Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gay Wedding Redux

We show up in the most amazing places, thanks to today's Internet and our Flickr account. This was on Andrew Sullivan's news blog last Friday (May 25), a picture from our wedding 7 years ago! Our big gay (Reform) Jewish wedding was on Father's Day, June 19, 2005. 
Ed and Eddie's gay Jewish Wedding.
Happy Anniversary to us!!

Link to story:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

List of San Francisco LGBT historical dates pre-1980

Infamous Barbary Coast in San Francisco is
the first gay neighborhood.
San Francisco has a reputation as a progressive, accepting city of its gay and lesbian citizens. This was not always the case. Although LGBT people have been finding their way to the City from the beginning, it has been a long, hard struggle to get to where it is today. Here is the best historical timeline of important gay and lesbian events and milestones in San Francisco history from 1849 to 1979.

1849: The California Gold Rush propels the small pueblo village of San Francisco, population of about 500 to over 20,000 inhabitants the first year. One source cites a 50-1 male-to-female ratio. Men will continue to outnumber women for the next 100 years. 
Paddy wagon of male undesirables.
1850's: Reacting to pressure from morally concerned citizens, local officials wage the first of many anti-vice campaigns that often target homosexuals. Subsequent intense raids occur in the 1870’s, 1910’s and 1950’s. The highly publicized raids and anti-vice campaigns have the effect of branding San Francisco as the go-to place for adventure seeking homosexuals.
1850's: An early hanky code appears. Do to a lack of females, men danced with men at socials. Some men began wearing a blue bandanna to show that they were assuming the male dance lead while others wore red bandannas to indicate they were taking the female role in the dance.
1863: Cross-dressing is first criminalized in SF. Police continue to enforce these public indecency laws for more than 100 years.
1875: Despite legal statutes against it, drag (male and female), cross-dressing, and female impersonation are sewn into the fabric of city life dating back to the Gold Rush. Female impersonator Paul Vernon, in his lacy gowns and Goldilocks wigs, performs to acclaim before largely male audiences and becomes one of the young city’s first celebrity cross-dressing vaudevillians.
Oscar Wilde on tour
1882: Oscar Wilde visits San Francisco and speaks publicly about the aesthetics movement. In his novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1891), Wilde writes, "It's an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world."
1898: A military investigation reports of rampant male homosexual prostitution among soldiers mustering at San Francisco's Presidio during the Spanish-American War.
Late 1800's: The first gay neighborhood in San Francisco is located in the infamous Barbary Coast that now overlaps North Beach and the Financial District.  This notorious red-light district leads to San Francisco to become known as "Sodom by the Sea."
1903: Charles Warren Stoddard, a member of San Francisco's literary elite and a pioneering California writer, publishes the homoerotic and autobiographically novel, "For the Pleasure of His Company: An Affair of the Misty City."
1907: Alice B. Toklas (born in San Francisco, 1877) and Gertrude Stein (family home in Oakland) both grew up in the Bay Area. They meet in Paris in 1907 and become one of LGBT history's most well known lesbian couples and have iconic status in the history of both twentieth-century literature and lesbian culture.
1908: City officials close the “Dash,” the city's earliest known gay bar located at 574 Pacific Street in the red-light district of the Barbary Coast. A police report describes cross-dressing male entertainers dancing on tabletops with customers performing oral sex on them beneath their upraised skirts.
1910: The Gangway, nautical-themed dive bar, opens in the Tenderloin on Larkin Street where it still exists today. It is SF’s oldest and continuous gay bar.
1919: Bothwell Browne, who grew up in SF, becomes one of the top performers in the vaudeville circuit, as well as a local favorite, with exotic and seductive female impersonations.  After starring on Broadway and in a Max Sennett silent film, Browne headlines the Palace Theater in NY, the most prestigious booking in vaudeville. When vaudeville stopped booking female impersonators, he continues his career in SF as a dance instructor.
1929: “Finocchio's” opens in North Beach as a speakeasy at 406 Stockton St. In 1936 the police raid the club and arrest five female impersonators, including the owners because the Police Chief  ‘declared war’ on lewd entertainers. It soon moves to 506 Broadway and become less a gay bar and more the premier female impersonation cabaret and a destination point for tourists from all around the world. It closes in 1999.
