Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Women’s Convictions for “Unnatural Carnal Copulation”

Convictions of women for “crimes against nature” have been exceedingly rare in our nation’s history. But in 1967, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld two such cases.

Mary Young and Dawn DeBlanc were sex workers.  In 1966, a police officer arranged a rendezvous in a phone call with DeBlanc. As they settled on a price for services rendered, DeBlanc mentioned that sometimes she and Young “gave a show” for an additional charge. The officer arrived at the motel, and the show was underway when other officers came in and arrested Young and DeBlanc. In a particularly humiliation, police photographed the two in their present state of undress. They also found a comic book in one of the girls’ purses which they labeled obscene.

Young’s and DeBlanc’s legal problems were apparently compounded by a thoroughly ineffective defense attorney. He raised objections to the introduction of evidence without ever stating a legal ground for his objections. And he failed to follow basic court procedures when he tried to bring a police report into evidence.

But it wasn’t all on the attorney. When Judge Frank Shea gave his instructions to the jury, he refused to ask it to consider the law against entrapment. The jury returned a guilty verdict, and Shea sentenced Young and DeBlanc to thirty months in the Orleans Parish prison.

Young and DeBlanc appealed the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Among the grounds was the argument that “unnatural carnal copulation” was too vague. The Court disagreed, and ruled:

The statute, of course, requires proof of an “unnatural carnal copulation.” As pointed out by this court … this phrase simply means “any and all carnal copulation or sexual joining and coition that is devious and abnormal because it is contrary to the natural traits and/or instincts intended by nature, and therefore does not conform to the order ordained by nature.’ The record discloses that officers who were in the motel room and witnessed the acts which formed the basis of the charge testified that there was oral copulation by and between both of the accused, and these witnesses described in detail the acts showing the unnatural carnal copulation. Since there is some evidence of this essential element of the crime, there is nothing for this court to review


1967: Wranglers for women: “You have to look for the ‘W’ because its silent.”

Headlines for Jan 16, 1967: Syria and Israel exchange gunfire on the Sea of Galilee, threatening war at any moment. U.N. General Secretary U Thant urges both governments to avoid war. Lurleen Wallace, wife of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, is sworn in as a proxy for her term-limited husband. Midwest and upper Plains are paralyzed by a blizzard. A massive blaze destroys Chicago’s six-year-old McCormick Place Exposition Center, dealing the city a terrible economic blow. New York City hospitals admit conducting  unauthorized experiments on patients.

On the radio: “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen, “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville, “Good Thing” by Paul Revere and the Raiders (feat. Mark Lindsay), “Words of Love” by the Mamas and the Papas, “Standing In the Shadows of Love” by the Four Tops, “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers, “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra, “Nashville Cats” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, “Tell It To the Moon” by the Four Seasons.

Currently in theaters: Gambit

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton, Capable of Honor by Allen Drury. Non-fiction: Everything but Money by Sam Levenson, Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane.


Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the USA (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1976): pp 127-128]

“Get Out, Vicious Pervert!”: The Night Gay Rights Activists Were Thrown Off TV

Frank Kameny, Lilli Vincenz and Jack Nichols, in the WOOK-TV studio.

Washington, D.C’s WOOK-TV struggled to find an audience ever since it went on the air in 1963. Not that they didn’t try. The station looked at its local audience — 57% African-Americans, with many more across the line in Prince George’s County, Maryland — and decided to become the first American station to serve African-Americans. Its locally-produced programming included an American Bandstand-style program Teenarama Dance Party, a music program hosted by jazz great Lionel Hampton, and roving broadcasts from the city’s jazz nightclubs.

But as a UHF station, Channel 14 was hampered by a weak signal and the lack of TVs in the D.C. area capable of tuning in. Television sets weren’t required to be equipped with UHF tuners until 1964. Fewer blacks than whites owned TVs, and fewer people still paid extra to buy TVs with built-in UHF tuners. So it didn’t take long until low ratings and a lack of available programming forced WOOK to rely on cheap re-runs and thirty-year-old forgotten movies to fill out its schedule.

In 1967, WOOK decided to try something different by adopting a news/current affairs format for its evening schedule. Two and a half hours of news began at 7:30 p.m., followed by Controversy, a telephone call-in talk show moderated by Dennis Richards.

WOOK was apparently looking for controversial topics for Controversy. They found it when they invited local gay rights activists Frank Kameny and Jack Nichols, co-founders of the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW), to appear on the February 7 program. This would make them among the very first guests to appear on Controversy.

As Nichols remembered it, it was a very cold and snowy night when they arrived at the WOOK studio. Nichols described Richards as “a mild-looking man.” But as soon as the on-the-air light lit up, Richards became “the most flamboyant and fierce adversary that has ever graced the television screen.”

Richards raised all of the classic fallacies: all gay men are drag queens, gay people are mentally ill, all homosexuals molest children — that sort of thing. Nichols later wrote that Kameny, “in his clear, logical and authoritative manner, squelched a great number of our adversary’s arguments.” Richards finally went ballistic:

Not only did he pound his fist on the desk, wave his arms about, interrupt, shout, and burst forth with diatribes of antihomosexual frenzy, but, as the show came to an exhausting end after two hours and while we were still on the air, he screamed, “Get off of my stage, out of my studio, you vicious perverted, lecherous people!!”

With time left to fill, Richards continued taking calls from his television audience. Many of those callers accused him of being overly-excited and said that he needed to calm down. Some even openly questioned if maybe he, too, was gay.

Ordinarily, one might look at what happened and conclude the whole thing was a disaster. But those phone calls suggested to Nichols that Richards’s antics actually helped them:

… Mr. Richard’s (sic) antics throughout the session on TV was pure melodrama, and since we had been able, in spite of his opposing spirit, to answer every question cooly and make our points effectively, he succeeded only in making himself look rather ridiculous and certainly unreasonable with respect to his antihomosexuality.

So imagine their shock when Kameny answered the phone one day and found someone from WOOK on the other end, asking if he and Nichols would like to come back for another round of Controversy. Kameny was never one to pass up a chance to engage the media, so he accepted immediately. Nichols also agreed. But this time, they brought along Lilli Vincenz (using the pseudonym of Lily Hansen), one of the few lesbians to join MSW.

This broadcast, on March 2, contrasted the previous one like night against day. Maybe the station’s management told Richards to calm down. Or maybe it was Vincenz’s presence — with her simple skirt, heels, a nice trim haircut and a shy smile. She might have been a lesbian, but with her appearance that night, nobody was going to try to call her a pervert. And also, maybe it’s because Vincenz sat between the two men, breaking up the possibility of the viewing audience (or Richards) imagining Kameny and Nichols together.

Whatever it was, Richards was a gentleman. “The second time he was as sweet as can be,” remembered Vincenz. “I don’t know if I made a difference, or if he had a change of heart and realized that wasn’t the way to deal with gay people.” Nichols agreed:

Mr. Richards had become tame. He didn’t shout, and he allowed us ample opportunity to have our say. Although he made it clear that he disagreed with our stand, he did not, as previously, throw his pencil on the floor, hurl insulting invectives at us, or say “You make me want to vomit!” Perhaps it had become clear to him, in retrospect, that he had not handled us in a manner which could be called “suave.” Also, perhaps the presence of a young lady made it less easy for him to wax nasty.

When the show came to an end, Richards thanked his guests for coming on. But he never offered an apology, on camera or off.

Kameny, Vincenz and Nichols considered this second program as successful as the first. This time, they were able to answer viewers’ questions much more calmly and without interruption. “The public didn’t know that the stereotype wasn’t true of the majority of gay people,” Vincenz said later. “Once we started appearing on TV and on talk radio shows, they started seeing us as more real. A lot of people connected because of our visibility.”


Before Dennis Richards arrived at WOOK-TV, he had briefly hosted a two-hour afternoon radio call-in show for WACE in Springfield, Massachusetts. Broadcasting, a trade magazine, said the program consisted of “phone discussions on controversial subjects.” He didn’t last very long at WOOK. He was replaced in April.

Kameny and Nichols appeared on a CBS Reports documentary, “The Homosexuals” on March 7, just five days after their second WOOK appearance.

Then on March 22, Nichols drove up the road to Baltimore to appear on WJZ’s 45-minute talk show Contact, hosted by John Sterling. Appearing with Nichols was Rev. LeRoy Graham, chaplain at American University, Methodist bishop, and gay rights supporter. When CBS aired “The Homosexuals” two weeks earlier, the Baltimore affiliate WMAR refused to show it. WJZ took advantage of the controversy by heavily promoting this edition of Contact, using a photo of Nichols and a tagline, “The Second Largest Minority.” Nichols noted later, “The significance of this show lies in the fact that for the first time, a distinguished Methodist clergyman on the East Coast has publicly associated himself with the civil libertarian aims of the homophile movement and has made hls views known to a wide television audience.”


