The Middle Ages had the Black Death, 1918 had the influenza epidemic. But the scourge sweeping the land at the end of the 19th century? Masturbation.
We’re not exaggerating. According to the medical minds of the time, "No single vice causes so much mental and physical debility… It impairs the intellect, weakens the memory, debases the mind, ruins the nervous system, exhausts the vital power and destroys body, mind and soul." They thought masturbation could result in insanity, impotence, epilepsy and "puny offspring."
You could blame pretty much everything on masturbation as long as you ignored the truth. Sure, the general view on masturbation became a lot more sane, sometimes even to a degree that went a bit too far for some (in the 1970s there were sex education films shown in some schools in countries like Belgium and Sweden that featured teens demonstrating how to masturbate) but even as late as 1994 the U.S. Surgeon General was fired for just saying masturbation was part of human sexuality. By Bill Clinton of all people.
Fortunately (well…) for sufferers, doctors back then had almost as many cures as there were symptoms. John Harvey Kellogg for example (yes, the cornflakes guy) was an advocate of circumcising young boys to curb masturbation and applying phenol (an acid that can cause second and third-degree burns) to a girl’s clitoris. Read more on Cracked: 5 Insane Ways Fear of Masturbation Shaped the Modern World
Gladly most of us are over this….
A north London school which has developed lessons on gay historical figures who suffered persecution claims to have succeeded in “more or less eliminating homophobic bullying” in its classrooms and playgrounds over the last five years.
The life story of the wartime code-breaker & computer pioneer Alan Turing is among those being used to tackle homophobia. Turing, a mathematician who cracked German codes in the second world war, was prosecuted in 1952 for his homosexuality, which was then a crime. He was forced to decide between prison and taking female hormones to reduce his libido, and chose the latter. An inquest into his death – two years after his prosecution – returned a verdict of suicide. Authors Oscar Wilde and James Baldwin and artist Andy Warhol also feature in the lessons.
Now Stoke Newington secondary plans to share the lessons with hundreds of primary and secondary school teachers. By the summer, it will have trained more than a hundred teachers in how to “educate and celebrate” being gay. Read on…
It is, sadly, highly doubtful if such lessons would ever be allowed to be taught in many American schools since, according to the influential religious right there, asking kids not to bully others into suicide is “pushing the gay agenda”.
For more than a century, boys went in damaged and came out destroyed. It was for their own good. A report on child abuse at the Florida School for Boys.
The men remember the same things: blood on the walls, bits of lip or tongue on the pillow, the smell of urine and whiskey, the way the bed springs sang with each blow. The way they cried out for Jesus or mama. The grinding of the old fan that muffled their cries. The one-armed man who swung the strap. They remember walking into the dark little building on the campus of the Florida School for Boys, in bare feet and white pajamas, afraid they’d never walk out.
For 109 years, this is where Florida has sent bad boys. Boys have been sent here for rape or assault, yes, but also for skipping school or smoking cigarettes or running hard from broken homes. Some were tough, some confused and afraid; all were treading through their formative years in the custody of the state. They were as young as 5, as old as 20, and they needed to be reformed. It was for their own good.
Now come the men with nightmares and scars on their backsides, carrying 50 years of wreckage — ruined marriages and prison time and meanness and smoldering anger. Now comes a state investigation into unmarked graves, a lawsuit against a dying old man. Now come the questions: How could this happen? What should be done? Those questions have been asked again and again about the reform school at Marianna, where, for more than a century, boys went in damaged and came out destroyed.
2000 years old, worth £1.8 million, banned from the USA, not publicly exhibited until 1999.
Meet history’s most expensive piece of gay porn: The Warren Cup
One side depicts a man (the active participant or erastes) engaging in anal sex with a young man (the catamite, eromenos, or passive participant), who lowers himself onto the erastes using a rope or support from the ceiling in roughly the modern sexual position of reverse cowgirl. Meanwhile a boy, perhaps a slave, watches surreptitiously from behind a door — the inferior status of a slave in Roman eyes would make him suitable to this role of voyeur. The other side depicts two young men making love. Both scenes also include draped textiles in the background, as well as a kithara (lyre) in the former scene and auloi (pipes) in the latter. These, along with the careful delineation of ages and status and the wreaths worn by the youths, all suggest a cultured, elite, Hellenized setting with music and entertainment.
