671 posts categorized "History"

July 29, 2016

Opinion | What we owe Elie Wiesel

I don't know how I missed this a couple of weeks ago. Former GLAA president Craig Howell writes about the key role the late Elie Wiesel played in ensuring that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum would include all the victims of the Holocaust, including gay folk.

July 28, 2016

Navy to Name Ship After Gay Rights Activist Harvey Milk

A fine honor for Harvey Milk, who served in the Navy. As our friend Michael Bedwell says, "He continued to wear his Navy belt with its Master Diver insignia buckle literally until his dying day."

Tom Chorlton included in "In Memoriam" video at Democratic convention

The In Memoriam video that was shown at the Democratic National Convention on July 27 included former Gay Activists Alliance member Tom Chorlton. Others familiar to Washingtonians who were included are former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, civil rights veteran Lawrence Guyot, and civil rights and HIV/AIDS activist Mario Cooper.

July 01, 2016

Thought for Independence Day weekend: a history of shame and struggle, interwoven

Douglass Fourth of July quote

153 years ago on this day, the Battle of Gettysburg was underway. Eleven years earlier on July 5th in Rochester, what is possibly the greatest oration in American history was delivered by an escaped and self-taught slave named Frederick Douglass. His main competitors in the oratory category were named Martin and Abraham. I am attaching a passage from what has come to be known as the Fourth of July speech. Things have improved since 1852; on the other hand, the catalog of American crimes against peoples of color at home and abroad, just since 1940, is a long one.

Recalling the rebuke from Douglass so long ago is a useful counterbalance to the usual Independence Day rah-rah stuff. And it reminds us that many generations struggled so that we could continue the struggle today, in Martin's words, to make our nation live out the true meaning of its creed--a creed written in 1776 by a slave owner. The shame and the struggle, inextricably interwoven, are part of our nation's DNA.

June 30, 2016

Blade, @dcpl announce partnership to digitize newspaper’s 47-year archive

June 27, 2016

Obama Designates Stonewall Inn National Monument

House floor sit-in on gun safety recalls early days of LGBT activism

June 22, 2016

Rep. Steve King's inverted worldview

June 07, 2016

Hillary Clinton speaks in Brooklyn after clinching Democratic nomination

An excellent speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lady Liberty

Lady_Liberty_with_fireworks
"Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning...."

Congratulations, Secretary Clinton, on this historic moment.

June 05, 2016

Obama on the 35th anniversary of HIV/AIDS in America

Ali: "Why is Jesus white?"

I fell in love with this guy when I was 8. This is one of my favorite clips. Profound defiance delivered in the most amicable tone. His voice was lost to Parkinson's Disease years ago, but it lives on in recordings and in our memories. He is still remarkable. He risked everything to stand up for his beliefs and to resist serving in the Vietnam War. That made him a hero to me and many others, even as it stirred hate in some people and brought the wrath of American government down upon him. He was ultimately vindicated. His unique voice carried his influence far beyond the precincts of boxing.

President Obama's statement on Ali is here.

Ali_and_Mandela

June 01, 2016

Barack Obama, Transformer: @POTUS breaks the mold on foreign policy.

My Blade column this week uses the president's historic visit to Hiroshima as a jumping-off point for a consideration of his ground-breaking approach to foreign policy.

May 31, 2016

Obama issues final Pride Month proclamation

May 28, 2016

June 1 - LGBTQ Social Justice and Rights in the District: a community discussion

Please join us at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 1 in the Martin Luther King Library for a community discussion on LGBTQ social justice and rights. It is an interesting panel of participants. GLAA President Rick Rosendall will moderate.

May 27, 2016

Obama in Hiroshima

A powerful moment in Hiroshima as our president embraces one of the Hibakusha, a survivor of the atomic blast 71 years ago. My heart soars. I am so proud of this man, who with simple grace leaves the haters in the dust and honors the better angels of our nature. He enlarges himself and us.

The haters on the right are going ape. It is a reminder of the despicable alternative we are faced with this year. We can defeat the haters if we simply stop making excuses and vote. 71 years are long enough to cling to the bitterness of the past. If we do not heal, we make a hollow mockery of Yad Vashem's "Never Again, Never Forget."

