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Interesting and provocative thoughts on gay history, gay sexual history, gay porn, and gay popular culture.
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Forty Years Ago Today in LGBTQ History: 1976

 

“The first 200 years, have seen us grow, and we're still growing … “ 

1976 was the bicentennial year. If you are “older” like me, you might remember The Bicentennial Minute, red, white and blue kitchens, and massively frightening fireworks displays. 
 

Bicentennial coloring book

I also remember Sister Judy, forcing, as was her wont, the upper grades to teach the younger grades about events in American history. We were put in teams with people from other classes we did not know and expected to “put on a show in a barn;” less than stellar results usually occurred. She also forced, as was her wont, the eighth grade class to participate in various bicentennial-related projects. I chose the mural project. I could not paint or draw. Well, at least it wasn't sports. 

While I was growing up in the white suburban Catholic ghetto, groundbreaking events in the advancement of LGBTQ rights were occurring in cities (downtown Chicago was very far away from me socially and psychologically) and states that might as well have been foreign countries or even alien planets to me: 

January, 1976: Iowa repeals its "sexual psychopath" law. Passed in the wake of a moral panic following the 1954 rape and murder of a young boy, the law had been used to detain dozens of gay men in mental institutions in the 1950s. 

May, 1976: City council of Los Angeles prohibits employment discrimination by the city based on sexual orientation. 

July, 1976: U.S. state of Indiana decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

September, 1976: Start of the three-day "Fourth Annual Gay Conference for Canada and Quebec," held in Toronto, including a rally and march. 
 

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Confession: Eating Outside Is Overrated

 

“Let's eat outside. It's such a nice day.”
“Wanna go to a cookout? I am putting meat on the grill.”
“This place has a great rooftop garden.” 

Al fresco for me is literally for the birds. (In fact, I often imagine swarms of birds “doing their business” over unaware outside diners who suddenly realize a topping from the sky has been added to their burgers. Ick.) 

Eating outside is overrated. I just don't get the appeal. 
 

Disasterous Picnic

The reasons? Perhaps more personal than objective, but in this case, it's a matter of taste (and ambience) or maybe even some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Insect invasion: My brother was stung by a bee twice, yes twice, when we were eating outside in the backyard. In one case, he sat on the bee. Yes, who wants to eat out and suffer from bees circling around, attracted by whatever you are eating? And not just bees, but other insects, flies, of course. A fly on a paper plate sums up for me the joy of eating outside. And note that these were the days before many homeowners built elaborate decks (all this trouble to build something to eat outside on; seems odd to me). We ate outside on decaying wooden picnic tables placed directly on grass, grass which harbored ants, grasshoppers, and other swarming, creeping things. 
 

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Valley of the Dolls Is 50 Years Old!

Yes, the book, Valley of the Dolls, on which the camp classic movie was based, is 50 years old! Hard to believe!

 

I actually saw the movie before I read the book. A former friend of mine seemed to think I needed to see it as part of Gay 101. I showed it to another friend, who knew nothing of the movie's gay cult status, and he said, “This is a bad movie.” Yes, it is. I could go on and on about why it is bad, but like other cult movies, it oddly suck the viewer in, perhaps because it's consistently bad (Neely, Neely, Neely O'Hara!), except for the touching performance of Sharon Tate as Jennifer. Even more touching, as we know of Sharon's horrible death.

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Chicago LGBTQ Pride Parade 2016: Subdued but Controversial

 

The lowdown from the Chicago Gay Pride Parade this year was “subdued” but “still colorful” or “festive” but “respectful.” 

The subdued and respectful adjectives fit, because the LGBTQ community is in mourning because of the horrific events at Orlando, and in tandem with many pride parades around the globe, the victims were honored. In Chicago, the first entry was a memorial to the victims, with participants holding photos of them. A woman standing next to me wept. 
 

Orlando tribute at Chicago Pride Parade


After this profoundly moving start, the action began to pick up a bit, but I noticed less people standing by the beginning of the parade (where my friend and I were hanging about). It seemed at times the people marching and on floats had to do more to get the crowds cheering. As usual, PFLAG and the schools elicited enthusiastic cheers. 

I did find it rather unfortunate that the Chicago PrimeTimers (a gay male senior citizens club), which entry consisted of three elders holding a banner, was followed immediately by a bevy of young hot gay hockey players. At least the PrimeTimers got a mention on the special ABC local news coverage! 

This juxtaposition of older and younger might be interpreted as a show of unity in diversity, and several parade organizers claimed that the mood this year, rather than jubilation over marriage equality for all, was respect and unity. Everyone was showing unity based on a broader definition of love in the face of hate. 

Yet here's the rub. Something controversial happened in Chicago that shows we have a long way to go to remedy serious structural social and economic inequalities in the LGBTQ community, in many ways a microcosm of our society as a whole. An event called Pride at Montrose was abruptly cancelled by the police. The reason was ostensibly the height of a security fence. 
 

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What's in a Street Name? Plenty!

 

I've lately decried what I consider to be an increasing lack of free choice in one's daily life (unless one is rich). In fact, there's one particular part of one's life, an important one, over which you have no control: your address. I doubt most people would move to a place because they like the name of the street. If one moves there, one is stuck with the address, like it or hate it. 
 

Butt Hole Road sign


However, in 2009, the residents who lived on Butt Hole Road in Leicester, England, did have the name of the street changed. Apparently they were also sick of the constant mooning pics going on in front of the street sign. In contrast, the people who live on Butthole Lane (also in Leicester, England) like the name and defiantly refuse to change it. By the way, in both cases the word “butt” is either Anglo-Saxon or Middle English, and means a target, not an ass. Oh, well … 

In the United States, the most common street names are mostly numbers (boring!) and innocuous ones named after trees like Maple and Oak. Main and Church are up their in popularity, harking back to the small town culture of America, still predominant up to the middle of the century. 

In fact, according to the link above, “road names are pieces of history. They encode the culture and geography of America. In Arizona, popular street names are Apache, Palo Verde, Mesquite. In New Mexico, Cedar and Pinon top the list; In Colorado, it’s Aspen and Spruce.” For example, in Chicago, I've noticed Native American names like Winnemac and Milwaukee as well as the ubiquitous Lincoln because Chicago is in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. 
 

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