1930's: The gay neighborhoods in the city are now found along the waterfront, lower Market Street, and the long-gone boarding house district South of Market where the Moscone Convention Center and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts now stand.
1931: Magnus Hirschfeld, the German Jewish leader of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee for the legal rights of German homosexuals, visits the city. He denounces both the Comstock Law, which "gave the Post Office the power to decide what was obscene," and Prohibition.
1933: With the repeal of Prohibition is, a number of gay bars quickly open in the Tenderloin. The area remains the epicenter of gay bar culture into the 1960s.
1933: The first two explicitly gay male bathhouses open in SF: “Jack's Turkish Baths” and “Third Street Baths.” The last gay bathhouse in SF, “21st Street Baths,” closes in 1987.
1936: “Mona's 440 Club”, the first lesbian bar in America, opens in North Beach.  It features waitresses and female performers wearing tuxedos. Like “Finocchio’s,” it becomes popular with the tourist crowd.
1938: Sailor Boy Tavern, the first proto-leather bar in SF opens near the Embarcadero YMCA and caters to Navy boys looking for some male companionship.
1940's: During WWII, San Francisco becomes something of a dumping ground for homosexuals dishonorably discharged from military service. In addition, many gay war veterans opt to stay in SF rather then return home. In 1949, a local newspaper, The Truth, describes this demographic trend with the sensationalistic headline, "Homos Invade S. F.!" and demands that politicians withdrawal the welcome mat.
1942: Military police are stationed outside of three gay taverns in the Tenderloin to warn away military personnel. The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board initiates anti-vice crackdowns that results in the citation or suspension of nearly 100 bars and nightclubs, many of which serve gay clientele.
1943: Union Square and the nearby Oak Room in the Hotel St. Francis become a popular cruising area for World War II soldiers. The Oak Room, a men's only bar with "an atmosphere designed for masculine comfort," is a notorious upscale pickup place through the late 1950s.
1947: California becomes the first state in the US to have a sex offender registration program. It requires all persons convicted under California law for sexual crimes, including sodomy and oral copulation, since 1944 to register as sex offenders. The law is used to target homosexuals.
Black Cat Cafe, gay bar in SF
1949: The “Black Cat Café” at 710 Montgomery St. is raided as part of a police and Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABC) crackdown on nightspots 'featuring lascivious entertainment and catering to lewd persons.'  Police arrest ten people, hold seven for vagrancy, and prosecute three. Gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg describes the Black Cat as "the best gay bar in America. It was totally open, bohemian, San Francisco...and everybody went there, heterosexual and homosexual.... All the gay screaming queens would come, the heterosexual gray flannel suit types, longshoremen. All the poets went there."
1949: California State Penal Code classifies sodomy (anal and male-male sex of any kind) as a felony. The maximum prison sentence for sodomy is doubled from 10 to 20 years. Another code for oral copulation insures a sentence of up to one year in jail for consensual oral sex.
1950's: San Francisco police raids on bars and public meeting places intensifies. Undercover agents pose as homosexuals to entrap them. Using broad legal interpretations, people are arrested for same-sex kissing, touching and dancing. In 1955, cross-gender behavior and dress are construed as illegal. The aggressive and often hostile attacks on gay bars pushes politics into the bars, and the bars become part of the gay liberation movement.
1950’s: The Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance of poets and writers flourish and intermingle with the gay bars and homophile activists in North Beach.  Many of the Beats are homosexual or bisexual, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, and Robin Blaser. Both Beats and gays challenge the conformist pressures of the 50’s and early 60’s. Gays begin to view themselves as nonconformists rather than mentally ill rebels.
1950: The Nob Hill Club becomes the first gay bar on Polk Street on the western edge of the Tenderloin.
