Interesting If True - Episode 59: Rainbows & Glitter!
Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that has a gay old time. If Jim were here it would be old gay time…
I’m your host this week, Shea, and with me is:
I’m Aaron, and this week I learned that despite June being Pride Month, mommies Proudest boys really don’t like celebrating it… weird.
And since we’re in the studio again… It’s beer time!!
If you were a 4Wrath listener you may remember this draft, with it being Pride month I thought it could do with a re-taste.
Don’t Be Mean To People (A Golden Rule Saison)
Ponysaurus Brewing Co. in Durham, NC
- Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
- Score: 86
- Aaron: 10
- Shea: 10
With this month being Pride month I wanted to make sure we took a show to learn you some of the amazing things members of the LGBTQ+ community have done to further their acceptance into society. These are people who have faced an uphill battle for their entire lives, they are fighting for the same basic rights all other humans should be privy to.
I’m sure this month you have seen a number of rainbow flags flying, whether in your home towns or in various national ad campaigns. Have you ever thought about where that flag comes from? I did, and it’s a pretty empowering story.
Before the rainbow-striped Pride flag was created, the gay community tended to use the pink triangle as a symbol, adapted from the badge that gay prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps. During World War II, Nazis forced gay men in camps to wear a downward-pointing triangle, with around 100,000 estimated to have been held prisoner and 65,000 thought to have been killed. The pink triangle was most famously adapted by the HIV advocacy group ACT UP.
There was also some use of the Greek symbol lambda, green carnations, blue feathers, ace playing cards, and a purple handprint. Lambda represents energy and balance and was primarily used by the Gay Activists Alliance in the 1970s. Green carnations first appeared when Oscar Wilde adopted them for his entourage in the late 1800s.
The purple hand can be traced back to a protest in 1969: After the San Francisco Examiner printed a homophobic report on gay bars, locals protested outside the paper’s offices. Employees dumped ink onto the protestors, who then used the ink to slap hand-prints along the building to show that they had been there.
None of those symbols was particularly widespread in modern times, however.
The history of the Pride flag can be traced back to Harvey Milk, the famous San Francisco city Supervisor, and his friend Gilbert Baker. Harvey Milk, for those that don’t know, was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. If you haven’t seen the movie Milk starring Sean Penn I definitely recommend it, you can get a feel for how terribly the LGBTQ+ community was treated but also the inspiring hope they all managed to keep.
Gilbert is on the right in his international flag gown.
Anyway… In 1970, a self-described “geeky kid from Kansas” named Gilbert Baker came to San Francisco as an Army draftee. After an honorable discharge, he stayed in San Francisco, free to pursue his dreams of being an artist. He learned to sew, making all the fabulous 70s clothes that he wanted but couldn’t buy.
In 1974, Baker’s life changed forever when he met Harvey Milk, who showed him “how action could create change.” Three years after they met, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk, once known fondly as the Mayor of Castro St., had campaigned on a positive message of hope for young gay people, saying, “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope.” After winning the election, Milk challenged Gilbert Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community – a positive alternative to the pink triangle.
One thing you will notice about the LGBTQ+ community is their resilience. In the 70’s they took a symbol of hate and death, the pink triangle, and they adopted it as their own, countless times they took what they were given and they covered it with glitter and owned it. The pink triangle today, is a bold symbol of remembrance and action against persecution.
Inspired, Baker began working on a flag. He dyed the fabrics himself and, with the help of volunteers, stitched together eight strips of brilliant color into a huge banner that spoke volumes: hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. He remembers vividly the moment when his new flag was first raised:
“It all goes back to the first moment of the first flag back in 1978 for me. Raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightning – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us. It was the most thrilling moment of my life. Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do – that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”
The first versions of the rainbow flag were flown on June 25, 1978, for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade. Baker and a team of volunteers had made them by hand, and now he wanted to mass-produce the flag for consumption by all. However, because of production issues, the pink and turquoise stripes were removed and indigo was replaced by basic blue, which resulted in the contemporary six-striped flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). Today this is the most common variant of the rainbow flag, with the red stripe on top, as in a natural rainbow. The various colors came to reflect both the immense diversity and the unity of the LGBTQ+ community.
According to one source, the company that made the flags had a surplus stock that had originally been made for the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, a Masonic organization for young women, but the Rainbow Flag was already recognized throughout San Francisco as a symbol of gay pride.
On the morning of Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco received shocking news: Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated at City Hall. Grief and rage galvanized San Franciscans. The Gay Freedom Day Committee (now called San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee) quickly decided that the Rainbow Flag should be flown from the light poles along both sides of Market Street for the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade. They split the colors onto two flags, flying each of the three-striped flags on alternate sides of the street. They eliminated the indigo stripe to make an even six colors, and flag production began.
