Category Archives: History

Beebo Is Back!

Beebo_brinker BEEBO BRINKER!…in the form of the Beebo Brinker Chronicles, a wonderfully realized play by Kate Moira Ryan and Linda Chapman based on the estimable Ann Bannon‘s series of books (who. by the by, will be honored along with Malcolm Boyd and Mark Thompson at the Lammies this May in Los Angeles) …IS BACK!

That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s only around for ten weeks and this time it is live on stage at the 37 Arts Theater, 450 West 37th Street. Tickets are available here. Or you can call 212-307-4100 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

This is a delicious evening of theater and LGBT history all rolled into fantastic performances and beautiful bodies. 01big_2 It’s sexy smart and fun. You may recall we wrote about this when we first saw it last October. Since then it’s been nominated for a GLAAD award.

All I can say is…nothing’s changed…it’s just gotten better!

Ancestors – One and the Supremes

January 15th is a red letter date in GLBT history, and particularly in the history of Gay publishing (blogger Jim Burroway has a very nice remembrance of this at Box Turtle) and in light of the recent passing of Mattachine assimilationist, Kennith H. Burns in Los Angeles it seems even more trenchant.

Fifty years ago, a Supreme Court unsullied by religion and right-wing fundamentalism ruled in One Inc. v Oleson that a magazine for Gays and Lesbians could be sent through the mail and not be seized as pornography, per se. To be entirely accurate, One Inc. v. Oleson was on the docket for the Court when they decided Roth v. United States, which vaguely held that "pornography" could have "no sociably redeeming value" and the court went on to issue a one sentence per curiam i.e. "by the court" with no assigned findings included, — much as Gore v. Bush was decided, incidentally — that the lower court ruling against One Inc. was inconsistent with Roth so it could, indeed, be published and mailed.

Under the  editorial leadership of Martin Block, Dale Jennings, Don Slater and Donald Webster Cory, ONE magazine was a first class product, a dramatic departure from the underground, mimeographed and stapled sheets which were more common at the time. In the throes of McCarthyism, the sophisticated and slickly produced one reached the astounding readership of 2,000 (more, sad to say, than this magazine reaches, now, 50 years later).

One_magazine_cover_aprilmay_1956 ONE’s  tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment (which was particularly harsh in One’s hometown of Los Angeles), employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. Most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors.

Other founders were Merton Bird, W. Dorr Legg, and Chuck Rowland. Jennings and Rowland were also Mattachine Society founders.

In January 1953 ONE, Inc. began publishing ONE Magazine, the first U.S. pro-gay publication, and sold it openly on the streets of Los Angeles. In October 1954 the U.S. Postal Service declared the magazine ‘obscene’. ONE sued, and finally won in 1958, as part of the landmark First Amendment case, Roth v. United States. The magazine continued until 1967.

ONE also published ONE Institute Quarterly (now the Journal of Homosexuality). It began to run symposia, and contributed greatly to scholarship on the subject of same-sex love (then called "homophile studies").

ONE readily included 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 the Daughters of Bilitis in the launching of their newsletter The Ladder: a lesbian review in  1956. 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 vicious 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 and ONE Magazine editor 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 the Homosexual Information Center, a non-profit corporation that survives today.

In 1996, ONE, Inc. merged with ISHR, the Institute 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. The organization also merged with Jim Kepner’s International Gay and Lesbian Archives. The current organization entitled the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives is the world’s largest gay and lesbian archives. It is located in Los Angeles near the campus of the Uuniversity of Southern California. It holds the archives of ONE Magazine, ONE INC., and many leaders of the early gay movement including Dorr Legg, Pat Rocco, Morris Kight, and the LA Gay Center, as well as numerous audio and video tapes of ONE INC and other early gay panels and programs.

White Crane stands in awe and respect of those who went before us.

Edward II

I had the immense pleasure of seeing an amazing play recently. What makes the pleasure all the more thrilling is that the play was written more than 400 years ago, by an ancestor who was nothing less than Shakespeare’s chief competition! As we plan the spring issue of White Crane on Ancestors, it was deeply satisfying to see this production made possible by no less than three major Gay allies or ancestors, Christopher Marlowe, Garland Wright and Edward II himself (kudos to the still with us — and with it! — Red Bull Artistic Director, Jesse Berger, too, of course!)

