Political Musings from David

Posted by David Boyer

 

We still relive the past. I read Time magazine. Last month they put out a special issue honoring 100 women of the past century to mark the anniversary of women's suffrage in the US. (I could go on about having to allow women, minorities the right to vote but I'll leave that for another time.)

Sometimes, I get a magazine like this, one that presents a lot of history or extremely in-depth coverage of a news event or person that I keep as a reference for the future. This issue of Time is one such example.

I like history, to understand where we came from, how our history was shaped by the world at that time and perhaps why folks have their current thoughts or actions.

Growing up, most of the history we were taught in public schools of the 50's and 60's was pretty much "white washed." The contributions of blacks, Native Americans, women, etc were not present in our books.

So this issue of Time that gave me a small glimpse of these 100 women that had such a remarkable impact on our world and our history is a real treasure.

I am happy that I knew several of those listed, I remember some from the news of my lifetime like Indira Gandhi & Golda Meir (we have not yet had a woman lead our nation) and others I am coming to learn about now.

Our history lessons should include all parts of our history, not just what the famous white guys did, but also the women, black folks, natives and immigrants who have made or are shaping our nation and world.

But history is repeating itself today.

I am familiar with the McCarthy era of the 50's. I learned about the accusations of being communist, blacklisting writers/actors, etc and all. But I missed the part one of these women had in bringing that era to a close and wish we had her in our Senate today.

Margaret Chase Smith was a Senator from Maine and she stood up to McCarthy in the senate. They were both Republicans but she challenged his witch hunt with her Declaration of Conscience. One of her comments in the Time article was this:

"I don't want to see the Republican Party rise to victory on the four horses of calumny: fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear."

Perhaps the Republicans need to study a little more of their own history. They seem to have hopped on the ride pulled by those same four horses today as they have embraced these four - fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear - as the way to govern and lead our nation.

Such a shame.

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Some LGBTQ Slang Terms from the Early '60s & Before: Revealing a Hidden Culture

posted by Madame Bubby

Cover of The Guild Dictionary of Homosexual Terms

In our archives, we carry a fascinating title called The Guild Dictionary of Homosexual Terms, which looks to be from the early to middle of the 1960s. Guild Press was a grounbreaking outfit as H. Lynn Womack was not afraid of being open about the audience of his diverse array of publications: gays and lesbians. He did not censor, he did not code, and by publishing this small book by one Dr. Albert Ellis, he claims that LGBTQ persons existed and still exist in history, and their cultural vocabulary developed under systemic oppression matters.

Now, some of the terms to a contemporary audience might seem degrading or even offensive or at least quaint, but that's part of the creative paradox of a vocabulary that is trying to linguistically interpret something as complex and fluid as sexual experience, and in this case, more so, as the persons who participated in non-heteronormative sexual experiences couldn't even speak of them or themselves.

Here are a few that I think give some insight into the hidden culture of that time, understanding that many of these terms were employed heterosexually as well, and used by heterosexuals to denigrate LGBTQ persons.

Abdicate: Forced to leave a public toilet by an attendant, said of male homosexuals who frequent public rests rooms. Thus, queens are forced to abdicate.
 

Central Park men's room, 1962
Central Park men's room, 1962 - Source: https://www.richlandsource.com/area_history/the-famous-central-park-underground-restrooms/article_16b1c4d2-c503-11e5-890c-6360a850aa28.html

Angel with a Dirty Face: A male homosexual who would like to indulge in homosexual practice but who is timid or hesitant about it. (Originated in mid-30s with motion picture Angels with Dirty Faces, a 1930s gangster film with James Cagney.)

Auntie: Middle-aged or aging male homosexual, usually (but not always) overly effeminate in character. The term can be applied either in a manner mildly derogatory or even as a term of slight affection.

Bugle Boy: Refers to the person who permits someone to perform fellation upon him. (Supposedly, according to the text, popular with the “sophisticated college set.”)

Checkers, Play: To move from seat to seat in a motion picture house in an effort to find a willing youth. A homosexual sits next to a likely “candidate” and makes some verbal or physical overture or “pass”; if rejected, he moves to another seat, and so on.
 

Chicago theater and other State Street theaters in Chicago, 1950

Fruit Picker: Term used to describe men who both think of themselves as “straight” and who are so considered by those who know them, but who seek out homosexuals for sexual gratification at the moment.

Motel Time: Can be used as a call to closing in a gay bar as part of “Suck up, everybody, it's motel time.” Now is the time to get down to sex and indicates where. Can also be used (alone) as a call to closing in a heterosexual bar.
 

Tampa, Florida gay bar, 1950s
Tampa, Florida gay bar, 1950s

Poundcake, To Eat: To lick the anus.

There's so much more in this little book, including some tidbits on some famous gay historical figures.

One wonders, not so much that some of the types of persons described above and even some of the scenarios are still part of the LGBTQ experience, but that we've developed new language for such persons and experiences in a markedly different social context. After all, what the book calls “green queens” still hang out in parks and forest preserves for public sex, but they often hook up via the ubiquitous smart phone.

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Bijou Classics for the Fourth of July 2018

I'm feeling kind of blogged out as the dog days of summer approach, so this Fourth of July weekend I am showcasing a couple of our titles that are relevant to the violent tensions between boundaries and bridges, ideals and ideology, illusion and reality that our country is currently wrestling with.

In our title Blue Angel (1986), directed by Jurgen Bauer and produced by and starring Mackenzie Poe, a cabaret gay sex show in the style of 1930's Weimar Berlin draws disturbing parallels between the rise of fascism in Hitler's Germany and the continued oppression of LGBTQ Americans. One could even claim this show is an act of resistance as the performers break sexual taboos but also dress in leather gear that both embodies and transcend the culture's oppressive power structures.
 

Images from Blue Angel
Images from Blue Angel

In our title American Cream (1972), director Rob Simple (aka playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie) has created a masterful three-part pictorial comment on America, masculinity and desire. In the final vignette, “Roles,” juxtaposition of the well-heeled Tom and the rough and studly Doug and their ultimate interchangeability as they play roles speaks to a culture that easily blurs any distinction between illusion and reality.
 

Images from American Cream
Images from American Cream

These movies are both available on DVD and Video on Demand. Don't forget take advantage of our 35 percent off DVDs sale on the website.

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