Score liquid hair cream: “Get what you’ve always wanted.”

Headlines for February, 7, 1967: Blizzard strikes east coast; Washington, Baltimore buried under a foot of snow.  U.S. forces finish a massive defoliation offensive in Vietnam using Agent Orange ahead of a  four-day truce for Tet, the lunar new year and Vietnam’s most important holiday. Pentagon announces 1,172 total fixed-wing aircraft losses in Vietnam, and over 600 helicopter losses since the war started. Sino-Russian ties are near the breaking point as protesters in Moscow try to overrun the Chinese embassy; Moscow protesters are angered over Chinese violence against Soviet embassy in Peking. A fire sweeps through the posh Dale’s Penthouse restaurant on top of the Walter Bragg Smith building in Montgomery, Alabama; twenty-six are killed.

On the radio: “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers, “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams, “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blue Magoos, “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville, “98.6” by Keith, “Snoopy vs the Red Barron” by the Royal Guardsmen, “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes, “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny and Cher, “Stand By Me” by Spyder Turner.

Currently in theaters: Tobruk

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton, Capable of Honor by Allen Drury. Non-fiction: Everything but Money by Sam Levenson, Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback by George Plimpton.


Warren D. Adkins (pseudonym for Jack Nichols). “The Washington-Baltimore TV Circuit.” The Homosexual Citizen (May 1967): 6-10.

Edward Alwood “A Gift of Gab: How Independent Broadcasters Gave Gay Rights Pioneers a Chance To Be Heard.” In Kevin G. Barnhurst (ed.) Media Queered: Visibility and its Discontents (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2007) : 27-43.

“Here’s How the All-Talk Stations Do It.” Broadcasting (June 27, 1966): 82-100.

CBS Airs “The Homosexuals”

It’s Tuesday night. Petticoat Junction has just wrapped up. Billie Jo Bradley learned that her sweetheart, dreamy fly-boy Steve Elliot, had all but announced that he’s going to marry a former girl friend.  Or so it seemed. It all wound up being a big misunderstanding. Everything was all cleared up before the credits rolled. Soon after that, nighttime viewers across the U.S. saw a bunch of homosexuals on their television screens.

My guess is that quite a few of them jumped up out of their seats and changed  the channel. Many more probably hustled their kids off to bed. Those viewers who stayed — an estimated 40 million — saw homosexual men, most likely for the very first time. The hour-long documentary, “The Homosexuals,” was presented by the prestigious CBS Reports, an award-winning series that grew out of the game show scandals of the late 1950s. CBS Reports used its hour-long  format, and its prestige, to authoritatively cover subjects other programs feared to touch. CBS Reports won a Peabody for its acclaimed 1960 documentary “Harvest of Shame,” about the plight of American migrant farm workers. Other topics it tackled included integration, drug abuse, abortion, the Klan, Black Power, tenement housing, and other uncomfortable and sometimes taboo topics. So why not homosexuals?

Three Years In the Making

The idea first came up in 1964. CBS’s executive producer Fred Friendly, who was just about to be named president of CBS News, selected William Peters to produce it. Peters, a respected writer with a background in civil rights, had already produced six CBS Reports about segregation, voting rights, and the workings of the Supreme Court. He completed his initial research and concluded that one hour wasn’t enough to cover gay men and lesbians. He’d need two. Friendly decided to save lesbians for another day (in fact, that program would never be undertaken), leaving this hour devoted to gay men.

Peters collected on-camera interviews in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and New York City. After completing a rough cut, he asked CBS correspondent Mike Wallace if he would be the on-camera reporter. Wallace declined, saying that he wanted no part in a program that would “pity the poor homosexual.” But after seeing the rough cut — which portrayed gay people in a relatively neutral light — Wallace changed his mind.

Unfortunately, while all of that went on, Friendly had left CBS. His replacement, Richard Salent, saw the rough cut and hated it. It was too sensationalistic, he said. He called it “Daily News journalism”, and killed it. But when whispers about the “The Homoseduals” appeared in trade papers, he felt compelled to revive it. Not going ahead would have been too much of a hit to CBS Reports’ fearless reputation.

Salent turned the project over to producer Harry Morgan and told him to re-work it. Morgan had two CBS Reports installments under his belt. He had just completed “LSD: The Spring Grove Experiment,” and was about to wrap up “The Farthest Frontier,” about the latest drug treatments to treat mental illnesses and impairments. With Charles Kuralt as reporter, Morgan had co-produced those two installments with John Sharnik. This time, Morgan was flying solo.

Morgan threw out most of Peters’s footage — the footage Salent hated — and started over. Morgan found gay people to interview on the East Coast: Lars Larson of New York City, and Frankin Kameny and Jack Nichols, co-founders of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. Nichols appeared under the pseudonym of Warren Adkins because his real name was identical to his estranged father’s, who worked at the FBI. Nichols sat with Wallace for the sixty-minute interview. Later, he recalled:

Jack Nichols as “Warren Adkins”

After we finished and the camera was turned off, Mike Wallace sat down with me and talked for about half an hour. He said, “You know, you answered all of my questions capably, but I have a feeling you don’t really believe that homosexuality is as acceptable as you make it sound.” I asked him why he would say that. “Because,” he said, “In your heart I think you know it’s wrong.” It was infuriating. I told him I thought being gay was fine, but that in his heart he thought it was wrong.

Larson had a similar experience. “Mike Wallace had his own agenda,” he later said, “and it was not necessarily kind to gays. On the other hand, he had integrity and honesty so he came straight to the point. At the end of it he said he had never met a homosexual that was as well adjusted.”

Nichols told Kameny his misgivings about the interview, and about one other alarming development. Nichols had learned that Morgan intended to include material about the so-called “homosexual mafia” in the arts.  Since Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s lavender scare of the 1950s, there was widespread belief in secret cabals of homosexuals — “Homintern” was one word that was bandied about  — whose solemn task was to wreck American culture and its institutions. Four months before “The Homosexuals” went on the air, Kameny wrote to Morgan, trying to persuade him to drop the idea.

I feel that this is a bit of sensationalism which can only degrade your presentation. … That there are homosexuals in the arts is, of course true. … people who are generally discriminated against will tend to move into areas of endeavor where — for whatever reason — discrimination is less. … But the idea of a “mafia” implies conspiracy, organization, coordination of activity, direction, goals. Certainly there is not the slightest indication that these are present in any degree whatsoever. … I am sure that you see the similarity between the charges of “homosexual mafia” and the charges of a “Jewish Conspiracy” … Both charges are a discredit only to those making them and to those believing them.

Ten O’Clock, Tuesday Night

On March 7, 1967, not long after Petticoat Junction’s closing credits flashed across the screen, viewers across America saw their first three homosexuals, in rapid succession. The first, Lars Larson is blonde, good-looking, in his mid-twenties, college educated. He described his first experience of gay bars in New Orleans. “The whole atmosphere was furtive,” he said. “It was ugly” He also described his first sexual experience while in the Navy. “It was just a grand, grand experience. It was the first moment in my life where I was open, where I didn’t have to hide, where I could lower all my barriers, where I could be absolutely me without worrying about it. I had all the freedom in the world to be Lars Larson.”

The second homosexual was sitting on his psychiatrist’s couch. He held one hand to his forehead and the other covering his mouth, while he described his coming out to his parents. “They were sorry for me,” he said, “as if I were some kind of a wounded animal they were going to send to the vet.”

“Warren Atkins”

Then came Jack Nichols. He was handsome, well-groomed, conservatively dressed, articulate and confident. But not threatening. This is important: it’s much too early in the program to scare off the heterosexuals.

Before the interview took place, Nichols had spent hours practicing answers to possible questions with Kameny. So when Wallace asked Nichols what he thought caused his homosexuality, Nichols was ready. “I have thought about it,” he answered, “but it really doesn’t concern me very much. I never would imagine that if I had blond hair that I would worry about what genes and what chromosomes caused blond hair.” What’s more, he told Wallace that he didn’t feel at all guilty about it. Nichols also talked about his coming out to his family when he was fourteen, and how “heroically” they responded by treating him with warmth and acceptance. He contrasted this with a friend, whose father beat him “savagely… He beat him, in fact, with bricks.” Nichols added, “I was one of the lucky ones.”

The Man Behind the Potted Palm

So far, so good. Heterosexuals haven’t encountered anything too scary, and those gay men tuning in probably thought the program was promising. If so, that feeling wouldn’t last. The producers, remember, felt that the first cut of “The Homosexuals” was “too positive.” They wanted balance. That balance came in the form of a man hidden behind a large plant. This gives rise to the ultimate irony, that the most memorable homosexual on “The Homosexuals” was a closeted one.

