mother Marozia. Stephen VIII (939-942) made himself so obnoxious to the Romans that they mutilated him. [129:9]
JOHN XII (956-64), the son of Alberic, was the first to change his name, which was originally Octavian. He nominated himself pope at the age of seventeen. Wilks says: “His profaneness and debaucheries exceeded all bounds. He was publicly accused of concubinage, incest, and simony.” This pope was so notorious for his licentiousness that female pilgrims dared not present themselves in Rome. [129:1] Bower says that he had changed the Lateran Palace, once the abode of saints, into a brothel, and there cohabited with his father’s concubine; that women were afraid to come from other countries to visit the tombs of the apostles at Rome; that he spared none, and had within a few days forced married women, widows, and virgins to comply with his impure desires. He was at length deposed by Otho, at the solicitation of a council of bishops and laymen, on charges of sacrilege, simony, blasphemy, and cruel mutilation. He had deprived one deacon of his right hand and made him a eunuch. He put out the eyes of Benedict, his ghostly father, cut off the nose of the keeper of the archives, and scourged the Bishop of Spires. [130:2] On the deposition of John, Leo VII was put in his place. John fulminated anathemas against his opponents, and soon after died, from a blow on the head while in bed with a married woman. [130:3] Jortin remarks that “Baronius says, from Luitprandus, that it was the Devil who gave John that blow; but it seems not probable that Satan would have used his good friend in such a manner. It is more likely that it might be the husband of the adulteress.” [130:4]
Mosheim says “that the history of the Roman pontiffs of this century [the tenth] is a history of monsters, a history of the most atrocious villainies and crimes, is acknowledged by all writers of distinction, and even by the advocates of popery.” [130:5]
BONIFACE VII (974). The old authors in derision call him Maliface. Having had his predecessor Benedict murdered, he plundered the Basilica and escaped with his spoils to Constantinople, whence he afterwards returned and murdered John XIV (984), then on the papal throne.
GREGORY V (996-99). He was turned out of his see by Crescentius, who elected the antipope John. Upon Gregory’s restoration he had this unfortunate creature deprived of sight, cut off his nose, and tore out his tongue. He then ordered him to be led through the streets in a tattered sacerdotal suit, and mounted upon an ass with his face to the tail, which he held in his hand. [130:6]
SERGIUS IV (1009-12). This pope was called Os Porci, or Swine’s Mouth. Of his doings little is known, but he is asserted to have gravely declared “that the pope could not be damned, but that, do what he would, he must be saved.” [130:7]
BENEDICT VIII (1012-24). He saved the city of Rome from a great storm, which it seems was caused by some Jews. The Jews being immediately executed the storm ceased. [131:8]
JOHN XIX (1024-33). He was a layman, brother of Benedict, yet he was raised to the see. Wilks says:
“It was by gold, and not by imperial power, that the Romans consented to this uncanonical election. The rapacity of this pope was so great that he offered to sell the title of ‘Universal Bishop’ to the see of Constantinople for a sum of money!” [131:9]
By his exactions, debauchery and tyranny, he became so odious to the Romans that he had to flee for his life.
BENEDICT IX (1033-46). A nephew of the last two pontiffs. Some say he was raised to the papacy at the age of twelve — others, at eighteen. He “stained the sacred office with murder, adultery, and every other heinous crime.” [131:1] Desiderius, afterwards pope under the name of Victor III, styles Benedict the successor of Simon the sorcerer, and not of Simon the apostle, and paints him as one abandoned to all manner of vice. [131:2] Being eager to possess the person and property of a female cousin, he sold the papacy to John Gratianus, “the most religious man of his time,” for a sum of money, and consecrated him as Gregory VI. Benedict afterwards poisoned Pope Damasus II. The Romans, weary of his crimes, expelled him from the city, but he was reinstated by Conrad. “But,” says Jortin, “as he continued his scandalous course of life, and found himself despised and detested both by clergy and laity, he agreed to retire, and to abandon himself more freely to his pleasures.” Stipulating therefore to receive a sum of money, he resigned his place to Gratianus, called Gregory VI, and went to live in his own territories. [131:3]
Mosheim calls Benedict IX “a most flagitious man and capable of every crime.” [131:4]
We have already seen how Benedict, Sylvester, and Gregory, were alike declared unworthy of the pontificate, and Clement placed in the see, and by what means Hildebrand contrived to extend the papal power. This great pontiff, Gregory VII (1073-85), has been accused of poisoning his predecessors in order to obtain the popedom, and also of committing adultery with Matilda, Countess of Tuscany, who bestowed all her possessions on the pope. But these accusations probably arose from the spite of the many enemies aroused by Hildebrand’s high-handed measures.