May 24, 2016

Jake Tapper Berates Trump for Pushing 'Bizarre, Unfounded Conspiracy Theory'

Thank you, Mr. Tapper.

LBJ and Walter Jenkins

Top LBJ aide Walter Jenkins was arrested in October 1964 for sex with a man in a YMCA bathroom in Washington. Above is a scene in the movie All the Way referencing it, in which President Johnson makes a dig at FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Below is a recording of Johnson talking by phone to his wife Lady Bird about the scandal, which occurred a few weeks before the 1964 election. The conversation starts about 45 seconds into the tape. (Hat tip: Mark Thompson)

May 19, 2016

HRC taps Ted Olson in fight against NC anti-LGBT law

The Human Rights Campaign goes the celebrity route again. HRC President Chad Griffin, then leader of American Foundation for Equal Rights, previously brought Olson in, along with Democratic attorney David Boies, for the court fight against California Proposition 8, known as Hollingsworth v. Perry. Olson and Boies ran up more than $6 million in legal fees in that case, despite the fact that other attorneys working in marriage equality cases often worked pro bono. So how much is HRC going to pay Olson?

It should be noted, by the way, that the Perry case did NOT win the nation marriage equality. It was sent back to a lower court by SCOTUS in 2013 for lack of standing. The 2013 SCOTUS overturn of the discriminatory federal definition of marriage in DOMA was in another case, United States v. Windsor, where Edith Windsor's attorney Roberta Kaplan argued before the high court. The ruling that granted civil marriage equality throughout the country came with Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. The plaintiffs in that case were represented at oral argument by civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto and Washington, D.C. lawyer Douglas Hallward-Driemeier.

May 04, 2016

Furies house, Stonewall site set for historic recognition

May 03, 2016

The White House is poised to create the first national monument to recognize struggle for gay rights

Confessions of a Republican 1964: 'This man scares me'

Here is the 1964 LBJ campaign ad featuring actor William Bogert, a Republican, expressing his concerns about the extremism of Barry Goldwater. Rachel Maddow had Bogert, now 80, on her show last night. He readily applies to Donald Trump the concern he expressed 52 years ago about Goldwater. You can find the Maddow Show video here, but that site does not provide the embed code.

Sullivan: America has never been so ripe for tyranny—and that's what is scariest about Trump

Andrew Sullivan has a brilliant essay in New York Magazine on the danger posed by Donald Trump. It is wise and sobering. I highly recommend it.

April 24, 2016

Happy belated deathday, Will!

I duly observed the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death yesterday by reading some Shakespeare, but I wasn't in a blogging mood. This piece is interesting. More from the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library here.

April 21, 2016

Is the Mona Lisa actually based on Leonardo Da Vinci's gay lover?

Get over it, Mona.

April 20, 2016

"Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go?"

My Blade column this week looks at the upcoming British referendum on exiting the European Union, and finds lessons for the Colonies.

April 18, 2016

Trailer: The Birth of a Nation (new film on Nat Turner rebellion)

Can't wait to see this.

April 17, 2016

Head of British spying agency apologizes for its treatment of gays

April 10, 2016

Having gay and HIV-positive Greg Louganis on Wheaties box makes 'powerful statement'

April 09, 2016

All the President's Men at 40

Michael Cavna reports for WaPo:

CARL BERNSTEIN has a favorite shot — a powerful, wordless visual within a film rippling with verbiage. It is the moment when everything elevates as metaphor.

It is, Bernstein says, “the Library of Congress shot.”

The film is “All the President’s Men,” Alan J. Pakula’s classic journalism procedural, which today celebrates the 40th anniversary of its release. And the shot in question begins with a tight overhead of The Washington Post’s Watergate reporters, Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford), as they painstakingly thumb through thousands of the library’s circulation file cards.