40 Years of Stonewall
The Stonewall Inn was a small bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. It was rumored to be owned by the Mafia, but to most people it was a quiet place where gay people in 1960s New York City could go to socialize and be out of the closet for a few brief hours. In 1960s New York City, it was illegal for bars to serve liquor to homosexuals or suspected homosexuals. The lawmakers in the state felt that homosexuals were a menace and by giving them liquor, trouble was just around the corner. Like the few other gay bars in the area at the time, the Stonewall Inn operated without a liquor license. Raids for serving liquor illegally were quite common, almost a nightly occurence. The police would enter a bar, force the patrons outside, arrest most or all of them, and fine the bar owners. Many times, the arrested men and women had their names published in the papers the next day, which meant they were in constant danger of losing jobs and homes.
But that June night in 1969 was different.
Around 3 AM, several policemen entered the bar and ordered the patrons outside. Many of the patrons, mostly white men, were docile and followed orders. Some of the other patrons, Hispanic and African Americans and drag queens, were roughed up by police as they were forced outside. When the growing crowd saw the police acting this way, they started tossing pennies and shouting at them. Soon, the crowd grew angrier and started throwing beer bottles and garbage cans. The police barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn and called for backup. While inside, they began smashing the place to bits: mirrors, tables, cigarette machines, all destroyed (the police were never charged with vandalism). Backup police soon arrived in full riot gear. The confrontation with the crowd lasted into the morning hours, and flare-ups and small riots continued for the next few days.
[Video found at Bleeding Queers]
Everyone was shocked that the homosexuals fought back. Most gay people at the time were so afraid of losing everything when outed that they stayed in the closet and out of the way of the police. But these riots proved to the police and to the world that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered men and women of New York City, and the world, would not give up without a fight. The Stonewall Riots are regarded as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Marches are held in many cities each year at the end of June to commemerate this historic event. The Stonewall Riots stand for oppressed people demanding to be treated as human beings, as the Constitution of the United States promises.
In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay… In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans.
Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk under the direction of Gus Van Sant (director of Elephant and Paranoid Park) in Milk. Milk charts the last eight years of Harvey Milk’s life. While living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, Milk and his lover Scott Smith relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighbourhood. With his beloved Castro neighbourhood and beautiful city empowering him, Milk surprises Scott and himself by becoming an outspoken agent for change. With vitalizing support from Scott and from new friends like young activist Cleve Jones, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics. Bolstering his public profile with humour, Milk’s actions speak even louder than his gift-of-gab words. When Milk is elected supervisor for the newly zoned District 5, he tries to coordinate his efforts with those of another newly elected supervisor, Dan White. But as White and Milk’s political agendas increasingly diverge, their personal destinies tragically converge. Milk’s platform was and is one of hope – a hero’s legacy that resonates in the here and now
Stars on their way to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles had to pass a group of Christian demonstrators outside who protested against gay marriage and attacked the memory of the late Heath Ledger, a favourite target of militant anti-gay protesters since his role in Brokeback Mountain.
Penn won the best actor award for Milk, in which he played politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The actor opened his acceptance speech with the words: "You commie, homo-loving sons of guns," to laughter from the audience. Referring to the protest, he said: "For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone."
Dustin Lance Black, who won best original screenplay for Milk, continued the theme in an emotional speech. Raised in a strict Mormon household, he spoke movingly of the day he read Harvey Milk’s life story. Milk, who was shot dead in 1978, was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. "It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married," Black said.
"If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are ‘less than’ by their churches, by the government or by their families: that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you. And that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours. Thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk."
Sean Penn and gay director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) have created a warm-hearted testament to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay individual who was elected to major political office, and was then murdered/martyred. — Fayetteville Free Weekly
listen & read first, watch the videos then
Because his writing stresses liberation, the French "boy-poet" Arthur Rimbaud, whose art is based solely on his individual creativity, is a progenitor of modern gay poetics. Jean-Nicolas-Arthur Rimbaud was born on October 20, 1854, in Charleville in northern France. Born of rural parents, Rimbaud enrolled in Charleville’s Institution Rossat and then, in the spring of 1865, attended the Collège de Charleville where he earned his degree. He was an exceptional child, who excelled in academic work by mastering two levels in one year.