Wallace described this man as twenty-seven years old, college educated, and unable to hold a job “because of his inability to contain his homosexual inclinations.” Wallace added: “He’s been in jail three times for committing homosexual acts. If he is arrested once more, he faces the possibility of life in prison. He is now on probation and in psychotherapy.” The young man described himself this way:

The man behind the potted palm.

I felt as though I had license to satisfy every need, every desire, every tension… animal sexual gratification… I use the word “sick” — I’m not taking a pot shot, I’m not attempting to judge homosexuals. I’m not a judge. I know that inside, now, that I am sick. I’m not sick just sexually, I’m sick in a lot of ways …. immature, childlike, and the sex part of it is a symptom like a stomach ache is a symptom of who knows what.”

Mr. Palmfrond claimed that he hadn’t had sex with another man for the past two years, thanks to therapy.

Every so often I’ll slip, but my regression is a small one. I may buy a dirty book…. Maybe I’ll look at someone I’m not supposed to look at. I know better than to look at him, but I’ll look.

I don’t go looking for homosexual relationships. I consciously avoid them like the plague. My life is more comfortable now. I can walk the streets and I’m not afraid I’m going to be picked up by a policeman.

For me, and only for me, being a homosexual has become to mean only spending a few minutes in a dark alley somewhere. This is not… this isn’t my way of life… it isn’t going to suffice for me.

He said he wanted “a family, a home, someplace where you belong, someplace where you’re loved, where you can love somebody…God knows, I need to love somebody…. and of course that means a heterosexual sexual position.” And yet, he admitted that he felt no sexual attraction toward women. “If I’m touched by a woman I freeze up inside.”

This man’s appearance left such an indelible mark that years later, few would remember that anyone actually showed their faces on television. Almost two decades later, famed LGBT media critic Vito Russo will write in his landmark book, The Celluloid Closet, “All the homosexuals interviewed by Mike Wallace on CBS Presents: The Homosexuals (sic) in 1967 were seated behind potted palm trees, the leaves obscuring their faces.”

“The Average Homosexual”

That shadowy scene set the stage for what came next: a brief tour of a couple of gloomy gay bars, “where they can act out in the fashion that they want to,” according to Wallace. Then the camera switched to footage of a murky, late-night drive down a gritty city street. Wallace narrated this bleak scene with his most notorious commentary:

The average homosexual, if there be such, is promiscuous. He is not interested or capable of a lasting relationship like that of a heterosexual marriage. His sex life — his love life — consists of a series of chance encounters at the clubs and bars he inhabits. And even on the streets of the city — the pick-up, the one night stand — these are characteristics of the homosexual relationship. And the homosexual prostitute has become a fixture in the downtown streets at night. On street corners, at subway exits, these young men signal their availability for pay.

The Unbalanced Experts

Dr. Charles Socarides

That darkness finally gave way to light, provided by the notoriously homophobic psychotherapist, Dr. Charles Socarides. He had established himself as a self-proclaimed expert on homosexuality since the early 1960s. And here he was, in a well-lit classroom at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine,  where he pretended he was giving a routine lecture and taking spontaneous questions from the class. “Homosexuality is, in fact, a mental illness,” he says ponderously, “which has reached epidemiological (sic) proportions.” He loved that word — ep-id-deem-i-o-lo-gic-al. He used it all the time — his made-up eight-syllable nonsense word that sounded so much more impressive than what he really meant, epidemic.

A woman asked if there were any “happy homosexuals.” Socarides responded, “The fact that somebody’s homosexual — a true obligatory homosexual — automatically rules out the possibility that he will remain happy for long.” To acknowledge that gay people can be happy is “to create a mythology about the nature of homosexuality.” A man asked, “What is it that drives a man into a homosexual relationship?” Socarides answered: “The aim of the homosexual act, paradoxically enough, is to seek masculinity … through identification with his partner. One thinks, ordinarily, that he is becoming feminine. But in fact, he is attempting to achieve the very thing that he felt he was so lacking in childhood.”

In a voiceover, Wallace acknowledged that there was “a smaller group” that didn’t consider homosexuality a mental illness. “But the thrust of diagnosis and treatment in recent years,” he said, “has been mainly along the lines that Socarides details.” Wallace also repeated the claim — a controversial claim that was clinically unverified even then — that “as many as one-third of those who seek help eventually become heterosexual.”

Dr. Irving Bieber

Next came Dr. Irving Bieber, who was among the forefront of psychoanalysts claiming a one-third success rate in turning gay people straight. And with his cure, he had a cause: he blamed homosexual kids on their parents. The poor mother gets the brunt of it. “She’s over-close, over-intimate. She frequently prefers this son to her other children… She often prefers this son to her husband, explicitly and openly.” But he didn’t let fathers off the hook either. “I do not believe that it is possible to produce a homosexual if the father is a warm, good, supportive, constructive father to his son.”

The producers were deeply concerned about balancing the few healthy homosexuals like Nichols with others like the man behind the potted palm. But not so with their chosen experts. Missing from the program was any mental health professional to counter Socarides or Bieber — and their numbers were plenty, even then. This left viewers with the impression that virtually the entire psychiatric and psychological professions stood behind these two men.

“This Will Ruin Me!”

“Will my parents find out?” A nineteen-year-old serviceman, in the light shirt, is shown being arrested and led away.

This led to perhaps the most heart-wrenching segment of the program. “The Homosexuals” follows a nineteen-year-old serviceman as police arrest him at a public men’s room near a beach. We can’t see his face, but we can hear his anguish. “Is anybody going to hear about this, like my parents?” The officer says that his parents won’t know, but his commanding officer “will probably find out through routines channels”

“Oh, God!” he exclaimed. “I can get kicked out for this … I… I couldn’t take a record like that! … For life, I’ll be wrecked by this record, see? I mean, I’m only nineteen! This will ruin me. I couldn’t take for anybody to know about this. What will it do to my family and everything? … It just… It just happened. I don’t know, I can’t explain it. But I’m just nineteen, and… I don’t know. It… I just know this will ruin my life.”

Gay Advocates Finally Allowed Their Say… Briefly

Gay activists were allowed to make a few points here and there, but their screen time was very short. Hal Call, of the San Francisco-based remnant of the original Mattachine Society, took great pains to stress: “In our view, the enforcement of laws which forbid public sexual behavior or demonstrations of affection and so on that lead to a sexual stimulus in public views, laws against that are appropriate and maintained.” He then went called for repealing laws prohibiting private consensual behavior among adults.

The program also included footage of a Fourth of July picket at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, film of the May 29, 1965 picket at the White House and the August 28, 1965 picket at the State Department. All three pickets called for an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians. These historic images are among the earliest available moving pictures of the gay rights movement in America. Franklin Kameny, of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., appeared in front of the State Department reading a statement. “Every citizen has the right to be considered by his government on the basis of his own personal merit as an individual,” he said.

But a tourist, watching the picket in front of the White House, was perplexed by what he saw.  Viewers at home probably shared his reaction: “I couldn’t believe this. I didn’t know this was a problem over here. At least I didn’t think anybody would have a sign out about it. But I just don’t understand! It’s kinda weird! … Let’s face it. Homosexuality is a problem and these people are really advocating that we don’t try to solve it. They’re advocating that we tolerate the problem. And I think these people are a fit subject for a mental health program.”

A Masturbatory Dance

But homosexuals “committing their crude acts in public places,” as a Los Angeles police inspector put it, is just one one of many stereotypes “The Homosexuals” promoted. Kameny’s fears were realized when Wallace intoned:

There is even talk about the “homosexual mafia” in the arts, dominating various fields: theatre, music, dance, fashion. In painting, there is the commonly-expressed notion that the homosexuals’ influence has been corrupting. That Pop Art, for example, is a trivial vulgarization that goes hand-in-hand with camp, half hoax, half hostile, a means by which the homosexual, forced to live between two worlds, strikes back at an antagonistic society. In the fashion industry, many observers see an effort to blend the sexes, to de-feminize women, to replace curve and contour with sexless geometric sterility.

That set up a back-and-forth exchange between the prickly author and playwright Gore Vidal, and doom-and-gloom social critic Professor Albert Goldman of Columbia University. Vidal’s and Goldman’s separate interviews were inter-cut with each other to create an artificial back-and-forth debate between the two. To our eyes today, this segment is probably the most remarkable for the advanced ideas Vidal was trying to present. But fifty years ago, his ideas were so out there that his role was little more than a foil for Goldman, as far as the average viewer was concerned. It went something like this:

Gore Vidal

Vidal: I don’t think there is any greater incidence of homosexual novelists, homosexual tailors, homosexual musicians than there ever were. … What does it mean? It is as natural to be homosexual as it is to be heterosexual.” An incredulous voice off-camera asks, “Who says so?” “I say so! It is a completely natural act from the beginning of time.”

