634 posts categorized "History"

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.

January 18, 2016

A hazardous challenge at the heart of eloquence


Republicans praise him even as they work relentlessly to dismantle the social safety net. Their Martin is just a source of noble sentiments, safely emasculated and safely dead. But he did not get a national holiday and a national monument by being safe. He had to connect, yes, and his brilliance as an orator was evident the moment he stepped into the pulpit of Holt Street Baptist Church for a mass meeting of the Montgomery Improvement Association on Dec. 5, 1955 to launch a bus boycott.

But key to his power and greatness was his challenge to the nation, evident in these words from that speech, which many in power took as a threat worth killing over. Only by taking up that challenge do we properly honor him.

My friends, I want it to be known that we're going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city.

And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Imagine being that brilliant at age 26. It never ceases to provoke awe.

January 17, 2016

Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Sam Smith and others pay tribute to Alan Rickman

January 15, 2016

A voice still with us


Happy 87th birthday, Dr. King. We still hear your challenging voice.

Trump defends New York values

A rare moment of humanity was seen from Donald Trump last night in response to a jab at "New York values" by Ted Cruz.

What Pope Benedict Knew About Abuse in the Catholic Church

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty)

As The New Yorker reports, the Church sexual abuse scandal got as close as to Benedict XVI's brother Georg Ratzinger, who was director of the Regensburg Choir when more than two hundred children were victimized there. But possibly the most damning case was that of Father Maciel:

Most cases of abuse were handled (or not handled) by local bishops and archbishops, but some were adjudicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The most prominent of these cases was that of Father Marcial Maciel, a favorite of Pope John Paul II and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful Mexican religious order that, at its pinnacle, included eight hundred priests, fifteen universities, and a hundred and fifty prep schools, as well as a lay movement with a reported seventy thousand followers.

In the seventies and eighties, former members of the Legionaries reported that, as young boys, they had been sexually abused by Maciel. As the Church later acknowledged, the complainants were highly credible and had no ulterior motives: they were not seeking monetary compensation or notoriety. They followed Church procedures by filing formal charges through ecclesiastical courts in Rome, but nothing was done. In fact, Pope John Paul II called on Maciel to accompany him on papal visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993.

When one of the former Legionaries expressed his frustration, in the lawsuit, about the Church’s inaction, Berry and Renner reported in their book, the Legionaries’ own canon lawyer, Martha Wegan, who made no secret that her first loyalty was to the Church, replied, “It is better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.”

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

January 13, 2016

Who's Doing the Planting


My Blade column this week looks at the struggle to connect amid turmoil. Here's an excerpt:

Public discussions these days seem to dredge up the nastiest extrusions of our national psyche in a destructive competition. Withdrawing from the melee would only make matters worse by conceding the field to mischief-makers. So how do we gracefully stand our ground in a contentious environment?

We cannot spend all our time with the like-minded. At some point we have to leave our echo chambers and uphold our positions. There is no perfectly safe way to be true to ourselves.

Twitter is a place of fluid boundaries, so I was not surprised that one source of light on gun control is actor Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Boardwalk Empire, The Hunger Games). He posted a meme on January 7 quoting former Chief Justice Warren Burger: "The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies - the militia - would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires."

One of Wright's trolls replied, "Fuck you, Buckwheat, & this clueless, liberal judge legislating from the bench!" Wright calmly noted that he was quoting a Republican appointee, and added, "I associate more with Stymie," another black Little Rascals character. With wit and poise, he kept the upper hand. It might have been time-wasting had it been a private message, but he shared the exchange with his 80,000 followers. There is a point of diminishing returns, of course, for which the "block" button is handy.

Each of us strikes a different balance between comfort from comrades and abuse from adversaries. Some of us enjoy arguing more than others. The key consideration for the reality-based is persuasion. Mere insults appeal only to those already persuaded.

Read the whole thing here.

