YOUR DUTY TO KNOW ABOUT
70 YEARS AGO TODAY – 1950
The psychiatric community regarded homosexuality as a mental illness and therefore gay men were considered susceptible to blackmail, thus constituting a security risk. U.S. government officials assumed that communists would blackmail gay employees who would provide them classified information rather than risk exposure. 1950, the same year that Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed 205 communists were working in the State Department, Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy said that the State Department had made 91 gay men resign. McCarthy hired Roy Cohn — who some allege was a closeted shirtlifter himself — as chief counsel of his Congressional subcommittee, which investigated homosexuality in government employees. Together, McCarthy and Cohn fired huge numbers of gay men and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors that they were queer. On April 27, 1953, President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450, which banned gay men and lesbians from working for any agency of the federal government which stayed in force until 1973 and not until 1975 that the United States Civil Service Commission announced that they would consider applications by gays and lesbians on a case by case basis.
60 YEARS AGO TODAY – 1960
With all due respect to the Stonewall riots (1969) but they were not the First. The Cooper Do-nuts Riot happened 10 years earlier in May 1959. It was an incident in Los Angeles, in which gay men, lesbians, transgender women, and drag queens rioted, often cited as the first ever real LGBT uprising. The incident was sparked by police harassment (as it always is) of LGBT people at a 24-hour cafe called “Cooper Do-nuts”. The hang out was in a very poor part of town ‘Skid Row’ and was hugely popular with sex workers, drag queens, gay men, Trans etc. The cops hated the place and readily raided it using their law off choice which was your ID had to match your image that was particularly tough on the drag artists and trans. On the night in question the LAPD arrested 5 members of the LBGT community. John Rechy, an author targeted by the cops regularly, resisted arrest, complaining that there wasn’t enough room in the police car for all of them. Everyone else just snapped, crockery and debris was thrown and all hell broke loose. More cops arrived and put the riot down with force. There was no subsequent riot the following night unlike Stonewall so this never became the gay landmark it should have.
50 YEARS AGO TODAY – 1970
In the Summer of 1970 with The Beatles Long And Winding Road firmly atop the charts a full year after they split we marched and boy did we march big time and set off a wave of acceptance that we enjoy today with our Million attendee June prides in every City from Manchester to Manhattan. In April, 1970, opposition to the first gay pride march by Mattachine ended so one was quickly organised. The first proper pride parade was held in June 1970 in New York. There was nothing planned for the rally in Central Park, since the group could not rely on making it the entire way there. Yet as the original marchers left Christopher Street to walk uptown, hundreds, and then thousands, of supporters joined in. The crowd marched from Greenwich Village into uptown Manhattan and Central Park, holding gay pride signs and banners, chanting “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.” On the same weekend gay activist groups on the West Coast of the United States held a march in Los Angeles and a march and ‘Gay-in’ in San Francisco. One day earlier, on Saturday, 27 June 1970, Chicago Gay Liberation organized a march from Washington Square Park (“Bughouse Square”) to the Water Tower at the intersection of Michigan and Chicago avenues, which was the route originally planned, and then many of the participants went further and marched on to the Civic Center. It was the only Saturday parade in Chicago. The date was chosen because the Stonewall events began on the last Saturday of June and because organizers wanted to reach the maximum number of Michigan Avenue shoppers. All Subsequent Chicago parades have been held a Sunday almost always the last Sunday of June.
40 YEARS AGO TODAY – 1980
No-one had heard of AIDS when everyone was sitting back to watch the long awaited sequel to Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ down their local one film only cinema. AIDS was generally thought to have been transmitted to the Western World by a Canadian flight attendant called Gaetan Dugas who became known as patient zero when it was sold in the media that he bought the disease to the USA. He was certainly a promiscuous gay man but nowadays his name has all but been cleared. AIDS is thought to have come via the transmission from a Chimpanzee to a human in Sub-Saharan Africa (Don’t ask!) in possibly the 1910’s and 20’s and it took 60 years or so to make it to the Western world where it became a publicised epidemic. It is now traced to bloods imported by the medical profession into the States from Haiti and on into a number of gay men that transmitted it through unsafe casual sex and then onto Europe and beyond. In 1980, reports began surfacing in San Francisco and New York City that a rare form of cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma was affecting young gay men. In the general press, the term “GRID”, which stood for gay-related immune deficiency, was used to refer to the disease. However, after determining that AIDS was not isolated to the gay community, it was realized that the term GRID was misleading and the term AIDS was introduced for the very first time at a meeting in July 1982. Dugas was at the heart of the Californian outbreak being a Canadian was called patient O which lazy journalists wrongly started calling patient zero and even lazier press did the rest with headlines like ‘The Man Who Bought Us AIDS’ (New York Post) and ‘The Columbus Of Aids’ in the National reviewer. Randy Shilts book The band Played on also did not help. Dugas died of AIDS related complications name uncleared 4 years later in 1984. Generally 1980 is the year that is now universally acknowledged as the start of the epidemic.
