Alex Blaze

CBS Reports: The Homosexuals

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 10, 2010 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: You Gotta See This
Tags: CBS

Here's a pre-Stonewall feature piece on gays from CBS, which ran in 1967. Via The Advocate.

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It's pretty amazing how entrapment ceases with public education on the true nature of vilified states of being that vary from the majority. Judgement breeds marginalization yields misunderstnding brings fear engenders hysteria which mandates punishment. The good news is that the majority of Americans are catching up with the perception which was European even in the time this report was broadcast. I would love to be able to speak with Mr. Wallace to see how his own view had changed, and how he'd describe the differences between now and then, both personally and externally among his audiences.

A friend of mine found a copy of this some time ago and burned a DVD of it for me, and I sat here watching it absolutely appalled. Okay, yes, it was forty years ago, and times have changed (thank god!). But to think that not only did society feel this way about us -- but we felt that way about ourselves? Vidal was close to the only bright spot in the whole thing, and IMHO that aint sayin' too much.

Lord, how far as have come.

What an amazing artifact. I think it should be required viewing for young adults who might not understand where older folks are coming from.

Several observations:

I was struck at how many of the issues raised by the program still linger in U.S. society today and are still used by those opposed to civil rights for LGBT folks. Many of the arguments used by the psychoanalysts from the program are the foundation for numerous contemporary "ex-gay" ministries. In fact, the first psychiatrist (Socarides) was instrumental in providing the "theoretical" basis for what is now "ex-gay therapy" and "ministries". This is an historical irony as at one time many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians loathed psychoanalysis "back in the day" (e.g. during the 1930's-1970's).

Remember when the Mattachine society's tactics were considered so self-loathing by the Gay Liberation et al., crowd? After watching this I was struck at how much the homophile agenda (pre-Stonewall) has been taken up by many LGBT groups and individuals today. I might add that the Mattachine men who took part in this program were very brave to have done so.

And where were the lesbians? I guess they didn't exist back then...

Last thought: Vidal's ideas really seem to be almost proto-queer theory (of what little I know about it), which seems very much in vogue in some especially younger circles.

Believe it or not, chillins, some of us old farts were actually alive back in 1967 --- I remember watching this thing on TV as a 13-year-old, with the sound turned down so low I could barely hear, and hoping that my Mom and Dad would be too busy to check in on me. You can imagine how difficult it would be for a youngster to make sense out of the attempt at "balance" that CBS finally struck. To keep things in perspective, note that this first aired on March 7, 1967, slightly more than one year before MLK was assassinated --- the Civil Rights Movement was entering its Black Panther era, the Viet Nam war had four more years to go, and the country had a lot of growing pains ahead of it.

But if you really want to cringe over a CBS Reports hatchet-job, you need to locate a copy of Harry Reasoner swinging the journalistic machete in CBS Reports: Gay Power, Gay Politics which aired on April 26, 1980, about 18 months after the George Moscone/Harvey Milk assassinations. The latter documentary depicted us as, for the most part, sex-crazed, and precipitated a rash of anti-gay and anti-lesbian violence in San Francisco that lasted for months. Moreover, it was one of the first media elements to energize the newly-forming radical right on its anti-gay campaigns.

[wiki on The Homos]

[wiki on Gay Power, Gay Politics]

[ * Having given you this heads-up, I am going to return to my former hiding place underneath my enormous potted palm ... Are the cameras still rolling? ... I'm so glad my lovely palm tree is still alive after more than 45 years! ... * ]