1951: The State Board of Equalization suspends the Black Cat bar's liquor license indefinitely. In response owner Sol Stoumen takes the state to court. The California Supreme Court in Stoumen v. Reilly rules that "in order to establish 'good cause' for suspension of plaintiff's license, something more must be shown than that many of his patrons were homosexuals and that they used his restaurant and bar as a meeting place." This is one of the earliest legal affirmations of the rights of gay people in the United States. The ruling permits the sale of alcohol to known homosexuals and permits legal public assembly of homosexuals. Even after that ruling gay bars are regularly busted for flimsy excuses. Gay bathhouses are perilous as well because they could be raided and the patrons brought up on sexual deviancy charges and be required to register as a sex offender.
1954: The San Francisco Examiner editorializes: "There must be sustained action by the police and the district attorney to stop the influx of homosexuals. Too many taverns cater to them openly. Only police action can drive them out of the city...before the situation so deteriorates that San Francisco finds itself as the complete haven for undesirables."
1954: Douglass Cross and his lover, George Cory, write "I Left My Heart in San Francisco.'' Tony Bennett first sings it in 1961 at the Fairmont's Venetian Room.
1954: (Sept 8) – Police raid and shutdown two lesbian bars when they discover a few underage girls on the premises: 12 Adler and Tommy’s Place, owned by lesbian Tommy Vasu. She was the first known lesbian to legally own a bar in SF. When out on the town she dressed like a man in double-breasted suits, wide tie and a fedora hat.
1955: State legislature passes Section 24200(e) of the Business and Professional Code in an attempt to skirt the 1951 state Supreme Court decision in Stoumen v Reilly. The code addition provides that a license might be suspended or revoked if the premises "are a resort for illegal possessors or users of narcotics, prostitutes, pimps, panderers, or sexual perverts."
1956: The Mattachine Society, founded by Harry Hay in Los Angeles a couple years before, moves its national headquarters to San Francisco under the new leadership of Hal Call. The society is the earliest, sustaining, gay liberation organization in the US. Its charter calls for creating a service and welfare organization devoted to challenging anti-gay discrimination and building a gay community.
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
1956: Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon along with three other lesbian couples establish the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian rights organization in the US. They also publish the monthly magazine The Ladder.
1957: Police confiscate copies of "Howl and Other Poems'' by Allen Ginsberg and arrest City Lights bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti on obscenity charges. The charges are overturned in a landmark free expression case.
1958: The first leather bar, "Why Not?", opens in the Tenderloin. Others soon follow in the South of Market area.
1959: Park Merced, one of the largest planned neighborhoods of high-rise apartments towers and low-rise garden apartments in SF, refuses to rent to single men (homosexuals) or African Americans.
1960's: Homosexuals are still harassed, intimidated, and arrested for congregating in bars, parks, or other public spaces. It is routine for beat cops and vice squad officers to entrap, beat and blackmail gay men. 
1960: A "gayola" scandal erupts when it is discovered that a state alcohol-board officials and some local cops had taken bribes from gay bars. The scandal results in increased police harassment of gay bars but also sparks pleas for tolerance from religious and city officials. The "gayola" trial ends in the acquittal of the officers.
1961: Police raid the “Tay-Bush Inn” at Taylor and Bush. It is the largest gay bar raid in San Francisco history. 103 patrons are sent in seven patrol wagons to city jail and arrested on 'lewd behavior' charges. San Francisco Examiner publishes the names, addresses, occupations and employers of all arrested. One municipal judge calls the city a "Parisian pansy's paradise" and threatens stiff penalties for any homosexuals brought before him.
1961(Sept 11): Public TV station KQED broadcasts The Rejected, the first made-for-television documentary about homosexuality on American TV. Mattachine Society president Hal Call is one of three gay spokesmen. The program is critically and popularly well received. This is in contrast to nearly all mainstream local and national media coverage of gays and lesbians. Well into 1990’s, LGBT people are portrayed in the media as deviant, immoral, mentally ill, or criminal. Demeaning stereotypes are reinforced and gays and lesbians are assumed to be inherently inferior.
José Sarria
1961: José Sarria, a war vet and a Mexican-American drag entertainer who also waited tables at the “Black Cat Café,” runs as an openly gay candidate for San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in order to call attention to police harassment of gay-friendly establishments. He does not win, but he receives 5,600 votes, comes in 9th out of a field of 32 candidates, and demonstrates that a gay vote could be a significant voting block.
