612 posts categorized "History"

July 31, 2015

'Synthetic marijuana' is nothing like marijuana (so stop calling it that)

July 29, 2015

Furies Collective house nominated for historic landmark status

Interesting development on Capitol Hill. For more information on The Furies, visit Wikipedia and the Rainbow History Project.

(Hat tip: Tim Krepp)

July 20, 2015

The Guardian: Open up the royal archives

I have never understood nor sympathized with the fetish for the British royals on the part of some Americans. But in any case, the coziness that existed between Edward VIII and Hitler is well established. The video of the current monarch as a child giving a Nazi salute is embarrassing, but no reasonable person is going to blame a 6-year-old princess for making a gesture at the instigation of her uncle. The archives should be open. There should be more embarrassment over the persistence of a hereditary monarchy, which will probably survive anything because the Brits cling to it to justify inflating their nation’s importance. This is odd, since the imperial heritage that makes them moist with pride includes the Opium War, the Amritsar Massacre, and Boer concentration camps.

July 16, 2015

John Lewis Recreates Selma march at Comic-Con in full costume

I love this.

July 15, 2015

Log Cabin cynically attacks Obama over Iran nuclear deal

Gregory Angelo says, “Log Cabin Republicans shares the grave concerns about this deal expressed by our allies in Congress." Really? Your allies? The loudest critics in Congress, who condemned the agreement reflexively without bothering to read it, included Speaker Boehner, the quasi-treasonous Sen. Tom Cotton, and the revolting closet case Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose relentless and reckless warmongering seems driven by a need to prove he is a real man. Fine company you are keeping.

The notion that nothing should be done until and unless everything can be done is just as foolish coming from Log Cabin as it was coming from the leftists in 2009 who demanded a single, comprehensive LGBT equality bill immediately--which showed no understanding for the structure and politics of Congress with its multiple committees and power centers, or the different degrees of ripeness of different efforts; nor did it show respect for the many hard-working activists who labor year-in and year-out laying the groundwork for progress. Just "Give us everything right now!" like a baby screaming in a high chair. To suggest that a complex and difficult multilateral nuclear agreement should be halted unless every other concern is simultaneously resolved is sabotage, not serious advocacy.

President Obama is far and away the most pro-gay president in American history. By contrast, his Republican predecessor in 2004 endorsed the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. On May 9, 2012, after Obama publicly endorsed marriage equality, Log Cabin could not pause from its petty partisan sniping for an hour to celebrate the historic breakthrough of the President of the United States taking such a step. Instead, demonstrating that LGBT equality always comes second for Log Cabin, they belittled the president and boasted of how former Vice President Cheney was ahead of him--despite Cheney and his gay daughter having worked to re-elect President Bush after his call for us to be written out of the Constitution. At least Ken Mehlman has apologized for his role in that, and worked on pro-gay Supreme Court briefs.

Notwithstanding Mehlman's efforts, the GOP remains overwhelmingly homophobic. Instead of throwing stones in its glass house, Log Cabin should be working harder to get its so-called allies in Congress to support pro-LGBT measures here at home, and should be battling the virulent bigotry coming from its party's clown car of presidential candidates. And instead of insulting our intelligence with its pinkwashing stance beside the cynical and extreme Bibi Netanyahu, it should demand that he replace his ambassador to Washington with a serious diplomat.

Finally, I would like to note that the fictional Uncle Tom, while no Nat Turner, sacrificed his own life to help a slave girl escape to freedom. While I sympathize with others who criticize Log Cabin, there is no need to insult Uncle Tom by comparing him to moral cowards.

July 14, 2015

NAACP: Let's sand blast Confederate carvings off Georgia mountain

Mandela let the Voortrekker Monument remain. Instead of acting like the Taliban in the Bamiyan Valley, let's focus on stopping police from murdering unarmed black folks.

'No advice on killing mockingbirds'

Memories of the man who inspired Atticus Finch

July 09, 2015

'Take this symbol of hate off these grounds'

Both houses of the South Carolina have voted by overwhelming majorities to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. WIST News reports.

