News and Views
Vol. 1 No. 1
Originally published in the October 1965 issue of Tangents
OTTAWA, CANADA—Canada now has a Council on Religion and the Homosexual. Pattern of its growth was somewhat different from that of the San Francisco organization of the same name [see Tangents, July ONE]. There the clergy took the lead in the formation of the group. In Canada the homosexuals had expressed to local clergymen concern for their position in the face of law and social opinion. The ministers supported formation of the council from “a Christian desire to see justice established and love extended to a group which so often suffers unfairly.”
Chairman of the group, Reverend Philip Rowswell, said “It is deplorable that homosexuals who are making a real contribution to society in all walks of life must live in constant fear for their jobs, social position and reputation.”
Membership in the council is open to anyone over 21 regardless of sexual orientation. Its purposes are broad. It means to develop “a continuing dialogue between the Church and homosexual” through “discussion groups, informal talks with religious organizations, individual counseling…” and “to act as a referral agency for homosexuals in need of professional counseling…to correct general misconceptions, bigotries and prejudices…to encourage enlightened editorial policies in religious and lay publications…”
Not the least of its aims is to encourage formation of similar councils in other parts of Canada. We are pleased to be able to report this news and proud of the courage of both clergymen and homosexuals in Ottawa who have brought such a worthwhile organization into existence. The enlightened attitude shown throughout the proposed constitution of the Canadian Council should serve as a model for all future committees, whether secular or religious, devoted to reconciling society and the homosexual. And may there be many more —and very soon!
CHICAGO—Until recently, the chief virtue of Playboy so far as the homosexuals were concerned was its high camouflage potential. Lying on the coffee table of a he-and-he apartment it served notice to a visiting boss or parent that the two bachelors sharing the place were ordinary, red-blooded American girl-chasers.
But something new has been added. The special ingredient that is going to make the August issue a collector’s item for that part of the gay set capable of laughing at itself, is five-page spread of delightful cartoons by Shel Silverstein drawn on the spot at Fire Island Cherry Grove, “an offshore bohemia where the fruits,” says Playboy, “are unforbidden.”
Silverstein gives the famous campground a fine, witty coverage. He has a keen, satiric eye, lots of tolerance, and a sense of humor about himself. Bearded, bald and handsome, he figures in most of the cartoons. Sample: dancing with a chick: “Gosh, Sally, imagine finding a great-looking girl like you in a place like this! . . . But what do you mean, you’re in drag?!” Photographs accompany the spread—at least one of them unbelieveable [sic] (that girl has to be a girl!). Another cartoon shows Silverstein peering into the baby carriage being wheeled by two faggots. “Actually,” one of them says, “we just use it for carrying groceries—but it sure shakes everyone up!”
But repeating the captions is no way to convey the excellence of these drawings. Beg, borrow or steal a copy of the August Playboy. It will keep you laughing for a long, long time.
LOS ANGELES—“Haven for Homos” is the title of an article in publisher Martin Miller’s new monthly newsmagazine called Now. Because it implies that Britain’s Commons was about to follow the example of the House of Lords and liberalize the laws against homosexuality, the article belongs in the New Yorker’s “Clouded Crystal Ball” department. But all in all the article is a plea boost to the timid legislator wherever he may be.
LONDON—That heterosexuality for pleasure will ever go out of style is doubtful. But science, at an accellerating [sic] pace, is moving mankind toward the day when copulation between male and female for purposes of reproduction will be as obsolete as living in caves. At the Institute of Animal Physiology in Cambridge, England, Dr. B. C. Bhattacharya has announced a high percentage of successes in determining the sex of offspring by means of controlled artificial insemination.
Dr. Bhattacharya’s researches indicate that semen stored in test tubes and refrigerated, tends to separate— the lighter Y chromosome sperms, that produce male offspring, rising to the top, and the heavier X chromosomes, producing female offspring, settling to the bottom. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have made the same discovery.
Experiments with rabbits have borne out the theory that male offspring always result from the insemination of does with sperm from the tops of test tubes, female bunnies from insemination with sperm from the lower end of the glass containers. Results of similar experiments with cattle, whose gestation period is slower, are being awaited. They are, however, expected to prove out.
Dr. Bhattacharya hopes his discovery will alleviate a severe economic problem in his native India, where religion forbids the slaughter of male cattle, and burdens the impoverished economy with the feeding of useless bullocks. The Manchester Guardian believes the good doctor’s work will have far wider repercussions. “Sex determination has proved almost as elusive and charismic [chimeric?] a quest as that for the elixir of life. Nearly 2,000 papers have been published on it in scientific journals, but of all the hundreds of theories… none has so far proved practicable…”
The meaning of Dr. Bhattacharya’s discovery to young parents is of course obvious. They may now chose with reasonable expectation of success the sex of their children. That they will want to do this seems incontestable. In the wake of this change of attitude on the part of the heterosexual population seems certain to follow changes in our puritanical sex laws based on the outworn concept that sex is for procreation only and that sex for pleasure is taboo. And once such changes take place a revision of attitude and legal strictures against homosexuality seems bound to follow.