Rimbaud began writing very early, first in Latin, then in French. His first French poem was "The Orphans’ Gifts" ("Les Étrennes des orphelins") of 1869. With the encouragement of his young professor-mentor Georges Izambard, he had written twenty-two poems by 1870. By the age of sixteen, he had published several poems in the journal Le Parnasse Contemporain.
In 1870, Rimbaud first traveled to Paris. His first sexual experience may have occurred there in 1871 in a barracks with a group of soldiers; his poem "The Stolen Heart" ("Le Coeur volé") may describe such an experience and may be interpreted in terms of sexual seduction or initiation. Rimbaud met Paul Verlaine on his trip to Paris in 1870 and received an invitation to come to Paris in September 1871. Although Verlaine was married and ten years Rimbaud’s senior, a homosexual relationship between the two men ensued. For the next year and a half, they were together in Paris in the Latin Quarter, in the cafés, and in the literary salons. They traveled together to Brussels and London and acknowledged each other in their writing. Rimbaud, for example, playfully refers to Verlaine’s eyes in his famous poem "Vowels" (1871). The couple may appear masked in the section of A Season in Hell (1873) entitled "Délire I": "Foolish Virgin, The Infernal Bridegroom." Nearly all of Rimbaud’s mature poetry was written during his love affair with Verlaine. The latter encouraged him in the creation of The Illuminations in London in 1872 and A Season in Hell in 1873. After the affair ended in July of 1873, when Verlaine shot him in the wrist during a violent quarrel, Rimbaud essentially abandoned his career as a poet.
After a Brussels printer published A Season in Hell in October 1873, providing a way for Rimbaud to send a few copies to his friends in Paris, Rimbaud’s interest in his own work declined. During 1874 and 1875, he traveled widely in Europe. In the spring of 1876, he enlisted in the Dutch army, but soon abandoned that, preferring to travel to Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and Egypt, where in 1880 he was a coffee buyer and in 1887 sold guns.
Rimbaud died on November 10, 1891, at the age of thirty-seven. He is often regarded as the exemplar of the genius who abandoned poetry for a life of action. Rimbaud’s best known poem The Drunken Boat (Le Bateau ivre) was created in 1871 before his seventeenth birthday; it celebrates liberation, especially Rimbaud’s liberation of the senses, and apparently evolved from the beginning of his relationship with Verlaine. Rimbaud’s artistic world is a world of symbols, hallucinations, dreams, and visions, exemplified especially in A Season in Hell and The Illuminations. One of his professed techniques was a "derangement of all the senses." Rimbaud’s two letters (Lettres du Voyant) of May 1871 constitute a literary manifesto in which the poet is assigned the role of "clairvoyant," "magician," and "artist."
Little Ceasar ~ the Rimbaud Issue
In his art, Rimbaud assumes the mask of diverse personalities, both male and female. In his letter to Izambard of May 13, 1871, appears a novel concept, "I is someone else" ("Je est un autre"). Is the "someone else" creative artist, persona, or another? Is it a mask for his sexual identity? Rimbaud enhances his writing with motifs of love, music, fantasy, memory, myth, and adolescent visions. The section "Alchemy of the Word" ("L’alchimie du verbe," 1873) in A Season in Hell embodies Rimbaud’s doctrine of "alchemy," "witchcraft," or "magic" since the section shows a preponderance of "poetic" words and creates an incantatory effect. The Illuminations–a psychological autobiography in free verse and prose poems–depicts a myriad of settings, a fairy world of time, place, history, fiction, and beauty. Rimbaud concludes The Illuminations with the "genie": a being both human and supernatural, embodying affection, love, reason, and optimism. Written in the nineteenth-century French symbolist style, rich in poetic diction, the work employs symbols to represent ideas, objects, and states.
Although Rimbaud gave up poetry before he was nineteen, he can be described as a boy-poet-emperor, whose palace is his imagination, where he takes his friends on a fantastic voyage to an imaginary realm of magicians, faeries, gods, angels, and genies. In some respects, Rimbaud redefines art and reinvents love by means of a liberation of art and self. Because Rimbaud’s writing stresses liberation, he is a progenitor of modern gay poetics, influencing such poets and prose writers as André Gide, Jean Cocteau, Federico García Lorca, Hart Crane, and Jean Genet. Several artists have sketched Rimbaud, but Verlaine’s Rimbaud (1872) most memorably portrays the young poet as a genius, an example of the modern creative spirit, the boy-poet whose art is based solely on his individual creativity.
[text from glbtq.com]