Vol. 1 No. 3
Originally published in the Dec. 1965 issue of Tangents
LOS ANGELES—Speaking at the 17th annual meeting of the California Academy of General Practice, gynecologist Earle M. Marsh said that in nature there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” sex act. If they want to do their patients the most good, doctors should take the scientific and biological view, in which no sexual activity is “unnatural.” The doctor should be incapable of being shocked and emotionally upset by his patient’s confidences. Unluckily, “doctors are as poorly educated about sex and as much in the dark as other people. Still, they are the ones most often asked for advice about it.”
NEW YORK—Others often asked about it are the newspaper advice columnists. And if doctors are ignorant and illiberal on the subject, these pulp-paper oracles are more so. For example, in a recent column. Dr. Crane answers the questions of an unhappy mother about her son, discharged from the Navy for homosexual acts, with the following advice:
Parents and friends can no more change a homosexual than they can change a chronic alcoholic. In both bad habits, the victim must take stock of himself; then firmly resolve and desire to break off with the past had habits and adopt better ones.
A homosexual can change into a heterosexual personality if he will steadfastly date a member of the opposite sex and force himself to pay court to her. “If you go through the proper motions,” is an axiom of psychology, “then you will begin to feel the corresponding emotions.”
Even the most ignorant male hustler knows better than this, on the evidence of the number of his customers who are married men with children. Dr. Crane’s ignorance would be merely laughable if one did not realize how much misery trying to follow his advice is going to cost the young man in question and the girl he chooses.
And while superficially more amusing, Ann Landers is even less forgivable than Dr. Crane. A mother who divorced her husband because he was homosexual (trying to adjust on the advice of Dr. Crane, perhaps?) now finds that her 17 year old son keeps pictures of nude young men under his mattress. She asks, can homosexuality be inherited? Does Ann Landers admit that she doesn’t know, that science has no answer? Hell, no. Ann glibly replies: “No it is a psychological disturbance and it calls for professional treatment. Ask your family doctor to suggest a counselor for the boy.” Plainly Ann has more faith in doctors than has Dr. Earle M. Marsh.
MONTREAL, CANADA—But the newspapers aren’t all bad. Here is a quote from the Montreal Star. The words are those of Lady Gaitskell: “If men had babies they would be less squeamish about their bodies and perhaps less insistent about their disgust at homosexual behavior.”
SAN FRANCISCO—Don C. Gibbons, San Francisco State College sociology teacher, in late October conducted a research project , interviewing 353 bay area adults of the middle income group. “Nearly 56 percent agreed,” he reports, “that the laws should be changed so that homosexual conduct between consenting adults would be legal. But for no discernible reason, 64.3 percent agreed that the licenses of ‘gay bars’ should be revoked—and 63.5 percent said that it’s a person’s duty to report individuals suspected of homosexual conduct to the police.”
Sounds as if the slogan is catching on, but the motive behind it is not understood.
AUSTIN, TEXAS—If so little enlightenment can still exist in San Francisco, despite Mattachine, Glide, The Council on Religion and the Homosexual, and The Society for Individual Rights (SIR)—despite lectures, forums, brochures and broadcasts—imagine, if the following from the Austin American reflects Texas opinion, what 353 middle income adults from the Lone Star State would tell pollster Gibbons.
Writes the American:
Widespread homosexuality was described as the most critical matter to come to the attention of the grand jury in its three-month session concluded…September 30…. The ranks of the teenage members of society have been invaded by homosexuals, the grand jury said. “We have evidence of over 100 juveniles who have been involved…and there has been no proper prosecution of this horrible crime.”
Clearly, the message of Norman Browns’ Life Against Death, of the new Kinsey report on Sexual Offenders, of Crimes without Victims, In Defense of Homosexuality, and Totempole has not reached the members of the Austin grand jury, not when a body of such power can still label homosexuality a “horrible crime.”