SAN DIEGO—United Nations correspondent William R. Frye had occasion to visit California recently.
In the July 11 issue of the San Diego Union he comments: “This is the state of the topless female. In San Francisco night spots, it is not just the performers who thrust their pride to the fore. Waitresses, too, get into the act.
“The things they’re wearing on Laguna Beach this season might almost as well be topless, and what is more, they have become so commonplace the men scarcely look anymore.”
Because of boredom? Or possibly writer Frye was observing the wrong contingent of men. At Laguna this is more than possible.
PARIS—The Insider’s Newsletter, a Cowles publication, reported in its section labelled “For Men” on June 28, that authorities in the French capital are saying that Col. Houari Boumedienne took over in Algeria “less out of personal ambition than from exasperation with personal indiscretions committed by the deposed President Ahmed Ben Bella.” Though “tolerated by Arab custom,” Insider’s Newsletter continues, Ben Bella’s homosexual proclivities “were becoming increasingly the talk of foreign capitals. It probably wasn’t mere coincidence that the coup came near the eve of the Afro-Asian Conference, where top foreigners might have been disturbed by what they saw of Ben Bella on Home ground…”
LOS ANGELES—County supervisors here have endorsed a state wide effort to reverse what they charge is the current trend of state pre-emption of local moral laws governing obscenity, pornography, prostitution and “other offenses.” The proposal would restore to local agencies the authority to take action “to establish and enforce adequate standards of decency and morals,” said Supervisor Warren Dorn. Failure to get a succession of blue-nose laws enacted in the state legislature lately has not blunted the eagerness of the neo-puritans to grab the right to tell the rest of us what we may read or how we may take our sex—straight or mixedup. Happily the situation throughout the U.S. at present is that where decisions of state courts have countered local laws the local laws must defer, and where federal courts have countered state laws the same thing follows. But the local decency chapters choose to ignore this fact and though they always meet defeat ultimately, they can cause a lot of misery meantime.
But all the news from the city of smog is not so primitive. Judge Pierson M. Hall, briskly thumbing through the pages of two nudist magazines on July 21 “declared, off-handedly from the bench, ‘They don’t excite me at all.’ As for the sensation-type periodicals he has seen frequently on sale while waiting for trains and planes, the judge commented, with a smile: ‘The only objection I have to them is that they are overpriced…’”
The U. S. Attorneys prosecuting the case alleged the nudist magazines were obscene and lewd and should not be allowed third and fourth class mailing rights. Which plea seems to us to admit of a double standard of morality that is nothing new to those of us who have been analysing [sic] the problem for years. It has been true throughout modern history at least that if you were rich enough you could always get pornography. Only the poor were discriminated against. And while it is true that the EROS prosecution was an exception, it is still a prevalent situation that cheap entertainment, whether magazines, television, movies or comic books is the usual victim of the cleaner-uppers.
STOCKHOLM—Queer things are happening in Sweden. Reports a Reuters correspondent: “Doctors and sociologists have noted a change in young people. They say the actual facial features of boys have become more effeminate. In larger Swedish cities, it is no longer easy to decide which is boy and which is girl at first sight. Hair is the same length, sweeping down to shoulder level, and clothes are often identical.
“This is significant,” said one Stockholm doctor:
I do not believe that the longer hair and the clothes are the only factor. I think that when you really look carefully at the faces of the boys, you will find that they have extremely sensitive faces.
Their cheekbones appear to be higher,” he said. “Their lips are softer and more curved. Their skins are smoother and their noses are more sharply defined, more feminine.
Says Statistics Bureau Director Lars Widen, some of the girls appear to have more masculine faces, although the change is not nearly so pronounced as in boys. Men appear to be taking women’s place as the weaker sex in Sweden both biologically and psychologically.
HOLLYWOOD—The Citizen-News, an oddly puritanical paper to be the only daily in the film colony, congratulated itself on July 28 over the passage of a bill into California law that redefines prostitution to include “any lewd act by persons of the same sex for money, or other consideration.”
Hollywood’s representative in the State Assembly, Charles Conrad, gave credit for the bill’s passage to the Citizen-News, citing especially a series of anti-homosexual articles the paper published last year. These contained many distortions of fact along with much unreasoning prejudice. Their vicious influence is evidently going to haunt California homosexuals for a while longer—at least until an appeals court reverses a conviction under the new law.
