Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Good Ol' Days My Ass

Cover of April 17, 1951 issue of Quick in which the below 'article' was published. 

A small, inconsequential news item published in this 1951 issue of Quick magazine, a now-defunct publication which covered everything from current events to sports, politics, Hollywood starlets, and fashion etc. "Small and inconsequential" that is until you actually read it. Click on the images to enlarge.

C O L L E C T I O N — I wish this was an April Fool's Day joke, but when you've already made a blog to showcase your fake cars, April 1st is just another day. No—this scanned news item is 100% real. It's merely a scan of a portion of a page of a regular ol' American magazine called Quick published in 1951. All of our parents and grandparents most likely perused Quick at one time or another in the grocery checkout line or newsstand. Similar in size to a Reader's Digest, covering subjects roughly similar to a People meets a lightweight Newsweek meets the Star. Joe and Jane Q Public could read the following "news item" on one page, catch up on the McCarthy trials on the next, and follow the on-field exploits of Joe DiMagio and Jackie Robinson in the sports section. Verbatim text:

     "Tracking down homosexuals has been assigned to a special State Dept squad which acts as a detail of the Interior Security section. Incidentally, Democratic strategists are worried over the nation-wide flood of wisecracks that followed disclosures of firing of 91 State Dep.employees as homosexuals. Latest  quip: "Some State Dept. men like their vice versa."

Gay rights have come a LONG way since 1951. The fact that gay marriage is not only a valid concept, but is actually a legal and accepted practice in a few states (including my awesome state of Connecticut), is a HUGE step forward. Many younger people take gay rights for granted. Believe me, I'm more than glad they are able to. I'm more than sad however that so many friends of mine have left this planet without ever knowing that freedom. We all truly stand on the shoulders of great gay men and lesbians that lived insufferable lives, endured untold travesties. Not a day goes by I'm not reminded of that and give thanks to them.

But is every gay person fully accepted in this country, in this world? No, of course not. Not even close. There are days when what I hear on TV and read in the papers and online makes me feel as if we're going backwards faster and faster. But in the end, have we come a LONG, LONG, LONG WAY in a fairly short amount of time? Fuck yes. Period. 

This short news item posted today dates from a mere 59 years ago. At 52, almost 53 years of age, that's basically within my lifetime. Gays were being tracked down like rabid dogs by the State Department of the United States of America. Tracked down like escaped convicts so we could be fired from our jobs—no matter where we worked, our federal government included. We were being tracked down like Bonnie and Clyde so we could be arrested—just for being gay. 

In our lifetime, it was deemed absolutely perfectly reasonable and proper to print a story about "tracking down homosexuals" and the firing of 91 State Department workers for being gay was met with lame-ass Vaudeville-era jokes. This news item was written and received with all the drama of Doris Day singing Que Sera Sera.

In our lifetime, gays were tracked down by our own government for no other reason than living their lives the best way they could, the ONLY way they could. 


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