1961: The League for Civil Education (LCE), organized by Guy Strait and José Sarria, distributes the first gay tabloid in SF, Citizen News. It features gossipy news on bar culture and police impropriety.
1961: Lou Hogan, who was a successful drag performer (Sonia Pavijev) in the 1920’s, writes a number of books under various pen names: “The Scarlet Pansy”, a novel of gay love in 1932; the first gay detective novel, “The Gay Detective” (aka “Rough Trade”) in 1961; and a compendium of camp cuisine, "The Gay Cookbook” in 1965. He is also a chef and columnist for Gourmet Magazine.
1962: The Tavern Guild (co-foundered by José Sarria), an association of gay bar owners and liquor wholesalers, forms in response to police harassment of gay bars and gay people. The Guild retains a lawyer and bail bondsman for anyone arrested in or near a gay bar, and it publishes a brochure on how to deal with being arrested or harassed by police.  It eventually becomes a political force in local politics. It is the first gay business association in the US and lasts until 1995. Phil Doganiero, Bill Plath and Darryl Glied are its first leaders.
1962: Charles Pierce, legendary drag performer, develops his comedy impersonations at at the Gilded Cage club on Ellis St. His roles include Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Carol Channing, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan Crawford, which all become part of the drag queen canon.
1963: COITS begins as a social group and supporter of public social events and fundraisers. They help pioneer the Russian River as a gay resort spot. Its all-male production of "The Women" at the SIR Center in 1966 is credited by many as the origin of gay theater in SF. The group uses Coit Tower as their symbol and continues until 1993.
1963: The first gay bar in the Castro, "Missouri Mule," opens at 2348 Market St. Recent gay bars that have operated in this space include “Detour”, “Jet”, “Trigger” and now “Beaux.”
1963 The “Black Cat Café” finally closes. The bar’s legacy is that it broke the barriers that prevented overtly gay bars from existing freely and affirmed the right of homosexuals to assemble.
1964: Life magazine publishes a malicious story identifying San Francisco as the "Gay Capital" of the US. The article’s tone is accusatory and leads to an outcry against the homosexuals infesting California. The unintentional effect is that thousands of gay people pour into California now that they know where to go.
1964: The Society for Individual Rights (SIR) is founded by William Beardemphl, Jim Foster, Bill Plath, José Sarria, and others in response to police raids and harassment focuses on building a visible gay community. It sponsors drag shows, dinners, bridge clubs, bowling leagues, softball games, field trips, art classes, and meditation groups. It also produces a slick, professional monthly magazine Vector.
1964: “The Big Glass” on Fillmore Street opens. It is the first black-owned and African-American-oriented gay bar in the city.
1964: José Sarria declares himself "Empress José I, The Widow Norton" and founds the Imperial Court System, which grows to become an international association and one of the largest LGBT charity organizations.
1964: Ted McIlvenna, a social worker at Glide Memorial Church, organizes the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) to fight homophobia within mainline churches.
Police raid gay benefit dance
1965 (Jan. 1): The police raid a benefit for CRH sponsored by several homophile groups including SIR, Tavern Guild, Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis. Outside California Hall on 625 Polk Street, police snap pictures as the 600 attendees, including a number of clergymen and their wives, as they arrive or leave the event in a blatant attempt to intimidate. Police are still in the habit of making arrests for same-sex touching in bars and urge cancellation of the dance.  When police demand entry into the hall, three CRH-attorneys explain that under California law, the event is a private party and they cannot enter unless they have bought tickets. The lawyers are then arrested, as is a ticket-taker, on charges of obstructing an officer. The cases go to trial with support from the ACLU. All are acquitted. The resulting media outcry leads to the end of most SF police raids on gay and lesbian bars.
Mid-60's: Three distinct gay enclaves reside in SF. The gay commercial center is on Polk Street with bars and restaurants catering to the white-collar, professional gays. The Tenderloin is a mix of bars, restaurants, and residential hotels that catered to the gay poor and sexually marginal, such as transvestites and male hustlers. The South of Market is home to bathhouses, sex clubs and the leather subculture.
