14 A Fair Break From the Straight World

Charlotte Fanning

Introduction

In his two-part series for popular Canadian news magazine Maclean’s, Sidney Katz presents, considering the social climate, a completely radical perspective on gay men, or “the homophile world.”[1] The term “homophile” comes from a gay rights movement that preceded the Stonewall Riots of 1969.[2] This movement was characterized by cautious and slow reform, focusing primarily on framing the similarities between homosexuals and heterosexuals to protest discrimination and injustice.[3] Part one of this series, “The Homosexual Next Door,” was published four years prior to the modification of Canada’s Criminal Code; until 1969, homosexual acts were punishable by up to five years in prison.[4] This piece is a report on the lives of gay men, especially Jim Egan who appears under the name Verne Baldwin to avoid arrest. Egan was a prominent gay rights activist throughout his life and in 1949 began protesting the way gay people were written about in news.[5] He made multiple contributions to American queer publications including One and The Mattachine Review.[6] The piece that follows was the first pro-gay article published in a major Canadian news magazine. Consequently, Katz and Egan are often cited as notable instigators of the Canadian gay rights movement.[7]

In the second part of his series, titled “The Harsh Facts of Life in the ‘Gay’ World,” Katz extends upon the idea that homosexuality cannot be “cured” or prevented and is caused by factors that precede birth. Bear in mind that the American Psychological Association considered homosexuality to be a mental illness classified as a “sexual deviance” until 1974.[8] Katz’s view contradicted what most professional psychologists and the general public believed at the time, which was that abnormal parent-child relationships barred proper social development, resulting in homosexuality, correctable by psychological and hormonal therapy and a willingness to change. Katz also argues that gay men are no more sexually promiscuous, immoral, or otherwise more discernable than others. Perhaps the only inherent difference between gay men and heterosexual men, he suggests, is their sexual orientation.[9] Note that Katz refers to same-sex attraction between men as a “condition” and a “problem” throughout the series. Although this would certainly be politically incorrect today, his writing was considered groundbreakingly accepting and progressive at the time of publication; this lexicon and its public perception is reflective of the social atmosphere of Canada in the 1960s.

Canadian social history is often discussed in conjunction with or in comparison to United States social history. Today, Canada is generally viewed as more progressive in granting gay rights than the United States. Canada decriminalized homosexual acts in 1969, followed by the US in 2003, and recognized same-sex marriage in 2005, ten years before the US. Marc Stein argues that decriminalization under Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a turning point in the social histories of Canada and the United States. Before then, Canada was viewed as the more socially conservative.[10] Until 1964, Canada lacked its own defined gay rights activist groups and publications comparable to those in the United States.[11] The US had LGBTQ+ magazines such as The Mattachine Review, One, and The Ladder. “The Homosexual Next Door” contains many references to these publications, to which members of the Canadian gay community made significant contributions. In 1964, the Association for Social Knowledge was formed in Vancouver, and The Mattachine Review published a directory of 23 Canadian homophile groups and publications, pivotal to the visibility of the gay rights movement in Canada.[12]

Although Canada lagged behind the United States in forming gay rights organizations and a visible movement, Canadians made political change far sooner. While Canadian Parliament could approve changes to criminal law on a federal level relatively easily, the United States had to gain approval by each state. Gary Mucciaroni and Miriam Smith argue that Canadian citizens were not in fact more in favor of gay rights than United States citizens, but that political institutions in each country made for two different gay rights histories.[13] Understanding these histories, whose differences help contextualize the social atmosphere of “The Homosexual Next Door,” is necessary to understand the significance of the piece as it was read in 1964.

The Homosexual Next Door: A Sober Appraisal of a New Social Phenomenon (1964)

A million adult Canadians are homosexual. Some are “married” couples living quietly but well in suburban bungalows. Most of the others are ordinary citizens in all respects but the one that makes them criminals before the law and outcasts before society. This is a report on how they live and where they think their new drive for “respectability” will take them”

A club for homosexuals is flourishing on Yonge Street, Toronto’s main thoroughfare. The membership of seven hundred includes men and women, doctors, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, professional athletes, entertainers, hairdressers, clerks, civil servants and university students. Indeed, it would be very difficult to find a profession or occupation which is not represented in the membership.

