Thursday, February 5, 2009

Those Others

Those Others
Navigating the "Riddle of Homosexuality" in 1965.

This is the preface to my book, which was announced here. Email me if you want to be notified when the book is released.

Between January 31 and February 4, 1965 a series of articles regarding homosexuality was published in The Washington Post. The articles dealt with homosexuality from many aspects, including the social, medical, psychiatric, employment, legal and religious aspects. Most likely this was the first publication in the mainstream media that presented homosexuality in what at the time could be a fair and balanced way.

These articles are reproduced at the end of the story. The reader may want to read them first, to gain an understanding of the times. Or, they may be read in the appropriate place as they come up in the story, just as the character in the book might read them.

Regardless, the series was bound to have affected many who read it in 1965. Some would be shocked to open their Sunday paper and see the headline:

Those Others: A Report on Homosexuality

They may have been more shocked to read about the controversial behavior of some homosexuals or the severe punishments that were handed down to those unfortunate enough to get caught practicing their behavior.

It may have been their first introduction to what the Kinsey Report said about the subject. That, in turn, could have led to questions about themselves; or their spouses.

On the other hand, the articles could have given encouragement to homosexuals living in the Washington, D.C. area. They might have read for the first time that homosexuals could lead a normal life and that at least one state had exempted homosexual acts from legal penalty. And they might have learned that a local group, the Mattachine Society, was working for their rights in their city.

Some, however, may have been left confused by the articles, especially in the reports on the possible causes and treatments of homosexuality.

Now, almost forty five years later, private consensual homosexual acts are no longer criminal in this country. While advances in medicine, psychiatry and science have increased our knowledge of the origins of sexual orientation and so called “ex-gay” therapies have been discredited, we find ourselves still having to debate the same issues of employment discrimination, violence, religious acceptance and partnership recognition that existed in the 1960s.

The year 1965 was historic, in that civil rights and social unrest in general led to massive demonstrations. The Selma to Montgomery March occurred that year, as did the first large scale anti-Vietnam War protest in Washington, D.C. In addition, the first gay rights protest in Washington, D.C. occurred in front of the White House, where about 10 picketers marched with signs demanding equality in the workplace.

But let’s go back a few months, back to January of that year, when a young man, confused about his life, began his discovery.