Starting with the historical Edward: he was the first "Prince of Wales." He is the king who established colleges in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; he founded Cambridge’s King’s Hall in 1317 and gave Oxford’s Oriel College its royal charter in 1326. And yes, he did have a tendency to sort of ignore his "nobility" (pre-shadowing Whitman’s "working class camerado’s" by a couple of centuries) and run around with sexy, young minions. Marlowe took a collection of "favorites" and created the archetypal character of Piers Gaveston to represent Edward’s "proclivities." Companions had been brought over from France to teach the young prince how to be a gentleman. If they only knew. Ahhh…if we only knew.

Edward_iiThe late Garland Wright was the visionary director and a leading figure in both the New York theater scene and the regional theater movement in America, most famously as the Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theater. He died at the tragically young age of 52 while in the middle of preparing this production of Christopher Marlowe’s legendary Edward II. His commitment to Gay causes, particularly his opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell brought him to an interest in Marlowe’s Edward.

There is no way I can improve on the review of the play in the NY Times and other places. Does it ring any bells to say this is the story of a leader whose lover distracts him from his duties, tells the story of sexual obsession, religious power and the intersection of the political and personal lives of a flawed leader. Throw in some church/state tensions and you might well be talking yesterday, not 400+ years ago. Add Queer As Folk’s blond boy Randy ("Justin") Harrison in a featured (and, I might add, impressive…newly hirsute-for-this-play Mr. Harrison is virtually unrecognizeable, "boy " no more…this man can act!) role, and you have a damned sexy and theatrically fascinating evening.

It is tempting (and wrong) to believe  that the modern GLBT civil rights movement is the first time a movement has attempted to upset the social order (and despite what the assimilationists would have you believe, this is what it’s about, dear ones) and create an alternative to traditional gender roles, definitions of sexuality and hierarchal power structures. It is bracing to realize that Marlowe was doing this 400 years ago, before there was any other word for who we are than "sodomy." There was no "Gay," no "homosexual," no "same-sex love." It was sodomy, plain and simple, and a clear demonstration of the implicit role church has played in statecraft since its earliest days.

Further, this is the story that first turned this writer off Mr. Mel Gibson, waaaay before his drunken, entitled, anti-Semitic outbursts. His gratuitous and flat out historically wrong-headed re-telling of the murder of Edward’s beloved, Piers Gaveston, in Braveheart, where Gibson has Edward’s father (who was dead before any of the gist of the story we know happened) throw Gaveston out of a tower to his death made Gibson persona non grata in my eyes. Hollywood’s traditional "kill the queer" has never been more distasteful to me than it was in that horrible movie.

But, back to happier stories…the king and his beloved frolic on a wildly sexy set, in costumes (and the tasteful lack thereof) that reinvents the whole "suit and tie" Shakespeare fad. This play is gripping, intellectually and visually, from the dimming of the lights to the last ovation.

In a word: Run, don’t walk, to see this play at the Red Bull Theater on 42nd Street. Its run has been extended through the end of January. This is a must-see.

Queer Spirit in Utah

Fellow_travelers_poster_sm From our friend and partner, Jerry Buie:

Recently I announced the birth of Queer Spirit as a reflection of a prayer and vision of bringing queer men together in community to explore the essence and nature of who we are in relationship to Spirit, stepping into new stories and creations of vibrant and magical living. During the birthing of Queer Spirit and with each month I am impressed how amazing and in what manner this vision has unfolded. It touches me deeply and moves me in a profound way that I want to share with you what has taken place.

We have a beautiful website that is growing and expanding with new articles and information: and a slick short video (with music by Moby) that is getting a lot of attention.

Three retreats have been held with another one scheduled in January 2008, and a strong possibility of a documentary/reality story about the retreats. We have monthly activities averaging about 12 men, with many new interested people at each event.

We are delighted to be in partnership with White Crane Institute which has been supportive in many ways, including making it possible for us to bring the Fellow Travelers Exhibit to Salt Lake, with photos by Mark Thompson. This exhibit is a celebration of gay history and the magic makers of today and yesterday. As a bonus thirty men attended a "Gay Soul Making" workshop with Mark Thompson.