30 YEARS AGO TODAY – 1990
Queer Nation began. On March 20, 1990, sixty LGBTQ people gathered at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Services Center in New York’s Greenwich Village to create a direct action organization basically marching was not enough and it was time to fight for gay rights. The goal of the unnamed organization was the elimination of homophobia, and the increase of gay visibility through a variety of tactics. The group’s breakthrough was at New York’s Gay Pride parade when militant AIDS activists passed out to the assembled crowd an inflammatory manifesto, bearing the titles ‘I Hate Straights!’, “Two, Four, Six, Eight! How Do You Know Your Kids Are Straight?” and ‘Queers Read This!’ Within days, in response to the brash, “in-your-face” tone of this type of action, Queer Nation chapters had sprung up in San Francisco and other major cities. The name Queer Nation had been used casually since the group’s inception, until it was officially approved at the group’s general meeting on May 17 of that year. The group was trying to act against the intrinsic homophobia from laws, the authorities, in culture, TV, film and music (German dance band Snap ‘The Power/Rhythm Is A dancer’ were one of their first targets – gay DJ’s stop playing these songs now !. They did so much in the early 90’s with probably the high point being in response to a pipe bomb injuring 3 gay men they got 1000 gays out on the street instantly to aggressively protest. They were inducted into the hall of fame in 1995. Their legacy is probably best summed up by them taking the word queer which was used to attack us and owning it in a similar way to black guys taking back aggro words and having them safely as their own basically castrating the homophobes and racists by doing so. Now of course we love the word and thourghlo own it ‘Queer Eye for the Straight guy’, Queer as folk etc. Queer Nation recently and famously attacked & protested the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia which was Putin’s flagship.
20 YEARS AGO – 2000
In 1974, the Netherlands was the first country to ban discrimination against gays in the military and who does not like a Dutch soldier? Other liberal Countries steadily followed suit notably Canada and Australia in the 90’s….in Germany gays were not allowed to be promoted to be an Officer. Then in 1999 the European Union stepped in and Brexit loving eejits should stop reading now. The European Court of Human Rights (an unanimously finds that the investigation into, and subsequent discharge of, two personnel from the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy on the basis of their sexual orientation is a breach of their right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A year later in 2000 the UK Government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in their armed forces. Two years later the British Armed Services started advertising in gay magazines for recruits (Most serving officers do like a bit of cock!). This became almost impossible for any European country to argue against so many other Countries did the same around the globe. By the end of the decade 18 out of the 21 Countries in NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allowed men who like taking it up the ass to serve freely and without any discrimination in their armed forces. To their shame the USA was not one of them being hugely out of step as one of the 3 odd countries out due to bigoted chunks of the great uneducated Mid West !!!!!
10 YEARS AGO – 2010
The first country to have same sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001. Then through the rest of the decade 6 more gay friendly countries followed suit – 4 in Europe and the great nations of Canada and South Africa. Then in 2010 Latin America joined in. On 15 July 2010, the Argentine Senate approved a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. It was supported by the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and opposed by the as ever open minded stuck in the 16th Century Catholic Church. Polls showed that nearly 70% of Argentine’s supported giving gay people the same marital rights as heterosexuals. The law came into effect a week later. Argentina thus became the first country in Latin America and the eighth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Other Latin america countries rapidly followed suit including Mexico in the same year which with both neighbours on board the squeeze was well and truly on for the USA which buckled 2015. The First American to take advantage of this was Mike Pence with a 21year old Latino pool boy with a trick ass.