Above, Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne, a descendant of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, spoke passionately last night during debate on the removal bill.

July 06, 2015

SC senate votes 37-3 to remove Confederate battle flag

The South Carolina senate today, in the second of three required votes, voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. The lower house of the legislature is also expected to act this week.

Today I heard Langston Hughes being read in the South Carolina senate. The blood of the Mother Emanuel martyrs is buying an extraordinary moment of grace. The step the senators are about to take, the removal of a flag, will open the way to other steps. It will not magically end the hate (indeed, there were some less-than-enlightened comments on the senate floor today, including anti-gay comments), but it will mark a significant political shift. The name of Clem Pinckney is much on his colleagues' lips. If only we could have him back. His state needs him. May his memory continue to lift his state and nation.

July 01, 2015

The President Sings of Grace

(David Goldman/AP Photo)

My latest column looks at the momentous events of last week and at how justice comes from recognition, as the president put it, of ourselves in each other. Here's a portion:

President Obama had the best week of his career last week, with victories on trade, fair housing, healthcare and marriage equality that cemented his legacy. But instead of taking a victory lap, he capped his week with a eulogy in the form of a sermon on grace.

Black churches have figured prominently in my thoughts lately. On Stonewall Sunday, going through my Twitter feed, I found a joint Father's Day sermon delivered the week before by the Revs. Otis Moss II and III at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In addition to being LGBT-affirming, Trinity is famous for its tradition of prophetic preaching, thanks to video loops of its previous pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that roiled the 2008 presidential campaign.

Near the close of Justice Anthony Kennedy's marriage opinion, he gave a nod to Jim Obergefell: "As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death." Outside the court, Obergefell held a photo of his late husband and took a call from the president. The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," tacitly embracing the words above the court's entrance: "Equal Justice Under Law."

The act of domestic terror that took the president to South Carolina later that day was intended by its perpetrator to start a race war. As Obama noted, however, when Dylann Roof murdered pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney and eight other members of Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E. Church at a Bible study meeting, he did not account for the power of grace.

Read the whole thing here.

June 30, 2015

Charles M. Blow: My murdered cousin had a name

An eloquent piece that reminds us of those who did not live to see this day, and of the disparate impact of hatred.

June 26, 2015

President Obama's eulogy for Clementa Pinckney


June 24, 2015


June 23, 2015

Kameny inducted into Labor Hall of Honor

On Tuesday I joined hundreds of other LGBT activists and federal employees at the U.S. Department of Labor for the induction of our late colleague and gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny into the Labor Hall of Honor. It was very gratifying to witness this well-earned recognition. Frank's fellow Mattachine Society of Washington veteran Paul Kuntzler, a co-founder of GLAA, was in attendance and received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd. Thanks to the staff at DOL for the gracious ceremony, including Labor Secretary Tom Perez, as well as Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

(Photo of Rick Rosendall by Michael Beer)

A look at calls to remove confederate symbols across the South

McAuliffe orders Confederate flag off Virginia license plates

June 18, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Take down the Confederate Flag. Now.

Ta-Nehisi is right.

Clarence Thomas upholds Texas's right to bar Confederate flag on license plates

Every once in a while, Justice Thomas rediscovers his soul and does the right thing.

June 16, 2015

New Ways addresses pope’s message of ‘complementarity’

(Photo by Associated Press)

Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry writes:

Pope Francis supported heterosexual complementarity in a speech on Sunday given to 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a pastoral conference for the Diocese of Rome.

Though he did not mention lesbian and gay couples, the timing of the speech seemed significant to some since it came a day after tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of the Eternal City to celebrate LGBT Pride and to call for marriage equality in Italy....

It has become part of Francis’ rhetorical style not to criticize lesbian and gay couples directly, but to indirectly cast judgement on them by effusively praising heterosexual complementarity. Yet, his remarks cast aspersions on more than lesbian and gay couples. In praising heterosexual complementarity as the preferred norm for marriage and child-rearing, he is also sending harmful messages to those in heterosexual marriages where abuse occurs, as well as to single-parent families.