In 1994 Baker created the history-making, mile-long Rainbow Flag for Stonewall 25 in New York to mark the 25th anniversary of the gay civil rights movement. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the mile-long Stonewall 25 Rainbow Flag as the world’s largest flag.
Recalling one of the defining moments in his career, Baker said, “The moment I knew that the flag was beyond my own personal experience – that it wasn’t just something I was making but was something that was happening – was the 1993 March on Washington. From my home in San Francisco, I watched the March on C-SPAN and saw hundreds of thousands of people carrying and waving Rainbow Flags on a scale I’d never imagined.”
As a side note, hot pink is no longer a non-standard color in flag fabric production. Baker was able to create the world’s longest Rainbow Flag – restored to its original eight colors – to celebrate the flag’s silver anniversary. The Rainbow25 Sea-to-Sea Flag – 1.25 miles long – was unfurled in Key West, FL on June 15, 2003. Parts of the Flag were then shared with more than 100 cities around the world, and eight-stripe flags are now widely available.
Sour Me – Unicorn Farts
DuClaw Brewing Company in Rosedale, MD
- Style: Sour – Fruited Kettle Sour
- Shea: 4
- Aaron: 6
Out of all the gay advocates I read about, Dale Olson is one of the most prolific and most unknown. Wikipedia’s list of gay rights activists doesn’t even mention him, so screw them, today we dedicate this second story to one of the early movers and shakers in the gay community.
Dale Olson was born in Fargo, North Dakota on February 20, 1934. As a teenager, he lived in Portland, Oregon, and worked as a newspaper reporter. In that role, he managed to get an interview with Mae West. In 1951, Dale moved to Los Angeles. He began a side job working as the secretary for the Mattachine Society, but was forced to remain in the closet at his day job. The Mattachine Society was one of the first organizations of homosexual men.
In April of 1954 Dale Olson, 22 at the time, made gay history. The series “Confidential File”, hosted by Paul Coates, aired an episode titled “Homosexuals and the Problems They Present”, with a segment called “The Sex Variant in Southern California”. Dale Olson was interviewed, introduced as an “acknowledged homosexual” going by the alias “Curtis White“. Nevertheless, he confronted a number of the negative stereotypes people of the day had of homosexuals. When asked if he would want to be “cured” of his homosexuality if it were possible, would he do it, Curtis/Dale replied, “I’m speaking only for myself, but the answer is no.”
His face was blurred out, but he still admitted on the show that being there was going to cost him his job. Despite the measures to obscure his identity, he was recognized by his boss when it aired and fired the next day, as he had predicted in the program. When Coates asked why he would do the interview despite the consequences, Curtis/Dale replied “I think that this way I can be a little useful to someone besides myself.”
This was the first time a homosexual man ever appeared on television to defend his sexuality. It was a local television show, shown only in Los Angeles, but it represented a change for the LGBTQ+ community. Independent stations and public access television were things they too could access — and they would.
The gay magazine “ONE: The Homosexual Magazine” covered the interview in an issue in 1954 — in which Dale assured readers that he had found another, higher-paying job. Unfortunately, the US Post Office determined that ONE was obscene and decided it was unlawful to distribute through the mail — they destroyed most copies of the issue. (The Supreme Court would rule that ONE was not obscene and was legal to distribute through the mail, but not until four years later.)
Dale became a reporter, and then a publicist for Rogers & Cowan. While there, he gained a reputation for really well done and effective Oscar campaigns for his clients — which included Shirley MacLaine, Maggie Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Gene Kelly, Clint Eastwood, Laurence Olivier, and Robert Duvall. He was also responsible for publicizing a few movies you may have heard of — Superman, Rambo, Rocky, Halloween, to name a few. He eventually became head of the firm’s film division, before leaving the company in 1985 to start his own — Dale C. Olson & Associates.
Through his work as a publicist, Dale would have another brush with gay history though this time behind the scenes. In 1985, one of his clients was Rock Hudson. The media began to speculate about Rock’s health that summer — at first, Dale lied to the public on behalf of his client. Dale constructed the initial statement that said Hudson had inoperable liver cancer on July 21 — but Dale was not convinced this was the best way to go, as he believed Hudson could use his fame to educate the public about AIDS. When Hudson finally agreed, Olson wrote a press release acknowledging that Rock Hudson had the disease. Hudson’s French publicist released the statement on July 25. This made an incalculable impact on the AIDS epidemic — putting the face of a major star on the issue. In the second half of 1985, donations to AIDS research more than doubled what had been given in all of 1984. Dale became an AIDS activist following his experience with Rock Hudson.