Arthur Goldman

Goldman: Without mentioning any names, Goldman obliquely refers to the debate surrounding Edward Albee’s 1962 play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “The kind of jealousy and rage and promiscuity that is just inherent in the homosexual life, where you cannot have marriage, really, and you cannot have children, where you don’t have all the stabilizing influences, enables this writer simply by writing out of his own truth, his own experience, to enormously distort and intensify features that we recognize are inherent in our lives, too.”

Vidal:  “There is a theory that one reads all the time about a certain successful playwright of a very successful play, describes married people as… being weak and vicious and clawing at each other. This is supposed to be a story about two homosexual couples. Well …there are wicked homosexuals and there are wicked heterosexuals, and this is a playwright who deals in savage and extreme situations. I don’t see any of this as being translatable particularly as a homosexual situation posing as a heterosexual. And furthermore, if it were, then why is it popular? … So the idea that the homosexual is in some way a person that is trying to absolutely destroy the family structure in the United States — nonsense!

Goldman: “Inevitably, these men are going to project a projection onto women based on their own fantasies, their own imaginings. And since their view of women is charged with hostile feelings, since intuitively they want to carve women into a shape that’s somewhere between  man and woman — a sort of boy-woman, let’s say — all this is going to come through in their work. Now it is notorious that the whole fashion industry, for example, is dominated by homosexuals ….”

Vidal: He does’t know how such a conspiracy would begin: “The artist is an artist first, and he’s a homosexual or a heterosexual second.  … I have not seen any sign in any of the arts of there being a ‘homintern,’ as alarmed editorialists like to write.”

Goldman: “You can have the effects of conspiracy without having a conspiracy, if you just have all of the people, essentially, in the same family, if it’s a costra nostra arrangement, ‘our thing,’ ‘our family.’ If you have a group like the homosexuals, who are extremely clannish, and who have a tradition of taking care of each other, who constitute a sort of a welfare state for each other, then you often get, without anybody intending any conspiracy, the same effect.”

Vidal: “We have a sexual ethic which is the joke of the world. … The United States is living out some mad nineteenth century Protestant dream of human behavior. … Why not begin by saying our basic values are all wrong! The ideal of marriage is obsolete in our society. Everybody knows it. There are natural monogamists… but can you imagine a man and a woman who are told that for sixty years they’re going to have to live together and have sex only with one another? This is nonsense! … I think the the breaking of the ‘moral fiber’ of the country these commentators speak of is one of the healthiest things that’s begun to happen.”

Goldman: America is turning to an “adolescent lifestyle,” of which homosexuals are just one part. We have: divorces, “non-stop promiscuity,” “a Playboy philosophy,” “fun-and-games approaches to sex,” “rampant exhibitionism in every conceivable form,” “a masochistic-sadistic vogue,” a smut industry grinding out millions of dollars worth of pornography per year. “We have a sort of masturbatory dance style that’s embraced as if it were profoundly sexual, whereas, actually, all those dances do is just grind away without any consciousness of other people or their partners.  And homosexuality is just one of a number of such things, all tending towards the subversion, towards the final erosion of our traditional cultural values.”

Goldman gets the last word in: “After all, when you’re culturally bankrupt, why you fall into the hands of receivers.”

“The Dilemma of the Homosexual”

The man in shadows.

Goldman’s dismal assessment led to another gloomy scene. This time, we see a psychiatric patient, barely, backlit against an open window, his face obscured in shadow. He is married, the father of two children, and a professor of psychology. He told his family he was gay. He also claims that love between two men is an impossibility:

I personally don’t believe in a love relationship with another man. I think this is part of the gay folklore. It’s something they try to attain. They never attain it primarily because the gay crowd is so narcissistic that the can’t establish a love relationship with another male.

And with that, Wallace brought the program to a close with this: 

The dilemma of the homosexual: told by the medical profession he is sick; by the law that he’s a criminal; shunned by employers; rejected by heterosexual society. Incapable of a fulfilling relationship with a woman, or for that matter with a man. At the center of his life he remains anonymous. A displaced person. An outsider.


Press reactions ranged from praise to “garbage.” The New York Times’s George Gent lauded the program’s “fairness and dignity.” But he noticed the omission of the “minority viewpoint that homosexuals are just as normal as anyone else” in the psychology segment. The Washington Post called it “an enlightening and frequently moving study.”

Richard Shull, of the Indianapolis News, found the program “dull as dishwater.” He had trouble with Bieber’s blaming bad parenting for making homosexuals. “In this feminist society,” Shull wrote, “in which the male has been relegated to the role of Uncle Daddy who visits evenings and weekends, if Dr. Bieber is correct, the country can look forward to whole generations of homosexuals.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Donald Kirkley didn’t like the program’s omission of some important subjects, “such as the massive cruel intolerance of a majority of citizens toward this minority, and the reasons for this.”

Kirkley had to watch the program from Washington, D.C.’s Channel 9. WMAR, Baltimore’s CBS affiliate, refused to carry it. The same thing happened in Des Moines, where KRNT General Manager Robert Dillon canceled the program. “I think it dignifies, promotes and sensationalizes perversion,” he explained. He replaced it with an old re-run of a circus-themed variety show. And The Chicago Tribune’s Clay Gowran was livid that CBS put it on the air at all. “I say… the place for garbage is in the garbage cans. Not in the home screens of the nation.”

The gay press, such as it existed in 1967, was about as kind as Gowran, albeit for different reasons. Vector, a slick magazine published in San Francisco by the Society for Individual Rights, faulted the program for failing to portray gay people as “anything other than six, wounded animals at best, or dangerous psychotics at worst.” The Ladder, published by the Daughters of BIlitis, pointedly refused to say anything about the program. “Perhaps one of these days they will do a Report on Lesbians. That will be an event we will report in detail.”


The subject matter of “The Homosexuals” was so controversial that advertisers abandoned it entirely. Public service spots from the Peace Corps and the I.R.S. filled the breaks. One other CBS Reports broadcast got the same treatment. It was about the growing popularity of marijuana.

Jack Nichols, despite appearing under an assumed name, lost his job the day after the program aired. He later wrote about his performance and his preparations with Kameny that preceded it: “I wondered if his pre-programmed tutoring had given my answers a mechanical bent? This second worry would, when I made public appearances in the future, nag at me considerably. I would have to seek and find a balance in which my own personality, unaffected by ideology, would take over in my responses.” This may explain why, after the interview was over, Mike Wallace said he didn’t really think Nichols believed that there was nothing wrong with being gay.

Lars Larson filed a formal complaint and withdrew his signed release. He said his interview had been edited to make him seem unhappy about being gay. He was also upset about the program’s overall negativity. After the program aired, he disappeared from public view, never to be seen or heard from again.

The alarmist Columbia University professor, Albert Goldman, went on to publish three best-selling biographies. Critics praised Ladies and Gentlemen — Lenny Bruce!! (1974), but Bruce’s friends attacked it for claiming Bruce had homosexual affairs. In Elvis (1981), Goldman dismissed Elvis Presley as an ignorant hick, a plagiarist, nearly insane, “a pervert, a voyeur” with latent homosexuality. The Village Voice called the book an “attempt at cultural genocide … The torrents of hate that drive this book are unrelieved.” In The Lives of John Lennon (2001), Goldman wrote that the former Beatle was “a violent, schizophrenic drug addict.” Goldman also maintained his homosexual obsession by claiming that Lennon had an affair with band manager Brian Epstein. Goldman also claimed that Lennon had something to do with the death of former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe.

Charles Socarides will repeatedly warn that open homosexuality was rising “to epidemiological (sic) proportions.” He later called for a national federally-funded center for the treatment of homosexuals. In 1973, he was the most prominent critic of the APA’s decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and he led a failed effort in 1974 to reverse that decision. In 1992, he co-founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an anti-gay activist group peddling “cures” for gay people. Her served as NARTH’s first president. His son, Richard Socarides, is gay, and served as principal adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay and lesbian civil rights issues.

Mike Wallace later regretted his role in the documentary. In 1996, he said, “That is — God help us — what our understanding was of the homosexual lifestyle a mere twenty-five years ago because nobody was out of the closet and because that’s what we heard from doctors — that’s what Socarides told us, it was a matter of shame.”


Sep 24, 1967: Prominent Psychiatrist Calls for National Center to Treat Homosexuality

See More:

You can see an edited version of CBS Reports’ “The Homosexuals” here. Some of the scenes and interviews have been truncated or removed from this bootleg version. The interviews of the first two gay men, Lars Larson and the man on the psychiatrist’s couch, are missing altogether.


h.i.s. menswear. “Which type are you?”

