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tv   Role of Gay Bars in American History  CSPAN  November 19, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EST

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an airplane and make your first real solo flight at home by yourself. >> taken us on a tour of the military aviation museum, home to one of the largest private collections in world war i. american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. santa clara university professor nancy unger talks about the role of gay bars in american history. by the end of the 19th century, bars and clubs catering to homosexuals could be found in most major american cities. these establishments offered gaze and let the -- offered gaze -- offered gays and lesbians a place to socialize.
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the days following the murders of the pulse nightclub in orlando, like a lot of people i was following the news accounts and reading what i could find to read and trying to make some sense of what had happened. i came across an editorial online i nancy unger. that short editorial helps me understand the importance of gay bars and clubs in a way i had aser understood before gathering places. i decided that day we had to bring nancy unger to birmingham so she should could -- so she could's share -- so she could share her insight. nancy unger is professor of
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history at the santa clara university where she began her course on gays and lesbians in his pre--- in history. her work on lgbtq history is featured in her 2012 book you want nature's housekeepers. american women and environmental history. and then prize-winning studies of progressivism in the united states and all beds have appeared in dozens of newspapers op-ed's have-- and appeared in dozens of newspapers and websites. her radio included national america,dio, voice of and air america. and she worked as a consultant for pbs. please welcome in joining me nancy unger.
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[applause] ms. unger: i want to thank everyone for inviting me to speak. i want to thank all of you for me talkhe time to hear about history of all things on a sunday afternoon. in his invitation to me, jim wrote, "i was struck between the gaylarities of the role of clubs and gay rights movements and african american churches in the civil rights movement. i thought that was a pretty perceptive observation. surface, that beautiful church you see on the left there
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in montgomery alabama does not seem to have a whole lot in on thewith the seedy bar right, operating illegally in greenwich village new york. that beautiful church in montgomery was designated a national historic landmark in 1974 in memory of martin luther king jr., who served as its pastor from 1954 to 1960. he helped to organize the montgomery boycott in the church's basement. and yet this june president barack obama declared that seedy bar in new york city as the country's first national gays,nt to lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights. just in case you are not for it is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning.
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bars and black churches have a very long history. both had served as stevens and sanctuaries. they had been the centers of solidarity, community, and education. site ofe also been the arson, violence, and persecution. and yet resistance to those very efforts to intimidate and to squelch eventually led to greater investment -- greater advancements in freedom. bar,before the modern gay the place had always played a powerful role in the lives of lgbtq americans. we are going to focus oflusively on the evolution gay bars and nightclubs and the many roles they have played in
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american history. intimate same-sex relationships have long been tolerated in american history. this was especially true of men in single-sex communities. minors and cowboys. miners and cowboys. here is a real thing, the cowboy dance. mostssumption from straight people was that these men weren't gay, they were just making do. they were just having harmless fun. of the same was thought about cross-dressing, just harmless fun. which it also was. which is not to say that same-sex sexuality was not was, itg, of course it just wasn't on most street people's radar screen. people's radart
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screen. america was primarily a nation of family farmers. were creatingents a lot of different spaces, such as public parks for men to find each other. the first ymca opened in the united states in 1851. and by 1884 we have men's bathhouses in the bowery, lots of activity going on there. york'slate 1880's new beaker street was home to at least two known gay bars, the slide and the black rabbit. the timing of this is interesting because in 1892 we see the term homosexual first appear in print. it is defined as a sexual perversion.