Queensland to expunge historical convictions for gay sex

December 29, 2015

2015: Year of the Arsonist

Reichstag fire, 1933 (Photo public domain; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My year-in-review column went online today at the Blade. My summary blurb is "Historic progress met the usual backlash." Here's an excerpt:

"Set the motherfucker on fire!" That recent call by a Donald Trump rally goer concerning a black protester, with another attendee yelling "Sieg heil," illustrates the viciousness fueling Trump's presidential campaign. If you take this lightly, Google "lynching." It is not just that what happened in Europe in the last century could happen here; what happened here could happen again. Trump's incitements, and those of his rivals, do not just pander to intolerance, they spray gasoline on the fire.

Hate-spewing demagogues were not the year's only newsmakers, but they produced its most dangerous legacy. The demons they unleashed cannot easily be tamed. But the haters cannot win the general election unless the rest of us allow it. Before we head back into battle, let us review some positive developments of 2015, though with cautionary notes.

The landmark victory for nationwide marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, which President Obama celebrated by lighting the White House north front in rainbow colors, inspired opponents to switch tactics by pushing "religious freedom" laws (better dubbed "religious supremacy") to continue their anti-gay attacks. The Equality Act represented a new approach to LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, but stood no chance in a Republican-controlled Congress. Openly gay Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson and several colleagues launched the smart, well-designed Campaign Zero policy website.

Read the whole thing here.

December 28, 2015

Respecting other people's holidays

(Photo by Craig Herndon/The Washington Post)

The lovely Jonathan Capehart reposted this item from last year and mentioned that he was enraged for hours once when a well-meaning white friend sent him a Kwanzaa card. Really? Someone this morning wished me a happy Boxing Day, a British occasion that's irrelevant to me, and I reacted with amusement and moved on. There are lots of things like that in life. I stopped being Christian in 1970, but I enjoy Christmas music, and I sang "Christmas is coming, goose is getting fat" which I learned fifty years ago from Harry Belafonte's Christmas album. Jonathan disdains Kwanzaa as a "made-up black holiday," but every holiday was made up by somebody. Thanksgiving was made up, but is celebrated by millions. I should note that Capehart only brought up the subject to criticize a Republican bomb-thrower who portrayed Kwanzaa as a big leftist conspiracy.

Granted, Kwanzaa is full of Marxist claptrap (imho), but most black people don't celebrate it according to surveys (maybe they are just spent from Christmas), and it's probably promoted more by white people trying to be inclusive. So if you don't have a kinara, don't remember the Nguzo Saba, and don't have cool African clothes to wear, then have some eggnog and Christmas cookies and relax.

Nonetheless, I learned from Maulana Karenga years ago that tonight's principal is Ujima, or collective work and responsibility. Swahili is a lovely language, about a third of its words from Arabic. Our own word "seven" is from the Arabic "Saba," which derives from Akkadian, a reminder that all cultures are influenced by others. In many cases, blood was shed, treasure and people were stolen, and missionaries covered it by converting people to the conqueror's religion. None of us has clean hands. But regardless of Christmas boycotts and different cultural observances, we are all bound up in the same economy. Whatever we call it and however we got here, most of us can agree that helping our neighbors is a good thing. Most of us, I suspect, also agree that Ann Coulter, who is far nastier than sweet Jonathan could ever be, can shove it up her ouya. Pardon my vulgarity, and happy whatever it is you are celebrating.

December 21, 2015

Is this a dagger I see before me?

Betcha never saw this: Paul Lynde and Elizabeth Montgomery as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, from 1966.

December 09, 2015

George Takei on Donald Trump

Actor George Takei, who as a child during WWII was interned with his family in an American concentration camp, takes on Donald Trump. Below are clips from his new show about the internment camps, Allegiance.

December 06, 2015

60th anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycott


"If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong."
- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Holt Street Baptist Church, Dec. 5, 1955.

December 02, 2015

Domestic Terror and GOP Denial

‘El sueño de la razon produce monstruos / The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’ by Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Image public domain)

My new Blade column takes on several Republican candidates and their inflammatory and irrational statements. I don't normally suggest illustrations to my editor, but I did this time, and he used it--a 1799 etching by Francisco Goya, from the same decade that saw the adoption of the Bill of Rights. (Thanks, Kevin Naff.) Our Founders' Enlightenment values are under assault. Stay woke!

Here's an excerpt:

If America is really as fragile as the fear mongers among us claim, then we are dead already.

