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Poll

What period of gay history would you like to discuss first?

The fifties and sixties - before Stonewall
9 (50%)
Early Gay Liberation 1969 - 1975
2 (11.1%)
Political awakening 1975 - 1981
0 (0%)
The onset of AIDS 1981 - 1996
6 (33.3%)
Post Protease Inhibitors 1996 - Present
1 (5.6%)

Total Members Voted: 15

Voting closed: February 24, 2007, 01:59:08 AM

Author Topic: Gay History -- How We Got Here  (Read 307966 times)

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Gay History -- How We Got Here
« on: February 12, 2007, 11:42:12 PM »
The Origin of this thread



Over the holidays Linda (killersmom) was visiting in San Francisco and we were at Harvey Milk Plaza.  We got discussing Harvey and his live, and why Dan White (Harvey's killer) did what he did.  It was a lively discussion.

Later the same evening I was out with Linda and a group of the slash writers at dinner.  We got talking about what San Francisco was like when the AIDS crisis started, what people knew and what they did to prevent the spread of the disease.  I told them about 'Play Safe', a pamphlet from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence that suggested safe sex - in 1982 (it would take the federal government another 6 years to distribute a pamphlet with this information).  It was clear there was an interest in this sort of dialog.

What I envision this thread as being is a place where people (of all orientations and genders) can talk about their brushes with gay history - things that have happened in their lives connected to the LGBT communities.  I can still remember family's reaction when I talked about Anita Bryant's campaign to overturn antidiscrimination laws.  I remember the first gay lib meeting I went to, and doing book displays in the bookstore I worked in for gay pride month in the seventies.  And I still have the first book I ever read on homosexuality - from before my coming out.  These are the sorts of personal memories I hope we can talk about here.

One of the things I have learned from doing genealogical work is that history has a personal side - people live through things that, at the time, don't seem significant or important - but our perspective changes later.  One of the other things I found while doing family history is the excitement that people can feel when they're sharing their personal stories.  I hope we can do that here, create a place for us to talk about our shared past and share our personal experiences related to history and feel that excitement.

I also hope that this will be a place where people will feel free to ask questions - whether they are writers or just curious.  This thread is meant for us to share information - I hope you will all feel free to ask questions about our histories.

Learning about out past gives us hope for the future, I believe.  And as Harvey said "You've got to give them hope."

« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 01:59:08 AM by michaelflanagansf »
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2007, 11:49:22 PM »
Later this week I'll be putting up a poll so we can decide what time period we would like to talk about first.  I think that this will work better than individual events - it will give us a broader 'topic' to talk about.  For example, if we talk about the late 70s, we could talk about the development of gay neighborhoods in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, L.A. and other place.  We could also talk about the first antidiscrimination laws, and the reactions to them.  And we can talk about the first gay officials elected to office - Elaine Nobel and Harvey Milk, among others.  Until then I look forward to your comments and suggestions here!
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline estefue

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2007, 03:44:53 PM »
Michael, thanks for opening a new and very interesting and relevant topic.  So many of us don't know our own history and how those who came before blazed a trail for us with their sacrifice.

Offline cabin

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2007, 03:49:14 PM »
Michael:

Excellent new thread that should give each of us a good education on our past, where we are and where we're going.

Thanks

gerry

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2007, 04:00:17 PM »
Gerry and Esteban,

Thanks so much for your comments!  I should note that I'm hoping this can be an international forum, as we have people from around the world here.  I would love to learn more about gay history in the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Canada and Italy, for example - and we have people here who can probably help with this.

Michael
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline fritzkep

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2007, 04:12:22 PM »
Gerry, if I may take the liberty of posting this link that you provided in the Diner. It is a fascinating overview of gay life after WW II, then of the adventures of a gay man in NYC, with references to Stonewall and other events.

http://www.nycnotkansas.com/

PS, Gerry, I'm still not finished working my way through it completely yet!

Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen, "Verweile doch! Du bist so schön..."

Offline michaelflanagansf

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« Last Edit: February 13, 2007, 06:39:27 PM by michaelflanagansf »
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline CellarDweller115

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2007, 06:32:55 PM »
Michael, thanks for opening a new and very interesting and relevant topic. So many of us don't know our own history and how those who came before blazed a trail for us with their sacrifice.

So true esteban.  I know I would like to learn more.  And your mention of "those who came before" reminds me of my friend Scott.  He lives in Pa, and everytime he comes to visit, we go to The Stonewall  to have drinks.  We always toast to "those who came before" and later on in the evening, we toast to "those who will come after".

Offline fritzkep

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2007, 06:59:10 PM »
Oh boy, I'm already enthralled with the Fordham site.

Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen, "Verweile doch! Du bist so schön..."

Offline Carissa

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2007, 07:35:39 PM »
I got this in my Cornell University (my alma mater) news alerts and thought this great new thread whould be appropriate to post it in. :)

Cornell Library Launches HRC Archives Exhibition
Event online Feb. 8 features 25 years of gay-rights struggles and activism

02.13.07
http://www.gaywired.com/article.cfm?section=70&id=13071

Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
- Romeo and Juliet (Juliet at III, ii)

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2007, 02:31:05 AM »
I've just put up a poll to guide where our first discussions should go.  Here are the sorts of things we could discuss in the time periods marked out:

Fifties and Sixties (pre-Stonewall) - The initial formation of organizations (the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis, ONE Inc., The Society for Individual Rights in the U.S.and the Homosexual Law Reform Society in the U.K.) and the people involved in starting these organizations (Harry Hay, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon).  We could also talk about authors who wrote on homosexual topics (Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, etc) and the legal status of LGBT people in this period.