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this invention, with this recognition of homosexuality gradually comes an awareness that all the same-sex activities might not be harmless fun after all. and so we see the new york daily renounce the slide bar as a "hit of shame, where riches without moral sense or shame make nightly and public exhibition of their evil doings." times1 the new york reported on the arrest of several patrons of the black rabbit. called wicked, claiming that "sodom and gomorrah would blush for shame at hearing to what depths of the vicweabit to a -- of
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habituate descended. " new york was not the only place to feature early gay bars and clubs. they began springing up in virtually every major city. opened up in san francisco in 1908. ,ven rural establishments called barrel houses or juke offered some opportunities for nontypical sexual behaviors, far from the prying eyes of the disapproving churchgoing establishment. by no means were these for homosexuals only, but they were the starting place for many women who would later become relatively open lesbian blues singers. and the author of the explicitly
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lesbian song -- most homosexuals, cities were the place to be. almost all clubs remained racially segregated. theem residents said about 1920's, new york was a great place to be a lesbian. you had a beautiful time up there. by 1932, this nightclub map would feature gladys's clam house. there it is right there. gladys bentley, who made no secret her sexual preference for women. in the 1930's she was the bangui --inger at du
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at the u bangui club -- at the ubangi club. they would become especially important in world war ii. in small towns and farmhouses across america, most homosexuals were deeply closeted. in their isolation many believed they were the only ones in their town or even in their state to have these feelings. and they feared what others said were true, that homosexuals were dangerous perverts. from allhomosexuals over the united states left their small town to serve their country, either by enlisting in the military or taking up more production jobs. point most ended up near a coastal city and almost all ended up in some city.
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many closeted gays go to their first gay bar. many lesbians go to their first lesbian bar. gladys bentley was still performing in the 1940's. they find out they are not the only one, that there are a lot of people who are atypical sexually, and they're not perverted deviant criminals but good loyal americans who are serving their country well in a time of need. one the war is over they don't want to return to their small towns. many settled in the cities where they first experienced themselves accepted. whole new era and back you might
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anticipate this is when we are going to have the gay and lesbian rights movement. , this would be -- this would be the beginning of that. instead lgbtq people are going to have to endure 25 more years of repression. after those hopes raised by world war ii, the cold war was a particularly horrible time to be gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual in the united states. seenen and lesbians were as particular risks to national security. "sexual perverts who infiltrated our government in recent years are perhaps as dangerous as the national -- as the actual communists. atypical sexuality was grounds for immediate and permanent dismissal from government jobs. this begins in the state department pretty high up.
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this includes people like postal carrier and workers and librarians. and so people remained in the closet. it's a little different now. that nascento with pride and sense of identity? you can't unring a bell. gay bars are going to become more important than ever. going to be scarier because of police raids. it was illegal to serve an alcoholic drink twin known homosexual as they were deemed inherently disorderly. remember that homosexuality itself is not only considered unnatural and in moral, it is illegal.
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and not just sex acts, but any same-sex conduct, like holding hands can be deemed lewd and lascivious. imagine what would happen in this climate if you get your name or, god for bid, your picture in the paper during such a raid. and you will note the headline here. 109 arrested in -- if you are married, as most closeted homosexuals work. were, these were immediate grounds for this -- for divorce. it means he would lose your job, lose your apartment, because out by your churches and friends. thethat is ultimately if charges are dropped. if they are pressed you are
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going to face the prospect of a jury trial. i think we can all understand while virtually everyone facing a morals charge with lead to a lower misdemeanor, trunk and asorderly for example, or pay fine, anything to not to have to go to court. you could also be committed, -- comeyour will on. going to need somebody to push a button for me. just one second. changing battery.
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there we go. you could also be committed to a mental hospital. and this is especially true of young people to be cured of your illness. electroshockclude therapy and various forms of aversion therapy. eating caught at a gay bar was a quick way to ruin your life. so why go? gays and lesbians who came of and 60'se 40's, 50's, speak over and over and over again about how they risk their reputation, their marriages, their family, their livelihood by going today -- by going to gay bars.
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they can't confirm despairing that they were the only one, kept them from believing that society was right, that they were sick and criminal and would be better off dead. in the bars and nightclubs they found hookups and one night stands. they also found partners and lovers and friends and people who expected -- who accepted them as they were. they didn't have to carry out the exhausting work of pretending to be straight. , andcould be themselves being true to yourself is very precious. it is worth a lot of risk. lesbians during this period suffered double discrimination. women as gay men saw inferior. in the days before widespread feminism, the lesbian bar was the truly rare place where women were not pressured to cater to men. a lesbian in the 1940's said,
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"we could throw off our dresses , the uniforms required of all women." they could wear pants and be free of men's unwanted sexual attention. the lesbian bar created a whole alternate society. and for many working-class lesbians that was the world of press -- of the butch-fem press. butch-femme press. intocover cops try to get lesbian bars were easily spotted and kept out. said, "that was my world, and the other world was not real."