Not being dead, you and I can push back against the Trumps, Cruzes, Fiorinas, and Rubios. There is an angry minority in this country that supports white supremacy and running everyone else's lives while touting small-government conservatism. They are louder of late not due to greater numbers, but because opportunists dredged them up from the bottom of the pond--and because their smartphones give them greater reach than their fathers. They are entitled to their ugly opinions, but not to endanger the public safety.

Statements by Republican presidential candidates read like entries from a psychiatrist's log in Bedlam. Donald Trump doubles down on his lie about thousands of Arabs in Jersey City celebrating the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He touts bogus racist crime stats. He mocks a reporter's disability, then says he doesn't know the guy, despite having known him for years. Marco Rubio says to ignore SCOTUS on marriage because "God's rules always win." How does his God get to overrule mine?

Carly Fiorina denies any link between her inflammatory lies about Planned Parenthood and the Black Friday killings in Colorado. She draws a false equivalence between Black Lives Matter protesters and people who bomb abortion clinics. Ted Cruz deflects a reporter's question about clinic shooter Robert Lewis Dear's cry, "No more baby parts!" (which echoes David Daleiden's fraudulent infanticide video), by seizing on a dubious claim from the right-wing blogosphere that Dear was a "transgendered [sic] leftist activist." The same fever swamp yielded the claim that Michelle Obama is really a man.

Read the whole thing here.

CNN: 'Adolph Hitler, when he first rose to power, was elected'

New documentary reveals Reagan administration's indifference to AIDS

A chronicle of a grim time.

In February of this year, Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed reported on documents unearthed by Mattachine Society of Washington researchers showing that Nancy Reagan turned down a request by her friend Rock Hudson for help nine weeks before his death. It was a simple request for help in transferring to another hospital.

December 01, 2015

Images that span three decades of activism in the fight against AIDS

Marco Rubio: 9/11 Was God's Plan (Video)

On the other hand, it appears less and less likely that Sen. Rubio becoming president is part of God's plan.

How history got the Rosa Parks story wrong

November 29, 2015

Trumbo tells story of the Hollywood blacklist

Just saw this. Fine film. All too timely.

November 25, 2015

President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Sondheim, Spielberg, Streisand were among this year's honorees. It was good to see William Ruckelshaus honored; he resigned as Deputy Attorney General rather than obey President Nixon's order to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor, on Saturday, October 20, 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned before him. That was called the Saturday Night Massacre, and was the beginning of the end for Nixon. Among many other posts, Ruckelshaus also helmed the Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday's honor was a reminder of a time when public servants could put their country before their party.

November 24, 2015

The truth about Marion Barry


Former DC Mayor Marion Barry's hagiographers were at it again yesterday on the anniversary of his death, and I am calling them on their bullshit.

When Marion was still with us I always maintained cordial dealings with him, because he was still an elected official. No good would have been served by burning that bridge, though he himself burned many. But that is behind us. We are strong enough, all of us, to confront the truth.

Marion was a smart and politically gifted man. But his utter lack of personal discipline brought discredit to the District and gave comfort to those bent on denying us self-determination. He saddled us with the Financial Control Board. He made racist statements about Asian shop owners. He so abused earmarks to reward his friends that the Council abolished them. He was the most piggish womanizer. He led an anti-gay chant at a rally organized by Bishop Harry Jackson. Just 28 months ago, this was the headline: "Marion Barry Fined And Censured By D.C.'s Ethics Board Over Gifts From Contractors."

He set himself up for a fourth "comeback" term as mayor by running against his most loyal ally on the Council, Mrs. Rolark. After his years as Ward 8 councilmember, it remains the poorest ward; but not a tiny shred of that is ever put on him by his hagiographers. That was his way--treating every bit of every failure as entirely other people's fault. If that is true, what did he keep running for? He used people.

He has been gone a year. Yet some people cling to fantasy nonsense about his greatness, largely based on things he did in the late 1970s and early 1980s and refusing to confront how he went off the rails. The denial is pathological. The pandering by others is pathetic. It is time to stop this nonsense. Marion did some good things. But the Mayor-for-Life glorification requires a highly selective memory. Who is helped by this? Nobody, certainly not his troubled son who was exploited by people who wanted to create a Barry dynasty. It is time to move on for the sake of all of the city, including and especially its most downtrodden.