The existence of such a club, operating openly on the principal street in the centre of a large Canadian city, underlines the rapidly changing nature of the homosexual problem. For one thing, the homosexual, in growing numbers, is becoming bolder in his campaign to be accepted as a member of society in good standing. Homosexuals are demanding the right to live their private lives in their own way without censure or penalty. At present, the legal bar to equality is Section 149 of the Criminal Code, which states that “every one who commits an act of gross indecency with another person is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for five years.” Sexual union between two members of the same sex is interpreted at “gross indecency,” making a practicing homosexual, ipso facto, a criminal. Civil service jobs are denied him. Private employers, sensitive to public opinion, will usually fire even a valued employee upon learning that he is a homosexual. Homosexuals often have difficulty in renting apartments or homes. Restaurants, hotels and other public establishments usually discourage their trade. Most churches reject them because of their “wicked and evil” ways. Verne Baldwin (whose name is disguised, as are all others in this report), a highly educated forty-three-year-old homosexual, speaks for the newly militant homosexual when he says, “As the first step towards justice, Section 149 should be abolished. It’s a vicious law. Nobody is harmed by two consenting adults who perform, in private, what comes naturally to them. Negroes and other minorities are now protected by anti-discrimination legislation. We homosexuals are society’s remaining scapegoats.”

The impressive size of what I will call The Club’s membership – in addition to the seven hundred regular members there are seven hundred guests who visit frequently – suggests the scale of the homosexual problem. Inspector Herbert Thurston of the morality squad, Toronto Metropolitan Police, estimates that there are forty thousand homosexuals in Toronto. Homosexuals I have spoken to place the figure at seventy thousand.[14]

Much of the confusion about the actual size of the homosexual population is due to the mistaken notion that all adults are either exclusively homosexual or heterosexual. This is not so. In 1948, Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey introduced a zero to six “heterosexual-homosexual rating scale” which is now widely used by social scientists. Kinsey established the following categories:

  1. Exclusively heterosexual.
  2. Predominantly heterosexual; only incidently homosexual.
  3. Predominantly heterosexual but more than incidently homosexual.
  4. Equally homosexual and heterosexual.
  5. Predominantly homosexual but more than incidently heterosexual.
  6. Predominantly homosexual but incidently heterosexual.
  7. Exclusively homosexual.[15]

According to Kinsey, and other surveys seem to concur, nine percent of the adult male population belong in categories four and five; four percent in category six. Applying the Kinsey yardstick to Canada’s adult population, there are 244,000 exclusively homosexual males and 549,000 who are predominantly homosexual: 793,000 men. If one adds to this figure the number of female homosexuals, it’s fair to state that there are well over one million men and women in Canada directly involved in the homosexual problem. In these articles, I will principally be concerned with the male homosexual. Lesbians are less obtrusive, less discriminated against and raise fewer social problems.[16]

I have tried to make a realistic appraisal of the homosexual as a person by getting to know large numbers of them at the Toronto club and elsewhere. I have learned that the homosexual is rarely the weird sex monster so often depicted in psychiatric case histories, police records and lurid fiction. A surprisingly high proportion of homosexuals are indistinguishable from heterosexuals. Only a small proportion of homosexual men affect effeminate dress or mannerisms. The vast majority are industrious, law-abiding citizens with regular jobs – some of them positions of great responsibility. Like most heterosexuals, most homosexuals are outraged by adults who molest children or seduce adolescents. Like heterosexuals again, homosexuals’ proclivity for sex varies from several times a week to a few times a month; some remain celibate.

The Law Means Discrimination

This is the profile of the average homosexual which emerges in the several authoritative studies of homosexuality, including two recent large-scale British reports. The first is the so-called Wolfenden committee report presented to Parliament in 1957; the other is the report of the British Social Biology Council, edited by one of its members, Dr. Gordon Westwood, a Cambridge University psychologist.[17] My own research leads me to share the general conclusion of these reports – that the average homosexual is a much maligned individual, unfairly discriminated against by our laws and society.

