Queer: November 2002 Archives

It seems appropriate, in the circumstances of the tragic story of a murder in Chicago and the uproar it has caused among certain Catholic zealots, to be reminded of a ten-year-old proclamation which originated with the Vatican Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once known as the office of The Holy Inquisition).

Most shocking of all, [a 1992 Vatican proclamation authorized by both Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and by Pope John Paul II] suggests that when lesbians and gay men demand civil rights, "neither the Church nor society should be surprised when ... irrational and violent reactions increase".

This implies that by asking for human rights, lesbians and gay men
encourage homophobic prejudice and violence: we bring hatred upon ourselves, and are responsible for our own suffering. The Catholic Church, it seems, blames the victims of homophobia, not the perpetrators.

---from the essay, "Catholic Homophobia," by Peter Tatchell

A Message, on behalf of all queers, to all strict Roman Catholics, oh, and also to all readers of The National Review:


We will not be baptized and become straight, any more than blacks will be painted white or smart people made stupid, all this regardless of your efforts, regardless of your prayers, and the sooner you realize this, the better the world will be for all of us.

The current issue of The Advocate includes a story about Hispanic Chicago teenagers running a Spanish-language radio show for their GLBTZ peers and a story about the courage of a Kentucky high school gay-staight alliance in fighting the homophobia of an entire county. Both stories were illustrated with the smiling faces of bright, courageous (and, incidently, media-photogenic) youth working as real "advocates."


It sounds like a supermarket tabloid, and The Advocate basically pursues a star-stuck and mostly mindless agenda. Still, the magazine maintains that it represents the gay community, so, instead of cover stories honoring strong people who bravely stick their necks out for what they believe and what they are, why do we so often get cover stories about people whose claim to our attention is not much different from that of, say, an insurance salesman whose bravest gay-positive career decision might include deciding to taking a commission for selling a homo a life policy?

Shamefully, the answer is partly in ourselves, and not in our "stars," since the commercial media survives on what it believes we want to see and read.

The film and television stars who blind the Advocate editors and their readers are doing [whatever gets our attention] because its their job, while the teenagers in the back pages are doing their stuff in order that they and their peers might survive.

the pink triangle then, and now

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has just inaugurated an exhibit that focuses on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the first of a series highlighting non-Jewish groups killed during the twelve years of the National Socialist regime.

The Nazi campaign against homosexuality targeted the more than one million German men who, the state asserted, carried a "degeneracy" that threatened the "disciplined masculinity" of Germany. Denounced as "antisocial parasites" and as "enemies of the state," more than 100,000 men were arrested under a broadly interpreted law against homosexuality. Approximately 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals, while an unknown number were institutionalized in mental hospitals. Others—perhaps hundreds—were castrated under court order or coercion. Analyses of fragmentary records suggest that between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were imprisoned in concentration camps, where many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings, and murder.

In the racist practice of Nazi eugenics, women were valued primarily for their ability to bear children. The state presumed that women homosexuals were still capable of reproducing. Lesbians were not systematically persecuted under Nazi rule, but they nonetheless did suffer the loss of their own gathering places and associations.

Nazi Germany did not seek to kill all homosexuals. Nevertheless, the Nazi state, through active persecution, attempted to terrorize German homosexuals into sexual and social conformity, leaving thousands dead and shattering the lives of many more.

For the homosexuals, the Nazi terror continued long after the war when the camps were emptied of other victims.
As the Allies swept through Europe to victory over the Nazi regime in early 1945, hundreds of thousands of concentration camp prisoners were liberated. The Allied Military Government of Germany repealed countless laws and decrees. Left unchanged, however, was the 1935 Nazi revision of Paragraph 175. Under the Allied occupation, some homosexuals were forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment regardless of time served in the concentration camps. The Nazi version of Paragraph 175 remained on the books of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) until the law was revised in 1969 to decriminalize homosexual relations between men over the age of 21.
Thousands of miles and decades away from the tragedy, let's not be smug. A number of U.S. states still criminalize homosexuality, others have kept such laws on the books even as courts have at least temporarily rendered them null, and there is no federal law on the subject.


Both the Museum's site and that of Scott Safier (linked to the "pink triangle" in the caption above) have excellent, no, really awesome, texts and visuals.

A gay man in the Chicago area, Nicholas Gutierrez, killed a religious woman he worked with, Mary Stachowicz, when he became enraged as she tried to talk him out of his homosexuality. Her harangues had reportedly evoked the painful memory of similar debates he had with his mother.

Friends and family said that it would have been in character for Stachowicz, who has a lengthy list of volunteer work to reach out to someone she thought needed help.