1969 - 1975 - Early Gay Liberation - The Stonewall Riot and its aftermath, the first Gay Liberation newspapers, the formation of the Metropolitan Community Church, the Club Baths (and other bathhouses), the formation of Gay Liberation groups on college campuses and the initial split between radical lesbians and gay men.

1975 -1981 - The attempts to ensure equal rights in cities and the fight against those efforts, including the campaign by Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative (which would have prevented gays, lesbians and their supports from teaching in California), the founding of the Log Cabin Republicans and the initial attempts to win political office and their outcome (including the assassination of Harvey Milk and the White Night Riots).

1981 - 1996 - The reactions throughout the country after the onset of AIDS including the political attempts to restrict the rights of people with AIDS and acts of violence against people with AIDS, the rise of ACT-UP, GMHC, and other organizations, the reactions of the gay press, the holistic movements, the attempts to find drugs that would help fight the epidemic and the effects on communities.  This section would include a discussion of the people lost to AIDS during this period.

1996 - present - How did the Gay community recover from the AIDS epidemic when people stopped dying in large numbers?  When did the 'down-low' become an issue and who has it affected?  What was the reaction in media (Gay and straight, electronic, film and print) the the changes.  How did the internet affect the LGBT community - including the closing of women's and gay bookstores from competition online.

This is just an initial sketch of the sorts of things we could discuss for these periods.  Please feel free to add your own ideas and suggestions - and if the time periods don't seem right to you, let me know!  I can alter them.
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline Boris

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2007, 06:35:30 AM »
I feel obliged to remind you that gay history is international. USA has been the flagbearer for decades (Stinewall ripple effect was huge, the removal of homosexuality from DSM-III by APA), I would like to bring some perspective from Northern Countries.

Finnish Broadcasting Corporation YLE produced a 4 hour documentary "Gay history of Finland" about a year ago and it was fascinating. It's not available in English but should you be interested I'd be willing to translate some parts of it.

The firm that produced it for YLE presents it as follows:

What was gay life like during the WWII. Where did women who loved women meet? How Soviet Union blackmailed state secrets from gay officials. How Finnish gay liberation rose in 1960's, when homosexuality was a mental illness and gay sex a crime. What is like to live openly as farmers in 21st century. In series tens of gays and lesbians tell what it was like to live as gay person in different decades, from 1940's to today. It is a history about discrimination and legal battles, but also loves, romances, joy and families of LGBT people f Finland.

I believe that I can be more rooted in my identity when I have understanding about the past and generations before me.
"A theater is the most important sort of house in the world, because that's where people are shown what they could be if they wanted, and what they'd liked to be if they dared, and what they really are." -Tove Jansson-

Offline Nikki

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2007, 08:50:33 AM »
Later this week I'll be putting up a poll so we can decide what time period we would like to talk about first.  I think that this will work better than individual events - it will give us a broader 'topic' to talk about.  For example, if we talk about the late 70s, we could talk about the development of gay neighborhoods in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, L.A. and other place.  We could also talk about the first antidiscrimination laws, and the reactions to them.  And we can talk about the first gay officials elected to office - Elaine Nobel and Harvey Milk, among others.  Until then I look forward to your comments and suggestions here!

Michael, back in July(?) when we were reading Edmund White's 'A Boy's Own Story,' I did some research on Stonewall and found the following which I printed out to read at some point when I had time. The first printout came to 31 pages: http://www.nycnotkansas.com/WhatAWonderful.htm. It was the author's personal account of being gay in NYC in 1960-61.  The second was http://www.nycontkansas.com/wild_side.htm -- 'Back to our Future? A Walk on the Wild Side of Stonewall'  by Robert Amsel from 'The Advocate' 9/15/87. Both articles are full of the two authors' personal experiences and cover a wide range. Thought these might be useful and informative to anyone who hasn't come across them.

P.S. The 'Wonderful Town..." is part of the link that Fritz posted except  it's from 1960-61.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 09:50:48 AM by Nikki »
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Offline Boris

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2007, 11:56:42 AM »
There are also two rather nice books:

Neil Miller: Out of the Past. gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the present.
Dumerman, Vicinus, Chauncey, eds.: Hidden from History. Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian past.

Miller's is more easyreading, the latter is compilation of essays about gay hisory and philosophy of history. Among other things the oldest "were they gay" debate in the world i.e. could there have been "gays" before the concept of "gay".
"A theater is the most important sort of house in the world, because that's where people are shown what they could be if they wanted, and what they'd liked to be if they dared, and what they really are." -Tove Jansson-

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Re: Gay History -- How We Got Here
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2007, 12:26:52 PM »
Michael:

This is fantastic!  I was so excited to see this thread open up after we discussed it at the Solstice Bash.  Thank you for this.

Love, Mag