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the society -- primary -- they began to fight back against government treatment. the crucial battles in the campaigns for gay rights. it became the settings for the crucial battles in the campaigns for gay rights. the least known, but most important, took place inside this bar. on april 21, 1966, kasich been -- a sip in was staged, like a sit-in. they announced they were homosexual men and they wanted to drink. they would announce this to the bartender. this picture was taken just before they announced it and you
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can see the bartender putting his hand over the glass, because he is not going to be up to serve them the drink. as you know, that is illegal to serve openly gay men a drink. he then challenged in court the laws that prohibited serving alcoholic beverages to gays. the ruling in the case that the gays could peacefully assemble at bars and drink alcohol and established a new era of licensed, legally operating gay bars, and included a new gay bar , the67 only a block away stonewall inn. were oftenbians rejected or discriminated against in some gay men's bars, color facedbians of racial as well a sexual discrimination.
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contin's cafeteria was a diner in san francisco's tenderloin district, and one of the few places transgender people congregated publicly in the city -- the congregated publicly in the city. cross-dressing was illegal, and so the police regularly raided the place. in august 1966, just a few , some after the sit in patrons began picketing the cafeteria, because management the police to have their transgendered customers arrested. during an attempted arrest, the trans-customers began to fight back and a riot broke out. first efforts by transgendered people to stand up against abuse and discrimination by police. and there is something very empowering about standing up for yourself.
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gay bars were the sites of all kinds of empowerment. and fun, life-saving despite the fact that they still represented real danger in the form of constant raids and police harassment. it was no longer illegal to serve and openly keep person age rink in some states, but atypical sexual activity -- inve and openly gay person some states, but atypical sexual activity -- it wasn't until two thousand three that the supreme court declared sodomy -- wasn't until 2003 that the supreme court declared sodomy laws -- drunk and disorderly and obscene behavior and the whole list of possible offenses.
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turning point in lgbtq history started at the stonewall inn at about 1:20 in the morning 28, 1969. stonewall was a gay bar and two of the keywords are class and race. who were the patrons of this bar? for the most part working-class. some are people of color. already people who have been deemed to be inferior, lower class, and many are openly gay. are not white middle-class people terrified of losing -- of having their sexuality revealed. they are terrified of being outed, they aren't going to lose their jobs, their homes, their families.
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raidedll had been several times for operating without a liquor license. lots of bars did. it was cheaper to pay off the police than it was to pay for a liquor license. some police started the standard raid, and the patrons had had enough. and they began writing inside the bar. she threw bricks and bottles and fires. they do it again the next tonight. it gets some coverage. some of the coverage is negative press. a really snotty article for the new york daily news. the queen bees are stinging and bad.
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it is getting publicity. there is something significant about fighting back against injustice. just like other oppressed people were doing in the civil rights movement. violence seems to generate respect or at least attention. a decade later allen ginsberg -- mbered they have lost that wounded look that -- "they have lost that wounded look that make fags memorable." i think there are two components to this. one was the creation of the gay liberation front. another was a more aggressive political organization that had been in existence before.