NEW YORK—The Nation, the most venerable of U.S. liberal weeklies, carried on November 8 a fine editorial, “Justice for Homosexuals.” It pleads sharply for law reform, citing the late Justice Learned Hand and the Kinsey Sex Offenders report’s recommendations. It is especially outspoken in its condemnation of the hostile attitude of San Francisco police to the efforts of the clergymen of The Council on Religion and the Homosexual to correct social and legal injustices suffered by homosexuals. An officer is quoted as saying: “I never thought I’d see the day when ministers helped queers.” The Nation praises the C.R.H. brochure, “A Brief of Injustices.” “It should be read by every citizen who would like to see this country relieved of a legal abomination.” Tangents welcomes the very influential support of The Nation in the growing and widening movement for homosexual acceptance. It has to be remembered that it takes a special brand of courage for heterosexuals to place themselves firmly on the side of a very unpopular and misunderstood cause. This ought to give homosexuals themselves more courage.
BERKELEY, CALIF.—The uneasy campus of the University of California, subject of so much national publicity for a variety of rebellious activities on the part of its students, appears far from settling down. The Campus Sexual Freedom Forum in October sponsored two different lectures on aspects of homosexuality with speakers from SIR, for which the University newspaper carried ads. It co-operated with the Cal Committee to Legalize Abortion to bring speakers on this subject to the camp- us. And it sponsored a lecture by Dr. Alberta Parker of the Berkeley Health Department on the alarming growth of venereal disease in the area—student cases of Gonorrhea up from 109 in 1959 to 560 this year! Students had so many questions for Dr. Parker and for Public Health Service epidemiologist Andrew Andeweil that there was no time left for a third scheduled speaker… Yet, despite its obviously well-developed sense of civic responsibility, when the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum tried to open a bank account at the University Branch of the Wells Fargo Bank, its chairman, Larry Baldwin was told, “Any organization with a name including words like ‘Sexual Freedom’ is simply too controversial.” But Baldwin doesn’t blame the bank. “It’s not Wells Fargo’s fault but society’s,” he said. “People are immature and closed minded but we will respond with love and understanding.”
PRINCETON, N.J.—Resuhs of a recent Gallup survey show that nearly half the American people “have seen or read [!] books which they think should not be sold, and a clear majority (58 percent) believes that laws regarding the kind of books that can be sold are not strict enough. Only a scant four percent of the public believes such laws are ‘too strict.’”
Tangents wonders when the pollsters are going to get around to devising means of detecting what the people they question really believe, instead of what they say they believe, in subject areas as controversial as sex. Come to think of it, is there any other area as controversial as that of sex?
News and Views—Things grew pretty lively in the wee small hours on a recent Sunday night at a club called Rucelio’s on Peachtree Road in Atlanta, and 79 male and six female revelers were hauled away on disorderly conduct charges. It might not have happened had not the proprietor made the mistake of asking detectives not only to pay for their set-ups but to buy membership cards in the club. He was arrested for “operating a dive”—which we call nice legal terminology. “There were men dancing with each other and hugging and kissing each other,” the officers reported. It’s hell to be a wallflower! … A prisoner up in Salem, Oregon, entered the state penitentiary three years ago as Gene, a male sex offender. He emerged last month as—no, not a new man—a new woman, Jean by name. Prison authorities approved the sex change, which took place in the prison surgery. Gene’s soprano voice, feminine mannerisms and fussy habits, which tended to get on her fellow prisoners nerves, seem perfectly appropriate to Jean. She calls the surgical change the culmination of a lifetime search for “an identity.” Ironical that all U.S. laws forbid such operations and that those men desperate for them must go to prison in order to have this need fulfilled … On the lighter side, in Nottingham, England, beauty contest judges were about to give second prize to a buxom blonde listed as Nancy Harwood—but Nancy let out a loud whoop, all male. Shaking with laughter, the blond announced he really was Nigel Harwood, Nottingham University student. “I was amazed that I got away with it. I had an extra close shave, piled on makeup and tried to walk like a girl.” Said Ann Mardles, who ended up with the second prize after Nigel withdrew from competition: “Nigel normally wears his hair long, and under all that makeup, none of his friends recognized him.” Nigel wore a tight skirt, a sweater, a bra stuffed with paper, and black net stockings. Said Malcolm Turner, model agency owner and one of the contest judges, “I honestly thought Nigel was an at- tractive girl student with a very eye-catching figure.” Who knows—maybe so did Nigel!