November 20, 2015

France's long history in Mali

November 15, 2015

'We will not walk in fear'


"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our own history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men."
- Edward R. Murrow, 1954

November 14, 2015

On Veterans Day, LGBT troops honor two of their own

From the Air Force Times.

November 11, 2015

Rosendall eulogizes Kameny at LGBT Veterans Day observance


(Photo courtesy LeonardMatlovich.com)

Here are the remarks I delivered this morning at the dedication of Frank Kameny's headstone, which is near the grave of Leonard Matlovich in Congressional Cemetery, as part of an LGBT Veterans Day observance. It began at 11 am.

Tribute to Frank Kameny
by GLAA President Rick Rosendall
LGBT Veterans Day Observance
Congressional Cemetery
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

[Impromptu preface: Good morning. I prayed to the Goddess for sunshine. I think she smiled on my request because last night the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance signed on to the NARAL letter asking the Justice Department to investigate the clinic bombings as acts of domestic terrorism. So thanks for the sunshine.]

Frank Kameny considered nothing sacred. Challenging orthodoxy was his life's work. Yet we stand on what many consider sacred ground. There is no great conflict. Honoring the dead can simply involve recognizing that our every step touches the stuff of those who preceded us. Frank confronted the mystery of the universe with the tools and habits of a scientist, which stood him in good stead after intolerance cut short his career as an astronomer.

His biographer David Carter will shortly remind us of Frank’s exhortations to embrace and celebrate who we are and demand our full and equal rights as citizens.

We will touch with pride the headstone to which Frank was entitled as a veteran. He resented having to lie to fight for his country in World War II. But thanks to his long and pioneering service on the domestic front afterwards, no one has to tell that lie again. His historic role is suggested by the footstone bearing the affirmation for which he wanted to be remembered: "Gay Is Good."

The magnitude of Frank's contributions compelled some of us to help preserve his papers in our great national library whose collection was begun by the man who wrote the most liberating words in history, that all men are created equal. Our long struggle to make our country live up to that creed is ongoing. A new generation has taken up the standard that Leonard and Frank and countless others left behind.

My first visit here was in 1988 for Leonard’s burial, after my colleagues and I in the Gay Men’s Chorus sang for him and followed his caisson. We knew Leonard from his volunteer work for the chorus. Frank spoke here that day. Whether these warriors are honored in polished granite or a simple soldier’s headstone, their service will shine for all who pass here.

After Frank’s death, Charles Francis and I revived the Mattachine Society of Washington, which Frank had allowed to lapse. The new Mattachine’s mission is archive activism. It works to rescue the LGBT history that mainstream historians erased. The legacy of Frank and our other forebears will not be forgotten. We and generations unborn will make sure of it.

The legal dispute that made these past four years such a long goodbye has finally been resolved in time for Armistice Day. Now, Frank, the respect you earned is memorialized by the nation for whose values you fought. We commit you to the ages.

November 10, 2015

New details surface in 1992 murder of gay sailor

Thanks to Michael Petrelis for his faithful work on this 23-year-old case in pursuit of justice. He just called me from San Francisco to thank GLAA for our moral and financial support of his early efforts back then. I remember he traveled to where the murder occurred in Japan. (Note: the second paragraph includes a link to the 900-page Naval investigative report.)

November 11 - LGBT Veterans Day observance at Congressional Cemetery

LGBT Veterans Day graphic 2015

This year’s LGBT Veterans Day observance has extra meaning as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Frank Kameny and Leonard Matlovich starting the formal fight against the ban on gays in the military. A Veterans Administration memorial for Frank, a WWII combat veteran, will be dedicated.

Participants include Gordon O. Tanner, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of the Air Force; Joe Zuniga, who had been the Sixth Army Soldier of the Year before outing himself in 1993 to fight the ban; and Stonewall author David Carter who is writing a biography of Frank. Music will be provided by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. Paul Kuntzler, who was a member of the Mattachine Society of Washington with Frank in the 1960s before co-founding GLAA (then GAA) in 1971, will speak, as will I.