Most people will probably reject this view. The mere mention of homosexuality arouses, in many, deep fear, revulsion and consternation. When news of The Club’s existence was first made public, a local churchman thundered from his pulpit that Toronto had become “a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.” Morality Inspector Herbert Thurston warned that “sexual perversion is spreading. These people are no longer ashamed to admit what they are.” A gossip paragrapher in an evening newspaper said darkly that the homosexual situation had become “intolerable,” that homosexuals were taking over certain occupations and professions and were exerting “extraordinary influence over some important Torontonians.” A letter-to-the editor writer compared homosexuals to arsonists, kleptomaniacs, and psychopathic murders, asking, “how can the slightest tolerance be accorded to such bestial perversity?”

Partly to investigate the grounds for these dire warnings, I have been recently exploring the world of homosexuals in Toronto. I started at The Club, where I got to know the managers and several club members as well. For a time, I sat in with a small group of homosexuals who met weekly to discuss mutual problems, I visited homosexuals in their homes. Some of these had been living, devotedly, with homosexual partners for several years in relationships they themselves call “marriages.” I spent time in “gay” bars of which there are several in Toronto, some in good hotels.[18] I saw something of the seamy side of the homophile world – a way of life adopted by relatively few, yet the one which most people regard as typical of homosexuals. I visited low taverns and bars – “dives” where some male homosexuals dress like women and young male prostitutes ply their trade. I spoke to men who have sought and found sex in parks and public washrooms. The homosexuals I spoke to varied in age, background, intelligence and education. We discussed a wide range of subjects – what it’s like living in a hostile society; their search for friendship, love and sex; how they feel about women; their attitude toward psychiatrists and others who think they can “cure” them; their relationships with the police, the clergy and their own families.

Exposure Means Personal Ruin

The greater part of the homosexual world, I discovered, is invisible to outsiders. Although rigid classifications are not possible, I was able to identify three main segments of homosexual society. The largest and most respectable group dress and act conservatively and try to be inconspicuous.[19] Many are “married.” Most of their friends are also homosexual and they spend their leisure time holding private parties, going to the theatre or movies, pursuing hobbies. Many homosexuals in this group hold important positions in business or the professions. Exposure might mean personal ruin.

A smaller number of homosexuals openly identify themselves with the “gay” world. In every large city there are gay clubs, bars, restaurants, parties and local celebrities. It is in the gay worlds that these homosexuals find the support, sympathy and fellowship they miss elsewhere.

There is still another group of homosexuals, many of them belonging to Kinsey’s categories three, four and five. They are men who will not acknowledge their homosexuality and do not, customarily, lead a homophile life either in private or as members of the gay set. They pretend to be “straight,” their word for heterosexual, and often marry a woman for protective coloration. Sometimes, when they can no longer deny their impulses, they seek sexual contact in parks, washrooms or other public places. Because of their inexperience, they are frequently picked up by the police. “They’re babes-in the-woods as far as practising homosexuality is concerned,” one homosexual told me.

The “married” homosexuals, I found, have the highest status in homophile society. Their success in achieving permanent and stable relationships is regarded with envy and admiration by other homosexuals. “One-night stands become wearisome and meaningless,” a homosexual explained to me.

I visited some of these “married” couples and was told about several others. For twelve years, Alex Colborne and Peter Soames have lived in an attractive twenty-thousand-dollar bungalow in a Toronto suburb. They run their own business in partnership. They jointly own their own home, a summer cottage and a car. They keep pets, do volunteer work with a national health organization and are sometimes active in little-theatre productions. Nearly all their friends are homosexual university graduates. Occasionally, the middle-aged heterosexual couple next door drop in for a drink and some conversation. Since the “married” men have no family expenses, they have a high standard of living.

I spent an evening at the apartment of another couple who had been together for seventeen years, Verne Baldwin, forty-three, runs his own business; George Galbraith, thirty-six, is a hairdresser. As Verne and I sat talking in the comfortable library, George brought in a tray of cold beer, glasses and salted nuts. Later, he set an attractive table in the dining room and served coffee and refreshments. George, I was told, does the cooking, washing, and ironing; chooses the furniture and decides on the color scheme for decorating the apartment. The actual painting is done by Verne, who also handles all the repairs and heavy chores. As in the case of other “married” couples, a good deal of this pair’s social life revolves about their home. As will be explained in a later article, maintaining a homosexual marriage is a formidable task because of male promiscuity, the absence of children and the censure of the law, church and society.