Headlines for March 7, 1967: Jimmy Hoffa begins serving a prison term for bribery. Viet Cong lobs 500 mortars at Marine positions in Vietnam. Soviets promise more aid to North Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson suggests sharply curtailing student deferments in draft. More than 100 are injured in a Boston elevated train crash. GM’s Fisher Body plant in Mansfield, Ohio, is idled by pickets. At least 23 die as winter storm cripples the Northeast, and floods hit Appalachia. California Gov. Ronald Reagan asks $950 million ($7.1 billion today) in new taxes to cover the deficit. CBS bows to public pressure and renews Gunsmoke for another season after announcing the end of its twelve-year run.

On the radio: “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones, “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes, “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams, “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by Johnny Rivers, “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers, “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny and Cher, “Gimme Some Lovin'” by the Spencer Davis Group, “Then You Can Tell Me Good Bye” by the Casinos, “Sock It To Me-Baby!” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees.

Currently in theaters: Tobruk.

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton, Capable of Honor by Allen Drury. Non-fiction: Everything but Money by Sam Levenson, Madame Sarah: Sarah Bernhardt by Cornelia Otis Skinner.


Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 69-73.

Wayne Besen. Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2003): 127-129.

John Bradley. “CBS Remains Perplexed …So Does Its Audience.” Vector (April 1967): 20-22, 29. Vector magazine was published in San Francisco by the Society for Individual Rights. I used quotes transcribed by Bradley for portions of the program not available on YouTube.

Clay Gowran. “Repeat: TV No Spot to Unload Garbage.” The Chicago Tribune (March 8, 1967): 2A-4.

Charles Kaiser. The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America (New York: Grove Press, 1997): 160-171.

Lawrence Laurent. “CBS studies homosexuals.” The Washington Post (March 9, 1967): D23.

Jack Nichols, “Memoirs of Jack Nichols: unfinished and unedited,” Chapter 7. Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed March 7, 2018. Available online here.

Vitto Russo. The Celluloid Closet: The Celluloid Closet (New York: Harper & Row, 1981, rev. 1987): 153

Helen Sanders (pseudonym for Helen Sandoz). Column: “Cross Currents.” The Ladder (May 1967): 24.

David Wayne. “CBS Documentary Draws Mixed Press Reaction.” The Homosexual Citizen (May 1967): 15-16.

“The Homosexuals Banned by KRNT.” The Des Moines Register (March 8, 1967): 7.

Columbia University Registers Nation’s First Gay Student Group

From the Columbia University yearbook.

Robert Martin, Jr., enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1965. He was openly bisexual. His dorm suitemates reviled him because of it. The school officials’ solution was to move him out of that dorm and into a single room in another dorm.

That summer after his torturous freshman year, he met James Milham, a Columbia senior, while on Fire Island. The two became fast friends. Not long after school started again in the fall, Martin and Milham discussed the homophile movement over coffee. Martin thought about his freshman year at Columbia and decided it could sure use some kind of a campus Mattachine Society. The club would be a political and educational group. But it could also provide a gay social life on campus, something that was sorely needed. Martin even dreamed that it club could someday spawn a national movement of campus gay rights groups.

Five other students had already joined Martin and Milham to form a small gay clique they called “the family.” That group became the nucleus of the Student Homophile League. They then set out to gain campus recognition as a student group. The requirements were simple: all they had to do was submit a copy of their bylaws, and the names of four officers and one regular member.

The Struggle for a Charter

Both Martin and Milham were game. But first, Martin had to do something about his name. It was one thing to sign his name as an officer for the group, but quite another to publicly use that same name as its leader. He had the same fears as everyone else. They all wanted careers after college, and nobody wanted trouble from the police, the FBI, or fellow students. Besides that, Robert Martin., Jr.’s father, Robert Martin, Sr., taught mathematics at Rider College, just a little ways down the New Jersey Turnpike near Trenton. Robert Martin, Jr., couldn’t be openly bi without causing problems for Robert Martin, Sr., but Stephen Donaldson could. Martin chose that name based on his first love in high school, a baseball player named Donald.

But the rest of the group refused to submit their names. Donaldson and Milham were undeterred. They submitted the paperwork, clearly spelling out the group’s goals, along with a statement explaining why they could only submit a partial roster.

As expected, Columbia rejected the applications. Donaldson reached out to gay rights activist Foster Gunnison, a Columbia alumnus, for advice. Gunnison had been the driving force behind the creation of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO). Together, they hit on a plan. When Columbia rejected the application, the stated reason had nothing to do with having a homosexual group on campus. The rejection was based solely on the incomplete roster. If Donaldson could fix that problem, then Columbia would have no choice but to accept the application. Columbia couldn’t very well object to the group’s mission now after they had been silent about it the first time around.

Donaldson found a few straight and prominent campus leaders willing to become pro forma members as a way of asserting civil liberties for all students. This meant that now there was a roster that met the school’s requirements. It also meant that if Columbia did try to protest the group’s mission and composition, they couldn’t. It was no longer just a gay group. It worked. On April 19, 1967, the Student Homophile League became the first gay student organization to be officially recognized by an American university.

“Decent and Respectable”

That recognition came with expectations, mainly that SHL would maintain a low profile. Donaldson had set that expectation during the application process. He assured school officials that SHL would focus on “correspondence, academic research, white papers, newsletters and the like.” There would be no picketing, no rabble-rousing, no overt activism. Just quiet intellectual and educational pursuits. “Because we do not court public exposure of our identity — such exposure would ruin our lives and our careers — we have little interest in such activities…,” the application read.

The article "Undergraduates Form Group to Help Homosexual Students" from the April 278, 1967 edition of the Columbia Daily Spectator
Columbia Daily Spectator, April 27, 1967, page 1.

Donaldson began breaking that promise almost immediately. He sent a flurry of press releases to several large newspapers, wire services and magazines. The charter was just a week old when The Columbia Daily Spectator announced the new group on its front page. It’s a curious article. It names no names. The only person quoted — and he was quoted extensively — was “the spokesman.”

Well, the article did name one individual: Chaplain John D. Cannon, the Episcopal priest who allowed SHL to use his office as their headquarters. The article didn’t sit well with Cannon, who criticized the League for publicizing their group too aggressively. “A press release can be an invitation to repression,” he said. He also expressed his misgivings about the group’s plans to provide support for gay students because, so he claimed, not all homosexuals wanted social approval.

The Spectator’s editorial on April 28, the day after SHL’s public debut, illustrated the challenges they were up against, even among some of the most liberal students on campus. “Sexual taboos,” it read “… have been under attack in recent years, with encouraging results. In the arts, in law, in theology, even in the staunch bastion of ‘community standards,’ the forces of priggishness and prudery have found it increasingly difficult to defend themselves… The results of the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ have been highly beneficent.”

After cheering the assaults on the sexual ramparts, the Spectator welcomed the Student Homophile League with much more muted tones:  “The League… has wisely decided to make its major function an educational one, and will not attempt to improve the personal relations of its members, or to act as a social club.” Its goals, therefore, were “decent and respectable ones.” Think about it. This was 1967. The sexual revolution was in full flower. The Summer of Love was just weeks away. Priggishness may have been out of fashion elsewhere on campus, but it was still expected of SHL.

The News Spreads Nationwide

News of SHL soon spread beyond the campus. “Columbia Charters Homosexual Group,” read the front page headline in the May 3rd New York Times. “We wanted to get the academic community to support equal rights for homosexuals,” it quoted Donaldson. The Times article went nationwide through its in-house wire service, ensuring its appearance in hundreds of papers. Most ran it under positive or neutral headlines. The conspicuous exception was the Gainesville (Florida) Sun. Its headline ran, “Student Group Seeks Rights for Deviates.” But Time magazine treated the whole thing with a literary yawn:

While declining to identify himself or other members by name (“We would be losing jobs for the rest of our lives”), the league’s chairman insists the group is educational, not social, and “plans no mixers with Harvard.” So far, Columbia students seem little interested in joining. Shrugged Sophomore Elliot Stern: “As long as they don’t bother the rest of us, it’s O.K.” The league’s biggest problem will probably be its self-imposed secrecy. As some students asked: How do you treat them equally when you don’t know who they are?

Campus Backlash

Dean David B. Truman

Columbia Dean David B. Truman was unhappy with all of this publicity. Named to the post in 1962, Truman had a reputation for liberalizing the university and changing some of its outdated rules. But Truman’s relatively liberal tendencies didn’t extend to the SHL. He heard from plenty from alumni, and complained that the publicity “sure as hell won’t help” the university’s fund drive, admissions or recruiting. Once Columbia receives “bad publicity,” he said “it can never catch up.” He accused the SHL of mischaracterizing its relationship with the university. Just because Columbia issued a charter, he said, it didn’t mean it endorsed the group. He regretted the group’s formation and questioned whether they were needed on campus.