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and the second press is a commemorative march that takes place one year after the stonewall riots. you can see the christopher street march. very well attended. there is also a commemorative march in los angeles. as you know, to this day there and theseide parades, people in the may not realize they are commemorating the stonewall riots, but in fact that is what those parades were originally designed to do. exhilaratingally powerful event. expression tod reveals one homosexuality, it is
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called letting a hair pin drop. called the hair pin drop around the world. as gays and lesbians came out of the closet. publications and organizations proliferated, and gay bars became increasingly visible and popular sites for socializing and political organizing. they also became sites for violent people. the poll bar in orlando was not the first to be the site of a mass murderer. 1973, an arsonist that fire to the gay bar the upstairs lounge in new orleans, killing .2 despite that large number of fatalities, no politician, not the mayor or governor, certainly made any kindent
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of a statement. we will never know, because the police are not interested in investigating. according to a survivor of the , what happened to us had to be kept private. it public didn't know about and if they heard about it they didn't care. the gay and lesbian population continued to push for the american medical association. the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders removes homosexuality from its
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list of mental disorders. as one gay activists put it, "one night we went to bed sick, then the next morning we all woke up well." [laughter] discrimination continues through the 1970's and beyond, and gay and lesbians continue to flock to night bars. of thetoonist and author memoir "fun home" remember that in 1980, my first gave our was in akron, ohio. ohio. bar was in akron, i used to feel like an alien, in social groups but in that next crowd, i produced a profound existential release for once not being the only queer. a year later in 1991, i moved to new york. there was a lot of routine anti-gay hostility on the street.
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even in sheridan square you would get hassled for holding hands. then you would step past the bouncer at the duchess, and you were home free. that bar had its own panels, but it afforded me the space to just be, with my guard down, and that was foundational. a year after bechdel started going to the duchess, some of its patrons staged a protest against respite from the liquor board. why these are predictive of a bar? bar?rotective of a i bought this says it will,, you want to come into the bar where all your dreams come true, or go to the left, disappointing real life. [laughter] a huge crisis hits the gay community, the hiv-aids crisis. and in many cities, the bathhouses were closed as ground zero for spreading the disease.
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gay bars became some of the most important centers, not only for sharing information about safer sex practices, but for planning protests, in particular demanding that the protest weakened the pace of the development and testing of new drugs. many daypart patrons became part of the eighth coalition to unleash power, "act up." a potter remembered being at a gay bar in providence, rhode island. inwas "frivolously dancing, walks a dude from new york watering a weather jacket -- wearing a leather jacket that its "don't tread on me." was about getting powered, and addressing and existential crisis head on.
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i moved to new york the next year. from the height of the hiv-aids epidemic and even today, gay bars and nightclubs plate a crucial role in the lives of lgbtq americans. author andrew sullivan remembered ease and dignity had seemed incompatible with my gayness until my sweaty june bar visit sent me on a nupathe, one that would lead me -- a new path, one that would lead me to becoming an activist for k lgbtq rights. remembers, i was deeply closeted in colleges. people did not come out then as quickly as they do now. after i finally built up the liquid courage to do it, to go to a gay bar in baton rouge, b i never turnedack. -- i never turned back.
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i was finally at home. television host andy cohen said "even in the 1990's, it was literally like stepping into another world. it is where i don't a community a community of friends. gay bars were in escape from the often unfriendly outside world, packed every night of the week. everyone inside was a friend. according to actress carrie ours,tein, gay bars is like putty, our likes clay. we get to decide whether it is weird or profound, or both, or neither. only away from the glare of homophobia can we experience the malleability, a flexing of oneself, a full rotation. new there were 360 degrees? --who knew there were 360
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degrees? >> "a mostly queer dance party in east nashville. since many of us don't or can't go to church, bars and close have been the central gathering places for us. i have an almost spiritual quality." "calling them sacred spaces is not hyperbole. i didn't feel like it was finally ok to be myself the first time i went to church, or to the movies, or the post office, or the first day of kindergarten, or my first company christmas party. the first time i felt like i didn't have to watch what i said or police who i looked at or feel shameful for who i was attracted to was the first time i set foot in a gay bar. emily sullivan recalls "where i grew up in rural virginia, there is no safe place for lgbt citizens. most of whom are invisible.
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my move to brooklyn has brought me shelter. because i grew up in a town that made my sexuality deal painful, i can't take these spaces were granted in what they offer lgbt people. they are solace. they are accepting. they are safety." others spoke of the importance of gay and lesbian bars catering to people of color. here is an emphasis on gay black pride in north carolina. according to laurie stephens of nashville "as someone who is queer and latina, these spaces are even more important. the mainstream lgbt communities is often very white. i know it is not something they intend. but we don't get a lot of lgbt white folks saying something like, immigration is an lpg gq issue, even though it is. a lot of those who were killed and wounded in orlando were identified as immigrants, some undocumented.
