E-mailing with Jim Peron in South Africa ...
Involvement in GayLife ...
"In 1978 I was working in the evangelical Vatican ...the Carol Stream/Wheaton area, working for an evangelical missionary organization (of all things!). At that time Chicago GayLife was advertising for a typesetter. Since I wanted to escape the Christian ghetto I applied for the job and was hired. We were using a pre-computer typesetting machine where you used small rolls of paper to capture the data. I started with typesetting but I soon moved on to writing as well.
"I wrote the first exposÃÉ©s on the so-called ex-gay movement which Grant (Ford) published, entitled Homosexuality and the Miracle Makers. I also infiltrated the Anita Bryant concert in Fort Wayne, Ind., and spent the afternoon with Anita and her then husband, Bob Greene. I wrote about that for Gay Life as well. On another occasion I covered a Jerry Falwell rally in Indianapolis and debated the vice president of the Moral Majority, Greg Dixon, on radio.
"Grant was quite singularly responsible for changing my views on things though I have no idea if they changed in his direction or not. One winter morning, on the way to the office, he found a wet, tattered copy of the magazine Libertarian Review. He and I had talked politics a bit so he had some idea where I stood on matters. He brought the magazine into the office and handed it to me saying, 'Here, I think this would interest you.' He was right. I ended up subscribing.
"I then started writing a regular column for GayLife under the name Jon Paul (long before the Pope adopted a similar nom de plume). I think the column was misnamed, as it was called A View from the Right. Lesbian activist Christine Riddiough wrote an opposing column called, of course, A View from the Left. But by this time, due in large part to Grant's gift of Libertarian Review, my views were no longer conservative but libertarian in nature.
"As a result of writing and researching for GayLife I ended up writing an exposÃÉ© of the Moral Majority which appeared in the magazine Grant gave me: Libertarian Review. I continued writing for GayLife until shortly before I ran for State Representative in the Lincoln Park/New Town area. I was the first openly gay man to be on the ballot for state office in Illinois. Grant was supportive of me but unfortunately sold GayLife shortly before the election. The new owner was the owner of Man's Country bathhouse and a would-be mover and shaker in the Democratic Party. So I did not get GayLife's endorsement and was specifically disendorsed because my views on gay rights were allegedly 'too narrow.'
"Since GayLife published some of my first research I have gone on to write on numerous subjects, though I still periodically write on issues important to gay men and women. I have authored six books since those day including an analysis of the first term of ANC rule in South Africa and a book on the destruction of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe.
"I moved to South Africa in 1990. I started a monthly gay newspaper here called Esteem. We published for three years and were the first publication to include male centrefolds (tame by U.S. standards). After the ANC took power the censorship laws were changed and actually made it more difficult for me to continue publishing.
"Esteem, though clearly not an 'adult' publication was confined to registered Adult Shops only. But the publication didn't sell well there. Meanwhile the general book stores where it sold very well were off limits unless we removed our centrefold. The new law was written in such a manner that publications like Playboy could still be sold in general bookstores. At the time the only publication banned from general distribution by the wording of the law was Esteem. So I closed the magazine (as it had evolved into) and opened up Esteem Books which was a gay bookstore.
"A few months ago my lover and I closed the bookstore because we are now attempting to leave South Africa for New Zealand. Neither one of us wish to remain in this country any longer due to the terrible decline in the country. The final straw for us was an attack by a gang of armed men that we suffered through one year ago. Since my lover is South African we are limited on where we can move. Our relationship is not recognized by the U.S. so he can't come to the U.S. as my spouse. New Zealand is the only English-speaking country that will recognize our relationship so it our only option.
"We have run into a problem there since the appraiser of our joint application has specifically attacked me because I am a libertarian. She said that in her opinion it is questionable whether any libertarian should be allowed in New Zealand and she rejected the application. The issue is currently on appeal and a member of Parliament has taken up our cause. So now we wait."
That afternoon with Anita Bryant ...
"The afternoon spent with them was at the auditorium where her concert would be held. So she spent a good deal of time practicing. But I did talk to both her and her husband, I talked to him more.