Criticisms also came from Dr. Anthony F. Philip, director of the university’s counseling service. He put his vivid imagination to work in his letter to the Spectator:

Extremist spokemen for these self-proclaimed “homosexuals” defeat their own professed purposes when they show the very same sorts of prejudice they deplore in others. To type-cast as villain and adversary the heterosexual who is “straight” implies as distorted a picture of reality as the view of those who see only “fairies” or “queers” instead of real people. And however justified or outraged a “homosexual” may feel, it defeats his ostensible purpose to assume all heterosexuals are bigots and to reduce the issue to the absurdity of invective or angry exhibitionism.

An ad for the Student Homophile League from the Columbia Daily Spectator, May 9, 1967.
Columbia Daily Spectator, May 9, 1967, page 6.

Philip warned that this “extremist” group would be dangerous to impressionable students. “If there is one thing such students certainly can do without,” he wrote, “it is the mythology that they really are homosexuals whose ‘latent homosexuality’ needs only to be ‘brought out’ by the sympathetic, tutorial attention of the Student Homophile League.”

“An Extremist Political Group”

The backlash also came from surprising quarters within the homophile movement. Dick Leitsch, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, was what we might today call a media whore. He was, in many ways, an effective leader of MSNY, when he wasn’t treating it as his personal fiefdom. But he was also jealous of anyone else who might steal his spotlight. That jealousy extended to the Student Homophile League. Leitsch wrote to Frank Hogan, the Manhattan District Attorney and a member of the Columbia Board of Trustees, with advice on how to undermine Donaldson:

The man using the pseudonym Stephen Donaldson is known to me and to the Mattachine Society as an irresponsible, publicity-seeking member of an extremist political group. We have grave doubts as to his sincerity in his stated aim as helping homosexuals, and feel that he may be, instead, a bigoted extremist, interested upon wrecking the homophile movement

But the Student Homophile League was here to stay, despite the efforts to throw roadblocks in its path. Columbia forbade SHL from putting on social functions, citing the state’s sodomy law. What they imagined happening in those social functions is anybody’s guess. When freshman students arrived at school the next fall after celebrating the Summer of Love, the Dean’s office blocked an SHL welcoming letter from inclusion in their orientation package. SHL apparently knew that would happen before they submitted their letter. It ended with this:

Those who feel themselves to be homosexual or bisexual or who are uncertain about their sexual orientation can expect sympathetic and confidential consideration from most of the religious counselors and the staff of the Columbia Counseling Service, as well as from the SHL itself. We cannot at this time extend that statement to the College Dean’s Office.


Dean Truman became Columbia University’s vice president and provost later in 1967. He was considered the leading candidate to succeed President Grayson Kirk, who was expected to retire soon. That changed in 1968 when demonstrations rocked the campus and students “liberated” several buildings. Truman called the police to clear the buildings, resulting in several injuries.  Truman and Kirk resigned in January 1969.

An ad for the Student Homophile League: "SHL presents 'The Homosexual Dilemma: what every Heterosexual should know,' with Dr. Franklin E. Kameny, Ph.D."
Columbia Daily Spectator, November 22, 1967, page 2.

By the end of 1967, more than 20 people had joined SHL. In November, SHL sponsored a talk by gay rights activist Frank Kameny. The talk filled the 200-seat Harkness Academic Theatre, a lecture hall under the library.

Students at Stanford, the University of Pittsburgh, and Cornell soon expressed interest in starting chapters on their campuses. Cornell University was the second to establish a Student Homophile League. Famed peace and justice activist Fr. Daniel Berrigan, the associate director for service at Cornell United Religious Works, agreed to be the group’s adviser. Cornell recognized its SHL on May 9, 1968 with very little fuss.

By 1970, Columbia’s Student Homophile League had changed its name to Gay People at Columbia. In 1971, GPC began a lengthy fight against the administration to create a gay lounge in the basement of the Furnald Hall dormitory. They finally got their lounge in late November of 1972 by simply taking over a space and claiming as their own. Today, the organization is known as the Columbia Queer Alliance, and that very same lounge is still in use as the Stephen Donaldson Queer Lounge.

Donaldson became active in the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, serving as an officer in 1969-1970. After graduating from Columbia in 1970, he joined the Navy and served mainly in the Mediterranean. He was given a general discharge once his homosexual activities became known. He then became a bisexual-rights activist, and served as chairman of the Quaker’s Committee of Friends on Bisexuality.

Stephen Donaldson, wearing a "Donny the Punk" teeshirt
Donny the Punk

In 1973, Donaldson was arrested at a White House protest. Police threw him in a jail where as many as 45 inmates gang-raped him. As soon as he got out, he became a crusader against male-on-male rape.  Unable to find effective psychotherapy — nobody recognized the trauma of male rape victims at the time — his emotional condition steadily deteriorated. He was arrested in 1976 for possession of marijuana. Instead of being raped again, he “capitulated,” and discovered the role of the jailhouse punk — an inmate who exchanges sexual favors for protection. Another 1977 drug arrest sent him to jail again, where he was once more gang-raped until guards moved him to another cell. In that cell, he embraced the nickname of “Donny the Punk.”

In 1980, Donaldson hit rock bottom. He shot up a VA hospital, angry at the difficulties he encountered trying to be treated for an STD. A court sentenced him to four years in prison for assault with intent to murder. After his release, he became director of Stop Prison Rape, Inc., and worked to help prisoners deal with the trauma of rape, and  advocated for protections against it. He died of AIDS in 1996, just before his fiftieth birthday


1967 Smith-Corona. “It’s the natural choice of the campus-bound crowd.”

Headlines for April 19, 1967: Columbia Administration denies student request to ban Marine recruitment in dorm lobby. North Vietnamese MiGs engage American Air Force in 17 separate dogfights over South Vietnam. Famine and drought sweep India’s Bihar state. Sen. Robert Kennedy blasts construction trade unions for failing to admit African-Americans. Unmanned Survey 3 lands on moon, sends back TV images to earth. At least 124 killed in Swiss airline crash in Cyprus. West Germany’s first post-war Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, dies. Louisville, Kentucky police break up segregated housing protest using tear gas.

On the radio: “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy and Frank Sinatra, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, “A Little Bit of Me, A Little Bit of You” by the Monkees, “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells, “Western Union” by the Five Americans, “This is My Song” by Petula Clark, “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley, “Bernadette” by the Four Tops, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin, “Jimmy Mack” by Martha and the Vandellas.

Currently in theaters: Throughly Modern Millie.

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Arrangement by Elia Kazan, The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton. Non-fiction: Madame Sarah: Sarah Bernhardt by Cornelia Otis Skinner, Everything but Money by Sam Levenson.


Brett Beemyn. “The Silence is Broken: A History of the First Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Student Groups.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 12, no. 2 (April 2003): 205-223.

Wayne R. Dynes. “Stephen Donaldson (Robert A. Martin) (1946-1996)” In Vernon L. Bullough (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002): 265-272.

David Eisenbach. Gay Power: An American Revolution (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006): 51-79.

Arthur Kokot. “Chapters at Other Campuses Sought by Homophile League.” Columbia Daily Spectator (November 28, 1967): 1.

Anthony F. Philip. Letter to the editor: “The Homophile League.” Columbia Daily Spectator (May 9, 1967): 4.

Murray Schumach. “Columbia Charters Homosexual Group.” New York Times (May 3, 1967): 1, 40.

Charles L. Skoro. “Undergraduates Form Group To Help Homosexual Students.” Columbia Daily Spectator (April 27, 1967): 1, 2.

Charles L. Skoro. “Homophiles Denied Mailing Privileges.” Columbia Daily Spectator (September 29, 1967): 1, 3.

Daniel M. Taubnam. “Breaking the Ice: New Student League Backs Homosexuals.” Cornell Daily Sun (November 11, 1967): 8.

“Students: Equality for your fellow man.” Time (May 12, 1967). Available online with subscription here.

“Homophile League Criticized for Seeking Excess Publicity.” Columbia Daily Spectator (May 4, 1967): 1.

“Truman Questions Homophile Group’s Place at Columbia.” Columbia Daily Spectator (May 5, 1967): 1, 3.

“SCARB” Recognizes SHL.” Cornell Daily Sun (May 10, 1968): 6.



Discovery of Secret Student Records Spark Protests

Charles Larson

Dig deeper. Wherever you find the impulse to regulate sexual behavior, you’re probably going to find busybodies policing other kinds of human activity they don’t like. That busy intersection is well illustrated by something that came to light on May 3, 1967 on the campus of Wayne State University of Detroit.