PASCAL II (1099-1118). He was a disciple of Hildebrand, and inherited his ambition without his talents. He compelled Henry IV to abdicate, but on his son Henry V marching against him, after a sanguinary struggle, he gave up to the emperor the right of investiture. Afterwards he excommunicated all who should declare his own grant to be valid. [132:5]
ADRIAN IV (1154-59). The only Englishman who ever became pope. He caused Arnold of Brescia to be burnt at the stake (1154) for preaching against papal corruption. The Irish should remember that it was this pope who, in virtue of the pretended Donation of Constantine, made over to Henry II of England the right to take and govern Ireland on condition of the pope receiving an annual tribute of one penny for each house. [132:6]
ALEXANDER III (1159-81). The Lateran Council (1179) declared war against all heretics, and a crusade against them was sanctioned by this pontiff. [132:7]
CLEMENT III (1188-1191). He published the third crusade (1189).
INNOCENT III (1198-1216) also preached a crusade. He claimed for his see universal empire and established the Inquisition to support the claim. He excommunicated Philip II of France and put the whole nation under interdict. Afterwards he placed England under interdict, excommunicated John, bestowed the crown on Philip of France, and published a crusade against England. He also instituted a crusade against the Albigenses, butchering them by tens of thousands with every circumstance of atrocity. [132:8]
GREGORY IX (1227-41). He formally established the Inquisition; and, to support his ambition and the unbridled luxury of his court, raised taxes in France, England and Germany, excommunicated kings, and incited nations to revolt; finally causing himself to be driven from Rome. [133:9]
INNOCENT IV (1243-54). He conspired against the life of the Emperor Frederic, through the agency of the Franciscan monks. To avoid confronting his accuser, he retired to France, summoned a council at Lyons (1244), and excommunicated and deposed the emperor, whom he coolly denominated his vassal. He also excommunicated the kings of Arragon and Portugal, giving the crown of the latter to the Count of Bologna. He persecuted the Ghibellines, and pretending to have the right of disposing of the crown of the two Sicilies, offered it to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother to Henry III of England. Innocent made exorbitant claims to the bishoprics and benefices in England. [133:1]
BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303). He had his predecessor, Celestine, put in prison, where he died. [133:2] He openly styled himself “King of Kings,” trafficked in indulgences, and declared all excluded from heaven who disputed his claim to universal dominion. He persecuted the Ghibellines, and ordered the city of Bragneste to be entirely destroyed. He was publicly accused of simony, assassination, usury, of living in concubinage with his two nieces and having children by them, and of using the money received for indulgences to pay the Saracens for invading Italy. [133:3]
CLEMENT V (1305-1314). He is noted for his cruel suppression of the order of Knights Templar, so as to appropriate their property. He summoned the grand master of the Templars under false pretexts to his court, and issued a bull against the order in which he brought against it the most unfounded and absurd charges, and finally pronounced its abolition, having the Grand Master and many leading members burnt alive. [134:4] After sharing the spoils of the Templars with the king of France, Clement V fixed his court at Avignon, and gave himself publicly to the most criminal debaucheries. He preached a new crusade against the Turks and gave each new crusader the right to release four souls from purgatory. Dante places him in hell.
JOHN XXII (1316-34). Like his predecessors, he persecuted and burnt heretics. He anathematised the emperor of Germany and the king of France, and preached a new crusade. Money was raised in abundance by the sale of indulgences, and was misappropriated by the pope. He left enormous treasures. Villani, whose brother was one of the papal commission, states that this successor of the fisherman amassed altogether twenty-five million florins. [134:5] Gieseler says: “He arbitrarily disposed of the Benefices of all countries, chiefly in favor of his own nephews, and the members of his curia.” [134:6]
URBAN VI (1378-89). In his time occurred what is known as “the great Western schism,” which lasted from 1378 till the Council of Constance (1414). There were during that time two popes, one residing at Rome and the other at Avignon. But which of the popes was the true one and which the antipope has not yet been decided. Urban VI was a ferocious despot. He ordered six cardinals, whom he suspected of opposing him, to be brutally tortured. [134:7] Nor was his competitor, Clement VII, behind him in violence and crime. For fifty years they and their successors excited bloody wars and excommunicated one another. The schism, which cost thousands of lives, was ended by the deposition of John XXIII (1415), who was found guilty of murder and incest. He was accused before the Council of having seduced two hundred nuns. Theodoric de Niem informs us that he kept two hundred mistresses in Bologna, and he is described by his own secretary as a monster of avarice, ambition, lewdness and cruelty. [135:8] The same author says that an act of accusation, prepared against him, presented a complete catalogue of every mortal crime.