The event is free and open to the public. It is set for 11 am on Wednesday, November 11 at the Matlovich gravesite in Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E Street SE near the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. Please join us.

It will be a relief finally to have Frank's memorial in place after nearly four years of gratuitous legal wrangling. It is in what has become informally known as a gay neighborhood in the cemetery, not only adjacent to the Matlovich grave but near the graves of other gay veterans as well as those of the notoriously homophobic former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and his longtime companion Clyde Tolson.

November 06, 2015

No, we are not dropping the T

A transgender friend alerted me last night to the Change.org petition. Here is my short comment:

No. Over thousands of LGBT activists' dead bodies will this exclusion ever happen. For us to buy the "male predators in dresses" slander, or allow it to stand, would be like the turkey inviting the cook to lunch. As Ben Franklin said, "Let us hang together, for surely we will hang separately."

Regarding Stonewall, I recommend the book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter.

October 25, 2015

This day is called the Feast of Crispian

The odds may be against you. Fear not.

October 22, 2015

The dangerous motivation behind Netanyahu's Holocaust revisionism

October 21, 2015

Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust

As our friend Dana Beyer succinctly put it, "The depths to which this man will sink."

October 15, 2015

Blade editor Naff: Let Kameny rest in peace

Blade editor Kevin Naff criticizes the estate of Frank Kameny.

October 12, 2015

Plans for a #FrankKameny memorial remain stalled on the 4th anniversary of his death

Somehow, the continued lack of a memorial for our late colleague and gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny is portrayed as the fault of anyone and everyone other than the estate, which sued several people (myself included) who worked pro bono to help Frank in his final years. After I won my case, I ended my involvement in the matter. There could have been a wonderful memorial for Frank in Congressional Cemetery.

Here are the remarks I prepared in early 2012 for what was to have been the interment of Frank's ashes at Congressional Cemetery. When that fell through, I gave the remarks at GLAA's anniversary reception in April of that year.

I am grateful to have participated with Charles Francis and Bob Witeck in the Kameny Papers Project that helped preserved Frank's papers at the Library of Congress, and several of his 1965 White House picket signs at the Smithsonian. I am also honored to have helped Charles relaunch the Mattachine Society of Washington as an archive activism project, which has uncovered invaluable historical records with the help of Mattachine's pro bono legal counsel, McDermott Will & Emery. Those documents led to the creation of amicus briefs in recent marriage equality cases, and the 30-minute documentary Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays.

Meanwhile, if the Kameny Estate recognizes the importance of having a memorial for Frank, it can decide to have a moment of grace, stop blaming, and start cooperating to make it happen. I am very sad that the memorial site at Congressional has not happened. I content myself with the preservation of Frank's papers and artifacts for current and future scholars.

October 09, 2015

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day weekend

September 24, 2015

The Trouble with Stonewall: Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster movie

Randy Shulman's blistering review of Stonewall. Below, Brian T. Carney's review for the Blade.

Gay theology pioneer John McNeill dies


Gay theology pioneer Fr. John McNeill has died. New Ways Ministry reports:

New Ways Ministry is greatly saddened at learning of the passing of John McNeill, the first Catholic theologian to critique and challenge the magisterium’s condemnation of same-gender sexual relationships. At the same time, we are deeply grateful to God for the courageous witness and ministry of this prophet, who never lost his faith or his courage despite being severely penalized and ostracized by the Vatican.

John McNeill’s landmark 1976 book, The Church and the Homosexual, was the first Catholic theological work to dispute the official Catholic moral prohibition of same-gender sexual activity and relationships. A Jesuit priest at the time, McNeill was also a licensed psychotherapist who also held a doctorate in theology. IN the book, he used arguments from both the human sciences and the Catholic scholarly tradition to point out that the prohibition was pastorally harmful and theologically incorrect.

Rest in peace, Fr. McNeill.

September 15, 2015

Four little girls

52 years ago today, racist murderers committed an act of domestic terror in Birmingham. (Warning: this powerful recreation by Ava DuVernay from "Selma" is shocking and heartbreaking. It is also a sacred act of remembrance. It begins with MLK's Nobel ceremony 15 months later in Oslo.) Here is to the four little girls.