Chapter 5 Stonewall to the 1980s
“In short, the political and cultural environment had undergone a liberalizing shift which had created the opportunity for the emergence of a mass homosexual movement.” (Engel, The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement, p.38)
“Ironically, when the uprising finally occurred, many people failed to recognize its significance. Looking back, however, there is no denying that what began as a skirmish at a Greenwhich Village bar became the harbinger of a new movement of human rights. Detailed accounts of Stonewall have taken on the quality of myth, as more people remember being thee that could have possibly have fit in the tiny grimy bar. It is generally accepted that a diverse group of bar patrons, led by drag queens who were Stonewall regulars, spontaneously began to fight back during a police raid. The resistance turned into a riot, which lasted for several days.” (Kranz & Cusick, Gay Rights: Revised Edition, p. 35)
“The years leading up to Stonewall saw a breach in the assimilationist attitudes of the docile homophiles of the previous generation in favour of more revolutionary ones of people who craved more purely sexual freedom.” (Archer, The End Gay, p.91)
“But in the 1960s and 1970s, the gay movement broke decisively with the assimilationist rhetoric of the 1950s by publicly affirming, celebrating, and even cultivating homosexual difference.” (Chauncey, Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate Over Gay Equality, p.29)
An event that took place on June 12, 1969, in New York City at a gay bar called, the Stonewall Inn, had great social and cultural historical significance in the development of the concept of the “modern homosexual” who soon adopted what is known as a “gay” identity. This was an act of resistance, a riot by drag queens mourning the death of Judy Garland. It was a group of effeminate men, wearing women’s clothes resisting police authority, during a raid on the gay bar. What started out as a typical raid by the police, a shake down for bribery from a gay bar turned out much differently. This event is often linked with the beginning of the “gay liberation movement.” It should be noted that it was a fringe group of homosexuals, and not representative individuals of the homosexual community at large who displayed this physical resistance.
“Stonewall was an act of resistance to police authority by multiracial drag queens mourning the death of Judy Garland, long divinized by gays. Therefore Stonewall had a cultural meaning beyond the political: it was a pagan insurrection by the reborn transvestite priests of Cybele.” (Paglia, Vamps and Tramps, p. 67-68)
“In the 1970s gay liberation was the name of a major theoretical challenge to assimilation as well as minoritization. Early activists and writers argued that gay liberation could transform all sexual and gender relations; they argued against marriage and monogamy and against existing family structures (Altman 1981); Jay and Young (1972).” (Phelan, Sexual Strangers: Gays, Lesbians, and Dilemmas of Citizenship, p. 108-109)
“Gay liberation had somehow evolved to the right to have a good time-the right to enjoy bars, discos, drugs, and frequent impersonal sex.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.445)
· American Psychiatric Association
Another historically significant event in the development of the concept of the “modern homosexual” occurred in the early 1970s. This was the decision in 1973 by the APA, American Psychiatric Association, to remove homosexuality from the lists of sexual disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Homosexual advocates acknowledge the hijacking of science for political gain.
“Of course, to mount this counterattack, gays and lesbians must challenge authority of scientists, and that is exactly what gay rights activists did when they campaigned to have homosexuality removed from the APA’s list of mental disorders. In fact, those activists argued that homosexuality is not a disease but a lifestyle choice. Although that argument was successful in the early 1970s, the political climate has changed in such a way that gay rights advocates no long want homosexuality to be considered a choice.Instead, they want homosexuals to be thought of as an immutable characteristic, and the gay gene discourse helps them in this effort.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 43)
“In 1973, by a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the diagnostic category of homosexuality was eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (Bayer 1981).” (O’Donohue & Casselles, Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional , and Value Issues, p. 66 in Destructive Trends in Mental Health The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm editors Rogers H.Wright, and Nicolas A. Cummings.)
“The decision of the American Psychiatric Association to delete homosexuality from its published list of sexual disorders in 1973 was scarcely a cool, scientific decision. It was a response to a political campaign fueled by the belief that its original inclusion as a disorder was a reflection of an oppressive politico-medical definition of homosexuality as a problem.” (Weeks, Jeffery. Sexuality and Its Discontents Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p. 213)
“Perhaps the greatest policy success of the early 1970s was the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973-74 decision to remove homosexuality from its “official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual list of mental disorders.” This decision did not come about because a group of doctors suddenly changed their views; it followed an aggressive and sustained campaign by lesbian and gay activists.” (Rimmerman, From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States, p. 85-86)
“Writing about the 1973 decision and the dispute that surrounded it, Bayer (1981) contended that these changes were produced by political rather than scientific factors. Bayer argued that the revision represented the APA’s surrender to political and social pressures, not new data or scientific theories regarding on human sexuality.” (O’Donohue & Casselles, Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional , and Value Issues, p. 66 in Destructive Trends in Mental Health The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm editors Rogers H.Wright, and Nicolas A. Cummings.)