MARTIN V (1417-31). His crimes were not of a kind to be censured by a Council of bishops. He had John Huss and Jerome of Prague burnt alive, and to put down their heresies excited civil war in Bohemia. He wrote to the Duke of Lithuania: “Be assured thou sinnest mortally in keeping faith with heretics.”
EUGENIUS IV (1431-47). His first act was to put to torture the treasurer of his predecessor, Martin V. He seized that pontiff’s treasures and sent to the scaffold two hundred Roman citizens, friends of the late pope. [135:9] The Council of Basle was called and deposed the pope, setting up an antipope, Felix V. Civil war and much cruelty of course followed.
PAUL II (1464-71). He broke all the engagements he had made to the conclave prior to his election. He persecuted with the greatest cruelty and perfidy the Count of Anguillara. He strove to kindle a general war throughout Italy, and excommunicated the king of Bohemia for protecting the Hussites against his persecutions. He also persecuted the Fratricelli. “His love of money,” says Symonds, “was such that, when bishoprics fell vacant, he often refused to fill them up, drawing their revenues for his own use, and draining Christendom as a Verres or a Memmius sucked a Roman province dry. His court was luxurious, and in private he was addicted to all the sensual lusts.” [135:1] The same writer says that “He seized the chief members of the Roman Academy, imprisoned them, put them to the torture, and killed some of them upon the rack.” [135:2] He died suddenly, leaving behind him an immense treasure in money and jewels, amassed by his avarice and extortion. [135:3]
SIXTUS IV (1471-84). He strove to excel his predecessors in crime. According to Symonds, “He began his career with a lie; for though he succeeded, to that demon of avarice, Paul, who had spent his time in amassing money which he did not use, he declared that he had only found five thousand florins in the papal treasury.” The historian continues:
“This assertion was proved false by the prodigality with which he lavished wealth immediately upon his nephews. It is difficult even to hint at the horrible suspicions which were cast upon the birth of two of the Pope’s nephews and upon the nature of his weakness for them: yet the private life of Sixtus rendered the most monstrous stories plausible, while his public treatment of these men recalled to mind the partiality of Nero for Doryphorus … The Holy Father himself was wont to say, A Pope needs only pen and ink to get what sum he wants.’ … Fictitious dearths were created; the value of wheat was raised to famine prices; good grain was sold out of the kingdom, and bad imported in exchange; while Sixtus forced his subjects to purchase from his stores, and made a profit by the hunger and disease of his emaciated provinces.” [136:4]
“He was restrained by no scruple from rendering his spiritual power subservient to his worldly views, or from debasing it by a mixture with those temporary intrigues in which his ambition had involved him. The Medici being peculiarly in his way, he took part in the Florentine troubles; and, as is notorious, brought upon himself the suspicion of being privy to the conspiracy of the Pazzi, and to the assassination which they perpetrated on the steps of the altar of the cathedral: the suspicion that he, the father of the faithful, was an accomplice of such acts! When the Venetians ceased to favor the scheme of his nephew, as they had done for a considerable time, the pope was not satisfied with deserting them in a war into which he himself had driven them; he went so far as to excommunicate them for persisting in it. He acted with no less violence in Rome: he persecuted the Colonnas with great ferocity: he seized Marino from them; he caused the prothonotary Colonna to be attacked, arrested and executed in his own house. The mother of Colonna came to San Celso in Branchi, where the body lay — she lifted the severed head by the hair, and cried ‘Behold the head of my son! Such is the faith of the pope. He promised that if we would give up Marino to him he would set my son at liberty; he has Marino: and my son is in our hands — but dead! Behold thus does the pope keep his word.'” [136:5]
Jortin says that “Sixtus IV erected a famous bawdy-house at Rome, and the Roman prostitutes paid his holiness a weekly tax, which amounted sometimes to twenty thousand ducats a year.” [137:6]
INNOCENT VIII (1484-92). Schlegel, in his notes to Mosheim, says he “lived so shamefully before he mounted the Roman throne, that he had sixteen illegitimate children to make provision for. Yet on the papal throne he played the zealot against the Germans, whom he accused of magic, and also against the Hussites, whom he well-nigh exterminated.” [137:7] Wilks says: “He obtained the votes of the cardinals by bribery, and violated all his promises.” [137:8] The practice of selling offices prevailed under him as well as under his predecessors. “In corruption,” says Symonds, ” he advanced a step even beyond Sixtus, by establishing a bank at Rome for the sale of pardons. Each sin had its price, which might be paid at the convenience of the criminal: one hundred and fifty ducats of the tax were poured into the Papal coffers; the surplus fell to Franceschetto, the Pope’s son.” [137:9] The Vice-Chancellor of this rapacious pontiff, on being asked why indulgences were permitted for the worst scandals, made answer that “God wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should pay and live.” It must be added that “the traffic which Innocent and Franceschetto carried on in theft and murder filled the Campagna with brigands and assassins.” [137:1] The Pope’s vices cost him so much that he even pledged the papal tiara as a security for money.