"The first thing I noticed was that she had pancake make-up on. It seemed about a quarter of inch deep. Two things struck me as I watched her. She was not a well woman. She seemed very unhappy and angry. Her crusade against gays was only part of her anger. She was mad the world. I was under the distinct impression that she did not care for her life very much. Secondly, she and her husband were at each other's throat whenever they spoke to each other. With me he tried to defend her and be protective. But with her they clearly had issues. Of course it later emerged she had drug problems and she divorced Bob. It didn't come as a surprise to me.
"I almost felt sorry for her. So much of her hatred in general was a result of her own problems."
Future historians take note: The memory section in this column contains just that ... memories ...and are only to be used as a starting point for your research. Send your stories to Sukie de la Croix at Windy City Times. You can leave a message on his voicemail at 773-871-7610. He interviews over the phone, in person, or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
What A Difference
A Gay Makes
U.S.: A bill to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages between people of the same sex is introduced in both chambers of Congress. The bill is prompted by a pending legal case in Hawaii. Under the U.S. Constitution, the other 49 states would have to accept those marriages as valid. * The White House announces that President Bill Clinton opposes same-sex marriages. * Canada: To commemorate the fight against AIDS, the Canada Post issue an AIDS stamp, to honor the 11th annual AIDS conference in Vancouver. * France: Gay couples get cheap seats on French trains, provided their local town hall certifies they live together. * Britain: Euan Sutherland, 19, asks the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in a challenge over the age of consent for sex between gays. * Egypt: A man ...known as Sally ... who underwent a sex change and now works as a belly dancer is sentenced to a month in prison for performing in an indecent costume and making lewd gestures.
U.S.: In Concord, Calif., gays are included on a list of groups protected under a human-rights ordinance given approval by the City Council. * The Gaylactic Network, an international organization for gay science fiction fans and their friends, begin a letter-writing campaign to have openly gay characters on Star Trek. * For the first time the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organization does not list homosexuality as a mental disease. * Iceland: State radio relents and allows the word "lesbian" to be broadcast. The word had been banned by "language consultants" because it is not Icelandic. * Italy: According to a public opinion poll, homosexuals are the third least popular group in Italy after gypsies and politicians. * Australia: More than 600 lesbians and gay men block traffic on one of Sydney's main highways in protest against the rising tide of anti-gay murders and bashings. * Britain: The Channel 4 national TV network is investigated by police because an erect penis is allegedly visible in the background during a talk show. All depictions of erect penises are banned in England. * France: After the Homosexuality and AIDS Conference in Paris, members of ACT UP tackle Dominique Charvet, the director of the government's French Fight Against AIDS Agency, and try to handcuff him.
U.S.: Culture Club's 4th and final album, From Luxury to Heartache, enters the top 40. * Trouble In Paradise by Romanovsky & Philips is also in record stores. * In Davenport, Iowa, John H. Nelson admits to shooting his mother Edna, and her roommate Evelyn Kemp, to end the lesbian relationship he believed they were having. * The Minnesota Supreme Court upholds a $2,000 award to Don Potter, who charged that LaSalle Health and Sports Club harassed him because he was gay. The club's fundamentalist Christian management maintained an illegal policy of harassing gay members to force them to leave. * Russia: A former Soviet deputy health minister tells readers of Literaturnaya Gazeta, a popular weekly newspaper, that AIDS is not a concern in the USSR because homosexuality and drugs use are both illegal.
U.S.: A lesbian consciousness center opens in Sunnybrook, KY. * Popular dance music includes: Pull Up To The Bumper by Grace Jones, Give It To Me Baby by Rick James, and Try It Out by Gino Soccio. * The Rev. Andrew Greeley's newest book, The Cardinal Sins is a novel about a fictional cardinal archbishop of Chicago who is a bisexual adulterer. Greeley denies that the character is based on Cardinal John Cody. * Norway: King Olav V signs a new law prohibiting discrimination against lesbians and gay men.