Wayne State was (and is) an urban Detroit university, located just a couple of miles north of downtown. Unlike the famously active campus of the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor, WSU’s 30,000-some were much quieter and less politically active. A lot of this had to do with the the fact that almost all of the students were commuters, with most of them at living home with their families. Once classes ended for the day, the campus was mostly deserted. With so few participating in dorm room rap sessions and nearly non-existent campus-based social activities, student “life,” such as it was, was minimal. Student apathy was the norm.

But what Charles Larson found would jolt students out of their apathy. Larson was a nineteen-year-old junior and chairman of the Student-Faculty Council. He learned that WSU’s Public Safety Department — the campus police — was keeping extensive files on “homosexuals, narcotics addicts, psychotics, parolees and ‘politically active’ students.”

This sent shockwaves through the campus. Almost immediately, about fifty students began a 24-hour vigil outside of the offices of WSU president William Keast. They demanded the university hand over the files to a student committee, which would return the files to the individuals named in them.

But that was just a tiny fraction of what they wanted. After all, if WSU turned over the objectionable files, what was to prevent campus police from collecting a new set of files? To prevent that from happening, students demanded a substantial voice in how the university was run. Getting the files were just their first demand. They wanted academic issues turned over to students and faculty,  a say in selecting school administrators, a voting student on all presidential advisory committees, student-faculty oversight over security procedures, binding referendums on student issues, and — this one was a particularly heavy lift — a change in the state’s constitution to put a student on the board of governors.

“The university exists for the students and the faculty,” said Larson. “The administration role should be to mow the grass and sweep the hallways, not to make decisions about my life.” The Detroit Free Press blasted the student’s “silly dispute over some outdated files”:

The silly season has begun at Wayne State University. The howling mob of students, protesters and representatives of the great unwashed might be taking themselves seriously, but it’s doubtful that the university’s administration can. What the students want is nothing short of taking over the school which, in case no one has told them, they are neither intelligence nor mature enough to do.  … Granted we’re old-fashioned, but we’ve always been led to believe that university administrators administered and students studied. … If they don’t like it, they can go somewhere else, such as Vietnam.

But Larson was no stereotypical rabble rouser. Free Press reporter Barbara Stanton wrote, “Larson is indignant, not alienated. He will argue with Keast, but he will be wearing a tie and a clean shirt when he does it.”

At first, Vice President for Student Affairs James P. McCormick denied the files even existed. Larson promptly took McCormick to the campus police office and pointed at a file cabinet. McCormick pulled the drawer open, and there they were.

Some of the files dated back to the early 1950s. They included copies of police surveillance and arrest reports of gay students, along with other unofficial reports and notations added by campus police. Other files tracked students political activities, drug use surveillance and arrest records. One file labeled “psychotics” contained students’ private medical information. Another one, “demonstrators,” held newspaper clippings and photos of students at political protests, both on campus and off.

Campus President William Keast, who had only held the post for a year,  denied knowing the files existed. Political dossiers, he said, would be “contrary to all I think a university should stand for” and should be destroyed. But the rest of the information, he said, was valuable to the university. Keast flat-out rejected any talk of turning over any of the files to a student committee. He cited — ironically, but appropriately — student privacy as the basis for his decision. Keast also rejected the students’ calls for an expanded role in the administration’s decision-making bodies and advisory committees. Echoing the Free Press, he said it would amount to a complete “takeover” by students.

By the afternoon of May 4th, a rally outside the administration building attracted about a thousand students. After the rally, about 350 went inside to join the sit-in. Others vowed to stay away from classes until their demands were met.

Later that evening, Keast met with Larson to diffuse the crisis. Keast proposed “a faculty-student-administration committee to review policy and procedures with respect to keeping records” — a first step. Then Keast and Larson, with two other students, watched as university employees carried files to the girls’ dormitory and burned them in the garbage incinerator.

Things began to die down — for all of a week. On May 14, Larson learned that a hidden camera had been placed in a men’s room in State Hall. Larson said that three university employees, including a “minor administrator,” had tipped him to the camera’s location behind dummy grillwork. Larson photographed the hole in the wall of an adjacent room, where the camera had been placed facing into the grill to the men’s room. The camera itself was missing, although its imprint could still be seen on a piece of rubber foam left behind.

“You could see the face of everyone using the lavatory,” Larson said of the view through the grill. “I do not know if it has been used recently. But he (an employee) told me that it was in use a year to a year and a half ago.” One of the unnamed tipsters even signed an affidavit detailing the hidden camera procedure. The affidavit also revealed a wider spying effort on campus:

For four years (1962-1666) I have seen political meetings under surveillance and men’s rest rooms policed for moral offenses. The rest rooms were covered to apprehend known moral violators in action. A concealed camera was used in State Hall to catch offenders in their activities…

The political meetings were checked to see who attended, the number of students, the organization and the literature. A count of the crowd was made and the literature was filed.”

A graphic published in the <em>Detroit Free Press's</em> editorial page mocking Wayne State's spying efforts. (May 16, 1967)
A graphic published in the Detroit Free Press’s editorial page mocking Wayne State’s spying efforts. (May 16, 1967)

A WSU spokesman said that the secret films were taken about three years ago under former WSU President Clarence Hilberry. “I want to stress that this doesn’t mean something wrong was done,” said the spokesman. “We feel we have an obligation to the parents and the students to ensure that no one engages in illegal activity on campus.” He also added that “to the best of my knowledge,” the filming had been discontinued.

But Larson countered, “We feel that observing people in lavatories involves so many innocent people that this technique should not be used for breaking up such activities… We also object because the students did not know this was taking place.”

Larson pressed again for sweeping changes in how the university was run: “You talk to them, you listen, you try to make them understand and you think you’ve gotten somewhere, then you find out they’ve been lying to you. All we want is a say in deciding our own destiny.”

The university acquiesced, minimally. Keast announced that some of the administration’s advisory committees would now include student representatives. This time, even the Detroit Free Press was impressed:

The lesson to be learned at Wayne State University works two ways. The principal responsibility of a university student is to study but, just as important, the principal duty of an administration is to administer.

Administration has nothing to do with the outrageous fact that WSU security types concealed a camera behind a dummy ventilator in a men’s toilet.

Administration has nothing to do with tax-paid university sleuths secreting away files on such self-labeled students as “psychos” and “demonstrators.”

Administration has nothing to do with sending university “spies” to report on the meetings of leftwing or rightwing students groups.


The brief campus flare-up was all but forgotten after the quarter ended. Then, two months later, the Detroit Riot — many call it the Detroit Uprising — topped the “Long Hot Summer of 1967” that saw race-based rioting in hundreds of cities across the country. The Detroit conflagration killed 43 and brought decades of police brutality and city indifference to the African-American community to the fore. It also began a radical transformation for both the city and the university. The city is only now recovering from the white flight, economic decline, and decades of mismanagement that followed.

WSU saw major changes, too. The nearly all-white campus saw increasing numbers of African-American students over the next few years. And with it came a long, contentious struggle among students to come to terms with its newfound diversity in culture and political fervor. Larson’s tie and white shirt was out. The student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, became The South End in the fall of 1967, and embraced revolutionary Marxism and Black Power. Today, WSU and Detroit are enjoying a renaissance. The university is Michigan’s third-largest university and ranked in the top fifty public university for research expenditures.

Also On May 3, 1967:

The New York Times reveals that Columbia University has chartered the country’s gay student group.


1967 Chevrolet Camaro

Headlines for May 3, 1967: Detroit African-American leaders fear a “tough summer” of racial relations. Dartmouth college students mob a car carrying Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who was there for a speaking engagement. Gen. William C. Westmoreland asks for 160,000 more American troops in South Vietnam, which would bring the total to well more than 600,000. President Lyndon Johnson denies a further buildup in Vietnam is imminent. Martin Luther King., Jr., urges “massive pressure” to desegregate housing in Louisville, Kentucky; Churchill Downs rejects Klan offer to preserve order on Derby Day. Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s government applies for British membership in the European Economic Community.

On the Radio: “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy and Frank Sinatra, “The Happening” by the Supremes, “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley, “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells, “Don’t You Care” by the Buckinghams, “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five, “I’m A Man” by the Spencer Davis Group, “Jimmy Mack” by Martha and the Vandellas, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin.

Currently in theaters: Caprice.

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Arrangement by Elia Kazan, The Eighth Day, by Thornton Wilder. Non-fiction: The Death of a President, by William Manchester, Madame Sarah: Sarah Bernhardt by Cornelia Otis Skinner,


“WSU Chief Is Picketed.” Detroit Free Press (May 4, 1967): 3A.

Jerome Hanson. “WSU’s Protesters Launch Another All-Night Sit-In.” Detroit Free Press (May 5, 1967): 1A, 16A

“WSU Gets a Rebel ‘Ultimatum.” Detroit Free Press (May 6, 1967):” 3A

Barbara Stanton. “WSU Rebel Leader’s Motto: ‘Pressure Gets Things Done’.” Detroit Free Press (May 6, 1967): 3A.