This essence and spirit of Queer Spirit here in Utah is becoming a community movement and shift in community processing. It is nothing short of amazing, considering the social and political climate here. It really has been a process of turning it over to Spirit and following that intuition.

It is my continued prayer that this process and movement will continue to grow. That my queer brothers will show up hungry to embrace balance, spirit and community in a loving and intimate manner.

Rainbow Radio!

Scglpm_96dpi White Crane was on the radio waves recently. Reader and frequent contributor, Ed Madden, an Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, produces a wonderful community radio program called Rainbow Radio and was kind enough to talk with Dan and me. You can listen to the show here.

Corporate Media

Teddy_bear I get a little tired of most modern media telegraphing what our response is supposed to be. It strikes me that they do their own polling, find out what the general popular response is going to be (or what they decide it should be) and then we all get fed the story with this incipient slant again and again until it is accepted as truth.

The one that really brought this to my own attention is how the Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr is never mentioned in any report…I mean never…as anything other than "radical Shiite cleric" Muqtada al Sadr. Now don’t get me wrong…I do not mean in any way to defend al Sadr, who I suspect is as radical as they come, and no friend of western culture. I’m sure he is probably not someone any of us would want to invite into our homes. But do we really need media (the "liberal" media….it is to laugh!) reminding us of this at every opportunity? At the very least it speaks to a lack of vocabulary or just sheer laziness on the part of the writers.

There also seems to be a vested interest in sowing the seeds of fear ("The Fear of the Week" as I call it) in our minds with respect to Islam. And again…I am no fan of Islam. Nor am I a fan of Christianity, for that matter. Or Judaism. Or any of the Patriarchal, hierarchal, anti-Nature, anti-woman, anti-sex religions. But you don’t hear media reports as often…and by this I mean the constant drum beat about the seemingly insane responses that Muslims seem to have to the merest perceived slight (see: Teddy bear story)…about Fundamentalist Christianity’s insane insistance on 2000 year old readings of scripture used to villify Gay people. Ditto with Judaism, for that matter. And we certainly haven’t seen any similar excoriating of Tom Brokaw’s insidious history of the 1960s that doesn’t merely neglect LGBT people, but presents only the views and comments of our enemies. This is not a free and fair media. This is not "fair and balanced" either. And the sanctimony that accompanies all this is particularly gauling.

I mean…just what kind of clothing is the corporate media Emperor wearing?

Just asking.

A Lesbian Pioneer

Jane_rule_2 Author Jane Rule has died at the age of 76.

Jane Rule’s books, including "Desert of the Heart," and the film version ("Desert Hearts") were, in 1986, pretty much some of of the first truly Lesbian affirming literature and film. It may be hard to believe now, but twenty years was an Ice Age ago in terms of media, culture, and Gay people. If you grew up seeing stuff like The Children’s Hour (the message being that if you are a female and realize you are in love with another woman you need to hang yourself), Desert Hearts was way more than a breath of fresh air, it was revolutionary.

And how’s this for an exit? From The Globe and Mail: "Ms. Rule retreated to her bed in the middle of November with a bottle of Queen Anne whisky and a bar of good chocolate on her bedside table, hundreds of love letters from friends and admirers and a circle of friends and family who cared for her physical needs."

The Globe and Mail has a lovely tribute and obit.

Frank Kameny Rocks! Brokaw Blows.

Dr. Franklin Kameny
Kameny Papers Project

FranklinkamenyNovember 26, 2007

Mr. Tom Brokaw

c/o Random House Publishing Group

Ms. Gina Centrello


Random House Publishing Group

Ms. Kate Medina

Executive Editorial Director

Random House Publishing Group

1745 Broadway

New York, New York, 10019

Dear Mr. Brokaw and Mmes. Centrello and Medina:

As a long-time gay activist, who initiated Gay activism and militancy at the very start of "your" Sixties, in 1961; coined the slogan "Gay is Good" in 1968; and is viewed by many as one of the "Founding Fathers" of the Gay Movement, I write with no little indignation at the total absence of any slightest allusion to the gay movement for civil equality in your book “Boom! Voices of the Sixties." Your book simply deletes the momentous events of that decade which led to the vastly altered and improved status of Gays in our culture today. This change would have been inconceivable at the start of the Sixties and would not have occurred at all without the events of that decade totally and utterly ignored by you. Mr. Brokaw, you have "de-Gayed" the entire decade. "Voices of the Sixties"??? One does not hear even one single Gay voice in your book. The silence is complete and deafening.