The vantage point “progresses from floor/desk-level to the rotunda of the library,” Bernstein tells me. “The shot, and the scene itself, as the overwhelming number of card-files are brought to the reporters — they got a bit more than they bargained for in all their cleverness — brilliantly illustrates both the monumental and granular challenges of real reporting, as well as the context of what is going on at the time in our own [Woodward and Bernstein’s] situation at that juncture.”

Below, the matchless Jason Robards as WaPo editor Ben Bradlee.

March 22, 2016

The choice for Commander-in-Chief: a stateswoman or a narcissist?

Situation_Room_bin_Laden

My thoughts while comparing foreign policy remarks by an experienced stateswoman versus a bullshitting narcissist:

The most vital presidential traits are not about public ceremonies and photo ops. They are summoned during grim, tense hours in the Situation Room. In a moment of crisis, do you really want a posturing amateur? No. You want someone who's been there, someone with experience--including vivid memories of when things went terribly wrong.

In the dark, fraught hours, when you watch and wait from oceans away as our nation's finest warriors must summon all their training amid grave danger, there are no illusions about your job being some slow, grand march to glory. It is humbling and sobering to know how many lives are implicated in every decision. Will you be meeting their coffins in a hangar at Dover AFB, comforting their loved ones?

This is a sacred trust. You cannot be glib about this. The job calls for someone who has been there, who knows the stakes, who has the relationships with foreign leaders to make the difficult calls at midnight to keep a confrontation from boiling over, or to summon and facilitate a global response to a tragedy. You need someone with the seasoning of hard experience. You need a survivor. You need someone who's ready. Hillary for President.

March 13, 2016

Rewriting the origins of the gay choral movement

PGMC_statement_on_origins

The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus posted this yesterday with the following explanation:

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus was fortunate enough to perform for the students of The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. After the concert, our very own Marcus Saitschenko shared some beautiful words about the origin of the gay choral movement, words made more poignant by recent current events. Thank you, Marcus. #philagmc #WhyWeSing #ItGetsBetter #ShareOurHistory

That statement is very nice, but it is not exactly true. The gay choral movement was started before AIDS hit. SFGMC's first public performance, for example, was the night Moscone and Milk were killed.

I was a co-founder of one of the groups inspired by the San Francisco chorus's national tour, which roughly coincided with the first news reports of AIDS but was planned beforehand and took place before the reality of the disease had sunk in for most of us. I remember our early discussions in the summer of 1981. We were motivated by pride and memories of our college glee clubs.

The DC gay community did not feel under siege at the time; we were recognized as a voting bloc and were pursuing our goal of equality. We still had much to do, but were already included in the DC Human Rights Act. Of course in the years that followed, the gay choral movement rose to the challenge of the epidemic and created powerful music that chronicled our experience and helped galvanize us. I remember how moved I was later in the decade by SFGMC's beautiful contribution to the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Rising to the struggle helped give our music new meaning. But the origins of the choral movement preceded that.

Hillary Clinton: A note on the fight against HIV and AIDS—and the people who really started the conversation

Thanks to Secretary Clinton for this statement.

We should all be embarrassed by our community's overreaction to Hillary's gaffe about Nancy Reagan on Friday. It was as if her entire record were reduced to one statement at a funeral. That was not true. Here is one example from her tenure as Secretary of State. She is a proven ally and we need to get serious. Too much is at stake in this election for us to be on a hair trigger, looking for excuses to be outraged.

The likelihood is that our next president will either be this woman or the Republican frontrunner, who never admits he was wrong much less apologizes or uses a gaffe as a teachable moment. This thoughtful, capable, and seasoned stateswoman, or an utterly self-absorbed, bullying goon. Let's help our country move forward, not be accessories in tearing it apart. So very much is at stake.

March 03, 2016

#TBT - Six years ago today, marriage equality became law in DC.

04marriage_CA0-articleLarge
(Photo from NYT, 3/3/2010: Jonathan Howard, left, and Gregory Jones applied for a marriage license on Wednesday in Washington. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Here's an item for Throwback Thursday: Six years ago today, marriage equality became law in DC. Here's something I posted that day here at GLAA Forum:

The beautiful sight outside Room 4485

February 24, 2016

Nearly 20 percent of Trump’s supporters disapprove of Lincoln freeing the slaves

Wow.