Police Chief Parker, predictably, is pleased with the new law. “AB 918…provides for additional controls of the predatory male homosexual,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Peter Pitchess. City Attorney Roger Arnebergh said, “We have finally secured legislation to rid our city of a disgusting situation.”
The voice of reason, always a lonely voice, came from the American Civil Liberties Union. The new legislation, it said, merely places the police in a position to “roust around all citizens wearing long hair and tight pants.”
In Snohomish County, Washington, back in March, a PTA meeting in the township of Esperance was treated to a film titled Perversion for Profit, put out by the Citizens for Decent Literature. In a sensible write-up in the Seattle Magazine the film is written off as based on unsubstantiated statistics. Narrator George Putnam “nationally obscure broadcaster…exploited to the full his audience’s abhorrance [sic] of sexual deviation. Putnam left no room for doubt that a monster was poised over America, fattening on adolescent curiosity, threatening to pervert our youth, and waiting to deliver us all into the clutches of Communism through ‘the overthrow of our Judeo-Christian heritage’.”
Cool heads at the meeting were able to prevent the viewers of the film from accepting its challenge to ban so-called indecent books from library shelves or to take other hysterical and undemocratic actions. But the film is bound to crop up at PTA sessions elsewhere. It can do nothing but harm. Watch for it.
…Know-nothings are still writing advice columns in the newspapers and still advocating the old Freudian “fixation” theory about homosexuality. Dr. George W. Crane went so far recently as to state: “Sex hungers can be changed just as food hungers can be redirected.” And Dr. Douglas Wilson in the Montreal Star says homosexuality results from “perhaps glandular peculiarities or through juvenile experiences.” Some of us live and learn; some of us just live. Too bad the latter seem so often to be the ones banding out free advice.
…For reasons best known to Hugh Hefner, Playboy, along with its Silverstein comic spread, chose in August to print an interview with Robert Shelton, imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Caption under a picture of the talking wizard: “When the President went into the White House and went around turning out the lights, I was puzzled. Then the Jenkins case came along and I understood.”
…Kids are still keeping cool the oldfashioned way out in Albuquerque, and the newspaper printed a picture on July 7 to prove it. Buck naked youngsters romping in the old swimmin’ hole.
…There aren’t as many Navajo Indians as there are homosexuals in the U.S., but they don’t let their being a tiny minority bother them in their fight for their rights. Frank Takes Gun took the problem of the right to use peyote in Navajo religious rites before a Senate subcommittee late in June. This is only the latest chapter in this story. Presumably the fight will go on until it is won.
…Meantime a Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony in mid-July that the Internal Revenue Service is running a school in Washington to teach wire tapping techniques to agents, despite regulations banning use of such investigative methods
…Witnesses as important as Dwight D. Eisenhower are beating the drum for federal birth control legistlation [sic]…. In the land of the luau and the lei a revision of the criminal code to make it conform to that of Illinois is under study and consideration.
…In the land of the luau and the lei a revision of the criminal code to make it conform to that of Illinois is under study and consideration.
…Sacramento state legislators have passed a bill that will seal crime records of underaged offenders in California. Its effect would be that a youth arrested but granted a petition to close his record could answer “no” on a job questionnaire asking if he had ever been arrested.
…While John Osborne, author of Look Back in Anger, Luther and other controversial plays, is having troubles with the Lord Chamberlain about presentation of his latest, A Patriot for Me, which is about homosexuality, affairs of state, transvestism, and even depicts bedroom quarrels between male lovers, our own Tennessee Williams seems to be faring very well, thank you. He arrived in San Francisco to help the Actor’s Workshop there rehearse his play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More. Why? Because John Hancock, the workshop’s director was in the steam room of the New York YMCA when he heard Williams was arriving. He dashed out, dressed, re-entered when Williams was naked. “It was all psychological,” Hancock shrugged. “There I was, fully clothed, even wearing a hat. There he was, crouched miserably in a towel. He just wasn’t in the proper position to say no when I asked him for his play”
…That angel who will soon appear on the Christmas postage stamp is supposed to be Gabriel, but close inspection will reveal that he is really a she — perhaps drawn by Silverstein?
…Time magazine, writing up Gian Carlo Menotti’s Festival of Two Worlds, concludes:
The only shadow that hangs over the festival is its reputation as a haven for homosexuals, though the flutelike piping of high-pitched voices has lessened over the years. Nevertheless Menotti staunchly maintains: “God forbid that we should look into the sexual habits of the participants of an artistic organization. I refuse to test the healthiness of my festival with a moral thermometer.”
Even the Ladies Home Journal is more sophisticated in its attitude toward homosexuals these days than is Time.