Editorial: “Silly Season at WSU.” Detroit Free Press (May 6, 1967): 6A.

Stan Putnam. “Wayne State Men’s Room Filmed by Hidden Camera — Not Used in 3 Years, School Aide Says.” Detroit Free Press (May 15, 1967): 3A.

“WSU Accused of a Spy Plot.” Detroit Free Press (May 16, 1967): 3A

Barbara Stanton. “Should a University Police Its Students?” Detroit Free Press (May 16, 1967): 3A, 10A.

Editorial: “Wayne Pain.” Detroit Free Press (May 16, 1967): 6A.

Mike Thoryn and Jeff Hadden. “Report from WSU.” Michigan Daily (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, May 18, 1967): 4.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Bans On Racially-Mixed Marriages

Richard and Mildred Jeter Loving

Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were an unusual couple. They had long crossed the racial barrier as friends in rural Central Point, Virginia. She was Black and Native American, he was white. That friendship turned to dating. When Mildred became pregnant at the age of 18 in 1958, they eloped to Washington, D.C.

After returning home, police invaded their house late one night hoping to catch them in the act of having sex. That alone was a crime because of their racial differences. Mildred pointed to the marriage license hanging on the wall, believing that it would protect them.

Little did she know, but that license was proof that they had committed another crime. Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibited any “colored” person with so much as one drop of African American or Indian blood from marrying a white person. Miscegenation was a felony, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. The indictment accused the Lovings of “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” The couple pleaded guilty on January 6, 1959. Their one-year jail sentence was suspended for 25 years on the condition that they leave Virginia.

The Lovings moved to D.C., and in 1963, with the ACLU’s backing, they began a series of motions and lawsuits challenging Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. The first step was to file a motion before the original judge, Leon M. Bazile, to vacate the case and reverse his ruling. He refused, writing:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

That response served as the basis for an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. That court upheld the lower court’s ruling. The next step was the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, along with similar laws in fifteen other states. In the unanimous ruling, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. … To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Warren specifically found that Virginia’s law was racist:

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Steward Potter also pointed out the racially-discriminatory dimension:

…it is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our Constitution which makes the criminality of an act depend upon the race of the actor.

The ruling was part of a much larger change in America. It also facilitated change. In 1967, only 3% of newlywed couples were interracial. By 2015, the figure was 17%. Despite this ruling, many now-unenforceable anti-miscegenation laws remained on the books for several years to come. In 2000, Alabama voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal its anti-miscegenation law. But more than half a million — 40% — voted to keep it.


Mildred and Richard were never political people. After the Supreme Court victory, the couple returned to Virginia and raised three children. Richard died in 1975 at the age of 41 when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Mildred lost her right eye in the accident. She passed away in 2008 of pneumonia at the age of 68. But a year before she died, she issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which she saw the fight for the freedom to marry as unfinished business:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Mildred Loving passed away from pneumonia on May 2, 2008, at the age of 68. She was survived by two of her children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


1967 Tappan Gallery Range.

Headlines for June 12, 1967: The Six-Day War has just ended, Israel to keep West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights, Sinai. Experts fear refugee crisis in the Middle East. Israel rejects outside negotiators for peace solution. Egypt’s President Gamal Nasser sacks twelve top military commanders. Soviet Union breaks diplomatic ties with Israel. Race rioting takes place in Tampa, Cincinnati. Task force recommends federal government regulate clean air and water. Pentagon reports 10 North Vietnamese aircraft downed, 100 enemy troops killed; 47 Marines wounded.

On the radio: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, “Groovin'” by the Young Rascals, “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings, “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck, “Him or Me — What’s It Gonna Be” by Paul Revere and the Raiders (feat. Mark Lindsay), “Somebody To Love” by Jefferson Airplane, “She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles, “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion, “All I Need” by the Temptations, “Creeque Alley” by the Mamas and the Papas.

Currently showing in theaters: Barefoot In the Park

On television:  Bonanza (NBC), The Red Skelton Hour (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Daktari (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), The Virginian (NBC), Gomer Pyle, USMC (CBS), The Fugitive (ABC), Get Smart (NBC), Star Trek (NBC), My Three Sons (CBS), Family Affair (CBS), Gilligan’s Island (CBS).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder, The Arrangement by Elia Kazan, Washington, D.C. by Gore Vidal. Non-fiction: The Death of a President, by William Manchester, Everything But Money, by Sam Levenson.



Prominent Psychiatrist Calls for National Center to Treat Homosexuality

Dr. Charles Socarides, clinical assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, had spent much of the decade positioning himself as a top “expert” on homosexuality. Just six months earlier, he appeared as just such an expert on the CBS Reports documentary, “The Homosexuals.” On September 24, 1967, the National Institutes of Mental Health invited him to speak on his favorite subject. Socarides did not disappoint.  He began, as he always did, by saying homosexuality was a “condition of certainly epidemiological (sic) proportions.” He always said epidemiological — incorrectly — with twice as many syllables as epidemic, which he really means to say.

But Socarides didn’t come here to discuss semantics or etymology. He had a more pressing concern: “There is no place — hardly any place, I would say, in the United States — where a homosexual can go and say: I am a homosexual. I need help.” He called for a “national center for sexual rehabilitation” which would pool resource for research and treatment of gay people.

Socarides argued that homosexuality’s roots trace to the “pre-oedipal” stage (according to psychoanalytic theories of development), which is generally before the age of three. This was much earlier than other accepted theories of learned sexual development which were in vogue at that time. Socarides placed the burden of a homosexual’s development on his mother. “The homosexual’s mother is domineering and tyrannical,” he said. “The best way to describe her is as a crushing mother that will not allow the child to achieve his own autonomy.” He later added, “I don’t want to blame Mother for everything, but it comes down to this.”

Socarides argued that this theory could  explain “fetishism, transvestitism, sexual masochism, and exhibition.” He grandiosely called this one-size-fits-all theory his “Unified Theory of Sexual Perversion.”

The NIMH, he said, was “ideally constituted” to establish such an institution. “Such a national center will be started by one of the Western governments,” he predicted. “And I hope it is here. … A comprehensive program is needed to diminish, reverse, and prevent this tragic human condition that involves such large numbers of the population.”


Socarides’s suggestion was never adopted. Instead, just four days later, the NIMH created a task force to investigate and recommend a research program on human sexuality. It was specifically charged with focusing on homosexuality. The twelve-member panel included professionals in psychiatry, psychology, law, sociology, anthropology and theology. UCLA’s Dr. Evelyn Hooker, whose groundbreaking research on homosexuality found that gay people weren’t inherently mentally disturbed, was appointed the panel’s chairperson. In 1969, that panel released its report, which urged the decriminalization of homosexuality nationwide.

Socarides would become a bitter critic of the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1992, he co-founded of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), and served as its first president.


Mar 7, 1967: CBS Airs “The Homosexuals”


Headlines for September 24, 1967: American B-52s batter Viet Cong positions along the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. The Soviets promise to ramp up their annual aid to North Vietnam. U.S. Army considers providing weapons to police officers for riot control. Israel announces first two settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights, in territory seized in June during the Six Day War. Organization of American States enacts new economic sanctions against Cuba. Texas offers to shelter whole Mexican cities ravaged by Rio Grande floods caused by Hurricane Beulah. Fourteen Tucson teenagers race into a burning nursing home and rescue 53 of 57 elderly residents.

On the Radio: “The Letter” by the Box Tops, “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry, “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee and the Strangers, “Reflections” by Diana Ross and the Supremes, “Never My Love” by the Association, “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay and the Techniques, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson, “You’re My Everything” by the Temptations, “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” by Peter Paul and Mary, “Funky Broadway, by Wilson Pickett, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.

Currently in theaters: Bonnie and Clyde.

On Television: The Andy Griffith Show (CBS), The Lucy Show (CBS), Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS), Gunsmoke (CBS), Bonanza (NBC), Family Affair (CBS), The Red Skelton Show (CBS), The Dean Martin Show (NBC), The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS), Bewitched (ABC), Lost In Space (CBS), The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS), Green Acres (CBS), The Flying Nun (ABC), My Three Sons (CBS), Dragnet (NBC), The Carol Burnett Show (NBC).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Arrangement by Elia Kazan, The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Non-fiction: “Our Crowd”: The Great Jewish Families of New York by Stephen Birmingham, The New Industrial State by John Kenneth Galbraith


Jean M. White. “Center to Treat Homosexuals Urged.” The Washington Post (September 25, 1967): A3.

“Task Force to Study Sexuality.” The Washington Post (September 29, 1967): A2