Francis’ remark that gender differences are “an integral part of being human” ignores the fact that decades of scientific and social scientific research has shown that what people consider “natural” gender differences are actually the result of cultural biases and stereotypes.

As GayChristian101 points out, the idea of complementarity comes from Plato, who included same-sex couples.

King John and Magna Carta

This reminds me of a scene from The Lion in Winter:

John: My God, if I went up in flames, there’s not a living soul who’d pee on me to put the fire out.

Richard: Let’s strike a flint and see.

June 15, 2015

Magna Carta at 800

Sarah Lyall at NYT discusses the enduring legacy of the great British document.

June 13, 2015

Gotti, guns & gay bars: Inside NYC's mob history

June 05, 2015


It is most gratifying this LGBT Pride Month to see our late friend and colleague Frank Kameny being honored with a place in the Labor Hall of Honor.

May 28, 2015

July 2-5 in Philadelphia - LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration

Fifty years ago, activists Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny organized an Annual Reminder Day of picketing in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This video touts the commemorative events being planned.

May 27, 2015

Kameny to be inducted into Labor Hall of Honor

I've known this was in the offing. Very happy it's official.

The Einstein of Sex - Magnus Hirschfeld

May 20, 2015

Freedom Riders, 54 years ago today

Here's to real American heroes, and to a new generation taking up their unfinished work.

May 15, 2015

Buried in Baltimore: unraveling an old cover-up of child rape and murder

A conspiracy by police and clergy to cover up child rapes and a murder by a Baltimore high school chaplain is unraveled decades later by alumna of the school.

May 06, 2015

May 14 - Rainbow History Project Community Pioneers Reception


For Immediate Release

2015 LGBT Community Pioneers Reception May 14

The Rainbow History Project will recognize a dozen LGBT Community Pioneers at a reception on Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 pm at the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. These tenacious and creative individuals are being recognized for their instrumental roles in establishing and sustaining important institutions in the DC LGBT community. The event provides an opportunity for the community to thank them.

The 2015 Community Pioneers are:

  • Jonathan Blumenthal and Eric Cohen, Founders of Burgundy Crescent Volunteers
  • Ruby Corado, Transgender activist and Founder of Casa Ruby
  • Wallace Corbett, AIDS educator
  • Kathleen DeBold, Mautner Project and Lambda Literary Awards Administrator
  • Atul Garg and Yassir Islam, Founders of KhushDC
  • Annette “Chi” Hughes, Founding Member of Sapphire Sapphos and AIDS educator
  • Susan Silber, Trailblazer in LGBT–friendly employment and family law in the DC area
  • Jill Strachan, Leader of local LGBT arts organizations
  • Michele Zavos, Groundbreaker in LGBT-friendly family and HIV/AIDS law in the DC area

The RHP also will recognize the work of a deceased community ally:

  • Annie Kaylor, Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse

The Community Pioneers reception provides an opportunity to meet the Pioneers. A commemorative booklet featuring biographies of the Pioneers and their photos will be distributed at the event.

The Community Pioneers reception is free and open to the public. RSVPs are appreciated but not required. RSVP at events@rainbowhistory.org.

The Rainbow History Project has honored Community Pioneers since 2003. You can read about the 62 Community Pioneers previously recognized at

Each of the Pioneers has provided the Rainbow History Project with an oral history detailing their lives in Washington, the forces that led them to work on behalf of the LGBT community, and their accomplishments as well as the obstacles they sought to overcome. In itself, the Community Pioneers collection provides a rich and ongoing effort to document a half-century of important efforts in the local struggle to advance the rights of LGBT people.

The Community Pioneers reception is made possible in part by a grant from Brother Help Thyself. BHT also has funded Rainbow History purchases of a digital camera and recording equipment that have significantly facilitated the collection and dissemination of important historical community information.

Now in its fifteenth year, the Rainbow History Project is dedicated to preserving our community’s memory. Our website has an extensive collection of historically significant images and documents, including summaries of our oral histories collection. Rainbow History holds periodic panels and workshops focused on specific aspects of metropolitan DC LGBT community history, conducts walking tours, and compiles publications discussing historic DC LGBT events and locales. Rainbow History is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and invites all interested individuals to join us.