A “single” homosexual, who has decided that he belongs to the gay world, is apt to spend considerable time at one or another of the city’s high spots. High on his list is the homosexual club, which charges an annual membership fee of $7.50. On nights when the members stage their own entertainment, The Club stays open til 3 a.m. As many as two hundred people pack in on a single night, about one fifth of them female homosexuals and, usually, a few heterosexuals, friends of the members.

One of The Club’s managers, John Deems, a 37-year-old bisexual with an infectious sense of humor, told me, “Heterosexuals come here expecting to see terrible things – an orgy of perversion, perhaps. They’re disappointed.” What they see is a clean, well-furnished establishment resembling a small nightclub. Members arrive singly, in couples or parties. They sit around quietly chatting, sipping coffee, listening to music or dancing. The only thing that might make heterosexuals uncomfortable is seeing members of the same sex dancing together. The Club plays a definite role in educating at least some members of the public about homosexuals. More than one member of The Club told me, “I’ve taken a relative or friend there with me to show them what nice friends I have.”

Members told me they liked The Club because it was one place away from home where they could relax and be themselves. “In heterosexual places you have to be on guard so that you won’t say or do the wrong thing,” one young homosexual told me. “Constant concealment is a heavy burden.” Deems claims that The Club is maintained purely for social reasons and is not a place used by members to make pick-ups. “Our members have a chance to meet nice, respectable people,” says Deems. “We keep out the drunks, hustlers, child molesters, seducers and other kinds of riffraff.” While the Toronto police tolerate The Club, they have misgivings. They believe that such clubs encourage young people to become homosexuals. Deems denies it. “By the time a young man joins our club his sexual orientation has been firmly determined. We don’t manufacture homosexuals. We only give homosexuals a comfortable, dignified place to meet socially. They’re better off here than they would be out on the street.” Deems and his comanager Susie Coleman, a lesbian, hope to expand The Club program to include classes in arts and crafts and to publish a monthly magazine.

Early one evening I went to the clubrooms to watch a new activity sponsored by the homosexual club – a group-therapy or discussion session. There were nine people present, including the leader, a woman psychologist. The session touched on several topics. One man defended the existence of The Club. “Newspapermen, businessmen and other groups have their own clubs so why can’t we?” The group expressed bitterness at injustices meted out to them by heterosexuals. “Why can’t they accept us on our own individual merit? If we’re dishonest or worthless, OK, let people reject us on these grounds, but not just because our sexual nature is different.” They agreed that the cruelest, most intolerant level of society is the “middle-class churchgoers who vote against cocktail lounges, are opposed to Sunday sports and want to burn books.” The question of a “cure” for homosexuality came up. One member said that a doctor had treated him with male sex hormones. “It just made me want more sex with men, he said. Another member had visited a psychiatrist for eighteen months. “They don’t know very much about us,” he explained. “This doctor helped me live with the fact that I’m a homosexual but he didn’t help me want a woman. I’ve never heard of a real homosexual who was turned into a real heterosexual by a psychiatrist.” All those present at the meeting agreed.

Before arriving at The Club late at night, the homosexual is likely to have spent several hours drinking with his companions in a gay bar. There are at least six in Toronto. The first one I visited is well furnished and the drinks are expensive. One of the proprietors is a homosexual who carefully excludes “tourists” (thrill-seeking heterosexuals) who might make his guests uncomfortable. A second bar, much larger, was filled with music, laughter and friendly chatter. There was much gossip about mutual friends and talk about books, movies, plays and politics as well as an exchange of gay jokes. The conversation was sprinkled with the lexicon of the homophile world. To dress in drag means wearing feminine clothes; to camp or swish means to effect effeminate mannerisms; a Nelly is a very effeminate homosexual; a bi is a bisexual and so on.

While many hotel and bar proprietors discourage the gay trade, some welcome it because it means lucrative business. Because they have no family, the homosexuals spend a lot of time in bars, they drink steadily, they tip generously and they seldom smash the furniture. As I sat in one such bar, a “married” couple came in and were regarded with envy by the others. There were interested glances at a store manager and publishing executive who entered together. This alliance had started only a few weeks before and there was guessing as to whether or not the relationship would last. A young man appeared at the entrance alone and looked around. There was speculation. Is he gay? Or perhaps an out-of-town stranger who doesn’t realize he’s in a gay bar?