"Those of us who knew her immediately hear her soft voice saying something like, `God wouldn't approve of the way you're living your life,"' said Mary Coleman, a friend and neighbor. "That's how Mary did things."

It wouldn't have been out of character for Stachowicz to see homosexuality as a lifestyle problem, said Alice Kosinski, 43, Stachowicz's younger sister.

"Because she's so Catholic, there's no room for being gay in the Catholic church," Kosinski said.

Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Galassini told the judge at Gutierrez' hearing on sunday, "This would most likely be a capital case."

The woman who did such great evil is dead, but unfortunately the evil and the church and the society which creates it is not, and it will continue to destroy Nicholas Gutierrez and many others. I shake, safely sitting here at home, fully understanding, and fully familiar with, the horrible impact her words must have had for a man already so terribly damaged by his society, and his own mother.

For another take on the tragedy, one which has my own sympathies, see Barry.

Like, we can afford to throw away linguists, arabic or otherwise, at a time like this, or any time!

Nine Army linguists, including six trained in Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay, even as the military faces a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism, gay rights advocates say.

Seven of the soldiers were discharged after telling superiors that they are gay; two others were caught together after curfew, said Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that defends homosexuals in the military.

Barry found this wonderful photo and story.

A proposed law would essentially restrict French prostitutes from looking like they are marketing themselves, supposedly making everybody else feel so much better. The Interior Minister of the new center-right government argues that his bill is necessary to "guarantee the security of the French people."

Prostitutes as terrorists. Sound familiar?

But this is England! Every bloke there plays with his mates and now and again, and besides, everybody was gay in the eighties, weren't they?

Today's batch of headlines included claims that Charles, the Prince of Wales, hushed up the rape of a manservant by one of his closest aides, that courtiers regularly brought male prostitutes into royal palaces and that Paul Burrell, the former butler to Diana, had once taken a male lover of his own on a tour of the queen's private apartment.
My own interesting sidebar: The butler's lover in the eighties was Yahoo Serious (sometimes known as Greg Pead), the fetching creator and star of the Australian film, "Young Einstein" (1988). Both Burrell and Serious are, of course, married, and quite publicly so.

["Queer" and "Culture!"]


Wonderful art, theatre and activism and love. We should all be so fortunate as to be as creative and bold as Patricia Cronin and Deb Kass!

For more, see the three links in the highlighted names above.

Bill Dobbs' email report to friends included the additional information on the New York Post's coverage of the sculpture project:

Those who popped fifty cents for the paper's print edition (or acquired a copy from the trash) were treated to a nearly half-page pic of the sculpture along with a shot of the artist and her partner. Those not so lucky will have to settle for a small photo by using the link below [JAW--see "beautiful" above]. The Post also deprived its online readers of the sidebar story concerning "The Beautiful Women of Woodlawn" cemetery, illustrated by three fascinating photos.

Headline of the day:

British navy 'bursting with gay seamen in 1960'

[London, October 31] - A strict enforcement of the Royal Navy's policy of banning homosexuality would have rendered the fleet ineffective in the 1960s, according to Britain's Public Records Office.

"Senior naval officers have warned me that about 50 percent of the fleet have sinned homosexually," the navy's senior legal officer wrote in the reports. He wryly remarked that it was "only the paucity of the director of naval security's investigating resources that prevents paying off a good many ships".
[This comes from a South African news site, and thanks to Otto.]

But there's much more in these just-released naval papers to amuse and delight us sophisticates of the twenty-first century (after all of the hurt produced in the last one). The BBC delights in the story, of course.

One sailor reportedly picked up a prostitute who he believed to be female. Realising he wasn't who she appeared to be, the sailor reportedly declared: "Blimey, you're all there!" Nevertheless, he apparently became "infatuated".

This kind of incident led admirals to argue that most of the men accused were only inadvertently homosexual, rather than dangerous "perverts".

In London, the head of the Western Fleet in London wrote to all commanders,
"I have a strong [belief] that many of the men are not perverts but basically normal men whose standards of behaviour are thoroughly lax."
The then head of naval law, quoted in the South African site's story at the top, seems to have had a fairly reasonable attitude about the imagined threat to national security.
While the policy of discharging offenders involved in public acts of indecency in front of "hand-clapping audiences" was valid, there should be more flexibility in the rules, he argued.
In Britain, the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces was lifted in January 2000 after a protracted human rights battle, but unfortunately even the "more flexibility" of the Royal Navy 1960s is still alien in the benighted precincts of the U.S.

This page is an archive of entries in the Queer category from November 2002.

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