Dale survived the AIDS Epidemic and married his long-time partner (more than 30 years), Eugene Harbin in 2008. On July 12 of 2012, Shirley MacLaine presented Dale with the Actor Fund Medal of Honor. Not quite a month later, on August 9, 2012, Dale Olson passed away from inoperable liver cancer. (Actual inoperable liver cancer.)
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Thank you Shea for that heartfelt and informative first half. Looking back at these incredibly important people and events is crucial to understanding the social situations we debate today. It’s emboldening to know how far we’ve come, but bittersweet as the same reflection shows how far we have yet to go.
And with these uplifting and solemn ideals in mind, I’m going to tell the rollercoaster-tale of a gay micro-nation, the glitter-war it started, and how LGBTQ+ citizens are treated in micro-nations the world over… spoiler, more often than not it’s far better than America is doing.
Obviously, as the patron segment to a serious story, this will be a bit silly. Still, I hope you enjoy the nonsense and hopefully get inspired by the intermicronational (yep, that’s a word I’m gonna be using) support of diversity.
Diving into micronational LGBTQ+ protections is as much a maze as it seems to be for recognized countries, so I’m just going to go with the fun stuff. To do that, we’ll need to visit Canberra, the capital of Australia, and a Pride flag in the foyer of the Department of Finance in 2004.
First, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, one of the most conservative members of Australia’s parliament, is an asshole.
During a session of parliament on February 28th, 2017, Abetz questioned the rules governing which flags fly on government property and who makes those choices. All the usual BS you get from conservative politicians “just asking questions”. Of course, this fooled no one, especially when he got to explain that the rainbow flags were symbols of a “political campaign” and were an “activist flag” which of course, they were insofar as they were designed by human rights activists to make LGBTQ+ persons more visible and their fight for equality more unified. But I have a feeling that’s not what he meant…
“If that is allowed, one imagines the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally… if you allow one side of a debate, then you need to allow the other side,”
The group he mentions is, basically, Australian for “Focus on the Family” which is itself assholeese for “bigots”. Never mind that the “other side” of the debate is if people should have basic human rights… which is, I think, not a debate.
He then added:
“By way of some slight humor on this issue, this particular flag, you will realize, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands which declared war on Australia… of course it’s the flag of a hostile nation, if we are to believe them, having declared war on Australia,”
He said, grinning like an asshole who thinks he found a “gotcha” but has, in fact, rolled a critical fail on comprehension as the fabulous kingdom was dissolved a year earlier in 2016.
Still, gay-war? WTF? War!?
It all began in 2004 when Australia passed a marriage exclusion bill. The bill, which… oof, this is a difficult one… is, I believe, pronounced the “Assholes who asshole assholishly bill” defined Australian marriage as between one man and one woman, you know, as the Bible intended but never actually says anything about. The bill explicitly banned same-sex marriage.
The amendments to the Marriage Act (what the asshole bill is actually called) would prevent LGBTQ+ marriages and nullify recognition of those married internationally, thereby removing the rights of LGBTQ+ peoples from, of course, marriage but also Superannuation benefits (what we’d call retirement savings), hospital visits, adoption, IVF, picking up your kids at school, insurance, it’s seriously a long list…
This didn’t sit well with Matthew Briggs of the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival.
As you may recall from our discussion of the Principality of Hutt River, another Australian micronation, there exists the law of “Unjust Enrichment” (“If something is unjustly taken compensation must be made”). This, coupled with references to international laws like “oppressed people of overseas territories have a right to self-government and self-determination”, the activists claimed “territorial compensation” by establishing an independent gay state, claiming The Coral Sea Islands as its territory. Founding the world’s first “100% gay nation.”
Of course, as with Hutt River, none of this would stand up in international court. But then, it doesn’t need to, does it?
On June 14th, 2004, Matthew and his crew of marry men set sail on the Gayflower to plant the rainbow flag on Cato Island, thereby declaring the founding of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands as an independent gay and lesbian state. A commemorative plaque on the island reads:
“On the 14th day of June 2004, at this highest point in the Coral Sea, Emperor Dale Parker Anderson raised the gay rainbow flag and claimed the islands of the Coral Sea in his name as homeland for the gay and lesbian peoples of the world. God Save our King!”
King Parker being one of Matthew’s fellow activists, the great, great, great, great, great… lots more greats, grandson of King Edward II (who was believed to be gay) is, of course, a most benevolent king indeed.
Declaring their independence of Australia the Coral Sea founders drafted the following declaration:
“Homosexual people have honestly endeavored everywhere to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and to be treated equally. We are not permitted to do so. In vain we are loyal patriots, our loyalty in some places running to extremes; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In countries where we have lived for centuries, we are still cried down as strangers… In the world as it is now and for an indefinite period… I think we shall not be left in peace”
Inspired by the American Declaration of Independence the kingdom’s declaration also includes the famous lines:
“we hold these truths to be self evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
Which does have a nice ring to it, even if the nation who originated it did so on parchment made by slaves and didn’t manage our own marriage equality until 2015… but I digress.