1965: Thirty people picket Grace Cathedral to protest punitive actions taken against Rev. Canon Robert Cromey for his involvement in the Council on Religion and the Homosexual.
1966: The Stud first opens on Folsom Street appealing to the gay hippie movement on the margins of the leather scene. The place had a psychedelic black light mural by Chuck Arnett. John Waters and Janis Joplin frequented it during the late 60s. The bar moves to the corner of Harrison and 9th streets in 1987.
Compton's Cafeteria Riot
1966 (August): The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurs in the Tenderloin at 101 Taylor Street at Turk. This incident is one of the first recorded transgender riots in US history, preceding the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in NYC. Transgender patrons riot against police oppression at the popular all-night restaurant. It marks another turning point in the local LGBT movement.
1966: SIR opens the first gay community center in the US. It is located in the South of Market area on 6th St. Besides hosting social events, it provides services such as job referrals, legal aid, financial advice, and health and wellness classes.
1966: The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations holds its first national convention of gay and lesbian groups in San Francisco.
1967: The first known transexual peer support group forms. Called "Conversion Our Goal" or "Change: Our Goal" (COG) begins meeting at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin.
1967: I-Do-Know opens at 4146 18th Street, becoming one of the earliest gay bar in the Castro. It later becomes the Honey Bucket and then the Pendulum, the first gay bar in the Castro catering to African American men.
1968: Charlotte Coleman opens the Mint opens at 1942 Market Street. It’s the oldest gay bar continuously operating with the same name in the Castro.
1969: Tower Records fires Frank Denaro, believing him to be gay. The newly formed Committee for Homosexual Freedom (CHF) pickets the store for several weeks until Denaro is reinstated. CHF, a splinter group of SIR and founded by Leo Laurence and Dale Whittington, runs similar pickets of Safeway stores, Macy's, States Steamship Company, San Francisco Examiner, and the Federal Building.
Gay Power
1969 (Oct 31): The purple handprint becomes a local symbol of gay liberation, after the San Francisco Examiner dumps purple ink on members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Society for Individual Rights. The groups were protesting another in a series of news articles disparaging the LGBT community. When the police are called in, the cops storm through the crowd clubbing the protestors.
1969 (Dec 31): The Cockettes, a psychedelic drag queen troupe, perform for the first time at the Palace Theatre on Union and Columbus in the North Beach. The collective is conceived by Hibiscus and will inspire the glitter rock era and the campy show extravaganzas of the 70's. Notable members include disco singer Sylvester, drag performer Divine and musical director Scrumbly Koldewyn.
1970's: The Castro District comes of age as a gay center following the “Summer of Love” in the neighboring Haight-Ashbury District that saw a large influx of youth. Many local gays move to the Castro around 1970 from the prominently gay Polk Gulch neighborhood. Major economic draw is affordable housing. Large Victorian homes are available at low rents or available for purchase for low down payments when their former middle-class owners were fleeing to the suburbs. It is the first major gay neighborhood that does not develop from a Bohemian or vice enclave or from an artsy/entertainment district.
1970: A small "gay-in" is held in Golden Gate Park. This is the first event resembling the modern San Francisco Pride celebration.
1970: Rev. Howard Wells organizes the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. MCC is a leading force in the development of Queer Theology.
1971 (Apr 1): Bob Ross and Paul Bentley co-found the Bay Area Reporter -- a free weekly gay newspaper. It is the oldest-continuously published, and one of the largest LGBT newspapers in the US.
1971: San Francisco police arrest more than 2800 men on public sex charges while NYC only arrests 63 during the same time. The old Irish/Italian Catholic politicians and police continue fighting the perceived moral erosion of the city. SF Public Health Department estimates the gay population in 1971 to be 90,000. In 1977, the gay population grows to 120,000; and in 1978, to 150,000 or 20% of the city. By the mid-70's, San Francisco and the Castro neighborhood, the city-within-a-city, surpasses New York City and Amsterdam as the gay urban center. 