ALEXANDER VI (1492-1503). Roderic Borgia was one of the most depraved wretches that ever lived. His passions were so unbridled that, having conceived a liking for a widow and two daughters, he made them all subservient to his brutality. Wilks calls him “a man of most abandoned morals, deep duplicity, and unscrupulous ambition. Like his predecessors, he had but one object at heart, the temporal and hereditary aggrandisement of his family.” [138:2] Mosheim says: “So many and so great villainies, crimes and enormities are recorded of him, that it must be certain he was destitute not only of all religion, but also of decency and shame.” [138:3] This pope, at a certain feast, had fifty courtesans dancing, who, at a given signal, threw off every vestige of clothing and — we draw a veil over the scene! “To describe him,” says Symonds, “as the Genius of Evil, whose sensualities, as unrestrained as Nero’s, were relieved against the background of flame and smoke which Christianity had raised for fleshly sins, is justifiable.” [138:4] His besetting vice was sensuality; in oriental fashion he maintained a harem in the Vatican. He invited the Sultan Bajazet to enter Europe and relieve him of the princes who opposed his intrigues in favor of his children.
In regard to his death we follow Ranke:
“It was but too certain that he once meditated taking off one of the richest of the cardinals by poison. His intended victim, however, contrived, by means of presents, promises and prayers, to gain over his head cook, and the dish which had been prepared for the cardinal was placed before the pope. He died of the poison he had destined for another.” [138:5]
JULIUS II (1503-13). He obtained the pontificate by fraud and bribery, [138:6] and boldly took the sword to extend his dominion. [138:7] Mosheim says:
“That this Julius II possessed, besides other vices, very great ferocity, arrogance, vanity, and a mad passion for war, is proved by abundant testimony. In the first place, he formed an alliance with the Emperor and the King of France, and made war upon the Venetians. He next laid siege to Ferrara. And at last, drawing the Venetians, the Swiss and the Spaniards, to engage in the war with him, he made an attack on Lewis XII, the king of France. Nor, so long as he lived, did he cease from embroiling all Europe.” [138:8]
PAUL III (1531-49). He was as much a man of the world as any of his predecessors. He acknowledged an illegitimate son and daughter. [138:9] The emperor once remonstrated with him on having promoted two of his grandsons to the cardinalate at too early an age. He replied that he would do as his predecessors had done — that there were examples of infants in the cradle being made cardinals. [139:1]
We now close this horrid list of criminals. Since the Reformation the popes have been obliged to live more decently, or at least to conceal their vices instead of flaunting them before the world. Should the Protestants object that they are in no way responsible for the crimes of the Papacy, we shall cheerfully concede the plea; but at the same time we beg to remind them that Catholics are also Christians, and that the historian must deal with the whole system through all the centuries. Besides, as Michelet observed, Protestantism is after all only an estuary, and Catholicism the great sea.
[125:4]So intense was Gregory’s hatred of learning, that he angrily rebuked the Archbishop of Vienna for suffering grammar to be taught in his diocese, and contemplated burning all the writings in existence that were not devoted to the cause of Christianity.