February 12, 2016

Drew Lewis, former U.S. transportation secretary, dies at 84

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(Transportation Sec. Drew Lewis, upper right, with President Reagan
and Attorney General William French Smith in 1981. Associated Press)

Philly.com Reports.

I was in college and Gerald Ford was president when I met Drew Lewis. He was a prominent Pennsylvania Republican, and was the featured speaker at the Villanova Political Union where I was in the Liberal Party. In those days, cooperation across party lines was still possible; Senators Dole and McGovern, for example, worked on bills together. After our college debates were over, the student debaters repaired to a nearby tavern and insulted one another according to Robert's Rules of Order. I remember thinking how clever the upperclassmen were.

The seriousness of the radical right became clear a few years later when Ronald Reagan, with Lewis as his transportation secretary, fired air traffic controllers. I thought it was reckless, but conservatives insisted it showed the Soviets that Reagan meant business. Nowadays, courteous and dignified conservatives like Lewis get primaried out of their seats. Perhaps they were too courteous and got rolled over. Perhaps the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of his generation will restore responsible conservatism from the wreckage of those who scorn all restraint.

My old sparring partners are now grandparents. Change takes a long time, and ours is running short. R.I.P. Drew Lewis.

February 10, 2016

Results, not revolution

Hillary-clinton-2

My latest Blade column takes a historical view of how public policy is changed. We must honor the struggle, not avoid the work by indulging in magical thinking. Here's an excerpt:

Chez Pazienza of The Daily Banter put it well: "If You're Liberal and You Think Hillary Clinton Is Corrupt and Untrustworthy, You're Rewarding 25 Years of GOP Smears." Bernie Sanders has yet to face the brutal assaults of the GOP war machine in the way Secretary Clinton has for decades. Indeed, the Republicans want Sanders to get the nomination.

Brett Arends of MarketWatch compiled a list of the terrible things Hillary is accused of doing. My favorites are #12, "Unnamed and unverifiable sources have told Peggy Noonan things about the Clintons that are simply too terrible to repeat," and #44, "She's really ambitious and calculating, unlike all the other people running for president." Bob Woodward says Hillary is too loud. Really? Has he heard Senator Sanders? Susan Sarandon slams Hillary for not endorsing marriage equality until 2013. Is Sarandon aware of the global LGBT rights initiative Hillary launched in December 2011?

Sanders opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 on states' rights grounds. He endorsed marriage equality in 2009; but in 1982 he described marriage as "a lifelong commitment between husband and wife." Granted, that was typical for the time. Few gay activists then focused on marriage. In 1981, AIDS had hit American cities, and D.C.'s first attempt to repeal its sodomy law was blocked by Congress. That was the year I came out to my family. I didn't have my first argument with a politician on same-sex marriage until 1994, fifteen years before D.C. enacted marriage equality.

D.C.'s marriage equality victory resulted not from revolution but from strategizing, researching, organizing, drafting, negotiating, messaging, and electioneering. It required careful preparation, coalition building, and long-cultivated relationships with public officials. It ripened via sustained work that began long before the final bill was written.

Those seeking change must honor the struggle, not just the result.

Read the whole thing here.

February 07, 2016

"Lost in the Stars" comes to Washington National Opera

On Sunday evening I watched the tech rehearsal of the first act of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "Lost in the Stars," based on Alan Paton's "Cry, the Beloved Country." The opera was presented at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2012. As then, the Washington National Opera production features Eric Owens as Stephen Kumalo, and the same creative team.

This opera only runs from Feb. 12 through Feb. 20. The singing and staging of this powerful work about South Africa under Apartheid are first rate.

January 27, 2016

Five years later, Uganda's LGBT groups on David Kato’s murder

January 26 was the fifth anniversary of the brutal murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. His colleagues have carried on with great courage and remarkable grace. Below is video from Kato's funeral in 2011, where his friends carried his coffin themselves.

January 19, 2016

LGBT contingent marches in D.C.’s MLK parade

GLAA VP for Political Affairs Charles Butler is quoted in this story.