1971: Activists couple Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon along with Jim Foster from SIR organizes the "Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club." This political action committee is the first organization for gay Democrats in the US. The club will consistently take more conservative political stances than its chief rival, the "San Francisco Gay Democratic Club" that starts in five years.
1971: Chuck Holmes, a SF pornographer turned philanthropist, opens Falcon Studios. He takes a hobbyist’s industry and modernizes it, building a studio and star system based on the old Hollywood model. At a time when many directors were focusing on theatrical distribution, Holmes concentrates on mail order. He becomes a major contributor to gay advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBT Victory Fund. Later in life he would come to find that, while his money was welcome in philanthropic circles, he sometimes wasn’t.
1972: The San Francisco Gay Pride Parade is first held. It becomes the largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation with over a million people attending.
1972: SF Sheriff Richard Hongisto is the first elected official to march in the pride parade. The first SF mayor won't participate until 1988. Hongisto is also the first sheriff to hire lesbian and gay deputies.
1972: San Francisco becomes one of the first cities in United States to pass a homosexual rights ordinance. The law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public sector and prohibits companies that have contracts with the city from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
1972: City College of San Francisco offers first Gay Literature course in the country.
1972: Jim Foster is given a prime time TV spot speaking at the ‘72 Democratic National Convention after helping to secure George McGovern the first position on the California Democratic primary ballot. He and fellow delegate Madeline Davis are the first openly LGBT people ever to address a national party convention.
1972: The charitable event, The Great Tricycle Race, starts on Memorial Day and continues for 21 years. Bars would sponsor two person tricycle teams in costumes. Entrants would take turns riding and pushing their trikes to various gay bars and check-in and have a drink before speeding to the next stop. They raised thousands of dollars along the way.
1972: Harvey Milk moves from NYC to the Castro and opens his camera store at 575 Castro Street.
1973: Two lesbians, Mary Ellen Cunha and Peggy Foster, open the Castro bar, "Twin Peaks Tavern." It is the first gay bar with clear plate-glass windows facing the street.
1973: Gay radio programing begins. KPFA, a listener-funded progressive station in Berkeley, starts it off with "Fruit Punch," the first gay radio show in the US (1973-1995). It focuses on cultural work and theater arts. 1977-1984, commercial station KSAN-FM begins airing "The Gay Life" featuring interviews with community leaders, politicians, and artists as well as coverage of political meetings, government hearings and Pride celebrations.
1973: San Francisco State grants Sally Miller Gearhart tenure, making her first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position in the U.S. She helped establish one of the first women and gender study programs in the country.
1973 (Dec 15): The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its diagnostic list of mental disorders. The passage of the resolution “cures” millions of gays and lesbians across America.
A hot day at the Castro Street Fair.
1974: Castro Street Fair begins and becomes the city's longest-running street fair. Harvey Milk, and the local merchant group he leads, the Castro Valley Association, promotes it.
1974: The Gay Community Softball League starts its first competitive season with sponsorship from eight gay bars and a gym. The word “gay” is soon dropped because several players have corporate careers and are fearful of being outed and losing their jobs. In an effort to de-escalate tensions between the police and the gay community, the championship team plays the police. “Twin Peaks Tavern” beats the police 9 to 4.
1974: Frontrunners, now international LGBT running and walking group, kicks off its first chapter in SF. It is inspired by Patricia Nell Warren's bestselling gay novel “The Front Runner,” a love story exploring issues relating to homosexuals in American sports.
1974 (Labor Day): Tensions between the gay community and the police come to a head when a man is beaten and arrested while walking down Castro Street. Police reinforcements suddenly appear, their badge numbers hidden, and beat dozens of gay men. Fourteen are arrested and charged with obstructing a sidewalk. Harvey Milk dubs them the "Castro 14", and a $1.375 million lawsuit is filed against the police.
1974 (Nov 27): The Elephant Walk, named after the Elizabeth Taylor movie, opens on the corner of 18th and Castro, becoming the second gay bar in the City to have plate glass windows.