The Sad Life in the “Gay” Taverns

Tourists who come to the gay bars to stare are discouraged in different ways. In one bar, the regulars will point and stare at the offending “straight” people, whisper among themselves and then burst out laughing. After this routine is repeated a few times, the tourists retreat in confusion and dismay. One night, a party of gay people found themselves next to a table of giggling, finger-pointing heterosexuals. One of the homosexuals leaped up and, in a loud, shrill female voice, said, “I must now go, my dears. Your poor mother is exhausted after washing, ironing and cooking all day.”

One evening, in the company of a homosexual guide, I visited two of Toronto’s lowest gay taverns. One tavern consisted of a long, shabby, depressing room. Most of the men were “masculine-type” homosexuals, dressed in sloppy work clothes. Other guests – most of these over forty – were conspicuous by their neat and conventional attire. Entering and leaving the tavern and table-hopping were a number of youths – male prostitutes soliciting older men. One young man of twenty-eight looked no older than eighteen. My guide told me, “His face is smooth and fresh because he’s had all the hairs removed by electrolysis.” In another dive only a short distance away, I saw male homosexuals with feminine hairdos and bracelets jangling on their wrists. These, too, were prostitutes. After a fast drink, I walked up Bay Street with my guide. He pointed out a number of youthful male hustlers, lurking in store entrances and alleyways, in search of paying customers. The police make a conscientious effort to keep them under surveillance and arrest them at the point where they are soliciting trade. When a male prostitute is arrested, he is aptly given a two-year jail sentence. (A female prostitute usually gets off with a fine.)

Not all the homosexual’s social life, of course, takes place in clubs or bars. Like other people, homosexuals give parties in their own homes. “The straight people think we hold orgies,” says Phil Paint, a handsome, masculine-looking homosexual of thirty who entertains frequently. “The truth is, except for the absence of women, gay parties are pretty much the same as straight parties.” The guests drink, talk, listen to music, dance, eat, and go home. Paine seldom, if ever, invites heterosexuals. “After a few drinks, a couple of boys might hold hands and kiss. This would make the straight guests feel uncomfortable.”

Another reason for not having “mixed” parties attended by both sexes, is that homosexual males vary greatly in their attitude toward women. A certain proportion of homosexuals have a positive aversion. “I don’t want a young woman anywhere near me, especially if she’s the least bit aggressive,” says a plant manager in his late forties. “I would feel threatened if I had to dance with one. I prefer older women – and then only to talk to them about impersonal matters.” Not all homosexual reactions to females are as extreme. Ken Parsons, a young homosexual, admires women who are slender, chic and possess a sense of humor. He has a girl friend whom he takes to a movie or out to a meal about once a month. They exchange birthday presents. “We like each other as people. Physical relations between us would be unthinkable.” Still another homosexual told me that he enjoyed the company of normal women and, from time to time, had relations with them. “But there’s nothing emotional about my feeling for women,” he said. “I regard myself as a one-hundred-percent homosexual.” I learned that is was not unusual for married women in their late thirties and early forties to make a play for handsome young homosexuals. Sometimes, the homosexual yields to the woman’s maturity, experience, intelligence and attractiveness. I was told of two instances where marriages resulted from such relationships. Neither of them lasted for more than two years.

The man who is exclusively homosexual, of course, is unlikely to experiment with heterosexual marriage. Indeed, he tends to limit his associations to homosexuals, and often buys his goods and services at places which cater, predominantly, to homosexuals. One Toronto automobile sales and service firm, for example, caters almost exclusively to homosexuals. There are enough style-conscious homosexuals in Toronto to keep three or four tailoring establishments busy.