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there is a whole other level of barriers for these families." ine many lgbtq clubs, pulse orlando florida, and note that logo served as a welcoming place to party for gays and lesbians who were not white or middle to upper class. pulse not only welcomed the area's welcome publication -- -- area's immigrant population, but hosted social and educational events, like breast cancer awareness and hiv-aids prevention. according to its website, pul se orlando served as "a driving force in the lgbtq community, seeking to make strides toward equality awareness and love for all." 12 mass shooting on june 2016, resulting in a death of 49 people, was a particularly outrageous violation of the
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notion of gay bars as places of safety from a hostile homophobic world. up like this -- "you don't know what we are feeling. think of the place he felt most comfortable, safe, and loved. it is probably the house you grew up in. imagine someone burning that house to the ground with your family inside, because they hate you. that is what we feel right now." >it must be like how many african-americans felt after the 1953 bombing that killed four little girls in a church in birmingham. their sacred states have been violated. another youngest and most vulnerable had been killed. and so many of them went to church to find solace and comfort and community. refused to allow their sacred spaces to becomes sites
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of fear. after the killings, a flocked to clubs and bars to grieve and find solidarity, and to reaffirm that they would not be re-intimidated back into the closet. this tweet says from the club "you cannot silence us. you cannot destroy us. we are not going anywhere." a survivor of the upstairs lounge arson fire says, "to see the outpouring and level of support that the sport pulse -- these poor pulse families have gotten is fantastic. they know that the world supports them and understands their grief. he continued "president obama address to the nation, which i thought was very moving. in his last will and testament, mayor harveyit milk wrote "should a bullet enter my brain, without -- let
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that bullet destroy every closet door." the some kind of reaction followed milk's assassination. "burst down those closet doors once and for all." the post pulse massacre prompted many gays to finally come out. some are worried about the future of the gay bar. shortly before the massacre at pulse, i gave the keynote at a gay conference on environmental matters, talking about the importance of police in game was in history. during the -- importance of place in gay and lesbian history. i was asked about grindr and other apps used as a means to hook up. i said i was no expert. i recently asked my daughter how her kindle date went. she rolled her eyes and said "do te?"mean my tinder da
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i think my conference? wanted me to disavow -- conference questioner wanted me to does it out grindr is nothing but an avenue for casual sex. gay bars were done for the same reason. i'm certainly no expert on grindr. is impressed upon immediately the importance of the internet in all its facets in making many may get ---- many gay men and andians feel less alone more like members of an accepting and supportive community. barsa brief history of gay and my close reveals the importance of community, and of the human need for acceptance and safety. like the black church, the gay bar has been a site for solidarity and spiritual renewal. it has been the subject of attack, but has served as a site
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for fostering pride, to overcome hatred and the scrimmage and, and to promote safety and acceptance. gay bars and nightclubs are unique spaces that continue to foster gay pride, facilitate progress, and promote feelings of belonging, solidarity, and joy. thank you very much. [applause] thank you. so, there are some questions that you have for me. can you address the issue of the u.s. military employing the talents of gay and giving them a dishonorable discharge at the end of world war ii? this is a fascinating subject. i wish you could all take my day and lesbian class. i spend a lot of time talking about the impact of world war ii. since the beginning of the war,
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there was no effort to keep gays out. we need every pair of hands. we only see the determination and discharges coming after there is a turning point in the war. particularlyit was a position to put gay men in. as gay men are being increasingly given discharges, which means you can get your g.i. bill of rights, have a hard time getting a job, and this is a tough thing to happen -- lesbians are not being pushed out in the same way. there is a much higher percentage of lesbians. at one point eisenhower's general says, i hear there are lesbians in italian, give me a list, we have to get rid of them. she said, my name will be at the
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top and there will be anyone left, but i can do it. so he says okay, nevermind. [laughter] just forget about it. he didn't want a scandal. what is interesting to me is that on the one side, the military has been one of the biggest promoters of homophobia, but it is also during world war ii when they really need every wer of hands they say okay, need to understand this. and he says yes, like any disease, it requires understanding, not punishment. there is an effort -- they do some of the leading research on acceptance. over inee over and american history prior to the more recent laws, for the korean war, there are more acceptance of homosexuality because we need every pair of hands. when things settle down, there is a ramping up of persecution.