“The APA’s very process of a medical judgment arrived at by parliamentary method set off more arguments than it settled. Many members felt that the trustees, in acting contrary to diagnostic knowledge, had responded to intense propagandistic pressures from militant homophile organizations. “Politically we said homosexuality is not a disorder,” one psychiatrist admitted, “but privately most of us felt it is.” (Kronemeyer, Overcoming Homosexuality, p.5)
The removing of homosexuality as a sexual disorder was as a result of a three year long social/political campaign by gay activists, pro-gay psychiatrists and gay psychiatrists, not as a result of valid scientific studies. Rather the activities were public disturbances, rallies, protests, and social/political pressure from within by gay psychiatrists and by others outside of the APA upon the APA. The action of removing homosexuality was taken with such unconventional speed that normal channels for consideration of the issues were circumvented. This action taken in the APA had dramatic consequences on psychosexual life according to Charles Socarides in a article published in The Journal of Psychohistory, “Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality.” Socarides writes the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was a false step with the following results.
“This amounted to a full approval of homosexuality and an encouragement to aberrancy by those who should have known better, both in the scientific sense and in the sense of the social consequences of such removal.” (Socarides, Charles W. “Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality,” p.320-321)
In this article he described a movement within the American Psychiatric Association that through social/political activism resulted in a two-phase radicalization of a main pillar of psychosocial life. The first phase was the erosion of heterosexuality as the single acceptable sexual pattern in our culture. This was followed by the second phase the raising of homosexuality to the level of an alternative lifestyle. As a result homosexuality became an acceptable psychosocial institution alongside heterosexuality as a prevailing norm of sexual behavior.
“In essence, this movement within the American Psychiatric Association has accomplished what every other society, with rare exceptions, would have trembled to tamper with, a revision of the basic code and concept of life and biology: that men and women normally mate with the opposite sex and not with each other.” (Socarides, Charles W. “Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality,” p.321)
The hijacking of science in the APA by those advocating homosexuality has now taken a very interesting twist. Thirty years later after this decision by the APA, Robert L. Spitzer, M.D. who was instrumental in the removal of homosexuality in 1973 from the lists of sexual disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is once again facing the anger of others. The first time was by those who opposed the normalization of homosexuality. Now after publishing the results of a study showing that some people may change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, it is those advocating for homosexuality. Dr. Spitzer’s study and peer commentaries have just been published in the October 2003 issue of the “Archives of Sexual Behavior.”
“An additional personal parallel-the anger that has been directed towards me for doing this study reminds of a similar reaction to me during my involvement in the removal of the diagnosis of homosexuality from DSM-II in 1973.” (Spitzer, “Reply: Study Results Should Not be Dismissed and Justify Further Research on the Efficacy of Sexual Reorientation Therapy”, p. 472)
· Circuit Parties
Circuit parties are unique to the homosexual community, but are similar to other parties called “raves” and can be traced back to the popularity of disco music in the 1970s. The popularity of these “circuit parties” has grown tremendously over the past 10 years. There is no uniform definition of a “circuit party”, because these parties continue to evolve.
“However, a circuit party tends to be a multi-event weekend that occurs each year at around the same time and in the same town or city and centers on one or more large, late-night dance events that often have a theme (for example, a color such as red, black or white)." (Mansergh, Colfax, Marks, Rader, Guzman, & Buchbinder, “The Circuit Party Men’s Health Survey: Findings And Implications for Gay and Bisexual Men.” p.953)
“Circuit Parties are weekend-long, erotically-charged, drug-fueled gay dance events held in resort towns across the country. There’s at least one party every month somewhere in the U.S.-New York’s “Black Part,’ South beach’s “White Party,” Montreal’s “Black and Blue Party,” and son- and people travel far and wide to take part.” (Ghaziani, “The Circuit Part’s Faustian Bargin,” p.21)
Because these “circuit parties” are unique to the homosexual community, it is from the media of this community itself that most of the information about these parties comes from. Although there has been a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, which is quoted from above. I have also found an article form USATODAY.com, “Worries crash ‘circuit parties’, 06/20/2002. The information that is coming from all sources is strikingly similar. That is the high prevalence of drug use and sexual activity, including unprotected anal sex.