At least one Toronto bookstore is predominantly gay. The proprietor keeps a generous stock of works by Gide, Proust, Wilde, A. E. Housman, Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and other authors favored by homosexuals. There are gay doctors in Toronto whose practice is largely made up of gay patients. If the patient is suffering from VD, the doctor can be expected to show understanding in a delicate and embarrassing situation. By law, the name of the patient and his contact (or contacts) must be reported to public health authorities. The gay doctor usually treats the patient and contact himself without going through official channels. There is a definite link between VD and homosexuality. “Homosexuality is more prevalent in our society than most people will admit,” says Dr. C. Colin Jackson, a Vancouver physician. “On the basis of our experience in British Columbia, these people are playing a dominant role in the continued spread of the disease.” In a California study of 170 males with infectious syphilis, fifty-six percent had male contacts exclusively. A Vancouver VD clinic recently reported on the vocations of three hundred homosexuals treated during the past twelve years. The patients included clergymen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, undertakers, entertainers and skilled and unskilled laborers – convincing testimony that no segment of society is without its quota of the third sex.

I found, in the course of my research, that the homosexual world abounds in crusading organizations. Perhaps the best known is One, with headquarters in Los Angeles, founded fourteen years ago. The name was suggested by a quotation from the writings of Thomas Carlyle. “A mystic band of brotherhood makes all men one.” The Mattachine Society, whose head office is in San Francisco, derives its name from an old Provençal slang term meaning “little fool.” It refers to medieval court jesters who were usually homosexuals. The Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization, also centered in San Francisco, is named after a character created by the French poet Pierre Louys.[19] Bilitis was a poetess living on the island of Lesbos at the time of Sappho.

These organizations share the same goal: the education of their members and the public with a view to improving the lot of the homosexual. They want a social climate in which the homosexual can have the same opportunity for self-development as other people. Abolishing punitive laws is the first objective. This has already been accomplished in Illinois as well as in every country in Europe with the exception of Britain and West Germany.

One maintains a library, does research and gives medical, legal and personal advice to its members, and also publishes a monthly magazine which bears the name of the organization. Recently, customs officials stopped copies of One from reaching its Canadian subscribers because, they claimed, “it was disgusting material.” Thereafter, One removed the names from the mailing wrappers, folded the magazines lengthwise and addressed them by hand.

Copies have since been coming through without difficulty. When the U.S. Post Office refused to carry One in the mails, One took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won it.[20] A Canadian homosexual told me, “We haven’t the money or the resources yet to test this issue in the courts.

Lectures, discussions and seminars are part of the organization’s programs. Recent themes have been: Should I Tell My Family? How to Safeguard Your Job, Should Homosexuals Marry? Religion and the Homosexual. The latter subject is frequently discussed because most churches reject homosexuals. This led seven years ago to the establishment of a homophile church, The First Church of One Brotherhood, in Los Angeles.[21] “Our church,” explains a spokesman, “is based on the teaching of the Hebrew prophets, Jesus and other philosophers. Members are not required to accept any dogma. They must only declare their willingness to work with us in brotherhood.”

Sometimes, local chapters of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis meet jointly. At one such conference, they listened to a lecture on Raising Children in a Deviant Relationship. Later, the meeting discussed the advantages of lesbians fraternizing with male homosexuals. A homosexual, it was agreed, would make a convenient escort at times when a lesbian had to attend a mixed heterosexual social function. It was also pointed out that association with males would help get rid of “the near hatred” which many lesbians feel toward men.

Homosexual organizations, of course, have a longer history in European countries. For example, the Cultuur-En Ontspanningscentrum in the Netherlands serves its thousands of members with a headquarters building in Amsterdam and branch clubhouses in six Dutch cities. It is possible that a militant homosexual organization will emerge in Canada within a few years.

Verne told me: “We have to wait until we have a strong group of people – homosexual and heterosexual – who are willing to stand up and be counted. The time is not quite ripe in Canada, but we’re getting there.”

Homosexual literature is also an integral part of the homosexual world. Physical-culture and body-building magazines, containing “beef cake” photographs of handsome, muscular young men in various stages of undress, are purchased by many homosexuals. Every issue of One, The Mattachine Review and The Circle (published in Switzerland) contains at least one short story in which the protagonists are homosexual.[22] A recurrent theme is that of the lonesome homosexual in search of a partner but fearful of making the first advance lest he give himself away. One story starts off: “It was during the ban-the-bomb sitdown in Trafalgar Square that I first saw him. His blue eyes twinkled with mischief and his thick, almost negroid lips pouted babyishly. For a moment I felt like taking him in my arms but I fought the feeling.”