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it is an interesting phenomenon. it was frustrating for me that the military held on for so long and that homophobia was indoctrinated into its processes. it has been a great relief. was the gay rights movement inspired or influenced by the black civil rights movement? what a great question. a big my true heroes, activist in the gay rights movement. ii, then in world war he went to harvard with a phd in astronomy and is working for the government. pring the cold war, this is a lum job.
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and he gets fired because he is gay. he says, you can't fire me. you need me, my sexuality has nothing to do with what is going on. and he keeps resisting. he takes it all the way to the screen court, and they say n o no, you are fired. so he becomes an activist. he says look, you are so apologetic. you're asking whether or not we should seek medical help to try and change ourselves. he says, look at the civil rights movement. citing,t see blacks maybe we can and racial discrimination by bleaching our skin. you don't see the anti-defamation league saying we jewsd end anti-semitism by converting to christianity. you don't see that. people want to be accepted for who they are. he is very open about saying
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that the gay and lesbian movement needs to mirror his self to the civil rights movement. to be accepted as they are, not tolerated. ,here is clear patterning borrowing civil rights movement. it was extremely informed chill. -- extremely influential. can you speak to help at houses in europe responded to hiv by disturbing condoms, verses in america have they shut down? how drastic or the ramifications? >> they were pretty drastic. imagine, a lot of frustration about the bathhouses
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citing, we understand this is ground zero, this is where so much of this disease is spreading, but it can also be ground zero for information. there was such an in the united states -- such panic in the united states that the shutting down of bathhouses took over. and with drastic impact. should we teach lgbtq history in school? well, of course we should. it is part of american history. in my state, california, it has been mandated that at appropriate grade levels k-12 it must be taught. i have given a number of talks to panic teachers saying, not more one god damn thing we have to teach! [laughter] and i say no, let me show you. let me show you how teaching lgbtq history helps you to achieve these things.
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it is not an add-on, it is an integral part of american history. where their regional differences in the role of gay bars in history, the south compared to the west coast? >> i think there are regional differences -- there are microclimates. california is really liberal -- but if you've into the central valley, not so liberal. differences, but also in areas. i was raised in washington state. the west of washington, seattle, very liberal. the east of washington is right next to idaho, where there are the white supremacists. very different. there are not just regional differences, but many differences in how people are treated. was the european gay bar
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comparable to the american gay bar in the 20th century? i have vast ignorance on this topic. really, i am pretty much a myopic american historian. i know that in the early 20th century, germany in particular andway ahead of the curve, was talking a lot about sexual differences. unfortunately the work of some of those sexologists was taken up by the nazis, and helped to bring a lot of gay men to the concentration camps. i think that kind of thinking helps understand why it was so hard for so many gays and lesbians to really get organized. the idea of having your name on a list, whether you are in nazi germany or the united states fearing arrest, it is daunting stuff. that picture that i showed you of the protest, the men protesting and women protesting
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federal treatment. that took enormous amount of garbage -- an enormous amount of against a stand up society that saw it as a sin and crime. i think it is remarkable. i think that is all the questions that you have. i want to thank you so much for your attention. this is a big thrill for me. thank you. [applause] >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter, @cpsna anhistpory -- follow us on twitter for the latest news. >> intrigue, american history tv "reel america" brings to
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archival films for today's public affairs issues. [gunfire] aren america, black people treated very much as vietnamese people, or any other colonized people. we are used, fertilized. brutalized. the police use this as an occupied territory. they are not in our community to promote our welfare or our security and safety, but are there to contain us, to brutalize us and murder us. they have their orders to do so. just as the soldiers in vietnam have their orders to destroy the vietnamese people, the police in our community could not possibly be there to protect our property. because we own no property. they could not possibly be there to see that we receive due for the samew,