As a Gay combat veteran of World War II, and therefore a member of the "Greatest Generation", I find myself and my fellow Gays as absent from your narration as if we did not and do not exist. We find Boom! Boom!! Boom!!! in your book about all the multitudinous issues and the vast cultural changes of that era. But not a single "Boom," only dead silence, about Gays, homosexuality, and the Gay Movement.

The development of every other possible, conceivable issue and cause which came to the forefront in that period is at least mentioned, and is usually catalogued: race; sex and gender; enthnicity; the environment; and others, on and on and on — except only Gays.

In 1965, we commenced bringing Gays and our issues "out of the closet" with our then daring picketing demonstrations at the White House and other government sites, and our annual 4th of July demonstrations at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The Smithsonian Institution displayed these original pickets last month, in the same exhibition as the desk where Thomas Jefferson drafted The Declaration of Independence. The name of the Smithsonian’s exhibition? “Treasures of American History”. In your book: No Boom; only silence.

About 1963, a decade-long effort commenced to reverse the psychiatric categorization of Gays as mentally or emotionally ill, concluding in 1973 with a mass "cure" of all of us by the American Psychiatric Association. No boom in your book; only your silence.

The most momentous single Gay Movement event occurred at the end of June, 1969, when the "Stonewall Rebellion" in New York, almost overnight (actually it took three days) converted what had been a tiny, struggling Gay movement into the vast grass-roots movement which it now is. We had five or six Gay organizations in the entire country in 1961; fifty to sixty in 1969; by the time of the first Gay Pride march, in New York one year later in 1970, we had 1500, and 2500 by 1971 when counting stopped. If ever there was Boom, this was it. In your book, no Boom, only your silence.

About 1972, Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts state House of Representatives as the first elected openly Gay public official. I had run here in Washington, DC, the previous year for election to Congress as the first openly Gay candidate for any federal office. Harvey Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. No boom in your book; only your silence.

Mr. Brokaw, you deal with the histories of countless individuals. Where are the Gays of that era: Barbara Gittings; Jack Nichols; Harry Hay; Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons; Randolfe Wicker; Harvey Milk; numerous others? No booms in your book; only silence and heterosexuals.

Starting in 1961 a long line of court cases attacked the long-standing U.S. Civil Service Gay Ban (fully as absolute and as virulent as the current Military Gay ban, which actually goes back some 70 years and was also fought in the 60s) with final success in 1975 when the ban on employment of Gays by the federal government was rescinded. In your book, no boom; only your silence.

The assault on the anti-sodomy laws, which made at least technical criminals of all Gays (and most non-gays for that matter, although never used against them) and which was the excuse for an on-going terror campaign against the Gay community through arrests the country over, began in 1961 and proceeded through the 60s and onward. In your book, no boom; only your silence.

In 1972, following up on Stonewall, the first anti-discrimination law protective of Gays was enacted in East Lansing, Michigan, followed by the much more comprehensive one in D.C. in 1973, starting a trend which now encompasses some twenty states, countless counties and cities, and has now reached Congress in ENDA. In your book, no boom; only your silence.

The Sixties were a period of unprecedented rapid social and cultural upheaval and change. We Gays were very much a part of all that. A reader of your book would never have the slightest notion of any of that. In your book, no boom; only your silence.

At the start of the Sixties Gays were completely invisible. By the end, and especially after Stonewall, we were seen everywhere: in entertainment, education, religion, politics, business, elsewhere and everywhere. In BOOM our invisibility remains total.

The only allusions to us, in your entire book are the most shallow, superficial, brief references in connection with sundry heterosexuals. Where are the Gay spokespeople? We are certainly there to speak for ourselves. But in your book, only silence.

Mr. Brokaw, I could go on, but this should be sufficient to make my point. The whole thing is deeply insulting. As I said, you have de-Gayed an entire generation. For shame, for shame, for shame. You owe an abject public apology to the entire Gay community. I demand it; we expect it.

Gay is Good. You are not.


Franklin E. Kameny, Ph.D.

Washington, D.C.