Books with a predominantly homophile theme are read regularly by many homosexuals. There are a great many of them: over 150 mystery titles feature homosexuals or lesbians. Homosexuals believe that some published novels have seriously damaged their struggle for acceptance. City of Night by John Rechy, for example, is disliked because it deals with the sordid, degenerate life of a homosexual prostitute. “Many people get the idea that all homosexuals are like that,” Verne told me. On the other hand, he praises Quarefoil, by James Barr.[23] The novel treats sensitively and seriously the romantic love between two naval officers. “The book clearly shows,” says Verne, “that homosexuals are not disgusting, fantastic or pitiful but vigorous, healthy young males who are most attractive.”

At the present time, it is unlikely that there are large numbers of us in the straight world who share this generous view. Most people are repulsed or frightened by homosexuality, so much so that they would prefer to ignore the problem entirely. It is the kind of problem which, to some extent, can be shunted aside because the vast majority of homosexuals live among us in anonymity. Perhaps, as one writer suggested, if all homosexuals painted themselves a bright blue we would be so impressed by their vast number and their individual worth as human beings that we would be moved to accord them greater understanding and acceptance.

But rejection is the lot of the homosexual today. Because of society’s attitude, the homosexual thinks, broods and talks about his condition a great deal with those he can trust. “Society has made us into soul searchers,” one gifted young homosexual told me recently. “We are constantly forced to examine ourselves. How did we get this way? How can we find happiness? Has religion anything to offer us? Can medicine or psychiatry be of help? What can we do to get a fair break from the straight world?”

I will discuss some of these questions in a second article on homosexuality in the next issue of Maclean’s.

 


Charlotte Fanning is sophomore at Wake Forest University.