Of course, they flew the rainbow pride flag, which the aforementioned Senator Eric Abetz used as a justification do a bigotry, they also declared the national anthem to be Jerry Herman’s “I Am What I Am”, started making stamps, the nations primary source of income after LGBTQ+/Great Coral Reif tourism and memorabilia and enacted a law designed after Israel’s “Law of Return” declaring that any person was granted permanent resident status and citizenship simply for being LGBTQ+
The stamps were made “with the aim of creating a high and distinctive reputation amongst the philatelic fraternity”. You know, stamp people stuff.
If you look at your phones you’ll see some stamps and, yeah, they’re great.
As with Hutt River, a week’s worth of war was declared as King Parker and his fellows fought for Australian recognition of their humanity.
“On the 13th of September 2004, the Gay Kingdom declared war on the Commonwealth of Australia. Notification of acceptance and notification of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, were given to the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, both directly and through the Swiss Federal Government. This is a ratified Law of Australia, and conveys the responsibility to Govern to the Occupying Power. Therefore, by the Law of Australia, only the Gay Government is the Authority to Govern the Territory and the people of the Coral Sea Islands. The 1 week state of War, which was Officially declared, brought into effect the Law of War, under whose Sovereignty goes automatically to a State undefeated in a State of War. As Australia did not respond to the declaration The Gay & Lesbian Kingdoms independence was assured.”
And of course, you can’t beat the gays in a war of wits, so ipso fabto, they’re a nation.
The Australian government, refusing to fly the flag of a warring nation, removed the rainbow flag from all government buildings immediately Streisand effecting the whole thing exactly as Matthew and Parker hoped.
The publicity that came from founding the nation, the “war”, and assholes like Senator Eric Abetz put LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality in Australia center stage. And, with the help of innumerable other activists and groups, pushed Australia to vote “yes” on the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, which leads directly to the Parliament of Australia enacting marriage equality in 2016. With their goals fulfilled, the tiny nation devolved.
Fear not though, the mantel of LGBTQ+ homeland was passed to the Principality of Urania, whose story is also fascinating and we’ll cover in an upcoming episode.
For now, I’ll wrap things up with a quick overview of LGBTQ+ rights in the microverse.
Overall, they’re not bad. There are only a handful of “recognized” micronations that are overtly hostile to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Following the Denton Protocol, a diplomatic protocol developed by Gaius Soergel Publicola in relation to discrimination faced by LGBTQIA diplomats, officials, heads of government and heads of state within micronational spheres. The protocol is named after the Zealandian canton of Denton. Which I will also do a show on, but in a nutshell, is a follow up of the LGBTQ+ affirming Augusta Accord created by William Soergel, is the current Sôgmô of the State of Sandus. Who, you guessed it, is definitely worth their own show. The accords have a number of signatories, who as member-micro-states pledge to recognize the orientation and gender expression of peoples of other micronations.
You’ll find a full list of nations on Microwiki but in summation, of the 168 nations, only 17 have laws banning same-sex activity, unions, marriage, and military service, and don’t have anti-discrimination laws, or laws concerning identity and expression. Approximately one-third have laws banning or at least not affirming, one or more of the listed categorical items. The rest all have at least some level of legally enshrined rights for LGBTQ+ people. The stickler seems to be gender reassignment with most nations approving of it, but not being able to provide help with those services on account of, most micronations being little more than some weirdo’s house. Anti-discrimination laws run the gamut from vague and noncommittal, to fully fleshed outlaws that put our own anti-discrimination laws to shame. The next-most controversial set seems to be around military service. Again most nations approve and endorse LGBTQ+ military service, though some carve out war-time exceptions. So… I guess those nations won’t be buying rainbow nerf guns…
All in all the state of LGBTQ+ rights among micronations seems to be doing a hell of a lot better than the “real” nations of the world and I for one hope that our micro-leaders teach the Putins of the world a lesson or two… also we’ll get to Russian micronations and … just wow.
I’m Shea, and this week I learned that being a Trekkie but not realizing Star Trek is pro-socialism, anti-fascist, and queer-friendly is like being a straight man who listens to Queen and being shocked “Body Language” is a gay sex-romp anthem, but before we go I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-hosts.
Find out more about the show, social links, and contact information at InterestingIfTrue.com.
Music for this episode was created by Wayne Jones and was used with permission.
The opinions, views, and nonsense expressed in this show are those of the hosts only and do not represent any other people, organizations, or lifeforms.
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