Mid 1970’s: Gay and lesbian activists are forming multiracial coalitions including Third World Gay Caucus and Black And Third World Lesbians. Several racially specific gay organizations are started: Gay American Indians, Black Gay Caucus, Gay Latino Alliance, and Gay Asian Support Group.
1975: The Embarcadero YMCA goes co-ed ending a tradition of nude swimming and guys doing weight training while wearing nothing but gym shoes and a jockstrap. The Y was a place where a guy could meet and spend time with sailors when they came into town and rent rooms at the adjacent Embarcadero YMCA Hotel.
1975: Tom Ammiano becomes the first public school teacher in San Francisco to make his sexual orientation a matter of public knowledge. With Ron Lanza and Hank Wilson, Ammiano co-founds the Gay Teachers Coalition and lobby against discrimination for gay teachers in the city schools.
1975: A number of activists including Howard Wallace, Hank Wilson, Jane Sica, Chris Perry, Jim Gordon, Claude Wynne, and Tom Ammiano initiate an organization called Bay-Area Gay Liberation (BAGL). Its aims are to advance lesbian and gay liberation by reaching out to potential allies within the labor movement, the feminist movement and movements of people of color and national minorities.
1975: Two straight Teamster union organizers approach gay community leaders Howard Wallace of BAGL and Harvey Milk about supporting the Coors beer boycott. Wallace and Milk agree, if the Teamsters would agree to promote the hiring of openly gay truck drivers. With the Teamsters consent, the Coors boycott took off in the City, and spread nationally. In California, the market share of Coors dropped from 40 percent to 14 percent. Facing this boycott, Coors stopped asking its applicants about their sexuality.
1975 (Sept. 22): Oliver Sipple, a decorated US Marine and Vietnam War veteran, foils an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford by Sara Jane Moore outside the St. Francis Hotel. The subsequent public revelation that Sipple is gay turns the news story into a cause célèbre for gay activists.
1975: California becomes the 12th state to decriminalize consensual sodomy in a bill sponsored by Willie Brown and George Mascone and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Besides repealing the law against consensual sodomy, it also repeals laws against oral copulation by homosexual, unmarried, and married heterosexual couples.
1976: Believing that the existing “Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club” will never support him in his political aspirations, Harvey Milk co-founds the "San Francisco Gay Democratic Club" in the wake of his unsuccessful 1976 campaign for the California State Assembly. Activists Harry Britt, Hank Wilson, Dick Pabich, Jim Rivaldo and first club president Chris Perry join Milk in forming the club.
1976: Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City'' begins its serialized run in the San Francisco Chronicle.
1976: The Butterfly Brigade (an offshoot of BAGL) works the Castro neighborhood in the evenings to make the streets safe. Armed with whistles, note cards to record license plates, and portable CB radios, the 30-strong brigade lays out a walkie-talkie network of security. This is in response to the street beatings of over 40 gay men the previous year.
1976: Maggi Rubenstein and Harriet Levi start the San Francisco Bisexual Center. It is the longest surviving bisexual community center, offering counseling and support services to Bay Area bisexuals, as well as publishing a newsletter, The Bi Monthly, from 1976 to 1984.
1976: The lesbian motorcycle club, Dykes on Bikes, makes it first appearance at the Gay Pride Parade.
Supervisor Milk and Mayor Mascone
1977: Harvey Milk is elected city supervisor, becoming the third openly gay American elected to public office and the first in California. Milk serves almost 11 months in office and is responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. Article 33 of the SF Police Code prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation in the private sector.
1977: Sha'ar Zahav, a progressive Reform Jewish synagogue, opens for people of all sexual identities.
1977: Theatre Rhinoceros, founded by Lanny Baugniet and his partner Allan B. Estes, Jr., is the first gay theater company to employ actors under a professional seasonal agreement.
1977: The San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (now known as Frameline Film Festival) premieres. It is the oldest continuing lesbian and gay film festival in the world. Founding members include Daniel Nicoletta, David WaggonerHank Wilson, and Marc Huestis.
1977: Lesbian activists Donna Hitchens and Roberta Achtenberg, as well as others, create the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). It is a public interest law firm that advocates for equitable policies affecting the LGBT community.