  1. Sidney Katz, “The Homosexual Next Door,” Maclean’s 7, no. 4 (February 22, 1964): 10–11, 28–30.
  2. On June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, revolted against a raid by the New York Police Department Public Morals Squad. This sparked the gay rights movement as it is recognized today. Amy Crawford, “Pride and Prejudice: Interpreting the Legacy of the Stonewall Uprising 50 Years Later,” Smithsonian 50, no. 3 (June 2019): 8–8.
  3. Roy Cain, “Disclosure and Secrecy among Gay Men in the United States and Canada: A Shift in Views,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 2, no. 1 (1991): 29.
  4. Scott Steele and Mary Nemeth, “Coming Out,” Maclean’s 107, no. 20 (May 16, 1994): 40.
  5. Shantel Ivits, “The Story of Jim Egan,” BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English – Reader 4, November 9, 2015, https://opentextbc.ca/abealfreader4/chapter/the-story-of-jim-egan/.
  6. Marc Stein, “Sex With Neighbors: Canada and Canadians in the U.S. Homophile Press,” Journal of Homosexuality 64, no. 7 (June 7, 2017): 972–73, https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2017.1280999.
  7. Martin Morris and Blake Wesley Hawkins, “Towards a New Specialization in Health Librarianship: LGBTQ Health,” n.d., 20.
  8. Cain, “Disclosure and Secrecy among Gay Men in the United States and Canada,” 25.
  9. Sidney Katz, “The Harsh Facts of Life in the ‘Gay’ World,” Maclean’s 7, no. 5 (March 7, 1964): 18.
  10. Stein, “Sex With Neighbors,” 964.
  11. Stein, 976.
  12. Stein, 978.
  13. Gary Mucciaroni and Miriam Smith, “Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada,” Canadian Journal of Political Science; Cambridge 42, no. 4 (December 2009): 1076–77, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0008423909990618.
  14. The Morality Department of the Toronto Police was established by mayor William Howard in 1886 originally to patrol instances of infractions of public order such as public intoxication, brothels, gambling, cruelty against women and children, and prostitution. Carolyn Strange, Toronto’s Girl Problem: The Perils and Pleasures of the City, 1880-1930 (Toronto, UNKNOWN: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 17, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/wfu/detail.action?docID=4672191.
  15. Kinsey published two reports known collectively as the Kinsey Reports in the mid-twentieth century. These reports contributed to a major change in public perception of sexuality. His research suggested that people do not fit exclusively into categories of sexual orientation and also challenged the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. Cain, “Disclosure and Secrecy among Gay Men in the United States and Canada,” 28.
  16. The differences of both power and perceived qualities between women and men are apparent in this statement. In a male-dominated culture, it is understandable that gay men were more visible than lesbians to the public eye. George Chauncey, Gay New York (BasicBooks, 1994), 27. Additionally, intimacy between women and intimacy between men was not understood as equally normal. Women in some cultures were historically seen as having little sexual passion, so even sexual or romantic intimacy was often not interpreted the same as that in heterosexual relations. Lillian Faderman, Surpassing the Love of Men (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1981), 16.
  17. The Wolfenden Report of 1957 was the product of a three-year investigation on homosexuality and prostitution in Britain, ultimately concluding that homosexuality should be considered neither a crime nor a disease. Homosexual acts remained criminal in Britain until 1967 and the report still advocated for research into causes and treatments of homosexuality. John-Pierre Joyce, “A New Normal,” History Today 66, no. 2 (February 2016): 33–34. The report of the British Social Biology Council was on a study involving interviews from 127 gay men and boys. This study suggests that sexual preferences are not likely to be changed by specific sexual encounters. That is, it is unlikely that gay men would “become” heterosexual if seduced by a woman; likewise, it is unlikely that a gay man could “turn” a straight man gay. According to Dr. Gordon Westwood, the only possible prevention strategy for homosexual preferences is early education so that a young person can “recognize the signs,” “ask for much-needed advice with his homosexual problems,” and “make a satisfactory heterosexual adjustment.” Katz, “The Harsh Facts of Life in the ‘Gay’ World,” 34–35.
  18. The use of the term “gay” to mean homosexual began in 1935 as “Underworld and Prison Slang” and then as a code word among the gay community by the 1950s. The term was adopted by activists during the gay rights movement to combat the negative connotations that the psychology profession had associated with the term “homosexual.” Lawrence Ingrassia, “Fighting Words: Gay, Lesbian Groups Seek to Expunge Bias They See in Language --- One Focus of Rights Debate Is the Debate Itself; Critics Perceive Orwellian Cant --- Bi, Bisexual, or Omnisexual,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1993.
  19. The Daughters of Bilitis had a publication called The Ladder, whose early issues were discreet with their subject matters and directed toward “closeted” lesbians during a time when nearly all queer publications were for men. In 1963, The Ladder was taken over by Barbara Gittings, who pushed for rebranding the publication as an openly gay magazine and associating with the men’s gay movement. In 1968, Barbara Grier took over and converted The Ladder to a feminist publication, entirely separate from gay men. The evolution of the lesbian movement eventually led to the disbanding of the Daughters of Bilitis in 1970. Moira Donegan, “Lavender, Menaced,” Bookforum 25, no. 2 (2018).
  20. The US Post Office cited three items as “obscene” when it refused to carry One in the mail. One of these was a poem by Brother Grundy that playfully referenced a recent gay sex scandal between a member of the House of Lords and a member of the Royal Airforce in Britain. The overturning of the Post Office’s decision by the Supreme Court was a significant win for anticensorship. Stein, “Sex With Neighbors,” 971.
  21. The founder of The First Church of One Brotherhood, Charles Rowland, was also a cofounder of the Mattachine Society and a member of One. “First Church of One Brotherhood Collection, 1956-1976,” Online Archive of California, accessed November 5, 2019, https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8251gm3/.
  22. Of the 240 identified references to Canada in United States homophile publications between 1953 and 1964, 118 appeared in One and 81 appeared in The Mattachine Review. Many of these references were found in contributions from Canadians. Although both magazines had readership across all continents except Antarctica, Canada especially had an influence in how these magazines represented their country. Stein, “Sex With Neighbors,” 966.
  23. James Barr was discharged from the US Navy in 1952 when the Office of Naval Intelligence learned that he had authored Quarefoil. Barr wrote many pieces of gay literature throughout his life including multiple contributions to The Mattachine Review. Hubert Kennedy, “James Barr: Quatrefoil Broke New Ground,” The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review; Boston, January 31, 1996.