“The circuit-with its jet set “A-List” of well-heeled and muscular gay men- had actually been in existence in the pre-AIDS time, albeit it was small and very exclusive. It consisted in the late 1970s into the early 1980s mostly of a about thousand men who flew back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, going from the famous parties at the Flamingo and the Saint in New York to the ones at the Probe in L.A. But in the 1990s the circuit grew to consist of parties all around the country, indeed around the world-from Miami to Montreal, Vancouver to Sydney-with tens of thousands of men who regularly attend events. In the early 1990s there were only a handful of events; by 1996, according to Alan Brown in Out and About, a gay travel newsletter, there were over 50 parties a year, roughly one per week. Typically these are weekend-long events, more a series of all-night (and daytime) parties stretching over a few days, often taking place in resort hotels, each punctuated by almost universal drug use among attendees." ( Signorile, Life Outside, p.64-65)
“Every party has a similar format, with loud music and dancing at its core, spiced with live entertainment from popular singers and scantily-clad male dancers. Circuit parties began in the mid-1980’s as part of an effort to raise gay men’s awareness of AIDS as well as to raise funds to combat the disease and help its victims. To this day, many circuit parties HIV/AIDS charity events, benefiting a variety of nonprofit organizations.” (Ghaziani, “The Circuit Part’s Faustian Bargin,” p.21)
According to health officials, Palm Springs, CA has developed one of the highest per capita rates of syphilis in the nation, driven mostly by gay and bisexual men. Palm Springs is where the White Party is held annually in April. The 2003 party raised concerned among public health officials and some gay leaders that the event would feed the spread of syphilis.
Some charities - along with public health officials and many gay rights leaders - are increasingly uncomfortable with what has become the dark side of circuit parties: widespread drug use and random, unprotected sex that some charities say is just the type of behavior they discourage. (“Worries crash ‘circuit parties’.” www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002/06/20/circuit-parties-usat.htm
“This seems harmless enough, but there is also a flipside. While the evidence to date is inconclusive, circuit parties may ironically be a potential site for HIV infection. The irony is that circuit parties began as vehicles for HIV awareness and fundraising.” (Ghaziani, “The Circuit Part’s Faustian Bargin,” p.22)
“It is well known, both anecdotally and through research that drug use is wide spread at circuit parties. Studies indicate that club drugs are consumed by by about 95 percent of party attendees (Mansergh, 2001). Indeed drug use is incorporated into the setting as an intergal part of circuit culture.” (Ghaziani, “The Circuit Part’s Faustian Bargin,” p.22)
“Research revels an abundance of sexual activity during party weekends.” (Ghaziani, “The Circuit Part’s Faustian Bargin,” p.22)
But one national gay organzation in September of 2004 appears not to be concerned with this dark side of circuit parties. The NGLTF (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) has purchased the rights and assets to the Winter Party held in Maimi, FL. A Washington Blade online article (Friday, September 09, 2004) quotes the executive director of the NGLTF, who sees no problem with being a sponsor of a ‘circuit party’. He goes on to call it a dance event.
“Foreman said he sees no problem with the Task Force becoming associated with a circuit party.”
“We’re very proud to have acquired the Winter Party,” Foreman said. “Having a dance event where people come together and have a good time is a good thing.” (“Task Force to take over Winter Party”, Washington Blade online, Friday, September 03, 2004)
· Gay Male Clones
Throughout history the male homosexual was often based on non-gender conformity, that is the effeminate male. Although this still continues today, a rejection of this stereotyping is seen in the “gay male clone”. There are two books written by homosexuals themselves that defines this “gay male clone”. Michelango Signorileis is the author of the book, Life Outside. Signorileis writes about gay men, masculinity, the “gay male clone”, and “circuit parties”. Martin Levine was a sociologist, and university professor. The book, Gay Macho, is an edited version of Levine’s doctoral dissertation. He died from complications of AIDS at the age of 42. The gay male clone was not a representative homosexual, but only one of many groups among the “modern homosexual” gays, lesbians, queers, and homosexual.