For more information contact Chair Chuck Goldfarb at Chuck@rainbowhistory.org or 202-431-9139.

When Police Are Outside Agitators

Denmark, still protecting an SS doctor

This is kind of amazing. I thought they would all have been dead by now.

May 01, 2015

Recovering the Histories of LGBT Civil Servants

Charles Francis shares this video by McDermott Will & Emery about the Mattachine Society's archive activism.

America's history of anti-black race riots

April 28, 2015

Ghosts in the Courtroom


On this momentous day at SCOTUS, I reprise my look at the superb results of the Mattachine Society's archive activism, embodied in its amicus brief on the government's history of anti-gay animus. Kudos to Charles Francis for his indefatigable efforts, and to McDermott Will & Emery for their invaluable help.

April 17, 2015

Charles Francis: Best way to remember first White House protests


In today's Blade, Mattachine Society of Washington President Charles Francis, marking today's 50th anniversary of the first gay picket outside the White House, describes the continuing struggle to unearth the history of anti-gay persecution:

[I]t is amazing after 50 years how much we still do not know about what was actually happening to these pioneers and the untold thousands of other gay men and lesbians whose careers and lives were destroyed by federal persecution. For example, most of the personal papers of the U.S. Civil Service Commission Chairman John W. Macy—the leader of the government’s gay ban at what is now the Office of Personnel Management — today remain unavailable to researchers at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin....

Working with our pro bono legal counsel McDermott, Will & Emery, The Mattachine Society of Washington has learned that John Macy’s personal papers are not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. He donated them to the National Archives prior to the passage of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 that governs the official records of presidents created or received after 1981. In this way, John Macy to this day has been able to tie up his personal papers with restrictions supposedly to protect the privacy of individuals....

These boxes include the 1965/1966 period when Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Paul Kuntzler, Lilli Vincenz, Kay Lahusen, Jack Nichols and others stood outside the White House fence demanding a meeting. Working with the National Archives, whose archivists understand the importance of the sealed boxes of gay and lesbian history, let’s open up the Macy papers as the best way to honor the men and women who took their case to the American people on a sidewalk with pickets, April 17, 1965. Frank would love it.

Also in today's Blade on the 50th anniversary of the first gay WH protests:

Activists to mark 50th anniversary of first gay rights protests

April 15, 2015

Larry Kramer's latest: 'debasing and vile'

Mattachine Society of Washington President Charles Francis writes of this NYT book review:

The deification of Larry Kramer continues. His latest novel is no history: it is in fact a debasing and vile telling of American history through an obsession of his: the word "shit" beginning in the "penis of America", Florida, with Florida monkeys and the "anus of America", the Everglades. I am not making this up. This is not Annette Gordon-Reed uncovering with meticulous research the "Hemingses of Monticello". Kramer says, "tough shit" in the novel if you ask questions or want more.

Yes. Here is my Nov. 2011 column on Kramer.

April 03, 2015

Sarah Brady dies at 73

One evening thirty years ago, as I approached La Fonda Restaurant at 17th and R Streets NW (which has been gone for twenty years now), a friend and I saw White House press secretary Jim Brady being helped down the few steps into the restaurant and back into his wheelchair by his wife Sarah and a friend. Mrs. Brady urged us to go ahead of them. We said we were in no hurry, and to take their time. I remember the exact day in 1981 when Jim was gravely injured by a bullet from John Hinckley meant for President Reagan, because it was my 25th birthday. The Bradys received bipartisan respect from the people of Washington. No public servant should have to face gunfire. And the Bradys were nice people.

The 1993 Brady Act required background checks on firearm purchasers. In later years, politics shifted to the point where even background checks were blocked. America's Wild West infatuation with guns has only gotten worse. It is a sad thing to contemplate as we mark Sara Brady's passing. Her husband died eight months ago. May they both rest in peace.

March 26, 2015

Go to a revolution and cure your writer's block

Salman Rushdie delightfully recounts how he cured his writer's block in 1986 by going to a revolution. The punchline is great even though you can see it coming a mile off.