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reason that the police themselves do not have due process of law. it is very apparent that the police are only in our community not for our security, but for the security of the business owners in the community. and also that the status quo is kept intact. it is the people that will called revolution, and it is the people that will cause a change in the country. the black panther party is simply a vanguard of the revolution. we plan to keep the people, the strategy, necessary to liberate themselves. ♪ [singing] ♪ >> the need and demand that he be set free. the only way to heal a
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community, take it out of the hands of those who relentlessly are trying to kill it. revolution has come try to pick up the gun ♪ >> a coalition with the teacher's freedom party, which is primarily a white group. we see it necessary to fight on two fronts. we must liberate the colony and stimulate revolution in the public sector. this can play a great part in saving america. students have been very interested in the past the foreign policy of the united
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states. they demanded that the united states withdraw from vietnam, stop brutalizing the vietnamese people. studentshat the white pay more attention to the colonized situation than the blacks first. after all, this is home. >> watch the entire film 4:00 p.m. eastern sunday on "reel america" on history tv, only on c-span3. >> following the transition of government on c-span, donald trump becomes the 45th president of the united states and republicans maintain control of the u.s. house and senate. will take you to key events as they happen without interruption. watch live on c-span. watch on demand at c-span.org. or listen on our free c-span radio app. >> thank you very much. welcome to congress.
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[applause] between 1892 and 1954, about 12 million immigrants seeking a new life in america were taken to ellis island for processing, questioning. millions of americans take ferry boats to visit ellis island and the statue of liberty. american history tv's "american artifacts" we visited the ellis island museum to learn about the immigrant experience. >> this canopy would have been a place where immigrants just off the boat would have liked up to go in the door and begin their process. what they had with them was virtually only what was important to them. for many who were bringing their entire families at the same time, i had to sell everything they own in europe. -- they had to sell everything they owned in europe.
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the cattle, supplies, the form itself just to afford -- the fa rm itself just to afford the fare. this is the baggage room. this is where immigrants got there first sight of ellis island. this room looks very different depending the moment you came. in 1907, according to some floor plans, immigrants who came in this door immediately had to go to our left, where medical examination would take place. eventually they would end up in this staircase, originally in the middle of this ceiling, that took you into the middle of the great hall. it is officially called the registry room. most of us: the great hall of ellis island. it is a majestic piece of architecture. we are heading up the stairs to the second floor. doctors will also meet you here.
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they will give you an expression that is just a fast and inspection you are going to get. they were called the six second specialist for that reason. highly skilled members of the u.s. public health service who can spot even the smallest sign of anywhere from 50 to 60 elements that normally afflicts an immigrant. last stop in the great hall will about 15 toica and 20 inspectors. this is the last part of processing. manifests for a list of answers to questions that immigrants gave. for the vast majority of people that came up to his desk, this is going to be a pretty easy process. they answer all the questions, they remember all the answers. they will look too -- won't look too suspicious and answering,
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because that alone could be reason for detention. percent of those that come through this building -- 18% -- 80% of those that come through this building leave. but 20% or detained. and another 10% for some discrepancies in their interrogation. told, 98% of those they can't do this building were able to come out and start their lives in america. -- those who came out of this building were able to come out and start their lives in america. 45% of thete american publishing. they can tell you that one of their american ancestors came through this building, went through this process, and started their american story. for so many people, it is the reason they come here to visit
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ellis island. they have heard so much about it. it has been in their family's fogler. folklore.s you can see where mom and -- begin the family american story. that is what ellis island is about. the story of americans looking for something better. is about the american dream, which we all cherish wrigley. >> racial conflicts in integrating the military. this is about one hour and 15 minutes. >> hi everybody, welcome. our topic for today is black americans and world war ii.

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