“Clones symbolize modern homosexuality. When the dust of gay liberation had settled, the doors to the closet were opened, and out popped the clone. Taking a cue from movement ideology, clones modeled themselves upon traditional masculinity and the self-fulfillment ethic. (Yankelovitch 1981) Aping blue-collar workers, they butched it up and acted like macho men. Accepting me-generation values, they searched for self-fulfillment in anonymous sex, recreational drugs, and hard partying. Much to activists’ chagrin, liberation turned the “Boys in the Band” into doped-up, sexed-out, Marlboro men. The clone in many ways was, the manliest of men. He had a gym-defined body; after hours of rigorous body building, his physique rippled with bulging muscles, looking more like competitive body builders than hairdressers or florists. He wore blue-collar garb-flannel shirts over muscle T-shirts, Levi 501s over work boots, bomber jackets over hooded sweatshirts. He kept his hair short and had a thick moustache or closely cropped beard. There was nothing New Age or hippie about this reformed gay liberationist. And the clone lived the fast life. He “partied hard,” taking recreational drugs, dancing in discos till dawn, having hot sex with strangers. Throughout the seventies and early eighties,clones set the tone in the homosexual community (Altman 1982, 103; Holleran 1982). Glorified in the gay media, promoted in gay advertising, clones defined gay chic, and the clone life style became culturally dominant. Until AIDS. As the new disease ravaged the gay male community in the early 1980s scientist discovered that the clone life style was “toxic”: specific sexual behaviors, even promiscuity, might be one of the ways that the HIV virus spread in the gay male population. Drugs, late nights, and poor nutrition weakened the immunity system (Fettner and Check 1984)” (Levine, Gay Macho, p.7-8)
“The clone role reflected the gay world’s image of this kind of gay man, a doped-up, sexed-out, Marlboro man. Although the gay world derisively named this social type the clone, largely because of is uniform look and life-style, clones were the leading social within gay ghettos until the advent of AIDS. At this time, gay media, arts, and pornography, promoted clones as the first post-Stonewall form of homosexual life. Clones came to symbolize the liberated gay man.” ( Levine, “The Life and Death of Gay Clones.” p.70-71 in Gay Culture in America: Essays from the Field editor Gilbert Herdt.)
"Four features distinguished clones: (1) strongly masculine dress and deportment; (2) uninhibited recreational sex with multiple partners, often in sex clubs and baths; (3) the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs; and (4) frequent attendance at discotheques and other gay meeting places. Clone culture with its pattern of sexual availability, erotic apparel, multiple partners, and reciprocity in sexual technique became an important organizing feature of gay male life during the 1970s. It also became a seedbed for high rates of sexually transmitted diseases as well as frequent transmission of the hepatitis B virus. Many treated sexually transmitted diseases as a price that had to be paid for a life style of erotic liberation." (Jonsen and Stryker, editors, The Social Impact of AIDS in the United States, p. 261-262)
“A key factor in the formulation and promulgation of the cult of masculinity that also dismayed the gay liberationist was that the dominant gender style was now supermasculine. It was as if the 1960s and the counter culture androgyny never occurred. Gay male culture was still reeling from the crisis of masculinity that had affected homosexuals for decades. Gay men, attracted to the masculine ideas they’d cultivated in the furtive days prior to Stonewall, seemed now institutionalize and exaggerate a heterosexual-inspired, macho look. The 1970s clone was born, and his look exploded on the streets of rapidly growing gay ghettos in dozens of American cities.” (Signorile, Life Outside, p.51-52)
“A whole industry was sprouting from and glorifying this male culture, with clothing stores like All American Boy on Castro Street, a gym called Body Works, and dozens of sex clubs and baths, with names like Animals. The sex clubs catered to every to every imaginable sexual taste: the leather set; men who enjoyed being tied up; men who wished to be urinated on. The bathhouses had once been seen as an expression of gay liberation, at least among those who equated gay liberation with sexual abandon. Now, they were celebrating and enforcing the values that Evans saw parading down the Castro every day: The Premium was put on physical appearance and conformity.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.445)
For the “gay male clone” what resulted was not “gay liberation” or freedom from alienation by society, but was bondage into the enforced cult of modern homosexuality.
"For a great many gay men in the urban centers-the majority of which, some studies since the 1970s have shown, have hundreds of partners throughout their lives-living the fantasy has of course all been under the guises of liberation. Perhaps there is no such thing as true liberation. When we break from one rigid system, we often create another. Its true that most gay men in urban America are not having a life of enforced heterosexuality, as gay liberationist might call it, with a driveway, a picket fence, and children to nurture. Many are, however, instead living a life of enforced cult homosexuality, with parties, drugs, and gyms ruling their lives." (Signorile, Life Outside, p.26-27)
In New York City, San Francisco, and other large cities many gay and lesbians had formed large “gay communities.” So it was now possible to live, work, and socialize in what became “gay gehettos.” The following quote is making reference to the opening of, The Saint, a large disco for gay males in New York City.
“It was mailed only to Mailmans’ friends and their friends, a self-selected group that formed the base of The Saint’s membership of three thousand. Anyone who wanted to join had to be referred by a member to the membership office for screening. The clientele reflected the screening process: nearly all white, professional in their twenties and thirties, most good-looking and muscled, with the mustaches and short hair that were the style of the time.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.442-443)
“The streets of San Francisco offered, in theory at least, a cross-section of America’s male homosexual community, but, Evans thought, one would never know it to walk down Castro Street. All these men looked identical, with their short haircuts, clipped mustaches and muscular bodies, turned out in standard-issue uniforms of tight faded blue jeans and polo shirts. The image was one part military, one part cowboy, one part 1950s suburbia and conformity, and they swaggered down the street, many aloof and unfriendly, as if their affected distance enhanced their masculinity.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.444)
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