1978: Artist Gilbert Baker designs the Rainbow or Gay Pride Flag. It first flies at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978.
1978 (Nov 7): Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative, is defeated with tepid support from Governor Reagan and President Carter. Harvey Milk spearheads the campaign in the state with Hank Wilson and Tom Ammiano. If the ballot initiative had passed, it would have bar gays, and those who support gay rights, from teaching in public schools.  The initiative is the first failure in a movement that started with the successful campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida to repeal a local gay rights ordinance.
1978 (Nov. 27): Former Supervisor Dan White assassinates Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.  Despite his short career in politics, Milk becomes an icon in San Francisco and a martyr in the gay community.
1978: Gay music pioneer Jon Reed Sims starts the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in 1978. He creates the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in 1980. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the world's first openly gay chorus, sings its first public performance at an impromptu memorial for slain Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk.
1978: Rabbi Allen Bennet allows himself to be outed in the San Francisco Examiner, making him the first openly gay rabbi.
1979: Bay Times (originally called Coming Up!) begins publishing as a free weekly LGBT newspaper.
1979: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arises as a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and Catholic imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and to satirize issues of gender and morality.
1979 (March 11): Sylvester, the flamboyant soul and disco singer known as the "Queen of Disco", sells out the War Memorial Opera House. Mayor Dianne Feinstein awards him with the key to the city and proclaims March 11 to be "Sylvester Day".
1979 (May 21): The White Night Riots follow Dan White's acquittal of first-degree murder charges and conviction on lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter. Hundreds of people march to city hall to vent the injustice. A riot ensues with broken windows and torched police cars. The spontaneous actions lead to a retaliatory police raid on a Castro gay bar, the “Elephant Walk” (now “Harvey's Restaurant and Bar”), two miles away and hours after the City Hall disturbance. Police in riot gear beat many patrons. Two-dozen arrests are made during the raid, and several people later sue the police. In the following days, gay leaders refuse to apologize for the events of that night. The gay community begins to flex increase political power in the City. In response to a campaign promise, Mayor Dianne Feinstein appoints a pro-gay Chief of Police, who increases recruitment of gays in the police force and eases tensions.

Much of the 1980’s and 1990’s focuses on grim and relentless imprint of AIDS as it marches across the city and the nation. As thousands die, AIDS becomes the focus of LGBT people who participate in organizations, marches, and vigils to stop the spread of the disease and increase the availability of treatments for people living with AIDS.
The late 1990’s and 2000’s sees the incremental expansion of civil rights for LGBT individuals, but same-sex couples' rights become an increasingly controversial topic, with referenda and judicial cases on same-sex marriage jousting for constitutional finality.

"Creating a Place For Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories" edited by Brett Beemyn
"Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area," by Susan Stryker, Jim Van Buskirk
"Out in the Castro," edited by Winston Leyland
"Queer Sites: Gay Urban Histories Since 1600," by David Higgs
"Wide Open Town - A history of Queer San Francisco to 1965," by Nan Alamilla Boyd (glbtq encyclopedia)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Song for Harvey Milk Day

In California, Harvey Milk Day, May 22nd, is recognized as a day of special significance for public schools. The day was established by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 following the success of the award-winning feature film Milk retracing San Francisco Supervisor Milk's life.

Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay man elected to a public office in the United States. Milk didn’t get involved in politics, gay activism or become open about his sexuality until after age 40. Yet, Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: "What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us."

Sean Chapin, a member of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, premieres this outstanding original song and music video "I Have Tasted Freedom." 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Queer Tree

There is one queer tree on Palm Drive, the mile-long road that links Palo Alto with the Main Quad of Sanford University. All the other 165 Canary Island palms (Phoenix canariensis) can pass for *straight* except for this one palm which is *bent.*

I walk by these palms every day on my commute to and from work. One gets to know them after a while. Did you know that Palm Drive got its palms in 1893 at the suggestion of founding university president David Star Jordan? 

The last time I wrote about the palm trees was back in March 2007. It was a brief entry about them getting shaved balls or circumcised crowns. See 

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